I had gone out with several women I found via online dating, but no one was clicking. I was feeling rather hopeless. I was divorced after being married for 29 years, the last 10 of which I would describe as very lonely.
I’d begun to wonder if love and sexual passion had passed me by.
Elaine had been single for about two decades while raising her daughter and focusing on her career.
She too wondered if she’d ever find someone special.
She made contact with me after spotting my profile on JDate. She later admitted why: I, being in Calabasas, seemed reasonably close to where she lived.
Our first meeting was lunch that August at the Twisted Oak Tavern in Agoura Hills. The conversation flowed and we seemed comfortable together. The next week we had dinner at the Old Place, also in Agoura Hills, and we spent an hour talking at the winery next door while waiting. I started to feel something unfamiliar toward Elaine, a stirring.
After dinner, I did not know how to end the evening as there was nothing really open near the Old Place, so we just parted ways.
My time with her was wonderful, but I was uncertain about how to move forward. The next week we hiked one of my favorite places, Solstice Canyon. She told me she would pick the next hiking spot; she wanted to take me someplace that would be new for me. I was touched by the beauty of that gesture. Slowly, I began to realize I could be emotionally vulnerable and still feel safe with Elaine. I felt like I just glowed when with her.
For someone who denied even having feelings for much of his life, this was huge.
I knew by then this was someone special.
Saturday became our date night. November brought a Friday-night picnic in Agoura Hills. Looking back, I did a very poor job of it. I neglected to bring a tablecloth and candles — nothing to help set the mood. We ate in the dark. Then Elaine said “sit on my side of the bench.” We hugged. And then we kissed. It was our first physical contact.
For our next date, we made plans to spend an entire day (but not yet the night) from breakfast through dinner together. We went to the Los Angeles Flower Mart and then headed to Silver Lake. We learned that spending gobs of time together is marvelous.
I invited Elaine to dinner at my house. This was a big step forward in our relationship. Elaine sensed my nervousness and suggested a stroll around my neighborhood. We stopped at a dark spot to kiss passionately for the first time and then continued back at my house.
Wow, I thought. Am I really feeling this? Can this really be happening?
Sparks, emotional connection, physical longing.
We discussed being intimate. This required some planning, considering our two small houses and the three young adults living under our roofs. (Her daughter and two of my three sons.) We needed privacy to first share our 60-plus-year-old bodies and could not see doing that when our children were home. We began planning a weekend in Newport Beach. Then, opportunity! Elaine’s daughter was spending the night at a friend’s....
We pounced on the idea and on each other. We continued our passion the next weekend at our planned Orange County weekend getaway. We also experienced the beauty of the Back Bay, Corona del Mar beach at low tide and walking the peninsula at Newport Beach.
The sharing of our inner emotional lives deepened. There was nothing I couldn’t tell Elaine. She was caring, supportive and not at all judgmental. She saw those same qualities in me.
Then, at dinner on Christmas Eve, I suddenly told Elaine I loved her. Did I move too fast? Did I just scare her?
I guess not. Elaine would later take her own risk, responding with a very intense email sharing her deepest feelings about love, intimacy and some of her insecurities. We were totally different in our careers, political views and religious background. Would those be stumbling blocks?
We decided to discuss and explore a topic in depth each time we were together, to learn more about each other and our compatibility. I created a list: money, sex drive, family, religion, politics, bucket list goals and parenting. We discussed it all, with respect toward each other’s viewpoint, not judging each other. Despite our political differences, our relationship survived that talk too.
By Valentine’s Day, we were committed, and Elaine finally said those three magical words to me: “I love you.”
We made weekend getaways part of our life, going to Julian, Santa Ynez, Pasadena, the Kern River for white-water river rafting, and Palm Springs. We played tourist in L.A., going to the Getty, the Norton Simon, the Peterson Auto Museum, the original Farmers Market, Stone Brewery in Escondido, hiking Eaton Canyon Falls in Pasadena...
To celebrate our first anniversary, Elaine chronicled our many weekend trips in a journal, with photos and passages from our shared emails. I was moved to tears by her gift to us. I could see the magic that we created for each other. All that time spent sharing our past, beliefs, values and families made for an incredibly strong relationship.
We developed our own traditions: coffee in bed, reading the newspaper aloud to each other, discovering microbrews, an occasional Scotch, sharing meals when we eat out and making the Six Chow House in Calabasas “our place.”
Is Elaine my soul mate? If I approach every day with gratitude that she is my partner and act in a loving way toward her, the answer will take care of itself.
We often marvel at the different ways we can connect. It’s not just through serious discussions and being supportive in difficult times. We connect when we explore the natural beauty of Southern California, share music, joke or tease each other until we hurt from laughter, or share the mundane details of our lives.
The desire for physical intimacy and emotional connection are timeless, no matter how old our bodies are.
The author is a business executive living in Calabasas.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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