what changes once it’s final?


As usual, I checked in with Facebook in the morning before I left for work. Status updates from Chi-guy tend to be few and far between, so I noted with interest his comment about the cold, rainy day being an appropriate backdrop for the kind of day he had planned. I wondered if this was it…

Divorce is something I’ll never really find a way to rejoice. Even if it’s absolutely the right thing and the best thing for all parties, there is no way for me to view it wholly as a win-win. It’s a moody or melancholy occasion at best. And so I made a mental note to call and check in this evening. (Again, “super friend” mode…)

As it happened, we texted back and forth a few times throughout the day, and he confided his newly (legally) single status to me late in the afternoon. Does this change anything? Not really. We still live in different cities, find each other attractive and flirt. But nothing’s really different, right?

He acknowledged that it’s been an emotional day. He was comforted by having his daughter with him for the evening and overnight. And he generally seemed in good spirits having had, as he pointed out, “some time to get used to the idea.”

So maybe it’s his candor and openness, or his sense of humor — we seem to laugh a great deal together — but those are things we’ve shared for months. It seems they’ve always been there. Perhaps it’s that he’s genuinely available now in a way that he wasn’t before.

Whatever the case, I’m telling you one thing for certain:  this man has never been so sexy!

talking it out with Chi-guy (part 11)

About seven months ago…

I sent Chi-guy’s birthday gift off with a card that let him know what a great time I’d had on our day together. I wrote that I’d appreciated getting to know him better and thought he had a sexy brain. Then I added, “p.s. Next time, more touch!” I enclosed a little something for his daughter, as well, as her birthday was later in the week.

We continued to text each other throughout the week, and he thanked me for the thoughtful gift and my kind words.

Meanwhile, I had rattled off the story of my tragically sexless weekend to anyone who would listen — my girlfriends, my sister and even my mother, who said, “So you finally met a decent man!”

Just more than a week had gone by when we were able to talk again. He had just gotten home from a shopping trip to IKEA and recounted his purchases:  a full-length mirror, a dresser and lamp for his daughter’s room, a cinnamon roll and a cookie cutter.

“Cookie cutter?” I inquired.

“Yeah. I was reading the paper yesterday and well, you know, it’s back to school season, and there was an article with ideas for packing school lunches…”

The knowing mother, I chimed in, “so you’re going to make sandwiches in fun shapes for your daughter’s lunch . . .”

“Yeah, I thought that would be fun,” he affirmed. I swooned.

We chatted casually a bit and then I took a deep breath and began:

“So last time I saw you, I really enjoyed the time we spent together, until the end of the evening, which was very confusing for me…so I wanted to talk about that and try to understand what you were thinking?”

Him:  “Hmm…what were you thinking?” Coward!

Me:  “Well…do you remember when we had coffee last summer and you told me you were getting a divorce? …My heart went out to you because I know (even if we’re approaching this from different angles) how much it hurts and how difficult it is, and I felt so bad for you, because I could see that you were hurting. But somewhere inside, there was this little part of me that was screaming ‘YES!!!!’…

“Aw, that’s sweet,” he replied.

“…And I started thinking that there’s always been a kind of energy between us, and that we seem to have an attraction for one another, and we’re both recently single at the same time and – what an opportunity! I rarely travel to Chicago, and I’ve got three trips schedule for Chicago this autumn…I thought, you seemed in such a bad place last summer, that I would help you get your mojo back…”


“I know, isn’t that noble of me? My intentions were soooo altruistic!” I giggled.

“Wow. I guess I just thought that we were flirting and that it didn’t really mean anything and I thought, ‘she couldn’t possibly want me.’ Besides, I think I’m falling for you…”

Now this is where a smarter woman, a woman who is more fully present, who understands how to communicate in a relationship would have stopped to savor the moment and, perhaps, to investigate. To this day, I wish I could go back and ask him to tell me more or explain what he meant. Or even just ask, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”

But I was not that smarter woman. No; I rambled on, intent on advocating my case that we should go to bed together. Me:  “Even if we were flirting, I was being very genuine about what I felt and what I wanted. When I told you that you have a sexy voice, I wasn’t just stroking you, I really dig your voice. There’s something about the resonance that drives me wild. And when I asked what it was going to take to get into your CKs, it’s because I genuinely wanted to get in your CKs!”

Him:  “But wouldn’t it just have been meaningless?”

Me:  “I think there’s a difference between casual and meaningless. We seem to have some concern for each other, and I think we could give ourselves a free pass, and share something really beautiful that doesn’t have to be about our future or anything. I think because we’re in a very similar place right now, we’d have a lot to offer one another – and it would be really fun!”

Him:  “That’s a good distinction. I wouldn’t have thought about it like that…”

I asked him about other things he had said to me that night, about The Road Less Traveled and his moral compass — did he truly intend to be celibate until his divorce was final?

“No. I’m a guy,” he said, “I’d like to sleep with any woman who I’ll never have to see or talk to again.”

We laughed; I admired him all the more for his candor. I went on to argue (again) that we were adults, we didn’t have to play games, we could be friends and lovers, too, and that the similar timing and situations made our circumstances all the more ideal.

By the time we finally said goodnight, I had spent the better part of an hour convincing him — I thought successfully — that it would be fine for us to sleep together. And before I’d even hung up the phone, I regretted it.

We were expressing our gratitude for one another when, suddenly, I realized there may be something special about Chi-guy, something worth holding out for. I didn’t want to be his rebound girl, after all. Rebounds never last. Here was a guy I loved talking with, who had genuine companionship potential, who was a loving father and making thoughtful changes in himself. And I no longer wanted to share myself with him for a cheap thrill.

I had no plans, no future in mind. We still lived in different cities and were likely to for some time, given the bonds of parenthood. But — and maybe this has to do with my seeing Eat, Pray, Love in the movie theater around that time — if ever I were to share something with Chi-guy, I wanted it to be when he had forgiven his ex, had forgiven himself and could believe in love again. And I would have to leap those hurdles myself, too.

I later recounted our conversation to a girlfriend. I told her, “I basically spent the majority of the time we talked trying to convince him that it was okay to go to bed with me. And now I don’t want to. I don’t want to be his rebound girl. I like him. He had me at ‘cookie cutter.’ And I think he said something resembling, ‘I’m falling for you.’”

“It sounds as though you two have something special,” she said. “You’ve been incredibly honest with each other. I think you need to tell him how you feel before you see him again.”

I meant to. As it turned out, I didn’t

Chi-guy, part 3

About eight months ago…

One Friday I went to dinner with a colleague. He has a great mind and we always have fun talking together, and that evening was no exception. After dinner, I asked him, “what next?”

“You’re inviting me to your place,” he said.

“Okay,” I said. I wasn’t 100% sure where this was going, but I had a pretty good idea, as this fellow had been a little suggestive on occasion. I was still well within the time frame I’d designated for having casual encounters, so I figured, “why not?!” I won’t bore you with the details just now (you can find them here), but…I looked at the clock after he left; it wasn’t even 10pm.

I texted Chi-guy: “Just sent my date home. Ugh. U up?”

Him:  “For what?”

Me:  “Chat?”

Him:  “Oh, sweet! I’m out tonight. Tomorrow?”

Me:  “Sounds good. Enjoy!”

The next day, well after noon, I received this:  “I definitely had more fun than u last night! Call u after I get the little one to sleep.”

Me:  “If your fun night just left, I don’t want to hear about it. Talk later.”

Was I jealous of the thought that Chi-guy might have had better sex than I had the previous night? Or was a I jealous about the thought of him with another woman? Then it occurred to me:  I wanted to be the girl to recharge his mojo, dammit!

Chi-guy called at 11:15pm and we talked about relationships, marriage, divorce, children and more. He confessed that, leading up to the dissolution of his relationship, he’d begun to drink too much, maybe been a little depressed and other admissions that eerily paralleled the demise of my own marriage. At one point, he told me how the end had begun:  his wife asked him to see a counselor with her, a safe venue in which she could ask him to move out. The counselor advised him to respect her wishes, move out, cooperate and “make things easy on her,” because she would ultimately realize that he was not the problem.

“Dude, your counselor sucks!” I teased. “Mine told me to go out and get laid before my ex had even moved out!”

“I want your counselor!” he joked.

We confided and shared, comforted and laughed for more than two hours. His voice had grown more resonant than I’d remembered from years before and, while still not terribly masculine, there was something kind of sexy about it. I had always felt some sort of energetic connection with Chi-guy, but now a genuine emotional warmth was beginning to blossom.

Late the next morning I texted him:  “Can’t remember the last time I talked on the phone for more than 2 hrs and enjoyed it!”

Him:  “I know, so high school. Now I just need to hang your picture in my locker and give you a hickey.”

I immediately updated my Facebook status:  “Was just offered a hickey…tempted, but it’s not quite turtleneck weather.” Within moments, my bawdier girlfriends had commented, “Who says it has to be on your neck?” and the like.

“Going to wear your Letterman’s jacket everywhere. p.s. ck my fb status,” I texted.

Him:  “Now I see where u get your inspiration. If you out me, I will give you a hickey next time I see you! p.s. you’re going to have to give more than a hickey for my letter jacket.”

We bantered in high school terms for the day, until I wrote: “Why, I do believe you’re flirting with me!”

“I like flirting with you,” he wrote back.

And so my crush blossomed, and I began to believe in the possibility that Chi-guy could be back in action by Labor Day.

Meanwhile, my girlfriends were asking about the men in my life. I was still texting with Max, Anthony and Brendon, who were unavailable for various reasons, but gave my ego a little boost. Add Chi-guy — who was not a match geographically or astrologically. And I had dated a guy in college with the same given name, which sullied even that. Whatever this might be, it was going nowhere…but it might be a fun romp (and just what the doctor ordered).


reconnecting with Chi-guy, part 2

About 9 months ago…

I was back in the office at my big, corporate job, where each and every day was rife with irony, inconsistency and hilarious examples of English gone awry. Knowing Chi-guy was well-educated and literary (as well as baffled to find me in a buttoned-up corporate environment), I found regular inspiration for messages to him — e.g. “New word heard in meeting today:  ‘choiceful.’ Used as synonym for discriminating or discerning, as in ‘we need to be more choiceful about…'” and another day, “talking Kathy Griffin here — new word ‘vajazzle.'”

Chi-guy played along:  “You’ve got to be choiceful about who you let vajazzle you.”

Meanwhile, I thought about how excited I’d been to learn that he was single and what Suzanne had said. Chi-guy and I, it seemed, had nursed a mutual crush for more than seven years. We were miraculously single at the same time. He looked better than ever. And I was going to be traveling to Chicago three more times in the autumn, a short six weeks away.

We bantered via text and email for a few weeks. One day I texted, “Listening to Bob Schneider & thought of u:  ‘It’s not the end of everything, it’s just the end of everything you know.'”

Him:  “Wait, is that supposed to make me feel better?”

Me:  “I take great comfort in the possibility that what I don’t know might be better than what I do know. Besides, maybe it’s the part about the single girl thinking of u that makes u feel better?”

Him:  “Oh, yeah, that does make me feel better.”

I had a few Chicago contacts and offered to connect him for an informational interview, so we set up a time to talk on the phone. He thanked me for the regular messages and told me they were a bright spot in his day. It seemed we joked and laughed from the moment I picked up the phone to the time I hung up 30 minutes later. Whatever was between us was adding an unexpected and pleasant dimension to my work and single-parenting routine.

That’s when it came to me:  I could try to be for Chi-guy what Max had been to me — I would help him move on, remind him of his positive qualities and, though six weeks was an aggressive timeline, I made it my mission to help him get his mojo back. I wasn’t yet sure whether I would sleep with him, but I opened myself to the possibility of a romp. Neither of us were in a position to consider any sort of a relationship, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t enjoy each other in the moment.

I shared my plans with Suzanne. “You’re so altruistic!,” she mocked, rolling her eyes and laughing with me. “Sounds like fun!”

Chi-guy had seemed pretty devastated about the demise of his marriage when I’d met him for coffee. But I was determined to do what I could to resurrect his confidence, swagger and smile…and I would enjoy every minute of it!

My next text to Chi-guy:  “U r so smart & funny; I could talk to you 4ever!”


miss you already

About 17 months ago…

Two girlfriends and I were having a few cocktails after work, one of whom has been married for more than a decade — really married, and the other successful, single and not dating. In other words, I was clearly providing the conversation / drama / entertainment.

No one really ever wants to talk about divorce in public. The heartbreak, the pain — it’s all better swept under the rug lest the weepies rear their ugly heads. And so I told them about Max and what happened since I’d last seen him.

“You texted WHAT?,” Cynthia asked. “How could you?!”

“What?,” I asked innocently, “‘Miss you already’ is perfectly innocent. I would say the same thing to a girlfriend or a niece or my own children.”

“He’s not your girlfriend or niece,” Cynthia pressed. “It was suggestive. And he’s a married man!”

Seriously, it’s not as though I told him I wanted to get naked and rub my body up against him,” I argued.

Cynthia:  “No, that would have been being direct.”

Kristine, meanwhile, was doubled over with laughter and merely kept repeating, “Miss you already. Miss you already. That is priceless!”

They asked what happened next, they made me show them photos and then I told them about Max’s wife:

“You told her you had a crush on her husband?!,” they asked incredulously. I generally gravitate toward honesty. I may not always be appropriate or have the best boundaries, but I have my ethics.

“Yes,” I confirmed. “And she was cool, she was fun, and she was as inappropriate as any of us. And she would fit in perfectly sitting right here with us in this empty chair. We would have a grand time!”

Even as we put on our wraps, paid the tab and walked out of the bar, the girls were still laughing and giggling over what would become our inside joke:  “miss you already!”

how I became a text maniac

About 18 months ago…

As I boarded my flight home after my trip to Max’s region, I texted him a quick note: “Miss you already!”

I didn’t think much of the casual salutation — it was something I would have said to my children or a girlfriend — just a fun, breezy farewell. By the time I landed, there was a message on my data phone. It was from Max:

“You have no idea. We have a special relationship.”

Wha…? I reeled. Max had feelings for me. Here, in the palm of my hand, was actual confirmation that this gorgeous man reciprocated, in some form, the feelings I had for him. My heart was pounding; butterflies were fluttering in my stomach. I didn’t know what to think. I could barely resist the urge to board a flight back to Max. Of course in reality Max would be home with his wife and daughters…but he felt something for me!

There was so much I wanted to say. I tried to capture what I was feeling, and then edited and edited it down until it fit into the 160 characters of a single text message:

“I do have an idea…several, in fact. I will content myself with the quantum possibility that in some parallel universe we are free to explore them.”

Several hours later, Max texted back. “LOVE the way you put that. Talk soon.”

seeing Max again

Nearly 18 months ago…

When I got off the plane in Max’s region,  I couldn’t wait to get to work. I mean, of course, that I couldn’t wait to see Max!

After a couple of meetings, we got a chance to talk.

“How do you do this?,” he asked, “I mean travel, as a single mother, with your children at home?”

That was quite an assumption for Max to make! He must have been scoping out my ring finger (I was no longer wearing my ring). After all, I had yet to tell my husband that our relationship was over nor asked him to move out. It hadn’t even dawned on me that my girlfriend in Max’s region might have spilled to him that I’d asked after him.

Later I had an opportunity to ask Max about his own children. That’s when he told me: two grown children, four stepdaughters and two grandchildren. Grandchildren?! I had guessed Max’s age at 44. He was older than I thought — and, having married a woman with four daughters, he clearly had a great deal of capacity.

I reveled at telling my girlfriends about this development . . . their consistent response:  “Not only is he gorgeous, but also a saint! No wonder you like him!”


That evening, I had the pleasure of meeting Max’s wife. As predicted, she was a bottle blond. And she was an attractive mother of four, had crow’s-feet (or shall I say “laugh lines”?) and a warm, authentic presence accompanied by a boisterous laugh.

By the end of the evening, I was compelled to confide in her. “I have a huge work crush on your husband,” I admitted. “He has been such a joy to work with, communicative, cooperative, willing, steady and pleasant in every way. Not to mention, he’s hot.”

She laughed and leaned close to me. “Oh, that is so sweet — I can’t wait to tell him! He is every one of those things at home, too, consistent and steady and never raises his voice…” We laughed and chatted for a bit longer before good-byes. Then she insisted I come back to the area with my children on vacation and stay with them.

Um…maybe not a great idea!

Finally, as I hugged Max goodbye, I whispered into his ear, “I just told your wife that I have a huge crush on you…but I bet you already knew that.”

“I’m no fool,” he said. We smiled at one another and slowly released our embrace.

intuition, interrupted

About 18 months ago…

Let’s get back to the fun stuff!

As spring turned to summer, I had another opportunity to work with Max, my out-of-state office crush. We emailed and occasionally spoke on the phone to communicate. One day after I emailed off a request, I got this reply from Max:

“You should know by now I will do whatever you ask.”

I excitedly waved a co-worker into my cubicle and said, “look at this! I think this cute guy might be flirting with me!” She agreed that he was most definitely flirting. (Perhaps you’ll find it sad that I needed confirmation from another, but this was not the sort of thing that is always self-evident to someone whose primary relationship is spiraling toward Hades.)

And so things got interesting. A fairly attractive man (who was also a newly wed) was offering a little bit more positive attention than was strictly required by his job. Which was nice.

But there was something deeper and more profound going on:  I had gotten a vibe around Max, something that made me think he might have some special potential in my life (at least until I heard he was getting married). And now I was getting some feedback suggesting that energy was mutual. My feminine intuition seemed to be functioning properly! After years of being told I was “crazy” every time I verbalized something I was feeling intuitively, I was now getting affirmation of what my sixth sense was telling me. My mojo — I guess they call it jojo for women — was coming back!

And I had an upcoming work trip to Max’s region, so I would see him soon!