“Are you really a farm girl?” The question popped up in yet another private message box on my computer screen.
Not again, I thought to myself. After a moment of consideration, I decided to answer the question as this was the first person to try and start a conversation with something other than ”what are your measurements?”, “what are you looking for?” or my personal favorite, “what are you wearing right now?”
“Yes, I am really a farm girl,” I replied to the unknown male in cyberspace. That I was sure of, but what I wasn’t sure of, was what I was doing dodging personal questions from random strangers online. The year was 2004, and what a year it had been. My second marriage was in its final throes after a three year struggle. In December, my health, which had never been great, was compromised even more by a devastating illness. I was hospitalized with a diagnosis of pneumonia and stage four kidney disease. It was three weeks before Christmas. My children, ages 17, eleven and four, already in a state of turmoil from the stress within the family, were further traumatized by seeing their mother so sick and teetering on the brink of dialysis in a hospital bed.
By the Grace of God and good medicine, and my determined, stubborn nature, I was stable enough to be discharged from the hospital two weeks before Christmas. It would have been a romance novel ending if I could say my husband and I had a real “Hallmark” moment upon my arrival home, where he, realizing what he had almost lost, gathered me in his arms, in front of the gaily lit Christmas tree and cozy fireplace, and professed his undying love for me. Umm … no, not even close. My homecoming was tense, the lack of true concern apparent, and he moved out the day after Christmas.
It was a few days after the holiday, and I was sitting in front of my new present, a computer. My daughter had set it up for me, and showed me how to find the Maine chat rooms, so I could chat with fellow Mainers trying to pass the long, cold winter. I very quickly learned chat rooms were not used primarily for making friends, like I was told, but for “Nookie Location.” Holy cow, the things I read and the pictures I saw…
Now, being from a small, rural town and thrust into the uninhibited world of cyberspace was a shock to my system, to say the least. I started to feel like Granny on the “Beverly Hillbillies”, the first time she watched a television show. I was that amazed. People, in all the anonymity offered by cyberspace, were bold, lewd, obnoxious and fascinating all at once. It was like a car accident.You don’t want to stare, but can’t look away.
While I had no interest in dating, I did make some online friends, and we chatted periodically. I was content just to read for the most part, but like anything, too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing. The conversations became dull, the automatic messages were incessant, and I lost interest.
A few months later, the kids were all busy, and my chores were all done for the day, so I popped into one of the chat rooms. “Are you really a farm girl?” came the message. My ID was “farmgirlme” and this message came from someone using the ID ”Mainelogger.”
“Yes, I am,” I replied. “My kids and I live on our fifth generation farm. We own horses, laying hens, raise meat birds and vegetables for our small farm stand.”
“I grew up on a farm too,” typed Mainelogger. “I’m from Northern Maine.”
“That’s nice,” I replied, relieved he was far enough away that I could use distance to never have to meet him. I had learned a long time ago to have an excuse at the ready. We made small talk for about an hour, comparing notes about growing up on a farm.
“Do you mind if I ask how old you are?” I said. He replied “I am sixty-third.” Awww, a nice ‘grandfatherly’ type guy. ”I am forty-one”, I told him, without him even asking.
“Wow,” he said, clearly thinking ’hot young babe’. At least that’s what I thought he was thinking.
Fast forward two months, and many hours of online and phone conversations later. Guess who was pushing for a lunch date? NOT the ‘grandfatherly’ type guy. Luckily, the ‘hot young babe’ wasn’t easily discouraged. We had exchanged photos a couple weeks into our conversations and all my visions of “Grandpappy” were quickly laid to rest. Instead of a grizzled, white haired guy in chewing tobacco stained overalls and a chainsaw in his hand, I received a photo of a sexy, vibrant, black haired; good looking guy. I was smitten.
“Why don’t we meet for lunch?” I asked for, oh I don’t know, the tenth time. “What’s going to come of having one lunch?” As it turns out, wearing people down is apparently one of my strong suits, as he finally agreed to meet me. Since we were located at opposite ends of the state, we picked a meeting spot located half way between us and planned our lunch date. I pulled into the pre-determined restaurant, and spotted his car. My nerves were all a flutter as I got out of my car and he walked over to meet me.
After two divorces, I was not interested in anything serious. I was going to date, play the proverbial field, no more relationships. This was merely a lunch date, to meet a friend. How trivial. Love at first sight exists only in the movies, everyone knows that. All that flew out the window as I watched him walk toward me. I couldn’t help but think there is something about this guy.
We had made plans to go to a local music store to get a couple things I wanted and then head to the restaurant for lunch. We shopped and chatted, and it was so easy to talk to him. I didn’t have to watch what I said, or how I said it. It just seemed as if we had known each other forever. We got to the restaurant, and I couldn’t help but notice he sat awfully close to me. Our knees were touching under the table. I took that as a good sign. Somewhere between the appetizer and main course, I fell in love.
Now the only question I had was, I wonder if he feels the same way. Nothing like a good kiss to find out for sure. We got back to the car after we ate, and I figured it was now or never. I am not a real “forward” kind of farm girl, but I thought if I was going to spend the rest of my life with this guy, I better see how he kisses. I think he was mid sentence when I launched my attack. He wasn’t a good kisser, he was a great kisser. This could work!
I will be the first to admit I wasn’t sure how I had the nerve to be so bold and yes, brazen, but I do know the why. Being diagnosed with a life threatening illness truly makes you realize life is indeed short. Living each day to the fullest was my new motto. And I liked it.
Once he had recovered from his shock, we kissed and kissed. We kissed like we hadn’t been kissed in years. We stopped long enough to defrost the windows in the car, and then kissed some more. It was wonderful. My lips were chapped, but I knew this was IT! The real McCoy. Reluctantly, we said goodbye and each headed back to our own ends of the state. I sang along with the radio at the top of my lungs all the way home. I told the tollbooth attendants to keep the change! I smiled and waved at strangers cutting me off in traffic. I was in love and just knew he was too.
Several days passed, no word. No phone calls or emails. What about the chemistry? The laughs? The kisses?
Shyly now, I wrote a note asking him how his trip home was, and swallowing my pride, typed how I thought we had a great time and felt we really connected. SEND.
Waiting for a reply was tough, but it finally came. Yes, he had also enjoyed meeting me, but he had been busy since he got home. No, not sure when he would have time to meet again … Had a lot of work coming up.
Well, apparently he hadn’t received the memo that we were supposed to be in love. So, seizing the bull by the horns as only a farm girl can, I wrote back.
“Well, I have never been to Northern Maine. Perhaps I can drive up and visit you…”
Waiting and more waiting. Clicking the REFRESH button on my computer so many times I wore off the RE and only had a FRESH button left. Finally, a response-Yes! He said I should come up for a visit. It had only taken him two months to agree to it. I am nothing if not persistent … like a toothache. Or is that nagging, like a toothache? Anyway, he agreed and on the next free weekend I had, I was off for Northern Maine.
We had a great time. He took me on a tour of his hometown, and showed me his place of employment. I met his dog, and he took me to lunch. I wowed him with some fine home cooking for supper, and when I drove home the next day, I knew victory was mine! We had shared such a great time, I was sure he could see the handwriting on the wall.
The very next email I got from him, he dropped the bombshell. He threw out the “A” word. He thought I was wonderful, he had had a great time, but didn’t I think our age difference was a big issue. He did. Oh, brother.
I sent him a message inviting him down to the farm, and I said we could talk about it then. What I really meant was before I went any further; I wanted him to meet my kids. And, the poodle. Lacy barely tolerated husband number one, and hated husband number two. Poodle is all knowing and wise. I swear I had learned to trust her instincts more than mine, in these matters.
He drove down to the farm on the first week of May. I watched carefully as the “Mainelogger” interacted with my children, laughing and joking comfortably with them. I watched as the poodle did her sniff test, and then begged beside him at the table, a trick she usually reserves for me or the kids. When I saw him sneak a piece of meat to her, I knew he had passed the test. The poodle approved. Thankfully, so did the kids.
I said, “What age difference?” He brought his dog and moved in with us in June, and we have now been together seven years. Seven wonderful, kissy, happy, poodle feeding years. The chatrooms? History. Our history.