Neal sounded as much fun on the phone as he did on the pages of the GE notebook.
So we decided to meet for dinner on a Saturday night after his “Japanese fencing” workshop. (?)
We met in the bar of a lovely restaurant called Saybrook Fish House in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. Within 15 minutes I was in love. Why? He was so fascinating, funny, kind, intelligent, and attractive (muscular, shaved head, lively eyes). I thought, “I could spend the rest of my life talking with this guy.”
He told me that he had spent the day in an Aikido martial arts weapons workshop. Aikido is a synthesis of pacifist martial arts techniques and meditation. I told him about my work with cultural preservation among the Cheyennes of Oklahoma. He told me about his work as a Board Member of The Connection, a social service organization to help drug and alcohol impaired people in a live-in setting (he would later serve as President.) I told him about teaching at Wesleyan and my involvement with the College Music Society dedicated to excellence in college music teaching. We spiraled around all our interests breathlessly and talked about our children and our dreams for our lives.
Neal stopped at one point and said the nicest thing – and it was not a “line” because I’ve come to know he is incapable of dishonest flirting.
“I have to admit I’m a little bit intimidated being with a woman as beautiful as you,” he said. I was floored. There I was, feeling all fat and physically inadequate compared to this trim lifelong martial artist.
Well, we started breaking Great Expectations rules right and left. He invited me to his condo (across the street) and we drove over in his car. Bad bad us. He showed me around his nice neat home and pointed out the tile floor he installed himself, and his herbs in pots, and he lit a candle. We started making out. Bad bad us. But wow!
Pretty soon I went home like a good girl and we started dating. Our second date was his visit to the rehearsal of the Wesleyan Gamelan (Indonesian orchestra) of which I was a member. He sat in the back in on his knees and meditated while he listened. We drove home in the rain listening to Sting (Ten Summoner’s Tales). On another date I gave him the tape. (No CDs then.)
It was time to meet each other’s children,