Breakups are always hard. But, after four long years, I walked away from my cool, green mountain state. I decided to take what I had to offer and share myself with a land of sand and sun. Maybe I’m a fool; maybe I expect too much; maybe I haven’t tried hard enough, I thought. But, eventually, these doubts quieted. I simply didn’t have it in me to try so hard any more. I wasn’t living the rich life of connection and community that I craved. So I broke up with Montana and moved a thousand miles south.
And, sister, I recommend it.
Find your place, wherever it may be. I don’t know why my previous life didn’t work. I am doing all of the same things here, with far more delightful results. I’m making friends faster than I can keep up with. I have standing invitations to listen to bluegrass; to climb Mount Taylor, New Mexico’s highest peak; to camp at Abiquiu Lake; to kayak the Rio Grande; and to take a girlfriends’ day trip to Los Alamos. My new life feels like an invitation: Go ahead and bloom, like a desert wildflower after a good rain. And I needed this. Kind of desperately.
In my first month here, I’ve hiked a dozen trails, explored New Mexico’s rivers, deserts, and mountains. I’ve been invited to dinner, had lunch with a new friend, and enjoyed a show at the Popejoy Theater. And, after my three-year drought, I am, at last, enjoying an active dating life. Who knows if one of these handsome, eligible guys will be Mr. Right — or if I’m even looking for Mr. Right. I’m having plenty of fun.
A balmy Wednesday evening finds me on the second-story terrace overlooking Old Town, sipping a tropical mocktail and listening to my new acquaintance’s thoughts on sustainable agriculture, something I know nothing about. And I’m happy to listen.
Thursday’s happy hour means I’m savoring hibiscus kombucha in a cool brew pub, while an entertaining biology nerd explains to me how to smoke a beehive. (Wednesday Guy and Thursday Guy undoubtedly know each other.) The date goes well and soon I’m looking forward to hiking a nearby canyon on Sunday, where I’m hoping to see a spectacular wildflower display.
Saturday’s early breakfast coffee date, my favorite kind, takes place on the dog-friendly “petio” at the Flying Star Cafe. I know I am going to like this rugged, misplaced Scandinavian-in-desert-land even before we meet. He has an open demeanor and a cool sense of humor. Plus, he’s a John Prine fan and taller than me.
On Saturday afternoon I hike a new trail in the Sandias with my friend Tom. He’s gay, although I didn’t know that the first time we hiked together. I’d shaved my legs and worn my cutest outdoor clothes. Alas, Tom wasn’t keen to look, which reminded me of the Deana Carter song, “Did I Shave My Legs for This?” But I think he’s developing a love relationship with my dog. Really, who wouldn’t? My dog is wonderful.
Sunday morning dawns with welcome coolness, and I get out on the trails early for a hike with Thursday Guy. And, yes, the wildflowers are definitely at their peak. I hope Thursday Sunday Guy and I will hike many happy trails together.
After my three-year drought, I am, at last, enjoying an active dating life. Who knows if one of these handsome, eligible guys will be Mr. Right — or if I’m even looking for Mr. Right. I’m having plenty of fun.
Dating frequently is one of the welcome perks of moving from a small, rural, conservative landscape to one that is large, urban, liberal, and vibrant. Meeting new people is fun, and it gets me away from my previous solo existence watching Netflix and bemoaning the end of my long marriage, while my ex-spouse is touring Europe with his new wife. (It’s not fair. But who said life was fair?)
Seeing as I’ve already binge-watched Outlander on Netflix, I have two choices: I can complain about the grave discrepancy between our post-divorce lives, or, I can meet a lot of really interesting men my age and enjoy exploring every corner of my new city. Being a positive, forward-looking woman, I choose the latter. And I will keep choosing it, again, and again. Forward is the only direction I want to travel, although Scotland is definitely on my bucket list, with or without a partner named James Fraser.
My previous scant post-divorce dating experience in a very different environment taught me to avoid having expectations — and to have patience. (Well, more patience. I am not really a patient person by nature.) I’m trying to be open to the flow of new energy and new people, and it’s not always easy. I’m still in the process of rewording my dismal, inner dating dialogue from “You can get through this — it’s only an hour of your life” to “Every person has value — even this person across the table from you. Wait for it.”
Mostly, I look for those moments that make me laugh out loud. They’re priceless. I’m not bragging, but I have a nice laugh. It’s musical — not a honking horn or a nasal snort. Maybe someday soon, the person who has value, who is sitting across the table or hiking in front of me on the 10K trail will hear my musical laugh and be captivated. Maybe they’ll want to hear more of it, starting with breakfast and continuing long into the night. Or not. For the first time in too many years, I am enjoying spending time with the other half of the human race, and that’s enough.
Dating again is such a welcome change after three years of drought — even though my conversational skills have deteriorated from lack of use, and I’m rusty at, well, everything. Still, like a desert wildflower after a spring flood, I can feel myself blooming in all sorts of ways. Bring it on. Life is too short to be unhappy and alone. If you’re feeling invisible, or stuck on the shore, put on your favorite boots — the ones meant for traveling — and hit the road.
Wendy Cohan is a fresh new voice for women over 50. She has written for The Fine Line, Goalcast, Prime Women, and Purple Clover. Follow her on Facebook.