I didn’t think I’d ever be married, and I doubt anyone else did either.
First, I am what people generously term, “a character.” (I don’t think I am, but maybe that’s the point.) Also, when you’re pushing fifty, live with 2 dogs and 4 parrots, your chances at finding Mr. Right, or Mr. Anyone, are, to put it kindly, slim.
I’d been with my first boyfriend on and off for over 20 twenty years, but we never married. Everyone assumed we ‘d be together until one of us died (by our own hand or done in by the other one of us). We broke up and I threw myself headlong into a love affair, emphasis on the word affair, and that (surprise! Surprise!) left me broken-hearted. A lot.
After a month of being deeply depressed, all rocking back and forth in the fetal position-y, I decided I needed to pull my self together. Stat. I began reading anything I could find that might help: philosophy, theology, metaphysics, new age books, self-help books, bumper stickers, “US Weekly’s Worst Beach Bodies” issue, anything to help me feel better, to help me feel some hope.
All the books said essentially the same 2 things: Surrender, and get off your butt. In other words, have faith, and manifest that faith by acting like you really expected things to turn out OK.
One Saturday night, about 2 in the morning, I found I’d had it. I said out loud to God, or whomever or whatever might hear me, “I am done. Done trying to make this happen, to make anyone do or feel this or that. These books say if a thing’s meant to be it will be, and if it’s not then nothing I do can change that. So I’m giving up the reins, letting go of the wheel, leaving it all up to you. If YOU want me to find true love, great. If you don’t, well, that’s OK too. In other words, I surrender.” Then it happened. I felt…better. Lighter, hopeful-er. I fell soundly asleep for the first time in a month.
Sunday morning, January 14th, I awoke deciding to act on my newfound faith. I remembered one of my books quoting Jesus (or maybe Dolly Parton, I’m not sure) saying, “If you want it to rain, dig ditches.” How could I manifest my faith that romance and love were still possible — that someone, sometime, would actually see this old broad in her undies? Well, what better way than to buy yet even more expensive lingerie, (though, after aforementioned affair, I’d already acquired a lifetime’s supply, even if that lifetime were a high-end call girl’s.) I decided to go downtown to Agent Provocateur, a shop where I’d already spent unconscionable amounts of cash. This was the last thing I needed, but what better way to show the ole Divine Intelligence that I truly believed? (I’m sure this is what Jesus had in mind when he spoke of that whole dig ditches thing. )
I got out of bed, threw on a parka over what I fear may have been pajamas, and walked to the subway. I was committing to faith, and the sustaining hope it offered in return. It was very early and I knew the store wouldn’t be open for a couple of hours, but I thought I’d just sit on the stoop and wait until they opened. I was that determined to dig some ditches with some lacy new britches!
I boarded the subway, took a seat and looked around the car. Nearly empty at such an early hour on a Sunday, I saw leaning against the pole a slim man reading a thick book. I thought, “Why in the world would you stand when you could sit?” (For that matter, why sit when you can recline, though on public transport I find it best to stay upright.) I saw the book he was reading was called “The History of Philosophy.” A philosophy-reading comrade! I wanted to give him a little heads up about the bond we shared; I may look like a pathetic ragamuffin lady, but I too am of his vanishing ilk. I leaned over and asked who wrote the book he was reading, expecting he would say the author’s name and return to reading, buoyed by the existence of a like-minded soul. To my surprise he pivoted and knelt and we began talking about philosophers we liked. Soon we were singing Monty Python’s “Philosophers Song.”
I was aware my stop was coming up, but here was such a sweet, kind smart man, and I thought about staying aboard the train. But that seemed pretty Mentos commercial cheesy-ish. So instead, just as my stop came up, I rose, said it was nice meeting him, and as the subway doors were about to close Isaid, ”If you have any philosophy book recommendations…” and I quickly blurted my email address.
Checked my email that night – nothing. The next morning I woke up mad at myself. I had this feeling that I should have stayed on that train. Damn!
But later that afternoon I gave it one more try. and there it was –a long email from the guy, recommending various philosophy tomes. He’d Googled me so I had no chance to obfuscate my nuttiness. I Googled him but turned up nada. Was he a serial rapist, or maybe a gentleman safecracker? I decided upon the latter, and told him so in my response. (That is why, to this day, I call him “Raffles”.)
We emailed back and forth for about a month. He wrote long, erudite letters, which I of course scanned for any glimmer of an inference of romance. Maybe he only saw me as a bookish girl who rides the subway in jammies. So, in my emails I wove in details like, “Gotta go, off to my pole-dancing class” or “Can’t wait to take a long bubble bath later” to underscore my gender difference a bit. It must’ve worked because he invited me out for pancakes (my favorite meal). So February 25th, a little over a month later, we went on our first date to the Clinton Street Bakery…and the rest in history.
My favorite part of this story is the next morning, at breakfast in a diner (yeah, yeah, breakfast the next day, I’m a big ole slore) I tried to get him to come out fo his shell and asked him all kidns of questions. “In the future, if you have to live in another state besides New York,” I asked, “What state woud it be?”
“Well,” he said, ”What state are you in?” Sweet talk — my favorite-est kind!
Two years later we got married. Turns out my gentleman safecracker is one of the sweetest, smartest, wonderful-est men on Earth and somehow or another I’ve clouded his mind sufficiently that he’s willing to spend the remainder of our lives together. (With 4 parrots no less!)
Like me, this was Jeff’s first marriage and apparently no one would have bet a farthing that he’d ever get married either. Was it serendipity or something else that brought a middle-aged spinster and erstwhile bachelor together?
All I know is that one night I let go and surrendered to faith — faith in love, faith in miracles – and, against all odds, I ended up getting both.