I was 54 years old, divorced for 12 years and happily single. I was always third, fifth or seventh, depending on which group I was with, but it never bothered me. I wanted the company of a man and had it from time to time. For the most part, it wasn’t anything serious or worth pursuing.
That was fine. I raised my boys. In all that time, there was only one man I developed feelings for, and it was short-lived. He couldn’t commit, and because I was addicted to him, I needed attachment.
The people who take care of us will always advise us. Whether we want that is another story. I’ve had friends suggest, “Let me create your Match.com profile. It only costs XYZ to sign up, but it’s worth it. You just meet for lunch” or “Why don’t you go to a bar, dress sexy and pretend you’re waiting for a boyfriend?” or “Dye your hair and go gray after you find a boyfriend. “
There were a few other ideas that were even scarier. Maybe it was my insecurities, but I turned down all those suggestions about finding a partner because I believed in making it happen if it happened. Also, I found them all tiring and required too much work. Also, I was afraid of rejection.
My response to my friends’ suggestions was: I wanted that special someone to come to my door – magically appear! I don’t think I meant that literally. I just wanted it to happen organically. You start seeing him regularly so you start doing your hair just in case. There’s small talk when you meet and there’s flirting, so wear your cutest outfit just for the chance of meeting up. Then you tell your coworker about him — the one who shares too much and tells you about her online dating adventures — because you know she will support you.
Then come the walks on your break — maybe to Little Tokyo or Grand Central Market — arms lightly touching, and a few days later there’s coffee on the corner of Second and Main Streets, followed by cell phone number exchanges. The first message you receive will make your heart burst. Then he picks you up on your first date and you can’t help but smile when you see him get out of the car.
This is exactly what I imagined.
In September 2020 I lost my mother to COVID-19 complications. She was a healthy 89 year old and the best companion anyone could ask for. By January 2021, the reality of her death had taken root, leaving a permanent void in my heart. Around this time I had to do construction work around my house. My brother suggested someone he knew – someone he thought might be a good match for me.
I have an appointment with Daniel. He arrived on a Tuesday morning and knocked hard on my door. He came earlier than I expected so I asked him to wait because I was in a virtual work meeting. As he sat and waited in the living room, I felt his calm. We talked in my dining room for about two hours. The first 15 minutes was about the chores I wanted him to do and the rest of the time we talked about ourselves: our childhood, kids, work and the things you share with those you like and get to know want better.
A week later he started the project. I waited for him in my cutest outfit and my hair was perfect. In the first few weeks we had small talk, lots of flirting and lots of homemade coffee.
In the third week I had to choose materials and color. Daniel offered to accompany me and I gladly accepted. When he picked me up to go to the Home Depot, it felt like a date and I smiled when I saw him get out of his car. Later, as we meandered through the aisles of the store, I was very forward looking, which isn’t my usual style, but always a good sign. I wanted to hear what he thought of me – what he wanted. Did the flirting mean something? He shyly admitted he liked me but was waiting to finish the job before asking me out.
After shopping, we got ice cream at the same drive-through that I’d visited countless times with my mom and kids. Then we walked down one of my favorite streets in the neighborhood, which is lined with lush trees. Our first date!
In the weeks that followed, on the days I went to the office, I missed him. I missed seeing Daniel in my house – with his calm way of fixing, building and standing in my garden. I always drove home through Elysian Park full of enthusiasm. I wanted a better landscape and knew I would come to his house.
One thing I noticed was that I liked the fact that Daniel is from Colombia, just like my parents. Although this was never on my wish list, it was one of the first things that drew me to him. It was a familiarity in his style that moved me and made me feel like I belonged. It was the little things, like dipping cheese in our hot chocolate, or the everyday actions that conjured up memories of my parents’ relationship that reassured me that this was love.
We are married now and my sisters and I like to think that our mother sent him to live with me.
The author lives in Burbank with her husband Daniel and their sons and works for the City of Los Angeles.
LA Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the LA area, and we want to hear your real story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. For previous columns see latimes.com/laaffairs.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.