In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Steamboat Springs When we met, I was a divorced, menopausal clown with a 5-year-old son. He was a job coach training a special-needs client to push shopping carts into Wal-Mart. For years, we'd lived in the same town of 10,000 people, shopped at the same grocery store and skied on the same mountain, but we had never met until match.com introduced us in cyberspace.
I had vigorously rejected the idea of online dating. At 47, I knew my femme fatale days, if they'd ever existed, were over. Ever the romantic, I held on to the hope of meeting someone at a party, on the chairlift or through a friend. But I could not deny the friends of mine who'd had great luck with online dating. While I was going through my hoops, he was listening to NPR and heard a segment about online dating. Intrigued, he held a digital camera six inches from his face and posted his profile.
After considerable thought, I listed my profession as, "children's entertainer." There was no need to elaborate that I clomped around town in size 26 shoes and wore a red curly-hair wig. He hoped to find someone who enjoyed playing tennis. After a few e-mails and a phone call, we met for coffee at the bookstore Sept. 17. He was early, I was on time. He wore blue corduroy shorts that I've never seen him in since and I wore a pink cotton sweater. I later wrote in my journal, "He's cute! He looks like Nick Nolte with blue eyes."
Even though we were both 47, his daughter was in college, my son in preschool.
"We're not exactly at the same stage in life," I said, grasping for the obvious. "You're free. Now is the time to travel and do whatever you want."
"Let's just see how it goes," was his easy reply.
And so we did. We hiked, biked and, when winter came, skied. Slightly superstitious and afraid to do anything that might jinx the relationship, I never wrote his phone number in my address book. I quietly held my breath as one month turned into two, three into four. After we passed the six-month mark, I exhaled.
Even though I don't play tennis and he prefers TV to books, we share many things in common. We're both from the Midwest. We both share a deep and abiding love for starchy foods in all forms, but particularly mashed potatoes, pasta and funnel cakes. We are unfailingly prompt, dislike self-centered people and are easily distracted.
Neither one of us has a sense of direction. There's no point taking a map because we can't read one. Up could just as easily be down. And so we get lost wherever we go - even if we've been there before. On Mount Werner, he'll swear we're on Rolex when we're on Rainbow. Thanks to me, we once spent three hours attempting to hike around Pearl Lake.
But laughter is the glue.
He is, quite simply, the funniest person I know. Even in the middle of the night. Once in the middle of a hot flash, I threw off the covers, jumped out of bed, wailing, "I'm hot. I'm hot. I'm hot." Without missing a beat, he lifted his head from the pillow and replied, "Getting a little vain, aren't we?" I laughed so hard I forgot all about the miserable hot flash. Recently, my son, now 11, came into the bedroom and whispered in my ear, "Mom, I can't sleep." Once again, awakening from a dead sleep, he responded, "But, can you sing?"
He's so wildly proud of his home state, Minnesota, he should have been governor. He's likely to argue his tennis heroes, Nadal, Federer and Roddick, are champions because they have seen Minnesota on a map.
He doesn't get angry or yell at me when I run out of gas on our way to the movies, grab the wrong ski pass or even lock the car keys in the car with the car running.
I'm stubborn; he's steady. I may never get a dozen roses, and he'll never have a girlfriend who looks good in a bikini. But a few years ago, when I was in the ICU and terrified, he used his hands to make shadow puppets magically appear on the wall.
There is a magnet on our refrigerator that says, "We may not have it all together, but together we have it all." I couldn't agree more.
Happy sixth anniversary!