Wednesday, June 22, 2011

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

Dear Kimberly,

You are a traitorous bitch.

Ever since you've started dating Kit, you're not funny. Your blog stinks and I will not be reading it anymore.

How could you do this to us? To women everywhere? I thought we were all in this together. We're supposed to be dating losers and sharing funny stories of how stupid the men are out there. We're supposed to be hopelessly searching for the ubiquitous love that eludes us all. If you've found it, that's hardly fair to the readers who thought we were in this TOGETHER. You have sold out the sisterhood of the single women for the fairy tale ending and happily ever after. You're just like the rest of them.

In summary, you are a quitter. You call this blog 100 Cups of Coffee but stopped at 92. I call that a failure. You gave up your true calling for what? To be part of some "couple"? If that's not the biggest hypocrisy on the planet, than I don't know what is.

Good luck with your book and your boyfriend. I'm sure it will all work out for you and your life will be just perfect. Seriously, screw you.

~ Marissa (Arizona)

Dear Kimberly,

Thank you for sharing your love story with all of us loyal readers. After hearing how many absolutely awful dates you went on last year, I'm so happy to hear that you are now dating Kit and things are going great for you both! I can only imagine how tough it must've been to be disappointed 92 times in a row. You stuck it out longer than I would've. 100 was such an ambitious number and personally, I think I woulda been done after like 4! Had someone thrown up on a date with me, there's no way I could have continued with a straight face. You're very brave. And possibly a little crazy.

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all the laughter over this last year. Your stories are hysterical and they mean so much more because they're true. You shared with us all your laughter and your tears and everything about you just seems so real. Even though we've never met, I feel like I know you and we'd be very good girlfriends in real life. Honestly, I relate to you better than some of my actual girlfriends. They just don't know what it's like to be single out there. All the frustration, the heartache, the searching. You know. And you're so honest about your experiences, I can't help but be hooked on this blog. I hope that even though you're dating Kit, you won't stop writing. We all need someone to live vicariously through while looking for our own Prince Charming.

Thanks again,

Jen (New Jersey)

Hmmm, who to write back to first?!?!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I'm lost. I am SO lost. I'm lost in the Bronx. I'm lost in the Bronx at night and I'm gonna get killed.

My father warned me about this.

It's my second date with Kit and we're meeting near his place in the Bronx. It is actually easier and faster for me to drive up there than for both of us to meet in Manhattan. The train is forty-five minutes for me from Long Island and over and hour and a half for him on the subway. At a quick thirty minutes driving time, this trip sounded like a great idea when we planned it this afternoon. That is, until I realized I had to cross a bridge. And drive in the Bronx. And discovered just how many one-way streets a neighborhood can have. And that not all of them go in the direction I need them to go. And that's when I may or may not have started to cry.

I am lost in the Bronx.

This is really not like me. I have a great sense of direction (for a girl). I hardly ever get lost and when I do, I can always find my way out of it. Maybe that rule only applies to the suburbs because I have clearly gotten myself into a mess up here I'm not sure even my iPhone can guide me out of. When I tried "recalculating" the maps app, it threw its proverbial hands in the air and the blue dot just disappeared. Great. Just great.

This is made ten times worse by the fact that before I left the house, my father practically had a coronary. When you're a daddy's girl and you tell said over-protective daddy that you are driving to the Bronx at night for a date with a boy you've only met once before, let's just say that ALL of his defenses (and his blood pressure) go up exponentially. His response was "You know they sell drugs on every corner. And gang rapes. Those happen on every corner too."

Great, so now I'm lost in the Bronx at night and I'm going to get gang raped and sold drugs and my father will be crying at my wake that he warned me not to date that boy. If I die, I will never live it down.

After much whimpering on my part and much hesitating on my phone's part, I arrive safely at Kit's place. He meets me outside and I practically jump out of the car to hug him hello. I have never been so grateful to see someone I know in my life. Once I regain the ability to take full, deep breaths and form coherent sentences, Kit takes my hand and leads me to his favorite Thai restaurant.

Confession: I am not what you'd call "well versed" in Asian cuisine. My palate is trained in the fine art of Mediterranean food. I love all things Italian, French, Spanish, Greek and even Turkish but aside from take-out Chinese (think sesame chicken and an egg roll) I really have very little experience when it comes to Asian cooking. Yes, it's a little shameful that the only sushi I've ever consumed is a cucumber roll, but I make up for it with the perfect chocolate souffle and eggplant parmagiana. I want to be adventurous. I want to try new things. I want to keep an open mind. I've just spent the last thirty years living comfortably in my bubble. Kit may very well be the guy who finally breaks me out of my shell.

For the record, Thai iced tea is freakin delicious. I could not believe how incredibly yummy that drink was. Of course, I ordered seconds. Had someone offered me thirds or even fourths, I probably would've drunk those too. In the interest of being ladylike, I didn't do it, but I totally could have.

The Thai iced tea was, sadly, where the common interests stopped. I credit the universe as having a sense of humor when it comes to Kit and I dating. You see, we are allergic to each other's absolute favorite foods. Kit loves peppers and hot sauce with a passion. If he can put tabasco on a thing, he is happy eating it. Chili flakes, cayenne, jalapenos, habaneros, you name a spicy food and it brightens his day. I am allergic to peppers. Like vomit til I pass out allergic.

I stopped eating red meat at the ripe old age of ten. For protein (and because I grew up on the water), seafood is a staple in my diet. Crab, shrimp, lobster, et al, I love them and can't imagine life without them. Kit is allergic. Like lips and face blow up allergic. Between the need for protein and the lactose intolerance, I eat a lot of soy, edamame, tofu, and soy milk in my drinks. Kit is, again, allergic. Like throat closing up, breathing stops allergic. So between the two of us, we have the potential to each order our favorite meal, kiss once, blow up, throw up, stop breathing, and die.

This. Is. Bad.

Once we navigate the potentially deathly minefields of our first real meal together, everything goes pretty smoothly. The conversation bounces back and forth so easily, it feels like this is our millionth date, not our second. Kit is so comforting to talk to, simultaneously relaxed like an old friend and also endlessly fascinating like a new love interest should be. I'm mesmerized by his gorgeous face, captivated by his soothing voice, drawn into the details of his life before me. Getting to know Kit will take time, lots and lots of time, and yet he already feels so familiar. I love hearing stories of his childhood, tales of his family life, adventures of his school days, dreams for the future, goals and visions and plans. He's got a quiet strength that intrigues me and I find myself doing more listening than talking for the first time in my life.

We leave the restaurant after several hours, two chicken pad thai's, a bowl of mango sticky rice, and many iced teas. I take with me the paper straw covers that the clever waitstaff have sculpted into tiny white roses. I plan to bundle them up into one small bouquet when I get home, my first flowers "from" Kit. I'm determined to keep a reminder of each of our dates, chronicling our time together as sacred.

Holding hands out into the street, I am no longer scared of the big, bad Bronx. There is an amazing man by my side and nothing could shake the serenity of this evening right now. Still, as we cross over, I see a sign that reads in huge, neon orange letters: DRUGS. Hey, at least they're honest.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kit's Side of the Story

First of all, I joined OkCupid on a lark a few months ago at a friend's suggestion. Mostly, I just wanted to meet somebody. Anybody. I just wanted to go on a date. You see the ads on tv all the time for eHarmony and which you have to pay for but I wasn't really getting anywhere with those. OkCupid was free so I decided to give that a try instead. People fill out all these "questions" on their profiles and those were the most fascinating to me so I sat down and answered over 300 questions in the first couple of days. I got a few emails and started some conversations that didn't really go anywhere including one date that was just regrettable.

Then I got Kim's email. She'd formatted it into the Top 5 things she liked about me, which meant she had genuinely read my profile. Also, that she was quirky enough to put it into list format was cute and efficient. Quirky works for me. Hers was by far the most interesting message anyone had sent me. It gave me points of a conversation to reply to thoughtfully and it didn't hurt that she was beautiful in pictures.

God, did it just spiral out of control from there. Over a hundred messages in under three weeks, some of them full two to three page letters. I'd get home every day and check my email just waiting for a reply from her. I was so excited to have a conversation with someone normal. (Well, almost normal. If you know Kim at all, you'll understand that statement!) She was interesting and funny and I couldn't get enough. We had so much in common, even the little things that you wouldn't normally think matter made all the difference in talking to her. She was painfully honest about a lot of things which must've been scary for her but I love someone who's willing to take a chance, take a risk, walk through the minefield, and try new adventures. I loved every minute of it.

She finally sent me her phone number and I sent mine back with just the phrase "baby steps" which is exactly what it was. The perfect way for us to start off because I didn't want to rush anything or scare her off. But the texting happened so easily and was filled with so many smiley faces :-) and :-P and :-D

Alright so we're up to the phone call now. She called and I missed it. I couldn't believe it. What do I do? Do I listen to the honest, heartfelt words that she spent all the courage working up to leaving on my voicemail? Nope. I just called her back. I was somewhat nervous. Truthfully, we'd covered a lot of ground online and on text and some of those letters were deeply personal so it was a little intimidating. Of course, she picked up and was right off the bat disappointed that I had called back instead of listening to the voicemail. We laughed it off but honestly, that phone call was the best thing to happen to me in months. The time just disappeared like a warm breeze. I haven't talked to anyone on the phone for that long since at least the last presidential election. I felt great after that. Comfortable and happy and just overall thrilled. After four hours of hearing her voice, I was hooked. It was like a door opened up that I'd hadn't expected to see open again, at least not soon. I'm almost at a loss for words to describe how lost I got in her and the possibility of her and meeting up and a future together. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

Our first date was three days later and I got to the city early so I could be punctual and just wander Manhattan. She called on her way over to coordinate where we were meeting and I stood on the edge of Fifth Avenue looking to see which of these people walking down the street could be her with her bouncy blonde hair as I'd only seen pictures online. At the entryway to Rockefeller Center, I finally spot her thirty yards away or so and I (being the devious little devil that I am) use the falafel cart I'm hiding behind as a shield so she can't see me. I've been playing the "I can see you but you can't see me" game since I was a kid. It brings me great joy to do that to friends. I wouldn't suggest doing that on a first date to anyone though, but I felt comfortable enough to do it with Kim.

I pop out from behind the falafel cart with a "here I am!" and am greeted by the biggest, brightest, sweetest smile; one that could power a subway station with the amount of nervous energy she had. Butterflies fluttering around, so elegant, so cute, so beautiful, the brightest spot in New York City at that very moment. Absolutely amazing. I wasn't thinking about an hour from then or a week from then or a year from then, I just knew that I wanted to be right there with her at that very moment. I had already killed so much time that afternoon just enjoying midtown but my day didn't really start until the minute she hugged me hello. She had said repeatedly (and here is me quoting Kim back to Kim) "It feels like we've already known each other for years." I was instantly comfortable with her. It was just her and me. It was exciting.

Kim's first choice was to take me to the American Girl store which is HUGE fyi - four stories - and showed me off all the dolls she had as a kid, all the dolls other girls had that she was jealous of, and the doll that had my name. Kit is a little sparkplug. I like that. The whole store was like a birthday party on crack. I was knee deep in little girls. Little girls whose dolls could get their hair styled and nails done and buy little outfits for them. Yes, you read that right. Hair and nail styles for their DOLLS! It was cute. It was fascinating. It was kind of scary. I hope never to have to go back until I have little girls of my own. The whole time we were in there, we talked about the things we want our daughters to have growing up because clearly when you meet a girl on a first date, you should always discuss things you want for your future children. Who doesn't discuss what languages / sports / action figures they want their future offspring to have? Yeah, we're weird. I know.

Another highlight for me was dinner at Stecchino. I felt incredibly underdressed. Dinner was awesome because the place was beautiful but also, there was cheese. I was just so excited that we both love cheese and everything was so delicious. It was nice that she got to lead for a bit and I got to lead for a bit and I was holding her hand the whole time. The moment we sat down to dinner I thought "She is so far out of my goddamn league" and "I am in way over my head". I needed a life preserver to get me out of this situation with a beautiful, classy, elegant, educated woman. How am I sitting with this girl right now? She is head and shoulders the most glamourous, lovely lady I have ever been on a date with. I am clearly shooting for the moon here. Even if I don't make it, at least I can say I tried. I really hope she wants to talk to me after this.

Moving on... I love Bryant Park. It's made so much more special now that I've walked through it with Kim. The building I've always wanted to live in is across the way and her family used to have an apartment there. I could stay there with her. This girl, in this place, that's a hell of a thing. Wouldn't that just be the best?

And then there was the kiss...She was so lovely. My mind went blank before we kissed. I have no recollection of any thought at that moment. I turned to her and she had this big smile and these huge eyes and she leaned in to me and it was electric. I had no plans to kiss her on the first date so we didn't rush anything but when she didn't slap me away, I felt like I was on top of the world. There was definitely a Go, Kit, Go theme song playing in my mind just then. I remember the sensation of her lips, arms around me, skin on skin. The best part was taking her hand after and knowing that she'd kissed me back and she was with me. Go me!!!

She was like a sponge absorbing everything I said in Grand Central, giving her the grand tour. I was feeling pretty cocky at the moment. There was a good buzz going on there cause that's home turf for me. The tour of GC includes the Campbell Apartment which is a high-end bar for business suits and ties and although I was completely underdressed, I want to go in there someday. I want to go in with Kim. When she promised me a drink amongst the doctors and the lawyers and the higher-up executive types, I didn't care that I wasn't any of those things, I just had her and I was on top of the world.

The sun is definitely down now which means that once again, the passage of time has completely escaped us. Heading towards Tudor City is a direction simply ingrained in me. I was so excited because it's a place that makes me so happy and I want to share it with Kim. I suddenly want to share everything with Kim. She's freezing and I insist on giving her my coat. That's what a man is supposed to do. A gentleman offers a lady his coat. After a bit of arguing from her (she's rather stubborn), she finally took the jacket.

I knew exactly what I was going to do before we got there. I had a plan. I wanted to surprise her more than anything and I knew just how I was going to do it. If I love that view, I knew she would love that view. I made her close her eyes (at which point I was already smiling) and brought her to the overpass to see the whole city across 42nd St and I had a big, dopey grin on my face the whole time, and when she opened her eyes, it was just magical. She lit up every bit as much standing on the bridge looking down on Manhattan as she did when I kissed her. Kim absolutely lit up as bright as any other lights in the city, she was so excited. I got such a charge out of that. She made every experience more amazing. I was ridiculously lucky to be standing there with her.

We head back to Grand Central with tired feet, sit on a bench, and I put my head on her lap ... and fell asleep. Yes, I know it sounds bad. Who falls asleep on a first date? Kim razzed me about it then (and I suspect she will continue to do so for as long as we are together) but it was just such a peaceful moment. I meant to only close my eyes for a second. Ah well, what I meant doesn't matter. The truth is that I fell asleep and you know what? It was kinda nice.

There is a post-it note I wrote to myself about eight months ago and have kept on my desk ever since. "I just want to lay my head down on someone's lap, have her brush my hair, lift the weight off my shoulders, close my eyes, and fall asleep. Be loved."

That was that moment with Kim. I felt so safe and so loved after seven and a half hours on a date, a few phone calls, and several hundred emails, I knew I was home. It was all I wanted. It was all I'd dreamed about for months. It was perfect.

If we'd never seen each other again, I would've been heartbroken, but that moment would've made it worthwhile. It was then that I realized Kim was the perfect fit. She was everything I'd been looking for. She was the woman who was going to make me happy in the most simple, basic, wonderful way for a very long time.

My advice to you is this: Eight hour first dates are unexpected. Bring a coat just in case. Be punctual. Be willing to do whatever she wants to do. And be prepared for the possibility that this may very well be the last first date you ever go on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Ending

Do you have any idea how hard it is to write the Happy Ending to your own book? Kit may very well be the last chapter in this project which also makes him the first chapter in the rest of my life. He is simultaneously the Happily Ever After AND the Once Upon a Time to my fairy tale and right now, I hardly know which end is up. How can I summarize our dates without cheapening them? How can I put into words everything we are already feeling for each other without making it seem cliche and like the plot of every single chick flick you've ever seen? How can I do justice to the first few flutters of love in my tummy without sounding like a giddy schoolgirl?

Quite simply, I can't.

The good part of this is that you know I can't make any of it up. Just like all the other terrible, horrible, no good, very bad dates I went on last year - the reason my readers have been so incredibly loyal is because you all know I am never less than 100% honest with you. The truth of the matter is that this project was a jumping off point for me because I've been told my whole life to "write what you know" which just made non-fiction the easy road for me. Maybe you're thinking that memoir writing is a cop-out because I don't really have to do any research or think too hard. I just have to write what I know, as it happens to me. You would be half right. Writing about real experiences is in many ways, much easier than writing fiction because I don't have to create characters, an environment, dialogue, a whole world for the readers to experience through my words. I only have to relate to you my life as it is, with some observational humor on the side, and maybe a few biting comments for good measure.

On the other hand, sharing my life with all of you is often harder than making one up because it's me, the real me, all the time. Good, bad, sarcastic, hurt, heartfelt, emotionally raw, open and vulnerable, it's me and my life that you're reading about, not some fictional character in a made up scenario. Combine this with my propensity to take every comment deeply personally and you've got a recipe for exceptional success or exceptional disaster.

Am I being overly optimistic about my relationship with Kit? I hope not. So far, he's turned out to be exactly the man I was hoping he'd be, the man I've been waiting my entire life to meet and love. So far, he's supported and adored me in ways I couldn't possibly have imagined. So far, this real happy ending is better than any fiction I could possibly create because in my wildest dreams, I still wouldn't be able to conjure up a man with as many wonderful qualities as he has. Kit isn't perfect and I don't want misrepresent him as such. He's just a man and as a man, he is indisputably flawed. It's those flaws however, that endear him to me most, and his imperfections are some of the aspects I love most about him. He knows that I'm not perfect either, nor does he expect me to be. We're very real with each other, putting all our cards on the table. We've both said "this is me, as I am, take it or leave it" and we both choose "take it." He never ceases to amaze me with his kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity, and care. Simply put, I am happier than I've ever been or ever thought I could be.

I hope that you'll remember a few months back when I was going through a pretty rough patch. I wrote about how exhausting it was dating 92 losers last year and while I don't expect anyone to pity me for going through that, many of you expressed the same exact sentiments I was feeling. You could relate to the excitement of meeting someone new, the nervousness of getting to know them, the frustration of not knowing where you stood, and the disappointment when it didn't work out. We have all experienced the high's and low's of dating at some point (some more than others) and I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to share this journey with all of you. So many of you have shared your stories with me, telling me that you know *just* what I was dealing with. Maybe you'd been there before, or maybe I paved the way for you, or maybe you didn't have anyone else to talk to about it and this blog helped in some small way. Maybe I was able to make you laugh instead of cry and if that's all I accomplished here, I am proud. THANK YOU for letting me know what role I've played in your life and in your dating experience. THANK YOU for telling me that I gave you the confidence to talk to someone new or approach someone you really liked. THANK YOU for writing in with your stories of dates gone horribly wrong, and for unexpected connections turned into great relationships. THANK YOU for being happily married and saying that I made you appreciate your spouse even more, since you were grateful to be long out of the single scene. THANK YOU for all the encouragement every time I got my heart broken or screwed over or landed in a ridiculously uncomfortable situation I had to wiggle my way out of. Knowing that you were all rooting for me the whole time made this process so much easier and the end reward so much sweeter.

Before you freak out, no, I'm sure that this will not be my last blog post. I'm not walking away from you. I just wanted to extend a sincere expression of gratitude to let you know that if I hadn't had you all to lean on and this blog to come back to day after day, I might not have made it here. I might not have kept going. I might not have found this amazing love and then where would I be? Stuck dating Spidey Watch or Short Stack or Mama's Boy and that would be just plain miserable. Probably highly amusing, but overall miserable. My wish for you is that you keep going and don't give up on yourself. Don't give up on love. Don't give up on the possibilities that are out there if you're open to them. Rip out the pages in the old book of you and write a new chapter. Create the happy ending you want to live. And then please, pretty please, tell me about it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Grand Tour

After an amazing first kiss in Bryant Park, Kit & I continued our walk around midtown Manhattan, holding hands and occasionally stopping to stare into each other's eyes. It was all very dreamlike and completely surreal. I felt so safe in his arms, so trusting of this new man I'd only just met but felt like I'd known forever. It did not even register to me that we'd been trekking through the city for almost eight whole hours because my feet didn't hurt at all. I guess that's what happens when you're walking on clouds.

Seeing as we're both totally nerdy, Kit knew that I would love to hear all about the tour he'd recently taken of Grand Central Terminal. He described the architecture, the intricate stonework, the staircases, the statues and gargoyles, the windows, the constellations on the ceiling, even the history of the building, its renovations, and the wartime dormant years. For those of you non-New Yorkers, when you come visit our fair city, Grand Central is one of the places you simply have to see. Actually, even if you're from here, take the tour. It gives you a great insight into one of those places we all take for granted every day. There is so much history here, so many wonderful little nuances, so many hidden secrets unexplored by the general public.

Kit's favorite part of showing me around both inside and out of the majestic train station was my reaction to every single thing he pointed out. I have a tendency to show my emotions very clearly and if I'm amazed or in awe of something, you will *know*. Likewise, if I'm disgusted, angry, hurt or even bored, it's written all over my face and there is no ignoring it. He had captured my full attention and I soaked up all the ambience of the place. There's a secret window on the second floor that still opens and provides the most surprising breeze. There is an archway where you can stand twenty feet away from someone with your back to them, whisper, and they will hear you clearer than a cell phone signal. There is a gorgeous open hall where you can have a wedding reception in the true style of America's Gilded Age. But best of all, there is The Campbell Apartment, a 1920's throwback lounge, classy and elegant and extremely elite. Kit tells me he's always wanted to sit in one of their upholstered leatherback chairs sipping vintage cocktails reminiscent of the Jazz Age but never felt comfortable enough with the dress code to go in. I promise him right then and there that following his graduation in a few months, we will get "dressed to the nines" and enjoy sidecars and martinis and Prohibition Punch. I am envisioning this man in a suit and me in a dress with drinks in hand and a huge smile takes over my face. Yes, the Beaux-Arts decor, Gatsby grand piano and mahogany barstools are stunning but it's Kit that I want to be next to in this place. I've got the feeling he would make anything more special than it already is. Anything at all.

He takes my hand and leads me outside where the nighttime Spring air has cooled considerably. Kit tells me about Tudor City, another place I've never been that he really wants to show me. We cross town headed East on 42nd Street, leaving the bustling center of the city behind us and head up a set of stairs just before reaching the water. Kit takes off his jacket and hands it to me as I'm noticeably chilly but I refuse his coat. He tries a second time to hand it to me, insisting that he doesn't need it as much as I do. Again, I play the stubborn, independent woman I've had to become since my divorce, denying help from anyone I don't ABSOLUTELY need it from, most of all - a man. He smiles at me a third time, shakes his head and wraps the coat around my shoulders saying that he has something extra special to share with me, but not until I stop being stupid. I instantly feel the warmth of his jacket spread across my skin like a comforting blanket, made even better by the fact that it smells like him. I want to curl up inside it and fall asleep right here on these stairs, I'm so happy, but once my arms are safely inside the coat, Kit takes a minute to button me up for extra measure. His soft gaze meets mine as I tilt my head up at him, stunned by how easily I am falling for this man.

Kit gently asks me to close my eyes and while the skeptic in me is screaming, I'm so heavily under his spell at this point that I would do just about anything he asked me to. He takes both of my hands in his own and leads me a few steps down the sidewalk. I am instantly freezing as a very strong breeze comes over us and even with his jacket on, I shiver a little. Kit turns me away from him, stands directly behind me, and puts my hands on what I can only assume is a railing. He wraps both arms around mine in the most reassuring embrace and whispers in my ear, "Open your eyes." I find myself face to face with a perfectly clear view straight down what is arguably New York City's busiest and most recognizable street. 42nd St is wide open in front of me and I can see clear from the water behind us to the harbor on the other side of the island. We are on a bridge above traffic, above people, above the ant's view of the world I'm so used to. We are looking straight down the middle of Manhattan and I am blown away. Kit squeezes his arms around me a little harder and kisses my neck and it takes my breath away. I whip around to face him again and our lips meet and we are kissing and I swear, I am on top of the world.

We kiss for what feels like an eternity on that bridge although I am certain that it was only a few moments. Time ceases to exist as soon as his arms are around me or his lips meet mine or sometimes, even just when we're in the same room together. He checks the time, in total disbelief of how long we've been out together. Eight hours is by no means conventional for a first date (or any date, really) and I don't advocate it at all unless you are so ridiculously smitten with your partner that you forget about time altogether and are both shocked to discover that the moon is out instead of the sun. Yet it doesn't feel like long enough when you've just met the man you feel like you've been waiting your entire life to meet. I know that it's time to go home but can barely stomach the thought of leaving Kit's side. Thankfully for me, he feels the same way.

We walk back to Grand Central to catch our subways but sit for a few minutes on a bench, just to say proper goodbyes. Kit puts his head in my lap and I run my fingers through his hair, telling him what an amazing day I had. He is the middle of saying something super sweet when he begins trailing off and I realize he's fallen asleep. Of all the dates I went on last year, falling asleep is definitely a first for me to deal with. I'm a little annoyed that he's so tired by 9 pm but at the same time, a little flattered that he's so comfortable with me to just relax. I let him lay there for a while and eventually, he wakes and gives me a look that says "Did that just happen?" I smile at him, take his hand, and we head for the trains. Kit kisses me good night with soft lips and sleepy eyes and I wrap my arms around his neck, memorizing him and the moment.

As I head home, my phone rings and it's my best friend. She's calling back from this afternoon when I was so incredibly nervous on my way to see Kit. It feels like a lifetime ago and now I can't even imagine being nervous around him though I distinctly remember wanting to throw up on the train ride in. She asks the standard best friend question when you know someone has just been on a first date, "How was it?"

How was it? How was it? There are no words to describe how it was. There are no words to describe how completely perfect he is and how happy I am and how suddenly optimistic I am about dating and love and relationships and the whole world which didn't make sense until today. There are no words to describe how my life hadn't really started until just now. There are no words to describe the sheer joy in my heart. So I simply tell her what I'm feeling...

He is my happy ending.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kids in a Candy Store

I exit the subway at Rockefeller Center with enough adrenaline running through me that you'd think it was a tie score, bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, seventh game of the World Series. Which, in my world, it is. I haven't been on a "cup" in five months. I haven't met anyone new in almost half a year after dating 92 losers. A year in the life of 100 Cups of Coffee has been exhausting. Physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. I've had to learn the childhood memories / go-to drinks / food allergies / favorite radio stations of 92 men, not to mention their jobs / where they live / pets' names. After all that, you can understand why a girl needed a break. I'm not complaining, mind you. For the most part, it was fun. I got to go a lot of places I'd never been before, have new experiences, and meet some very interesting people (I'm using the term "interesting" ironically here!) Yet *this* first date is special. This date is with Kit. This date is making me very nervous. Because for once, I really, really like him.

I pull my phone out of my bag and call Kit. We're meeting on 5th Ave outside of St Patrick's but I know that he was at least an hour early and I am perpetually five minutes late to everything. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I was ever on time but the simple fact is that punctuality is not in my nature. It's a quirk. Get over it.

He answers with a shaky "hello?" and I smile into the phone. "Hey," I say, "I'm out of the subway. Where are you?" "I am standing by the tulips, anxiously waiting for you to arrive." I smile again. He pauses a moment before asking, "Are you nervous?" I am. Of course I am. But do I tell him that? Do I want him to know how much I want him to be normal? How the whole train ride in I've been nauseas over the thought of meeting him? How I'm secretly praying that he doesn't look like the Elephant Man because I can't seem to wrap my head around the concept that he just might really be as good as I think he is? No, I don't tell him any of this. I just giggle and say "Yes. Yes, I'm definitely nervous. Excited mixed with scared and a dash of hungry." He laughs and says, "Ok, good, now we can be nervous together and that way it'll be easy to relax. Besides, you have nothing to be nervous about. You look really pretty."

I stop dead in my tracks. "Wait, can you see me?" I gasp. He shyly admits that he can. I frantically scan the sidewalk for anyone on a cell phone but this is midtown Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon. I feel wave after wave of tourists wash past me, each one looking at the skyscrapers or the cathedral or window shopping. I try to focus past anyone with a camera or already holding hands with a partner or carrying a small child. Kit is laughing to himself on the other end of the phone and I retort with "What happened? Did you see me and change your mind? Did you realize I'm not as cute in person and you ran? Cause I did NOT come all this way to get stood up!" "No, no, no, no," he reassures me. "Actually, your hair looks great short and you're so elegant, I was worried I wouldn't be good enough for you."

With this, my gaze falls on an incredibly cute boy who has popped out from behind a vending truck. He waves with the phone and smiles at me. It's Kit. I know it is. But I can't talk. I can't do anything but stare. He. Is. Gorgeous.

I clumsily hang up my phone and slide it back into my purse. He stuffs his cell into his coat pocket and grins goofily at me while extending his arms. Before I know what's happening, we're hugging and not one of those crappy, one-armed, pat on the back hugs. A real embrace. I linger there, memorizing the moment - the feel of his wool coat against my cheek, the faint smell of Old Spice on his collar, the way his arms fit perfectly around my waist, the sounds of the cars and people around us. Time stops right then and there and New York City fades away. Kit and I are all that exist. I am instantly lost in him.

I pull back for a second and stare at his face, still in disbelief that I'm here with him and that he's real. He's SO much cuter in person than his pictures online and I wonder how the universe came to send me this man? He appears to be from a different planet than all the other boys I've dated. He seems normal.

Just then, I beam up at him and say with total distrust: "Were you seriously hiding behind a falafel cart?!?!" We both burst out in laughter at the kabob truck he'd used to conceal himself from me and head out across the street. He takes my hand in his and it feels like the most natural thing in the world, like this isn't our first date, like we didn't just meet three minutes ago. All my nerves are instantly calmed and I find myself relaxing into the safety of his palm against mine, our fingers meshing, our skin touching. There is a tingly, excited heat between us I never want to let go of. Not ever.

Our plan was to head over to Saks Fifth Avenue cafe for afternoon tea. The window seats overlook the rooftop gardens at Rock Center and they are truly beautiful. I love knowing these hidden secrets around my city, all those tiny treasures you can't see from the street. Yet Kit says he isn't hungry just yet so I have a few ideas on the back burner. Yes, most of them are ridiculous but he's such a good sport and tells me to lead him anywhere. So I do. I lead him into the American Girl store.

I know what you're thinking. He didn't turn and run away screaming at that exact moment? Nope. He did not. I told him that I had a surprise for him and he just smiled and said "Lead the way." We took the three escalators up (the place is huge) to the historic doll level and I pointed out the reason we'd come in. There is an American Girl doll named Kit. She's a newspaper journalist (at the ripe old age of 9) living during the Great Depression, writing about her family's hardships. He loved it! Was so proud and impressed that he shared a name with this inspirational little girl (even if she is fictional) and really touched that I thought to bring him in here and show it to him.

Then it was his turn to shock me. "These dolls are great. They really give girls an appreciation for history and sports and getting involved in stuff. If I have girls, this is exactly the sort of thing I want them to learn."

I'm sorry. Girls?

"Yeah. it's something I've thought about a lot actually. I want my girls to play with dolls and do dress up and other frilly stuff. But I also want to teach them how to play soccer and tennis and enjoy the outdoors and not be afraid of getting a little muddy. I want them to love music and know how to cook and take them camping and be Scouts."

Um, wow. And how many kids do you want?


FIVE?!?! ME TOO!!!

I mean, with the costs of raising kids these days and college educations and stuff, I think I could probably settle on three. And I definitely want a boy. But yeah, I think I mostly want girls.

Well, since you have this all planned out, are there any names you were thinking?

Hmmm. Sara. I always liked Sara. Also Catherine and Elizabeth. Actually, Catherine Elizabeth. That's my favorite name.

Ho. Ly. Shit. That's MY favorite name for a girl. Ever. I also like Emily. But no joke, all of my baby dolls when I was little were named Catherine, Sara, or Elizabeth. All of them. Except for Kirsten, Felicity, and Samantha obviously. But the American girls already come named so that was not my fault. PS: Sorry, I was never a fan of Molly.

At this moment, we simultaneously realize that we are picking out names for our future children together within an hour of meeting and perhaps we should go somewhere else. Anywhere else. The following list includes highlights from the remainder of our first date:

Teagschwendner - break it down and it's just a German Tea Vender. We sample several teas and I buy an Earl Grey Lavender and a Cream Nut Brittle. Kit falls madly in love with a Gummy Bear tea, in total disbelief that someone combined his favorite candy with his favorite beverage. We are both in tea heaven!

Lego Store - yes, we are giant children and both love toys. Especially toys from our childhoods. Never let it be said that 80's babies are not a nostalgic bunch! He searches in vain for Batman Legos (which I don't think exist) and grieves upon the realization that they've been replaced with Star Wars Legos and the Knights & Castles collection. We pore over the intricate detail work of the Lego Rock Center display, right down to the mermaid statue, skaters on the rink, tourists with tiny Lego cameras around their necks, and even a construction crew with Lego jackhammers.

Rock Center - we take turns pointing out our favorite spots in the bustling tourist trap, admiring the ice skaters, and sharing memories. Kit snaps a photo of the famous Prometheus statue and makes it the background on his phone. Our first date immortalized in modern technology!

Maison du Chocolat - one of the two best chocolate shops in the city (the other is Jacques Torres) and the smell almost knocks us over when we walk in. It's pure, sweet heaven. I treat myself to a small box of French macarons, This day just keeps getting better and better.

Some random streets - I recall this gorgeous indoor waterfall I really want Kit to see and we wander through street after street looking for it. I cannot quite remember where exactly it is but he gives me the grand tour of fancy places his dad worked when he was a kid and even shows me where his mom used to take them out for Chinese food (apparently Panda Pavilion was *the* place for sesame chicken!) We find some street art on display at an abandoned storefront where a couple of artists are asking everyone's opinion on graffiti as a form of self expression in the city. First of all, you don't want to ask me honest opinion on anything, because I will give it to you! Second of all, Kit and I discuss for a moment and realize that we are both opposed to street art when it ruins perfectly respectable buildings. This team is trying to get NYC to re-appropriate unused lands and buildings as space for art, in an attempt to get residents more involved in their local communities and feel pride about the places they live. Hey - to each their own. The artists give us buttons and postcards to remember the installation and while I'm pretty sure I'll be spending more time admiring French impressionists at the Met than graffiti on a warehouse, I admire their initiative and it did give us something to talk about!

Disney Store - If you haven't figured it out already, Kit and I are acting like overgrown children and having way too much fun doing it! He shows me through the "boys side" of the store, and I show him around the "girls side" of the store. Here's the thing: the very obviously boy's section is filled with Cars, Toy Story, and comic book characters (which I didn't even know Disney owned, but apparently they do.) Throughout this dating process, I have not been able to escape dating men who freakin love comic books and Kit is no exception. Only problem is that I don't get it. I don't understand the obsession with comics. Aren't they for kids? He takes my hand, looks me right in the eyes, and starts to explain. "Alright, you're a nerd, yes?" I nod yes. There's no point in denying it. "And you love history, right? Well, what kind of stories did the Greeks and Romans tell? They told stories of heroes and villains. Gods and mortals. Beings with extreme intelligence and supernatural powers. That's exactly what comic books are. They're tales of good versus evil. When we look back 2,000 years, we find Greek and Roman mythology and that's how their culture lives on. When future generations look at us, they'll be able to see what our values were by the stories we told and so much of our history can be seen through comics." Ummm, wow. Nobody has ever been able to relate it to me like that. It almost makes sense now. Plus, Kit's mom gave him his first comic book when he was six years old (The Green Lantern) because that was her favorite story as a child. It's something they share, a way for him to connect with her even though she's gone. I suddenly have a very soft spot in my heart for this man, his mother, and his love of comics. Then I make him spend time wandering the pink princess section just to shake off all the testosterone I just absorbed! Yay, Cinderella :-)

Toys R Us - right up the street from Disney and hey, as long as we're on a throwback kick, we might as well enjoy every moment of it! Besides, Kit is convinced that they will have the Batman Legos. It makes me sad when he is sorely disappointed, yet again. We have a great deal of laughter in the games section - you would not believe the explicit nature of board game names these days! Maybe it was just our dirty minds (also the name of a game) but there was some suggestive language happening there. It was nice to let our guards down a little and just be playful and tease each other. I think we'd both been on our best behavior, still wanting to impress the other, that when the opportunity arose to be slightly immature, we both jumped on it. There were a few times in the games section that the aisles got particularly narrow and Kit and I were very, very close to each other. I thought he was going to kiss me. I wanted him to kiss me. I cannot tell you how very badly I wanted him to kiss me. He didn't kiss me. Sigh...

7th Avenue - Do you like comedy? Do you like to laugh? Hey, you wanna come see a comedy show tonight? If you've ever walked through Times Square, you have been assaulted by "barkers" on every corner, trying to rope you into seeing a show of some sort, usually stand up comedy, usually pretty awful. Kit and I barreled our way through the barkers, ignoring them whenever possible, coming up with witty and sarcastic retorts whenever they got in our faces. He would way something like "No, I prefer tragedy" whereas I would just start speaking French or Italian, pretending not to understand what they were saying. He held my hand tighter through this crowd, not wanting me to get lost in the shuffle when we were approached by a totally different kind of man who said "Hi gorgeous married people. What's up? My name's Jesse." Stopped. In. Our. Tracks... Married?!?! He continued, "Aw, man, you really got yourself a beautiful wife here. You are one lucky guy. Just look at you. I can tell by the way you look at her that this is your true love. You know how a man just knows when he's gonna spend the rest of his life with a woman? And why wouldn't you want to grow old with her? She's so pretty. Tall, blonde, looks at you with those big, blue eyes and I bet she just melts your heart, doesn't she? How long have you two been in love?" Kit squeezes my hand and says, "Jesse, it feels like a lifetime." Moral of the story: Jesse was a homeless man who'd recently gotten out of jail and rehab, trying to set up a new life for himself, working for a non-profit that offers shelter to people in need who truly clean up their acts. He was simply asking for small donations to keep a roof over his head, clothes on his back and food in his stomach. Of course we wanted to help him out. To be perfectly honest, Jesse could've been selling time shares to the moon and we would've bought one. He will most likely never know that he's part of our story, but Kit and I got married by a homeless man on our first date and if that doesn't lead to a happily ever after, I don't know what will!!!

Stecchino - a gorgeous little wine and cheese bar on 9th & 50th. I took my single girlfriends here for Valentine's Day and we had a blast. Given Kit's propensity for "fancy cheese" as stated in his online profile, I knew this would be the perfect location. I got a glass of prosecco, we split the cheese, nut and fruit platter and ordered a plate of bruschetta. It was all delicious but the best part was the man sitting across from me. We'd been walking for hours already, holding hands throughout the entire city, talking and laughing and now finally, we were sitting down, staring at each other, neither one really believing how lucky we already knew we were. A group of boisterous theater-goers sat down at the table next to us and one lady (who had clearly had some pre-cocktails) said "Oh my gosh, you two are so cute. How long have you been together?" which I couldn't bring myself to answer with a straight face. Kit looked right at her and dead serious replied, "We're newlyweds." That was it. I lost it. I started laughing so hard that I literally honked. That's right. Sounded like a Canadian goose during mating season. Honked. This, of course, make Kit laugh so hard I was grateful water didn't come out his nose. The table of happy patrons thought it was "just adorable how in love [we] were" and laughed right along with us, clearly not understanding the joke. We are on a FIRST date here people. Yet the universe seems to want us to get married. Alright, universe, I can take a hint. Or, in this case, a smack upside the head.

Bryant Park - Leaving dinner hand in hand, stepping out into the world together feels somehow different after our meal. I've only been by his side for a few hours (after hundreds of emails, texts and forever on the phone) but Kit has already wiggled himself into a place in my heart that I didn't even know was open. We head across town to Bryant Park, one of our shared favorite spots in the city and I point out the beautiful apartment my family had there for a few years. It was perfect. The view from the 8th floor overlooked the whole park - the carousel, the gardens, the patio cafe, and the back of the New York Public Library. I loved spending time there and wish more than anything that we still had it now. It's the greatest spot in the city (my humble opinion.) Kit stares at me like I have six heads for a minute before saying "That is the EXACT building I want to live in. I walk by here all the time, promising myself that when I win the lottery or have an amazing job, that is precisely the address I want. And you were there the whole time?" I nod and share with him how happy it made me to be married to a man who worked fashion week because at 5 am, he could just roll out of bed and walk straight downstairs into the tents. I cooked for him and cleaned up after him and would always be ready to massage his shoulders after a long day. Kit took my face in his hands and softly said, "Any guy who gives you up is an idiot. Not just for all the stuff you did but just because you're you. You're amazing. His loss." I closed my eyes for a moment as I felt the tears welling up in them just as Kit leaned his face into mine and kissed me, right in the middle of the park. He still had one hand on my cheek, the other arm wrapped around my waist, pulling me in as close to him as I could get. His lips were soft and sweet and once again, the world just disappeared. New York City ceased to exist and it was just us, lost in this amazing moment together. I felt small and safe and protected by Kit, hopeful about a future together, trusting that there was something truly special about us, and that maybe, just maybe, being with him would help me heal all those hurts from the past. Love lost is painful. Love gained is priceless.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Throw Up

I want to throw up.

I want to throw up right now.

I take one bite of my granola bar and immediately realize that this is a terrible idea. I can't eat. I can't focus. I can hardly sit still. I want to get off this train. I need to talk to someone. Anyone. I take out my phone. I make six phone calls. Nobody answers. Not one person is around to talk me down from the proverbial ledge. What have I gotten myself into? I can't do this. I can't go on a date with Kit. I. Want. To. Throw. Up.

Who is this girl and what has she done with confident Kimberly? The voice in my head sounds strangely like my own yet it is certainly not rational me. Rational me has spent three weeks emailing a wonderful man, seven days texting back and forth, and nine hours on the phone getting to know someone who, as it turns out, feels like I've known my entire life. Conversations are natural and easy. We have fun teasing each other, flirting, taking turns telling stories, taking turns listening. It's this perfect balance where no one leads and no one follows. We just bounce off of each other like old friends. Ok, fine - old friends with monster crushes on each other!!!

Yes, rational me knows that Kit is a great guy. Rational me likes him (a lot), thinks about him (more often than I should admit), and dare I say it - even trusts him. Rational me has put aside all the baggage I've been dragging around from my past, cast off all the doubts and hurts of other relationships (as much as humanly possible) and is looking forward to our first date.

Irrational me wants to throw up, pull the emergency cord on the Long Island Railroad and run away screaming.

We have this perfect first date planned and it's all I can do to keep my nerves in check and my hopes from skyrocketing. You see, I've done this thing in the past where I project my entire future onto one person. I thrust my whole life's happiness into the arms of a virtual stranger, many times before we've been dating for very long. Once, I had our wedding colors picked out before the first date. If you are this girl - and I know that many of you are - please, I am begging you, STOP. Stop doing that right now. You're only setting yourself up for disappointment because the chances are that your man has a completely different vision than you do and my guess is that Maggie Sottero lace doesn't really factor in.

Rather than picking out China patterns and baby names before the first date, I am simply allowing myself to sit back, relax, and enjoy the process. Yes, I've had 92 ridiculous dates with various breeds of loser this year but something about Kit feels different. Perhaps it's our chemistry. Perhaps it's good timing. Perhaps it's our casual approach to dating. This is the first time I'm really looking forward to going out with someone in a l-o-n-g time so there's a lot more gravitas to this laid-back afternoon in mid-town than there appears to be. This is the first date where my happiness *may* be at stake. This is the first date where I have something to lose.

It was about a week before when I had my first dream about Kit. My family and friends will tell you that if I have a dream about you, you should probably heed whatever I tell you. I have a startlingly high track record for dream / reality crossover. This wasn't a scary dream by any means. It was a dream of our first date and I genuinely woke up smiling from it. In my dream, we met outside of St Patrick's Cathedral, moved on to a lovely afternoon tea at Saks Fifth Avenue cafe, wandered around Rockefeller Center looking at the shops and ended the evening with drinks at the Rooftop Terrace on top of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sounds simple, yes?

The next day, Kit sent me an email telling me about his mom, who sadly isn't with us anymore. She passed away when he was a teenager and he misses her immensely. It was the first time he shared any real details with me about his life before she died and her favorite thing to do was take him and his younger siblings into the city at least one weekend a month. They would spend their afternoons wandering around the Met, walk down 5th Avenue, duck into St Patrick's - where she'd married his father - and shop at her favorite department store, Saks. In winter, they'd skate in Rock Center and in warmer months, just wander around window shopping and people watching.

Cue Twilight Music here.

You might think that this is a coincidence, and I certainly wouldn't blame you. But I remember sitting there, still with the dream fresh in my mind and reading his words literally sent shivers up and down my spine. I didn't know how to feel about it. How was it possible that I imagined the first day we spent together included all of his mother's favorite activities? There are so many places to go in New York City, so many amazing things to see and do, so many diverse neighborhoods --- how did I envision everything she loved, all of Kit's best memories of her?

You say coincidence. I say sign.

I waited a while before telling him about the dream, but when I did he was equally as shocked and oddly pleased. At first, Kit was hesitant to retrace his mother's steps but changed his mind and asked me to have tea with him at SFA Cafe on Sunday afternoon. It would be his first real afternoon tea service and I was so excited to take him. Or I would've been, if I could shake the feeling that my feelings for him were more real than I'd experienced with anyone else.

Which is exactly how I ended up with my rational and irrational selves warring on the LIRR. Nauseas and nervous and excited and scared and thrilled and terrified and hopeful. More than anything...hopeful.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ring, Ring

Please don't pick up. Please don't pick up. Please don't pick up.

I am silently praying that the phone will continue ringing and no one will answer on the other end. It has taken all my will power to make the stupid phone call in the first place and dumb as it might sound, I am not entirely convinced that I've actually worked up the courage to *talk* to Kit.

Each ring is a momentary reassurance that there is no one on the other end. That this amazing man I've been emailing and texting doesn't actually exist. That there is some computer somewhere, probably programmed by my sisters and friends, that writes back to my message with the exact answers I want to hear. This computer knows all my favorite things, gives all the right feedback, and has wonderfully flirtatious overtones. You know the guys who invented the Jeopardy computer to beat Ken Jennings? They'd have tough competition with how great my friends and family did building a computer to date me. Move over, Watson. There's a new super genius in town and his name is Kit!

My reasoning is that if no one answers the phone than Kit isn't real. He's still a figment of my overactive imagination. Frankly, after dating 92 losers last year, I'm not at all prepared for how fantastically well this new romance is going. You'd think I'd welcome an awesome guy to go out with. One who doesn't pick his nose or oppose root vegetables or fantasize about science fiction females. Yet you'd be wrong. I am positively petrified of falling for him, which seems to be the way this is going. If he's a loser, he's easy to brush off. No hurt feelings. No genuine consequences. If he's really as good as he's appeared so far, he has the power to break my heart. And there is no way I'll survive that again.

It is so much easier not putting myself out there. So easy to just let go, sit back, and wait for love to find me, all the while subconsciously pushing it away. It's easy *not* opening yourself up to the possibility that there are good men out there, good relationships, partners who don't leave you in tears at the end of every day. I just haven't had one yet, thus Fear creeps in. Fortunately, my good friends Hope and Faith sit patiently on my shoulders just waiting for me to gain enough strength, enough momentum, enough confidence to tell Fear to fuck off.

The ringing stops and the voicemail clicks on. He hasn't recorded a personal greeting so I listen to the standard alien woman urging you to leave a message after the tone. And I do. Deep breath in, deep breath out, record the perfect thirty second voice message. It's fun, it's cute, it's flirty, it's cheerful, it's upbeat, it could not have gone any better. I am smiling the entire time (because people can hear when you're smiling on the phone) and I hang up thanking God I was able to stave off *actual* contact for another day. Phew. Huge sigh of relief.

My phone is ringing. It's him. Shit.

I can't not answer it. I can't. Can I? I mean, I just called him. He knows I called him. He saw the missed call. But he didn't have time to listen to my vm. Which means he has no idea how adorably sexy I am. He hasn't heard my voice. He is heading into this as blind as I just did. He's probably shaking in his boots like I just was. Do I let him leave a message? Do I torture him and wait it out for a few more rings? Make him think I won't pick up then answer at the last minute?

Holy crap, Kimberly - just pick up the fucking phone already!!!

I know, I know, there was a LOT of hemming and hawing away at that decision. I get it. I would've smacked myself upside the head too if I could've. And I will admit that the first few sentences were a little awkward, a little uncomfortable, a little political. Fast forward a minute or two later and we were laughing and joking and talking and teasing each other like old friends. What?!?! What just happened here?!?! Getting to know someone new has always, always been a painful process for me when it comes to meeting someone new. Many a great email / text relationship has been ruined on the first phone call. But this was so easy. So natural. So perfectly friendly and comfortable that I felt like I'd known Kit all my life and this wasn't the first time we'd spoken. He just felt so the best way possible.

Four hours later and I was hooked on this man's voice. Four hours flew by so quickly that we both thought it had been an hour - maybe two at most. Four hours is something teenagers do to annoy their parents, it's not how two thirty-somethings talk to each other. Yet that's precisely what we felt like. Giddy, happy, flirty teenagers. By midnight, we were each kinda wiped out and still didn't want to hang up. We ran through the old "You hang up - no you hang up - no you - ok, I'll hang up first - hey, you didn't hang up - neither did you - on three - ok, 1, 2, 3 - you're still here - so are you!" The cheesy factor was exponentially high that night, let's just leave it at that. Also, I'm pretty sure I was smiling well into my sleep.

Suffice it to say that our first phone call was amazing and all my fears were unfounded. Yes, it was nerve-racking at first but Kit brought out this comfortable confidence in me that I didn't even know existed. A month of emails, a week of texting, and four hours on the phone were enough to solidify his place in my mind as the first potential date I was truly looking forward to. A bright future. Who knew?

Is it me?

Is it me???

In all the time my ex husband and I were fighting, in all the time we were separated, in all the time we were getting divorced, the question I would ask myself over and over was: Is it me? Am I the one who destroyed our marriage? DId I fail at being a good wife? Why doesn't he love me? What did I do wrong? What happened to our love? Did I push him away? How did we get here?

Is it me?

It's a well documented fact that I am a perfectionist. I don't care what it is that I'm doing, I want to be good, better, the best at it. I took my role as his wife very seriously. My entire purpose became pleasing my husband. Not necessarily in a medieval times / slave sort of way. Just to make sure that he never needed or wanted for anything.

That was my mistake. He never needed or wanted for anything. I took care of it all. He didn't have to worry about having good food because I cooked all his meals. He didn't have to worry about clean clothes because I did all his laundry. He didn't have to worry about a tidy house because when I wasn't working one of my three jobs, I was fixing up our place, trying to make it home. I always tried to look pretty, even freshening my make up before he got home. I made every effort in bed to keep our relationship fresh and new and exciting. He never noticed any of these things. Not once.

I know that this reads like a 1950's handbook but I have to tell you I was happy doing it. My whole life's goal was to have a wonderful marriage and raise happy children with maybe a career thrown in there and I would feel like a success. If you are a smart, successful, driven career woman with a feminist streak, I truly hope that you can forgive my naivety but life is about choices. I chose to dedicate myself to being a damn fine wife.

Except apparently I wasn't. My husband didn't notice when I made him dinner with leftovers for lunch packed in the fridge. He didn't notice when I came home exhausted from working overtime so we'd have a little money to go away together. He didn't notice that the one thing a woman going that far to please him needs is just the smallest gesture of appreciation. The smallest indication that you see me here and I'm not just part of the ship, part of the crew. Coming out of my marriage, I often said that he thought I was a sofa - something you take for granted because it's there every day. The only time you'd really *notice* the sofa is when it's gone and there's a big, gaping hole in your living room and instead of a comfy cushion, your ass hits hard ground when you go to sit on it.

That was me for him. I was just a sofa.

He didn't even notice when we stopped sleeping together. I'd been trying to make sex and intimacy and romance a priority for so long that it was starting to get embarrassing. I felt like I was always initiating, I was always the one to ask for it. Hello??? Aren't guys supposed to me the sex driven species? I'm waiting in bed for you wearing a red lace bra / soaking in a bubble bath telling you I missed you all day / walking around the kitchen in nothing but an apron - WHY DON'T YOU WANT ME?!?!

And so the questioning began. As our marriage slipped away, all I could think was that it had to be me. It was me he didn't want. It was me who'd failed as a wife. It was me to blame for eventually giving up and walking away because I couldn't take the emotional abuse / neglect / a lifetime of loneliness / the thought of never being a mother. None of my friends had gone through this and my parents have been happily married for almost forty years. I had no one to talk to.

Finally, one night in the Hamptons after 1.5 liters of moscato wine, I opened up to my sister and begged her to tell me honestly - it is me? She said absolutely not. It was him. Any man who would walk away from someone so attentive, so considerate, so loving as I was to him was A) an idiot and B) clearly just didn't want to be married. We were 20 when we tied the knot, what did we know? He admitted that he'd just "changed his mind" after six years. She promised, it was him.

After that, I asked everyone I know - friends, family, casual acquaintances. Y'all are lucky facebook didn't exist yet or you would've heard about it too!!! I had never felt like more of a failure in my entire life and just needed the reassurance that it wasn't me who failed. That it wasn't me who was undesirable. That it wasn't me he didn't want children with. Everybody replied the same way: "Kim, it's him. He changed his mind. That was his choice. It hurts but it's not your fault. It's nothing you did. He just doesn't want to be a husband or a father. That's his loss."

I believed it all for a pretty long time. I wanted it to be true so very badly. He chose not to be a husband and a father. He chose the single life over our marriage. He chose not having children.

Except that he started dating someone within six months of moving out.

And last week, they got engaged.

If she gets pregnant, I just might scream.

And I'm right back to square one. Is it me?