After walking the labyrinth, I grabbed some hot chocolate and stood in the peaceful courtyard, talking to friends. They all commented on how beautifully my daughter had waited. For whatever reason, Katie has always loved attending the labyrinth ceremony. Tonight she had sat calmly, wrapped in a blanket, while I walked. Still, just the week before, we had had a minor meltdown at my sister’s house on Christmas, and we’d been banned until Katie “learned how to behave.” The contrast between that evening and this one was a stark reminder that Katie’s behavioral issues were occurring less and less frequently. I needed to stay the course and trust the process. We would get there eventually—even if it didn’t happen fast enough to suit my family’s timeline.
Katie and I had just returned home when Guy #3 (aka Christopher) texted: Happy New Year from the Midwest!!
I texted him back and for two hours we carried on a conversation while he packed for his early morning flight. Finally it was midnight in my time zone. Happy New Year from CA!! I wrote. And then this: It feels like I spent NYE with you.
I know, he said, it feels like that for me too. I’ll call tomorrow when I get back to CA. I can’t wait to meet you in person.
When he called the next day, I explained that I needed to drive up to Sea Ranch to retrieve my daughter’s missing iPad. He laughed. “You have no idea how many miles I’ve driven to retrieve lost technology.”
So Katie and I left for the coast. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was driving in the wrong direction.
We quickly fell into a pattern: texting all day, and then when Katie got into the tub to soak, talking on the phone into the wee hours. We had both been single for more than a decade, so in addition to the tragic tale of our respective divorces, we shared dating horror stories and single parent moments. We rambled through our childhoods, discussed our children and careers, revealed goals and dreams. I haven’t laughed that hard in years.
Finally neither of us could stand it anymore. We needed to see each other in person.
I broke it to Katie gently. “I know I said we would spend the whole week here, but I met someone, and I really want to meet him in person.”
“A date,” Katie said.
“Yes, a date.”
“I want to see Nate,” Katie said.
“You can still see Nate, but not while I’m on the date. That would be mean. To Nate. But you can hang out with Lora or Miss B, maybe even Jennifer, okay?”
“Jennifer,” Katie said. “I want to see Jennifer.”
“Okay, we’ll text Jennifer and see if she’s free.”
Katie stared at me for a long moment. “A date,” she said.
“Yes, a date. But not with Nate. His name is Christopher.”
“I want to see Nate.”
“I know you do, and you will. I promise. But Nate didn’t want to live with us, and this guy has good daddy potential.”
Katie considered this. I could see her desire to stay at Sea Ranch competing with her life-long yearning for a father. The latter won. “I pack the bag.”
The next day, after much debate over location, Christopher and I met at Uncle Yu’s in the Vineyards for drinks and dinner. After a few minutes of awkwardly staring at one another at the dark, sultry bar, we picked up our conversation. For dinner, we took the plunge and ordered the chef’s secret tasting menu with wine pairing. Halfway through our incredible meal, the waitress asked which anniversary we were celebrating: 10th? 15th? Possibly our 20th?
We laughed. I said to Christopher, “Should we tell her?” He nodded, and I said, “It’s actually our first date.”
“No,” she said. “That’s impossible. We gets lots and lots of first dates in here, and you guys are not throwing off a first date vibe.”
“It’s pretty much the best date ever,” Christopher said, “but it’s definitely our first.” He grinned. “I don’t think it will be our last though.”
“No,” I said. “Definitely not our last.”
“Oh my god,” the waitress said. “You two are the best!”
The sommelier brought us a phenomenal port to pair with the decadent chocolate cake, and the owner printed out our menu and invited us back for future anniversaries. Then they left us alone. We talked until we realized we were the only remaining guests.
We wandered through downtown Livermore comparing Chinese fortunes. Then we sat in the Bankhead Plaza and talked, and kissed, and talked some more. We went back to my place and sent the sitter home. Then we stayed up all night talking.
Christopher was correct. It was the best date ever. Until our next….
I’m grateful I trusted the process.
Until next time,