It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, to coin a phrase.
You've heard this kind of story before, I'm certain. Newly divorced, I moved to this area for a new job in 1986. Didn't know a soul. Didn't know how to get on (or off) the Beltway. Didn't know folks were lying when they said "everything is only 25 minutes from your house. Really." Didn't know that a single person over the age of 35 was considered "too old" in some circles.
I began the process of acclimating to my new lifestyle. Alone, depressed, I began my new existence in Maryland. Slowly but surely, I built friendships, male and female. The months passed and my circle of companions grew. I found an exercise class, a neighborhood deli, theaters with vintage films, out of the way diners, bookstores to buy poetry, places to have quiet times by myself and places to have not so quiet times with my friends.
In short, it was the right time to turn my life upside down.
"Why aren't you dating?" asked one friend after another.
"Met anyone yet?" asked Mother,
"The place must be crawling with men", observed my out of area friends.
"Not interested" was my standard reply. The few times I was fixed up on dates (whatever that means) they were disasters. My life was serene. I was comfortable. How dare anyone suggest that I was perhaps a shade too leery of jumping into the fray. Again.
In the early summer of the next year, I visited a friend of mine in my hometown of Chicago. Waiting for her to get ready for our excursion to the beach I picked up a book of e.e. cummings' poetry from her coffee table, Reading his poem "somewhere i have never traveled," I felt (can it be?) a tear on my cheek. Uh, oh.
Back in Maryland I went to see "Hannah and Her Sisters" with one of my male friends. In one scene Barbara Hershey read a poem written by e.e. cummings. Yep. You guessed which one.
Time passed. Another friend suggested I take a look at the personal ads in a local Jewish newspaper - the Matchmaker ads. "Oh, alright," I yelped at her after weeks of nagging. "Alright, already."
Flipping to Matches for Women I spotted an ad with a heading in bold letters - "Hannah and Her Sisters" it proclaimed. A sign. I decided to answer. Only because of the salutation. Only because of the movie. Only because of the poem. Only because my Hebrew name is Hannah. Only because deep down I knew it was time. .
Pulling out a piece of paper, I wrote..."somewhere I have never traveled....."
I copied the entire poem, signed my name and stuck in my phone number. That was it. Unbeknownst to me, the author of the ad, Michael Kravitz, was a huge trivia buff. I had presented a challenge. He called me and asked, "That's the e.e. cummings poem, isn't it?"
We agreed to go to a Judy Collins concert the next weekend.
There are those who would say I am making this up after the fact. Others would scoff at the idea of predicting the future. And yet, when I opened the door that night I knew. We would be married.
We dated for 10 months and in May of 1988 we became engaged. Our 20th wedding anniversary is this December. In our wedding program we thanked our newspaper matchmaker, Judy Collins and e.e. cummings. We have a daughter who is turning 15, have had a series of not very bright pets, and are still as happy as we were on that first date, all those years ago.
So what does this mean?
It means you have to risk a little of yourself. It means you have to have faith that your dreams can come true. It means you have to let your heart guide you. But even if it means none of the above – it means YOU HAVE TO ANSWER THE AD.