I freaked out a little bit last week, the night before my divorce was finalized. Obviously, I’d seen it coming for over a year, but when you’re actually looking down the barrel of that gun, it stops you in your tracks. It’s the finality of knowing your greatest fear is here, and the trigger is about to be pulled. I expected I’d feel a sigh of relief, but that’s just the opposite of what I was feeling the night before. Luckily, my close friend was there for me, talking me down from the edge and reminding me that everything was going to be okay. His confidence in me led me not only into the next scary morning, but through it. My breaths of freedom hit me the night of the divorce, when I realized I could finally take the dog-ear out of that chapter, and turn the page to something new.
I’ve mentioned before that I’ve gone on lots of dates in the last year. Lots of first dates, plenty of second dates, and very few third and beyond dates. I’ve only dated one guy exclusively, and only for a couple of months. It was a rough breakup on me, probably derived from the fact that I sometimes get too close too fast. But I bounced back and delved back into the dating pool. After only a couple of terribly written introductory messages from possible suitors, I received a casual, cool (properly spelled and grammatically correct) message from a guy named Spencer. He seemed nice, smart, laid back. His pictures didn’t scream “douchebag” and I wasn't fanning myself over love at first sight. He was just a friendly, handsome guy, and that was enough to spark my interest. We exchanged quite a few messages back and forth, and then progressed to texting each other. Soon enough, we agreed to meet up at one of my favorite spots in downtown Greenville. I wasn’t expecting anything phenomenal, and really didn’t even consider it a ‘first date’. To me, it was more like just potentially making a new friend. I wasn’t, after all, quite over my last break up at that point. Little did I know, we’d end up sitting, laughing, and very likely over-sharing for more than three hours that night. I don’t know that I’d ever opened up so quickly as much as I had to him, but he made me comfortable and he made me laugh, and apparently, that’s how you snake your way right into my heart. Although it started out in my mind as just a friendly meeting, I found myself having to stop myself from leaning in for a kiss before he headed to his Jeep to go home.
We hung out a couple more times before I took a trip to Fort Polk to see my kids, (and I pretty quickly got that first kiss… and second… and third…), and I found myself texting him for hours upon hours on end during my whole trip. When I saw him again after I got home to South Carolina, I felt unbelievably close to him, and I realized I’d gotten much closer to him than I had initially intended to at all. It was more than a little scary, but I’d also realized among our long conversations that Spencer wasn’t quite ready to be in a new relationship. He not-so-long-ago separated from his wife of six years, and he was going through all of the stages I’d so very clearly remembered going through just a few months ago. In a way, I saw it as a blessing in disguise because I had another guy waiting in the shadows. The other guy, K, was a friend I’d known for nearly a year through letters and emails and text messages and phone calls. I’d helped him through Air Force basic training and his subsequent schooling, and we’d found ourselves dreaming about meeting and dating and having a future together. But K was living many states away, and it was more of a pipe dream than anything I was actually pursuing. Except that right about the time that I realized Spencer wasn’t quite over his last relationship, K presented the idea of coming home on leave to meet and stay with me for a weekend. I told Spencer about the other guy, terrified of hurting his feelings, but aware that he’d hurt more if he felt I was leading him on in any way. Much to my surprise, he supported me with no catch and calmed me down in my nervous chattering before K came for his visit. He was, no doubt, the best friend he could have possibly been for me. He was my shoulder to lean on, my ears to babble into, and a warm pat on my back to calm my nerves. He was exactly what he needed to be, and he stood by my side, even in the face of his feelings for me, as I pursued another guy.
To make a long and not very exciting story short, K came to town, and we had a lovely time. I think we both felt a spark, but it fizzled quickly when I realized that we had a few personality quirks that probably never would have meshed. But that’s okay. It was what it was, and that was all it was. The whole time K was in town, I found my mind wandering to Spencer, wondering what he was doing with his son, and whether he was thinking about me. I missed texting him every few minutes like we very nearly had been for weeks by this point. It had only been a few days since I’d seen him, but I missed him. When K left and I realized that our fun weekend was nothing more than that, I started evaluating why I’d missed Spence so much. We’d talked through separation and kids and divorce and life, and I could actually see him moving, before my eyes, from the depressing, terrible side of separation to the happier, positive, maybe-good-things-can-happen-to-me side of separation. I began to slowly leak the feelings for Spence that I’d bottled up before K came to town, and the more I thought about the kind of guy it would take to stand by my side like Spencer did, the stronger I felt them rush out. The thing is though, I think they’re still rushing out because every day I find myself feeling something new for him. Something different. It’s nice, and I love it.
We laugh so much together. We make silly faces and take silly pictures. We tell each other funny jokes and listen to each other’s stories. We don’t divide our attention between a million different things when we’re together. When I’m with him, he’s all I even care to think about. I feel little butterflies when I think about seeing him, and I find myself leaning further and further into his kisses every time he touches his lips to mine. His hands give me chills and his voice makes me smile. He’s a single dad, and soon to be divorcee. He’s Spencer, and he’s exactly what I didn't realize I’ve been looking for.