I’d barely posted part one of this story, when there was already more to tell.
It had been a few days since our last communication and I had that ‘butterflies in my tummy feeling,’ wondering when, if, I’d hear more. Already I had decided that a dinner date was too much. But maybe, he was questioning whether the 20-year age gap between us was more than he wanted. Then the phone rang.
“I want to be honest.” That was rarely a great start to a conversation, but blunt was how we got here. “I don’t want you to get hurt.”
We hadn’t even had the first date, was he backing out already? But that wasn’t it. He called to let me know he wasn’t looking for anything serious. He was getting out of a 25-year marriage, not even fully divorced. He was looking for a little fun, a little diversion.
He repeated he didn’t want to hurt me, but his life was full – work, an almost ex-wife, children. Goodness, children. He rattled on with how attractive he thought I was. Whether it was dinner or brunch, I shouldn’t be surprised if he tried to kiss me. There was no questioning what he wanted.
I thought back to our conversation the week earlier when we’d briefly shared those experiences of loss and grief. If it hadn’t been for that conversation, I would have already said no. But I was intrigued.
Then somehow, in all his honesty, it came out that he’d been with another woman a few days earlier. Possibly right after he shook my hand and said he’d call me. He added he probably wouldn’t see her again. Was that supposed to make me feel better? But with all his honesty came permission to ask my own difficult question: “What are you doing for protection?”
As I listened to what felt like a barrage of words, I considered the possibility that I might still say yes. That I could rise to my own challenge to surprise myself, be daring. Say yes.
I said yes.
He promised to call me Monday and we’d figure out a time when he could take a couple of hours from work to have lunch. Another promise about a kiss.
In the quiet after he hung up, my body began to contract. In the quiet after he hung up, I felt a queasiness in my belly.
No longer sure I wanted to do this. I sat with the question, was it a fear of being naked, vulnerable after all this time, after being a widow for six years?
Considering what had been daring and fun at 20 or 30, no longer held the same appeal. But even when I was younger, I often gave my body away on a first date, in hopes of being liked, feeling desirable. That never left me satisfied.
As I let the initial adrenalin at his invitation pass, I allowed my own desires to rise. What did I want?
Yes, to fun. Yes, to sex. Yes, to delight and thrill.
But also, yes, to relationship. Yes, to intimacy. Yes, to trust. Yes, to passion. Yes, to the beauty, the vulnerability, the sweetness that is the communion of body and soul. Yes. I wanted it all.
Maybe not marriage, maybe not even long term. But for a time. I would hold out for wanting it all.
As I came to my decision, I could feel my body relax, my soul expand with joy. Yes.
I called him up. “I need to be honest with you. This is not what I want. I want something deeper, more meaningful.”
Though this didn’t turn into a delightful passionate affair between us, it was a gift in so many ways.
My ego was most flattered at the attentions of a much younger man, who in no uncertain terms thought I was desirable.
It was a great lesson in honesty. How much easier this all was when each of us knew what we wanted. No tangled mess of emotions as we blundered along. And it was a great preparation for what might come next.
I was proud of the courage it took to say yes, and then to say no. To listen to my deepest, truest self. And when I heard her and paid attention, we rippled in joy at the acknowledgement, at the choosing of ourself.
As I said goodbye, I told him how much I appreciated all that happened. He had made my day, my week. (And a couple of delicious writings.)
He still needs to finish my steps. He suggested a cup of coffee on the porch afterwards.