A Valentine’s break-up, a sad Facebook status, and a set-up: what could possibly go wrong?
Turns out, nothing at all.
The day before Valentine’s Day in 2013, I texted a man I’d been dating off and on for a while, asking if he’d be interested in catching a happy hour gallery talk at the art museum the next day. Shortly thereafter, my phone rang.
“Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day,” he said.
“Yes,” I replied.
“That’s, well. You know.”
I did know. I knew we’d been drifting away from each other yet again. I knew spending Valentine’s Day together would signal we were headed in the same direction, when clearly we weren’t. I knew these things so well, in fact, I’d already made alternate plans for after the lecture, anticipating that otherwise I might well be spending the evening alone. Instead, I was scheduled for my first-ever figure modeling gig with a community drawing group.
“That’s okay,” I said. And it was true.
The next day I went to the lecture alone, then hopped in my car to drive to the drawing class. I’d mixed up my directions, so by the time I arrived, I was more anxious about being a few minutes late than getting naked. I quickly changed into a robe, then almost just as quickly dropped it. I concentrated for the next hour and half on holding poses.
That evening, I posted on Facebook:
Spent my Valentine’s evening as the sole naked woman in a room full of strangers.
If you can’t make love, make art.
Steve, as yet unknown to me, also posted about his day on Facebook:
For Valentine’s day dinner—an evening at Bull & Bones with guys from the office and the Forest Service. Sigh. Such is life. At least there was decent beer!
Meanwhile, our mutual friend Steve R. scrolled through his newsfeed. He spotted our lonely-hearts updates—one right after the other, I like to imagine. He’d already been contemplating setting us up. A few days later, he sent me a message about a nice guy he knew who was looking to meet someone.
After I agreed to be introduced, Steve R. sent me a message saying he’d told Steve about me. That was at 8:05 pm. By nine, I had my first message. Steve’s eagerness was refreshing, and the decisiveness seemed a good sign.
We traded a few messages on Facebook, including a running gag about Marie Osmond memorabilia. Since we’d both already learned that extended online communiques prior to meeting face-to-face were a bad idea, I quickly said yes when he suggested getting together that Sunday. I had afternoon movie plans, so we settled on brunch.
It was the first best yes ever.
When I walked into the restaurant Sunday morning, Steve had already arrived. He was seated at a booth along the left wall, and as soon as he saw me, he rose to his feet, his face hopeful, a little anxious. He was tall and bald, neither a surprise, vis a vis Facebook. After I joined him at the table, I noted his bright blue eyes and warm, handsome smile.
I don’t remember much of what we talked about that day. As academics, I suspect we shared our current projects—I was on sabbatical, working on a book; he was in the early stages of founding his center for sustainable forestry. I do remember that we lingered until it felt impolite to keep occupying the restaurant’s table, then lingered a bit longer over drinks purchased at the coffee shop next door. It was warm for February, so we sat outside in the sun talking until I had to leave to catch my movie. Steve walked me to my car and gave me a hug good-bye.
I liked him. I didn’t yet know where it might or might not go, but I liked him. And I really hoped he’d meant it when he said we should get together again.
Turns out, he did.
Today is the two year anniversary of that first brunch date.
Happy anniversary to my honey, Steve!
Photo, Mountain Lake, April 2013: first picture we had taken together. Photo credit: B. Rotche