And then came Holly.
I'd been a teacher for four years. She was a former student I'd always gotten along with. I had a strict Facebook policy as a teacher: if you friend request me, I will okay it, but I won't seek anyone out. So some kids ended up on my friend list. It was fun to keep an eye out for what they were doing in college. It was a wealthy school, so they would go on crazy vacations and post crazy pictures.
Holly was smart and wise beyond her years. I'd overhear conversations she was involved in, and think, "Holly, someday you're going to make some young man very happy." She read de Sade. She was openly bisexual. Me, being a good teacher and happily married, rooted for her to tear up whatever college campus she found herself at.
But now, in the throes of my divorce, she starts talking to me. Deliberately. Regularly. More and more often. Then, the bombshell comes: "I think you're really attractive. I had the hugest crush on you when I was your student. If I had come to your office and tried to make out with you, what would you have done?"
At first, I'm sure Ashton Kutscher is waiting to punk me somewhere. I dither. I throw out something non-committal and easily deniable, like, "I'd be flattered, of course!" But she presses. She likes me. She'd like to meet me for coffee.
And I struggle with this for a while. I was a good, dedicated teacher. I never sought this out. She's in college, for God's sake. I've been hesitant about dating women in their mid twenties, much less... however old she is that scares me so much I don't even want to do the math.
But we meet, because, in the end, her interest is flattering. She's a beautiful, smart, funny girl with the world spread out before her, limitless possibilities and resources to match... and she wants me? So we meet. And we meet again soon afterward. And again. We talk every day. And soon I'm swept up in a current of emotion and I know exactly what it is, but I'm glad for it! Is there any better morphine than NRE for the gutting and gnashing of the termination of a twenty year relationship? And so, to quote Barney Stinson, We Ride!
Negotiations. I care about her. I know she can't be tied down to an old man while she finishes college across the country. I've been through that already, and I can't do that to her. Besides, that's exactly what I don't want - over-commitment too early, and she gets older and wiser and discovers one fine day that she's never really loved me at all... no thank you. Been there, done that, wearing the tee shirt.
She has this talent: I say something that I think could potentially upset her, and she comes back with not just, "that doesn't bother me at all," but "that's a great idea! How about we make it even better by doing xyz?" She's been envisioning an open relationship the whole time. I'd discovered poly sites back in my swinging days, and thought maybe that's what I'd experienced and was trying desperately to recapture.
And so, here I am. In a long-distance relationship with a beautiful young girl, marriage officially over any day now, trying to be a good father, working to not only finish law school, but finish on top so I can provide the things I should have been more attentive to the entire time. I feel like the universe saw me drowning and threw me a life preserver: not the one I was envisioning, but something that could be, dare I say, even better?
Which brings us up to today.