Yot wasn’t long before my 38th birthday that I met Zorba. I’d pretty much given up. I’d been online dating on and off with not a lot of success and my last long-term relationship had been a disaster. I’d told a girlfriend a couple of months earlier: “I think my life is just going to be a series of long- and short-term relationships. Maybe I’ll never meet that one special person or get married. And you know what? That’s OK, I’m fine with it, if that’s the way it’s meant to be.”
Zorba was about to quit the dating site (as was I), but he saw my profile and debated what to do, because to send me an email he’d have to buy a book of six stamps. But he did it.
His profile had spelling mistakes in it, which I normally couldn’t look past. But his message from him made me smile, so I messaged him back to tell him I’d be happy to meet him but it would not be for a few weeks because I was going to Melbourne. I thought, if he wants to wait, that’s fine, and if he doesn’t, then so be it. I guess I’d kind of checked out the idea of relationships by then.
When I got back he messaged me and I thought, why not? I had nothing on, so we organized to meet for a drink.
When I turned up he was waiting out the front for me, which I thought was really sweet. I thought he had a nice smile and he was tall and had broad shoulders, so from a physical perspective he ticked all the boxes, but it wasn’t love at first sight.
We sat and chatted and time flew. We had something to eat and I didn’t even notice until they started stacking up chairs in front of us that we were the last people there. I offered to drive him home and when we got to his place from him, he said goodbye and that was it. Don’t kiss or anything. But he called me the next day and we made a date for the following Saturday night.
Zorba was really nice and he’s attractive, but he wasn’t the typical pretty boy or arrogant type I’d usually go for. He called me during the week just to say hello. Actually, in a first for me, I didn’t do any of the chasing at all. I used to obsess about every single little interaction when it came to a bloke.
On our second date, we were the last people in the restaurant again, the music had stopped and again, there was no kiss or anything. We went on five dates like this, then he cooked for me. He was clearly really nervous and I thought, well, maybe this is the night when we kiss. As the night went on, nothing happened. So eventually, I said, “Well, I guess I should go, it’s getting late.” And he just said, “Yeah, thanks for coming over, it was a really nice night.”
Soon after, it was my birthday. We had lunch and then, at my place, we had our first kiss. I’d previously arranged to have a birthday dinner with all my girlfriends. He dropped me off at the restaurant and the girlfriends knew something was up. So I told them everything – about how very slow it had been and how we’d done nothing more than kiss at that point. They were divided. A couple of them were like: “Oh, that’s a bit weird, you know?” And another couple were like: ”That’s so nice, he might be just be old-fashioned or he might be really shy.”
Zorba picked me up after dinner and we had a bottle of wine at my place. And finally, I moved out of the friend zone.
The next morning I had to go to a flat I was renovating. I’d run out of money and while I’d done the kitchen, the adjoining laundry looked old and wrong. It had to be retiled. We’d both had a bit to drink the night before. I was hungover and stressed because tenants were due to move in. Zorba calmed me down and rang a friend who came over with some tools and they got to it.
I was overwhelmed by his kindness and how he took control. No one had ever done something like that for me before and it struck me that it, this, felt 100% different from previous relationships. Right from the start, I’d not worried about our relationship. There weren’t those huge peaks and troughs – there wasn’t that second-guessing I’d always done. I never had to wait for a phone call. I never had to wonder, “Does he like me?”
With Zorba, I felt supported. I didn’t have to ask for help, he was just there ready to do what was needed to make sure I was OK. For once it wasn’t just “team I”, it was “team we”. I felt secure and in my fragile state, it felt so good.
And so, with a mighty hangover, Zorba selflessly picked up the jackhammer and removed tiles from my laundry, and as they came crashing down, so did any doubt I had in my heart.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism