Sunday, August 21, 2005

The third engagement

I want to reassure you that I am not engaged. I'm not even dating anyone. I have, however, embarked on what I like to think of as an international epistolary romance.

It started a little over week ago. I was working late trying to get some things finished before leaving for Philly. It was after 7:00 pm and I was wrapping things up when the Philosopher (as he shall be known) buzzed me on JDate.

The conversation was good. He asked me tons of questions and gave me unsolicited (but interesting) advice. I didn't even mind. But he lives in Scotland. That's kind of far away. When I asked him about it he said he was writing from Israel. I said that I never want to live in Israel. He said he didn't want to live there either but he was there to visit his family. (What is this strange fascination I seem to hold for Israeli men?) I suggested that the distance was a potential impediment to our budding romance. He responded that he would be looking for work in the States soon (he went to grad school in the US) and that he had a green card. I said, "Marry me!"

His response? "Yes."

I thought, 'what just happened? Did I get engaged?'

When he asked me how many children I wanted, I knew what his "yes" meant. We chatted as though we were actually engaged and I thought it was hilarious. Who does that? "Now you don't have to worry about meeting new people--we're engaged!" We ended with a non-humorous discussion of our situation. I wrote, "You're serious? You mean you really want to marry me?"

"No, I was not serious about that--but I am serious too. We should stay in contact. It's hard to meet the right person."

I was hesitant but I agreed. He said he would be in the States soon. What did I have to lose? What was I risking? Nothing.

He was funny and unabashed and ready to talk about the things (like marriage) that I've been avoiding for years. He asked me interesting questions that made me think. I enjoy that. He asked, "When did you know you were ready to get married?" That was a stumper. I said, "I knew maybe five or six years ago." But I'm not sure that's true. I only started joking about future husbands this year. Sure, my second DC boyfriend was sacrificed on the alter of my desire to get married--but dating a guy because he was the "marrying kind" didn't work out too well and I haven't tried it again. Sometimes I wonder if I'm ready now. Sometimes I just wonder.

By the end of the first chat I knew his full name, email address, field of study, place of employment, that he wants two kids and has a girl's name picked out (to be revealed after marriage), he was born and raised in Israel, his English is perfect, and we have a similar sense of humor.

The next day we had our second chat. I asked him if he had questions he always asked--our conversation seemed like an interview. He said he did have regular questions and the point was to see what kind of thinker I was. "You feel like you are being interrogated. That's not good." I assured him that I enjoyed answering the questions, I was just wondering if he had a plan. It didn't bother me that he did.

He was still in Israel and told me that his dad and stepmom thought I was sweet. What? He'd shown them my profile. That was surprising. He wrote, "My father is emotionally involved in my search, but he cannot make sense of my pickiness." I told him that I would not be mentioning him to my parents anytime soon (I think you all understand why).

At the end of the chat he asked me to come visit him in Scotland. I told him I'd think about it. And even though I knew it was crazy, I started thinking about it. I showed JenA his profile. She liked him. She thought he should come and visit me first, though. But, you know, it's Scotland. And it's so pretty. And we're already engaged, so what's the big deal? Ah, that's just like me, running out a little nothing into a full-blown fantasy. You've never seen me do that before, now have you?

On Monday, I had some free time and I'd found a café with free wifi. I decided to send the Philosopher an email. I wasn't sure what to write, but I started with the conference and ended up with about two pages of single-spaced letter. It was like an old-fashioned paper letter. I was surprised I'd written so much and I worried about how he would react. Was it too much? Would it scare him off? I knew that was foolish thinking because in all of our conversations he was way more over the top than I was. He was the one rushing things along, inviting me to Scotland. The letter was personal, but in a getting-to-know-you way, not a, we're-actually-going-to-get-married-and-have-babies way.

I received his equally long response to my letter on Tuesday. I sent another letter on Wednesday. He wrote back on Thursday. I sent my answer on Friday. I got a short note from him on Saturday morning and I responded with a short note. His mom and niece are visiting and he does not have internet at home, which means he is getting to the office each day so we can correspond. On Saturday evening, right before I left to meet Pele, I got a long letter from him. I sent my answer Sunday morning.

I love writing letters. It is exciting to get mail from him. When I got his answer to my first letter, I was so nervous I didn't want to open it. I was afraid he wasn't interested or wouldn't like what I had to say. Or, even worse, I wouldn't like what he had to say. But I did like what he had to say. He's funny and shares the odd details of his days touring with his family. He keeps asking me those interesting questions and answers all of mine. I'm afraid I could get used to this.

I like this guy but it doesn't mean I won't be dating guys right here at home. When I talked to Pele last night she said, "After Jay, isn't it good to know he's interested? That should be the first thing on the list and you can just check it off." Indeed. (She also asked if anything else ever happened with Jay. The answer is "no." Nothing. I haven't heard word one from him. Loser.)

Getting to know the Philosopher through letters is appealing. What have I got to lose?

Grateful for: letters.

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