Jason Mesnick has been asked about heartache before.
Heartache is what led Kirkland’s 32-year-old single father to be on ABCs “The Bachelorette” show last season. In the final episode, he felt the pang again when DeAnna Pappas rejected his marriage proposal.
So when asked how he feels about being in love, Mesnick pauses.
“It’s just the best thing in the world,” he told the Reporter over the phone while on a trip to Los Angeles last week. “It’s just more than I ever hoped for.”
The local account executive recently returned as the program’s leading man for “The Bachelor,” which debuted on Jan. 5.
The Reporter chatted with Mesnick about his life off the set when he’s in Kirkland hanging out with his 3-year-old son, Ty, as well as about his experience of finding his new love on the show.
Q: What are some of your favorite hangout spots in Kirkland?
A: I mean, I’m so casual, you know. There’s a little Greek restaurant called Santorini (on Central Way) that I love to go and stop by and get a gyro at. There’s the Cactus restaurant in downtown Kirkland that I love to go to, but then a lot of times, you know, if I’m with Ty, I’ll take him down to the waterfront and we’ll feed the ducks or just skip rocks or we’ll go up to watch a baseball game at Peter Kirk. I mean, you can just walk around there and there’s stuff to do all day long.
Q: What else do you do in your free time?
A: You know, with Ty, he’s such a boy’s boy. Like right now he’s into race cars and Speedracer and all sorts of sports. He loves golf and he loves baseball and he loves football and he loves to wrestle.
Q: What Kirkland neighborhood do you live in?
A: I live up by Evergreen Hospital.
Q: What do you think about the Totem Lake Mall out there?
A: I remember as a kid there I collected baseball cards. I remember going there on Saturday or Sunday mornings and looking at the baseball cards people were selling and stuff.
But they’ve always said they’re going to do something new to that area and develop something new. We’ll see. I keep on hearing rumors.
Q: Tell us about your house?
A: Oh, I live in not a very big house. I mean, it might be 1,200 square feet, three bedrooms. It’s big enough for Ty and I to hang out and play. One of our pieces of furniture is a big bean bag instead of a couch.
Q: Where were you for the show’s premiere?
A: I was actually flying back from New York and I got home mid way through the first episode. I got home and my younger brother and his girlfriend were watching it and I watched part of it with them.
Q: How would you describe the experience of watching the premiere?
A: It was just that one episode so far and to see me going through this experience and living that experience was just, I already said surreal, but it’s just crazy. I mean, it’s just so different because I watched it thinking, oh my gosh, this is my life and I think other people may have watched it like a TV show. But for me it wasn’t – it’s my life.
Q: What brought you to be on The Bachelor?
A: A friend of mine who I’ve known for 10 years and she was on The Bachelor show maybe two years ago. And she moved down to California and I didn’t know she was going to be on the show, but I just remember turning it on and it was kind of mid way through the season. I know her really well, she was actually in my wedding. She’s from the Seattle area. I just remember watching it and thinking, God, this is really interesting, and then on the final day when she got rejected by Andy I thought, you know what, I’d like to do something like that. I mean I didn’t know that was going to be my future destiny at that point, but I sent an e-mail in and I said here’s my story and they called me back a year later. I remember getting the voicemail and playing it for my brother Larry, thinking get a load of this. There’s no way that they’re calling me. So you never think that you’re going to make it to the show, but little do you think you’re ever going to make it past that first night, let alone get to the final day or get rejected on the final day and then have this happen. So it’s been a snowball from then.
Q: The whole idea was for you to find that special someone. How long were you married?
A: We dated for five years and were married for three years. It’s part of my life experience. You know, I would never get married and think it was ever going to end and it wasn’t my choice for the marriage to end. But there’s a lot of things in life that are out of your control and you just have to deal with them.
Q: Ty is obviously the love of your life. Did the ladies get a chance to meet him?
A: I knew I couldn’t fully fall in love with somebody unless I saw Ty and them interact and how the girl I was falling in love with reacted towards Ty and vice versa. So he only met the last couple of girls.
Reporter: How did those interactions influence your decision?
Mesnick: There’s no way I was going to introduce him to someone who I didn’t already think was going to be great with kids. It’s not like you need to be the most amazing teacher in the world or somebody who gives 100 percent of your time to kids at all times, but it needs to be somebody who likes kids, who wants to have kids, who’s had some experience with kids. I knew the two people who I introduced to Ty would be good with him, but I had to see it firsthand to really fall in love with them.
Q: How’s Ty been through the whole experience?
A: Ty knows the TV guys and that includes when he met Deanna last year and the couple of girls he met this year and that includes everybody who was so great to him when things were happening – an audio person putting something on his head so he can hear his own voice, a camera guy teaching him how to use a camera. And those are all TV guys to him and that’s what Ty remembers out of all of this.
Q: What was going through your mind as all these lovely ladies were getting out of the limo to meet you for the first time?
A: (Laughs). I just kept on thinking like how did I get here? How am I lucky enough to be standing here when so many people would love this opportunity? How did this really, truly happen to me.
But I think one thing was I wanted this experience to be as natural as possible. Like I didn’t plan on any conversations I was going to have with anybody, and that includes when 25 girls I had never met were getting out of limos and I just wanted it to be natural and see who’s comfortable right away or see who’s maybe a little nervous on camera and I could kind of help out a little bit. I just wanted everything to be natural and I remember the first girl who came out and the first thing I thought was oh my god, I can’t think of anything to say. But it went totally fine.
Q: Did your jaw hurt from smiling so much?
A: Well, my jaw hurt from smiling so much and all the girls were so beautiful I think my jaw was just dropping.
Reporter: What was the most challenging part of the season for you?
Mesnick: The final day, without a doubt. Yeah, that final day is the biggest roller coaster of emotions you could ever imagine. I’ve never dated more than one person at the same time and to fall in love with two people was … I mean, you talk about the happiness, the most heartache I’ve ever felt in such a short period of time.
Q: The most exciting?
A: Oh, going to New Zealand. It’s a place that I’ve always, always wanted to go. Just getting off the plane there for the first time it was like all the most beautiful places in the world put together in to this small little place. Seattle and Kirkland has a similar feel, but it’s way more compact.
Q: In Web fan circles, fans were shocked when the premiere revealed that Deanna Pappas will be on the show. Can you tell us anything about that?
A: I can’t say a lot about that. I mean, Deanna does come back and I think everybody will be just as shocked as I was.
Reporter: How are fans responding to you?
Mesnick: Everybody is just so nice. Everybody is so kind, so generous. Last time, it was oh, are you okay? And now it’s we’re so happy for you. So it’s been kind of a building block on both ends, but everybody’s been just so sweet.
Q: Through the entire process, you’ve been confident that you would find true love again. Have you?
A: Yes, I have. That’s exactly why I came and did this. You know, I didn’t come here and do this for anything else than to find that person.
Q: Any wedding details?
A: No. We have not started talking about the wedding. We’re both adjusting to the show’s airing and adjusting to what things are going to be like now and afterwards. This was the most incredible way to meet her. And now we need to make sure that everything’s going to move at the right pace for us too.
Q: Will you remain in Kirkland?
A: Yeah, there’s no way I’m moving away from the Kirkland area because that’s where I am with Ty and I would never take him away from his mom.
Q: What would you tell other people or other single parents about your experience?
A: Keep your heart open. We’ve all been hurt in our lives, but that’s what makes us real. That’s what makes us human and lets us know that we’re alive because if we don’t have those feelings, then it’s over. If we can keep ourselves open even though it’s a horrible heartache, then there is happiness on the other side if we keep ourselves open to it and the rest of the emotions are just part of the journey.