Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stephanie Urdang Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stephanie Urdang
By Stephanie Urdang

My friend, John Gibson, represents the other half of an exclusive New York two-person salon called The Path of Least Resistance. We hold these meetings in the name of writing and are perfectly aware that they’re glorified excuses for wild chemistry, adventurous forays of the mind, good food, and bad behavior. But in a late summer meeting, we fell into an unusually quiet after-dinner lull, so while I cleaned up the kitchen, John sat at my computer and registered me on a dating site that he referred to as ‘a more literary crowd.’ Trying to feign hopefulness, I fed him simple answers for the profile. But John’s belief, that it was time to do something about my non-existent romantic life, had me scrubbing pots and thinking to myself, “just leave me alone.”

As I’ve gotten older, fate and other romantic notions have mostly fallen by the wayside. Single New York women with satisfying lives are in excess here; and at this stage, my own version feeds and satisfies multiple parts of me…parts that withered or were left unexplored in marriage and had to be revived or developed after divorce. If I were not single, for instance, the Salon au Deux with John Gibson would not exist, nor would I fly halfway around the world to meet a stranger for adventure and possible love.

In spite of my lack of drive to find romance, from the first day of the resulting online match, an inkling of “meant to be” fed long buried fantasies for a real connection. The guy was a novelist and his daughter had registered him on the site, because she felt he was a wasted resource. Two writer recluses brought together on a remote island by the kindness of loved ones: Now that had a ring of hope.

Two months is a long time to communicate before meeting, and by the departure date, I knew it would never work. For weeks, I efficiently filed blatant signs into the “Overlook” category. Even in his sixties, this guy had an impetuous temper, and my ability to think for myself left him desperate. But because I had two weeks carved out of my schedule, a ticket in hand, reasonable certainty that he was not a dangerous maniac, and in need of, at least, an adventure, I remained open to a miracle.

The journey involved an overnight flight and then a night in a desolate port town hotel. The lobby was decorated in an unappetizing menagerie of dusty stuffed animals sprawled across the main dining table. When not exploring the rocky coast or strolling in the arid woods, I stayed in my spartan room for rest, renewal, and the wait required to meet the winter ferry schedule. There was more than enough time to develop visions of swimming away from him in the dark of night, fantasies of two weeks in bed with the love of my life, practical reveries of what it would take to uproot everything in my New York life to go and live with the stranger who stole my heart, and other dangerous thoughts that had little to do with the reality I was facing.

Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stephanie Urdang

Image courtesy of New York Natives, photographer: Stephanie Urdang

At last, off the ferry at 6 p.m., two days after I left New York, there stood an expectant man on his austere island, looking enough like his photos that I recognized him. In spite of more immediate signs of irreconcilable differences, I surrendered to my situation and the surroundings by letting earthy instincts dominate the days we spent together. All in all, the experience was sensual, and a long dormant side in me crept back to life…the untamed animal who runs free when no one is looking.

My creature side was seduced by daily swims in utter solitude and crystal clear waters, plucking wild pomegranates off local trees, finding fennel at the side of the road, climbing ancient trails to a fifteenth century chapel with a 360-degree panorama, exalted air, gentle seas, a man with a lovely touch, all serving to caress my New York state of mind.

Upon return, the things I overlooked reared their ugliness, and all potential for future meetings fell apart. However, on January first, with the awakening I received, I intend to go back online in search of an adventurer at heart, a wild and conscious man in greater New York, who takes one look at a girl like me and says, ‘Let’s go!’

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