Faith required; red wine optional.
I’ve always heard about people who believed the Universe (or God or something out there) would take care of them, but I never had that kind of faith. I grew up in the Church, but my father always said: “God takes care of the big picture. It’s your job to take care of the details.”
I lived my life following that advice, taking care of the details but ignoring the big picture. After a bad marriage and an ugly divorce, I was taking care of two small boys on my own. I was determined to do my best for them, and wasn’t interested in complicating our lives for anyone.
It was a lonely way to live and I treasured my friends who were happy to support me and share my delight as the boys grew older.
I believed in magic, but I would never consider asking for it.
I knew there were miracles out there, but I had never experienced one and was sure they were not for me.
One Friday night in the spring of 1999, my girlfriend and I went to ladies’ night at the local bar to see an all-male dance troupe.
The venue was a converted barn, with wide hand-hewn beams and rough siding. The main stage was at one end of the cavernous room while in the loft a balcony with a wide wooden railing circled the outside walls. A large dusty disco ball hung in the center of the ceiling.
Several older pool tables were tucked in the back upstairs and each floor had a long bar up against the sidewall. The servers wove through the crowds of women like salmon swimming upstream.
It had been a few months since we’d been out together so we were soon deep in conversation.
When the entertainers came on stage dressed like the Village People, the packed audience whistled and catcalled loudly. A cowboy, a cop, an Indian, a soldier, a biker and a handyman; they wore little to nothing by the time the first song ended.
What Do You Really Want in a Partner?
Beer goes right through me, so I joined the long line at the washroom. Standing next to me was Sadie, a tall blonde with tight jeans and a jacket with leather fringe that matched her boots. We struck up a conversation about guys; joking about how the dancers didn’t represent the men we usually met.
She showed me her ring, a gold band with two pear cut diamonds set on either side of a heart-shaped one in the middle. Shouting to be heard, she confided that she had met her dream guy and were recently married.
I bemoaned the fact that there weren’t any nice, unattached guys in our small town. The ones left were ones that had been thrown back, like fish that were too small or out of season.
“Write a List,” Sadie said. “My girlfriend told me about it. I thought she was kidding but she convinced me to try it.”
Sadie told me her story.
One night Sadie sat in her kitchen and wrote a list of everything she wanted in a partner. Rugged good looks, a friendly personality, a wonderful sense of humour, he would be kind, generous and loving. She described how he would treat her and care for her. Summoning up his image, she sent the wish out into the universe.
Unbelievably, it worked. Sadie had created such a clear vision, that when she first saw him, she was sure they had met before. They fell in love and soon he proposed.
“Sure,” I thought as Saide finished her story. “I just met you, and we’ve been drinking.”
Nice if It Works!
All week long Saide’s suggestion niggled at my brain. Listing exactly what I wanted felt like a strange thing to do, but I figured I had nothing to lose.
That Friday night, after giving my two small wiggly boys their bath, I tucked them in and read Goodnight Moon twice. Then I went downstairs into the quiet kitchen where I sat quietly at the table and looked at the command central of our lives. The crayon drawings on the fridge and the snapshots of family and friends reminded me how hard it had been to get us to this place of safety and freedom.
I thought about the days when I longed to have someone to share with, to talk and laugh about the day.
I lit a white candle and poured a glass of wine. Opening my favorite journal, I carefully thought about the men I’d dated: the tough guys, the sweet talkers, the inappropriate ones, the flashy ones, the handsome narcissists . . . and I realized that I’d been admiring the wrong guys. Somehow I thought they would be good life mates and good fathers.
“No wonder,” I thought. “I’ve been paying attention to the wrong qualities.” So, I wrote my List:
a wide and ready smile
a great sense of humor
a lot of patience
a loving father
a kind person
a generous lover
a hardworking man with a steady income
not too flashy but handsome
good with pets
not obsessed with sports
likes dancing and camping
laughs often and can laugh at himself.
I focused on the person I described and held the image in my heart. Then I covered it with white light and sent it out into the universe.
Five months later, my youngest son started kindergarten.
John was quivering with excitement and when I kissed him goodbye. He ran over to the Lego table, his favorite. Blinking back unexpected tears, I met the teacher, a smiling woman with dark hair and wire-framed glasses.
As I left, I noticed a man in a gray uniform and work boots talking to his son. He was crouched down low so they were face to face and he spoke carefully and intently. The little blonde boy with blue eyes watched his father closely.
They gave each other a giant bear hug before parting. “Damn,” I thought to myself, “would you look at that, another good one, taken. He even brings the little guy to school. What a great Dad he must be.”
In October there was a field trip to the local pumpkin patch and we ended up in the same car together. He was a widower; his wife had died that spring, leaving him with two small children, a son and a daughter.
We had a lot in common; he understood exactly what it was like to be a single parent. He understood how special each moment was and he knew what it felt like to lie awake at night and long for someone to share the special moments with.
The next year on mother’s day, while we celebrated with our four children and my mother, he got down on one knee and proposed. He is everything I had written, right down to the small details.
He has the warmest hands.
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