Category: falling in love


March 8th, 2012 — 1:15pm

The other day, I found myself talking with a friend about what a small world it is – digitally and otherwise. It got me to thinking the whole six degrees (or less) rule has precipitated some of the most meaningful relationships in my life, past and present.

Triangular connections have played a big part in leading me to love over the years. Back in ’94, a close family friend happened to know a producer for the TV show NYPD Blue. That family friend made it possible for me and my sister to watch a shoot in NYC’s Tompkins Square Park, where I ended up meeting LA-based sound mixer . Longtime readers of this blog know the whirlwind odyssey that followed…

A few years later, mutual friends once again took on the role of Cupid.  A college classmate of mine married Nick, a Brit whose good friend moved to New York. Nick went out of his way to make sure David called me, and so began a year and a half romance that I still remember fondly.

In 2001, I was in post-breakup mode when I moved to Southern Illinois and was warmly welcomed by next door neighbor Katherine. Much like a surrogate grandmother, Katherine invited me to dinner with her family – which is where I met her stepgrandson . Our connection was immediate and we remain good friends to this day.

Of course, now  it only takes a few clicks on Facebook to be reminded that less than six degrees separates all of us today. And that you never know when one of those connections will generate a spark of the romantic variety.

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June 4th, 2010 — 2:16pm

When it comes to falling in love, I’ve often found the element of surprise is a big part of it. I learned that lesson all over again after meeting Southern Illinois native Steve back in 2001.

A few weeks before my year-long TV reporting stint was about to end, Steve and I met through this family and went on our first date. Like the day we had met, the chemistry was immediate and effortless. I now Open The Vault and take you back to December of 01…

December 20, 2001
Marion, IL

Dear Diary,

I swore after ending it with Sparky years ago that I’d never do a long-distance relationship again. The difference this time, though, is feeling like I fit so well with Steve — intellectually, emotionally, physically. And no man has ever demonstrated his feelings verbally the way Steve has.

It’s hard to believe our first date was only three weeks ago. I was excited that he showed up on time — less so when he suggested Red Lobster for dinner. Fortunately, when I expressed my lack of enthusiasm, he suggested Hunan, a Chinese restaurant with much more atmosphere and the one I’d had in mind to begin with.

Hunan: One of my favorite restaurants in Southern Illinois -- and where Steve took me for our first date

The evening got off to a perfect start when Steve held the car door for me before going around to the driver’s side. He does this every time we go out and I love it.

Conversation flowed freely between us. I found it very easy to open up to Steve — he is a great listener and talker, and he’s funny. At one point, when I was lamenting my non-existent love life over the last year, he said sympathetically–

“Not even a fling?”

“Not even,” I said, laughing as I did so often over the course of the evening.

“You look really nice, by the way,” he said.

I thanked him, admitting how embarrassed I’d been to have no makeup on the first time we met. He assured me I’d looked just as good without it and I smiled.

Our next stop was a casual, underground bar. The flirting between us was intensifying — we sat this close to each other and joked about a buttery nipple cocktail.

By 1am, I was feeling sleepy even though I didn’t want the night to end. Hoping a goodnight kiss was right around the corner, I made Steve stop at a gas station — claiming it was for a bathroom break when really I wanted to do a breath check and get some gum.

When we pulled up in front of my building, we both said we’d had a wonderful time.

“I wish we’d met sooner,” I said.

“Better late than never,” he replied.

He suggested we get together again a few days later. Then, instead of kissing me, Steve completely threw me when he shook my hand as I left the car.

In my entire dating life, that was a first.

* * *

Thankfully, Steve’s surprise gesture wasn’t at all indicative of his feelings for me. Date #2 would find us taking our chemistry to the next level.

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December 6th, 2008 — 6:05pm

It’s often said that love is in the details and I don’t think there’s a truer example of that than a long-distance relationship.

When there’s thousands of miles between you and your significant other, the small stuff becomes even more important and harder not to sweat — as I discovered when I dated California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

Romance on the brain: During the summer of 1994, I longed for the happiness I felt a few months before, when Sparky took this picture in London.

Despite the distraction of a local romance with vegan brainiac Frank, the geographical constraints separating me from Sparky became more difficult as my feelings for him deepened. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of 1994…

New York, NY
August 15, 1994

Dear Diary,

Last night, I called Sparky. He politely blew me off so he could have dinner with his best friend Anthony. I was peeved but figured, okay, he’s entitled to be too busy to talk every once in a while.

Tonight, he calls at a rather inopportune moment for ME — Frank was here. Of course, this time Sparky was oozing sweet nothings, saying I’m “magnificent,” that he loves me and can’t wait til I get to California in a few weeks, etc., etc.

I had a legitimate reason for bringing the conversation to an end and, I must confess, I rather enjoyed it. Still, before our two-minute chat ended, I told Sparky that I really wanted to talk to him before the night was over, and that I planned on being asleep by midnight (about two hours from when we hung up).

So Frank departs and I leave a message on Sparky’s machine. He calls me back as he’s sitting down to dinner with Anthony, then proceeds to tell me how “tight” the week that I am coming is going to be in terms of his work, and that he had to go because he was on his cell. Why did he even bother to call if he was just going to blow me off AGAIN?

I learned several important things from this little episode. First and foremost, I have to keep our relationship in perspective. It cannot be the end all be all, not at this point anyway. Second, I will definitely continue to date other men, specifically, Frank.

I rediscovered the merits of juggling more than one man tonight, when Frank greeted me with a long-stem red rose. While Sparky upset me, Frank was there to put a smile on my face.

Someday, when I’m settled into married life, I will look back on all this co-ed game playing and laugh.

* * *

Though that marital someday hasn’t yet materialized, I am definitely laughing as I recall my dating antics of yesteryear. Back then, it was all about fun and games, and guarding against getting hurt.

I still had to learn that when Cupid’s arrow strikes, trying to maintain the upper hand in a relationship can be a losing battle. Sparky would become the first man to teach me that.

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November 26th, 2008 — 4:18am
When it comes to relationships, there’s nothing quite like the honeymoon period – that time when you’re first falling in love. Everything is new, every moment endowed with anticipation and a sense of discovery.

I’ve been fortunate to experience that blissful high a handful of times, with boyfriends who knew more than a thing or two about romance. Here are some of the standout moments from my ��honeymoons’ with past beaus – By The Numbers:

Number of days preceding earliest utterance of ‘I love you’ from a guy: 5

Number of weeks preceding first romantic getaway (to Mystic, CT) with Match.com boyfriend: 6
Number of dates preceding quickest reference to the possibility of marriage: 1
Number of five-month anniversaries celebrated with five dozen (!) roses: 1
Number of candlelit dances before leaving Illinois and returning to NYC: 1

That dance was my first with then-beau Steve, the man who brought love and passion back into my life after a long and often lonely year as a TV reporter in the Midwest.

Dirty Dancing: This 1987 sleeper hit with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey set the mood for my first kiss with Steve

It seemed fitting that we tripped the light fantastic together – “Dirty Dancing” had set the mood for our first kiss. Much like the first time I watched the 1987 movie classic, I remember it well.

Coming up…Australia the movie’s splashy NYC premiere and a friend’s playwriting debut.

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November 25th, 2008 — 11:18pm
When it comes to relationships, there’s nothing quite like the honeymoon period – that time when you’re first falling in love. Everything is new, every moment endowed with anticipation and a sense of discovery.

I’ve been fortunate to experience that blissful high a handful of times, with boyfriends who knew more than a thing or two about romance. Here are some of the standout moments from my ‘honeymoons’ with past beaus – By The Numbers:

Number of days preceding earliest utterance of ‘I love you’ from a guy: 5

Number of weeks preceding first romantic getaway (to Mystic, CT) with Match.com boyfriend: 6
Number of dates preceding quickest reference to the possibility of marriage: 1
Number of five-month anniversaries celebrated with five dozen (!) roses: 1
Number of candlelit dances before leaving Illinois and returning to NYC: 1

That dance was my first with then-beau Steve, the man who brought love and passion back into my life after a long and often lonely year as a TV reporter in the Midwest.

Dirty Dancing: This 1987 sleeper hit with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey set the mood for my first kiss with Steve

It seemed fitting that we tripped the light fantastic together – “Dirty Dancing” had set the mood for our first kiss. Much like the first time I watched the 1987 movie classic, I remember it well.

Coming up…Australia the movie’s splashy NYC premiere and a friend’s playwriting debut.

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November 22nd, 2008 — 1:25am

When you’re in the throes of new romance, life’s trials and tribulations invariably feel much more manageable. During the summer of 1994, my budding romance with California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky) offered a much-needed distraction from the letdown that accompanied returning to New York after my junior year in London.

My reunion with Sparky in NYC following our blissful week together in England’s capital confirmed absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Despite three months apart, the chemistry between us was palpable, as we enjoyed local delights ranging from dessert at the Plaza Hotel to corn dogs and rides at Coney Island.

Romance at Astroland: Sparky took this picture of me during our visit to Coney Island, August 1994

There was no questioning our feelings for each other. Other doubts, however, began to surface during our first summer rendez-vous. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of ‘94…

New York, NY
July 31st, 1994

Dear Diary,

Today was divine — one of the best days I’ve had since my tumultuous return home. Things between Sparky and me are more wonderful than ever, and now I have the added security of knowing that my family really likes him too.

One thing concerns me, though, and that is the intensity of Sparky’s feelings for me. He’s so certain that I’m the one he wants to spend the rest of his life with. I love him too, but I’m very far away from being ready to settle down.

* * *

August 1st, 1994

I came to a difficult conclusion today — I don’t think Sparky is the one for me. We come from two different worlds. This realization is one of the reasons tonight was such a downer (that, and the fact that Sparky didn’t wear a tie to dinner).

This whole thing with Sparky is so overwhelming. The week we had in London was essentially a honeymoon. During this second go-round, the circumstances are different. Our lives have witnessed a lot of changes since those carefree seven days in May and so, we’re suddenly having to confront issues that seemed much more peripheral a few months ago.

“That’s what a real relationship is,” Sparky told me back in London, when the subject of weathering up’s and down’s as a couple first came up.

Until he came along, I never really knew what a real relationship was.

* * *

August 6th, 1994

Well, he left yesterday and so far, I’ve thought of him every other minute…I never thought I could have such a complete, fulfilling bond with a man so early on in my adult life.

I don’t know what the future has in store for Sparky and I, but of this much I am sure — I’m going to hold on and enjoy the ride with all my heart while it lasts.

* * *
The roller coaster of long-distance love was just beginning for me and Sparky. And after our reunion in NYC, I was determined not to let another three months pass before we were together again. Before that could happen, though, I would have to overcome some formidable opposition from two important people — my parents.

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October 3rd, 2008 — 11:31pm

When you’re falling in love, even the most crowded destinations suddenly feel like they belong to only you and the object of your affections. I experienced this curious phenomenon for the first time 14 years ago, during my week in London with California native Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

England’s capital, with all of its majesty and magic, provided the perfect setting for Sparky and me to continue getting to know one another. Having met just one month before, we still had plenty to learn about each other. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of ‘94…

April 28, 1994
London, England

Dear Diary,

With maps and cameras in hand, Sparky and I headed to Regent’s Park, where the conversation eventually turned to sex.

I felt uncomfortable discussing sex with Sparky. I reiterated the fact that, given the 3,000 miles separating us, I can’t guarantee we’ll be together long enough for me to feel ready to lose my virginity with him.

Sparky said all the right things, professing once again his desire to have a future with me. Cynical little me, however, wasn’t convinced his romantic declarations weren’t at least partly a ploy to get me into bed.

Later, while we were waiting for the tube at Embankment Station, Sparky pulled me toward him as he murmured–

“I just want more and more of you.”

Noticing that I didn’t melt on cue, Sparky clarified he wasn’t referring to “that,” i.e., sex.

“Mmhm,” I said coolly. Still, despite my reservations, I couldn’t deny it — he was getting to me.

* * *


After touring the Tower of London and viewing the Crown Jewels, Sparky and I headed over to the Tower Thistle Hotel for a late lunch.

The majestic view from London’s Tower Thistle Hotel

We had a table by the window, which afforded a perfect view of the Thames and Tower Bridge. As the sun disappeared and the sky turned to gray, Sparky began opening up about his past, including his bouts with cancer.

For some reason, a warning bell went off inside me and I asked Sparky if he was okay. He paused before admitting that, only five days ago, he had a tumor removed from his colon.

I was shocked and scared. I reminded Sparky I’m all too familiar with the disease — my parents, my aunt and uncle have all battled it.

“The cancer is part of the reason I want to hold on to you and enjoy whatever time we have together,” he said.

It took me a little while to get my bearings after Sparky’s revelation. Still, I wanted — and needed — him to tell me more about his condition and what he was facing. He hesitated.

“You’re young, the last thing you need is some old man with all these problems.”

“Oh Sparky, please. You are far from old and you are ten times more of a man than anyone I’ve ever dated.”

Taking an almost childlike delight in my reassuring words, Sparky put his arms around me and gave me a big kiss.

* * *

Our week in London had its fair share of intense moments — moments that Sparky and I would cling to as our relationship progressed and geography and our 16-year age difference became formidable foes.

Coming up…a tribute to U2 in SoHo and a 40th anniversary celebration.

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