By Denise Meehan
The tide is going out. The magic of the morning light onShinnecockBayis long gone, and it’s too early for the sunset display. Everything seems very clear at this hour on my daily walk across thePonquogueBridge. The water above the sand bars is still and pale making it look like waxed paper paths going this way and that.
For most of my life, I had traveled on the straight and narrow path, but I took a detour when my two children were off at college. I eventually reached the final intersection and had to make a decision. With a soul in need of intensive care, it took me three years to close the door on a good man and 25 years of marriage.
Turning single in my mid forties was like sailing in a foreign waters without channel makers or charts. The next eight years I felt lost many times, but a friend reminded me regularly that at least my life wasn’t boring. I didn’t miss being married, but I wanted a true partner who would navigate life with me.
At the top of the Bridge I notice two kayakers skimming across the bay like dragon flies and I remember the night I met Mark. In the summer the Group for theEast Endsponsors a sunset moonrise paddle on Sagaponack Pond that ends at the barrier beach where a seasonal feast is served. I had gone the previous year and zigzagged across the water with friends and had a fabulous time. Since no one was available, I decided to go by myself.
What are the chances that I would park behind a jeep with two women and three men who asked me to join them? What are the chances that I would end up in a kayak with a man I had never met who rented a house a mile from mine? Synchronicity was a new word in my vocabulary. The principle’s creator Carl Jung defined it as meaningful coincidences. I was constantly looking for signs. This seemed major.
Mark took charge and we were off. Since I was in the bow of the forest green kayak, I had to turn around to steal quick glances- cute, short, in shape, good hair, and trimmed beard. We paddled well together, another sign and then he began to sing, Lemon Tree. Actually the choice was prophetic, but all I could think was wow he’s singing. We both marveled at the idyllic setting. We admired the same Post Modern houses that graced the shore line.
After we landed I cornered one of the women he had arrived with and asked, “What’s the story with Mark –married, divorced, gay?” She replied that he had lived with her sister years ago, but that he never married. She added if I wanted more than good company, he wasn’t the guy. Instead of letting that sink in, I thought he couldn’t be a creep if they were still friends with him.
It was a perfect night with all the elements co-operating. I sat in a semi circle with Mark and his friends for cocktails followed by grilled freshly caught striped bass, roasted sweet corn glistening with butter, local juicy tomatoes with basil, cold watermelon, the kind of food you wait all year for. After dinner we walked on the beach. When the drummers started a rhythmic chant coaxing the moon to rise, Mark and I started to dance. Gyrating to the primitive beat thumping in our chests and vibrating through our bodies, we hailed the raising orb. A huge moon dripping pink rose over the glassy swells. I felt reckless abandon and wanted to rip my clothes off and run naked. Mark brushed the hair away from my face and kissed me. By the end of the night I was ‘babe’. He took my number. I knew he would call.
The next day a reality check and twenty questions from my cheerleaders. I knew the important things like his first name, where he lived, that he smoked cigars, drank Absolut and could sing. He was 49 and had never been married which was a minus in my book, but how romantic would it be if a confirmed bachelor fell for me. It would make a great write up in the Vows section of the New York Times.