At the beginning of May, Vince Wendling, a 39-year old, Minnesota-born, passionate, peaceful, loving man, said goodbye to his housemates, coworkers, friends, and a cat (not his) named Frank. He put most of his things in storage, sold his car, and slung a backpack into my trunk. I climbed into the passenger side, he took the wheel, and together we headed off to California for two weeks before flying to Bali for the rest of the summer.
A year before, Vince was working at an organic vegetarian restaurant in Sedona, Arizona. While on retreat there, I went to his restaurant most days to sit out back among the trees, art, hammocks and hippies. I remember seeing him around. To me, he was the friendly guy with clear blue eyes and a demeanor so bright that I wondered what it would be like to be his friend.
One night, I sat alone at a garden table re-reading the Sedona Method book for the severalth time, highlighter in hand. My server was a cheerful young dread-locked woman named Sunny. Sunny asked me what I was reading, and as I described the method she grew more and more intrigued. When it was time to leave, I handed her the book, telling her to enjoy, I’d get another. She beamed and accepted it gratefully. Smiling, I walked away.
I didn’t get very far. As I was leaving, Sunny had gone up to Vince to show him her gift from a random customer. He took one look at the cover and came running after me.
That night, Vince told me he had been studying the Sedona Method for nearly a decade.
He had read a copy of the same book I had just given Sunny, and it had become the primary way he navigated life. Despite now living in the very town for which the method is named, he had never actually met another person who practiced it too.
We introduced ourselves then, and talked for a while that night. We connected a few more times during the week, sharing big smiles and small pieces of our personal stories. We exchanged numbers and after I left town we texted for a while, planning to find a time to talk. We never did though, and eventually our contact faded.
* * *
Six months later, I broke my foot falling up my own stairs. At first, I was a trouper, but soon grew grumpy. Then depressed. Then anxious. In a particularly frustrating moment, I said to a friend, “I just don’t know what to do!”
That’s when Vince’s face came back to my mind, along with the thought, “Yes you do.” I recalled his warmth and peaceful demeanor. I remembered his stories of moving through difficult times with the practice I loved so much. I thought maybe he could help.
That night, I sent Vince a text message. I asked if he remembered me. I asked if we could talk. His response to both questions was, “Of course!!!” Our first phone call lasted nearly four hours and our friendship truly began.
Another several months would pass before that re-awakened friendship blossomed into something more. The blossoming may be its own story, or it may be just like all love stories of its kind: an awkward alluring journey from strangers to friends to lovers to the realization that you have become part of an unbreakable team.
Vince and I have been living together in Bali for four months now, and all those years of pining for the right partner finally make sense to me. I don’t presume the longing helped anything, in fact, probably the opposite. But now I understand that the part of me that wanted so badly, was not crazy for wanting. The bottomless ache I often felt before knowing Vince seems to have been in direct proportion to the expansive ease I now find in being with him. As I told my friends when the relationship first began, “I have been dramatically underestimating ease.”
I’ll pause there for now, feeling red-cheeked and sufficiently revealed here for the first time in many months. I’ll admit, it’s good to be back. Before I go, I just want to say thank you to those of you who have been following along on this up and down journey of inner and outer love. It’s quite a ride, made so much more fun by your company.
I also want to thank Diana and Matt, Joanna and Scott, Jim and Deb, Sharon and Jon, Dustin and Cari, Jack and Grace, Mom and Craig, Tim and Meg, Dane and Sam, Vlada and Michal, and the many others of you who have role modeled loving, healthy, respectful relationships so that I would know what to look for, to ask for, and to recognize when it finally came along.
And finally thank you to Vince. Thank you for being. Thank you for showing up in my life. Thank you for doing all the work you’ve done to be the man you are. Thank you for recognizing me as your person and choosing me to be on your team. My past self may not have agreed, but now I know that you were worth the wait.