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Day 17: An awesome but not awesome Match.com date

I'm enjoying this writing space because it's giving me courage to share some stories that I've written privately about Match.com, but never shared publicly. As I've shared before, being on Match.com taught me to explore outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to connect with a lot of men who I normally would have no reason for crossing paths with. It also taught me what intrigued me about men and got my attention; and I realized that a well thought out and well-written, maybe even poetic profile, got my attention. So this story is about a guy named Oliver, who got my attention with his words.

It was March 2010 and I was back to surfing Match.com again because I’d just ended 2 back-to-back relationships with guys I’d actually met “naturally” in my small hometown of Park City, Utah. It felt like I’d met or dated every single emotionally available guy without children within an hour radius of me, so hence the reactivation of my profile and I once again expanded my search on Match.com to include Colorado.

Oliver was in Colorado, and I always had a thing for guys from Colorado. His picture was a little fuzzy and not very close up, but his texts and email messages to me were intriguing and witty, and left me thinking about him during the day and wondering, what if? Over emails, we’d discuss what we'd seen in this world, and how it made us feel, which was new to me. To talk about this kind of stuff with anyone was huge, but with a guy who I was sort of “interviewing” for a first date, gave me a high that had me checking my phone often to see if he'd replied to my reply. We connected as if we had met before and had known each other for ages.

But I had to stop and check myself. Was I just loving this in depth conversation and attention or was this indicative of something worth pursuing more deeply? After all, I wasn’t going to move to Denver because my business was in Utah, so I wondered what could happen, since Oliver loved Denver. Sure, Colorado was just next door to Utah, but it felt like a lifetime and a short plane ride away. But something about this man felt different. I felt pulled to meet him face to face. He was more alive, in tune and plugged in than anyone I’d met in quite some time, maybe in any time. So I followed his breadcrumb messages and we spent almost three weeks falling blissfully into something that neither of us could articulate. We wrote to each other as though the weekends held the possibility of us holding each other and exploring the other’s life. The energy of the exchanges was exhilarating, freeing - and a bit daring, almost like we were writing our own romance novel.

Was I in love? No. Impossible, we hadn’t even met yet. In crush? Perhaps, but we hadn’t even heard each others voices or seen each other; we were merely writing love notes back and forth. Was I in intrigue? Yes, for sure, that was it.

Oliver had three pictures on his dating profile, none of which were close up. I studied them almost every night, curled up in my favorite loungewear with a glass of wine. I’d stare at his pictures for hours, trying to see the man whose words were taking me on an incredible sensory journey leading me to him. I had enough dreamy heart-felt exchanges with him to fill a small book and I’d even written a few PG-13 scenarios to him, still having only seen three pictures of him and still never having heard his voice.

What the hell was going on? How could I feel this way about someone I’d never met? This was all so new to me because up until then, physical chemistry and voice chemistry had always been super high on my decision to even go on a first date with a guy, so this felt like a whole new playing field, one based solely in energy, emotion and words. I felt like I was in a trance. As though a magnetism was pulling me into an eight-hour road trip to Colorado for a weekend first date. From the outside looking in, this seemed like a crazy plan and made no sense, so of course it was right up my alley. So on a cold March day in 2010 I packed up my green Pathfinder with skis, snowshoes, a yoga mat and my Zona dog and we hit the road to Denver to see what this feeling of magnetic intrigue with Oliver was all about.

This was actually not my first rodeo in commuting for a Match.com first date. It was the third time I’d done this sort of “crazy” first date thing, so it felt quite normal to me now, which means I knew to have a few contingency plans in place, just in case our online word chemistry didn’t match up with our in person chemistry. Which I didn’t want to imagine, yet I still wanted to be prepared for.

I did a pre-trip vacuum and clean up in my truck, to elicit the feeling of a fresh start, and filled up my iPod with tunes that made my heart and soul sing and stuck to artists that dug deep and my playlists had names such as Ingrid Michaelson, Coldplay, Michael Franti, Mat Kearney, Regina Spektor and the Avett Brothers. I had also just discovered an online dating coach named Christian Carter who gave a bunch of introspective dating advice, so I’d downloaded some of his audios on dating as well to listen to while I drove.

Part one of my contingency preparation was locating all the yoga studios and coffee shops in the Denver neighborhood where Oliver lived, so I could have a place to ground and regroup in case anything went in a direction I didn’t foresee or didn’t desire. I was ahead of my expected arrival so I was just in time to attend a late afternoon yoga class at Vital Yoga, a studio near his apartment and Whole Foods, so after class I could stop in and grab my favorite comfort foods like gluten free chocolate chip cookies, chocolate croissants and organic oreos.

As I came out of the mountainous canyon nearing the outskirts of Denver, I thought to myself, do I tell Oscar I’m going to yoga class and show up at his place afterward? Or should I invite him to yoga?

It didn't seem likely that he’d be able to attend class because he’d already told me he didn’t do much yoga and he had a lot of exciting projects he was working on, with deadlines. and I loved that. A man who loved his work and had projects he was working on was very sexy. My heart sped up at the idea of meeting him, so I sent a text message about thirty minutes before class to let him know I’d arrived in Denver safely and that I was going to Vital Yoga, and would come over after. I figured it would be nearly impossible for him to make it, but I liked that I had the courage to ask.

Of course I needed to start this journey with a yoga class because yoga always grounded me, which felt essential before I met my online writing Romeo. I found Vital Yoga on a busy downtown Denver street and checked my watch. I had twenty-two minutes before class started, just enough to fill out my new student paperwork, change clothes and have a few quiet moments to myself before class began. I scored a parking spot right across the street from the studio, put my pathfinder in neutral and let it idle as I looked down to the middle console to reach for my coin purse to pay the meter. I knew the city of Denver loved parking meters, so I made sure to grab a roll of quarters before I left home.

I selected ninety minutes worth of quarters, closed the console, took a deep breath and reached my hand over to the door to roll up my window. And there he was, right outside my open window, less than twelve inches from my face; it was Oliver in person. I knew it was him because more or less his physical appearance, but also because he’d placed his right hand on the roof of my car and leaned inside my window for his hello, almost like he wanted to kiss me.

I let out a little scream to indicate that I was startled by his presence and I immediately felt a stabbing in my chest and it felt difficult to breathe or swallow. He had a rich scent of heavy cologne that I couldn’t identify, but it reminded me of drugstore perfume young high school guys bathed in, and I could feel my body rejecting it, and him.

“Hi, you’re here.” I said awkwardly. “It’s nice to meet you in person.” I winced at how awkward I sounded. What are you supposed to say to someone you’ve practically had phone sex with that you’re meeting for the first time? I’d planned for just about everything except for this first conversation and I hoped it would flow as naturally as our written words. But instead it felt like I was hanging on to the moment for dear life and I looked straight ahead, turned off the engine and got out to exchange a hug.

He wrapped me up into his hug, then held me out and looked me up and down and said, you're prettier than in your pictures. I said thank you, and closed my eyes as he went in for another hug. I was trying to fit this scene into my daydream of him but it just felt so jagged and unnatural. I told myself it must be me; I was the one being awkward. I was the one tired and perhaps a little dehydrated from the drive. But I forced the smile and returned the hug. “So are you coming to class with me?” I asked.

He told me he couldn’t because he still had work to finish, but he was in the neighborhood when I texted and wanted to stop and surprise me. And yes, this was certainly a surprise. How romantic was the intention and it was exactly what I theoretically would love a man to do; any man except this man, who my body was clearly rejecting by the tightening in my shoulders and chest.

We agreed on where and when to meet and he made sure I knew where his house was, because I was heading there after class. I could feel his excitement pouring out of every cell in his body and I felt a pang of guilt. I just didn’t dig this guy and I had no idea why. He was handsome. He had a great smile. He was super fit, dressed sharply, was kind, funny and charming, but something was off. Was it his pierced ears I didn't know about? Was it something about his smell, the shape of his jaw? Or was it the feeling I had (or didn’t have) around him? Was I really going to be this picky on my road trip to Romeo date? This was exactly why I was over thirty and still single. I was looking for a unicorn.

I thought maybe yoga would help me get my head out of my ass. I realized this great guy just showed up with his heart open and full of love and possibility and he was here to sweep me off my feet. So I left it up to yoga to do the work for me; to open me and my mind to what was ahead for my weekend with Oscar. And yes, yoga worked its magic, but not in a way I could have ever imagined.

Class was awesome and ironically, I think it was the most grounded and present I've ever been in a yoga class - because of the pressure I’d put on the class to help me figure a way out of my conundrum. After class, I felt like I was glowing. When I went to leave, the girl behind the desk asked me if I wanted to sign up for their mailing list. Normally, I would have said no, but this time was different. I already committed to being enrolled and engaged in the moment and seeing where it would take me, so I replied, “I don’t live in Denver, but sure, I’d love to sign up for your mailing list.” I smiled warmly and returned to the front desk, slowly writing my name and email on the corresponding lines.

I left the studio beaming and ready to enjoy the shit out of my weekend with a man I wasn’t going to marry, and that was totally okay. I couldn't hide my feelings; Oliver caught on quickly to my romantic disinterest and I could feel him rearranging his own expectations of our weekend as well and wrestling with his disappointment and replacing it with openness and trust. We clearly weren’t going to spend the weekend in bed together, so where else could we spend it? We decided on Steamboat Springs, a 3.5 hour drive away. So away we went, in separate cars for a ski vacation. We spent the weekend laughing, snowshoeing, skiing and even partook in a small mushroom ceremony together while up at Strawberry Hot Springs, and bless his heart, that was the only time that Oliver tried to kiss me. I turned my head and his kiss landed on my cheek. It was a noble effort which made us both giggle, and we left it at that.

Although my weekend in Denver didn’t necessarily deliver the immediate love of my life & companionship I was seeking, it did provide something enormous for me. A gateway to meeting my future husband. Four years later, in January of 2012, I opened an email from a sender I didn’t recognized. it was from "Kindness Yoga", and I thought I’d been yoga spammed so I was preparing to unsubscribe. But when I read the email I saw it was an announcement that Vital Yoga, the yoga studio I’d visited during that Match.com rendezvous with Oliver, had new owners and was now called Kindness Yoga. They were sharing their first newsletter that had an ad for a yoga retreat in Costa Rica December of 2012.

I didn't really like warm weather and I didn't love being in a bathing suit, so beach vacations were not my thing. But something about this retreat that was 11 months away hit me, and I knew I needed to be there, so I called the travel company rather than email them to make sure I could get a spot. The retreat had only been live for a few hours they said, so I was the first inquiry they'd had. So I paid my deposit with the next due in 8 months, for a beach yoga retreat with Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of the "The Four Agreements", a book I knew of, but was excited to familiarize myself with again. But that’s another story that’s coming.

The moral of the story is to enjoy all your moments, even if you don’t think they are important in the grand scheme of who you think you are. Perhaps they're setting you up for who you're going to become in the future.

*And this picture was taken the day I left for my road trip. Little did I know what I was in for.

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