|BWS Stories - "Take A Walk On The Wild Side"...Dating|
"Take A Walk On The Wild Side"...Dating - Lucky Charm
Kate Midden is a mother, stepmother and grandmother who resides in Lake Park, GA with her husband Mark, 2 dogs and cat. A freelance writer for local and national publications, she is currently working on her second novel “Stair Steps to Heaven”. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Digging in my pocketbook, I pull out my lucky charm and smile, remembering….
I was a cautious soul, “Safe Kate” my moniker. My idea of excitement included reading a good book, sharing dinner with friends and taking an occasional business trip to Chicago or New York. I’d recently sold my home on the mainland and in an amazing act of bravery and self-indulgence, purchased a condo on the beach. I’d been divorced for ten years, raising two children, sharing their lives and experiences, helping to make their dreams a reality. I didn’t date – I didn’t have time. But with my son in law school and my daughter in college, for the first time in forever, I was on my own.
I met Mark on the internet….yes, the internet. My friend Maya dared me, “You’ll never meet a man sitting home.” I wasn’t positive I wanted to meet a man but I signed up for a free one-week trial on Match.com anyway, having no clue what to expect.
Our match was rated at 88%. I received his first email, charmed by his personality and pleased he could spell. He’d included a picture, and Maya said, “You can’t go out with him, he’s a Neanderthal man.” I didn’t post a picture so all he knew about me was I was five foot five, red haired, a little plump, had great legs and liked to drink bourbon. I still don’t understand the 88% rating; his preferred date was a willowy six-foot blond.
We emailed back and forth for several weeks, getting to know each other, realizing we shared a lot in common. The first time he called, it was from the Azores, a portent of things to come. I loved his voice and his laugh. On our first date, we met to watch the sunset. It was raining. I walked into Doctor Joe’s, a pub overlooking the Indian River and the bartender asked, “Are you Kate?” (It must have been the terrified expression on my face). “Mark’s upstairs waiting for you.” I clunked up three flights of dark, wooden steps to the rooftop and was greeted by the biggest man I’d ever seen, all six foot five, two hundred and thirty pounds of him. This was no Neanderthal man, okay- maybe in size, but he had the greenest eyes, the darkest tan and the most beautiful smile I’d ever seen. Mark was a hunk!
We sat on the rooftop at Doctor Joe’s, huddled under a large, green umbrella sipping cocktails, watching the rain, knowing our chances for a sunset were slim to none. Miraculously, the clouds parted and a stunning rainbow appeared, followed by a brilliant February sunset. We talked non-stop about everything and nothing, laughing until the tears flowed. I felt like I’d known him all my life. Doctor Joe’s closed, so we headed to the balcony of my beachfront condo and continued our conversation until the sun rose. He left for Greenland, I drove to the office.
Like a tornado, Mark ripped apart my mundane life, his powerful energy vitalizing my spirit and encircling my soul. He lived life at warp speed and I had to race to keep up. He traveled constantly but when he was in town, we were together. I met his family; he met mine. He introduced me to his crazy Air Force “brothers” and I introduced him to my best buddies. When Maya met him, her mouth dropped open. Pulling me aside, she stammered, “Oh my God, he’s beautiful. And his hugs…he’s the first man big enough to make me feel small.”
Those next few months I learned a lot about life and celebrated numerous firsts – my first camping trip, my first hike, my first long distance bike ride, my first canoe trip and my first orgasm. Yes, at age forty-three, I’d met a man I couldn’t get enough of….and one who couldn’t get enough of me. We called it pheromones, but whatever it was, the attraction was unbelievable.
Four months into our relationship, Mark received orders to Puerto Rico for a nine-month duty assignment. I was crushed. I knew the party was over.
“You’ve got to come, Kate. It will be a blast!”
I’d just started a new job, the best of my twenty-year career. I was excited with the possibilities, knowing this was the break of a lifetime. I dug my feet in and stood my ground.
“I can’t go.”
“How did I know you’d say that? Ok, how about a visit?” He handed me plane tickets for Memorial Day Weekend. “I figure you might miss me after a couple of weeks.”
I missed him. I went.
Puerto Rico in May is my vision of paradise. The weather is sultry, gentle breezes caress your skin and the faint scent of jasmine permeates the air. We stayed at a gorgeous resort perched high atop a cliff overlooking the aqua emerald waters of the Caribbean. Talk about romantic…island music playing softly in the background, a private pool, and silk sheets on the bed. The surroundings were enchanting – beautiful bougainvillea in every hue, passion flowers, coqui frogs singing in the night and colorful lizards dancing up and down the stucco walls. We shared so many wonderful moments in those few days…a horseback ride on the beach, a hike in the rainforest, dancing in the moonlight.
The day before I left for home, Mark chartered a small boat so we could island hop, in search of “Kate’s Isle”. Packing a picnic lunch, complete with candles, silver, linens and champagne, we loaded up snorkeling equipment and set off on our mission. Anchoring, Mark handed me a mask and fins and plunged in. I tentatively stuck my foot in the clear water, expecting a chill. It was body-temperature warm – almost like a second skin. “I can do this”, I thought, as I struggled with the fins. Tripping, I fell laughing into the water and came up coughing and choking. Splashing over, Mark adjusted my mask, gave me a few tips and held my hand to get me started.
Taking a deep breath, I let go and started floating. A new world appeared. I spotted blue angelfish streaking by, followed by yellow tangs. Hundreds of fish darted to and fro. Tiny ocean creatures waved hello from their hideouts. Colorful grasses swayed softly in the gentle tide. As I drifted, I watched the picture below as it repainted, ever changing; each view more beautiful than the last. I lost track of time, longing to be part of this magical world, weightless and free. Mark touched my hand and handed me a shell.
A simple white shell spotted with brown flecks. A treasure, a gift from the sea presented by a remarkable man, a symbol of freedom…my lucky charm.
I flew home, my shell clutched in my hand. I packed my clothes, quit my job, closed up my house and said my goodbyes. That Thursday, I knocked on his door, bags in hand.
Five years later, I sit in our “cabin on the lake” in Georgia, cradling my shell. We’ve moved several times since Puerto Rico, each time a new adventure. Mark left this morning for a three-month tour in Afghanistan, one of many tours he’s taken since 9/11.
It’s been an amazing journey. We married last July, two weeks after Mark returned from Iraq. It poured for the first time in a month. We sat under a large white tent with our family and friends, watching the rain, checking our watches. Then once again, as we shared our vows, the heavens blessed us with a rainbow and a gorgeous sunset.