When you're single, trying to meet someone new and compatible is always a challenge. It's the "compatible" part that is difficult. One can meet hordes of highly incompatible people, but finding those rare souls with whom you might actually "click" is, well, rare.
Which is why, when you think you maybe, just possibly, might have met one of those rarities, it's both exciting and unnerving. Especially when you haven't met yet in person, but when your "meeting" has been confined to the on-line medium. And when you are on the cusp of actually meeting him face to face, in less than 24 hours.
I've done on-line dating, off and on (more off than on, probably), for the past decade or longer. I've had lots of failures or false starts at it, and I have my share of funny "war stories" from the trenches of internet dating. I've also had a few successes as well, including my most serious relationship to date. I have friends who have met their husbands or wives on-line. I know it can work. I no longer find it odd or feel the need to hide the fact that this is primarily how I am meeting men. When you meet a man in a bar, the chances are high that he will at the very least have the flaw of a drinking problem, let alone whatever other flaws he might have, so that's not an option I choose. If you meet him at a sporting event, you might end up a "sports widow", so that isn't fool-proof, either. And since I work at home, for myself and by myself, the internet provides one of the better, if not sometimes the ONLY, means I have of meeting someone. And frankly, while it may have its drawbacks, it has some distinct advantages.
For one thing, there is something about meeting a man who can actually write, who can express himself and be articulate in writing -- even when there is a bit of a language barrier between you -- that I find very attractive. Not just attractive... seductive. I can be seduced by the well-written word as easily, if not more easily, than a look, a touch, the sound of someone's voice. (I can also be completely turned off by badly written garbage, so it works both ways with me.) This is not to suggest that I am some dumb push-over, a woman who will believe any pretty thing a man says to her. Quite the opposite: I have a highly-tuned radar for male bullshit; and NOT being a hopeless romantic, I tend to take most "sweet nothings" with a grain of salt, at least until I get to know a man and can more accurately gauge the level of his sincerity.
But two people using the power of the written word to communicate, to get to know things and share things, without the benefit of eye contact, voice or body language, can be an intense experience. To be able to discuss ideas and opinions with a man, whether you agree or disagree... to create an intimacy with an exchange of word-play that has nothing at all to do with sex or physical attraction, but is based solely on a meeting of the minds... to be able to flirt, make one another laugh, or conjure up visual images through the power of your imagination and creativity... I think this is a rather special thing, and not to be discarded lightly. I think when you find someone with whom you can have that kind of written rapport as a starting point for something else, it is worth sitting up and taking notice.
Maybe I am merely a throw-back to the days of pen-and-ink letter writing, the days when lovers would hand-write their thoughts to one another when they couldn't be in the same place at the same time. Like in the days of Jane Austen... when couples, constrained by societal norms to withholding all physical affection until engaged or married, were forced to pour out their feelings in a letter. Where a woman would wait in anticipation of the post arriving, hoping for news of her beloved who was far away, sitting in a fox-hole or on a ship during war-time. Where sometimes, even marriage proposals were delivered in a letter, instead of on bended knee.
Technology makes it possible for us to connect with ease now -- we now wait not days or weeks for a letter, but minutes, and it will have a time-stamp on it rather than a postage stamp -- but most people today are not at all at ease with letter-writing. It is truly becoming a lost art, and more is the pity. Instant messaging means that even good English (or good French) has been abbreviated to the point where it's unrecognizable.
Meeting someone to whom I could spend (and already have spent) hours WRITING, instead of talking even on the phone, is something I have not experienced in a very long time. Until now.
It is exciting. It is heady stuff, the stuff which makes the papillons flutter, albeit cautiously, inside. The stuff that makes the tips of my fingers tingle when I realize I will meet him tomorrow. For lunch. Just hours from now. I have work to do today, but I am finding it hard to concentrate on it. Because I would rather go back to my little chat program and "talk" to him some more. I am waiting, breath slightly bated, for the next time I get a "Bonjour, Miss Writer Lisa" popping up on my screen, the same way as in days gone by, I might have waited impatiently by the front garden gate for the postman to arrive.
I think he is feeling a bit impatient to meet me, too, and I am already flattered by his interest; I, who am not easily flattered, even (or perhaps especially) by charming Frenchmen. He knows about this blog, by the way. He's already read about the Gardener and Frère, assured me he has no such brother, and teasingly asked me what pseudonym I'd be giving him and when would I be writing about him (and told me I should be making notes on our chat sessions for future blog material!) The nickname will have to wait until I know him better, but if he's reading, then he knows he has been immortalized on this blog already! Although he has no website or blog of his own, I can Google his name -- as he, himself, encouraged me do -- and find many references to him (and none of them appear to be disturbing or off-putting). While we are neither of us "all knowing" about one another's complete history, we've already disclosed some things that might normally take a few dates to uncover, and I sense this is not a man who is going out of his way to hide anything. And I am not compelled to be anyone other than my self. (I even "warned" him not to expect some skinny Parisienne; after all, what's to hide? He'll take one look at me and see I'm curvy and packing a few extra pounds, even though I'm making moderate progress in that area.) This is a good start.
From this first meeting -- dare I call it a date? -- I am expecting nothing, because it's never good to have expectations at a time like this; too much margin for error, as it were. Despite what we have already, with unexpected candor, shared about ourselves, there is still much we don't know, and any one of these knowns or unknowns could be a "deal breaker". So I am not expecting anything, but I am planning to have a very nice time at this lunch meeting. If we can laugh and talk and connect in person the way we have already done on-line, then it will be a lovely afternoon, no matter what happens afterward.
And yes, I admit it. I am hoping -- me, the hopeful (not hopeless) romantic -- for potential and possibility, in a way I don't normally do on a first date, where I normally would be rather calm and "who cares?" about it all. Being a singleton of 30 years active dating experience (see my C.V. for details) can make a girl a bit blasé about the whole romance thing. In this case, though, and I could be wrong (wouldn't be the first time), I am sensing... something. There is something here. I don't know what, and that's fine, but there is something flirty... something intriguing... something delicious going on. Will lunch tomorrow never come?
It's the writing. It's the word-play. It's the anticipation. I am already being intellectually seduced.
And having a marvelous time.
Painting: "The Love Letter" by Henry LeJeune, 1871. Image from Art.com... buy the print here.