One more look in the mirror. Shirt looks ok. Beard trimmed just right. No lint visible. Those pesky nose hairs are gone. Looks like I am ready. A quick look at the clock and I realize I am still really early. It doesn’t really matter. I know I am going to be there at least a half hour early. My obsession about time is ever present. I can’t be late to anything, even if it means I have to feel the embarrassment of getting to an event early.
I have been on other dates, but this one feels different. I don’t know why, but this one seems like I really should spend a little more time getting ready. It is January 2nd, and it is cold outside, rare for South Florida, but I am loving it. I am anxious, excited, and scared all at once. Even though I have spoken to my date on the phone, we have not actually met. Did I pick the right place for dinner? She said she is watching her weight and I didn’t want to pick an expensive place. It is supposed to be a casual meet, to see if we like each other. So it’s not a romantic place. Lots of salad and healthy stuff will be available. Yes I think I got it right.
I am driving to the place now. Directions are printed out even though I know exactly where it is. Deodorant is in glove compartment, along with cologne. Of course I applied both on the way out, but I am in my 40’s and I am not an expert at this dating thing. As that thought crosses my mind, I am a little saddened. As a widower, sadness is always there, in the back of my mind. It has been 3 years since she passed, and every day gets easier. But it is moments like these that trigger that little bit of sadness. Is she looking down on me? Does she approve? Would she like the person I am about to meet? Shortly after her death, it seemed like sadness consumed me. It led to depression, and a relationship started too soon, a relationship that should never have been. But now, I am confident, committed to going on with my life, learning to love again, learning to live again. The memories of my late wife are happy memories now, not the ones of her when she was sick.
I arrive at the restaurant. Wow – 30 minutes early, which is right on time for me. I park in front of the restaurant.
I realize that if I stay here, she might come early too, see me already here, and now I am the creepy middle aged desperate guy sitting in a parking lot waiting for her. Not good. I pull out of the parking lot, and I park in the mall next to the restaurant. I listen to music and try to relax. It is not working. What is wrong with me? My palms are actually sweating. My heart is jumping out of my chest. Why didn’t I act this way the last time I went out? What is different about this one?
Ok it is now about 10 minutes till our meeting time, so it is safe to park at the restaurant. I get out, but hesitate. Do I wear my jacket? No jacket? I decide on no jacket. I stand in front of the restaurant so she can see me when she walks up. Will I know it is her? Will she knows it is me? Boy it is really cold. But if I go back to the car, she may not see me, decide I am a no show, and I will never see her again. Yes I am a little insane now, acting like a 12 year old.
I finally decide to go get my jacket. As I walk to my car, in between cars, there she is. She surprises me, calling me by name.
She is beautiful!
We hug. I tell her I am going to get my jacket, then we go in. After ordering and sitting down, we begin to talk. Time stands still. We talk about absolutely everything. It seems like everything we talk about we are in sync. What is going on here? Why is this happening? There is something about her so familiar, like we already know each other. We seem to have led such different lives, but at the same time so much alike. As the night passes in the restaurant, my brain is confused. I must be in a dream. The restaurant is closing. We have been there about three hours, and neither one of us want to go home. We find a Starbucks. The conversation continues. Starbucks closes and it is time to say good night. A warm hug and kisses on the cheek and she is gone again.
I am driving home on a cloud. My tires are floating over the road as I try to take in what has just happened. One thought keeps popping into me head.
“She’s the one.”