OK, it wasn’t a pier. It was a breakwater. What’s the difference? A pier is a raised structure easily walked. A breakwater is a barrier not meant for mooring boats against. This particular breakwater was made of granite blocks, somewhat puzzled together, but still a bit tricky to traverse.
And the guy wasn’t a sailor. He was a territory manager for an anodized aluminum railing manufacturer. But like me, he was a visitor to the lighthouse at the end of the breakwater, not a local. He came in from the South, somewhere about 15 miles where I used to live in my Husband #1 life.
My travel buddy didn’t like the breakwater. It was a little too sketchy for her climbing and jumping comfort but I felt like a kid, the one who used to scale rocks and take risks and let the wind blow through her hair. My goal was to get to the end of the breakwater and take a photo of the lighthouse and the island beyond it.
I guess the aluminum guy had the same goal.
He encountered my friend first and chatted with her for a bit. And then as he came closer to the end and I was heading back, he called out to me. “Your friend says you’re the better photographer. Would you take a picture of me with the lighthouse?”
Yes, of course I would. I had volunteered to take photos of individuals, couples, families, even food, throughout the entire trip. Why break protocol now?
Then we started talking, because that’s what he does for his job and that’s what I do because I’m curious about people.
And we kept talking…
Twenty minutes later I knew about his son, his friend in a bordering state where he would visit the following day, his thoughts about the cooler climate and sea breezes, the extent of his sales territory, and his feelings on sushi. He, in turn, learned about my son, my time living in his state of residency, my thoughts on the cooler climate and living by the sea, and my recent discovery of the world’s best lobster rolls.
At the end of our time together he told me his full name and innocently touched my shoulder. Being a toucher myself, I understood it as a symbol of companionship and warmth. And interest.
We went our separate ways, he headed out to the lighthouse and I rejoined my friend.
“I thought we were getting a dinner companion,” she smiled as she said this.
“He’s probably a serial killer.” My reference to a running joke on death that we started at the beginning of our trip. Then I toned it back a bit. “With such a large territory, he’s probably collecting a different woman in every state.” Yes, that sense of humor was already discounting our chance meeting, but it’s what I do when I don’t want to pursue things beyond my comfort level.
She laughed and we jumped in the car and headed to the next lighthouse on our list. Mr. Aluminum was in the past.
Coming off of that breakwater, I realized something refreshing: there are nice men in the world who are looking for nice women. The important thing is to keep the emotional walls down and the friendliness keyed up. I wasn’t pretending to be anyone different than who I was, and if I had been in a different point in my divorce, I might have walked away with a really cute “how did you meet” story.
Not just yet.
As I face down my 50th birthday it’s still nice to know that I could pick up a guy at the lighthouse if I tried.
It was a good vacation.