I returned to the states in June. My first stop was to visit my best friend and her two children, and catch up on the last year. I mean a lot had happened after all. During the days I spent time with the kids and worked out while she was at work. At night the two of us hung out in the hot tub, laughed over wine, spent time with her Sacramento friends or just stayed in and played Catan. We played Oregon Trail with kids, who dark sense of humor always impressed me. The kids were more interested in someone dying from dysentery than they were with actually winning the game.
Katie and I also set up a few dating accounts. I was married before the rise of the dating apps which always interested me. More out of curiosity than anything else but now was my chance. It was unimpressive but entertaining. The weekend we spent with friend of hers in Napa. The three of us had a great time. The wine was good, company better and food was just what I needed. By the end of the week I felt refreshed as a boarded the plane to Georgia.
By the end of the summer I was officially divorced, began my whornado, travelled by myself, had a girl’s weekend in Napa and was now returning to the states and a new duty station in Augusta, Ga. I still had no intention of dating seriously and preferred to focus on my new job. The idea of dating didn’t truly appeal to me, in fact it partly terrified me. How was dating in your mid 30s supposed to go? What happens when casual dating turns serious? When do you bring up that you may not be able to have children? Hell, do you bring it up? What happens if they already have children, you get involved and then it ends? Would I be able to deal with the loss of more children in my life when things went south? What happens if it became serious with someone that flat out never wants children and by some miracle I become pregnant? How would someone that wants children react if I told them as we became serious? A million questions I didn’t want to deal with were in my head.
I decided to just continue to casually date and focus on me and work. One of the great things about being in the Army is that although you move frequently, by the middle of your career, you know someone everywhere you go. This location was no different. I quickly connected with two other warrant officers I had worked with years prior in Hawaii. The two other warrant officers became by group. The week was spent focused on work and the weekends were usually spent with one or both of them.
Of the two one was a single father. The other just perpetually single. This meant the three of us were able to go out fairly often and I could explore my new location. At least the locations worth visiting. The single father had less flexibility in his weekend due to being the dad of a four year old girl and 11 year old boy both in his custody. The two of us also happened to work at the same unit.
Each weekend the three of spent together in some way. At least once lunch or brunch per weekend our single dad brought the children. On the weekends he had a sitter we would all meet for drinks, dinner, movies or whatever else was in town. On occasion the two of us would go scuba diving in the nearby lake or river. Sundays the three of us spent watching football, grilling playing with his kids and enjoying a number of interesting drinks we had tried earlier in the week like a Thai Basil Margarita or paper airplane.
I could not complain about how things were going. I had a new place, and things coming together following the divorce. I had replaced the furniture, and kitchenware, and all the other things you split during divorce. I was adjusting to work and enjoyed my new co-workers. Time was spent with a solid set of friends that filled my week and weekend with a variety of activities. The only downfall was that I had also hit a bit of a dating dry spell. Focusing on me was great but this was a much smaller city than I was used to being single in. Months passed I found I wanted a little more.
It isn’t that I wanted to date anyone seriously, but my lack of dating had become a humorous topic of conversation. Even the single dad had managed to find time to date sometimes even two date in the same day. It isn’t that I wasn’t matching on the dating apps, but ensuring someone was not a soldier, a married cheater or just a run of the mill loser, was difficult in a town this small. A chance encounter the end of July changed that.
It began as a normal Saturday night. I had arrived to the bar early and was waiting for my friend to join me. While waiting a group of people in the bar sparked up a conversation and we chatted while I waited. In the group was a guy my age and we began to hit it off. Eventually my friend showed up with even more new people. He introduced me to another retired warrant officer, his girlfriend and his young friend, an attractive surgeon that worked at a nearby hospital. The night had even more in men of interest and while waiting in line a conversation was sparked with yet another attractive man. Who knew that after months in a dry spell all of a sudden I would meet three men of interest in a single night?
In the weeks that followed I began to casually date one of the men of interest. I remained busy with works, my group of friends, and marathon training. I still had no intention of seriously dating anyone. As we moved into the fall my runs had become longer and my free time shorter. That didn’t mean I wasn’t still finding time to have fun. Week days and nights I remained focused on work and running. The nights were often spent with my young date. On occasion I ventured out to a concert or a movie with one of my friends and on the weekends we would hangout or dive after my distance run.
Those at work usually heard of our busy weekends and begun to insist that there was more to my relationship with the single father. It didn’t matter that the idea had never crossed my mind, or that I was casually dating someone. It also did not matter that he too was dating. The thought of the two of us together had become the daily joke. Innocent and funny at first but as the months passed and the daily joking continued it went from cute and funny to annoying. No one seemed to care that there were actually three of us that spent our weekends together one just happened to work at another unit. The only thing that matter at work were the two single co-workers in front of them.
This became even worst when two additional slots opened up on his family’s annual cruise opened up. Each year the single dad’s extended family went on a holiday cruise. At the last minute two family members backed out and it was too late to cancel the rooms. Our single friend couldn’t make it but I decided what the hell. The cruise was only a few hundred dollars, plus we would be able to dive Cozumel. I also hated the cold and GA was in the 30’s a temperature that didn’t sit well with me. I agreed to the cruise.
The plan was, I would fly to New Orleans and meet up with him and his family in New Orleans. There we would spend the night at the hotel with all the family then board the cruise the next day. On the cruise I was going to share a room with his 18 year old niece. Following the cruise I would drive back with him and his two children to Augusta. The next day the man I was dating and I would drive to Orlando and I would pick up my race packet for the Dopey Challenge. Over the next for days I would run the 5K, 10k, ½ marathon and full marathon and drive back to GA and my vacation would end. A long but much needed vacation to end one year and start the New Year sounded like exactly what I needed.
It turned out life after infertility and divorce was not as bad as I had built up in my mind. Of course there were times I thought about children. Of course there were times I missed the idea of watching a child grow up, of growing old with a spouse and of watching my children have children. I realized there was life after. There were friends after. There was dating after. There is happiness after.