MIDLIFE AD­VEN­TURES IN DAT­ING

JINDER CHALMERS, 52 AND DI­VORCED, WAS MORE IN­TENT ON CA­REER SUC­CESS THAN FIND­ING A NEW MAN, BUT THEN SHE TOOK A FLIGHT AND FOUND LOVE WAS IN THE AIR

Woman & Home - - CONTENT -

JINDER CHALMERS’ EX­PE­RI­ENCE

There was def­i­nite chem­istry be­tween us

WITH ONLY MIN­UTES TO SPARE, MY 20-YEAR-OLD DAUGH­TER, SCHARA, AND I JUST MADE OUR PLANE FROM JA­MAICA TO VAN­COU­VER. ON BOARD, SCHARA GRABBED MY BOARD­ING PASS AND SWAPPED SEATS AT THE LAST MINUTE, OB­VI­OUSLY THINK­ING MINE LOOKED BET­TER. AS I WAS FASTENING MY SEAT BELT, THE MAN SIT­TING BE­SIDE ME, NAMED MICHAEL DOWNEY, IN­TRO­DUCED HIM­SELF. HE WAS READ­ING A BOOK EN­TI­TLED The Man Who Sold His Fer­rari. I HAD RE­CENTLY SEEN SEV­ERAL OTHER MEN READ­ING THE SAME BOOK SO, CU­RI­OUS, I ASKED, “WHAT’S SO IN­TER­EST­ING ABOUT THAT PAR­TIC­U­LAR BOOK?” HE SAID IT WAS ABOUT TRANS­FOR­MA­TION.

FROM THAT POINT WE HIT IT OFF IM­ME­DI­ATELY. WE LAUGHED, WE JOKED

AND THERE WAS SOME KIND OF DEF­I­NITE CHEM­ISTRY BE­TWEEN US. SEV­ERAL HOURS INTO OUR FLIGHT, I RE­ALISED IT WAS ODD TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK TO SOME­ONE SO EAS­ILY AND NAT­U­RALLY. I LEARNED HE WAS CEO OF TEN­NIS CANADA, AND WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT HIS CAN­CER IN 2008 AND HOW, AF­TER SUC­CESS­FUL TREAT­MENT, HE VOL­UN­TEERED TO BE THE PRES­I­DENT OF THE TORONTO HU­MANE SO­CI­ETY – TO GIVE BACK. MICHAEL EVEN­TU­ALLY SUM­MONED UP ENOUGH COURAGE AND SAID, “I HAVE NOT ASKED A WOMAN OUT IN 20 YEARS… CAN I BUY YOU A DRINK?” I LAUGHED BE­CAUSE DRINKS ON THE PLANE WERE FREE. HE TOLD ME THAT HE WAS JUST COM­ING OUT OF A 20-YEAR MAR­RIAGE AND WAS FRESHLY DI­VORCED.

HOW FRESH, I ASKED. TWO WEEKS, HE SAID. HE WAS LOOK­ING FOR BAL­ANCE IN HIS LIFE.

HOW­EVER, AT THIS POINT I WAS NOT IN­TER­ESTED IN HAV­ING A RE­LA­TION­SHIP SO WHEN HE ASKED FOR MY PHONE NUM­BER AND EMAIL AD­DRESS, I RE­FUSED. GET­TING OFF THE PLANE, MY DAUGH­TER HISSED IN MY EAR, “MUM, HE’S DEF­I­NITELY A STAGE 5 CLINGER, I WOULD NOT GO OUT WITH HIM IF I WAS YOU.” I LAUGHED BUT WHEN I TURNED TO LEAVE, MICHAEL SMILED AND SAID, “I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE YOU OUT FOR DIN­NER AND I WILL FLY BACK FROM TORONTO TO VAN­COU­VER JUST TO HAVE A DATE WITH YOU.”

I SAID IN DIS­BE­LIEF, “YOU WOULD FLY FIVE-AND-A-HALF HOURS JUST TO HAVE DIN­NER WITH ME?” “YES,” HE SAID. I THOUGHT WHAT A GREAT PICK-UP LINE, AND TOLD HIM HE

MUST BE CRAZY. “YOU WOULD AC­TU­ALLY FLY ALL THIS WAY TO HAVE DIN­NER WITH ME BE­CAUSE WHAT – TORONTO HAS NO WOMEN?” HE SMILED, “NOT LIKE YOU.” I SAID SOME­THING STUPID AND LEFT. BY THE TIME I GOT HOME, HE HAD SOME­HOW MAN­AGED TO FIND MY EMAIL AD­DRESS AND MES­SAGED SAY­ING HE WAS SO HAPPY TO HAVE MET SOME­ONE LIKE ME. I WAITED A FEW DAYS BE­FORE RE­PLY­ING THAT IT WAS A PLEA­SURE TO MEET HIM TOO.

AT THIS POINT, I WAS UNIM­PRESSED WITH HIM. OK, HE WAS IN­SIS­TENT BUT NOT MY TYPE. AN­OTHER VOICE IN MY HEAD ALSO SAID, “BUT HE IS SORT OF CUTE.” I WASN’T PLAY­ING HARD TO GET – I JUST WASN’T THAT IN­TER­ESTED IN DAT­ING. THEN MICHAEL CALLED ME TO TELL ME HE WAS COM­ING TO VAN­COU­VER TO AN­NOUNCE THE DAVIS CUP. AF­TER A LENGTHY CON­VER­SA­TION ON THE PHONE, MICHAEL SAID, “LOOK, I RE­ALLY WANT TO GET TO­GETHER AND GO FOR DIN­NER.” I WAS UN­CER­TAIN BUT HE EMAILED ME THAT NIGHT, AND FI­NALLY I AGREED TO GO ON OUR FIRST DATE TO A VERY SMART RESTAU­RANT.

The early days

THE DAY HE AR­RIVED, I WAS EX­TREMELY NER­VOUS BUT THE MEAL WENT WELL AND, AF­TER A RO­MAN­TIC DIN­NER WHERE WE TALKED NON-STOP, I DROVE HIM BACK TO HIS HO­TEL WHERE HE IN­VITED ME UP FOR A DRINK. AT THIS POINT I PAN­ICKED AND LEFT HIM AT THE DOOR OF THE HO­TEL, CLEARLY THINK­ING, “WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?”

THE FOL­LOW­ING DAY, HE CALLED AND ASKED ME OUT AGAIN, BUT I TOLD HIM I HAD AL­READY MADE PLANS AND WAS GO­ING TO GO FOR A HIKE IN THE MOUN­TAINS. HE ASKED IF HE COULD GO WITH ME, AS HE HAD NEVER HIKED IN THE MOUN­TAINS BE­FORE. LATER, TRY­ING TO SHOW HIM HOW EX­PE­RI­ENCED A HIKER I WAS, I TRIED TO CROSS THE RIVER BY >>

JUMP­ING FROM ONE ROCK TO AN­OTHER AND FELL INTO THE RIVER! MICHAEL LAUGHED, BUT LATER ON IN THE HIKE WHEN I TOOK A BREAK TO SIT AND MED­I­TATE, WHICH IS SOME­THING I OF­TEN DO WHEN OUT IN A BEAU­TI­FUL LAND­SCAPE, I CAUGHT HIM LOOK­ING AT ME SOME­WHAT UN­CER­TAINLY. WE WERE SO DIF­FER­ENT FROM ONE AN­OTHER, BUT MAYBE IT WAS THAT DIF­FER­ENCE THAT IN­TRIGUED HIM.

My “Aha!” mo­ment

I CON­TIN­UED TO HOLD HIM AT ARM’S LENGTH, LIT­ER­ALLY, BUT HE JUST KEPT SEND­ING ME EMAILS AND PHO­TOS ABOUT HIS LIFE OR CALL­ING. SEV­ERAL MONTHS PASSED AND WE WERE STILL LIV­ING IN OP­PO­SITE ENDS OF THE COUN­TRY. OUT OF THE BLUE, MICHAEL IN­VITED ME TO JOIN HIM IN LOS AN­GE­LES WHERE HE HAD BUSI­NESS AND WOULD BE STAY­ING IN A HO­TEL. A HO­TEL – THE TWO OF US? I STARTED TO PANIC AND BROKE OUT IN HIVES AT THE THOUGHT OF HAV­ING SEX WITH HIM; I WAS NOT READY TO TAKE THIS RE­LA­TION­SHIP ANY­WHERE!

I SAID AS MUCH AND MICHAEL, EVER

THE GEN­TLE­MAN, SAID HE JUST WANTED MY COM­PANY AND ALL HE ASKED IS THAT I HAVE DIN­NER WITH HIM ON THIS TRIP. I MADE A LIST OF CON­DI­TIONS. THE FIRST, I WAS NOT STAY­ING IN THE SAME HO­TEL ROOM AS HIM. SEC­OND, THAT I WORK AS A SCRIPTWRITER AND A VISIT TO LOS AN­GE­LES WAS THE IDEAL OP­POR­TU­NITY TO USE TIME IN THE DAY TO VISIT THE TV NET­WORKS AND PITCH A PRO­JECT I WAS WORK­ING ON.

WE STAYED IN SANTA MON­ICA, IN A BOU­TIQUE HO­TEL OVER­LOOK­ING THE PA­CIFIC OCEAN. MICHAEL WAS TRUE TO HIS WORD AND ASKED FOR SEP­A­RATE ROOMS, AND I WAS SO IM­PRESSED THAT OVER DIN­NER I FELT I HAD TO BE UT­TERLY HON­EST. BACK IN MY HOME TOWN OF VAN­COU­VER I HAD MET AN ARTIST WHO I HAD SEEN A FEW TIMES

AND WHO, PER­HAPS BE­CAUSE HE WAS AN ARTIST, I FOUND IN­TER­EST­ING.

MICHAEL RE­ACTED IN THE MOST SUR­PRIS­ING WAY. HE SAID HE WAS WILL­ING TO ASK THAT MAN IF HE IN­TENDED TO PUR­SUE THE RE­LA­TION­SHIP IN A SE­RI­OUS WAY BE­CAUSE, IF HE DIDN’T, MICHAEL WAS GO­ING TO. AND THEN I HAD, AS OPRAH WOULD CALL IT, THE “AHA!” MO­MENT.

I LOOKED AT MICHAEL AND THOUGHT, WOW, THIS MAN IS WILL­ING TO DO ANY­THING FOR ME. I THOUGHT, THIS MAN HAS IN­TEGRITY, HON­ESTY AND GUTS. I THOUGHT HE WAS SEN­SI­TIVE TOO, AND ALL THIS WAS KIND OF SCARY FOR ME BUT I RE­ALLY SAW ALL HIS QUAL­I­TIES. THAT NIGHT WE ONLY NEEDED ONE BED­ROOM.

Up­ping sticks

AF­TER THAT TRIP MICHAEL WANTED ME TO

TAKE THE NEXT STEP AND LIVE WITH HIM BUT I WAS NOT READY FOR THAT. I WAS MIND­FUL OF THE FACT THAT I FELT THAT MICHAEL

HAD ONLY RE­CENTLY COME OUT OF A LONG MAR­RIAGE AND FELT HE RE­ALLY NEEDED TO BE OUT ON HIS OWN AND EX­PE­RI­ENC­ING

LIFE AS A SIN­GLE MAN, TO FIND EMO­TIONAL BAL­ANCE, IF YOU

LIKE, BE­FORE HEAD­ING INTO

YET AN­OTHER RE­LA­TION­SHIP. HE WOULD HAVE TO PROVE TO ME THAT HE IS CA­PA­BLE OF THAT. THERE IS NOTH­ING WORSE, IN MY OPIN­ION, THAN A GUY WHO RUNS FROM ONE WOMAN TO THE NEXT TO THE NEXT. WHERE DO THEY LEARN FROM THEIR PAST MIS­TAKES?

SO WE WENT BACK­WARDS AND FOR­WARDS AND SPENT WEEK­ENDS TO­GETHER, AND AF­TER A YEAR HE ASKED ME AGAIN TO MOVE IN WITH HIM AND UP­ROOT MY­SELF INTO A NEW HOME IN TORONTO, ON­TARIO. AND THIS TIME I SAID, YES! MICHAEL TAUGHT ME HOW TO

ICE SKATE, AND HOW TO EN­JOY THE COLD WIN­TRY WEATHER CON­DI­TIONS OF TORONTO.

BUT AN­OTHER CHANGE WAS ON THE CARDS WHEN MICHAEL WAS OF­FERED THE JOB AS CEO OF THE LAWN TEN­NIS AS­SO­CI­A­TION, WHICH MEANT MOV­ING TO LON­DON. HE ASKED ME TO MARRY HIM AND, IF I’M HON­EST, IT WASN’T SO MUCH OF A SUR­PRISE TO ME, AS IT WAS MORE ABOUT THE

LO­GIS­TICS OF MOV­ING TO THE UK.

A low-key cer­e­mony

SO THERE WAS NO CHAM­PAGNE, NO GET­TING DOWN ON HIS HANDS AND KNEES, NO ROSE PETALS – IN FACT, THERE WAS NO MAS­TER PLAN FOR THE WED­DING! WE JUST WENT TO CITY HALL FOR A PRI­VATE CER­E­MONY WITH HIS TWO SONS, HIS MOTHER AND MY TWO GOOD FRIENDS WHO LIVED IN TORONTO. IT WAS A MOST RIDICU­LOUS WAY TO GET MAR­RIED. NO ONE AT­TENDED FROM MY FAM­ILY – NOT EVEN MY DAUGH­TER. THEY THOUGHT I WAS GO­ING TO HAVE A “REAL WED­DING” THE FOL­LOW­ING YEAR IN VAN­COU­VER, WHERE MY FAM­ILY AND FRIENDS RE­SIDE.

AS A RE­SULT OF THIS LOW-KEY AP­PROACH, WHEN I WAS WALK­ING DOWN THE AISLE OF THIS EMPTY SPACE IN CITY HALL, I RE­ALISED I HADN’T EVEN BOUGHT A BOU­QUET OF FLOW­ERS TO CARRY. SO MY FRIEND WHISKED OUT A BUNCH OF PLAS­TIC FLOW­ERS FROM A VASE AND HANDED THEM TO ME. BUT AS I BE­GAN TAKING A FEW STEPS DOWN THE AISLE, SOME­THING FELT TER­RI­BLY WRONG. THE MU­SIC THAT WAS PLAY­ING WAS THE SAME MU­SIC I HAD WALKED DOWN THE AISLE TO AT MY FIRST MAR­RIAGE – PACHELBEL’S Canon in D. “STOP, STOP,” I SHOUTED. “SOME­ONE CHANGE THE MU­SIC!” THANK­FULLY THEY

DULY DID AND THE CER­E­MONY WENT AHEAD.

AF­TER A HON­EY­MOON IN JA­MAICA (ALL

OUR ADULT CHIL­DREN CAME TOO!), WE MOVED TO LON­DON FOR MICHAEL TO TAKE UP HIS JOB WITH THE LTA. IT WAS THE START OF A NEW PHASE FOR US BOTH – WITH SO MANY PLEA­SUR­ABLE MO­MENTS OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS, IT WOULD BE HARD TO PICK JUST ONE, THOUGH SIT­TING IN THE ROYAL BOX EV­ERY YEAR AT WIM­BLE­DON WAS PRETTY SPE­CIAL AND A

HUGE HON­OUR.

BUT MORE IM­POR­TANT WERE THE EMO­TIONAL CHANGES THAT MOV­ING AND GET­TING MAR­RIED TRIG­GERED. I HAD TO DE­VELOP A SENSE OF WHO I WAS WITH­OUT FAM­ILY AND FRIENDS AROUND, LEARN A NEW KIND OF PA­TIENCE IN MY RE­LA­TION­SHIP

WITH MICHAEL, AND SWITCH MY NAT­U­RAL IN­STINCT FROM BE­ING A LEADER AND

MAK­ING DE­CI­SIONS SOLELY FOR MY­SELF TO EM­BRACE BE­ING IN A RE­LA­TION­SHIP. IT TOOK A WHILE BUT EVEN­TU­ALLY I GOT THERE.

NOW FIVE YEARS ON FROM FIRST

MEET­ING WITH MICHAEL, BOTH MY LIFE

AND I HAVE CHANGED IN WAYS I NEVER COULD HAVE IMAG­INED WHEN MY

DAUGH­TER SWAPPED SEATS AND I GOT CHAT­TING TO A MAN ON A PLANE… W&H

I thought this man is will­ing to do any­thing There was no mas­ter plan for the wed­ding!

JINDER AND MICHAEL AT A GAR­DEN PARTY AT BUCK­ING­HAM PALACE

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