This is Chapter 19 in a series entitled Telling My Story.
Courted. Such an old-fashioned word. But that is what was happening to me, for the first time. While it was nice, it was also awkward. After all, I was past forty and did not expect anything like this to happen to me.
He called, he sent flowers, he took me places. And he always did exactly what he said he would do - I just could not get over that.
Unfortunately, it made me nervous. Even irritable, which made no sense, but since when do emotions make sense? When you grow up with an unreliable father, and then you marry young to an unreliable partner, you have not had the opportunity to form the basic ability to trust. I did not trust much of anyone at this point in my life. I did not trust what I was told, nor what my own eyes and ears told me, because I had been deceived one too many times.
Poor D. had no idea what he was getting into, when he decided to "get into" my life. Moreover, I had begun to taste what it was like to be my own person. Remember, I dated the same boy all through high school, and then married him right after graduation. So I went directly from being someone's daughter to being someone's wife. Then I quickly became someone's mother.
Like many women of my generation, I knew little to nothing about just being Marsha. But I was discovering what it meant, and had decided no one was ever again going to tell me what to do or how to do it .
Yes, I know, this sounds really mature, doesn't it? The forty-year-old equivalent of "you're not the boss of me". Charming, I wasn't.
I had also discovered, after cooking dinner seven nights a week for a family of five for over twenty years, (after working all day in a busy office) that I liked to eat out, or get take out, or order pizza, or just about anything else except cooking. I didn't want to cook anymore, and did not plan to do much of it going forward.
Fortunately, D. was a pretty good cook and actually enjoyed it. He had already been a single parent for over eight years when we met, and he was not looking for a cook or a housekeeper. Good thing, too; because I was not looking to become one again. Period.
He thought we were a match made in heaven. I wasn't sure we could even work out a match here on terra firma.
But despite all my fears and reservations, despite feeling silly about "dating" and doing romantic things at a time when I thought I would be settling into a staid middle-age; we were having some fun.
He took me dancing on my forty-second birthday. After one dance that had been a cha-cha, one of the other guys at our table said to us, "Boy, you guys are really good at that. I'll bet you have been doing this together for twenty years." He did not believe us when we said we had never been dancing together before. Then D. surprised me by, arranging in advance, to have the band to play "Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby", while we were dancing.
One day while at work, I looked out my office window toward the street, when I heard a horn honking. There sat a green pickup truck, with a huge hand-lettered sign on the side of it, reading "S.G. or Bust." D. sat behind the wheel grinning.
S.G. stood for Stony Gorge, otherwise known locally as "the lake", a large swimming and fishing reservoir about twenty miles up in the foothills from town. We had driven up there one evening and spent some time strolling along the lake side, arm in arm, looking at the stars. While enjoying the summer breeze, we even saw a lot of shooting stars - no, really we did.
D. wanted to go back to the lake. Thus, the sign, "S.G. or Bust." I laughed so hard I cried. I thought he was nuts. Turned out he was ... about me. Who would have guessed?