Monday, March 30, 2015

All your questions answered..........Maybe!

In my last blog I left you with a number of questions regarding the outcome of my online romance,
they were hardly the most difficult of questions if you had been reading my blogs.

We had arranged to meet at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, I was going to be waiting at the exit from the customs hall when she came out, having travelled overnight from the West Coast of the U.S.

The flight arrival time was 9:30am so my first dilemma was did I travel the 7 hours from South West France overnight or go the day before and get an hotel room. I decided on the later not that it mattered as there is no good time to cross Paris on the last weekend of July.

The journey there was a mixture of excitement and fear with a healthy dose of planning for all eventuality, from what do I say, what do I do if the look of disappointment is obvious, what if she doesn't turn up!

Having taken 3 hours to cross Paris I checked in to my airport hotel, time for a Recce, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail", came flooding back to me from my training days. I felt like the old days at work, checking car parking, exits and arrival information. I was not going to miss her at the airport if she turned up.

A sleepless night ensued and I was up showered and packed way before I needed too. I arrived at the airport early, grabbed a coffee and took up position with line of sight to both the arrivals board and the sliding glass exit doors. I was only a couple of hours early............

I passed the time people watching, airports are great for that and I hadn't been to a big international airport for some time.
Little did I realise that the next year I would be spending large amounts of time in airports.
I don't think that my eyes wandered of the flight arrivals board for more that a few seconds as time stood still. As airports go Charles de Gaulle is pretty crappy and to sit there in a state of uncertainty is not something I would recommend.

My neck was starting to ache as I was alternatively looking from the board to my watch, surely time had stood still.
The magic word, "Landed", clicked over followed by "Débarquement". Time to get ready.
There is no chivalry in love and war as I pushed my way to the front of the barrier that guards the exit doors, scattering men, women and children. I'm on a mission the prime position is mine by right so move over people.

Each time the door opened the crowed including me strained forward to catch a glimpse of the people we were meeting.

My first sight was this attractive head of blond hair just about visible above a cart with what appeared to be at least six suitcases. Hey, this girl doesn't travel light. Is it her? I think so but she is with another woman. She has brought a chaperon with her!

Yes that is her, both our natural instinct was to hug each other, from sheer relief I suspect.
The chaperon was in fact the person who had occupied the next seat and they had hit it off. So much so that the lady suggested that she accompany her to check out if I had turned up and if so did I have two heads.

In truth it was a wonderful first meeting. I think our joy of meeting each other in the flesh turned into embarrassment as both of us had decided to play it cool and there we were hugging each other.

Having been introduced to her travel companion and said our goodbyes to her we proceeded to the car. How long will it take us was the question, minimising it as best I could I glibly stated about six hours.
Off we set straight into the Paris traffic jam from Hell!
People in the north of Europe were changing places with those in the south, Paris was grid locked, nobody was going very far fast.
My estimate of 6 hours was turned into 12 hours. To spend that long in a tin box with someone was unintentionally a great way to get to know that person, though it could have been a deal breaker.
We had such a good report, I wish I could say that the journey flew by but sadly it didn't. She was most understanding however it didn't stop me wishing we had taken the plane.

Things could only get better and they did. During our Skype sessions we had talked about drinking Kir Royal, (Champagne & Cassies) on the terrace if she came to visit. I had prepared everything before leaving for Paris, despite the horrendous journey and her jet lag there we were sharing a long talked of moment. For me a very romantic moment, champagne, stars and a beautiful woman.

I don't think I knew how much my life was about to change, it would not be the same again.

More of that in the blogs to follow.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Cupid's arrow finds it's target..........or does it?

Yes you can! Yes you can find love online.

I have heard that 40% of people getting married have found their partner online.

This is how I found love in cyber space and turned my life around-- the start of a big adventure that is continuing.

Having battled long and hard with a French dating site I stumbled across a truly wonderful site called OK Cupid. It was and may still be a free site compared to the others that charge a monthly fee or some other fee to part your money from you. However the attraction goes way beyond that, it is user friendly and the ladies on it seem so much more interesting and talented.
(Note to CEO of OK Cupid, please put cheque in the post).

Seriously, as with other sites, you have to answer lots of questions, and the answers are turned into a score that rates to what degree the other person is a Friend or Enemy. You can then search on who is rated highly as a Friend or perversely who is your biggest Enemy. Opposites attract, maybe!

I was fascinated and in wonderment as I searched for the perfect woman. But after a while, it felt like, Hey, something is wrong with this site I can't find anyone living closer than Paris, not strictly true Barcelona was slightly nearer.

Everyone seems to be living in United States! Let me check the settings on my computer.  My location is shown as Saint Girons. Perhaps there is a Saint Girons in California or Louisiana.
No it is definitely set on the French Saint Girons.

Wow.....these American women are so good looking, they can't all have fake photos, they are intelligent and artistic. Such a shame they are so far away but I can still have some good email exchanges.  I just wont get my hopes up that this will be anything more that a cyber pen pal exercise.

Over the course of a month I met, (online) a number of great people and had an insight into their lives, I hope they felt the same way.
Some have remained friends, while others have dropped away.

What attracts one person to another on dating websites? I imagine that the sites do mega research into it but from a personal point for me it starts with the profile. What interests does this person have?  Are they compatible with mine? What are the differences?  Do they fascinate me?

Don't get me wrong.  Of course I look at the photos, though I hope that I have outgrown the shallowness that beauty is just a physical thing.

Okay that's the preamble. Picture me: I'm sitting in my house in France checking out these beautiful American women, most at least 4000 miles away.  Is that not weird?

I'm thinking is the US that far away, just a flight away, have I the nerve to go even if I was invited?

Then I am struck by this gorgeous image that fills my computer screen.  She has long blonde hair and the most strikingly beautiful blue eyes. I start to read her profile I'm captivated by it and excited. She is so active--likes to ride bikes, scuba dive, paddle board, dance, is very creative and spiritual. 

Where does she live............HAWAII.  What, isn't that somewhere in the South Pacific? What the hell do I know about Hawaii?  Elvis made a couple of films there. "Book him Dano, murder one" springs into my head from the TV series, Hawaii Five-O. Anything else? No, not really.

Is there any point in writing to her?  My head is saying no but my heart is saying, "Go on you've got nothing to lose ". For once in my life I listen to my heart and write a message explaining who I am.
For some reason the words just flow from my key board, I feel romantic, elated as though I'm on the brink of something big. Little did I know how big!

I had no doubt that when it was time to hit the send button I would, thence set in motion a change of events that has lead me to where I am today writing this.

I'm jumping ahead of myself.

Having sent my message I was nervous, checking the computer constantly to see if I had received a reply.

There it was a lovely response to my message:  One message and I was starting to fall in love. Pull yourself together!  Its not going anywhere were my negative thoughts.

I still needed to reply.  Again, the words flew.  Again, I agonized over whether I would get a reply.

It was exciting waiting, though full of apprehension. I started to find out more about Hawaii.  It was a lot further away than I thought:  Seven thousand seven hundred and seventy miles to be exact. Three sevens that's lucky, isn't it, I wondered, grasping at straws!

The messages on the site progressed to personal emails.  As we continued our online dating, we definitely had a connection and I was learning so much about areas of life that had passed me by, this whole spiritual thing for one. The problem was a small matter of distance. Could technology come to the rescue?

Of course it could:  There was Skype! This could be a blessing, a chance to see one another, to make a better connection. On the other hand it could be a curse.  With the sound of the voice one can conjure up the image one wants only for that image to be shattered when actually seeing the person.  What will it be for me?

Arrangements were made, a time was set for our first Skype. With a phone it doesnt matter how you look, but with Skype you can see each other.  I had my hair cut and changed into my Sunday best......I'm ready!

Lots of things go through your mind:  What if she doesn't like me? What if I don't like her?  Will there be any of those awkward silences?

I needn't have worried.  Suddenly I was talking to this gracious lady thousands of miles away about my life in France, and her life in Hawaii. I gave her a tour of my home, and introduced her to my dog.  Conversation came easy; it flowed. We spoke for an hour before we made arrangements to Skype again.

Skype became our means of communicating.  We would talk everyday. Normally, it would be my morning and her evening due to the 12 hour time difference. These talks would be the highlight of my day lasting generally for over an hour.

We were getting to know each other and I liked what I saw and heard.  I hoped she did too.

During one of these sessions we were talking about Tuscany and how it was top of her list of places to visit. I suggested against hope,  get to Paris and I will take you to Italy.

I had planted a seed and hoped it would grow. If truth be told I had been hinting at the idea of her coming to Europe on a few of our Skype sessions.

I'm not sure how it happened; however there was a moment when she said that she would come to Paris and I offered meet her at the Airport. This must be one of the biggest "Blind dates" in history!

Is this all a step too far and too fast?

Does she turn up, do I go to meet her?

Does it end in tears or laughter?

What do you think?  Put your best guess in the comments.