So I met this guy.

Actually, I met him a long time ago — in high school, to be exact. We weren’t friends back then. He was a football player and I was a regular on the honor roll. The only thing we had in common was a zip code and a homeroom teacher.

Twenty years have gone by. Now he’s a graphic artist who writes in his spare time, and I’m a writer and mother who has no spare time.

These days, we have a lot more in common. We both make a living by creating things. We hate reality television and love a really good cheeseburger. We both laugh at Angie’s knock-knock jokes, even when she messes up the punch lines.

I never expected this to happen. After Angie’s father left three years ago, I thought no one would ever be interested in a woman like me — a divorcee in her mid-30s with a young child and no job. Who would want to take that on? But over time I found a job, found some confidence, and found I was getting asked out on plenty of dates.

None of those guys seemed right. They were too clingy or too cold. Their lives were too casual or too complicated. I compared each of them to Angie’s father, then rejected them one by one because they were either too much like him or too much unlike him.

Eventually I lost interest in finding a partner. It seemed like a huge waste of time, this idea of starting a relationship that would probably just fail like my marriage had failed.

Besides, I had my hands full with Angie. She and I were happy on our own. We went wherever we wanted to go and did whatever we wanted to do. It was just the two of us, and we liked it that way.

Then this guy came into the picture. I kept him at arm’s length for a long time, thinking I needed to protect my daughter and myself from someone who would, inevitably, turn out to be a disappointment.

He didn’t scare away so easily. He took me to the beach on my birthday to look for sand dollars. He skipped work to go to Angie’s school assembly when she was named student of the month. When Angie and I caught colds, he brought us chicken soup and vitamins.

I’m not interested in comparing him to anyone. He is a good person who does thoughtful things even when he thinks no one is paying attention. He knows that Angie comes first with me and always will, and he’s mature enough to handle that.

He doesn’t try to be Angie’s father. Instead, he’s her friend. They watch “Star Wars” and play football in the park. She says he makes the best chocolate chip waffles.

Of course, I’m still afraid of being disappointed. I’m worried that things won’t work out and Angie and I will get hurt. I also know that if that were to happen, Angie and I would be sad but we would survive.

After everything that has happened the last three years, I still believe in love. I don’t believe in happily ever after or any of that fairytale junk in my daughter’s storybooks. I’m not interested in promises or absolutes, and I don’t use words like “forever” and “always.”

I put my faith in better things now.

What I believe in are second chances. This relationship could go wrong, but it could also go very, very right.

I believe in possibilities. There is a fine line between disappointment and blessing, and sometimes the worst thing that ever happened to you could also turn out to be the best thing.

I believe in waking up every morning and accepting the present, no matter how terrible or wonderful it may be. The worst times of our lives are just as temporary as the best times.

I also believe that love is stronger than fear, and that you cannot have one without the other.
And finally, I believe that Angie is correct. Those waffles are pretty darn good.

Wendy Fontaine’s “Party of Two” column appears every other week. Her email address is [email protected] or follow Party of Two on Facebook.


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