*You can read Part 3 here.
I should back up a bit here. When The Tour Guide and I decided that he’d come to visit me, I thought it was probably time to tell my close friends and family about our relationship. How did that go, you might ask? Well, there was certainly a mixed reaction. This isn’t exactly “normal”, especially in my neck of the woods. It’s practically unheard of here so I knew that was going to happen. I expected a certain amount of skepticism. So did The Tour Guide. He got the same reactions.
First I told Karen and Thomas. While they were cautious, they were optimistic about it. They thought it was fantastic that I’d met someone and that I wasn’t spending my time completely alone. Then I told my friend, Tessa and her husband, Danny. They’d been so supportive of me already and had practically adopted me. They were excited for me, too. Keeping in mind that they’d never met The Tour Guide, they were a little guarded, but encouraged me to pursue the relationship. Of course, I had to answer a million questions, but I was more than willing to indulge. I introduced all of them via Yahoo!Messenger and facebook. The Tour Guide and I had nothing to hide and we wanted to include my friends and family in what we were doing.
I told Sam, my step-daughter, about it. At first she seemed okay with it. But when I called her again to confirm the dates and let her know what was going on she read me the riot act. “You are the last person I would have ever thought would do something like this. We-don’t-even-know-this-man!-This-must-be-really-serious-if-he’s-coming-all-this-way-to-see-you-You-must-have-already-talked-about-marriage-Have-you-discussed-that-You’re-hiding-behind-that-computer-because-you’re-afraid-to-get-out-in-the-real-world-This-kind-of-thing-is-for-losers!” I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Trying to be understanding of the fact that I’d recently divorced her father, I wrote it off to anger. I didn’t even try to reason with her; I just let her get it off her chest.
Later I tried to discuss it with her again, at which time she let me know that she didn’t want to talk about it at all. “I think you must have been having an inappropriate relationship with The Tour Guide before you decided to leave dad. I realize that dad wasn’t all he should’ve been, but at the end I don’t think you were either.” My calm reply, “I’m sorry you feel that way. If that’s what you think there’s probably not much I’m going to be able to say to change your mind about that. For what it’s worth, that’s not what happened and if you ever do want to know the truth you are more than welcome to ask me, but I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you. Somehow I don’t think it will do much good, anyway.” Sam retorted, “You’re right. I don’t want to talk about it.” With that we changed the subject. I left her house deflated and hurt but still trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. Ugh! That went well.
Last, but not least, I told my dear friend Grace. We went out to lunch. I went armed with a picture of my romantic interest and lots of details because I knew she’d ask lots of questions. I thought she’d be somewhat skeptical, but overall supportive. So I just put it all out there. “I met The Tour Guide online, he lives in England, he’s divorced, he has two children, both girls. Most of all he has an interest in me; getting to know me, what I like, what I want out of life, what my interests are, how I like my eggs and my opinion on everything from religion to politics to well, you name it.” Her reply, “I’m so happy you’re having these feelings. I’m glad you’ve met someone who is interested in who you are and what you like. When will he be here?” This was on Monday. I got a call from her on Friday afternoon. “Can I come sit with you for a bit? I really need to talk to you about something.” “Sure, come on over. I’ll put on a pot of coffee.”
We sat on my sofa for more than four hours with her asking me questions: “How did you meet him again?” “Playing a silly game online.” “When did you meet him?” “Well, I guess I met him sometime around September playing that game, but we didn’t really get to know each other that well until February. I can remember because it was around Valentine’s Day.” “Are you sure this wasn’t going on before you left Charles?” “I’m not sure what you’re implying here but I know what I’ve done and God knows what I’ve done. Come on, Grace. Does it make any sense that I would leave my husband for a man that lives in England? Do you think I had this planned?” “Is he a Christian?” “He believes there’s a God, but he’s not so sure about Jesus being the Messiah.” Crying by this point she says, “I had a really terrible dream. I’m not even going to tell you what it was. I’m just really afraid for you. What if he’s a bad person? What if, well, what if something really bad happens to you, what if you turn up in a body bag?” “Have you spoken to anyone in his family?” “Not yet.” “Have you talked to his ex-wife?” “Yeah, right. Look, I appreciate that you’re concerned for me, I really do. I realize you’ve never met The Tour Guide so you don’t know everything that’s happened. But I really like him. And no, I don’t think he’s an axe-murderer. I realize this is unorthodox but just because he’s from another country and you don’t know him doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.” “Are you really that serious about this man?”, she asked. “I’m that serious about meeting him. I’m that serious about finding out where this is going.” “Alright”, she said, “but you need to understand if you pursue this there will be opposition.” And she left.
Opposition? This isn’t an election. He’s not a political candidate. This isn’t war. What opposition? At that point I thought, “Well, I’m the one who has to lay their head down with this at night. I have to live with whatever decisions I make. ” The thing was, for me at the time, I really did appreciate the concern. I knew I wasn’t immune to making bad decisions. I’d just gone through one of the worst events in my life. It’s not even as if I didn’t understand their concern. If someone else was telling me this I’d think it was weird, too. But I also knew I had to stop worrying so much what other people thought about me, too. This was my life. Was I going to allow the negative reaction of a couple of people ruin a potentially fantastic thing? So, not really in a defiant way, but more in a “I’ve got to become my own person and stop letting other people run my life way” I decided to make myself happy for once. To hell with what everybody else thought of it.