(contd from Love in the time of Coronavirus – Part Two)
I learned – or re-learned – four major life-lessons from my dinner with – let’s call him – Matt, last Sunday.
1) Safety and Love: The most important reason I decided to go through a matchmaker rather than try and meet someone online was concern for my own personal safety. I’ve read the horror stories out there, and a matchmaker, I felt, provided me with a element of safety.
I hadn’t planned to tell my daughter about any of this, but I’m a horrible liar, so when she phoned me about an hour after my initial coffee meeting with Matt and asked what I’d been doing that morning… well I told her the truth. I think she was taken a bit aback, but then quickly followed up with a barrage of questions; Where were we going for dinner? When? Would I be drinking and driving? (I never do!!) And I was not, in any circumstances, to even consider getting in a car with this stranger. (As if I would!!) And you know what… her concern – and that of my flatmate who texted me after our dinner went on for four hours, to check I was okay – was lovely. Sometimes when you’ve been discarded by a spouse, it’s easy to forget that just because he no longer has your back, other people do. Their concern made me feel loved, protected and valued.
2) The Importance of Values: Although I have my suspicions, I still don’t know exactly where Matt stands on the political spectrum, but, even after only a few hours, it was clear our values aligned more closely than those of my ex and myself ever had. For Matt, it’s clear that family comes first. Always. In my ex’s case… family came in second – if not third. And when Matt’s phone went off near the beginning of our meal, he checked it, turned it off and never looked at it again for the rest of our time together. That implied a respect that my ex never gave me. Whoever was at the end of that phone was always more important to him than being with me or our kids.
And when I got home and thought about it, that made me very sad. Politically, my ex and I were fairly closely aligned, but looking back at the differences in our value systems… well, I see now that the gaps were huge, and ultimately that was probably at the heart of what caused our marriage to fail. So perhaps if you can get the core important values right in a relationship, that’s what truly matters.
3) Pleasure in Being with a Man: After my ex left me heartbroken, I decided that that part of my life was over. I was shutting up shop in the romance department. There was no way I was going to risk my heart again. I certainly don’t need a man in my life. But what the dinner and conversation with Matt made me realise is that perhaps I might want a man in my life. The right man – of course. This was my first ‘date’ since 1976, so I’m trying to not read too much into how he made me feel, but the conversation and mild flirting was lovely. I had long forgotten what it was like. So even though I’m still not sure that I do want a man in my life – and I am very glad I took the time to find ‘me’ again before I started down the path of senior dating – I think finding out for sure could be a pleasurable experience.
4) S..t Happens… and you just get on with it: As the Scottish Poet Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid plans ‘o mice and men gang aft agley”. Who knew that within 48 hours of our dinner, the world would have slipped into this coronavirus nightmare. Due to me being in contact with my grandkids, and my grandkids being in contact with people who’d been exposed to the virus, I have had to self-isolate and cancel the plans Matt and I had made for later in the week. But that’s how it goes, and to (mis)quote from the movie Casablanca, ‘The problems of two little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world’.
Will we see each other again? I don’t know. I hope so, I really do, but…
I read once that people comes into our lives for a season or a reason. If that dinner ends up being the only time Matt and I get together, then so be it. It was a lovely evening. The experience of sharing his company for those few hours taught me a lot and I will always be grateful to him for that.