I met someone.
How many grand love stories begin with those three simple words? I met someone.
This someone sat down next to me on a day when I'd had a good day. I'd just spent the entire day in Rome on the Rome on Your Own Excursion through the Carnival Vista, then crawled into bed, completely exhausted, at 8 PM. I had been on my feet for six straight hours that day, exploring Rome, seeing the sites, doing a bit of shopping and Wanderlusting...
I was on my way to the Trevi Fountain when I got a text from Chris telling me that he was at the courthouse waiting for our divorce hearing...then a follow up text shortly after, telling me that our divorce was final and he was picking up the certified copies.
I teared up a little bit, I frantically texted a few friends, searched for my Xanax (which I'd left on the ship because I didn't realize I'd need it...), then finished my walk to the Trevi Fountain as quickly as I could.
I threw my coin in, and I made a wish...I can't tell you what it was because I'm superstitious, but I will tell you...the rest of this post is about it coming true.
So there I was, laying in bed feeling tired and lazy, and my friend kept texting me to get out of bed and come have a drink, and I wound up spending the evening having a ton of late night fun with him and some other members of our group.
I wouldn't say that I was "happy," but I wasn't sad, and I was - as usual - that friendly person who would strike up a conversation with anyone. My divorce had just been finalized, and I'd made it through the fog more quickly than I'd anticipated. After my friends called it a night, I was still wide awake because I'd caught my second wind. When I sat down at the bar late that night (you could actually consider it early morning by then), I was in a good place. I was probably smiling. I've been doing that a lot lately.
I sat down at the only bar that allowed smoking and had a cocktail by myself, as had become my routine on this trip. My friends were not night owls, and I have suffered from insomnia for a long time. I'm used to spending the wee hours of the morning by myself at home, but on a cruise? There's always someone else up late too! The plan was to have was one last smoke and a drink before bed, but a tall, pale young man sat down next to me and struck up a conversation. Or perhaps I struck up the conversation? It's difficult to remember how it happened at this point, but I can tell you that we laughed and laughed, and his smile was like sunshine.
The next six days were a whirlwind of exploring the Mediterranean, scheduled events with my press group, and waiting for our responsibilities to end late each evening so that I could spend time with this charming man.
The main struggle was that he was working and didn't have much free time... and I wanted as much time as possible with him because he was wonderful company! That accent I've always found so cringe-worthy? On his lips, it had become music to my ears.
I was so happy. I looked forward to our time together almost as much as I did the ports we were visiting each day. He was sweet and kind, he made me laugh, was a bit aloof (which drove me crazy at times), and when he looked into my eyes one night and said, "I quite like you a lot," my heart melted a little.
Okay, more than a little. It melted a lot.
I told a close friend of mine what was happening after a day or two, and they went wild with excitement: "This is fate! A long distance romance! Move to Europe! Think of the blog, the stories you would tell - you met the love of your life the day your divorce was finalized!"
But it wasn't any of that, and I understood and accepted that after our first evening together. I'm not saying that I don't want any of those fairy tales; of course I want to fall in love again some day. But in the year that I've been single, and thrust back into the world of dating, romance, and seduction - after a 14 year hiatus - I've very quickly learned how to tell when something has the potential to become serious and when a man just wants to enjoy your company. When someone asks for your Instagram handle and not your phone number? They aren't looking for anything serious. A lot of women ignore these signals and throw themselves into fantasizing about what could be... it's a waste of time and a sure way to get your fucking heart broken.
I learned something very early on in this new single life of mine: Take it for what it is.
I accepted this little romance - and what I hope to be a budding friendship - with no expectations. We had a lot of fun together, and he (unknowingly) comforted me with the kind of tenderness that only the embrace of a sweet man can offer at a time when I needed it most in my life. I adore him for his sweetness, his passion, his gentle mature, his sense of humor and well...he is just a wonderful human being. It doesn't hurt that he's also incredibly handsome and charming...
In a perfect world (the one my friend wants us all to live in), he would have asked me to come visit him after the trip was over, or I would have ask him to come visit me. We'd start a long distance love affair...
That's not real life, folks.
Real life is spending your last night together just wrapped in each other's arms, because you know that you'll never see each other again. It's me trying to be grateful for a wonderful experience, and to not ruin it by saying something stupid....only you can't help yourself and blurt out, "Being with you was one of the best things about this trip," and having him answer only with a kiss and asking if you have all of your things. Yeah, that happened. That's REAL LIFE. He didn't even pretend, which made me respect - and like - him all the more.
Real life is knowing that, sometimes, you'll meet someone, but that doesn't mean it will amount to anything. Not every person you become romantically involved with will want to pursue a relationship of any sort with you. It took me a while to understand this after my ex-husband and I separated. You can pass up opportunities for brief companionship and remain completely on your own, or you can embrace some of these encounters when they present themselves and just enjoy the moment.
So...I met someone... and he was amazing. It was brief, it was lovely, and I don't think that we will ever see each other again.
And, honestly? I'm okay with that. Because, for a little while, I was happy. Sometimes that's enough.