A New Love

by Just Juan

“I think you’re going to end up with a lawyer…or even a doctor” – Patricia Green-Graham

About 3 ½ months back, I found myself sitting on this very carpet writing about yet another disappointment in love. At the time, The Canadian Cutie had decided to go in a different direction, effectively ending my romantic pursuit of her. And as I fully expected, October 24th came and went without me being engaged. However, something did happen very late in my last weeks as a 20-something: I ended up in a new dating situation.

Her name is Mercedes. We met on Match.com. She’s from out of Columbus, Georgia, which is just 40 minutes away across the state line…and I’m there every other week for my sites at Fort Benning. We exchanged a series of messages and finally agreed to a meet…in a Chipotle. We spent about 2 ½ hours inside the restaurant, doing a lot more talking than eating. In fact, I still had half of my food left for the drive home. She’s a little under a year younger than me and though she’s a Georgia girl on paper, she’s originally from New York City. Professionally, she’s a pediatric nurse practitioner which is basically a pediatrician without all of the schooling and liability. Anyway, after that 1st in-person meeting, we did have an official 1st date and that went exceedingly well. We had a follow-up date, which happened to be a beach day at Callaway Gardens. I guess that was the 1st sign that she may be special because I’m not the type of guy to hang out at any kind of beach for more than an hour…and that includes all of my trips to Santa Monica Beach. We also did one of those paint and drink wine dates at some swanky spot in the historic part of Downtown Columbus. And no, I did not partake in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. For the most part, I played it cautiously—or coy, depending on how you look at it—mostly because I’ve been down this road before, and it’s never really ended well for me so my expectations were a bit tempered.

A turning point came when she invited me over for a Sunday dinner in October. It was a nice little meal that she prepped and we ate and talked. As I was readying myself to leave and go home, she hugged me and made what amounts to be a preemptive strike: she kissed me. I certainly wasn’t expecting that and it sent these weird jolts through my body. It changed everything. We went from just feel out dating to exploring something more exclusive, which is where we are now. It certainly unleashed a side of me that had been dormant for a while: my more energetic and engaging side. I’m usually a much more reserved, nonchalant, unexpressive type of person. I also tapped into my “sweetheart swagger”—something an old Air Force friend of mine once called my romantic style—by surprising her with a different token of love every day for 7 straight days with the highlight being a strawberry-scented Build-a-Bear I had made while I was on one of my trips down to the Panhandle. Over these past couple of months, there have also been a couple of trips…to Panama City Beach and to Savannah. We’ve also met each other’s parents: I met her mother at Thanksgiving dinner and she met my parents the next day in Birmingham.

Things are going pretty smoothly. Perhaps my former colleague in the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron Customer Service Office was right: maybe I should’ve been going after a “doctor” all along.

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