It was May, 1997. I was about six months into a separation from my husband of six years, the man who had promised to love and cherish me until death do us part or, apparently as he understood it, until he got a better offer. I must have missed that in our vows.
So I had spent the last six months gathering my wits about me, trying to scratch my way to a surface where I could breathe normally again. My co-worker MaryAnn decided that what I really needed was an adventure and what better way to get the blood pumping again than to go white water rafting down the Black River Gorge? I couldn’t think of anything better to do that Saturday so I said yes.
I met Nate (a/k/a MaryAnn’s nephew a/k/a tall, dark, handsome, soon-to-be rebound guy a/k/a my destiny) in the parking lot of the mall where we all gathered to figure out car pooling. Well, actually “met” is a bit of an overstatement. So is “said HI to.” I wasn’t paying attention to anything other than my own thoughts running amuck. How did I get myself into this situation? White water rafting was as ludicrous as climbing Mount Everest. The only sport I had ever played was golf and there was nothing extreme about it. It was no big secret that I was athletically challenged so what the hell was I doing with these people?
After arriving at the gorge, all of us ran in different directions … some to pay, some to change outfits, some to just hang out until the rest of us were ready. When we finally all came together it became immediately apparent that one of us thought pretty highly of himself. Specifically, my destiny was wearing his very own three quarter length wet suit. He looked ridiculous amongst the rest of us normal people who didn’t own our own wet suits and were therefore outfitted in the glamorous, fluorescent orange, musty smelling, one-size-fits-all full body wet suits supplied by the rafting company.
Did you know that it’s possible for a wet suit to fit so snug across your chest that it sucks the soul right out of your body while at the same time leaving enough wiggle room in your nether regions to hide a bowling ball?
I paid no attention to my destiny all decked out in shiny black and blue down to his knees. I hitched up my sagging wet suit, trying in vain to get the crotch somewhere in the vicinity above my knees and waddled my blazing neon orange droopy ass over to my co-workers who were waiting by the rafts and proceeded to listen to our guide’s survival instructions. And really, the only instruction that seemed to resonate with me was DO NOT FALL OUT OF THE RAFT. That one seemed pretty important.
We hopped into our rafts and as it turned out I wound up in a different raft than my destiny. I was in the raft with my boss and my boss’s husband, a very athletic, strapping specimen of a man who gave me his solemn vow that he would personally ensure my safety at all times. I expressed my concern to him that I NOT FALL OUT OF THE RAFT BECAUSE I COULD DIE AND I DID NOT WANT TO DIE IN THIS SUIT. He patted me on the shoulder, told me to not worry and to stick by him.
About 1/2 hour into the trip down the gorge, things were going pretty well and I started to relax a little, thinking that I might actually live to see what we were having for dinner afterwards when we hit a strong set of rapids. Our guide hollered instructions at us left and right and we feverishly tried to keep our raft afloat. I turned to my boss’s husband for assurance only to catch sight of his ass AS HE WENT FLYING OVER BACKWARDS OUT OF THE RAFT. Hello? Are you kidding me? You can just go find yourself someone else to protect, Mr. Manly Man.
So, what does all of this have to do with a tall, dark, handsome guy in a ridiculous wet suit? Not much, but we had met. At a pivotal time in both of our lives. We knew the other existed. And that was all MaryAnn needed as she became the social director of my pathetic excuse of a life. She organized activities for her family and friends and one volleyball night later, my destiny emailed me at work. A very short email in which he briefly commented on the volleyball, asked about an upcoming soccer game and wished me a nice day. Having been out of the dating game for awhile, MaryAnn and my boss sought to ease my way back in by helping me draft an appropriate response – polite but not too forward, leaving the door open but not yanking him inside: yes, volleyball was fun; yes, we would all be at the soccer game and hey, you have a nice day too.
Eventually, we got better at composing interesting emails.
And then at a soccer game, I committed a major faux pas by making the first move and asking him out on an actual date – drinks after the game. From the expressions on MaryAnn’s and my boss’s faces, you would have thought that I propositioned the pope. WHAT IN GOD’S NAME WAS I THINKING? DID I NOT REALIZE HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED?
Everyone was happy that I had a transitional man.
But then we fell in love.
I was breaking rules all over the place and MaryAnn was just beside herself. Just what in the hell did I think I was doing? Did I not know anything? YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR TRANSITIONAL MAN. THEY ARE CALLED TRANSITIONAL FOR A REASON. GET A GRIP ON YOURSELF.
We married almost 2 years later.
We’ve been married just about 9 years now.
The tall, dark, handsome, soon-to-be rebound guy wearing the shiny blue and black three quarter length wet suit was my soul mate in disguise.