I live in an apartment building on the second floor. My balcony looks out the back of the building onto the parking lot. Usually it is a pretty boring sight. About half the people in this building are retired and spend the majority of their time watching everyone else in the building. There are only a few guys living here, none of them much to look at, or way too old.
It was good to be home again. I’ve been on the road for work for the last three weeks and I had a week off before I would leave for two to four more weeks. It was a warm spring day in late April, I looked out my patio door and what I saw made my heart stop. I could not believe my eyes. There was a cowboy in the parking lot. He had on a pair well fitting jeans, a jean shirt with the sleeves cut off and a wonderfully beautiful, tan, straw cowboy hat. Not a cheap imitation hat but the real thing. This cowboy is easily 6 ft tall, blondish color, freckles and has broad shoulders and muscle. As he turned and walked across the parking lot I realized that his back was just as well defined as the front. The overall affect this cowboy was having on me completely threw me for a loop as I am in no way a normally attracted to cowboys. I like nature, water, pop music, and natural/organic foods. Some of my friends tease me that I am a drugless hippy or a tree hugger. So how could a cowboy make my heart stop like this? He took my breath away.
Who is this guy? There aren’t any vacant apartments, so he isn’t moving in. I’ve never seen him before, so I don’t know who he would be visiting. I had to find out more about him. I wanted to meet him. The problem is that I am really bad at meeting new people. The initial conversation chokes me up and I feel like an awkward teenager. The only reason I could think of for going out there without being completely obvious was to go to the store. So I grabbed my purse and threw on a pair of sandals. As I walked down the stairs, trying to keep him in sight out the windows as I went, my heart beat hard in my chest. I walked out the door and down the sidewalk to the parking lot. He was standing by his truck next to the sidewalk. My heart pounded harder and harder, he could probably hear it. Oh man I don’t know if I can even talk. I don’t want to sound like an idiot. Almost there, have to say something…anything…right now. “Hi” I managed. He smiled and said hi to me. I kept walking to my car and managed to get in and drive to the store. The whole time I was growling at myself, “Why didn’t I say more? Like “Hi, what’s your name?” Lame but better than just ‘hi’. Duh! Never going to meet someone if you can’t manage to have an entire conversation with strangers. How many times have you wished you would have tried harder just to talk to someone? How long are you going to stumble over your tongue like that?”
So after I was done with my ‘pep talk’ I ran into the store, grabbed a few things and hustled back home. I didn’t see him or his truck. But of course he was gone. I took my groceries up to my apartment. During the next week, I seen this gorgeous cowboy a few more times and came to realize that he was the new apartment manager. The previous manager and his wife had moved to Florida while I was out of town. The cowboy had moved into the apartment directly below mine. I soon came to realize that he had a wife or girlfriend and two children. I was disappointed, but such is life. I said hello whenever I would see him or his family when we crossed paths, but didn’t think much more of it than that. The week flew by and I packed my bags and left again. When I returned this time I was home for a month. Without a lot of work on my schedule, I was able to enjoy the beginning of summer. The cowboy was still here and we continued to say hello in passing. I noticed I didn’t see the girlfriend/wife anymore and the kids were only around part time.
Soon it was the end of June and I was leaving on another business trip for 3 weeks. I packed my luggage, notified the cowboy/manager that I would be gone and asked if he would just check the door once in a while to be sure it was secure. It was a good opener and we started to talk. It turns out the woman was a girlfriend, and they were no longer dating. The kids lived with his ex-wife and usually stayed with him during the week in the summer.
About a week into the trip I received a call that one of my aunts had a heart attack and would be having surgery. Fortunately I was traveling through a neighboring state and was able to take 3 days off. I raced home to see her in the hospital. When I came home I ran into the manager/cowboy and mentioned that I was back for a few days because of my aunt. He wished her well and said to be careful on the road. Still no indication from him if he was interested in me. My aunt made it through surgery fine and I went back to work. After I finished the job and came home, I was able to talk to the manager/cowboy a few times.
I was soon invited to join him on his patio for a glass of wine after we came home from work. We enjoyed our conversations so much that it became a regular thing. During our conversations I found out he was intelligent and conversed well on a variety of subjects. Though I was attracted to him, I wasn’t focused on that or sexual possibilities. I was really enjoying a friendship with him so much that I wasn’t focused on a relationship. I no longer had any difficulty holding up my end of a conversation. We talked freely for hours at a time. We would often be surprised when we glanced at a clock only to see it was well after midnight. As much as I really enjoyed talking with him, it was difficult to get up at 5 am for work when I had only gone to sleep a few hours before.
Everything changed in late September though. On a Friday night we sat outside for a while, but it was chilly and he suggested we go in his apartment. I hesitated because it was late, and though I felt I knew him by now, I know I didn’t really know that much about his past or if it was truly safe. I still had not kissed him or even gone out with him. It had always just been too convenient and comfortable to sit and talk over a soda or glass of wine. I agreed to go inside because I didn’t want to go back to my apartment yet. We decided to watch a movie and as we did, we held hands and kissed. It was really nice. He didn’t try anything more; he admitted that he really enjoyed taking the time to get to know one another and allowing it to progress slowly and naturally.
We talked about past relationships and what we felt was wrong with them, why they didn’t work. I admitted that after being married for 13 years, I was not looking forward to ‘dating’ because I was not 20 and not the least interested in meeting someone in a bar. We laughed and joked about where 40 something’s could meet people. I had tried online dating and it was almost as bad as bar dating. We were almost in tears as I told him about the guy who drove an hour to pick me up for a 15 minute date that ended because he forgot his wallet and wanted me to ride with him back to his place to get it.
Until that night I wasn’t even sure that he was interested in anything more than the conversations but now I knew. He had been watching me come and go on business trips, wanting to meet me, to take me out. I was driving him crazy because I was never around long enough for him to ask me out. I have to admit that it was headed in the direction of a committed relationship. I was scared. I had been seriously hurt by my previous marriage and didn’t know if I could commit to someone again. I was honest about it with him and had refused to tell him that I loved him, even though he said it to me daily. I didn’t know if I could ever say those words again.
At the end of October I had to fly to Florida for 10 days. At this point I had told him I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be in a serious relationship and I was glad I would be leaving so I could consider the relationship and decide if I wanted to continue in that direction. In addition to that, he has two young children and I had decided before we started dating that I didn’t want to be involved with someone with kids. I raised mine and they were almost grown now. Did I want to deal with those issues again? He took me to the airport the day I was to fly out and we agreed we would have no contact while I was gone. This would truly be a test of our feelings for each other.
While I was in Florida I was able to enjoy the first five days without too much thought about the cowboy. Occasionally I would think that I wished I had someone with me to enjoy the moment with, but overall I was fine being alone. By the ninth day I was ready to change my flight and go home. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I knew I wanted to be with him and that being alone wasn’t an option for me anymore. I sent him an email asking him to pick me up at the airport the next day. My flight arrived home at 10pm. I had confirmation that he would be there to pick me up, but we didn’t talk. As I got off the plane my heart was racing. I had butterflies in my stomach. I wondered if he still wanted to be with me. We had not talked, so I didn’t know how he would react.
As I walked through the airport I knew he was around the next corner. I was so anxious about his reaction that I was almost nauseous. I turned the corner and there he was, watching for me, waiting for me. My heart jumped into my throat, my stomach flipped over and my breath stopped. He was wearing a black cowboy hat and a mid thigh black dress coat with nice tight fitting jeans and cowboy boots. His face lit up with the most beautiful smile. I ran to him, dropped my briefcase at his feet and jumped into his arms. He held me tight and we kissed long, hard and passionately. I imagine it was quite the scene as other passengers were walking past us.
Eventually, we paused for air. I was so choked up all I could manage to say was, “I missed you.” He replied back, “I love you” and with more kisses. We went to the luggage terminal to collect mine. As we stood waiting for the luggage to come out he said, “I have something for you, it’s in my pocket. Reach in and get it.” He pointed to his jacket pocket and smiled. I felt in the coat pocket. There was a small box in the pocket. I looked up at him and just started shaking my head no. I felt like I was going to faint. It was a jewelry box. It was a box for a ring. A million thoughts ran through my head from ‘oh my god it’s a ring!’ to ‘Oh no, no, no, no, I am not ready for that!’ I know the blood drained out of my face, I was pale and was afraid I would pass out. How could he do this? He had his arm around my waist and lifted my chin up to look him in the face. He smiled and said, “It’s ok, it’s not what you think, go ahead and open it. Trust me.” Well, damn, how could I refuse that? I reached into the pocket and took out the box, yes, it was a ring box. I looked at him again, I was starting to shake. He held me closer, kissed me and said to open it. I was completely terrified; I knew I would refuse an engagement ring, no way, not ready for that yet. I opened the box. It was a ring. It was a promise ring. It was also a fidget or spinner ring. The words ‘Always & Forever’ were engraved on it. I looked up at him, questioning him. He said, “Darling, I know you are not ready for an engagement, but I want you to know that I will always love you. I told you that I wouldn’t push you any faster than you were ready for, but I am yours, I love you completely.’ I smiled, admittedly somewhat relieved, and kissed him. I put the ring on and dropped the box back in his pocket.
We have dated all winter and I must say living right above him is so easy and convenient, it’s almost like living together, yet I still have my own place to retreat to when I want. I am not sure if we’ll move in together, get married and all that. He has said he wants to, but I am still hesitant. I can say that I could see it happening. My heart says yes, my mind asks why I would want to take a chance on another horrific divorce. My cowboy won my heart and is working on my mind. I think he will win me over before another summer passes. He still takes my breath away and even twists my tongue up. The best though is when he makes my mind go completely blank when he kisses me, I just melt into him. I’ve been swept off my feet an am being carried away. Happily ever after? Possibly. Happy at the moment? Definitely!