Celebrating the Unexpected: You Can Find Love Online

Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch
Courtesy of Alaska Dispatch

How many times do we envision one outcome and end up with another?

Lately, that’s all I’ve got going on.

There are the little things.  My long awaited Memorial Day weekend went wonky when a wildfire made breathing for all of us Alaskan’s a bit more challenging.

Goodbye, rafting plans. Hello, cable television. Fortunately, there were some great films on, and I know I’m fortunate that my home is not in the line of fire.

My heater broke (frankly, what better time in Alaska to have your heater break than in summer?) and one of my daughter’s relationship ended when her boyfriend’s cat pooped in her shoe.

LuLu and Oliver
LuLu and Oliver

Didn’t see any of that coming.

The bigger news. After two solid months of my modest effort on Match.com, I’m happy to shut down my account and return to my quiet life. Quiet, but not entirely solitary.

I had expected I would get out of the house a bit, and I did. I expected I would meet some characters, and I did. I had hoped to hear some great stories, and I definitely did. But I also did make a worthwhile connection worth looking into.

But who knew it was Craigslist that would provide me with nearly instant and unconditional love? A love safe enough that I would throw caution to the wind and share a ride in the same car on our very first meeting?

I now am a true believer: It is possible to find love online. And I definitely did not see that coming.

Dating in Alaska/Facing the Challenge

It’s been so gorgeous out these past days, I’m behind in writing. I’m sharing a bit from my novel, Facing the Odds, One Man at a Time. Sometimes fiction perfectly mirrors real life.

946474_143826645801381_2080101684_n

Complicating matters on the dating front is the place I live: Alaska.

Arguably one of the prettiest states in the union, Alaska is also one of the most rugged places for a single woman to live. Despite the fact that I live in Anchorage, the largest city in the state with nearly 300,000 residents, it’s not uncommon to have a moose or a bear traipse through my tiny patch of a yard in the summertime. Once in the winter the snow was so deep I got high-centered in my car and had to wait for a neighbor to rescue me. Light all night long in summer and dark all day long in winter (which begins in October and lasts until May), the combination of snow, cold, and darkness here can transform a sunny personality into one miserable human. It’s startling to see how much of my energies are fueled by the sun and sapped by the darkness.

Because it’s the Last Frontier, Alaska seems to attract a unique brand of men. Men who love hunting. Men who love fishing. Killing and carving. Men who mount the heads of their deceased on their walls and call it art.

I once met a Sudanese immigrant at a friend’s house who diagnosed the problem of dating in Alaska with surgical precision. “Alaska attracts strong, educated, and independent women. And it attracts men who fall under the ‘let me hunt and fish, smoke my pot, and beat my wife.’ The two genders don’t combine so well.” He’d laughed at this.

By my estimation, he was spot on.

In rural Alaska, the men have long outnumbered the women by five to one, so Alaskan women can recite the phrase “The odds are good but the goods are odd.”

It’s not an easy place to find a partner, even when you’re young. And I’m not young anymore.

Back in my twenties, I was thrilled when a man offered to take me anywhere. Denny’s? Perfect! Any departure from my established routine of eating the girls’ sandwich crusts while clearing the dishes was welcome, even if it meant I had to stay up all night catching up on my homework.

But somewhere in my mid-thirties, I began to get pickier. Was it because I was layering my full-time work with the girls’ sports and events plus graduate school? No doubt that was part of it. But the other part was based on experience.

My dating habits over the years have mirrored my eating habits. I diet. I diet. I diet. And I binge.

The same is true regarding my social life, I am alone. I’m alone. I’m alone. And by the time I realize that I’m more than alone, I’m painfully lonely, I go full-throttle to try to meet someone. I jump at the first morsel that comes my way, and because my vision has been dimmed by loneliness, at first our together-time seems sweet and full of possibility.

IMG_3714Then it hits me, a familiar feeling of frustration and claustrophobia.   It’s hard to narrow down what exactly pisses me off. Needy men. Aloof men. Pregnant-looking men. Skinny men. Men whose teeth skim their forks as they eat. Men who recite the highlights of all they have learned on Fox News. Humorless men. Men who tell dumb jokes. Men who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet (and yes, I am careful to listen for the water running to make sure it gets done). The list goes on and on.

It’s not like I think I’m such a catch. I know my weaknesses well and there are no shortage of them. I’m intolerant. Disorganized. Occasionally foul-tempered. Claustrophobic. Entirely neurotic.

But I’m also fun. Creative. Loyal. Funny. Practical. Fit. And I’ll just say it: attractive. Eclectic, verging on eccentric. Independent.

And I hold out—believing against all probabilities—that one day I will meet someone who can see fit to love me, in spite of, and maybe even because of it all.

How I Met My Mother-The Sequel Starring Minka and Betty Jane

10329320_248567051994006_7476886914400419449_nblogIt’s easy to take family for granted.

I do it all the time.

I read the story of Minka and Betty Jane this week, a mother-daughter pair separated by adoption for nearly

80 years before reuniting, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if I’d never reunited with my own kids.

An excerpt from the memoir The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing and  a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up touched me this weekend as I read about this miracle reunion on MSN.

th
Minka and Betty Jane

“Betty Jane. Her Betty Jane, returned to her at last. The infant, the little girl, the teenager, the young mother, the grandmother…Here was everything at once, a lifetime in a moment.”

Minka was just a kid when she placed her baby girl for adoption after being sexually assaulted. She stood by her decision,  but never forgot her daughter. In 2006, Minka prayed that  her daughter’s safety would be confirmed to her somehow, and a few weeks later, she received a call from her missing daughter’s son.

Their story, written by a relative, is available on Amazon.

After I read this remarkable story, my own daughters and I ventured 120 miles from home by car and rented a thimble-sized cabin in Seward, indexAlaska and griped our way through Mother’s Day.

There was no fancy brunch. No Hallmark cards or warm, salted tears of gratitude for years of being the struggling, single mom. But there was time together to enjoy the campfire, share old memories, and make a few new ones.  And after all that we have been through together, we are privileged to take one another for granted.

It is more than enough.