Like most people of the female persuasion--and maybe even some guys too--I had been painting the picture of life with my future beshert for a long time. In fact, I had started painting that picture way back when I was a little girl, when my medium of choice probably would have been Crayola finger paints.
Until recently, I had continued that search to find "the one," wondering if he was looking up at that same big sky looking for me too--but in a much more macho way of course.
"He's out there," my mom would tell me time and again through the years. "I promise you he's looking for you too."
And guess what? She was right.
Last summer, I'd had it up to here. I'd experienced my fill of Jewish singles parties, JDates, and fix ups-enough to write a lengthy book one day about my dating mishaps. No one I met was fitting that picture I had painted as a kid. The process was, to quote an irritating Taylor Swift song, exhausting.
Despite my frustration, I continued on my journey--working at a fulfilling job, deepening ties with a wonderful circle of friends and family, volunteering in the community, and living my best Jewish life. An incredible, happy, and meaningful Jewish life that I never took for granted-man or no man.
Cut to last summer. I'm sitting outside at a restaurant having pancakes with two Jewish girlfriends, one newly married and one single. The single one mentioned yet another party approaching on the packed Jewish calendar--this one a launch party for a new Jewish website. It was happening, four days later, that Thursday night. "You wanna go?" my friend asked me.
"No," I replied, cutting off my well-meaning friend. My curt response took her by surprise because I had been game for singles events in the past.
But I was just tired, tired of the whole thing. Tired of the process that came with getting my hopes up about meeting someone and the disappointment that followed when I'd return home at the end of the night, my expectations unmet. And sometimes, harder yet for me to bear, it was their expectations of me that were unmet. Dating was a dance and I couldn't figure out my footing.
Instead of going to that launch party, I longed to sit home on my couch and catch up on a neglected season of DVR-ed Parenthood episodes.
But, then, my newlywed friend sweetened the deal. She said she'd come to the party too as our joint wing-woman.
"Oh, man," I thought to myself, swallowing a forkful of pancake. "If the married girl can make time for the party, it's kind of lame if I don't go."
So, reluctantly, I did.
Thursday night arrived, and we turned up at the bar. Twenty minutes into our arrival, I caught a glimpse of a cute, tall guy with a warm smile clear across the room. He was many feet away, but I noticed his inclusive, sweet nature, trying to make everyone around him part of the conversation he was having with his friend. "I just have to meet him," I told another friend of mine at the party. In an instant, she dragged me by my arm and led me to him. (That's right, ladies. Don't let "the rules" stop you from approaching guys.)
And that was it. The rest of the people in the room and the blaring music seemed to fade to silent and it felt like it was just this man and me in the room. "It was like there was a spotlight on just the two of you," my friend later told me.
I remember only bits and pieces of what he and I talked about that night-his upcoming marathon, my recent visit to a lake house in Michigan, the fact that my first name, common in the past, is an atypical name today for women in their 30s-but the content of our chitchat didn't really matter. What counted was the feeling of "home" I got from talking to him, that he was unbelievably kind, that we made each other laugh, that I never wanted that conversation to end. And even that first time we met, we just "got" each other.
I remember telling him some insignificant detail about my life that night, and a few days later, he mentioned it. "How did you remember that?" I asked him, shocked that he would recall such a minor fact. "Because I was listening," he told me. And he really does.
Here we are today, just nine whirlwind months after we met. We're engaged and planning a fall wedding and I couldn't be more excited to share our lives together. And, remember that picture I had painted of my future all those years ago? Well, guess what? He isn't what I pictured either. Nope, he's different than I imagined, but our picture together is way more beautiful than the one I could have ever dreamed up.
The thought of imparting words of wisdom on the subject of dating is kind of funny in light of my roller coaster journey in this realm. But I do have one nugget of advice for all the wonderful single people out there still looking for their beshert: Never give up hope because he or she could be just around the corner looking for you too. Oh, and listen to your friend when she wants to drag you to a party against your will.