Stephanie L

My neighbor Gigi and I wanted a skinny marg from Mijares. Yum. What better way to earn a skinny than to walk a mile and a half to the restaurant? And it’s called a “Skinny,” so it practically has a negative calorie count already. On the way, we passed our friend Dave’s condo and we spontaneously decided to go upstairs and get him to come along. Three single adult friends with no kids means happy hour, obviously. So we march up to Dave’s and surprise him - and he’s up for it! Just for a few minutes, he says, until he has to go off to meet the secret love of his life for a work thing. Out of the vacant apartment across the hall comes a bearded smiling guy holding a large green watering can. Is it Dave’s new neighbor! No one has ever seen this guy! Dave has met him, so he introduces us. “This is John.” “Don’t mind me, I’m just the gardener, “ says Dave’s neighbor John. He’s friendly and laughing, obviously cares about nature, even if he doesn’t think people should pay attention to the gardener. So being in a party mood, one of us invited Dave’s neighbor John to come with, and surprisingly, he agrees, and we are going to have a little party at Mijares with all the happy hour locals. We’re about to take off, when Dave’s neighbor John realizes he has laundry in the laundry room, so he says he will meet us there. A few minutes after John the neighbor arrives, Dave tells him, “I warmed ‘em up for you,” and leaves to be with current secret true love (and future wife). John, Gigi and I are talking and having fun. John is telling us about how he is recently separated, having purchased the condo. He tells us about moving out, the “Cat-astrophe” when the ex brought home fourteen cats from a shelter, that he studied music at a really cool college, he grew up in the neighboring town, he’s 48 like me, has no kids like me and Gigi, and he went to the same high school as the owner of Mijares! (Which earned us an awesome plate of the world’s best nachos from Tommy!) I pummeled Dave’s neighbor with questions and he was super nice. I was shocked to meet someone who actually grew up in the area! (I lived for years in Los Angeles, and it’s rare.) I think anyone could have seen that Dave’s neighbor was a fun addition to our social group! Watching this cheerful guy talking, I start to think, if I ever wanted to date again, this would be the type of guy I would like. But I am middle aged, not lonely, happy with my life and totally over dating. I have been in love, I have dated a variety of types, and I am done. I am 48 anyway, and I am not going to fight over the few single men out there. All is well. He seems to be focusing a lot on Gigi anyway. Because John is newly single and living alone, I decide he must need friends, so we shall adopt him, and I tell him so. We all make plans for brunch the next weekend. John gives us a hug goodbye and it is a full bear hug, which is awesome and I blurt out, “You are the world’s best hugger!” When I was freshly heartbroken in my early 20s, I went to a well recommended psychic. She was impressively on point about a lot of things. Then she told me what I did NOT want to hear. “You’ll find love, but it’s later.” I knew in my heart that it would be when I was ancient, like 30. Thirty came and went, and eventually I was 48. Like I said, I was over dating. Over it. A decade before, one of my good friends got married to her true love at 48. I thought, well, at 48, maybe for me that is when it will be “later.” After a few weeks of hanging out, John told me he was really comfortable with me. He liked me. But I didn’t want another mistake. He was so nice and we got along so well, that when he went in for a kiss and I ran, he laughed at me. I realized almost immediately that you don’t pass up a chance for love, no matter how scared you are. I sent him an “XO” text. John told me later, if he had remembered he had laundry in the machine, he wouldn’t have come. I now know that he waters his plants about twice a year. Somehow they are still alive. Was it fate that Gigi and I wanted a margarita on watering day? Maybe. It was my ECIAH. Everything did change in a heartbeat when one of us impulsively asked John to come with us. Was it me? No one knows. But my contact list doesn’t say “Dave’s Neighbor John” any more. It’s “John.” And by the way, John has a lot of friends. He didn’t need me to adopt him. But he came anyway!