Let the Game Come to You

After a month or so of manic on-line dating I had had enough. I was exhausted. I was discouraged. I was starting to see true value in staying home in my jammies—forever. I have already covered the details of my many horrible first dates and my near-miss with the gun owning Republican, so suffice it to say—it hadn’t really worked out.

Then I went and had coffee with my wise new friend Ron. He is 80, he is a beautiful writer, he plays tennis (singles) 6 times a week, he survived losing his wife to cancer 20 years ago and instead of giving up on life became a valued Hospice of Michigan volunteer. He also jumped back in the dating pool and after a couple failed attempts finally found a woman he has now been happily paired with for 15 years.

I shared a few of my dating woes with Ron. He said, “Mary, I’m going to use a sports analogy. Let the game come to you.” He then went on to explain that when people are trying TOO hard in sports things often go wrong. When they take a breath, look around, see what’s before them and let the game unfold naturally they have more success. I believe he felt that trying to rack up a kajillion dates in a couple weeks might not be the best strategy. He would be right in this belief.

I took my profile down from the sites I was on, sent a quick email to the one or two men I would’ve felt guilty about just vaporizing on, explained that I was taking a break and would be in touch if I ever decided to jump back in. And then the funniest thing happened. The game came to me.

It reminded me of when I had struggled with infertility in the early 90s. The doctor assured my husband and me that we both had working parts and should by all rights be able to conceive. And yet we couldn’t. They put me on some medication but still no results. The next steps would’ve been invasive and expensive and neither of us had much enthusiasm for them so we just gave up. We merrily went about our marital business with nary another thought of children. I decided I would go back to school and get a teaching certificate. If I couldn’t have my own kids at least I could have kids in my life. And then the game came to me. I was pregnant in the blink of an eye. All those insensitive idiots who had told me people always get pregnant when they finally give up or decide to adopt and they are RELAXED turned out to be right, the smug little shits.

In the case of dating the game came to me in a text from a man my friend had fixed me up with. When we finally met for a drink after a couple scheduling snafus he informed me that he had also been encouraged to contact me by another mutual friend, one of my favorite piano students of all time—a truly exceptional young man who has been with me for 11 years. This felt like the universe was opening up in a strange and wonderful way. When we left he gave me a CD he had burned for me. This led to a lot of texting about music and ultimately my sending him a link to my favorite aria. I had listened to about 6 sopranos before I found one that gave me actual goosebumps and sent it off to him with no mention of the goosebumps. When he listened he texted that it was haunting and had given him goosebumps.

We are now 3 dates and about 100 texts in. I am in real trouble. So far I like absolutely everything. We went to the world’s worst movie and salvaged it by walking around town afterwards holding hands. Then we had a drink while he told me he had been having a rough year, had not really been looking to date, had not expected to find me, liked my heart, liked my brain, wanted to know me, wanted to go slow. During most of this I was having a little trouble concentrating because I was thinking, “Please jump my bones RIGHT NOW!” He is adorable and self-control is just not my strong suit.

But Ron is a really smart guy and I hear him in my ear saying, “Mary—let the game come to you.” I also think I hear Tom someplace saying, “Be patient. This is a good man. He is a keeper. You don’t have to rush for once.”

And then I realized that I may one day actually fall in love with this man. I seem headed in that direction already. And I can’t believe I could even think about possibly feeling that again. How can there be anyone else in the universe that I might love after losing Tom? Ah…..but I am starting to see that love is not only not a zero sum game, it is the complete opposite. It is infinite in its breadth and depth. Like when you give birth to your first baby and are positive you can never have another because you could never ever in a million years love ANYONE as much as you love your firstborn. And then you have another baby and love that one just as much without robbing one drop of love from the first one. How can that be?

It can be because we are not talking about oil or fresh water or electoral college delegates. We are talking about LOVE and there is enough for everyone to shoot it out in massive quantities to anyone they want, to everyone they see. If I one day love another man it will not mean that I love Tom one iota less. For some reason this is a HUGE comfort to me. I would like to love someone again and receive love in return. My love for Tom was enormous, heart-stopping, breath-taking and also pure comfort and ease and joy. I floated on it like a tiny raft in the hollow of a wave. I felt sheltered and safe and oh so very very happy. Will I ever have that exact love again? Probably not, but that’s ok. There are different loves waiting and they will be wonderful in their own ways. And they will not make my Tom love any smaller.

So…..deep, deep breaths. Channel someone you are not and pretend to be a reasonable, patient woman. Take it slow. Swim to the deep end gradually from the zero-entry area. Two weeks away should help. A meditation retreat in the wilds of Washington state might bring some clarity. A little braking on this exhilarating downhill ride might be exactly what is needed. And a little break might give this very new relationship the legs I’d like it to have.

Still, I am in trouble. Deep deep trouble. I am feeling the silly smile creep around my lips—the same one my kids saw when I first met Tom. Shit! Hearts are so damned independent and hard to reason with! But I am trying to find my game, Ron, I really am.

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