Chapter 1 - First Meeting
We meet on a Saturday next to the kiddie pool at a little-known neighbourhood park. Although it's unusually warm for May, the pool hasn't opened for the season, and the park is near baron.
I spot a man, sitting alone on a bench as I descend the rustic staircase at the north end of the ravine. This must be him, the inspiring "Mr. Charming" who has so quickly become my muse. One last smoothing of my skirt, a deep breath, and I make my way across the field.
His back is to me as I approach, and he hasn't heard my muffled footsteps in the bristly spring grass. I am afforded the luxury of sizing him up. He's thin and long-limbed with an athletic build and his thick wavy hair is longer than in his photos, but I'm immediately relieved that he's not a shorter, fatter version of his online personality. In fact, he is quite the opposite.
I move into his peripheral and say: "hi."
He stands to greet me, and I feel small as I look up into his smiling face. His eyes are not of this world, the palest blue ever seen on a human, disarming and enchanting all at once. I'm fighting hard not to look away.
We exchange niceties about the weather and our surroundings before relocating to a shady and more private nook under the trees. It's unsaid, but we're acutely aware that our meeting, though chaste for the moment, has scandalous intentions.
Sitting in the prickly grass amongst the pinecones in a running skirt and fitted sports top (hubby thinks I'm out running), my dialogue with Mr. Charming begins in earnest. We're laughing awkwardly about the nature of our meeting, verifying the details of our individual worlds, and explaining what motivates us to be sitting in a park making idle chitchat with what, for all intent and purposes, could be a future lover.
He asks me about my past experiences. Immediately my guard is up. I'm afraid of revealing too much and sounding like a tart, or revealing too little and appearing dishonest. It's a fine line, and my balance on this verbal tight rope is terrible.
I am unable to articulate how my previous experiences have scarred me without sounding delicate. What I want to say is that "I threw myself into them with abandon and was later surprised to discover what I had thought was a 'special' friendship, left me feeling like little more than a booty call. The attention, at first was fantastic. In the end, I didn't feel particularly 'special' at all."
Instead I focus on the logistics, because that was true too. A physical relationship doesn't have a lot of legs if you don't get together on a semi-regular basis.
So here I am on this grassy knoll, bitter and skeptical, but still hopeful that just maybe, I haven't found the right man yet.
The conversation shifts to family and children, sports, past experiences. Finally I relax a little, taking in the details of his face. His eyes really are remarkable, and I can't help but notice the fullness of his bottom lip. I am wondering what it will be like to kiss him, and smile to myself thinking this is a good sign.
There's something about his face that has a chameleon quality to it. I noticed this in the pictures he had sent me too-each one slightly different. As I learn about his childhood in a remote valley out west, his time as an actor, years as a professor; and now as a lawyer, athlete, husband and father. I can see all these characters in him. The one I am searching his face for now, is lover.
We are sitting but a few feet apart, and he offers me a sip from his Perrier, I decline. I'm not sure what to make of him. He's different from the men I have previously met in my life. More complex, more artistic, he chooses his words carefully and seems completely unflustered. Frankly his calmness is unnerving me a bit.
I'm not sure how it comes up in conversation, but he tells me he's a very passionate person, and although his children are his world, he misses the adventures that life afforded him before his primary role was "dad". I hear myself in his words. I understand the restlessness, and need for something more. I see in him a kindred spirit.
My affection for him is growing, there's a light in his eyes that seems to be gaining strength as we find point after point to agree upon. The thought of him leaning over and kissing me under the trees is a welcome one.
Time is our enemy, and we've pushed the clock as far as we dare. I walk him across the park to his car. I hug him goodbye and note his mildly panicked reaction as he looks around nervously and pats me chastely on the back. Passionate huh? I guess that's still to be determined.
He offers me a ride home, but I politely decline. I can't very well keep up the charade of having been out running if I arrive home anything less than pink and sweaty.
He hops in his car, and I pop my headphones in and start running up the hill. Moments later a dark SUV is driving along slowly beside me. When I look in the window, he's smiling at me playfully, apparently clocking my pace. Cheeky bugger!
I wave him away laughing. As he drives off and I am smiling in the sunshine as I contemplate the possibilities of Mr. Charming.