This is my sixth go at the beginning of my memoir. It’s become like changing clothes multiple times before work and in this case, I have no mirror. I’m not looking for “Bravos!”, just for constructive criticism. Yes, the truth can hurt but it would hurt way worse after printing 1000 copies. Thank you!


“I don’t want you to go”, I softly tell him.

This kind of talk is premature. Maybe. We’ve gone on exactly one date. Officially one first date prompted by my need to fulfill a year-long dating experiment where I have challenged myself to meet 50 prospects. I affectionately call it “Project 50”. A year after my divorce, this is the only way I can kick myself out of the warm nest of solitude and force myself to take a real look at what’s out there. I had always played to win, dated to wed. If I had a dollar for every time I said, “I think this is the one,” I would retire right now as a sugar mama with a hot 25-yr old at my side. The goal of the experiment is to prove to myself that there are indeed 50 eligible men out there. 50 possibilities. 50 reasons why it’s not my fault.

I should back up. But how far?

I met my husband, ex-husband, in a way I hoped to someday tell our children about. “Your father and I both attended a party where guests were told to bring a single friend to mix with other singles. The party was called, ‘Restocking your Inventory’. My platonic single male offering to the party cancelled that day so I came alone. I was shy, not sure who to talk to and then I saw a girl I knew who I could strike up a conversation with. She happened to be talking to a guy and I figured I would just join them. Well, it turns out the guy and I had more to talk about than she and I did. She left in a huff. Perhaps she thought I was trying to steal her catch, which I wasn’t. In fact, I thought, ‘What am I going to do now? I’m just stuck here standing with this stranger.’ He was a shiny new consultant, fresh out of a Brooks Brothers catalog. Perfectly-coiffed wavy light brown hair. Blue eyes. Pale skin. Belt looped tightly around his skinny waist. Lips stained from the red wine he was drinking. He asked for my number. Four years later, we were married.”

Four years is a long time to court- we were on again, off again, though more on than off. With all that time invested, I was even more determined to make it work. I would win. This might have caused me to turn a blind eye to some incompatibility issues. I was clouded by the fantasy- the proposal, the wedding, the comfort. I wanted things that had nothing to do with him as a person. When trying to figure out what I wanted for our future, I read books on relationships. I asked my friends and family for their thoughts. Is this the right thing? Then I got a sign. Two years into my relationship, my mother, literally on her deathbed, said, “it’s a shame I never got to meet his mother.” Yes, mom. I wished you could have been at our wedding two years later, when my sisters walked me down the aisle, which happened to be a hiking trail in Big Sky, Montana. On our way down this aisle, we spotted a carcass in the grass just feet away. A dead animal. At my wedding. We burst into laughter. Like, crying laughter, the kind that makes guests who are 100 feet away just think that you are really overcome with emotion. The sun was shining. The August air was warm but breezy. The wind died down during the six-minute ceremony that he and I had written ourselves. We were both writers and very particular; we had a vice grip on the details. But more than anything, he was the yin to my yang, the clean to my messy, the analytic to my free spirit, the calm to my crazy. Getting married just made sense. Why wouldn’t I want this balance in my life?

But getting married isn’t the thing you do to make sense. Or at least, that’s my best guess at where I made a wrong turn. I’m worried it was all me. Maybe his criticism of my eating habits and inability to wear eye make up was valid. Maybe I should have cleaned the bathroom more often. Maybe I should have been excited to be a stay at home mom with the kids, even though we never made it as far as having them.

This dating experiment will open up a lot more than menus at restaurants with new men. It is the only way I can find out what went wrong by seeing if anything could go right.

Back to the man who is about to leave. He accepted a job in another state- Austin, not quite driving distance from Chicago. What if this is the one and he is slipping away? Ugh, I’m doing it again. But WHAT IF?

“Do you think you’ll ever be back?” I ask in the most non-desperate tone I can muster in a moment of desperation.

“I’ll be back for photo assignments occasionally. Maybe also to visit friends,” he responds.

I hold back a smile but it leaks out my eyes. He hugs me. He is the best hugger. He hugs with every part of himself and I want to live there. And he doesn’t let go first. I want to believe that this is about us but this is just who he is. And I want to keep him here, even if we are only friends. I guess for now, it’s all we can be, because there are 49 other men on the horizon.