Lorraine decided to decorate the apartment for Christmas, but she wanted to keep things low-key. She bought a small Christmas tree for twenty dollars at a lot across from the Monte Vista and lugged it upstairs to her place. She rooted around in the back of her way-too-small bedroom closet and found the box of ornaments she had collected since childhood behind a stack of shoe boxes. It seemed as if she had way too many pairs of shoes, but she didn’t have that many pairs of shoes, really. She wore a quadruple A width, and it was impossible to find shoes that fit her for less than $400 a pair, so when she found a shoe that fit, she simply bought a pair. Honestly, she had only about twelve pair of shoes and five or six pairs of boots, but the closet in her bedroom was ridiculously tiny. But behind the shoe boxes was the big box of ornaments.

She pulled the box into the living room and, settling into a comfortable blue armchair, she opened the top. Carefully unwrapping the tissue paper surrounding each ornament, she smiled as she reminisced. Each ornament meant a great deal to her. There were the cooking implement ornaments from when she attended culinary school at A-B Tech, ornaments which were given to her by happy, satisfied real estate clients, and those from her friends from the halfway house where she worked briefly as a counselor. Her favorites, though, were the ones  which she had had since childhood: horses, ice skates, artist palettes, teddy bears, and tiny hearts with messages from her family stitched onto them. “Dear Lorraine, to my best girl, Love, Grandma.”

She decided to forego electric lights, as they were so garish, and even her prized ornaments seemed tired and a bit sad. Was it her wistful mood? She carefully rewrapped them, and called Suki to her side. “Walk, Suki?”

The little dog leapt in the air and spun around. Lorraine wrapped up in warm clothes, pulled on hiking boots, and grabbed a tote bag. She put Suki on the leash and they headed downstairs to her car parked in back of 44 Cherry Street. She drove up Montreat Road to Montreat and parked in the Greybeard parking lot. She and Suki walked up the trail into the woods beside the roaring creek. As they walked, Lorraine gathered dry wildflowers, seed pods, rose hips from multi-flora roses, holly sprigs, and dry grasses. Suki, freed from her leash for once, ran in circles around Lorraine, yipping happily.

When her tote was full, she called Suki to follow her to the car. The dog threw herself excitedly into the front seat, and Lorraine drove down Montreat Road to Ingles, Suki hanging halfway out the partially opened window. . There she bought a mocha latte at the Starbuck’s counter, and loaded up her small cart with popcorn kernels, cranberries, and wine. She would thread the popcorn and cranberries onto string, and drink the wine.

Once she was back in the apartment, wine uncorked and poured, she looked at the job ahead of her, creating little bundles of dry grasses and flowers, bunches of berries, and clusters of twigs, which she would tie onto the limbs of her Christmas tree.

“What a daunting task!” she thought. “Maybe I’ll check my email while I drink a little wine. After that, I can dive into the tree project.”

She logged onto her email account wishing to find a wink from a handsome man, but a bit gun-shy after her evening with the cheapskate. But lo and behold! There was a message from a new man. She took a gulp of wine and opened the message.

“Hi, Lorraine!

I saw your posting on Match and was intrigued. Like you, I am a film fanatic, coffee addict, and lover of books and music.

I live in Johnson City, Tennessee, which is not that far from Asheville, and I frequently drive down for a matinee at the Fine Arts Theater and an early dinner. I have lived in this area since 2001, but I am originally from Baltimore.

I am an attorney and teach law at Eastern Tennessee State University. I was an English major as an undergrad, and still love literature and fine film. I particularly like Bergman films.

I am interested in getting to know someone with similar interests, and possibly developing an long-lasting relationship. I was married for some time and was divorced ten years ago. The divorce was difficult, and so I intend to take things slow before I make another commitment.

Would you be interested in getting together next time I am in Asheville, taking in a film at the Fine Arts, and getting some coffee afterwards?


Stan McNally

“A lawyer!” rejoiced Lorraine. “Smart, educated, and rich! But certainly Eastern Tennessee State was not Harvard, and perhaps he isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. Maybe I should look at his profile.”

She clicked on his profile and first checked out his photo. Not bad!  He had silver hair, but a chiseled face and a sweet smile. She read his profile and caught no red flags. He seemed liberal and interesting. It wouldn’t hurt to get together and see a movie with him! She wrote back and said she would love to get together next time he was in Asheville.

Refreshed and inspired, she drank the remainder of her glass of wine and set to decorating her all-natural tree.