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After my engagement was broken off, my brilliant therapist led me to a conclusion that was hard to accept, but necessary:

"I know I have to consider just dating, and not taking it all so seriously."

He said, "I support that."

So I did.

I've been out online since late last summer and I've seen a lot of people, talked to a lot more, and have begun to figure out what works for me and what doesn't. I talked to EVERYONE, just to hear the stories. Sex workers, married guys, older ones, younger ones, blue collar, polyamorous, all of the varieties of -sexual (most of which are indistinguishable to me). I describe myself as a "casual dater" although apparently that has an acronym now: ENP-NPP which stands for "ethically non-monogamous, no primary partner." It's what we used to just call casual dating - everyone is seeing other people until you decide together that you aren't.

I was proceeding easily down this road and all was going perfectly. I was reaching out and tasting anything that suited me, and it was lovely. I was (and still am) deeply uninterested in anything serious - after the broken engagement, I am gun shy and ambivalent about having anyone in my life permanently and can't see how it could ever happen, especially since my business is going through what it is. It needs me, my children need me, I need me.

I was physically close to satisfied for the first time in decades; thirst slaked and comfortable in my own body. I felt alive, awake, confident and whole.

It was fine until I tripped over something and someone I didn't expect. A man of a profile that I would profoundly call inappropriate: someone with so many Hell, Naws appended that nothing about it said anything other than "good fun" with a short expiration date.

I initially said no when he asked me out, but he convinced me, and it was...brilliant. Delightful. Amazing. Like a well made mignardise, a two-bite dessert: sweet, perfect and just enough.

Except it wasn't. For some reason: animal, chemical, spiritual, was different. Even though he rubbed me wrong in some ways (chronically late) the quality of the connection stuck long after our bodies parted. I smelled him on my skin for days after and would suddenly be struck by a memory and go up in flame. It hadn't been like that for me for decades.

I fought it like Hell. I binged on other guys. Suddenly, everyone else tasted like sawdust and felt like straw. Bones draped in skin.

Our thing started and stopped. And started and stopped again. And in the end, crumbled quickly, burdened by realities. But it persists. I dream of him at night and don't know why and cannot stop it.

What I know is that the feelings and connection are real - a gift of my years of somatic therapy. Trust the feelings in your body, your responses, and emotion. But I just as clearly learned that timing and externalities - the lives we build for ourselves out of necessity - cannot be controlled. Treasures will come along that are not for me, and I will be a treasure that comes along for someone who will similarly have to set me down. It feels like tragedy for both, apart from the lessons it brings.

The lesson I gleaned from this is that treasures exist out there, some of them for me, in packages I cannot even begin to anticipate. I know I should not panic, give up, or settle.

I was lucky because I was reminded what that connection tastes, feels and smells like. And although this one was not for me, another one could be. Just as I was surprised once, I can be surprised again.