Whenever I hear that Rihanna song that starts, “We found love in a hopeless place,” I think of JDate. When I was filling out my JDate profile after my divorce, I knew exactly what I wanted in a new relationship: a guy my age who had never been married before. I wanted to start fresh. Never mind that I had two kids from my previous marriage. At 34, surely I was young enough that that wouldn’t matter. I wanted someone who lived in New York, the city I loved. And all of that was why I decided to lie.
It was only a little lie, I told myself, as I typed into my profile that I lived in New York. In fact, I lived in New Jersey, where I spent most of my time either working or chauffeuring incontinent people in car seats to nursery school. New York had a bigger pool of the kind of people I wanted to meet, I thought – people who wouldn’t give me a second glance if they knew I lived in the Sopranos’ state.
I dated rampantly, for lack of a better word. I was an equal opportunity dater, and dated everyone from Orthodox guys well versed in esoterica of Jewish law (I liked the kohen who told me that while he couldn’t marry a divorcee, there was hope for me yet. Since I was only separated, maybe my ex would drop dead, thus rendering me a marriage-eligible widow instead) to atheists who were, in fact, married (not separated. Married. Truly). I knew I’d gotten it wrong the first time, and there was some small part of me that knew that I didn’t know what I wanted. Something in me told me: if it’s not a good date, it’ll at least be a good story.
Fast forward two years. I see a guy online who looks somewhat normal. Contrary to one of my cardinal rules (‘Always let the guy email you first’), I email him. He responds. We talk on the phone. He confesses that he had lied about his age on line to cast a wider net. I tell him I lied about my state of residence. He asks me if I would be willing to have more children. I decide he’s a weirdo and tell him, “Let’s meet for dinner first and see how it goes.” Hell, what’s one more date with one more weirdo? The guy then proceeded to show up for our date twenty minutes late. Nice.
Despite all this, something happened on that date (once it eventually started – ahem). By the time he walked me to my car, after ample kissing, he asked me what I was doing the next day. I had plans already, but told him I’d call him. I drove away with a big smile on my face.
I’m thinking about all of this today because it’s the weirdo’s — my husband’s — birthday. It’s the third one we’ve spent together, and the first one with our new baby daughter. It seems like an appropriate day to appreciate him – but the thing is, every day for the rest of my life wouldn’t be enough.
Jon is a miracle. Not only because of the incredible person that he is, but also because of the good fortune that fell into place allowing me to meet him, appreciate him and love him. I was very scared after my divorce. I’d been terribly hurt. It would be safer to never open myself up to another relationship. But I realized I had a stark choice to make: I could either be alive, or be afraid.
It would have been easy to write Jon off rather than giving him a chance, whether before we met or after. But for some reason, I let my eyes open and see what a loving, smart, caring and hilarious person he was and is. And in doing so, I got the amazing gift of a second chance at love, life and family. I am thankful every day, but particularly today, that I was able to appreciate the man who has ended up being one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I’ve never been more alive and happy than I’ve been with Jon.
I always thought that Jerry Maguire crap about “You complete me” was puke-inducing garbage. I still do. But now I know that true love is when you meet someone who allows you to complete yourself. Real love is when you meet someone who you love not for who they could be, but for who they are. And if you’re lucky enough to have a lifetime with them, you can savor days, months and years of who you will become, together.
Not only is it true that we can’t always get what we want, but sometimes – I’d argue maybe in the most important situations of all — we don’t even know what we want. Look at how amazing things can turn out, if we just let ourselves be open to finding out.