While sitting with a friend the other day, we were having a great conversation about our lives, our kids and our life being single.

“Did you ever imagine your life would end up like this?”

“Like what,” I asked quizzically.

“You know, a single dad helping raise your daughter, the dating struggles, etc.?”

It was a great question and one I have not really spent much time thinking about.  I’ve spent more time wondering how I ended up this way, if maybe I didn’t give it enough time early on to develop, or the three girls after my ex that I just completely buffed.

There’s no secret that having spent the last 16 years as a single dad is a hard pill to swallow.  I’ve made several attempts at dating…online, bar scene, grocery store, park…wherever and whenever.  If there was an attraction, I’d observe or read to make sure there was more of an attraction – can she be intellectually stimulating, does she have a personality, will we click when we hang out, is she fun to be with.

I tend to try and weigh out the entire package.  But what you may see is not always enough to determine what you actually get.  It’s like biting into an apple.  It’s red, shiny and looks delicious.  But the inside is browning or very soft, there’s no sweet flavor and as interesting as it appeared, it lost its luster the moment you bit into it.

That wasn’t always the case.  I had a few of those “shiny, red” apples…and the content was amazing!  Unfortunately, I was the spoiler:

I started dating Tresha about six months after Lisa and I divorced.  I had a crush on her.  She was a bartender.  After work, we would head down to her bar and grab a few “after work” beers.  She not only was a knockout, but she had one of the most amazing personalities – outgoing, funny, and knew football really well.  I had to catch myself at times because I found myself staring.

I finally asked her out.

“Sorry, I don’t mix work and pleasure.  If you ever see me out and I’m not working, ask me again.  Please, I hope you understand.”

How could I not.  I just hoped I had an opportunity to see her outside her job.  I also thought she was not much into me and said that as a way of “letting me down nicely.”

Lo and behold about a week later, she stopped in while I was bartending, looking gorgeous as ever.  My heart was racing.  She sat at my bar and ordered a drink, but this time the roles were reversed.  We had great conversation as always.  After a little time, she finished up and was about to leave so I called an employee over to watch the bar so I could walk her out.

“Ok, you came in tonight and you are not working.  Can I ask you for your number so I can take you out to dinner?”

She smiled as only she could, wrote her number down, and after handing it to me said, “And just so you know, I don’t believe in the three-day rule so feel free to call me whenever.”  Cloud 9 was my best friend at that moment.

I called her the next evening, we set up a date, went out, and had what I thought was an amazing time.  I took her to Lulu’s Bait Shack at Beach Place.  The night couldn’t have been more perfect.  I took her home, walked her to her door, said goodnight and left.

My confidence wasn’t very high at the time.  I hadn’t dated in over four years.  And I psyched myself out into believing she wasn’t interested in me.  So on a knucklehead move by yours truly, I didn’t call her.

I know, I know.  She gave me nothing but positive signs and I blew it.  What hurt worse is what my buddy had to tell me four weeks later after running into her.

“What did she say?”

“She wondered why you never called her.  I told her I had no clue.  She said she thought the date went well, but that you realized after the date that you just weren’t interested in her.”

“Shit!  I completely am.  I thought that’s how she felt about me.  I messed up!  I need to call her.”

“Too late bro.  She is now dating another guy and is very happy.  That’s who she talked about mostly after asking me about you.”

I once wondered, “What if I had called her the next day or a day later and asked her out again…”

UPDATE:  Fast forward fifteen years later, they are married and have two kids .  Yep, Good Luck Chuck Syndrome.  I have that, too and it happens frequently.

Then came Melissa.  She was also stunning.  What a smile!!!  She started at the restaurant where I worked and I was smitten almost instantly.  I asked her out and we dated for about five weeks.  It went well in the beginning, but I didn’t do enough to keep her interest and it wasn’t her fault.  She was awesome, beautiful, fun, intelligent and I blew it.  She eventually moved to Tennessee, met her (now) husband and they are happily married with two kids.  (Again, Good Luck Chuck)

I use to wonder, “What if I had spent more time courting her, building our time together…”

Then there was Corinne.  I won’t get into that one or you will be reading for hours.  Lets just say I goofed on that one, too.  That was ten years ago and the last time I had any opportunity to find happiness; every girl I’ve been out with since then has been a bust for whatever reason.  And truthfully, none of them have made me feel the way those three made me feel when meeting them and being with them.

With Corinne, I looked back and wondered too frequently, “What if…”

His next question to me was, “Do you find it hard sometimes, hanging around your married friends, being single?”

No.  Definitely not.  It’s a good reminder that love still exists and can last for a long time, happily.  I don’t take anything away from what they have because I share in their happiness.  And I’m a very happy man myself.  Could my life be more complete if I had someone to share it with?  Of course.  I’m the man that believes a great woman help makes a man the best he can be.  But I don’t dwell on what I don’t have.  I embrace what I do have.

My daughter is healthy.  I have a great-paying job.  I have amazing friends.  And no one could ask for a more wonderful family.  My time will come, when it’s ready. And when it’s ready, I’ll be ready.

I spent years looking back, wondering about the “what if’s”, if I’ll meet someone again and fall in love, if I had done things differently.  I spent years wondering when it happens to make sure I won’t lose her this time, or find a way to mess it up.  I spent too much time wondering.

I don’t waste time wondering anymore, not like I use to.  I have new goals to accomplish.  I have a life that’s about to open up 100% when my daughter leaves for college next year.  I’ll have plenty of time to watch my wonderment become my reality.

Until then, I love where I’m at, what I’m doing.  I love what will come soon, for my daughter and for me.  I know there are great things on the horizon.  But my time is here and now.  I cherish what I have and who I have in my life.  And I’ve made peace with wondering… because the wonder years are far behind me.

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