Have you ever had the experience of being, as my sister likes to say, one of the last pieces of bread in the bag and everyone wants to make a sandwich out of you? That is to say, one of the last single people known and everyone tries to match you up with their friend, uncle, cousin, brother, co-worker, etc.? My experience with that while it was very common for people to SAY they were going to fix me up, it was usually b.s. and no-one ever did. So by the time I was in the late 30s, I would smile and say "wow, he sounds great! I'd love to meet him!" (my true friends would have been tipped off the sarcasm immediately, but my true friend were not the ones trying to match me up). No-one ever called me on it and life went on.
One June, I was at a training with a friend and lawyer colleague and she started telling me all about this great guy she knew and how we'd be perfect for each other, blah blah blah. I smiled and nodded, and that was the end of that. In December, we happened to be at another training and she recalled our conversation about her friend, and she reiterated that she wanted us to meet. Sure, uh huh... Well, within a couple days she called me to say that she had just been at a Christmas party with Sean and he would love to meet me and how about Friday? Much deep breathing ensued on my part. I agreed but my only requirement was that she and her husband join us, because I had a sorry history of being really mean (at least in my head) to blind dates and I didn't want to be mean to her friend, so I hoped having them along would keep my inner bitch at bay.
We went to dinner and went bowling. My friend's husband was sick but they were troopers and didn't ditch us. I was hoping bowling would involve beer, but alas it was an open midnight bowling thing for all ages, so no liquor available unless you went into the (then very smoky) bar. So we survived it sober. I kicked Sean's butt bowling and he was gracious about it.
I panicked at the end of the evening, thinking he was going to ask for my number. He did and I gave it to him. I hyperventilated all the way home because I was quite certain he liked me a lot and it made me want to run away. This date was right before Christmas, so he said he'd call when he got back to town after the holiday. He did call. We talked for hours. He called again and again we talked for hours. I stopped by to see him at work, conveniently with my sister in tow to check him out. Always a big smile and a twinkle in his eye for me. We saw a movie that next week, as I recall.
A couple weeks of this and he did the unthinkable...he called and said he was driving over to the town where I worked on his day off and wanted to take me to lunch!!! I was furious - how dare he do such a thing! Seriously, that is where my brain went. I dragged him to my house for lunch and blamed it on the fact that I wasn't feeling well. Made him a turkey sandwich and ushered him right back out of town. And yet he called again and continued to want to see me.
A couple more weeks went by and I continued to talk to him and see him and go out with him, and yet I still told my friend I wasn't sure if I liked him. She wisely said "are you listening to yourself? you just talked about him straight for 20 minutes and it sure sounds like you like him!" Duh. I started turning the corner then - admitting that perhaps I had myself a boyfriend and perhaps I was OK with that.
The end of the struggle came the week of Valentine's Day. We had dinner plans for his night off a couple days before Valentine's Day. I got call that morning at work, though, that my best friend from high school and college was flying home that day because her husband's (also one of my best friends) father had suddenly passed away. Visitation was that night, funeral the next day. I left Sean a very disconnected voice mail that I had to cancel our plans that night because of this and I'd have to get back to him in a couple days about when we could re-schedule or something. He called back right away to hear what was going on and was very understanding that I needed to go be with my friends, and I was rambling away, and then he says "what time are you coming over?" I asked what he was talking about and he said "well, you want me to go along and give you a ride, don't you?" I was stunned. He did come along (it was about an hour away), he sat at the visitation with all these people he didn't know and talked and visited and looked after me, with no complaint and no visible impatience or irritation. It was amazing and that was the night I knew he was "the one".
The side story that goes with that is the death of my aunt's husband about a year before I met Sean. My aunt married this husband in my adulthood, so I never really felt like he was my "uncle" but he was a good guy and they were clearly crazy about each other. He died in his sleep at 55, after about ten years of marriage. It was just so sad. I sat at the funeral between my big brother and my dad - being the only single one in the family at that time. I was crying, and I was struck by the fact that neither of them so much as patted my knee, much less put an arm around me. That day I added a requirement to my "future husband must haves..." - must be willing to provide public emotional support to me at funerals. You can imagine the sound of the check mark being placed on that requirement for Sean rang loud and clear in my ears the following year!
Life moved pretty quickly once my internal struggle ended. By Easter we had set a wedding date in October, our first daughter was born on our six month anniversary, and the second one before our second anniversary. We just passed our ninth anniversary and while I may not always be thrilled with the responsibilities and difficulties of living with another adult and parenting two kids, the more I know about myself, the more I know that Sean is the guy suited to share this journey with me.
There is a quote, perhaps from Sleepless in Seattle? that goes something like: there is no such thing as soul mates, it is just two complementary neuroses recognizing each other...I'm not a big believer in things like love at first sight or soul mates or any of that, but I do think that Sean and I are very alike but we also have some very complementary strengths and weaknesses that will serve us well along the way.