When I opened the online dating profile, it asked me to describe who I am. Now, it doesn’t seem like that would be so difficult. But at 2 am nothing is clear, especially my thought processes. I muddled through trying to give a fair description of myself. Light-hearted, easy to talk to, comfortable in most situations. I thought it might actually be easier to describe the things I like to do. Since I was new to living on my own, it had been a while since I’d done things I like to do. My life had been filled with the usual things like my job, cooking, cleaning, shopping (the grocery variety), taking my son to various events and school functions. Although I had taken the scout troop on a hike in the woods. So I wrote that I enjoy hikes in the woods. I read a book for work, so I put down that I enjoy reading. You get the idea, I was stretching to figure out who I really am and what I like to do. This whole dating site thing was teaching me to learn about myself. It’s kind of scary that I had lost most of myself somewhere.
But then I actually started taking hikes in the woods at a nature center near where I live. And I spent a day at Barnes and Noble. I found several books that caught my attention. I started checking out the activity section of the newspaper to find out about the fun things happening on the weekends, and I’d go to them. Before I knew it, I was beginning to have fun. I even took a weekend trip to see the Bridges of Madison County and the Field of Dreams. I booked a hotel room for myself and headed out. I’d never just been an Iowa tourist. It was an adventure.
It was late fall and just past the peak for viewing the beautiful fall colors. But as I entered Winterset, Iowa nature hadn’t disappointed me in the least. It was breathtaking. The rolling hills and winding roads were just what I needed. I found my way to a tourist center in town and got a map to find all of the bridges from the movie. It just so happens that the town of Winterset is also John Wayne’s birthplace. I met the nicest ladies outside the John Wayne Museum and gift shop. They were from Kansas City and were exploring the area as well. I took a picture for them on the steps of the museum and they took mine.
I walked up a couple of blocks and found a little diner. I walked inside the quaint old-fashioned eatery. I could just imagine the Bridges movie as Francesca entered the diner after purchasing her new dress. I sat at the counter and picked up a plastic covered menu. I ordered the pork fritter special. It wasn’t long before a single fella came in and sat at the counter to my right. I felt conspicuously single. But I acted as if I was comfortable sitting there all by myself. Afterall, I had listed on my profile that I was comfortable in most situations.
I allowed my mind to wander a bit as I waited for my lunch special plate. Maybe my romance would happen right here in Winterset at this very diner. Maybe the man sitting one stool over would begin a conversation. But as luck would have it the only thing we shared was the ketchup.
Then in the corner of the map were written the directions to Francesca’s house. It wasn’t really very close to any of the bridges but it was where I wanted to go the most. Her house wasn’t marked on the map, just turn north here and go 2.3 miles and turn east and… gosh those are my favorite kind of directions. I made my way out of town, finding the first of several gravel roads I began to get excited, as if I was on a scavenger hunt. And I wanted to be the first one there to find the treasure.
I wasn’t really sure what I thought I’d be able to see there. I think it was more what I was feeling inside. I felt like Francesca did in the movie. Feeling her life being revived after a long slumber. Now here I was, standing at the edge of her driveway, replaying scenes from the movie in my mind. I could feel the anticipation of what was to come, just as she had while she was lying in her bathtub.
It was then that my phone chimed that I had a text. There was a message from the dating site. A note saying, “someone has winked at you.” And here I am on a gravel road in the middle of somewhere Iowa. No web cafes or wifi connections in sight. I whispered, “Thank you Francesca”.