You Deserve It

The year was 2000. I can’t describe how lonely I was. I loved living in Greece, but I just wanted to talk with someone who had shared experiences, you know? An American who’d lived through what I had. Enter “Forest Farmer” a man who posted an ad for a pen pal. He’d written, “I have four wonderful sons, and I love them very much.” That was the first sentence of his bio. I didn’t know anything else about him, but I’m sure I started to fall in love from that, because I had a son who I loved very much too. We did become pen pals, wrote every day for six months, without ever exchanging a photo, until he came to Greece to meet me.

He got off the plane, and I had never seen anyone skinnier or with wider shoulders. He was wearing a Sky Sox t-shirt, and looked exhausted from the eighteen-hour trip. He was forty-four years old, and it was his first time overseas. His manners were impeccable. I mean, the Queen of England could be no better a guest. His mother had raised him well. My friends in Greece said he was the most open-minded American they’d ever met. He embraced or accepted everything, both the good and the bad, including the unusual (to him) foods, and the taxi drivers who sped like demons from his hotel to my apartment. If his sons and the rest of his family knew the love he put into his letters to me, the way he wrote about all of them, they would be shocked, because he is a man of few words. Except when he writes. It didn’t matter to me what he might look like before I knew — he could have looked like Quasimodo. He was wonderful in his letters, and I couldn’t wait to meet him in person. Truth be told, I couldn’t wait to kiss him. Seventeen years later, here we are. I am so glad I took the chance and answered that profile.

I write this today to one young woman who is afraid. Afraid to let herself take a chance and be happy. Don’t be. Mr. Davis, of the four sons and big shoulders, and the not-so-skinny-anymore-thanks-to-my-Italian-cooking, is a big pain in the ass. One percent of the time. Okay — one-and-a-half percent of the time. Ninety-eight-point five-percent of the time, I can’t believe how lucky I am, and how happy he makes me. But I also give myself big pats on the back because I knew I deserved to be happy. I deserved a partner who appreciated me. And so do you.

Trust me, it’s far better to have no partner at all, and have a love affair with yourself, than be demoralized daily by someone who doesn’t appreciate you — an emotional vampire who sucks out your life energy. I’m here, seventeen years later, and my husband still smiles when he sees me. Every morning, I get a smile. It’s a gift, one that I deserve. One that everyone deserves.

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