Finding the Spark

Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts. -A merchant discussing the hidden power of the Genie’s lamp in Aladdin

For those of you who have been eagerly awaiting an update of my dates with Jock With a Heart and Albany Activist, today is your lucky day. I apologize for the wait, but it’s been a busy and emotional past week. I just spent the last hour or so uploading more than 60 photos, and now I can share with you the adventures of last weekend.

Src: morningswithnpr.blogspot.com

The Thursday before last was my date with Jock With a Heart. Thursday is one of the days he gets out of work early, so he was anticipating arriving at my house around 3:30 p.m. He underestimated how long it would take him to get here, so he didn’t show up until about 4 (with text updates along the way).

We decided to enjoy the beautiful Indian summer weather and head out for a hike. Several friends are big fans of an area the next town over that I’d never been before, and in fact had never heard of until maybe two years ago, despite all the years I’ve lived in the area. So I decided we should see what all the hype was about, though I had low expectations.

Jock With a Heart was a cutie, though I wasn’t as blown away by him in person as I was by his photos. No matter, he acted like a gentleman getting out of the car to walk to the door. I met him halfway, and once in the car, I teasingly told him to turn off the GPS that had gotten him lost on the way to my house—I would get us there the old fashioned way.

I was surprised by the pretty view that greeted us as we pulled up to the park. Conversation had been light and breezy, but we were both impressed by the view as we hit the trails. Completely covered by trees, we hiked up and down paths completely littered with tree roots, as we started to get to know one another.

I found out he had been previously married. At age 41, that didn’t come as too much a surprise. That’s one thing eHarmony really should change though—they have an option for saying if you have children, but not if you’ve been divorced or are separated or anything, unlike some of the other online dating sites.

Anyway, he told me he had been working in a remote town in Vermont, set up with this girl, and since it was a certain time in his life, he thought he should get married. So he did, despite the fact that he and his wife not having too much in common. He also said she wasn’t a very nice person, but he didn’t go into detail except to say he learned to let go of anger because, as I have always said, it hurts the bearer more than the target.

Src: AskMen

He was nice and courteous and interesting, but he was upfront that he wasn’t looking to get serious too soon. He wanted to date around a bit to find a girl he really clicks with before picking a girlfriend to start a relationship. He clarified he was not a player, and that was not his motive. He just didn’t want to repeat the mistakes of his past. I told him that was fine, I agreed with that point of view. Yet I wasn’t looking to date 12 different men—I was looking for a meaningful relationship.

So the date was okay. I didn’t feel any butterflies. Apparently, neither did he. Except for one text reply to me, we have not corresponded since the date. And I’m fine with that because…

The next day, Albany Activist came all the way to my town to go on our date. It was strange because I immediately felt myself putting him in the “friend” category, despite our hours of conversation about everything you could imagine before this day. We went to my latest favorite Indian restaurant for a lunch buffet and easily talked throughout the meal.

Then we headed out to this state forest that I’d also never been to. I thought I knew generally where it was, and I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the best way to get to the trails. While we didn’t get lost exactly, there were a couple of hesitant, thus missed, turns and we ended up along this bumpy dirt path that tried to pass itself off as a road. We got out at this parking area, which was really just a dead end circle, but fortunately there was another car there so we weren’t the only lost souls. There were trees, which I took as a good sign, so we headed off into the woods.

After a muddy and surprisingly physically taxing hike, we returned to my house. Now a couple days before our date, Albany Activist made the following suggestion: if we got along as well as we seemed to be doing already, I was invited to come back with him to Albany for the weekend, since he had Friday and Monday off for Yom Kippur and Columbus Day. This wasn’t as shady as it might sound; he has several other friends living in his house, he was meeting my parents and we had shared more in our conversations than some people do after dating IRL for quite some time.

However, when the time came to think about heading back, I panicked. As I mentioned previously, Albany wasn’t whom I’d normally pick out for myself physically. Though he was at a better fitness level than I, he didn’t look it. But besides that, we were both emotionally distancing ourselves in person, so I was very surprised when he brought up the invitation in person. He told me one of his housemates was cooking dinner, and friends were coming for 7—our drive would be around two hours.

Src: opkansas.org

I kept hesitating, thinking of numerous reasons, some health-related, some work-related. Then I had several episodes. Instead of just looking at me, Albany reached over and began massaging the muscles that were involuntarily convulsing. He began scratching my scalp, and it felt so good…and so intimate.

When I was back to my normal me, I looked at him surprised. “Wow, you didn’t freak out.”

“It takes a hell of a lot more than that to freak me out,” he said with a smile, confidently pulling me toward him in a hug.

There, in that comforting embrace, I found that spark I had been looking for.

It wasn’t drop-dead looks. It wasn’t schmoozy charm. It wasn’t generic teasing or sexual banter. It was someone who had taken the time to find out why I loved the things I loved. It was someone who knew some of my still tender spots from relationships past. It was someone who was turned on by my creative ideas and my future career plans that involved helping people in a very real and far-reaching way—just like he had.

He didn’t care that I was a confused Christian while he was a former Orthodox Jew. He didn’t care that my skin was a honey brown while his was almost ruddy. He didn’t even stress over the fact that I couldn’t drive, lived with my parents and had a chronic illness not only without a cure but with multiple failed attempts at treatment plans. He saw me. Me. And he really liked the person inside and out.

That’s who I’ve been looking for, and I suddenly realized he was sitting next to me on the couch. I smiled at him and told him I was going to pack the rest of my stuff. He went to play with the cat and talk with my mom.

Thacher Park

It is hard to write about this because I really don’t want to ineptly describe what turned out to be an amazing weekend, in spite of Albany getting sick enough to have to take me home Sunday night. I will say we saw some amazing sights, shared some incredible moments just the two of us, as well as had a great time with several of his friends. And yes, there is definitely that spark. I’m so happy I had both my eyes and heart open wide.

I don’t have to say I don’t know what’s next because he’s coming to the Berkshires to stay with me for a couple of days while we’re there on vacation for the week. Yet of course who knows beyond that, right? He lives two hours away, and he leads a full, complex life separate from my own. Yet we both are really happy today. That’s good enough for me right now.

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