Tuesday was a busy day for me. I rose early, heading East for service to my denomination. When that was accomplished I took my daughter for a long-planned lunch with friends, a mother and daughter we have known for many years. We ate at a beautiful little restaurant decorated, among other things, with paraphernalia from the turn of the (last) century-- antiques, photographs, hats, etc. It was a perfect "ladies' luncheon" spot. After lunch I took my daughter to a dental appointment, and then we went to pick up photos from a local developer (yes, we still use film. I know.) Then I went to Beloved's business to help her with a database. After this I ate a hasty dinner, and then went to a rehearsal of an ensemble to which I belong. All this took place in 90-plus degree heat. When I tumbled into bed at last, the fan blowing, I was exhausted from a full, full day. It wasn't until the following morning that I realized I had missed an anniversary.
On June 26 three years ago I had my first date with Beloved. The thing is, I wasn't sure. Was it a date? Was it not a date? I asked a good friend, who knows about these things. She said, call me afterwards and tell me what happened, and I'll tell you if it was a date!
Here's what happened. Beloved and I knew one another through her business. I knew that she'd been long-term partners (both business and romantic) with a woman who was, suddenly, not around any longer when I patronized her establishment. I asked a mutual friend, who said, she's not seeing anybody; why do you ask? And I heard myself saying something I had not yet even admitted to myself: I'm thinking of asking her out. Mutual friend said, Go for it. I happen to know she'd be open to it.
Then there followed a series of phone calls initiated by Beloved, in which we were dealing with something business-related, but to which there was suddenly a great deal of subtext. (Introduced by me? by her? who knows.) And then, out and out flirting. Finally, she called as I was heading out of town on vacation with my children. I said, I'll tell you what, why don't I call you when I get back into town, and we'll have coffee? She replied, I do better with drinks. I laughed, OK. Drinks it is. Back from vacation, we made the "date."
We met at a local restaurant; Beloved was seated at the bar, waiting for me. I was a tad late, having come from an interview and dithering over what to wear, etc. We decided to have drinks at a table. It was also a blistering hot day; we decided on Margaritas, which seemed perfect for cooling-off purposes.
The next six hours consisted of me telling Beloved the story of my life, my marriage, its end, my children, my parents, my work...all spilling out in no particular order. And Beloved told me of her life, her (5-minute) marriage, her loves, her work, her nightmarish family of origin. Our words tumbled over one another's, and a second round of Margaritas was ordered, and then some burritos and tacos to go with the Margaritas, and then more Margaritas still.
One of the stories Beloved told me was about a lover from years ago, who hurt her in ways that make my skin crawl, that make we want to do violence to this woman... betrayal beyond betrayal. Beloved referred to her, disconcertingly, as "the love of my life." After hearing the story, I said, I don't want you to call her that any more. I don't believe she is the love of your life. I think life has another love-of-your-life in store. I didn't say it aloud, but I already knew that I hoped it would be me. No, that's not quite accurate: I intended for it to be me.
Finally there was something like a lovely silence between us, as we emptied our drinks and settled the bill. Beloved tells me I cried a lot that night, and I don't remember that part, but I do believe her... I was still pretty raw from my marriage's end. But a peace arose, a sweet sense of completion. I needed to go home. It was a Saturday night, and I was preaching in the morning. Beloved walked me to my car. She told me later she had wanted so to hug me, but had felt like it was too dangerous... something might ignite, and then where would we be?
Pretty much where we are now, I suppose. So, so in love. She is the love of my life, and I am hers. I told her so.
By the way, I called my good friend afterwards and reported on the events of the evening... drinks, food, drinks, and life stories. That's it, she confirmed. That's a lesbian first date. And oh, it was.