Two stories ago I introduced you to K****, my 90% awesome boyfriend who came right before your father. K**** was such a gentleman and a welcomed shift from who and what I was attracting into my love life the Fall of 2011. And yes I’m now ready to write about one of the darkest times your mother explored in her quest to find love.
I’d taken a long break from dating on account of knocking my front 4 teeth out and having removable teeth for 9 months, so by the time September 2011 came around and my retainer came out and I was fitted for my temporary crowns, I was ready to meet someone. I left the orthodontist’s office and when I got into th car and looked in my rear view mirror at my smile that looked the best it had looked in 9 months, I said aloud, “I’m going to meet someone today...” and with that enthusiasm, I turned on both my Match.com and Plenty of Fish dating profiles, which had been snoozed. I was on a mission to connect.
I imagine it happens every time there’s a new dating profile introduced into a geographic area, but within hour, my inboxes on both dating sites were filling up with messages from all types of men. I was overwhelmed but was also loving the attention after being alone for so many months. So that first night after my teeth were installed I was setting up breakfast dates, week day lunch dates, weekend dates and evening dates a few nights a week. I think a part of me felt I was making up for lost time and dating became a full time job after my day job.
After taking such a long break from dating and having explored Asia twice on my own, I felt different, so I felt like I wanted to date someone compatible with the new me; though it was hard to describe who this new me was. She was independent, funny, spiritual, she loved yoga, and though she still loved skiing, she was still afraid to get back on the snow after the ski accident that took her teeth 12/26/10.
But she wanted a deeper connection with a man, though she didn’t have much experience with that outside of the connections she met with male travelers. And so began the sprinkling of dates from many different backgrounds, lifestyle
There was the handsome brunette blue eyed artist who I went to breakfast with one morning, and had a lovely time with, but then I saw him out with another date that same night when I was at a bar with a bunch of friends. It was awkward. There was the tall skinny theater major who I wasn’t attracted to but I thought was funny, so I invited him to one of my back tattoo sessions, and he declared his love for me the second day we hung out. A tough conversation had to happen after that. There was the handsome dark blonde welder in his late 20’s, who had a cold sore so big on his upper lip that it was distracting to talk to him and I feared he’d come at me with a kiss. And even when it went away after the third time we hung out, I still had anxiety about his lips. There was the head of avalanche patrol at Alta who invited me up skiing for a powder day at Alta Ski Resort and our second date was a trip to Costco with his 4 year old son. Though I had fun, I realized quickly I was nowhere near being ready to have a child around me, so there was no date #3. There was the sculptor/rock climber who had no furniture in his house other than a bed and a kitchen table with 2 chairs even though he’d lived there for 2 years which I thought was weird, and the event coordinator from California who came over to cook me dinner and watch a movie, and when he got close to me, I cringed at his smell and saw that he must have waxed his eyebrows and his button up shirt was open so low that I could see he trimmed his very furry chest hair. He didn’t get a date #2 and I didn’t return his many messages. I think that’s called ghosting. Then again there was also the handsome smart psychologist who worked with youth out in the wild, who we shared 2 dates that I thought were fun and the last ended in a sweet kiss, but he never returned a call or text from me. So this time it was me who was ghosted. Dating felt a lot like throwing darts at a dart board and being unattached and curious as to where they landed. It felt completely unpredictable who I’d connect with and want a second or third date with, and who I’d be struggling just to get through date #1 with. I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted, so it felt as though I were using these men as a backboard to see what I liked most in men and who brought out what in me.
And then along came S***; an early 30’s Gentleman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His Plenty of Fish profile had 1 picture of him in the distance, but it had several gorgeous & thoughtful scenery pictures that immediately intrigued me. According to his profile he was a photographer and videographer and he flew the mini helicopters that carried video cameras at rodeo and snow events. Maybe I liked that he was from Baton Rouge? Maybe I liked that he was a photographer? Or maybe I just liked how he talked to me in his message. It said, “Hey pretty lady. Want to grab dinner tonight at the corner Italian restaurant at the Gateway Mall? I could pick you up at 7, or meet you there if you’re more comfortable with that. Looking forward to hearing from you. s***.” His message was short, it was direct, it was flattering, it was respectful of my experience and he asked me a clear time sensitive question. I messaged back that I’d love to and I’d meet him there, and that I’d be driving over on my pink scooter so to look for the girl carrying the black motorcycle helmet with pink flames on it. He replied back that he’d be in the maroon sports car with the flames on the side and included a wink. Wait, was he kidding? I guess I’d have to find out.
It was about 6pm when we made these plans which meant I had about 25 minutes to shower and be out the door in order to give myself enough time to walk my dog and scoot over. I’d been on dozens of dates, but for some reason for this one I was nervous and had butterflies in my stomach, which felt nice.
I found a parking spot for my scooter immediately outside the restaurant and I was a minute or two early so that gave me time to relax a little. And then I saw a maroon sports car with a Louisiana license plate and fancy matching maroon rims speed past me and park a few spaces away from my scooter and I knew it was him. I watched him get out of his car and pay the meter, and as he was coming towards me, I saw he was incredibly handsome. He had shaggy brown hair, olive skin, was maybe 5’8 and was wearing a zip up hoodie and jeans. He was casual and laid back so it helped me feel more relaxed. When S*** got close enough that I could really see him, I saw he had faint dimples and beautiful hazel eyes that had a lot of yellow in them. But his southern accent was what made me completely surrender to whatever experience this was going to be. “Well hello there beautiful lady, I’m so glad you could make it tonight. I’m S**** and I’ll be your host for this evening”; and with that, he opened the large door to the corner Italian restaurant and it felt like we were entering into a new world together.
We sat in a booth across from each other in the middle of the restaurant and S*** immediately asked to see a wine menu. He asked if I’d preferred red or white, but when I glanced at the menu and ordered a hard cider, he grinned and ordered himself a glass of an expensive red. Seemed he knew wine far better than me. Though we were across from each other, the table was fairly narrow in width, so with both of us leaning in, which we were, we were practically touching. I learned that S*** was new to Utah from Baton Rouge, that he was the son of a recently deceased southern Baptist minister and that he was somewhat recently divorced which was surprising given how young he was (31). He’d never lived in the snow, which I could tell by his car, and he was renting a room about 25 min south of the restaurant from his friend who was also a camera man; they’d met at a rodeo event a few weeks prior. Seems S*** was looking for a new life after his divorce, which was understandable, and so his friend had invited him to Utah. I joked with him that he’d need some snow tires on his fancy sports car if he was going to survive a winter in Utah and he laughed and agreed.
I didn’t realize how much time had passed, but when our waiter who had diligently kept bringing us more food, wine and cider told us it was last call for food, I realized we’d been there for over 3 hours and I was a little too buzzed to safely drive home. I went to the bathroom and returned to find he’s paid the bill and he was holding my helmet with flames on it. Seems S*** had a far higher tolerance than me for drinking, so he offered to drive me around for a bit so that I could drink water and sober up. And so we drove up to a nearby neighborhood near the capital that had a breathtaking view of salt lake city, and we parked the car, talked and listened to Christian rock music, which oddly enough I really enjoyed. I learned a lot about S*** but I didn’t share much about myself yet; seemed he didn’t have many people to talk to, so he was pouring his heart out to me which I enjoyed. As we gazed out over the city together I looked at the clock on his dashboard and saw it was almost midnight. He asked if I was hungry again and I was, but it was also far past my bedtime and I still had to drive my scooter home. Was this date still going? Apparently yes. So S*** drove us to a large 24 hour grocery store that was at the bottom of the hill, and we went to the frozen section and picked up a pint size of Ben & Jerry’s, along with 2 plastic spoons from the deli section and we sat together on a bench outside the store and ate the whole thing together and just continued to talk. It was such an oddly perfect night that ended with S*** following me home in his car to make sure I got home safely, and then he kissed me gently at the front door and then turned around and got back into his car and drove away.
I stood in my living room for a few minutes and watched his taillights disappear from my street and realized I didn’t even have his phone number, only his dating profile. Would I see him again? I hoped so. He felt different and I felt different with him. And though it was late and I was tired, I opened plenty of fish, the site where we met, and saw that he was online, which gave me a funny feeling. Was he talking with other girls? Was he setting up other dates? My mind couldn’t help but wander. So I sent him an email thanking him for a wonderful evening.
When I woke up to check and see if he’d responded, I saw that my message had been read but his profile had been deactivated which didn’t make any sense. Now if I was going to see him again it was going to be up to him.
And he did reach out again, but not in a way I ever could have expected. And away we went on our unhealthy and dark tour of the human psyche together; a journey that would take us a year to complete. More on that soon.