Note: This is the third of five parts. Click here to read from the beginning.
When I started dating Alfred Two, I hid my profile on Match.com, which means you get no matches, no emails, no distractions. After I broke ties with him, I accidentally reloaded my profile.
I went to the site to see if Alfred Two had put his profile back up. I hoped not, and was glad to see he hadn’t, but something I did while on the site reactivated my account, and then, poof, I started getting emails from men again.
I tried to figure out how to hide my profile again, but I didn’t try very hard, and then I was flying again, my inbox filling with emails. Believe it or not, I then met Alfred Three. (How is that even possible right? In this case, “Alfred” was his last name, but still, what are the odds?)
Our email conversations were dry and monosyllabic. Alfred Three had recently moved to the area and was living in Franklin County. I asked if he’d yet discovered the Bridge of Flowers; he said no and asked if I would take him there. I said yes, marking the beginning of planning for this new first date.
My friend Emily warned me that I could not, on a first date, tell the story of the bridge’s significance in my life. “No,” she said. “Unh-uh.”
It was on that bridge in August 2010 that I had my first realization that Ed was really going to die. The bridge is only a tenth of a mile or so long, and Ed and I crossed it together. He immediately sat on a bench on the other side, and he told me he needed me to get the car. I sobbed as I ran to fetch it and gathered Ed up to take him home. I was overcome with the knowledge that I was really going to lose him.
Ya,” Emily said as I recounted the tale to her. “Can’t tell that story on a first date.”
I thought to myself, “Hmm, I would have been able to tell Alfred Two.”
Our bridge visit plan was tentative, but the loose concept was that we would meet at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday. I didn’t hear from Alfred Three at 3 p.m., 4, 5 or 7 on that day. He stood me up without a peep. Not a text, an email, a smoke signal. I, of course, also did not reach out to him.
I kind of figured this could happen. Alfred Three was less than engaged. To say he even seemed interested in me would be a huge overstatement. I think I chose him intentionally because I knew I would be able to cross him off the list after meeting him. He was a scientist. I imagined conversations about protons and the periodic table of elements. Zzzzz.
As fate would have it, Alfred Two texted me out of the blue the night of this cancelled date. It was meant to be that I was home and available to respond.
Alfred Two asked if he could call me; once on the line, he said he missed me. He said, “You asked me to fight for you and come back. Will you fight for me too?”
We had the kind of long, deep, raw and trusting communication that marked our brief time together, and I kept getting quietly weepy over how easy it was to talk with him. Like I have known him forever. But I was brave too. I repeated the hard things, like “I can’t help you.”
In the end, I told Alfred Two he was well worth waiting for, but from afar. The deal is I will work on my book and other goals I have at this time in my life, and he will work on putting some of his life pieces back in place. We will check in from time to time.
My fantasy is that Alfred Two will know when it’s time to come get me, and he’ll sweep me off my feet like Debra Winger in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Except I work alone, not in a factory, so the gesture would be far less public.
We’ll see. I have nothing to lose. I can stay off Match, avoid distraction and men who post photos of themselves on ride-on lawnmowers and think that somehow makes them a good fit for me. I can work on my book and my life and practice patient waiting. And hope.
And maybe someday, I will take Alfred Two to the Bridge of Flowers, and I will tell him my story about Ed. And he will listen and understand.
He’s that kind of guy, and that’s why he’s worth the wait.
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