Word has it that it's a whopping 19 degrees outside at the moment, and while that may not feel particularly balmy to you, it is in fact 39 degrees warmer than it has been for the previous two days. Thirty-nine degrees. In one day. I am glad swings like this generally happen only in the winter. Even in Minnesota I doubt we'd adapt well to a lovely 71-degree day followed immediately by an unexpectedly brisk 32-degree one.
Despite the welcome warm front, I haven't actually ventured outside yet today. I should, of course. I should be determining how to reattach my license plate, since the so-called self-healing Saturn doesn't seem to be taking the initiative to do so itself. No fewer than three people have now helpfully pointed out to me, "You know, you can get a ticket for driving without a front license plate, even if the plate is in your car." My excuse to the undoubtedly kind and understanding officer was going to be, "But it's negative-20 degrees outside, and I don't have a heated garage! Sir, do you really want me outside testing my resourcefulness in weather like this? Do I look particularly hardy to you?" Successfully batting my eyelashes at officers of the law has never been a strong suit of mine, but surely that excuse would work. No? Right. Best get myself out of these yoga pants and off to my tool chest before the sun goes down.
I promise I will stop talking about the weather now, though. Why? Because I have far more interesting things to tell you. Namely, that I am having dinner tonight at a local Buddhist center. With an ex-boyfriend whom I have not seen in eight years. Who is now a Buddhist. Living at a Buddhist center. Where he is making me dinner tonight. Did you get all of that?
Somehow I always sort of assumed I would run into Jimmy again eventually. (You remember Jimmy, don't you? He is the reason I get approximately 17 search engine hits a week for search strings such as "pothead boyfriend" and "dating a pothead.") While I always thought I would see him again someday, however, I never actually thought it would be on Catch dot Mom. And yet, there he was in my Inbox earlier this week, in one of those confounding "Daily 5" messages. "[Insert user name here] noticed you in his Daily 5. And he's interested!"
I almost didn't even click through to the profile. The photo was a tiny, from-a-distance full-body shot in which I couldn't even see the guy's face. The user name was an annoying combination of letters and numbers spelling out a cheery, optimistic message to potential dates. My automatic reaction was to hit "Delete" without clicking through for any more detail. Besides that, my energy for this nonsense wanes regularly, and after the defeated, deflated feeling that followed what I (one-sidedly) deemed my best date of '08, I haven't felt much renewed motivation to log in. But for some reason I clicked through anyway, and my jaw dropped as I realized who'd found me.
I've been trying to recall exactly what I've done in the past eight years, and whether my life is notably different now than it was then. Every time someone I haven't seen in a while asks me what I've been up to lately, I draw a blank, generally replying with something meaningless and far-from-clever, such as, "Oh, you know. Same old, same old. Nothing new, I guess." But surely something must be new. In eight years? Certainly. Yes, I am still single (or rather, single again). Yes, I am still at the same job. But I bought a house. Fell in love. Had my heart broken. Fell out of love. (The order of those last two is questionable.) Went to Mexico, Jamaica, Austin, Philly, Boston, and various other locales. Made friends. Lost friends. Unintentionally dented a few hearts. Finally acquired salt and pepper shakers. Learned to knit. Read lots of books. Gained ten pounds. Met a depressing number of men on the Internet. Didn't like most of them. Made some strides toward figuring out who I am and what I need.
Eight years. Eight. It sort of baffles me that someone I dated in my mid/late-twenties was eight years ago at this point. I sound like a trite movie cliche, all "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "Sunrise, Sunset," but tell me, where on earth does the time go?
I don't know exactly what Jimmy's been up to the past eight years, but somehow I feel like his list might be a little more interesting than mine. Got married. Got divorced. Became a Buddhist. Oh yeah. And apparently stopped smoking so damn much pot.
In any case, we greeted each other online with enthusiastic friendliness. "Stefanie! I thought that was you! It would be great to catch up," he said. And you know what? It would be great. We always got along well and had fun talking, and besides that, I'm terribly curious. Every woman has a few unanswered questions in her past, and he's been one of mine. Hence, the get-together this evening. A get-together that started out as "let's meet for a drink" and then turned into "how about dinner first," which then became, "I'll cook for you over at my place." His place being the Buddhist center, of course.
I relayed all of this to Carrie via email. "You're having dinner at the Buddhist center? Delightful!" she replied. Almost as delightful as the time her late-middle-aged Bohemian woodworker friend invited her to his century-old home for spaghetti and martinis. At two o' clock on a Sunday afternoon. "Where do we find these characters?" I asked her. I don't know, but I do appreciate the odd little details that make our humdrum lives seem worthy of a scene in a movie or a sitcom. "It's all going in my book," she said. It's a book we could probably write together, pooling our material seamlessly. It worked for those girls who wrote The Nanny Diaries, and we are at least as clever as they are, I say.
I'll get right on that, of course. Right after I fix that damn license plate.