The moment I knew: I was late for our date – but he waited for me in the cold winter night, under a halo of lights | Relationships

The odds that Mike and I would ever meet were low. We both grew up in Perth – the only problem being he was in Perth, Scotland, and I was in Perth, Western Australia. We then managed to find ourselves living in the same place (Melbourne) but on different sides of the city an hour’s drive apart.

It was 2014, we’d both been divorced for about five years and neither of us was having much luck with internet dating. It didn’t help that my online profile was set to only show matches who lived within a 5km radius of my house. So while I really wanted to find love, I apparently wasn’t willing to look further than walking distance from my front door. The algorithm very sensibly ignored me and matched me with Mike. I was intrigued by his profile; his heading was: “Looking for a woman who can make me laugh.” In my experience, men usually want to be the funny ones, the centre of attention. I thought, that’s me, I can do that.

Mike was late for our first date, so I thought I’d been stood up (it turns out he just didn’t know how to find his way to Port Melbourne), but he eventually ran into the pub with a big smile and tripped over some low furniture. He was immediately likable, talking up a storm, very funny and witty, and at one stage squeezed my knee, not in a sleazy way but just in a moment of sheer exuberance. It turned out we both loved the same dark comedy show, The League of Gentlemen, and we could practically recite it scene by scene. I’d never even met anyone else who had seen it. When I got home that night, I told my teenage daughter, and she said: “Mum, you have to marry this man.” I thought, well, he’s funny and I made him laugh, let’s see where this goes.

‘Everything about Mike was there from the beginning’

On our second date, it was my turn to be late. I’d completely misjudged how long a tram takes to go down Collins Street on a Saturday night. It was a dark, bitterly cold June night with an icy wind and I was dressed to impress, not for the weather. A frantically on-time person, as the tram moved at a glacial pace I ground my teeth until they were ready to shear off like icebergs. The time for us to eat before the movie was tight and here I was running over half an hour late. Would he even wait?

It was dawning on me that this was the first time I’d been so anxious to impress a man in a very long time. I had to dash up a slippery crowded laneway in heels to the restaurant. I’d assumed he’d just be sitting inside in the warmth, like any sensible person would, but there he was, standing in the dark waiting for me, dressed in a silvery suit with a halo of orange lights behind him. I wish I’d photographed him; the whole scene looked like something out of a movie. I knew with absolute certainty at that moment that we would be together, that this wasn’t just dating any more – here was the next stage of my life.

Three years later, in 2017, Mike surprised me with a romantic proposal at Glenfinnan in Scotland. True to form with us, even that had its funny side. There he was handing me an emerald ring on the shores of Loch Shiel, while over his shoulder I could see a poor hapless man in a yellow waterproof jacket walking towards us, only for it to dawn on him what was going on, get a panicked look on his face and make a sharp 90-degree turn to pretend he was interested in admiring the low scrubby bushes rather than the magnificent sweeping view of the water he’d actually come to see.

When I think back to that second date, everything about Mike was there from the beginning – he was so funny but also down to earth, solid, reliable and caring. I knew the moment I saw him in the laneway that this was a man who would leave the comfort of a warm room to come outside to wait for me in the dark and the cold, just so I knew where to find him.

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