These are my final hours of being 41. I am one year closer to death, or at least becoming a crazy dog lady. I know this because I’m suddenly getting mail from AARP and SeniorMeet.com. I contemplated taking the day off to drink alone all day and pass out, oblivious to the fact I’m entering a new year. This is much like my strategy for New Year’s Eve, which is the anniversary of the tragedy known as my wedding.
Yup, at this time tomorrow I enter a new phase. My days of holding out hope for dating hot 29 year olds is no longer realistic. I have to change my online dating saved searches to 30 year olds. Similarly, I fall off the radar of younger men looking for cougars and will now only be searched by 60-somethings-who-claim-to-be-44. The odds of me finding the love of my life now are about as likely as getting struck by lightning. I might have to go for money and start trolling high stakes bingo games hoping to find some guy with a pacemaker who just won the super jackpot.
My birthday is also a sad reminder of the one fleeting moment when I realized love at first sight was not just a concept drilled into little girls’ heads by the romance novel industry. It exists, just like Sasquatch. Only I didn’t have to hide out in the woods to find it. It found me. And it turns out the sighting was just as fleeting.
I met Chris on an online dating site. This comes as a surprise to no one. He was a graduate student at Yale and working on a major research project. After weeks of back and forth trying to schedule a time to meet, he surprised me–on my birthday. He came out on his dinner break from the lab to meet me at the public seawall. It being late October, it was dark, cold and deserted. If he turned out to be a serial killer, it would have been easy to dump my body into Long Island Sound. Fortunately he was on the skinny side, so he would have had a hard time lifting me.
I saw him walking up and got out of my car to meet him. Just like a movie, we met up under a streetlight and both broke into stupid, toothy smiles. My eyes lit up, I could tell. This is why I suck at surprise parties and poker. He handed me a red velvet cupcake and said he couldn’t let me spend my birthday alone. We walked and talked for barely 30 minutes that felt like a lifetime. It was windy and cold but I didn’t care. Something about the chilly wind made me feel even more alive. I was oblivious to his shivering, as happens when one is smitten. (Wait…is smitten the present tense of smote? That might explain how this story ends…)
He couldn’t stay, because his team was counting on him to get back to the lab. As he departed, we had that awkward moment of it being too soon to kiss, but wanting to. I was actually okay that we didn’t, because for once in my life I wanted to savor every second of this relationship. I wasn’t in a hurry. He jokingly complained that he was disappointed I didn’t at least try to grab his ass. Then I knew he was a keeper.
I saw him for lunch a couple of days later. In the daylight hours the banter was still there. In the TGI Fridays lighting he was still attractive. He turned out to be part Norwegian, so that was like the whipped cream on top of the pie I wanted to eat off him. Later that night he came over on his dinner break. By then we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. There was instant chemistry. There was so much heat my boobs were sweating like I was in hot yoga. But then he had to leave, just when things were getting good. He was buried in the lab for the next two weeks, then he went out to California to present the research results, before going home for Thanksgiving. While he was gone, the place where he gave the presentation offered him a fellowship. His dream fellowship. We had a falling out because I wanted to see him again and he didn’t want to complicate his decision to accept it. We both knew that seeing each other again would make it harder for him to go. I tried like hell to get him to change his mind. If only I could seduce him, he would fall under my spell and be unable to leave me and my mad sexual skillz. He resented my efforts. There were a couple of emails after that but then he stopped. He’s moved to two other states since then, according to his dating profile which looks exactly the same 5 years later. I may or may not cyber stalk him.
Every year since then, I find myself down at the seawall around my birthday, going back to that night when I believed the Universe conspired to bring me my soul mate. He was everything I wanted. And then he was gone. This is in part validating, and in part soul-killing. I wonder if he’s The One no one else will compare to. I’m waiting for that magic again, and can’t settle for anything less. But I still hold out hope, years later, that he will come back…
Or maybe the great lesson from the Universe is that the only love that truly lasts is between a drunk girl and a red velvet cupcake. Hunting for Sasquatch.