Monday, 26 November 2012

Cloud Number Nine

It's funny the expression "falling for someone". It really is like a free fall, jumping off a cliff or out of a plane with no idea where you are going to end up or if you are going to survive it.

In the very early days just after The Dad and I split, it felt like falling. And in some ways it was a nice fall, exciting and refreshing; after the comfort, security and sometimes stuffiness of the airplane of a 12 year relationship. But after a few weeks of free falling I was soon wishing that I could crawl my way back into the safety of the cockpit. But it was too late, my parachute and my reserve had failed me and without them, the crash land broke me into a million pieces. There was nothing left of who I was. I was convinced that I could never truly trust someone again, despite my desperate need to, and that maybe settling for something that seemed right on the surface was the best I could ever hope for. One of my closest friends kept reminding me that time heals, and he was right. Because, with thanks to time, and some interesting new characters (as well as some old faithfuls), I put the pieces of myself back together and ended up feeling happier than ever, and to those people I'll be forever grateful.

I have met nine men through internet dating in the last eight months, and countless more characters just through chatting online. There's enough material there for a whole series of books (with names changed to protect the innocent - and not so much - of course). I wanted to do the “Sex and the City” thing, and I did (as much as you can in a small Hampshire town with two kids in tow, New Look shoes not Jimmy Choo’s, a limited budget of cash, and an even more limited selection of eligibles).

I am very wary not to "kiss and tell" but one day, if only to entertain, thrill (and frankly, warn) some of you of the dramas of the 30+ dating scene, I will write those books. But for those of you clamouring for a sneaky peek, here’s a quick rundown for you.

There was date number one, a fantastic guy that made me realise that yes I can still "pull" and that god gave me these legs to put in short skirts, at least until I'm 40. But that maybe it takes a little longer than six weeks and a lot of laughing to get over a 13 year relationship. Date number one was super special, because I learned that things can start as one thing, and turn into something else, namely a much cherished friendship. Date number two who couldn't wait to tell me that he had my wedding dress ordered and the church booked, before we had even met (Date One had a laugh about that one). Date number three, who was like a recipe gone wrong, all the ingredients were there but they seemed to have been mixed up in the wrong order so the cake rose in the oven but quickly went flat. Date number four, an old flame, and while it was comfy to throw on a pair of old slippers and feel that security you can only get from someone you have known pretty much all your life, you kind of realise there was a reason it didn't work out the first time. Back to date number three for a second try, still no cake. Date number five, a lovely fellow, bad teeth (even worse dress sense). Date number six, one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, shame I just did not fancy him. Date number seven, again a lovely guy, just not very exciting. Date number eight, the Jeremy Kyle guy, high levels of drama and disappointment, very low levels of actual feeling.

By this stage I was becoming rather experienced at the first date thing. I had two first date outfits, one was a "I think I'm going to fancy you and want you to fancy me back" date outfit (high heels, short skirts – oh, I was so na├»ve), and one was a "really not sure what I'm going to make of you in person so I'll wear this high neck and cover my legs just in case you show up and I don't want to have to do the "sorry no chemistry" text”. I always went to the same pub for the first meeting (leading the bar staff to actually know “my usual”, like some sad old tramp propping up the bar at The Queen Vic) and always seemed to end up with the same taxi driver, who became the highlight of each date. We even had “in” jokes and catch-ups about his family, a bit like an old married couple. In fact, there were a few times I wished I was dating him (now that would make a good book).

Date number eight put me right off men, I thought, possibly, for good. But as much as the whole thing turned into a complete mess, I am very grateful to him, because he made me realise what I didn't want, and that finding someone you want to trust and someone you can trust at the same time is very tricky. The hideousness of date number eight forced me to do what I really needed. Take myself off the meat market, snuggle up on my sofa with a bottle of wine and my cats, to mourn the loss of my old life and get excited about the prospect of a new one.

After my four month man ban, I reluctantly got myself back out there (before I became crazy wine and cat lady), and while I was at it I threw away all my tried and tested first date methods, as they clearly didn’t work so well.

And that brings us to date number nine. The date was different, the approach was different, and from the instant I saw him in the flesh, possibly even from his first message, I knew he was going to be different.

I have been researching the number nine for this post and the number nine turns out to be one of the most interesting numbers there is. Nine is a good number in China because it sounds the same as the word for “longlasting”. There are nine forms of the Chinese dragon, a symbol of magic and power. There are nine major planets in the solar system. Cats have nine lives. Beethoven wrote nine symphonies. Being on “cloud nine” means feeling euphoric and happy. I like number nine.

Having reduced dates 1-8 to playful nicknames; Swindon, London, Crazy Cocktails, Ticks, The Mood Hoover, Farmer Guy, Harold from Neighbours (I refuse to reveal who is who for obvious reasons), I am reluctant to do the same for Number 9, as I desperately hope he turns out to be so much more than a number in my chequered dating history. So, if he becomes a regular character in my life, I will come up with a pseudonym more appropriate to how utterly awesome I think he is.

It’s very, very early days and I’m scared. Maybe I will crash land, and end up broken (and embarrassed for letting my finely crafted guard down), but you can never experience the free fall unless you are willing to jump out of the plane. So for now, let’s just say I’m on Cloud Nine. Free falling and happy to be doing so. 


  1. very happy for you Beth :) xxx

  2. Wow! Great blog Beth. I am so pleased for you to finally find some happiness, you deserve it! xx