I Wasn’t Looking, Then There He Was.

We always want to believe that love is forever. It is for some people, but unfortunately divorce is a reality for many of us. I don’t really look at divorce so harshly now having experienced it a few times myself. We are always growing, changing, learning and evolving. This comes with age. I’m a very different person now at 49 than I was at 17, when I became pregnant and married.

Being a teenage mom and marrying at a young age, my first marriage lasted only eight years. Longer than most predicted it would. My husband was only 20, and joined the Navy right before we married. Both of us afraid, and not sure of what we were doing, we plunged head-first into adulthood. After eight years, we had two beautiful children, but had grown apart. He was deployed most of the time we were married. When he finally got shore duty, we discovered we were not compatible at all.

Now, single with two small children, I was working full-time running my own home daycare. It was an option for me to support myself and stay home with my children. A year later, I met and married one of the single daycare dads. He had two children, also. So we pretty much became “The Brady Bunch” overnight. Three years into our marriage we had another surprise blessing, a beautiful daughter. Five Children, 14 years of marriage later, I once again found myself in the process of divorce. My second husband was a good father and great friend. But that was it. Friend. I understand that it is very important to be best friends with your significant other, in addition to the intimacy and closeness of a couple. My husband and I became so accustomed to just making sure we were being the best parents possible to our five children, that we forgot to take time to be a couple. As the children were growing up and starting their own lives, there was nothing but a hollow shell of a relationship left. Nothing really there to even rekindle. We divorced, but still share the absolute love of our children and a sweet friendship.

The next 7 years were a blur. Absolutely the strangest time in my life. I was now 40 years old, and I guess you can say I hit my “mid-life crisis”. Even traded my minivan for a sports car.  Everything about me, and my life changed. I still loved my children, was trying to be the best mom I could be. I also had just became a grandmother the year before. Undeniably, there was an awakening and yearning to find myself. I compared it to, what I can only imagine, young adults in university feel as they start their own lives. Since I became a mother eight days after my 18th birthday, I didn’t have the same experience as most of my peers.

At this time in my life, I got my first tattoo, my first passport, traveled outside the United States for the first time and had very poor choices in men. I guess it had to happen at some time in my life, and this was it. I found myself married for a short three years of that time. I don’t even know why. On the way to the courthouse to marry him, I knew it wasn’t right; just  had that gut feeling. I just don’t even really count that one as a marriage…but it happened. I just kept reminding myself that everything happens for a reason, right?

As that terrible mistake became an inevitable divorce, I learned that I had changed. I can’t say that the change I experienced was all bad. I was now 47 and knew exactly who I was. I was a strong woman that could withstand any storm. I was independent and could hold my own.  Within the last six months of that marriage, I had lost my oldest brother to cancer, went through my third divorce and then my father passed away. Life can be quite sobering at times.

I had been working full-time as a VIP Tour Guide at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida for several years at this point. I absolutely loved my job. For at least a year before my last divorce, I preferred to be at work, rather than home. It was truly my “happy place”. I was volunteering for every shift and every bit of overtime I could possibly get. I adopted two little kittens and vowed to just be a hard-working, cat-lady, no-dating, never-marry-again, kind of woman. I was happy. My children and grandchildren would come visit me often. I had everything I could possibly want or need. I definitely wasn’t looking for a man. At All.

I went to work, like every day, early as usual. Picked up my tour assignment. As I read the details, 7 people, multi-generational. Harry Potter fans.

Easy. We were all given groups that fit our personalities and our expertise. I loved having families. Children, mom, dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I felt like I could relate to all of them. Most guides were the ages of my grown children and they were great to assign to the younger crowd that loved rollercoasters. But for me, I preferred the small kids and the grandparents, I liked their vibe.

As I met the family, they were running a bit late. Only five, of the seven scheduled, were present. They informed me that the mom (James’ sister) and her daughter were not feeling well and couldn’t join us. This was unfortunate, since the whole focus of the tour was for the niece to experience Harry Potter.

We went about our tour, mainly focused on the attractions his nephew was interested in, and some of the Harry Potter stuff, as well. James’ mother and I hit it off right away. That day was hotter than usual for the end of March. Being from England, they struggled a bit with the heat. As we took a break for lunch, James’ mother and I chatted while most of the table was quiet. She was asking me questions like, “Are you married?” “Do you have children?” etc.  Still bitter, but trying to be nice at work, I answered “No, I’m divorced and don’t plan on ever doing that again” and “Yes, I have 3 beautiful children and 2 grandchildren”.  She paused. “Well James is divorced, too”. I could feel the tension as James didn’t say a word, and just stayed very focused on his hamburger. You could tell that neither one of us had any interest in trying that “marriage” thing again.

After lunch, they all decided it was too hot to continue the tour, except James. He decided to continue and get his money’s worth. Fair enough—they aren’t cheap tours. After the family left and it was just the two of us, we still had five hours of the tour left. I asked him what he wanted to do, his reply was “Whatever you want to do! Show me your favorites parts and rides of Universal”.  I had never had a guest do that before. I was always there to make their wishes come true and do what they wanted to do. With the rest of the family gone, James opened up into a very friendly, talkative and interesting person. When his family was around, his mum definitely dominated the conversations. The rest of the day went well. Not flirting, but just like two friends hanging out in Universal. Until he stepped off the Jurassic Park River Voyage. Soaking wet, he flung his hair to the side…It was kinda like a slow motion, shampoo commercial…I think I wasn’t breathing for a moment there. Something sparked inside of me, but I dismissed it quickly, not wanting any part of a relationship again.

As the tour ended, he was debating on trying to book a second day hoping his niece was feeling better by then. I gave him my business card and made sure he had my cell number in case he had any questions or wanted to request me again. His niece was still  not feeling well, so he didn’t book a second day. He text me letting me know there wouldn’t be a second tour, but would like to take me to dinner before he headed back to Colorado and the family back to England. Sure, why not, it’s only dinner. I accepted, then the next day he cancelled. He had hurt his back so badly he needed a brace and medication. I just brushed it off. Men! Whatever. I was done anyway. It didn’t matter. I think I even chuckled a little bit, almost expecting this.

Each day, I went to work, same as always. Each morning I woke up to a text from him, and we continued texting throughout the day. Texting all day, then turned into 4 hours of FaceTime each night also. I tried to give him every reason why he wouldn’t want to be with me. I am nine years older, I have children and grandchildren. I have cats. James chose to not have children and was highly allergic to cats, but he persisted.

This continued for a month. Then he flew to Florida to take me on our first date. Three days. Three of the most amazing days. We knew. Neither one of us were looking to ever be in a relationship again, but then, there he was. The one I never knew I was looking for.

James and I have now been married for almost two years. He is an absolutely wonderful step-father and grandfather. It’s like he was that missing puzzle piece in our family that was the perfect fit. My children and grandchildren love him so much, and I couldn’t ask for a better husband and best friend. So it proves that when you have given up or you think you know how your life should be, the universe has a way of putting all the pieces in place, that you never knew were missing.

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