We were sitting on the wooden steps that lead to the beach. They were covered in sand but I didn’t care. My heart was beating so fast and I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath.
I was scared to death and at the same time there was nowhere else I wanted to be at that moment in time. I looked up at the sky and gasped, I had never seen so many large bright stars. His hand was warm as he brushed my cheek, and he moved closer, he was going to kiss me and just as his lips brushed mine the ground shook and the sky exploded into brilliant color.
Scared, we scrambled to our feet. He grabbed my hands and held them tight.
We had no idea where those fireworks came from. We thought the beach was deserted.
We never saw anyone.
A few minutes passed, we relaxed and chatted the night away.
This is it, I thought. The beginning of a summer love, something before now I only ever dreamed of having.
Ten years ago I was living with my daughter, helping her and her husband with their newborn son and their son with special needs. The stars had finally aligned in my favor. I was able to make a break from an abusive relationship.
Once I settled into my new surroundings my girls decided I should do some online dating. It was more like they were going to do it for me. You see, my picker was broken. I lacked the ability to pick myself a good guy.
I learned a lot during my thirteen months of online dating. I felt the way I always imagined a teenager felt. I was out five nights a week, usually with a different guy each night. I became an expert at sneaking into the house at dawn and not waking the kids.
Having been married at sixteen, a mother at seventeen, divorced in my twenties, and then a single mom into my forties, I never had the opportunity to know what it was like to act like a teenager. I certainly did make up for lost time.
After thirteen months I decided to take a break from my dating escapades and devote my free time to writing a book, something I always wanted to do. The break was short lived.
When the girls first showed me his picture my gut reaction was, “oh hell no!” This guy leaning on a motorcycle and he was wearing a wife beater. His pick-up line was, “I see you love to cook and I love to eat, I think we will get along great.” I wanted to laugh but my daughter said look at his eyes. He wore a smile but his eyes told a sad story.
We emailed, texted like teens and then graduated to phone conversations. We both agreed it was finally time to meet.
My daughter and I went shopping for a new outfit. It was May twentieth but still a bit chilly in the Philadelphia area. I picked out soft spring-colored sweater. I was giddy, a foreign feeling for me.
When we left the restaurant the sun was still shining bright. I wondered if he was going to try to kiss me when he said goodbye. Instead he asked me to take a ride down the shore with him. I had butterflies in my stomach and felt a bit dizzy.
I wanted to say yes but what if he was an axe murderer? The shore is pretty much deserted that time of the year and there had been shark sightings. Why did I watch so many episodes of Forensic Files the night before?
I looked up at the dashboard of his truck and saw a little stuffed Winnie-the-Pooh and blurted out, yes I will go to the shore with you! No murderer would ever have a Winnie-the-Pooh Beanie Baby on his dash.
My first summer love and I were married thirteen months later on that very beach where we shared our first kiss on our first date.
Eight years later, along with Winnie-the-Pooh on the dashboard we ride down the shore as often as we can just to sit on those wooden steps for a few minutes. We hold hands and look up at the sky to see all of the brilliant possibilities still ahead of us and feeling grateful for our midlife, endless summer love.
Read more from Doreen McGettigan on her blog