My wooden steps were on the brink of collapsing, and a construction crew finally showed up last week to replace them. As they were getting set up, all I could think of was how relieved I was they were finally here. With Covid and supply chain issues, I had been waiting nearly a year.
The foreman came to the door and let me know the plan for the day, and if I had any questions not to hesitate. He had an accent I couldn’t place. I let him know the crew was welcome to use the bathroom, to sit in the garden for lunch. Seems I was the exception that way, letting strangers into the house to use the facilities.
That first day they came in and out; he commented on my smile and friendliness. I noticed dark curly hair, brown eyes, a pronounced nose, and a lot of energy.
Day two they returned, a smaller crew. He stayed only part of the day but made sure that all was set for them to complete the job.
As he was leaving, we chatted for a few minutes. Again, he acknowledged my kindness in opening the house to his workers. Mentioning how the house reminded him of his old home in Germany. And then somehow in the middle of the conversation asked if I lived alone. Yes, a widow of nearly six years.
He offered his condolences. I noticed it was strange to hear those words, six years later. For me, that grief had eased, it no longer hurt to speak of him. Somehow, the conversation deepened, as we talked of loss, healing, choosing happiness. I shared I no longer felt broken. With time and healing, I now felt whole, as though my husband had been absorbed into me. I took him with me, his loss no longer a gaping wound.
Then he shared about loss, of friends and loved ones no longer there. Oddly we stepped out of time to create a delicate bubble of trust and sacredness on an ordinary day. Safe harbor. A gift.
But time caught up, and I reached out my hand to say goodbye.
As he left, I smiled, thinking that was lovely, amazing. And that was the end of it.
Except, it wasn’t. Slowly it dawned on me, he was interested. There were reasons, legitimate ones, yes, to come by again. To check on the guys, pick up the payment. But when I told him I wouldn’t be around to say hello, he changed the appointments, once, twice.
He was interested. Wow.
And I didn’t mind. For the first time in nearly six years, I was considering a new possibility.
Yesterday, he checked in again. I let him know I’d be there; he could pick up the payment.
He showed up as promised. He did indeed check the work. Provided a touch-up to the steps. Took the payment. As I suspected, asked a bit more about me, my work. We joked a little.
And then he walked out the door.
Oh, OK. I didn’t think I’d misread the signals, but OK. Maybe he’d reach out later. Two minutes later there was a knock on the door. Not wrong after all.
Two questions he blurted out. “How old are you?” Whoa. I tell him the truth, 61.
He was 42. Wow, OK.
“Question two, would you go out to dinner with me?”
Yes. Wow. Yes.
Then he asked for a small kiss, and wow turned to whoa.
This was going very fast. If this was going anywhere, we would have to move way more slowly. Waaaaay more slowly.
And then he was gone.
I laughed. Crazy this. Texting a couple of friends. “I just said yes to going out with a man nearly two decades younger than me. Literally, another generation. I said yes.”
In truth, I wasn’t sure what this date would be, what he was looking for. I definitely wasn’t jumping into bed on a first date, the way I might have in the past. That was a completely different conversation these days.
As the thoughts rambled around my head, I wondered what he wanted from me, 20 years his senior. Then I caught myself, realizing I needed to change the question: What did I want from him?
I came back to the bubble. Safe harbor.
I was intrigued. He had lived a life, he had seen, experienced, sorrow and had chosen happiness. I knew I was drawn to the shadow, the wounds, the beauty that is revealed as we heal. That is how we grow, how we deepen.
This year, I invited in the unknown, the mystery, challenging myself to be surprised.
I don’t see it as a long-term relationship, but it is an opportunity to take a chance, to see what is possible.
Did I mention surprised?