Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Is For Lovin' and Serotonin

Spring is in the air, which means LOVE is in the air!  At least, that's what I heard on WTOP News radio 103.5 FM this morning on my way to work.  Apparently, our bodies produce more melatonin in the Winter months, which helps us sleep better when the days are shorter, but in the Spring, when the days begin getting longer and the weather is warmer, our bodies produce more serotonin, which helps motivate us to go out and meet new people.

From WTOP.com, Dr. Gregory Jones, a licensed clinical psychologist at Capital Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness in DC, says, "Serotonin is one of those 'feel good' neurotransmitters that really helps people feel alive, excited and more attracted to people."

This may actually be true.  Last night, my father joined my daughter, Melody, and me at Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland in College Park for the 2nd round NCAA Tournament game between the Maryland Terrapins and the undefeated Princeton Tigers.  It turned into a dominating win for the Terps, who won 85-70, sending them into the Sweet Sixteen of the tournament.  We arrived at the game shortly before tip-off (traffic!), so our seats weren't very good.  The place was filled with mostly Terps fans, and it was loud.  After the game started, two ladies sat down in the seats directly in front of us, and as the game went along, we struck up some conversation with them.  They appeared to be a mother and daughter, but that's just a guess.  We seemed to connect with them after commenting back and forth on the dancing drum major in the Princeton band who wildly gyrated his body during every song the band played.  He looked like a reject from a chorus line.  Take a look for yourself:

video

Anyway, we had a lot of fun joking with them.  After the game, Dad observed that I seemed to enjoy my bantering with the "daughter."  She seemed about my age, and she was not wearing a ring (the "mother" wasn't wearing one, either).  She was very tall, too, and my guess is she may have played basketball at some point in her life.  (If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I like tall women.)  While there were no sparks that I was aware of, in hindsight, Dad thought maybe they were both "flirting" with us.  Dad is a bit more outgoing than me, so I'm sure he was more aware of this than me.  I'm pretty clueless about this kind of stuff.  I didn't give it anymore thought until I heard the WTOP story this morning, and it occurred to me that maybe it's true.  Maybe there was some flirting going back and forth, and I just didn't see it, and maybe it IS a result of the serotonin and the Spring weather.  Who knows?

I began to think back on previous dating relationships.  Spring has always signified either a beginning or an end to most of them.  I met Teresa, who I later married, in April.  In addition, I had four other dating relationships end in March or April.  Maybe there is something to this?

My Pastor and his wife, Mark & Lu, set me up on a date in March about seven or eight years ago.  I hadn't dated anyone since Teresa died in April 2004, and up to that point, I had no interest in dating.  But how could I resist an opportunity to go out on a planned blind date set up by Mark & Lu?  No one had ever done anything like that for me, and I was honored that they cared to do something so thoughtful.  What I didn't know was that Mark & Lu had done this many times over the years, and they had a zero success rate in their matchmaking abilities.  But they sure know how to plan a fun date!

I was given a package with instructions not to open it or look at it before our date, planned for a Friday evening.  We were both instructed to meet at the Joanne Fabrics store in Columbia, and to carry a small stuffed animal with us.  This was how we would identify each other.  I borrowed a small stuffed bear from my daughter, and I reluctantly entered Joanne's.  I was a nervous wreck.  While I trust that God is with me during these moments, I can't help but feel completely stressed out when meeting someone new.  This was no different.  But I quickly found her.  We introduced ourselves to each other, and then we opened an envelope addressed to us in the package from Mark & Lu.  It said to head off to Arundel Mills Mall and go to the Bass Pro Shop before opening the next envelope.  So off we went.

We arrived at Bass Pro Shop and the next envelope instructed us to go to the shoe department and try on hip waders.  There was a disposable camera included in the package and we were to have someone take a picture of us wearing the waders.  Talk about embarrassing!  But we did it, and it was a fun icebreaker.

Picture courtesy of Aliexpress.com
We continued to be given different activities around the store, along with another envelope full of conversation questions, and it was quite a wonderful way to get to know someone.  We checked out boats at the Bass Pro Shop, looked for ugly couches at a furniture store, played games at Dave & Buster's, and we even had a great meal at one of the local restaurants at the mall, courtesy of Mark & Lu, all while discussing a variety of subjects designed to get us talking and finding out more about each other.  It was a perfectly enjoyable evening.  I can't say enough about how creative Mark & Lu were to come up with such a great date night for us.

While I wish I could say that the young lady and I went on to have a long, successful dating relationship, we only went out a few more times before I began struggling again with grief over my wife's death, and I ended the relationship with her.  But that early Spring night, we had a magical time together.  Whether it was a result of Mark & Lu's wonderful planning, the fantastic, meaningful conversation, God's obvious presence with us both, or the serotonin flowing through our bodies, we felt a connection.

So, with the Spring weather upon us, get out and do things and meet someone new.  You may find a new friend, or maybe even a possible love connection.  The serotonin is a-flowin'!

Have a great evening, everyone!

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