I 've fallen in love at first sight twice in my life. Once, with my dog Wilder. The second time was July 7, 2007.
I was flying into the Santa Fe airport while reading the end of Gone with the Wind, a book, coincidentally or not, about a woman's devotion to a piece of land. Something drew my attention even more than the conclusion of the book and the cockpit gadgetry in the tiny regional jet: the earth below, New Mexico.
I found love here, the human kind. I lost it, found it, lost it again—the familiar tale. A lot of people leave this place for love. Between the AARP endorsement of Santa Fe's suitability for retirees and Whole Foods Market's unrivaled claim to best local pickup spot, it's not considered an auspicious place for romance. Nevertheless, and despite journalists' obsession with redundancy—if we need one source, we call three—I never thought I would try online dating. Best-case scenario, you find your person that way—and your how-we-met story, I thought, would be a sure dud.
I don't know whether or not I still believe in the idea of finding your one person. Lately, I like to think everyone, everything is only on loan, the time around them then all the more meaningful. Maybe that's why I've been trying internet dating after all, and why I'm finding it so fun.
The first thing I noticed about online dating is that looking at profiles reminds me of looking at adoptable dogs on an animal shelter website—except, of course, the pictures are vastly less cute (sorry, fellas). But these pets have opposable thumbs, the better to explain themselves with, whether they're trying to or not.
There are the vain: "I do not associate or converse with extroverted personalities. I require high IQ, as I have a high quotient also."
The too-cool-for-online-dating: "Don't feel like filling in this profile right now. Check me out on Facebook if you want to know what I'm all about." (On the basis of this flip phone picture of you DJing?)
The victims of a liberal arts education: "How do I pin down the scores of my evolving selves and yoke them together into some concrete, aggregate self that can be neatly 'summarized'?"
The weirdly hostile: "Those of you who have no interests outside the shopping mall need not contact me."
And the deeply deranged: "The thing I like most is to take bubble baths with candles. OK I give you this one, I don't take them by myself, I have my rubber duck and cars with me."
One thing I've been told about men in Santa Fe is that they are too entitled. ("They think because they live in the mountains they're pioneering," a friend of a friend told me.) Another friend of mine, who left New Mexico because she finished dating everyone in Santa Fe she liked, says that attractive men here have an attitude because they know they're a rare breed.
But I haven't found that to be true. As a wise Santa Fe parking lot attendant said (when I told him I named my bike Lady), "It's a girl's world." It's a fact that there's at least one kind dude in Santa Fe. I don't say man because he is a self-described boy. He helped me rediscover my love of bowling. He helped me lose my karaoke virginity, to the tune of Van Morrison's "Brown-Eyed Girl"—except he sang, "hazel-eyed girl." And I cheated on him, with people I met online. It was wrong. I am sorry. But make no mistake—it is a woman's world.
Growing up, I lived in many places because of my dad's work. My mom worked, too—at taking care of my dad. I resolved that I would follow my work anywhere—never a man.
A guy—I don't know him well enough yet to call him man or boy—I met online is from Oregon. He sent me an email with a link to the Wikipedia page for the town of Wren, Ore.
"You have a place in OR," he wrote.
I loved that. But I replied with a link to the Wikipedia page for Abbott, New Mexico.
"And in NM," I wrote.