The Next Family

By: Craig Zagurski

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“I’m happy….I’m in a good headspace…..I’m available…..” My then-rationale for an embarkment.

Thought it would be “interesting” to try out having a new “intimate relationship” for my first time in over 11 years, and, as a single parent. Joined a dating site or five and spilled my poetic guts into each copied-and-pasted profile. Shared three various renditions of Who I Am and What I’m Looking For over the course of a few months. Felt alive and vulnerable and turned on. There were some girls (I couldn’t figure out for myself what the hell I wanted to call them….ladies?…..women?…..chicks?….) that seemed so damn cool and attractive and intriguing (“intrigued” is a popular word found on dating sites). Wrote back and forth with many of them, exchanged email addresses and/or cell # with a handful. Even did a Skype video chat with two girls (not at once….bucket list…sans Skype). Found myself getting fairly involved for a few days and then would get bored. Back and forth, and back and forth, and even back and forth.

Then someone found me.

I was one of her Daily 5 she received in her email inbox on a Thursday. She read the abridged version of my profile, liked my fucking charm, and sent me a paragraph. I was impressed that she didn’t choose to also send me a Wink, and she didn’t use LOL even once. I’m not going to share what she said, exactly, but it was followed 20 minutes later with a lengthy, charged-up email she sent after looking over my entire profile.

“This….this…….these..this….these……..these…this, this……..aaand these are why I was urged by my inner-counselor to let you know about me.” (Those are MY words, okay?)

I responded quite favorably and quickly arrived at the decision that I was not going to look any further beyond this girl……………………………..for now. Our chemistry was profoundly magnetic and we elevated our foolishness to full-on giddy, rose-tinted, responsibility-dodging, spring-fever smittenship. As the weekend arrived we stayed attached to our cell phones and, in the middle of an exchange, we figured out that, by complete coincidence, I had purchased the bed I’d been sleeping on for almost a year, to the day, from this girl…..on craigslist……almost a year ago……to the day.

Now, if you are any sort of person who contemplates your relationship with the universe and pauses occasionally to give it acknowledgement, with gratitude or hell, you are going to pay special attention to this girl. And not fuck it up.

I decided to take her up on an offer to come over that evening to the house where I bought her bed. This visit was also to include my 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter because she had 8-year-old and 10-year old daughters.

I found myself strongly compelled to build some kind of understanding for the kids while we drove our family vehicle toward the smittenship. “This is a play date. There will be kids and pizza and games.” But that didn’t feel like enough. “The person who’s house we’re going to is someone I met a little while ago when I bought the bed that daddy now sleeps on. So…..I’ve been there before.” They were very excited about the kids, pizza, and games. That was all that mattered to them. But, was I deceiving them because I wasn’t saying anything about my interest in this girl? I didn’t want to say anything because I promised myself and my ex-wife (still haven’t found a term that I like for her yet) that if a new relationship were to arise she would know before the kids so she didn’t have to learn of it from the kids, and vice versa.

As fast as we arrived, all six of the kids (including neighbor kids) identified their hearts’ desires and migrated to their proper play areas. I had a glass of wine in my hand in five minutes. (“Okay. Remember that you have to drive yourself and the kids home tonight. And watch the time!” ….Shit…..I have a fairy godmother in my fucking head…..) I kept a close eye on the kids and checked in regularly to be sure they were comfortable and enjoying themselves. The girls were giving each other make-overs and the boys chased each other with sticks. Yeah, really unpredictable.

After the pizza was eaten it was decided the neighbor kids would go home (they got what they came for) and a movie would be played. The remaining four lethargic kids snuggled up on the couch with their little glossy eyes entranced by a computer-animated story. I was invited upstairs to talk. (“Is there another living/sitting room/office up there?”) There were only bedrooms and bathrooms up there. Her bed was a king.

I’m not one to kiss and tell, but there was one moment that her 8-year-old daughter might have walked in to find two stone-still, big-eyed, red-faced adults sitting very awkwardly close to each other on the floor next to the king, staring at her.

“Were you kissing?”

“Is that what you saw?” (That wasn’t me who asked.)

(awkward pause)

“Yeah. You two were kissing.”

There’s a quick low-volume exchange between us about what our children had been previously exposed to in this regard and how did we want to handle this. Her kids had seen her before with a live-in boyfriend while mine still believed in Santa Claus. We decide to make every effort to avoid the need for further questions about that from any one of our children.

The movie ends, it’s dark outside, and my glass of wine is empty. We all give each other very deliberate, conscious goodbyes as though it could have been a rehearsal for repeat evenings. On the drive home, I ask the kids if they had fun and what they thought of the other two kids. It was all two-thumbs up, five stars, and feeling intrigued to visit again, some time.

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