Category: Opening The Vault

Opening The Vault: Part Seventy Eight

February 27th, 2011 — 3:27pm

Sometimes, it takes traveling to the other side of the world to find what can be elusive back home. My romantic encounter with Aussie hunk Jason back in’ 02 was an exhilarating reminder of that.

We connected through a mutual friend during my visit to Jason’s hometown of Perth, on Australia’s West Coast. Our second evening together led to major fireworks. I now Open The Vault and take you back to September of 2002…

September 18, 2002

Dear Diary,

Last night, after the first of many kisses, Jason — a self-professed news junkie — said playfully–

“I’ve never kissed a reporter before. I wasn’t expecting this when I came to pick you up the other night.”

Neither was I, of course. Which only made it that much more sublime. I knew from the minute I saw Jason that I wanted him. We both smiled instantly and I felt comfortable with him straight away. And to think I almost bailed on him because I was too tired!

* * *

All Smiles Down Under: Jason took this picture of me at Cottesloe Beach (September 2002)

Today was an amazing day — one of the best I’ve ever had romantically speaking. We drove to Cottesloe Beach. We had the windows open, the radio on and the sun was shining. Jason kept affectionately placing his hand on mine. I couldn’t stop smiling.

When we got to the beach, we ate at a café overlooking to ocean. Afterward,  we ambled across the sand and stopped to sit down and watch the sunset. Feeling his warmth, I quickly resettled myself so that I was sitting in his lap.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve fantasized about having a moment like this on the beach. Goodness knows I’ve had my share of near misses: coldness from Sparky in Santa Monica and Malibu, amid distance from our latest argument; a tender stroll with Larry in Broadkill Beach that left me empty because I doubted our future together.

This time was different. I was completely and totally in the moment. Because, for once, I was sitting on a majestic beach with a great guy who was giving me exactly what I needed and who shared my carefree frame of mind.

Jason burrowed into me, putting his head beside mine. And we kissed softly, with nature’s splendor as our backdrop.

* * *
Our beachside rendez-vous was only the beginning of what Jason and I shared during my time on Australia’s West Coast. Little did I know that Facebook would, years later, lead to an unexpected reunion between us.

Comment » | Australia, Australian men, Opening The Vault, unexpected romance

Opening The Vault: Down Under Edition

January 12th, 2011 — 9:36pm

When it comes to unexpected romance, one of the situations most conducive to it is a change of scenery. I rediscovered this in a big way at the end of my five-month stint living in Australia.

Before leaving Sydney and heading home, I spent a couple of days on the west coast city of Perth. My host was the friend of friend’s husband. I arrived to find a note from him saying to make myself at home — and that he’d arranged for a buddy of his to take me out. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the fall of 2002…

Perth, Western Australia

September 17, 2002

Dear Diary,

Well, after months of living Down Under, it happened — I finally met a nice guy and am having a romantic fling. The term might seem paradoxical as flings rarely involve romance, but Jason is proving to be the exception to that.

He didn’t make a move until last night, our second evening together. When Jason called, he asked if he could make it a quick drink because he was tired. Little did I know he would be getting a second wind as soon as we were together…

We went to a charming neighborhood pub, where Jase introduced me to a smooth locally brewed beer. Once again, conversation flowed freely and both of us were smiling often.

“Are you still feeling tired?” I asked him, a few beers later.

“Not at all,” he said with a smile.

Jason suggested we go for a drive to the beach. It was too cold for a walk in the sand, so we went back to his place, where we settled on the sofa to watch a movie.

As the movie progressed, I could feel the intensifying attraction between us. We were sitting this close, our legs and shoulders touching. After returning from my umpteenth trip to the bathroom — nerves and alcohol had my bladder working overtime! — I sat down and Jason asked–

“Are you alright?” as he placed his hand on my leg. “Do you mind if I put my hang there?”

“Not at all,” I said, feeling a jolt of excitement surge through me. “Even though it’s very distracting.

Once the movie was over, Jason mentioned how much he liked my perfume. Then, taking my face in his hands, he kissed me.

* * *

The chemistry between me and Jason continued for the rest of my stay in Perth. And led to an equally unexpected encounter years later on this side of the world. 

1 comment » | Australia, Australian men, Opening The Vault

Opening The Vault: New Year’s Edition

December 31st, 2010 — 5:00pm

With only a few hours left of 2010, I find myself feeling a little nostalgic about New Years’ gone by.

I’ve always enjoyed the turning of the calendar page. I think it symbolizes a new beginning and brings with it the chance to reflect on where the last twelve months have taken you. And of course, depending on your relationship status, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate romance. I now Open The Vault and take you back to various New Years’ long ago…

January 3, 2002
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

There was plenty of good in 2001. My move to the Midwest was rewarding in so many different ways. I finally found myself again, rediscovering life’s everyday joys for the first time since Mom’s death in ‘98.

A looong lull in my love life helped me learn how to be happy being single again. And then, when I least expected it, I found real love again.

January 2, 2003
New York, NY

I couldn’t let any more of 2003 go by without saying it started off in the most wonderful way. My most recent ex, Steve, came in from Ilinois. We hadn’t seen each other since his last visit in April, after which I broke up with him.

I wasn’t sure how we would be with each other after so many months apart. My worries proved to be unnecessary. For once, our ardor didn’t overtake the rest of our relationship.

And our reconciliatory kiss — WOW! It will go down, for me, in the pantheon of all-time greatest kisses. Long, lingering, full of desire and emotion.

“I’ve missed you,” Steve murmured when our lips eventually parted.

I feel so lucky that what we missed out on last new year’s, we more than made up for with this one. Sometimes, Cupid really hits his mark.
* * *

January 1, 2004

I’m happy to say my evening with 3 married couples, 2 of whom are dear riends, was fun and festive — and that I only had a few moments of feeling painfully single. Of course, each new year seems to arrive with greater speed and 2004 is no different.

When I look back on 2003, I will always remember it as the year I decided to hang up my TV reporting hat and settle down here in New York. I cannot overstate how wonderful it is to be home, to know that I’m where I belong.

* * *
It’s nice to still feel that, even as I entertain the possibility of moving sometime next year, I am right where I’m supposed to be. No better feeling to have as 2011 beckons.

Happy New Year all!

2 comments » | New Year's Eve, old flames, Opening The Vault

Opening The Vault: Part Seventy Five

December 2nd, 2010 — 10:44am

When you’re dealing with the formidable foes of long distance and bad timing, sometimes love isn’t enough. I learned this painful lesson for a second time during my passionate romance back in ‘02 with Southern Illinois sweetheart Steve.

Four months after embarking on our whirlwind relationship, I found myself at a crossroads both personally and professionally. An amazing trip to Australia had me hungering to go back and live Down Under for awhile. I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up — and that it was a leap I had to take by myself. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of 2002…

New York, NY
April 8, 2002

Dear Diary,

I’m feeling really sad. I keep thinking about how incredibly loving and good Steve has been to me…and it just tears me up to think about hurting him.

Over the last couple of days during his visit, there were so may sublime moments — playing piano together, singing some of our favorite songs while curled up by candlelight, kissing at the Empire State Building.

I feel more connected to Steve than I have to any man in a long time. And I will miss him terribly if I have to walk away.

* * *
April 23, 2002

I’ve taken two big steps since you last heard from me — I’ve decided to go back to Australia and I broke up with Steve.

The latter happened earlier tonight, in a brief conversation that had me fumbling for words and Steve very gracious and mature.

“I knew I’d hear those words from you sooner or later,” he said, after I told him our lives our heading in different directions.

As I struggled to explain my decision, Steve brought our final exchange to an end.

“Well, I guess that’s all I needed to hear. Have a good trip.”

I’m going to miss Steve. And I will never, ever regret a single second I’ve spent in the warmth of his arms and light of his love. Steve has shown me that throwing caution to the wind doesn’t have to be a bad thing, that the most exhilarating romances are the most unexpected ones. I love him and feel profoundly grateful he came into my life.

* * *
Little did I know when I broke up with Steve that Cupid wasn’t quite finished with the two of us. In the meantime, I turned my attention to Australia — where romance unexpectedly found me once again.

1 comment » | Australia, breaking up with a boyfriend, living abroad, long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, Southern Illinois

Opening The Vault: Part Seventy Four

August 5th, 2010 — 5:10pm

In long distance relationships, I’ve learned never to say never when it comes to whose turn it is to travel. I was reminded of this a few months into my romance with Southern Illinois native Steve.

Steve and I were missing each other desperately. Having already gotten on a plane for him once, I wanted him to reciprocate — until he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the spring of 2002…

LaGuardia Airport, NY
March 2, 2002

Dear Diary,

Well, surprise, surprise, I’m on my way to Illinois to see Steve.

Though it came about quickly, I’m happy to say I’m not simply acting on impulse. Steve is taking care of my airfare and also planning (at last!) a visit to New York later this month. Needless to say, I was floored when Steve called yesterday and suggested I visit. He says he’s suddenly in a better financial situation because of two tuition refund checks.

“We’ve been apart for almost two months, and I just can’t take it anymore,” he said with great urgency.

St. Louis: Steve and I spent part of our reunion here

I’ve been so wrong to compare what Steve and I have to what I had with Sparky. Other than both relationships being long distance, there are NO similarities. Steve and I call and email regularly, and we’re both trying to see each other whenever we can. And I have a love and respect for Steve that is unlike what I felt for Sparky.

It’s also be foolish for me to be scared of somehow reverting to who I was eight years ago, with Sparky, simply by following my heart. I’m no longer the naive college student who expects every romantic encounter to be so blissful it makes up for the time apart. As long I feel that electricity with Steve and like we’re communicating, I’ll be a happy camper.

* * *

USAir Flight to NYC
March 6, 2002

It’s been an incredibly intense, exhilarating, exhausting couple of days. My feelings for Steve are just as strong as they were two months ago.

For as much as money was an issue during our last rendez-vous, it wasn’t this time. I took care of the accommodations, while Steve treated me to some wonderful meals and he even wanted to take me on a carriage ride in St. Louis (too bad the horses weren’t around!).

This morning, he proposed all these wild ideas — from eloping to driving across the country. A big part of me was tempted to just throw caution to the wind and see where our love takes us. Being unemployed makes such propositions pretty enticing.

For now, it’s back to the job search grind.

*  *  *

The search for my next career move would take me to the other side of the world — and force me to make a decision about Steve.

Comment » | long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, Southern Illinois, St. Louis Arch

Opening The Vault: Part Seventy Three

July 17th, 2010 — 5:41pm

When you’re in a long-distance relationship, scheduling conflicts are par for the course — as I learned for a second time with Southern Illinois native Steve.

After a whirlwind couple of weeks toward the end of 2001, I moved back to New York. About a month later, when I was on my way to Australia, we were reunited in St. Louis. It was at this juncture that Steve and I had hit a rough spot, trying to figure out when and how we could be together again. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the winter of 2002…

New York, NY
February 3, 2002

Dear Diary,

Today brought some unsettling news from Steve. He said he’ll have to postpone his New York visit from early to mid March (this after pushing it back from the end of February). Why? Because he has to look after his parents’ cat while they’re away.

Call me insensitive, but he keeps saying how much he misses me yet doesn’t do anything to act on it. Broken promises, whether big or small, are not a good way to build trust.

* * *

February 16, 2002

Well, after a glitch from the florist, the most beautiful arrangement of flowers arrived today from Steve, along with a card saying “I love you.” The flowers give me hope, as did Steve’s last email, in which he said–

“I know it’s up to me to do the traveling now.”

* * *

February 26, 2002

Last night, Steve an I had the most wonderful hour-long conversation. He reassured me there are no hidden reason behind him not coming to visit me.

“I’ve been thinking about you so much, it’s distracting me at work!”

I admitted my insecurities have flared up because he can’t commit to coming to New York. It felt so great to clear the air. We reminisced about what we’ve shared — and talked about what we’ll do whenever we’re together again.

Our conversation was so great, I found myself thinking about going to see Steve. Because of the frequent flier miles I racked up going to Australia last month, it wouldn’t cost me anything. But then, there’s the hefty price tag if I give in to that impulse — my pride.

* * *
Little did I know I would soon be putting aside my pride — and that an opportunity oceans away would force me to make a decision about my future with Steve.

Comment » | long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, Southern Illinois

Opening The Vault: Part Seventy Two

July 10th, 2010 — 1:51pm

When you’re in a long-distance relationship, navigating the intensity of the highs and lows is a constant battle. I experienced that for a second time during my romance with Southern Illinois native Steve.

After three blissful weeks together in December of 2001, we were reunited a month later. Our second encounter brought the uncertainty of our situation into clearer focus. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the winter of ‘02…

Carbondale, IL
January 11, 2002

Dear Diary,

Well, the chemistry between Steve and I is as intense as it was last month. That’s the good news. The bad news is I’m having doubts about our future together.

First, I have to say that Steve has been wonderful — incredibly romantic and affectionate. After checking into our hotel room, he gallantly carried me over the threshhold.

“I’m sure we’ll still be holding each other like this when we’re 150,” he said.

He’s brought up marriage more than once, and has also asked me for a commitment, which is a far cry from the laissez-faire attitude he seemed to have back in December. I’m crazy about Steve, but as much as I hate to say this, I’m concerned that we’re at different junctures.  He’s finishing up school and trying to get himself settled financially. I’m wrapped up in my career and traveling. Is it right to enjoy him when the future for us seems so murky?

I don’t want to go through the heartache of another long-distance relationship just to find out we’re not meant to be after all. Last night, I started crying as I thought about all of this — and how much I’m going to miss Steve over the next couple of months. Steve tenderly stroked my face, telling me–

“I’ll never leave you. I love you…forever.”

He asked me if missing him was the only thing on my mind. I lied and said yes. What else could I say? That while he’s having visions of matrimony, I see doom and gloom on the horizon?

* * *

I didn’t confide my fears to Steve. Shortly thereafter, though, fate would intervene as a life-changing trip found me going in a completely different direction.

Comment » | long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, Southern Illinois

Opening The Vault: Part Seventy One

June 20th, 2010 — 8:16pm

When you’re in the throes of new romance, every moment feels fraught with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. So it was after I met Southern Illinois native Steve back in December of 2001.

Our chemistry was immediate. The wrinkle — I was moving back to New York a few weeks later. That unavoidable fact, though, didn’t stop us from falling in love. I now Open The Vault and take you back to winter of ‘02..

New York, NY
January 3, 2002

Dear Diary,

I’m trying to just enjoy what Steve and I have without getting too worked up about it, but it’s hard. I will say, though, I feel much better about our ability to handle a long-distance situation than I did with Sparky. I trust Steve’s intentions and feelings.

I was still figuring all of that when we had our third date. When Steve showed up, his cologne and my intense attraction to him made me temporarily misplace my keys!

“It’s your fault for being so distracting,” I said playfully.

Mollie’s Bar & Grill: Steve took me here for our third date

Steve took me to Mollie’s, a cozy little bar in Marion. After a few drinks in the main room, Steve led me into a quieter, more romantic area — comfy couches, fire dancing out of a pond, etc. It didn’t take long for our lips to meet. I couldn’t get enough of kissing him.

Steve soon suggested we get a bottle of wine and go back to my place. We spent the night talking, kissing and holding each other,  until Steve had to leave for work.

I was deliriously happy for the rest of the day. Even on no sleep, I felt energized in a way that I hadn’t in years.

* * *

A few days later, after I spent the weekend visiting a friend in St. Louis, Steve and I went over to his parents’ house for dinner. Being with him around his family, the people who’d become my surrogate family in Southern Illinois, intensified the feeling that we had been dating much longer than ten days.

Later, at my place, we held each other by candlelight and opened up about our pasts. He told me about his divorce, I told him about David and Sparky.

“How would you classify our relationship?” I asked.

“It’s too soon to tell,” he said. “But right now, I’d call it bliss.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

* * *

Though our feelings managed to overcome geography for a time, Steve and I would soon face other obstacles — of our own doing.

Comment » | long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, Southern Illinois

Opening The Vault: Part Seventy

June 11th, 2010 — 5:00pm

When you truly connect with someone, it can overcome even the most mixed signals. Thankfully, that’s exactly what happened after my first date with Southern Illinois native Steve back in 2001.

Steve surprised me by ending a flirtatious, conversation-filled evening with a handshake. Our second date concluded very differently. I now Open The Vault and take you back to December of ’01…

December 20, 2001
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

I’m just amazed at how good the communication is between Steve and I. I’ve been without a man who stimulates all of me for so long, it’s still hard to believe what I’ve found with him.

For our second date, we drove to Carbondale again for dinner at Chicago Underground. The food was only passable, but our chemistry continued to grow. I felt truly at ease with Steve and loved hearing his stories and his laugh.

Unfortunately, like our meal, the movie (“Spy Game,” an espionage flick) was a disappointment — so much so that I fell asleep. My embarrassment turned to relief when I woke up and Steve suggested–

“Do you want to leave and go rent Dirty Dancing?”

Dirty Dancing: things heated up between Steve and I as we watched the memorable 80’s movie

We had discovered during dinner our mutual love for the classic 80’s movie, so I happily said yes.

At my place, Steve sat right next to me on the couch. I could feel my insides reacting to his proximity and loved every second of it.

I became increasingly distracted, finding it hard to concentrate on something other than Steve. Finally, the movie ended. We made some small talk, but I couldn’t hide my feelings any longer.

“Do you usually end your dates with a handshake?” I asked.

“No,” he said, smiling irresistibly. “And I did want to kiss you the other night.”

“Do you think you’re going to tonight?”

“I think I’m definitely going to.”

And with that, his lips came to mine.

“I want you so bad,” he murmured as he caressed my back.

The subject of getting together again came up.

“How about tomorrow?” he whispered in my ear.

Our goodnight kiss was wonderful. After Steve left, I was glowing. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt this kind of connection with a man.

The question now — what comes next?

* * *

With my return to New York right around the corner, Steve and I quickly found ourselves in a long distance relationship, one that would be tested by an opportunity for me to live on the other side of the world.

2 comments » | Dirty Dancing, long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, second dates, Southern Illinois

Opening The Vault: Part Sixty Nine

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.

1 comment » | falling in love, first dates, long-distance relationships, Opening The Vault, Southern Illinois

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