I have recently realized that despite all protests to the contrary and truly against the laws of nature and statistics, I might be willing to try romance again. I have already been married three times: one a youthful mistake, one a disastrous rebound and one an improbable late-in-life thin slice of bliss. A wise woman would go to her grave still savoring the sweet after taste of that wonderful 54 months with Tom, but I have never been wise in love and I am likely (please, God) very far from the grave. As I sit by the pool on an early spring weekend get-away I have hours to people watch. And the people I seem to be watching are men. I take this as proof that I am not dead yet.
As with gelato flavors or any other tough choice, it is easier to start with what you don’t want. I don’t want pistachio or the obese man with black hair on his back who stations himself squarely in my lap lane and orders an entire tray of Bloody Marys at 9 a.m.—all for himself. I don’t want chocolate chip or any of the tatted up, buff 20-somethings although they are nice eye candy. This is fortunate as short of trying to have their own Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate moment (a movie they have never heard of) they would not want me either. Call me shallow but I also do not want anyone who believes men can wear sleeveless shirts nor anyone with the belly of a very pregnant woman. As my sister and fellow ogler points out—all the men I seem to find attractive look a lot like Tom. He was a handsome man, but I do feel a little like Annette Benning in that movie where she falls for her late husband’s doppelganger.
I spent a lot of time being angry after Tom died (and maybe even before). I was angry that he didn’t have insurance or visit doctors, that he believed his pain was just the family curse of kidney stones and never had it checked out, that God would throw this wonderful man right in my path and then take him away. Why?! What did I do? I felt like Eve getting bounced from the Garden of Eden except I didn’t remember eating any forbidden fruit and my Adam was beyond reproach. But if Tom is truly gone (I have finally stopped thinking he is on a long ice-boating or sailing excursion with old friends or just hanging out at the cottage waiting for us to come back) maybe I need to at least consider starting over. That term feels so wrong—as if I were playing a piano piece and made a mistake. That is not the case. This time I did not make a mistake. This time I followed my heart right to the end of the rainbow only to find that somebody had swiped the gold!
My friend Jill sent me a terrific NY Times Modern Love piece about a widow letting go and allowing another man into her life, someone as hurt in his own way as she was, someone who understood what she’d lost and respected it/him. This got me thinking. Do you suppose maybe there is someone out there in my same boat? That maybe if I leave shore we will bump oars and meet? That maybe it will be good? For now it’s just food for thought.
Meanwhile, I’ll have dark chocolate AND rum raisin, thank you very much.