Single In The Suburbs, Installment 141

Sara and Craig’s coffee shop meeting began with a request to co-sign a home improvement loan and ended with a marriage proposal completely out of left field. Is this the end of Sara and Ethan?

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our last installment, our columnist met with her ex-husband to ask him to co-sign for her loan application. Instead of saying yes, Craig dropped a bombshell on Sara by proposing marriage! Is this how Sara’s dating journey finally ends… back with Craig, where it all began?

Monday, continued
When I stare at my ex-husband’s face, I see the boy I fell in love with in college with his strong jaw and devilish grin. I see my son’s green eyes, my daughter’s lovely lips. I see the enticements of financial security. I see the comfort of familiarity. I see, in many ways, my lifelong best friend.

I do love Craig. I will always love him. But when I look at him today, I see my past. I don’t see
“‘Test drive’ living together? Gee. That sounds so romantic.”
my future. I feel instinctively that my future is with someone else.

I tell Craig all this. What I am also thinking (but decline to say) is: You think you want to be with me, but how long before you start feeling restless? How long until Craig looks at me and thinks, What am I doing with this ancient relic when I can be with a nubile young thing instead? How will I feel when he’s flirting with them, or emailing them, or chatting them up on Facebook? And the fact that I’m worrying about this now convinces me that, even though four years have indeed passed, in some fundamental way neither one of us has changed. And that’s OK. He is entitled to flirt and chat with other women, even married ones. And I am entitled to find someone who’s completely crazy about me. We both deserve to be happy.

Craig says, finally, “I’m happy for you.”

“No you’re not.”

He’s blinking back tears. “No. Really. I am. It sucks for me, obviously. But you and Ethan are good together. You’re going to be happy, I can tell.”

Now I’m starting to cry. It’s hard to explain, but it feels as if something between us has finally died. I could almost hear it take its last quiet little breath.

Craig stands and zips up his jacket. He’s smiling at me. “I think we’d better head over to the credit union and get you that loan. You probably already have tenants lining up to rent the coolest new apartment in town.”

Sunday, noon
For the last three weeks, I’ve been living in Ethan’s house during construction on the basement. I didn’t want to be around all the dust and noise, of course, but it was mostly his idea. He said he wanted me to “test drive” living with him.

“‘Test drive’ living together? Gee. That sounds so romantic,” I say jokingly. I swat him with the towel I’m using to dry dishes. Actually, it’s been a wonderful three weeks. Our days have an easy rhythm, a nice combination of joint projects and solitary activities, raucous fun and quiet time. And sex. I can’t remember ever feeling so loved, so comfortable and so happy.

He pulls me close. “Not to get too serious or anything, but don’t you think we’d be good at living together?”

“Actually, I think we’d be really good together.
“I think we’d better head over to the credit union and get you that loan.”
We’re both easygoing types.”

“We both like dogs,” Ethan offers.

“We like pancakes,” I add.

“We like each other.”

“Ethan, I think I’m a little beyond the ‘like’ stage.” Uh-oh. Where am I going with this? It’s okay to be the first one to say it, so I do, without hesitation. “Ethan… I’ve fallen in love with you.”

Now he is beaming at me. “I’m really glad to hear you say that. Because I am madly, hopelessly, almost ridiculously in love with you, Sara Susannah Katz. And I know I’m probably breaking all the man-rules by telling you this, but I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“Excellent!” I say, beaming.

Oh my God. It’s happening. It’s finally happening. I’m giddy now. “And if I never manage to find a job, I suppose we can be hobos ridiculously in love together, right?”

“Hobos? What do you mean?” He looks bewildered.

“You know. I’m out of work. You’re, you know, a handyman. I guess we could barter our way through life if we had to,” I say. I fear I’ve touched a nerve and try to lighten the mood. “But hey, I could be your handywoman, right? Haha. Um. Ethan, I was just kidding about the hobo thing. I know we’ll be fine.”

“Of course we’ll be fine.” And then Ethan sits me down and proceeds to tell me that he made several million dollars in real estate — sometime between the ashram and becoming a handyman — and is quite certain that money will never be an issue.

“Oh.” I say. I feel stunned. “That’s nice.” Is this really happening?

Tuesday, 10 a.m.
I am sitting in Ethan’s dining room with the employment section of the paper in front of me and there is literally no job for me here. I’m not a nurse or a truck driver and don’t imagine I ever will be. I suppose I could go back to school to get my cosmetology degree. I do like makeup. In fact, I LOVE makeup. I have 15 kinds of concealer and am still in search of the holy grail of mascara. Maybe I should be a makeup artist?

The last thing Jamie Cale the appraiser said to me before she left my house was this: “Take my advice. Do what you love. I love walking around other people’s houses and I love math. I have the perfect job. You need to figure out what you love and go do it.”

Well, I happen to love to write. So I emailed 43 resumes to 43 different Web sites and included writing samples. How many responses have I received? None. Zilch. Zippo. A big fat zero.

But one way or the other, I am going to find myself a job before my unemployment runs out. I scan the ads again and come across this:

The Westfield Tribune has an open motor delivery route in the Westfield/Smithton area covering 412 customers. Route takes approx. 4-4 1/2 hrs. to complete and is approx. 75 miles total. Earn up to $400/month.

Hey, I have a car. I can wake up early. I’d be home in time to make breakfast for Ethan. This might not be so bad!

As I’m snapping open my cell phone to call the number in the ad, it rings. “Is this Sara Susannah Katz?”

“It is,” I say, hoping it’s not the cable company. (I’m late with this month’s bill.)

“We love your work,” says the voice on the other end of the line.

“What work?”

“Your writing.”

I am talking with the editor-in-chief of an online publication. She says they’re looking for a freelancer to write about the struggles of mid-life women in suburban America. They think I’d be perfect for the job. “So. Are you interested?”

My heart pounding, I ask her: “When do I start?”

Attention, faithful fans of Single in the Suburbs! With this final installment in the series, you have reached the end of Sara’s dating journey. We’d love to hear how the ongoing saga of Sara’s love life has affected you personally. Have you tried online dating yourself? Have you struggled to re-enter the dating world after the end of a long-term relationship? Did Sara’s story encourage you to get out there and date again? Send your thoughts to Your comments and stories may be included in a follow-up article discussing the series’ overall impact and what Sara sees for herself in the future.

Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

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