I drove an easy hour to his town to meet him for the first time for dinner. We stopped at a French bakery/coffee shop first. It was a pedestrian town with hip, cool trendy shops and restaurants. I’m not good at walking, but did my best to keep pace getting around.
An adorable old couple dressed in dark, thick quality clothing came into the coffee shop. I was envious of what appeared to be long standing, true love between them. Sinclair noticed them, too, and was tempted to take their photograph since he is a professional photographer and lugs his camera pretty much everywhere. He decided to respect their privacy instead.
We headed across the street and up the block a bit to an intimate little restaurant. The menu was not traditional in any sense, and it took me a while to decide on something I might like. I went with his recommendation and enjoyed the food just fine.
Our conversation seemed on the intense side for a first date. He told me a lot about his dysfunctional family history and all about why he was estranged from his siblings. I think he mentioned his childhood abuse, too. We seemed to be connecting so I think both of us perhaps overshared.
I told him about my weird marital status which at the time was living in an open marriage. I was also dating an alcoholic. Sinclair was appalled by this revelation. He had been married to an alcoholic who was physically abusive. He sat back very thoughtfully and described his discomfort at seeing such a beautiful woman with so much going for her getting involved in that kind of situation. He seemed genuinely concerned; to the point of saying “I would just hate to get a phone call from you in a couple months asking me for help because this guy beat you up”. My alcoholic boyfriend turned out to be one of the gentlest souls I have met. Sinclair had walked through town to meet me and obviously lived nearby.
He told me about his apartment in the basement of a 24 unit building where he was superintendent. Living in a basement didn’t sound appealing to me at all. He told me it was a nice apartment nonetheless. I was dubious, but definitely curious. Even though the building wasn’t far, it wasn’t feasible for me to drop in and see because of my mobility impairment. We talked about future possible dates at his place.
I am enormously cautious about going to men’s homes alone. Sinclair seemed very trustworthy and gentle, but, still, you never know. Since he had brought a camera with a huge lens, I couldn't help but ask at the end of the date if he wanted to take my picture. It was a first date and I looked great. He took a quick shot which turned out especially well. Ironically, I ended up using that photo as my profile picture for the online dating site where I first connected with Sinclair.
The two of us kept in frequent touch, and some weeks later he drove through a driving rain storm with a plan to photograph me at my horseback riding lesson. The storm and tricky navigation lead to him arriving too late to shoot the lesson, but we did visit the barn afterwards where he took some beautiful shots. We then went to lunch and had another slightly less intense conversation. He was very opinionated about my marital situation and didn’t understand the many reasons why I wasn’t getting divorced.
When we left the restaurant we enjoyed sweet, tender kisses out on the sidewalk. I definitely liked him a lot, but wasn't sure if I could date a guy who had nicer hair than me and told him so. I wanted to get to know him better, but the hour drive between us didn’t lend to regular dating.
He next invited me to his place so he could make me dinner. There always comes a point for me when I have to decide if a guy is safe for me to be alone with. I decided here that Sinclair was a gentle soul I could trust.
I tried to get to his town on the early side so I could drive home at a reasonable hour. When I walked into his basement apartment, I was delighted by the warm color scheme and interesting and unusual clutter all over the place. His bed was neatly made and covered in a tasteful quilt along with several coordinating throw pillows. I was new to dating, and hadn’t met a man yet who regularly or neatly made his bed. I didn’t know what to make of my quick suspicion that he had a girlfriend who helped him decorate, or that he might be gay. The place was dense with “stuff”. Toy collections, musical instruments, works of art, and much of it was not “junk” in the traditional sense.
We had a relaxing evening. He prepared a thoughtful meal, complete with a homemade dessert. Mostly, we spent the evening talking. Our conversations were generally intense, covering things like our psychological make up, family background and even prior relationships. I drove home in the dark.
I had a few more dinner dates in his basement apartment where I was starting to feel cozy and comfortable. We definitely felt that elusive “chemistry” thing. He was not agressive in any way, but rather sweetly lustful. He liked to use the word “necking” which I thought was adorably old fashioned. He was very good at necking. I was genuinely clueless about how or when to take things to another level because I was so new to dating.
The next occasion for a dinner invitation was on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I knew in advance that the traffic was going to be a nightmare so I plotted that I would be spending the night in that cozy, clean basement apartment. I tucked an overnight bag in my car which would be conveniently retrieved when it became clear that I wasn’t leaving that night. I didn’t pack sexy lingerie, but rather a pair of cute flannel pajamas, white, with red birds and pine cones on them. He had mentioned in his online profile that he loved flannel on a woman. I figured I would find out.
I arrived nearly an hour late because the traffic was so horrific on the way there. This conveniently set the stage for me to start intimating that I probably would not want to drive home that night in the traffic. I didn’t let on that my bag was in the car until after dinner and we had talked about the possibility of me spending the night. After it was established that I didn’t need to sit in traffic for hours, and it just made more sense to go home the next day, I politely asked him to walk out and get my bag from my car. I felt close to Sinclair and warmly welcomed, but I definitely wasn’t ready to get naked with him and planned on wearing my pajamas.
As it got late, he politely went in the next, only other room in the apartment so I could change. We knew this was a clear sign this was just going to be a slumber party. He came back and told me I looked cute in my pajamas.
We tucked each other in his very comfortable, nicely made bed, kissed, said good night, he gave me a pat, and we went to sleep. I was impressed to learn that he was the gentleman he professed to be. The next morning I enjoyed the first of several intimate and delicious breakfasts at Sinclair’s.
I was able to convince him to take a weekend to stay with me at my cabin at the lake. This was where we “crossed the great divide” as he so delicately put it. The house has 5 bedrooms, so there was no assumption that we would be sharing a bed. However, nature took its course so when he asked me if I wanted “company” in my bed, my reply was “Yes, and I think I’d like more than “company”, if that’s ok with you”. He was more than happy to oblige. We talked about our slumber party in his apartment, and he was very open about sharing that he wanted me then.
We carried on for a few months. We had great sexual chemistry. Unfortunately, it came to be that we would only get together when it was convenient for him.
I didn’t know at the time that my last trip to his apartment would be my last visit. In retrospect, I guess this was my chance to learn what the term “friends with benefits” meant. He ghosted me.