Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 12
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Two
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part Three
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 4
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 5
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 6
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 7
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 8
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 9
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 10
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 12
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 11
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 13
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 14
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 17
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 15
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 16
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 18
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 19
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 20
- Divorce And Dating And Other Disasters At Age 40: Part 21
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 22
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disaster at Age 40: Part 23
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 24
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Part 25
- Divorce and Dating and Other Disasters at Age 40: Epilogue
Recently divorced Anna Waite is learning to appreciate life after first love. With the support of her best friend Kira, and a solid sense of humor, Anna tackles the world of dating. This is her coming of middle age story.
THE DATE WHERE WE TALK ABOUT MARRIAGE
“Anna and Dylan, when are you getting married?” Mrs. Song’s words explode, a bomb of discomfort dusting the entire table with embarrassment shrapnel and awkwardness debris.
This is my first date with Dylan. And no one, NO ONE, wants a question about marriage on the first date. Let alone when it’s with a top shelf, full fat ice cream, extra calories included kind of guy.
Dylan glances my way, and Kira casts a wide-eyed gaze at me. Jonathan, Kira’s husband, ping pongs his eyes around the table, not sure where to focus, settling on a bowl of rice. But Mrs. Song stares right at me, a piercing laser beam waiting for my answer.
A full breath of silence passes, the question floating on the air, when are you getting married?
“October 31st,” I say, having no idea why that popped from my mouth. “A Halloween wedding.” Once I start, I roll with the embellishments. “The guests will come in costume and kids can trick or treat through the receiving line. We’ll play Monster Mash and Thriller at the reception. Our colors will be orange and purple, sort of Beetlejuice themed. Have you seen that movie?”
A rumble rattles the seat next to me, Dylan’s laughter. AKA the most beautiful sound in the known world. His amusement breaks the tension, and soon the others (except Mrs. Song) join in. Nikko, Kira’s son, speaks for the first time tonight, “I want to dress up as a dinosaur for the wedding.”
Mrs. Song’s sour expression gives lemons aspirations, and her grip on the chopsticks is so tight, I worry they might break. I’m guessing she hasn’t seen Beetlejuice.
“The failure of a marriage is no laughing matter.” She raises her voice the slightest degree, not loud, but enough to silence any inkling of joy.
“I agree,” Dylan says. “But staying tied to a sinking boat isn’t good for anyone.” He’s back on his game, standing toe-to-toe in the battle of words. “Besides, it takes an ending to appreciate a fresh start.”
She studies Dylan, her eyes passing over his face. More silence stretches in their stare-off when she averts her gaze to her plate. The corner of her lip lifts an incremental amount. Was that a smile? I’ve never seen such a phenomenon. “From the stormy waves a dragon is born,” she finally says.
“Exactly. Anna and I are newborn dragons.” He raises his kimchi-laden chopsticks, cheers style, and I clink my kimchi with his.
“To the dragons,” I say. Those who rise from bad marriages to create something better.
“Mr. Pound.” This time Mrs. Song waits until Dylan swallows his food to engage him in conversation. I call that progress. “Do you have any children?”
“I do. A fourteen-year-old daughter named Savannah. We call her Savvy.”
“Oh.” The pronouncement surprises me, and I turn in my seat. “I didn’t know you had any kids.”
His face lights up, a smile stretching wide as he talks. “She’s my world. Easily the best thing that came out of my marriage.”
“I totally agree. Despite my marriage crashing and burning, I’d do it all again for my boys.”
Conversation moves from weighted Korean proverbs and children to casual dinner talk. I relax in my seat, enjoying Dylan’s interactions with my friends and Mrs. Song. The ex-hole never managed to adjust in my circle of people. He always seemed out of place, like a wrong note in a refrain. But Dylan’s easy way of harmonizing into our unique melody warms my soul. It gets my hope spinning and I imagine a future where he accompanies me to more events. Holiday gatherings, family parties, PTA meetings, anywhere to show off the total arm candy who magically fits into my world.
The catering crew clears the plates, removing all traces of dinner. Quiet clinking and hushed conversation follow them from the room as Dylan and I say our goodbyes to the others. Mrs. Song finds an opportunity to whisper a surprising bit of advice. “Tie him down before someone else does.”
I’m pretty sure she’s referring to the boat analogy, but tie him down? Does she realize how that sounds?
Kira hustles over to save me from her mom and to give me a hug. “I’m so glad you came. I love Dylan.” She leans in, her voice going quiet. “I’m expecting a detailed description of what he looks like without a shirt on.”
This makes me blush, and I glance at Dylan, my eyes scanning over the folds of his button up. Coming on the heels of the tie him down comment, it gets my imagination running. He does own a gym, and the amount of time he spends working out must give him Thor-like abs.
Now that I’ve thought about it, I can’t unthink it.
Dylan escorts me outside, the door clicking shut behind us. His hand rests solidly in the small of my back and he guides me toward my van. Chills dance up my arms, anticipation keeping me on edge in the best way possible. My pulse races and fireworks burst in my chest.
Will we end the night with an embrace? Maybe a kiss?
“I had a good time,” he says and smiles. “Mrs. Song didn’t disappoint. She came as advertised, although I didn’t see any sacrificial animals.”
“I think we missed it by a few minutes. That’s a pre-dinner activity.”
“Right. I always get the order of operations mixed up. It’s sacrifice, dinner, then criticism.” He guides us past the giant oak, my minivan in sight. “I’ll remember next time.”
Next time. Did I say fireworks? More like a raging inferno. Those two words ignite the optimism that maybe, just maybe, he wants to keep seeing me. Or skip the whole dating scene and jump into marriage. Well, probably a long engagement first where we can explore being newborn dragons for a while.
“This is me.” I stop at my van and turn to face him, leaning against the warm metal of my car door.
Soft moonlight casts a glow over his face, and I wish I could trace where the night touches. The slope of his nose, the rise of his cheekbones, the strong jawline down to his defined chin. Muted rays dapple his blond hair in a silvery glimmer, and I imagine running my fingers through the strands. How would it be to have the freedom to linger over his beauty?
He takes my hand, my right with his left, and my chest expands, my heart making a little extra room. The gentle caress of his thumb over my knuckles causes a trembling awareness that matches his movement.
“Can I tell you something?” he asks.
“Of course.” Focus on his words, don’t move in for a kiss. “If you can’t talk to people you meet in the men’s locker room, who can you talk to?”
His chin dips to his chest and he shakes his head, a chuckle escaping. “You make me laugh. I haven’t done enough of that since my divorce.”
“That’s really sad.” I squeeze his fingers, and he reciprocates by tightening his hold. “Laughter was essential to my survival during the divorce process.”
“I miss having fun,” he says softly. “And you remind me what it’s like.”
I straighten from my perch against the van and step closer to him, standing toe to toe. But not a battling toe-to-toe like with Mrs. Song. This kind is different. Heavy with emotion, a brimming glass ready to spill over. “You remind me I’m not disposable.”
He closes his gray eyes for a moment. “I’m not a physical violence kind of guy, but hearing you say that makes me want to punch your ex.”
This time I’m the one who laughs. “Once I would have begged to see that. Now I know he’s not worth the potential assault charge.” And Mike would press charges. “But I’ve gotten us off track. You wanted to tell me something.”
He reaches out, tucking my hair. The touch stops time, the world holding its breath as his fingertips graze the tip of my ear. “I really like you,” he says.
A mixture of hope, optimism, and a dash of excitement thrums inside me. Plus, a dallop of Ha! This super amazing guy likes me, Mike. Take that! “I like you too,” I manage to say.
Heat envelops me as his arms wrap around my back, drawing me in. I weave my hands inside his sports coat, leaning against his sturdy shoulder. This is it. The closest I’ve ever been to his deltoids. And they do not disappoint. I’m calling it the Deltoid Den: the best place to snuggle in, keep warm, and feel safe.
His breath tickles my hair as he talks. “If circumstances were different, I could see us seriously dating.”
Record screech! Beautiful man says what? My eyes pop open, and I slip from the perfection of The Den. “Huh?”
As if my dreams of camping out in his arms didn’t just shatter, he keeps talking. “Savvy’s going through a hard time right now. I need to be there for her, and I can’t afford to be distracted.” He straightens his sports coat, and his eyes meet mine, pleading for understanding.
The words pierce my insides, and I struggle to force a smile on my face. “I get it. My kids come first too.”
The disheartening disappointment intrudes on our moment. Everything has built to this, the texting, the flirting. And I just discovered the Deltoid Den!
“So, what do a couple of newborn dragons do in a situation like this?” I ask.
“They keep doing what they’re doing. Becoming friends and making each other laugh.” He opens the van door for me, and I slip inside. “They always accompany each other to dinner parties where animals might be sacrificed.”
I smile, a thirty-watt version of my earlier brightness. “Be careful what you offer. I have a surprising number of cult-like parties.” PTA meetings certainly apply.
His laughter echoes as he closes the door, and we wave goodbye. Watching him walk away, I hold my happy expression as long as I can. What was I thinking? Deltoid Dylans don’t fall for Anna Waites. Just because I make him laugh doesn’t mean I’m the woman of his dreams. Starting my van, I bring it to life, the engine coughing and sputtering like my heart. “I know, Mom-Mobile. I feel it too.”
As I drive home, I gather my thoughts and emotions, arriving at an important conclusion: I have been through worse things than a great guy wanting to be my friend. Besides, this dragon wants to spread her wings and accomplish more things. Too many times I set aside my dreams for someone else; Mike, my boys, and I was ready to do it again for a pretty face and a great pair of deltoids.
It’s time for me to take control and move forward with the business I want to start. Stop letting the idea spin in my head. If anyone understands the need for an etiquette school for the modern man, I do. And who better to ask for advice than the very modern man who exemplifies kindness and respect. My fellow dragon and friend, Dylan. Looks like I’ll be cashing in that friendship card after all.
And if, along the way, he falls head over heels for this independent, amazing woman, who could blame him?