by Danna Colman and Thom Garrett
He was in Montana fishing while she was in Beverly Hills shopping. He was a mountain boy, and she was a city girl. They were an unlikely match. If they had met at a party, they might not have spoken more than a word or two, but they began to talk through their personal essays. After that, what had seemed highly improbable, didn’t seem so unlikely at all.
What is it that attracts us to another? A pretty face? A warm smile? Maybe it’s chemical, an unconscious response to an unnoticed scent. They had none of that. Still, somehow they both noticed a connection with each other and felt they had known one another somewhere else, maybe only in a dream. In fact, she did dream of him one night. He was on a long road trip from North Carolina to Northern California. She dreamed he was lost and stopped at her house to wash his dogs and take a shower. In her dream, she handed him a towel through the bathroom door and caught a glimpse of his bare legs on the wet floor. She told him about the dream but didn’t mention that she thought she might have seen something else, too, something that embarrassed her.
She liked him. She liked the way he wrote about his wife — the love of his life — who had been gone for almost two years. His words touched her heart and made her sad — for him, for his wife, and for herself. As a couple, they had had what she had always wanted — that special true love that she had only read about in fairytales.
But at that point in her life, she had given up on all that. In fact, it had been five years since she had decided that she was over it. Over men. Over marriage. Over ever thinking that there might be some perfect partner in this world for her. She was happily done with it all.
So what happened next was unexpected. This man who loved the sight of a rising trout, who cooked on a campfire and slept under the stars, and this woman who loved Broadway musicals, dinners out and slept in expensive hotels made contact.
It began with personal essays on Medium — honest and sad. They were drawn to each other’s stories and the broken heart behind the words. Each would respond to the other’s latest tale, never dreaming that their words were traveling beyond the anonymous computer screen to spark a tiny flame of interest in the other’s heart. It was an easy step to Facebook, and then emails, with a promise that they would someday elaborate over a bottle of wine.
It was she who wrote, “My Saturday night plans have cancelled. We could have that glass of wine and have a real conversation.” So they met voice to voice for the first time — she sipping Napa Valley Chardonnay in Southern California, and he, four time zones away, sipping whiskey in North Carolina. The first call seemed to end in a blink, after more than five hours of stories and laughter. A week later, the second call flowed effortlessly until the sun rose in North Carolina. Soon they were talking every night, nearly all night, until it seemed that all they did in between was sleep, each secretly hoping to dream about the other.
In a crazy, bold moment, they began to speak of love — a word that made no sense in the context of emails and phone calls. “Is it possible,” she asked, “to fall in love with someone before you’ve ever even stood in the same room?” He said, “We seem to be doing a pretty good job.”
So that is their story up to this moment. They hope to meet for the first time this spring — more than six months after their first phone call, and they are as nervous as Junior High kids on a first date. He has known true love and is excited that he might have yet another chance to find the magic again. She never found it and wouldn’t know what to do with it even if she did.
She was more than content in her solitude, and this unexpected intrusion of affection has her conflicted. She wants him, but she doesn’t. She loves him, but she wants him to leave her alone. She hopes that she’ll wake up from this dream and everything will go back to the way it was before he took all her time and breath away — her time to be alone with nothing and no one but herself.
They will meet, but not until April, assuming they don’t burst into flames first. Whatever happens, it will be a spectacular event for them, either filled with hope and romance or despair and broken hearts.