We walked through the park as she told me about her annoying commute to work at a hospital an hour south of us.
I smiled out of obligation as she revealed all of her masturbation fantasies and “I don’t know what came over me…” diatribes.
I noticed, in a cursory way, that the shadows were beginning to become more pronounced as the sun fell lower in the late afternoon autumn sky. I suggested we grab some dinner.
In the restaurant, the discussion of alcohol came up. Later, as I walked her to her car, she apologized and said she just couldn’t imagine having sex with someone who didn’t drink. I walked to my car, grasping for an emotion to attach myself to, like I was temporarily blinded and groping in the dark.
I really wasn’t sure what I should be feeling, although I felt like I had a really good theory about what did come over her in all of her embarrassing morning-after stories.
Now I know it didn’t matter—because every bad date led me to you.
A month later, I met someone on a dating site who seemed kind and sensitive. She explained she was freshly out of a relationship, and stressed that by “freshly,” she meant days. Another wiser man may have read the writing on the wall and saved the 50 dollars and the paid day off. I, however, have come to accept the fact that the term “wiser man” will always be used when referring to someone other than myself.
The results of that effort went about the way you’d expect. I wasn’t exactly ghosted, but it was as close to a brush with the undead as I would’ve liked.
It didn’t matter—because every bad date led me to you.
That brief chapter was kind of a relief anyway. The year before, when I was a lot more inexperienced with the foibles and follies of internet dating, I invested weeks in a phone relationship with someone I met on Zoosk.
Things were really looking good there for a while. That is, until we finally met at a restaurant in Hyde Park, former home of the great Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband.
I saw my date standing out by the door waiting for me. It was only her body language that gave that away. She looked nothing at all like her profile photo, and, as best as I could deduce, it must’ve been a blurry flip phone picture from—well, from the days of flip phones.
It didn’t matter, really—because every bad date led me to you.
In the three years since I left the mother of my children, the dating world has had its way with me. The thousands of dollars in restaurant tabs, dating site membership fees, shirts and jeans I never needed, and coats and boots I never wanted.
All I really did want was to be loved. I would’ve settled for breadcrumbs at a few moments when it all seemed too dark to bear any longer.
Had I known that if I just hung on a little harder, I would’ve met not simply the woman of my giddiest dreams, but someone beyond my wildest imagination, someone I could tell my darkest secrets to and still be loved so completely. Had I known this might be my reality at some point, those weeks and months would’ve passed by in a much friendlier fashion.
It doesn’t really matter now.
Every bad date led me closer to you.