Online Dating and the Digital Language of Love


I have news for you, Visitors. I’ve started online dating, and it is a blast.

Nothing for OKCupid?

Nothing for OKCupid?

Now, most of you know me pretty well. I’m a committed Christian, and in my life, I take all comers. I have “normal” friends, single friends, married friends, adulterous friends, gay friends, a dear person who is an authentic transsexual,  deviant friends with every fanged addiction imaginable, and families in every single configuration you can possibly come up with. It’s very enriching.

(I model this take-all-comers attitude in my school as well.  When we admit people, we have a very directed interview, where we explain that we come from a conservative Biblical worldview. Of course, we cover the usual things-curricula, regulations, teacher qualfications, etc.  We also explain, clearly, that your preschooler will get Christmas as Jesus’ birth, Easter as his resurrection, daily prayers, Bible stories, all the things a good, solid, Christian school should provide. Choose EA or not, but know what will happen. )

I had heard about OK Cupid among some of my friends, so I decided to open an account and see what the commotion was all about. I figured there is nothing inherently unBiblical about meeting people like this,  it piqued my curiosity.

Well. Those of you familiar with meeting people this way know the drill. Fill out a profile about yourself, mark some interests, set your limits, and off you go. Gracious! One hour and 253 “likes” later (no exaggeration) I started sifting through all this information.

Good heavens alive, Visitors, what an education! I put down my professional reading for the night, and started reviewing data points.

Data point #1 : Hi! I’m Rich. Ever consider dating a younger man? Your profile looked great! (Rich, 32, teaches English at a public school in Denver)

Data point #2: Hello Beautiful!  I’m Ed. You have a calm “vibe” and I’d like to get to know you better! ( Ed, an engineer at Martin Marietta)

Data point #3: Hello, Gorgeous! I’m  Mitch! (Followed by this groaner) God was surely showing off when he made you! Care to chat? (Senior petroleum engineer at a local oil company)

I quickly activated my ‘predator sensor’ and wrote off the creepy idiots asking for intrusive information. Surprisingly, this was, oh, perhaps 20% of the total. Fewer than I would have thought.  I then wrote off the ones with obvious health problems, for reasons you can guess.

People like Rich, I shelved for further attention, more on that later. “Mitch” and “Ed” types (not their real names, of course) garnered my attention. Why would professional, educated men resort to something like online dating? Are we desperate, boys? (Ooops, pots calling kettles black, came to mind)

So, I gave some thought to this. See, in my case, meeting like-minded, Christian, male buddies is nigh on impossible. I work with a team of delightful women. Middle aged (mostly),  white, devoted-to-their jobs women. All of you know that my dad stroked a while ago, so I gladly take him to HIS church, full of gentle grey heads. I go to grad school with hard-boiled (usually married) cops or fresh-faced twentyish grad students.

Is it too much to ask to hang out  with someone my own age? HA! Not on OK Cupid. This whole thing is just fascinating. As I continued to peruse the data points, I discovered my vocabulary to be lacking. How about these newly-coined words-

Sapiosexual- Someone who views intelligence as the most attractive characteristic. (OK, that’s a pretty cool attribute)

Demisexual- Someone who can only be sexually attracted to someone with whom they have developed a strong emotional bond.  (What? Isn’t it supposed to be like that?)

Omnisexual-(synonym to Pansexual)- Someone who is attracted sexually to both genders.  (Oh, brother, how convenient.)

This exercise in vocabulary development led to a whole new world of ‘blue’ vocabulary that I can’t possibly relate to you, Visitors, without censoring this essay into nonsense.

At any rate, I whittled down this tidal wave of interest into a few likely candidates, so far.

“Rich” piqued my interest immensely. What!  He’s 32! Mommy issues? I won’t lie about my age as a matter of pride. I could be your mother, boy!

Seriously!

Seriously!

What followed was an utterly charming conversation with an athletic young man who actually likes introducing middle schoolers to good literature. Turns out he was at a recent 21 Pilots concert the same night I was, and had just as much fun. This light and fluffy guy actually likes the focus older women possess. Hilarious!

“Ed” was genuine, if a bit of a downer. A parent of adult kids, Ed is four years divorced, and striking out on his own, relationally. Fair enough.

“Mitch” is Armenian, and speaks more graciously than he writes, thank heaven. He’s an attendee of an Armenian Orthodox church, and invited me to a service. I think I shall go!

All of this simply cracks me up, Visitors. The communication skills required in this kind of relationship-building are immense. We only get words until we talk on the phone, and even that is incomplete. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats in-person communication, and that’s coming next. I’ll keep you posted.

With great hilarity,

Victoria

PS- I love you all, and I can anticipate the cautions a mile off. Remember, I am safety-minded to the point of paranoia. Meeting in crowded, well-lit spots? Yep! Telling someone where I am and when I’ll be back? Got it covered! Applying all of my newly-acquired background check skills to these guys? You betcha!

🙂 V

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Life at 52: Finally Playing With A Full Deck


So, I turned 52 a little while ago, Visitors, and I couldn’t be happier.

When I was younger, I thought that the fifties would be some sort of gateway into senior citizenship. As if five decades carried some sort of identity card that gave me street cred, and I could lord it over those younger than me.  (Oh, wait, what about that red AARP card?  How did they know my birthday, anyway? Creepy.)

Hilarious.

Hilarious.

Instead, I find it cause for meditation and action.  One of my favorite Star Trek characters once said “Recently, I have become aware there are fewer days ahead than there are behind.” (TNG, Picard, for you purists.) Well said. In our fifties, this is likely the case.

Since Chris died, I have been acutely conscious of the fact that time is more valuable than gold. It’s funny, if you’ve walked with someone to their death, perspective changes on all sorts of things. When Chris was fighting his battle, the cancer establishment that surrounded me often concentrated on achieving ‘more birthdays’, ‘more events’, ‘more time together’. I grew to appreciate that idea then, and treasure it even more now.

I was discussing this type of thing with a new friend the other day. He’s about the same age, and we were sharing stories of how we had gotten to where we are.

I  listened to my friend’s meditative  inventory.  He listed to me all the things that were going right in his life, all the reasons he had to be thankful. I realized that at this age, I do that all the time myself. Kids doing well? Check. Dad all right? Check. Roof overhead, food on the table? Check. No looming disasters of impending doom barreling down the tracks at me? Not today, thank God.

See, Visitors, Jesus said that there are some things we will always have with us. The poor. Troubles. Trials. Oddly, we are to ‘consider them pure joy’ because these things produce endurance and maturity in us. In James 1, we are told that this will make us ‘mature and complete’ lacking in nothing. Yah, I guess I can see that.

I grow so tired sometimes though, of Christians who preach that we are somehow entitled to abundance of any kind. In the midst of the past few years of suffering, I have grown weary of the idea that we are somehow entitled to ANYTHING at all. The Apostle Paul says we are to owe nothing, except a debt of love to each other. (Romans 13) Matthew 25 says that when we are kind to people with less, it is as if we are being kind to the King of Heaven.

So, perhaps we are entitled to kindness from our brothers and sisters.  Imagine with me, if you will, Visitors. What if we actually did share with those who have less, as if we were sharing with Jesus? What if we lived debt-free, except for the ‘debt of love’ owed each other, that Paul talks about in the book of Romans? Hmm. What a wonderful world that would be.

In the mean time, I reflect on my own worldliness. I’ve gotten beat up since Chris, my mom, and everyone had the nerve to die on me. This is true. My list of ‘wrongs suffered’ is pretty long. Really, though, in these smooth sailing times, it’s a lot easier to see that God actually does heap blessing up on blessing to us undeserving Christians. I’d like to see that more clearly in the midst of the storm.

That’s a prayer for myself. Clarity.  Also, to be more willing to share. Share more, share better, give for no reason other then we are asked to do so. Our heavenly Father loves us, and we love Him, and he asks us to do this. Share our money, share our  time, be the kind of Christ in the flesh that Jesus would want us to be.

Share too, of our maturity. Visitors, those of us who have endured great loss, do you ever feel like this? Princess Louisa, a child of the king. Her battle for clarity, purity, servant to her people, all have left marks on her body and scars on her face.

What's next, for my people?

What’s next, for my people?

Or the weariness of Donal O’Sullivan, the last prince of Ireland, preparing his people for a losing siege against the merciless British?

Weariness can overtake.

Weariness can overtake.

Our suffering has given us gifts. (I never, ever thought I would say that.) We are marked, to be sure. Some of our marks are permanent, and hard to view. Hard as it is to believe, people look to us after suffering. People look to us for reassurance, for succor, for guidance. We’ve been where they are. We understand. Let’s lead our people with our endurance, maturity and grace.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

Happy Anniversary, Chris Lierheimer.


images-4

Twenty seven years ago today, I :

*Was very young. 23 seems a lot younger now than it did then.

*Was twelve pounds lighter and had great knees! It’s amazing the noise they make now.

*Decided that life with Chris Lierheimer was better than life without him.

*Thought that all an abused man needed was the Holy Spirit and the love of a good woman. (There’s a book about naivete in there somewhere. )

*Was lighthearted. Thought PTSD was a designer disease for slacker soldiers.

*Thought a lot less than I do now. Pretty much accepted what my conservative Baptist upbringing gave me, word for word.

*Thought about ‘terminal’ in terms of trains and airports.

*Was exceedingly self-absorbed. The world was my oyster, and I was going to make a difference.

*Had no idea what an ‘intact family’ was. Didn’t everyone have one? What’s up with making a special name for what’s normal?

Now, twenty seven years later, on this day, I:

* Am 50. That seems so substantial. My peers are busy getting their minds blown about teetering on the brink of old age, and I don’t have time for that. As far as I’m concerned, 50 is High Noon, so let’s get busy!

*Weigh in at around a buck forty instead of a buck thirty. Guess what? I’m never going to stand on a pointe shoe again, and good for the 23 year old Victoria who could. My body has mothered four children, seen a good man to his grave, held the hands of dying men and women, and kissed my own mother goodbye. I’m delighted with this ‘car’ God gave me to drive around while I’m here, in spite of the fact I have to take in for repairs more often. I can swim, run around, hike, ballroom dance, turn the heads of the middle aged man set, (and a few women) -In short, this body rocks.

*Still think that life with Chris Lierheimer was better with him, than without him. It would be now. I’m sitting on the porch of our lovely little family cottage in Upstate New York, watching the herons and loons go by. Having kids is great to share these things with, but having him would be better.

* Realize that paternal abuse is about one of the most heinous things someone can do to a child. Chris needed years of therapy before marriage, and certainly before children. Had his mother addressed this instead of denying it, many of our bumps would have been diminished.

*Carry a lot more weight around. Chris’s death was the most traumatic event I have ever endured, and the fallout from PTSD lasts. More on that later.

*Realize the kind of Baptist upbringing that I had was a genuine mixed bag. The youth leader was a charismatic high school teacher who actually believed that Catholics likely weren’t Christians because they worshipped saints. All the ‘cool’ kids went to youth group, and chubby stutterers like me were relegated to the outskirts. On the other hand, we hand a constant, steady stream of solid grounding in the Scripture, and for that I am grateful.

*Shudder less at the word ‘terminal’. My good friend Clare Flourish (clareflourish.wordpress.com) unwittingly gave me a piece of life-changing wisdom a few columns ago. We were trading experiences about seeing our fathers age, and in her case, die. She told me that she had, rather than a sense of ‘a life lost’, ‘a life completed’, at the loss of her dad. I believe that we were created not to die, but to live with God and enjoy Him forever. Clare’s words gave me a vision of my dad finishing the work he was to do, and getting off at his terminal. He’s going to be with his father, and his Heavenly father. This is a good thing. Thank you, Clare Flourish.

*Am a great deal less self-absorbed. Thank God. Had I no children, no husband, no divorced, agnostic, Jewish, Buddhist, doubting, gay, transexual, young, elderly or otherwise different friends, I’d be a crashing boor. I shudder at the thought.

*Mourn the loss of my intact family. There is simply no getting around that. My dear friend Bird Martin (everyonehasastory.me) once observed  …wouldn’t we want our loved ones to keep a little token of us in their hearts should the roles have been reversed?…Chris will have left behind a little legacy in that you will be little more empathetic for others who are going through the same thing. Don’t fight it in those sad moments when you think of him. Embrace the fact that he deserved to have someone grieve for him  here on earth.”  

I find this to be true. And as I said a few days ago, some pain demands to be felt. But my family is not intact and I wonder where the fractures will end. God is the Great Physician, to be sure, but we do not know His plans.

Even so, life is good. On this, my twenty-seventh anniversary, my children and I raise a glass of peach wine to that marriage day long ago. Happy anniversary, Chris Lierheimer.

Much love,

 

Victoria

Sabbatical in a Teacup: Day Eleven. Who Doesn’t Love the Louvre?


Raise your hand if a piece of artwork has ever truly moved you. I mean really, brought you to tears, made you laugh, made you think or stopped you in your tracks. OK, GO!

Anyone? Anyone at all? No one? Ferris? Ferris Beuller? No, seriously, it’s OK. I never appreciated art until I was forced to take an elective in ‘Art Appreciation’ at DU. I thought it was a fluff course, but it was one of those unexpected game changers.

After that quarter I gained a new appreciation for what we humans need to let our imaginations take flight. Michelangelo, Raphael, and Da Vinci took on a whole new meaning as a very patient professor from DU’s school of Art and Art history explained the meaning of themes, terms and the cultural context of many very important works.

I mean, think about it. Imagine, if you will, life without the constant influx of images and data we have streaming at us every single day of our lives. Imagine, instead, standing in line in Rome to pay your penny to see this:

There are uncountable versions of this scene of Jesus turning the water in to wine at the wedding supper.

There are uncountable versions of this scene of Jesus turning the water in to wine at the wedding supper. Yep, that’s Rachael’s cute little head. 

I get the biggest kick out of this one though, because if you really study it, you notice all kinds of interesting details. Like this one, a detail of Jesus’ face:

A couple of things. First off, he just seems bored silly to me! Secondly, a brunette, fair-skinned Jesus? HA!

A couple of things. First off, he just seems bored silly to me! Secondly, a brunette, fair-skinned Jesus? HA!

If you Google  this Raphael, and get a bigger and better shot, you’ll notice that he set this “Water into Wine” picture in the context of 15th century gentry. I find this to be hilarious. On the left, are all sorts of bejewelled upper class. On the right, a few peons are allowed at the table. To Jesus’ right, you see Mother Mary, presumably dropping the hint that the guests are complaining the bar is running dry.

All of his works were commissioned, of course, so the man had obligations. He had to make his patrons look good, and make Jesus seem like part of the nobility. As I went through the exhibition with the girls, the various versions of Jesus really jumped out at me. One, a gentle looking boy with a staff. Another, a very wise looking baby gazing adoringly at Mary. (How come mine never gazed adoringly at me? Wait, no, they did if I had a cookie in my hand.) Another was even blonde!

Ha! Can you imagine? In America, the real flesh and blood Jesus would be stopped at the airport, pulled into an interview room, strip searched and profiled as an Arab terrorist. I mean, really.

Still though, you had to give it to these men. Typical Italians at the time travelled very little. They had few diversions, and devotion to Jesus was chief among them. Looking at these marvelous pictures no doubt gave them conversation for weeks. Here’s one that especially blew my mind.

This thing is a TAPESTRY. Incredible! It's called 'The Sacrifice at Lystra' and shows when Peter and Paul heal a cripple. The passersby mistake them for gods and try to offer them sacrifices. They get miffed.

This thing is a TAPESTRY. Incredible! It’s called ‘The Sacrifice at Lystra’ and shows when Peter and Paul heal a cripple. (Far left corner) The passersby mistake them for gods and try to offer them sacrifices. They get miffed, they want to give the glory to God, not men. Right on. 

I can hardly imagine that. Right beside this enormous piece of fabric which decorated one of the apartments at the Vatican, was Raphael’s ‘cartoon’ of this piece. A ‘Cartoon’ is basically the painting, then given to the weavers, who wove this painting into a piece of material. With thread and things. I can hardly wrap my mind around that kind of skill.

Raphael, was, well, just terrific.

Raphael, was, well, just terrific.

15th century marble sculpture just fascinates me. I think the only thing more beautiful is the human soul. And this goofy trio, of course.

15th century marble sculpture just fascinates me. I think the only thing more beautiful is the human soul. And this goofy trio, of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raphael was a genial, popular painter who had a large studio and a devoted following. He supposedly died of a fever gained from too many (eh-hem) ‘amorous pursuits’ at 37. That was youngish, even 500 years ago!

Master Da Vinci painted the cheerful Lisa Giocondo, or La Jaconde, and she seemed almost anticlimatic, compared to these giant rooms full of master artworks.

She seems like a cheerful sort.  Apparently she was happily married, and had a child before this picture was commissioned.

She seems like a cheerful sort. Apparently she was happily married, and had a child before this picture was commissioned.

This is the entrance to the Louvre. At first glance, it looks grotesquely out of place. But once inside, it all seems to work.

This is the entrance to the Louvre. At first glance, it looks grotesquely out of place. But once inside, it all seems to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, though, it was an exhausting, but wonderful break.

Part of the point of Sabbatical in a Teacup is to find out what there is in the world that fascinates me still. A day at the Louvre is really one of the most relevant things for a person like me.

See, when I am in my usual environs, I notice things. I’ve been a teacher for a long time now, and things like distances have  changed during the 26 years I’ve been teaching.

Distance between ignorance and knowledge. It seems to be harder to get kids to really ‘know’ something now. I mean to internalize and benefit by something, like a piece of artwork.

Distance between loved ones is another. It’s hard to hold someone’s hand if it has an iphone in it, for example.

Paradoxically, distance between cultures has both shortened and lengthened. I can call China right now for pennies. I can step outside onto the Rive Gauche right now and find an all night cafe and write.

But no one will bother me with the impenetrable screen up. I will be left alone, and the distance between me and that grandmotherly French woman at the table next to me will seem enormous.

But put away the screens, and even leave my purse at the hotel. Wrap up in a pashmina scarf, or three, and stick some Euros in my pocket. Grab a kid or two, and see if we can’t make ourselves understood to the French cabbie.

After a few minutes of pidgin French, an elderly gentleman cabbie slowly explained to me, in both English and French, that he could take me to the Quartier Latin for a cinema, and that he had family in Colorado Springs, and what was the capital of Colorado, and did I like Paris.

Poof! Distance eradicated. I think I see a dissertation in there somewhere.

To be continued. Train to Nice tomorrow.

Much love,

Victoria

 

 

Dancing With The Stars


Orion. What I would give to go visit.

Rachael got out our telescope tonight. This thing is enormous. I don’t know the specifications of this beast, but the 8 x 50 on the little lens on top gave me a clue that the bigger one must be darn powerful. We fooled around with it quite a bit before getting it to work, and were treated to dazzling views of the stars in Orion’s belt.

She started to bounce around the deck, babbling on about the Pleiades, Castor and Pollux, Venus, Mars and both of the Ursas. I watched this kid, delighting in her delight, and felt the wonder again of the gift of parenthood.

The Pleiades. I wonder who lives there?

The Bible says that “Children are a gift of the Lord”, a crown” a “grace” and all kinds of other complimentary things.  Mine are rocketing toward adulthood, heading for unknown galaxies far, far away. It’s just the coolest thing to watch.

I’m grateful for you people, because I feel the lack of a partner acutely in times like this.  Chris was as much into parenting as I am, and sometimes we would just look at each other and shake our heads. What a riot, what an amazement this whole gig has turned out to be.

I mean, four kids? What the hell were we thinking? Actually, I wanted to adopt a fifth, but someone was too chickenhearted to take the plunge. (You listening up there, honey?)

Those of you who started with me know their stories, and I know  you are all holding your breath a bit too, wondering how this is going to play out. Traumatized children can easily go bananas, and I was warned. They were so brave during Chris’s ordeal, treating him with love while watching him undergo this horrifying transformation.

When he died, everyone I respected warned me, as gently as they could, that they would probably crater in some way or another. While I have found that too be true to a limited degree, the bomb really hasn’t blasted us apart.

The past six months have been very intense for us on many levels, mainly because the girls are going to college. Gracious, certain words are just giant buttons for me now : applications, early decisions, roommate, Ivy, financial aid, FAFSA (Oh, just writing that one incites an inner desire for violence) and lastly, tuition. ARGH!

The Lierheimer ship is beginning to right itself now, though. Abigail is four for 4 on her first choices, the most exciting of which is admission to Boston University School of Fine Arts. Imagine this, people, forty four THOUSAND young people applied for thirty nine HUNDRED  freshman spots. Abi got one of them! Isn’t that fabulous? The kid’s a rock star.

Both of them got into DU, with a sizeable basket of merit scholarship cash handed to them, thank God. Both of them have worked so hard, they deserve every penny, and I’m grateful.

So, here we are. Part of me is dancing for joy for these kids. I am thoroughly delighted to see them gathering the fruits of their labor, particularly given the events of the past two years.

Part of me though, the part that walks down my father’s driveway alone, the part that scuffs the crack in the pavement and misses my mother, part of me is very sad.

She’d be thrilled, the poor coal miner’s daughter from Pennsylvania. The only one in her family who went to college. I so wish I could tell her.

I wish I could go with them, I wish I could learn about medicine with Faith, about art with Abi, and understand the Swahili that Christopher speaks in Fluid Dynamics, whatever that is.

But it is not to be. The tendrils of family stretch tight, and farther than I thought possible. They will always be my kids, these wonderful young adults, but they’re not children anymore.

It’s all good though. Sickness and death have taken a reprieve from our household, and the possibilities are endless. Just like God, the universe for them seems eternal. They are dancing among the stars, and I get to clap. How great is that!

Much love,

Victoria

How Much Time Do You Need?


Justin Timberlake continues to surprise me. N’ Sync, his baby boy band, was catchy enough for what it was, but his touching performance in his most recent star vehicle  In Time, really got me thinking. It had aged far enough along to land on Pay Per View last week, so it fit my cheapskate budget.

You definitely check your disbelief at the door, because somehow or another the entire human race has been engineered to sport a  bioluminescent clock on the forearm. Once we turn 25, we have one year left, and the only way to get more time is to earn, buy or inherit it. Coffee costs three minutes, and a loaf of bread ten. Literally, time is money.

Naturally, that means the film is filled with 25 year old  gorgeous humans.  The lovely Olivia Wilde plays Justin’s mom (25 years old 24 times over) and stunning Amanda Seyfried, a doe-eyed beauty who just turned 25 herself.

Cillian Murphy is the bad-guy cop, who actually does look like he’s aging, rather like a fine wine. I’d pay to watch Cillian Murphy sleep.

GAH! Gorgeous! 

Justin plays a denizen of the ghetto, and receives a windfall of  time from a wealthy man who’s slumming. He uses his windfall to work his way up the social ladder, until finally he gets to New Haven, where everyone has hundreds and hundreds of years to use, which have been extorted from the inhabitants of the ghetto.

New Haven looks like upscale Jersey, except it’s immaculate with very few cars and no one  swimming in the ocean. Justin is introduced to his love interest, and she is scandalized when he suggests they go for a midnight swim.   No one ever ‘goes in.’ The ocean is a great analogy for so many things in life.

No one ‘goes in’. Hmmm. Why not? Well, something might eat you, for one thing. You might bash your head on a rock and drown. And if you have several hundred years on your arm, why would you risk death by a random act as risky as swimming?

Justin’s character buys what looks like a Jag XJ40. The dealer charges him 59 years (plus tax) and asks him where he would like it delivered for display.

Delivered? Justin looks baffled. “Hell, no. I ‘m going to drive it.” Why? You might crash. Why do anything? Why take any risk, ever? You might die, after all.

What follows is a touching Robin Hood scenario, where Justin kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy ‘Time Magnet’ (Seyfried) and they both proceed to rob from her father and give time back to the deserving poor.

A friend of mine once told me he hated to see me spend resources on a battle that’s for “the principle of the thing.” I had to laugh. What else is there, if not the principle of the thing? Where else would you spend your time, if not on the principles that are important to you? I spend so much of my very valuable time on children. Even more on their parents. I spend too much time dealing with my government, but I do it, for the principle of the thing. I spend time that I don’t have on my own children, shortchanging myself on sleep and other important things. I do it because I know that I can’t keep it, and it’s better to give it away.

Justin and his love interest go around stealing time and giving it away, essentially spending their resources on the principle that no one should die before their time. As the story arc peaks, Justin kisses Amanda goodbye, as his ‘clock’ has only minutes left.

A plot twist gives him a bit more time. As they hold each other, she asks him, “How much time do you have?”

“A day.” he murmurs. “How much more do you really need?”

Good question.

Much love,

Victoria

Platonic Enchantment and The Perfect Date


New York City has been a special place to me for almost 3 decades. That’s a number that’s almost too staggering for me to believe, but it’s so.  Chris and I had years of riding the train to visit Metropolitan Museum of Art, the library, the Guggenheim, and many other great cultural centers. Central Park in the daylight was a favorite spot as well. We danced at Tavern on the Green, and saw as many Broadway shows as we could afford.

When he died last July, I couldn’t deal with the idea of visiting these places that were so special to the both of us. New York City was out of the question. I would simply cut it out of my life.

Children have a funny way of derailing plans. Abi, our third daughter, got it into her head that a summer intensive at Pratt Institute for Art would be the way to spend July. Pratt is in Brooklyn, and it completely unsettled me to think of her negotiating the mean streets by herself.

Two weeks ago I dropped her off, gave her a hug, and hoped for the best.

I went back to the hotel, and got dressed for a date!

Jack Huntington is a captain for United and a Navy reservist. He pilots enormous cargo planes for the Navy, and giant triple 7’s around the world commercially. We met through a friend about six months ago, and had a casual email relationship punctuated by the rare phone call.

Jack is bright, accomplished, and a world traveler, and his travel pictures and lighthearted approach to life gave me grins in times where none were to be had. Jack is also a genuine believer, and father to children about the same age as mine.

We met at Times Square, after a hilarious back-and-forth where Jack sent me photos and texts detailing where he was as he made his way through about a gazillion other New Yorkers.

He suggested pizza at a hole in the wall pizza joint. I simply love to find these family owned places in the city. (I try not to think too hard about things like kitchen inspection reports. ) “Umberto” showed us to a Formica table and the owner made us one of the best pizzas in the city.

What followed was one of the most memorable dates I’d had since Chris died. Not that I’ve had dozens since then, in fact I could count them on both hands, and that would include coffee with friends that just happened to be men.

Jack has been single for about a year too. His loss had to do with divorce rather than death. Equally painful, but in different ways. We sat and traded life stories, drank Pelligrino and watched the world go by for several hours.  It was a remarkable experience.

I don’t have a lot of energy or patience for the traditional dating scene, I simply have too much to do.  But making human connections with genuinely interesting people is such a gift. Jack is very much a man’s man. He’s a soldier, and flies giant scary planes into potentially frightening situations. A triathlete as well, physical fitness is high on Jack’s priority list. One might be intimidated.

But Jack is also a father, and talking about children is a universal constant among parents. Professional parenting is essentially what I do, and it is always fascinating to me to listen to other people’s journeys with their kids. Jack has the added mournfulness of not having complete access to his kids anymore, due to the divorce.

As I listened to him talk, I started to get lost in the present. This was New York, I was in one of my favorite cities, talking with someone who was rapidly becoming very endearing.

Jack and I left the pizza place and walked around Times Square. I am old enough to remember the pre-Guiliani days where Times Square was a lot more tense than it is now. Some people complain about it’s current  sterility, but to me it’s alive.  I took his arm and we watched several street artists, and window shopped paintings and odd people.

We walked back to my hotel, with me wishing the evening didn’t have to end. It was past midnight, and Jack was on call. This could start as early as 5 am, so Jack had to get some rest.

We chatted in the lobby, me resting in the knowledge that I was in the company of a gentleman and a believer. The evening ended with a warm hug and a chaste kiss on the cheek. I was completely enchanted.   The moony seventeen year old inside floated up the elevator and to my room. Then the forty seven year old stepped out and shook some sense into the situation. My inner dialogue went something like this:

That was the best evening I’ve had since Chris got sick. Jack is a dazzling human being, totally gorgeous, and a Christian! Incredible!

He’s also human. Flawed, anxious, stubborn, pushy, opinionated.  He needs to be constantly saved, just like everyone else. It takes two to tango, and he got divorced for a reason.

Ya, but I share most of those opinions! And I’m sure he’s learned from his mistakes! 

Perhaps, even likely. Or perhaps not. It wasn’t a bed of roses with you and Chris, and Jack has been terribly wounded.  You are old enough to have learned from your mistakes.  What’s the best gift you can give a friend anyway? Jesus said to lay down your life, what does that mean here?

I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to. 

That’s childish. Knock it off or go to your room. 

Funny. 

If you are going to consider another partner, even in the most distant sense, understanding is the most precious part of love. Understand his mistakes, his own battles.  Accept the way he is now,  don’t judge him for anything, you aren’t in the position to do that. Your identity is with the Father and Son as your partners now. That’s where it needs to stay, even if you marry again. 

Marriage! Who’s talking about marriage? I can’t even imagine!

Right. A little honesty here, blondie?

I had an afternoon flight the next day, so I walked around several other old haunts, jazzed as can be. The Met was still there, and wonderful. Central Park was full of Russian tourists singing old BeeGees hits. Eagles flew over the penthouses.  I bought an italian ice from a street vendor and listened to park musicians.

When I got on the plane, I realized that my time had flown by. Life in the city hadn’t changed, it was still a wonderful place to visit. New York would always have decades of great memories, but from now on it is ‘mine’, instead of  ‘ours’. That was actually OK.

Wonderful Christian men like Jack exist, Chris wasn’t the only one. The possibilities are endless. I rocketed back home, and realized that New York has been redeemed.

Much love,

Victoria