Leslie and I have talked a lot about both finding our husbands in our late-30’s, and how Leslie and I married those dudes the year that we turned 39. What I realize is that I haven’t talked much about HOW I found my husband on eHarmony, and that this was the probably the 4th time I had subscribed to that service, and the many-eth time that I had tried online dating. I wasn’t interested in having an entire relationship online, but I liked the idea of being introduced to people who I would not have met in my regular circles, and who were also looking for a relationship. Through my search, I opened my eyes to people that I may not have considered before, and also found that it was okay to ask for the things that I wanted, and if I didn’t find someone (although I REALLY wanted to), that I would use whatever I learned to make myself who what Pastor and relationship-author Andy Stanley calls “the person that who you are looking for is looking for”. Because you should be that person whether you are looking for someone or not.
Jed Ringel, the author of the new memoir “Stuck In the Passing Lane”, is on a similar search when the book opens. He is a financially successful man in his 50’s who is also the almost-divorced father of 3 teen-aged daughters whom he struggles to maintain a relationship with. The book chronicles his many attempts at finding the right person, through date after funny date after disastrous kinda-relationship, attempts that take him from the New York City-area where he lives to Russia (twice) and Singapore and back. This is a man who literally goes far in the quest for love/companionship/sex. What happens in his journeys, though, is that he finds more than that: he learns a lot about himself. I know that this sounds cliched, and like something out of a Hallmark movie, but it’s more meaningful than that. His story is more than can be scripted. I won’t give away the ending, but the things that Jed finds as he looks for a mate reveal to him things that he didn’t know about himself, things that he knew but didn’t want to admit, and ultimately things that help him realize what he is worth altogether.
I started reading this book a few weeks ago, read about 20 pages, then put it down, partly because other things came up, but also because I wasn’t sure that I liked Jed at first. I don’t think that I had read many memoirs from men that were this open and vulnerable and also kind of explicit- he writes in length about his sexual experiences, and that was a bit too much detail for me personally. But when I went back to the book, I finished it in 2 days, and I found that I really, really was pulling for Jed, not just to find a good woman, but to be okay, and to be happy in a way that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have someone else as a part of that happiness. I felt like I was taking this journey with a new friend. BECAUSE of that openness and honesty, and his willingness to show himself in ways that were sometimes not-so-flattering. You will find yourself saying “Yay!” when he meets someone promising, or gets an email from a daughter who there had been some strain with, and you find yourself yelling “No! Don’t date HER!” like you are yelling at the screen while watching a horror movie when he meets someone questionable, and your heart breaks with his when things don’t quite pan out with people that you and he hoped that they would.
But he keeps going. And that’s what I liked the most about this book, and what I think you might too. There is much to be said for people who hone in on a goal, work for it, and get that thing right away. But that’s not Jed’s story, and it’s not the story of most people I know, including me. Jed’s story is about feeling stuck in his travels, but also about being willing to travel in the first place. It’s about finding what you want, what you won’t put up with, and being open to what happens along the way. The search for the right one starts a journey that leads so many other places. It’s about hope, and we can all use that. I highly recommend “Stuck in the Passing Lane”.