With Valentine’s Day upon us, I recall an incident that might have changed the course of my life.
One day about 10 years ago, I was pulling into the parking lot at work in Hauppauge when another driver parked right next to me. I didn’t think anything of it until the man called out to me.
“Excuse me,” he said. He asked whether I worked in a nearby building. I said I did, and he told me he often saw me as I drove each day on the Long Island Expressway from Coram. He said he did not work in the same building; his commute was a bit longer, but today, after months of hesitation, he had decided that he was finally going to try to meet me.
I was taken aback, but he assured me that he wasn’t a dangerous stalker. He introduced himself. He was well-spoken, decent-looking, stocky and had a graying beard.
He asked whether I was a musician, since my license plate reads, “FEEDBACK.” I said I played guitar and was happy that someone finally understood my plate. He gave me his business card from a local company that made electronic-keyboard instruments.
The man said he couldn’t think of any other way to meet me, and that he hoped I wasn’t put off by his decision to follow me to work. I said it was OK, now that I knew he probably wasn’t a serial killer. I had to tell him I was dating someone and wasn’t available. He took the news stoically and said I should contact him if things changed.
I ended up staying with my boyfriend, Rob. Within a few months he had moved in with me, but after about five years, I asked him to leave. We had different priorities in life.
It’s been six years since I’ve had a real boyfriend. I meet men, but they are usually too young, or just plain crazy.
A couple years ago I found the parking lot guy’s business card and looked him up on social media. I saw photos from his recent wedding. This discovery gave me a twinge of sadness and regret. I tossed the business card into the trash and thought that perhaps I’d be alone for the rest of my life.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened had I been unattached when I met him. Maybe the woman in the wedding photos would be me.
Or maybe not. Perhaps the independent lifestyle I’ve led for many years suits me.
I enjoy coming home to a quiet house. My TV is rarely on, unlike the old days, when I constantly had to ask Rob to turn down the volume. I like that I can go out whenever I feel like it with whomever I want. I don’t have to check in with anybody. I go out more now than I ever did when I was with Rob.
I go to the gym, play mah-jongg, see lots of concerts, run road races — all on my own time. It’s also easier to be a vegetarian when you don’t have to adhere to another person’s dietary wishes.
So, Valentine’s Day or not, I’m pretty comfortable with my choices. It’s just another day. The fun begins the day after Valentine’s Day. That’s when I go to CVS and pick up decadent chocolate treats at 50 percent off!
Reader Robin Ames lives in Coram.