For the next month, I'm participating in a blog challenge with a team of very talented bloggers. This week's theme has been all about revealing ourselves, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. I started with, If These Walls Could Talk and The Myth of Moving On, both of which were pretty deep. Today I'm going to talk about dating as a widow--yeah, it's as amusing and weird as it sounds. But, hey, I'm a team player and, if you want authentic Amber Lea, then that's what you're getting.
Web cam sex. W-w-what? Yeah, that happened. My late husband had only been gone three years when an old high school flame reconnected with me on...you guessed it...Facebook. We were the definition of wild back in the day. Sneaking out of windows at our parents' houses, making out in fields and on dirt roads, climbing into houses after officially saying goodbye so we could make out some more. We brought out each other's reckless nature. So when I saw his name in the friend request icon, I hesitated.
Was I ready for this? What would this be? I accepted and we started talking hesitantly at first. Then we fell back into the ease that we'd always had with each other. We were not in the same state, either, so it felt like no pressure. Ironically, his wife had also died a few years prior so we had more to discuss than I'd assumed. We understood each other and what we were going through. Instant messaging evolved into phone calls that transitioned into Skyping.
Until reconnecting with Jim, I hadn't realized that I'd missed the flirtation, the attention of a man. Being an only parent brings with it a lot of stress and loneliness. I had been fine with being busy and dealing with the day-to-day, but Jim reminded me both of what it used to feel like being wild and how fun flirtation could be.
One night during one of our marathon Skype sessions, we somehow started getting sexual via webcam. I say 'somehow' because I can't remember exactly what prompted us to take it to this level, but we'd always sparked each other like this and it wasn't the first time we'd gone too far, either. A few decades had passed but oh well. The next thing I knew we were both stripping and flirting and...well, I won't go any further. You get the idea. And it was WEIRD. The next morning I was calling my friends and saying, "I have finally lost my mind!" That's what it felt like. Insanity. But the crazy-good-exhilarting-this-is-what-it-feels-like-to-be-alive kind of madness.
A few weeks later, he flew out to Denver to visit, but that's when it got even stranger. Rather than a mad love affair, we spent hours talking about late spouses and the toll grief takes on a person. He cried. A lot. I ended up holding him and just talking all night long. Our crazy romance fizzled with us both crying about the love we had with other people--not exactly sexy. The phone calls became less and then they stopped. Neither one of us had been ready, our wounds had been too fresh, but we did manage to make each other laugh again and I can honestly say that web came experience gave me ideas for a scene in a future book. So it wasn't a total loss.
Then came Scary Kerry. Through a local writers' group, I met a screenwriter named Kerry. He was incredibly smart, funny, and older than me by about eight years. I'd never dated older so thought I'd try "out of my type" after wild Jim and said yes when he asked me out. My intuition said something was off about the guy, but I convinced myself to just go and have fun. After all, he made me laugh and that meant something. (yes, I like funny guys)
But the more we talked, the more his stories didn't add up. My intuition started screaming, "what the hell is wrong with you?" It turned out Scary Kerry was a complete fraud. He was a wannabe screenwriter who met me, a published author and widow, and decided to make a play. Luckily, three dates in, I figured it out by doing some digging (former journalist here...watch out). I discovered that he had actually been banned from Google for posting creepy, stalker pics of women he took without their knowledge. Down their shirts and up their skirts kind of pics. ICKY!
Up came the walls.
I went. We walked and talked for four hours in the rain, neither one of us wanting to end the day. We ended up going out to dinner where I drank too many mojitos from being incredibly nervous and threw up in the bathroom. I was gone for a looooonnnnggg time trying to look like I hadn't just vomited all over before walking slowly and confidently back to the table where I ordered water. LOTS of water. Then we walked all over downtown Denver just talking and laughing and getting to know each other again after twenty years. When we returned to the Botanical Gardens, my car had been locked in the parking garage. UGH. Scott drove me back to my house, slept on the sofa, and drove me back to get my car the next morning. A real gentleman.
The walls started to come down.
We dated for six months before he pulled the "you'd be a perfect wife for me if you were only ten years younger" bullshit. He wanted babies--he'd never had a biological child--and suddenly six months in he decided the idea of step-children was too much to handle. In fact, this buddy of mine turned boyfriend, gave me some sage advice during that last date, "don't tell people your husband killed himself, lie and say it was a car accident or something", "you should change your kids' last names to your maiden name because Sean doesn't deserve a legacy", and "no man will want another man's baggage (referring to my kids)".
So, yeah, that ended badly, but at least I wasn't vomiting up mojitos. I was spitting mad and told him he was a special kind of bastard to mess with my heart that way after he knew how fragile it had been in the beginning. Oh, I let him have it.
Lesson learned: no more guys I used to know from high school.
After Scott, I went on exactly ONE date with a guy I met on Match.com. ONE. We met for a glass of wine, he looked at me and said, "there's no way you really do yoga."
I went home, canceled my Match.com membership, put on my pajama pants, poured myself a very large glass of wine, and realized I am much better off solo. At least for now.
I'm content being me. I love my life. I'm proud of the career I've built and the kids I've raised. I sometimes put my wedding rings back on just because they remind me of a man who loved me and who thought I was some kind of wonderful. More importantly to me now, however, is that fact that I think I'm pretty cool and don't need to settle for less than a man who thinks so, too.
Peace to you!
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.