About 9 months ago…
As I was planning a work trip itinerary to Chicago, I realized that I was entirely free until 10am one day. Normally my work trips were back-to-back, fully scheduled, non-stop action so, when I had an opening, I always tried to fill it with something just for me. I thought about the people I knew in Chicago and who I hadn’t connected with in a long time: Chi-guy.
I messaged him through Facebook to ask if he was free for coffee. He was, and we agreed to meet in my hotel lobby in the morning.
The day before I flew, intuition told me to look at his Facebook profile to see if there was something I might use for a conversation starter — after all, it had been months since we’d communicated in any form. Oddly, though I knew he was married, his relationship status was not listed. I scrolled through his friends. I had a vague recollection of what his wife’s name was and what she looked like, and I didn’t see her.
When Chi-guy bounded up the stairs toward me the next morning, we kicked off with a hug and the usual pleasantries. He had lost weight and looked better than I’d remembered. I was in a short, cap sleeve dress, just on the verge of inappropriate for business, and had been reading the Wall Street Journal. He was dressed casually, and I learned that he’d been through a layoff and was getting by on freelance projects.
Meanwhile, curiosity was killing me. I looked for an opening and then exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, your daughter must be…how old now?!”
He told me she was nearly five, and showed me a photo on his phone.
“She’s darling! Are you having more? It’s about time to get cracking!”
His expression became glum and I learned that he had moved out in March (the same month my ex had moved out), that his wife had asked for a divorce only days ago and that he was struggling with all of this. Knowing how painful the dissolution of one’s primary relationship is, I felt — and expressed — deep and genuine empathy. Yet (again) something in the back of my mind was jumping up ecstatically shouting “YES!” and it was all I could do to contain myself. What luck to find that a long-time mutual crush was becoming single! Imagine the potential!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
Chi-guy accompanied me to my room and carried my luggage downstairs. He asked respectfully if he should leave before my colleagues showed up. I insisted he stay to meet Suzanne, “She has a place in your hometown — you have something in common.” Back at the front desk, I introduced them and they chatted while I checked out.
Chi-guy and I hugged good-bye, promised to keep in touch and I set about my day of work with Suzanne, who waited approximately .25 seconds before launching into, “So…tell me about this guy…I mean, he’s great looking, he bikes, no ring, he’s obviously smart and articulate, seems like a really nice guy…”
“…who lives in a different city from me, is going through a divorce and doesn’t have a steady job, despite his MBA,” I countered.
“Think about it,” she encouraged, “we’ll be back in a few months. Maybe that’ll be enough time for him to get over it. Did I mention he’s incredibly handsome?”
Suzanne loves my taste in men. Physically, at least. She thought my ex was gorgeous, too. I liked the validation that he had impressed her and that, this time, it was more than just his looks.
While we were cabbing from one appointment to the next, I posted a note on Chi-guy’s Facebook wall: “SOOO great to see you this morning! Keep in touch!”
He later texted, “You’re quick with the fb.”
“Just trying to keep the other girls guessing,” I flirted.
Later, as I was about to fly back home, I bid farewell to Suzanne and went to catch a train to the airport. Overhead announcements indicated my train was delayed. I text Chi-guy, “What does it mean that my train is delayed? 5 min? or am I going to miss my flight?”
He replied, “Usually 5 min, but if you miss your flight, call me. I’ll come pick you up.”
As I boarded my plane I texted back, “Bad news…caught my flight. Back to reality.”
“That is too bad. LMK next time you’re in town.”
But I knew I wouldn’t wait that long to be in touch with Chi-guy…