Next month will be the one year anniversary of the day D. and I actually, physically met.
I first started getting to know him when I stumbled upon a free dating site. It was based in Canada and most of the people there were from Canada with a few upstate New Yorkers thrown in the mix. I had been separated from my husband for two years and I hadn’t even wanted to think about dating. My husband,from here on to be referred to as the STBE(soon-to-be-ex), on the other hand had moved in with his “girlfriend” less than three months after he left. I thought I never wanted to have to deal with a man in a relationship again. It was that painful. But by the end of two whole years of watching all my married friends be their cozy couple selves I was feeling more than a little lonely.
So I picked a fake name, wrote a brief, honest bio on the site and waited. I was shocked at the number of hits I got immediately! A week or two into learning the ropes on a dating site I got a message from a guy who referred to himself as “dabear”. We had a lot in common and we hit it off right away.
After chatting online for a couple of weeks he asked if he could call me on the phone and I hesitatingly gave him my number. I thought that might be a bit stupid of me but I did it anyway. He called the next night at 8 o’clock and we began a ritual of phone conversations that lasted for 2 to 3 hours every night. We talked about everything and I found that a man could actually hold an intelligent conversation !! Wow! It was an epiphany!
He and I soon realized we wanted to meet in person but he lived three and a half hours away and so getting together for coffee was kinda out of the question. He suggested we meet in Ithaca which is roughly haflway between us.
I had a huge dilemma. Should I put this 53-year-old body of mine in the car and drive north and risk being a huge disappoinment to a man I liked very much or do I deny the fact that if this was ever going to go somewhere we needed to know! I never even considered that maybe I wouldn’t like him when I saw him.
Reluctantly and fearfully I agreed to meet him the following weekend. He mapped out my route and we booked rooms at a hotel there.
I cannot describe how terrified I was. My self-esteem was really low. I felt that he would take one look at me and think he’d made a huge mistake even though I had honestly described myself to him. I don’t know how I found the courage to get in that car but somehow I did.
It was July 13th, a Friday. Friday the Freakin’ Thirteenth!! Not a good omen, I’m thinking as I started out on the drive. I’m in the car driving to meet a man called “dabear” (I knew his real name by then of course!) What do I know about this guy? Umm, he loves bears! He collects them. He’s divorced for the past 6 years. He is a Software Engineer. He owns his own home. He has no kids. He likes to hike and loves wine. I had learned a bunch of facts and feelings as we had talked all those many long nights on the phone. I already was halfway in love with him!
As I was driving my little Subaru along the Delaware River there were almost no vehicles on the road to distract me from my thoughts so when I saw several motorcycles headed towards me in the opposite lane I payed attention. Just as I could see the first rider clearly a black bear came running out of the tree line on my side of the road, crossed in front of me and ran right smack into that first motorcyclist! The driver layed that big bike down and slid for many, many yards and came to a complete stop exactly next to my car. I had hit the brakes hard because I didn’t want to hit either him or the bear! The riders behind him all came up to us within seconds and as I put my window down and opened my door, I could hear the injured rider moaning. His friends shouted to me , asking if I had a cell phone and I told them I did. They asked me to call 911 but I couldn’t get a signal! That happens often along these rural roadways with the mountains and valleys blocking reception. I told him I would drive a ways down the road and find a way to either use my phone or find a house and ask someone to call for me. I got about two miles north and my cell phone became functional again so I called the emergency number and gave them the information.
By then I started to shake. I realized I could easily have been the one to hit that bear and perhaps lose control of my car and end up nose-first down the riverbank! I felt terrible to have had to witness that poor man’s accident and injury! The bear, by the way, scampered away, seemingly unharmed. He disappeared into the woods on the opposite side of the road. I could see him climbing the ridge right above the road for a while.
As I was driving I was thinking “Trisha, you are crazy! It’s Friday the 13th and you’ve just seen a bear almost kill a man! Don’t you think it’s an omen, you dumb bitch? ‘dabear’…DUH!!”
I swear I almost turned that car around several times and went home but I didn’t. I drove on to Ithaca and the moment I saw him in the lobby of that hotel my heart skipped a beat. He saw me and smiled. It was a warm and wonderful smile and as I came closer I put my hand out to him and he took my hand and pulled me to him and right in that lobby in front of a dozen other guests he gave me the most romantic kiss I have ever had in my life. It was perfect.
For two days we got to know one another more and more. We went off touring the wineries around the Finger Lakes, stopping for meals at little cafes and restaurants, talking, always talking! And kissing. The days were good. The last night there was even better. Hmmmm…..
I happen to love Sowa’s print of the Little Girl and the Bear. I have had a copy of it for a long time. When D. saw it he said it was us. He’s so right. It has that feeling…..