I love surprises. I mean the good surprises. Not like those whack-job internet things where they tell you to look really closely at the screen to try to find what’s wrong with the picture and then this gruesome face jumps out screaming at you. That’s just wrong and could give a person a heart attack. But I like the pleasant surprises, like when you find money in your coat pocket when you put it on for the first time in the fall. Or when you open up your mailbox and find a real letter in addition to the normal bills and junk mail. Or when you have low expectations for a guy you’re meeting and he turns out to be so, so great.
I had to turn to the internet again for a date in Michigan. After some not-so-great set ups via internet dating sites in round one, I didn’t think this one would be so great either. Plus he called as I was driving in from Ohio and said he had to work that night. I thought he was going to bail, but he said we could go kayaking if I could get there fairly soon. I headed his direction but wondered where I was going to change. I was wearing a big t-shirt, which is great for comfy driving but not exactly flattering.
I hit road construction coming into Ann Arbor and couldn’t do anything but sit there and watch the minutes tick away on the dashboard clock. Then my gas light came on. Ugh. I pulled over and while the tank was filling, I pulled a smaller t-shirt out of the trunk. My plan had been to shower and change before meeting him, but I guessed that I was going to get smelly kayaking anyway, so it probably didn’t matter. If I wanted a date in Michigan, this was as good as I was going to look.
He was waiting for me when I got there and we were on the river shortly after that. It was the perfect day -- blue skies, sunshine . . . and surprisingly good conversation. He was a traveler, too. He’d taken five months off between his current job and his previous one to travel through twenty-two countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. There were still several places he wanted to see. We pulled over at a dam and strolled alongside the water for a bit before getting back in our boats. He was outdoorsy and smart and funny and Christian. His priorities weren’t messed up and he had plans for the future. Simply put, he had that indescribable something that Mr. Virginia & I had agreed was so hard to come by.
We went to get smoothies after I returned my rental kayak, and since his meeting was downtown near where we were going, he changed clothes. I don’t know if I’d been so frazzled by being late that I didn’t even look at him when I first met him or if his sunglasses were hiding his eyes or he became cuter as I got to know him a little or what, but when he reappeared in a polo, all I could think was, Wow!
We sipped our smoothies as we wandered around downtown Ann Arbor. I was kicking myself for scheduling four dates in four days in four states. I wanted to stay in Michigan and see this guy again. I got this sad feeling as we walked back to our cars. He’d asked, while we were kayaking, what I’d do if I found someone I was interested in. Would I keep going on the trip or stay with the person I was interested in? I’d said that the original plan had been to see the country and the dating was an add-on, so I’d keep going. I reminded myself that I was the problem here. It’s hard to date someone who’s not around. I didn’t even know if he was interested.
I got in and was punching my next address into my GPS when Mr. Michigan pulled up alongside my car and gave that “roll your window down” motion. When I did he said, “I just wanted to tell you that it’s too bad you don’t live in Michigan, ‘cause I’d like to see you again.” (Insert girlish scream! He liked me, too!) He said maybe we could meet up when he went to visit a friend in Colorado in November and my face fell a little. I didn’t know where I was going to be in November. I wondered which was worse, having a bad date you couldn’t get away from fast enough or having a good date you had no choice but to leave?