Ditching the Debris of the Past to Embrace the Fresh Start of the Present

Sleeping On the Wrong Side of BedStepping into our new place on moving day a few days, it immediately felt like home, and I felt the heavy weight on my shoulders from the last several months of life’s frustrations gently lifting. It is truly amazing how being in a different environment can have such a dramatic effect on one’s outlook. When you feel warmly welcomed and openly embraced in a new setting, moods brighten, energy increases, creative blocks lift, attitudes positively shift and the daily grind feels like far less a burden. Ditching the debris and decay of the past and embracing the fresh start of the present, it even feels easier to be a more positive and supportive partner. Getting into bed that first night, I felt completely ease as I fell asleep, and I slept soundly—until 4 a.m. The next night I was wide-awake at 2 a.m. What could be driving the dichotomy of a joyous and calming new life and the disruptive nights of sleep? Was it something as simple as sleeping on the wrong side of bed?

For the last two years that we have been living together, Warrior Poet and I have had a specific side of the bed—he on the right, and I on the left. Middle of the night bathroom breaks weren’t so disruptive as my side of the bed was so close to the door that there was nothing on which to stumble. Most of my furniture and clothing were in a smaller room adjacent to the bedroom, so there was little else besides the bed and night tables.

Now, our bedroom was full of furniture—and of course, that first night was also full of unpacked boxes. When I woke up to the sound of restless feet shuffling together on the sheets in the wee hours of our first morning here, I stumbled in the unfamiliar dark before taking a huge spill after tripping over a suitcase, which was in the middle of the floor. I slowly cautiously made my way back from to the bed, getting in on the right side of bed, as my main bureau fit best beside it. After an hour to an hour-and-a-half of tossing and turning, with sore bones and a stinging abrasion on my hand, I was finally able to fall back asleep.

The next day, I woke up ready to attack the day, despite my disrupted sleep. I completed unpacking boxes for the kitchen and finished the fun task of finding a home for the dishes, glasses, cutlery, pots, pans, oils and spices. Easily the biggest and most beautiful kitchen I’ve had as an adult, I was thrilled to be able find a proper home for everything we currently own and to realize we still have a copious amount of cabinet and counter space left over.

With that settled, I tackled the clothes, towels and sheets that had built up during the extremely busy week before the move and that had gotten dirty and dusty during the move. In our last home, the old dryer broke early on and stopped heating, so one medium to large load of laundry easily took most of the day to dry. Towels, sweaters, jeans and gis hung on chairs in our big ballroom, drying stiffly and uncomfortably. Our new home has a new washer and dryer, and a load of laundry completely dries in less than an hour and half. My excitement over the ease of doing laundry now prompted me to do four loads that first full day in the house alone.

Attached to the laundry room is a modern bathroom filled with a dizzying amount of storage space. I got to work unloading and organizing towels and toiletries. My overflow of personal care products were just lined up in lazy rows on the shelves—I would have to return to the task later to make a more pleasing and accessible arrangement.

Modern KitchenNext, I made my way back to the bedroom, also with impressive storage space. The new room was significantly bigger than our last place, allowing us to store both my big bureau, one of WP’s dressers, two night tables and still have plenty of room to navigate around our king-size bed. However, my favorite part of the bedroom is the row of cedar closets that extend to the tall ceiling. One closet has two, long stacked racks to hang clothes on, and the other has one long rack for clothes and other miscellaneous items, with plenty of room for shoes and a near-full-length mirror. WP put his second dresser in the third closet, which perfectly fits under his rack of clothes. In the hallway is a deep storage closet to put all of our out-of-season clothing. After years of living in clutter, not knowing where more than half of my clothes were if I even remembered I still owned them in the first place, every item of clothing now has a proper home that I can clearly see and access. Instead of dressing in whatever is closest and clean, I can now outfit myself with intention, reflecting my own style and personality.

Just as I was running out of steam, my mother arrived for the late afternoon until WP got home from his first day of work. Both exhausted by the day’s end, he and I grabbed food, a prescription at the pharmacy and groceries to last us at least through the middle of the week. At home, we chatted on our bed, eating through whoopie pies and reminiscing over relics from childhood before reading ourselves to sleep.

Again, I slept incredibly soundly—until 2 a.m. I was either too hot from the humidity or a bit too chilled from the fan, and WP was starting to encroach on my side of the bed. His phone began incessantly flashing with light, which further woke me up. I rested in bed for a while in hopes that I would soon return to sleep. Eventually, I had to escape to the kitchen, where I began writing. After a couple hours, heavy rain began to fall, dousing the steamy stickiness in the air. I decided to return to bed, though I remained awake until after 6:30 a.m. Hoping I would be able to sleep late, my circadian clock (and the activity upstairs) kicked me into alertness again shortly after 8 a.m.

Mentally shot, after breakfast and dishes, I returned to the physical work of unpacking boxes. Now that WP and I are sharing an office by necessity in this house, I worked to delineate our work zones in the room. I staggered the desk placement on each long wall and consolidated my files and notebooks. I unpacked books and decided which to store as reference materials in the office bookcase and which to serve as a resource or inspiration in my yoga room. I felt freed and empowered as I released the clutter from the office and set up a work area that would inspire me.

When WP got home from work, we began decorating our main room with our photos, trinkets and doodads. WP put one of our favorite art pieces on the wall and then started setting up his side of the office. He put together the futon in the living room, rearranged the furniture in the bedroom and began to organize his own clothes. After we took all the now-empty boxes down into the basement, we embraced each other and marveled at how the new place was slowly starting to look like home.

After WP made our first homemade dinner in the new kitchen, we headed to the bedroom to start watching our weekly shows on the laptop. Cozied up on our pillows, we discussed what might be waking me up in the middle of night. WP offered to switch back to our normal places, but I decided I would give my new side of the bed one more night’s chance. Again, we read until sleep over took us. And there I slumbered until 8 a.m. the next morning.

I realize now that my mind and body weren’t protesting over a new side of the bed. I was simply taking time to wake up to the reality that this gorgeous place was really ours. Gone were the water leaks that looked like states and countries; the girly, colonial-style wallpaper; the sinking floors, broken windows and cracked floors. In its place now was a modern, cared-for home that begged to be filled and embraced with love. This morning, I am ready to get back to my creative work and fully enjoy this beautiful new space that is now clearly ours.

About My Mother

In honor of Mother’s Day, a few words about my beautiful and amazing mother:

1. My mother has an ageless beauty. She wears little to no makeup. She looks like a queen whether she’s dressed up in a formal gown or wearing one of her calf-length nightgowns. Her hair started to go silver when she was in her early 30s, which made her self-conscious, but to this day, complete strangers compliment her on how gorgeous her silver mane of hair is.

2. My mother is the epitome of forgiveness. I used to think the depth of forgiveness she made was somehow a sign of weakness, that she was, in part, a pushover, but I was very wrong. I question whether I would have such strength and courage to forgive the things that she has had to in the past, but she has done so with such fierce dignity and grace.

3. Even at the age of 33, there is nothing that soothes me more than my mother’s smooth, cool touch on my face full of tears or my body wracked with pain, whether physical or emotional. She is the first to come to my defense when someone has done me wrong and she also calls me on my bullshit. She is my biggest cheerleader and the best caregiver. She is the best listener, and I truly cherish my one-on-one time with her, no matter what we do. I couldn’t ask for a better best friend.

4. My mother is the perfect complement to her sometimes loud, opinionated and occasionally overbearing husband. Her words take on more power when they are shared, and she is able to reach out to my dad when he gets highly emotional in a way that I, often also highly emotional, cannot. She is sensitive, kind and knows just what will calm my father, or in turn force him to consider reason. They are more in love after more than 40 years of marriage—holding hands, sharing kisses, calling each other like lovesick teenagers when they are forced to be apart—that I can’t wait to find a partner to whom I can be a great complement as well.

5. This petite woman once affectionately called a “china doll” raised two rambunctious boys and a stubborn, wanna-be tomboy largely on her own for several years. All three went off to one of the best universities in the country and are (arguably) respectable adults. For much of this woman’s adult life she was the primary breadwinner of the household, and we will hold the biggest celebration ever on the day she can retire! I cannot wait to see what she chooses to do with her life from that beautiful day forward.

A Letter to A Love Lost & A Lesson Learned

Dear Mr. Etiquette:

youthinmind.sg

Sometimes in my weaker moments—like when I am watching a romantic movie with my family instead of the man who is supposed to be the one I am dating, or in those minutes when I am trying to fall asleep, or like today, in the shower when I have too much time to think—I find my mind falling on you. I wonder why I pushed you away and wonder if it’s part of my pattern. If it really is true that I push away the good men in my life…or if it’s true that I recognize the crazy and know when to break away to preserve my own sanity.

But today, in the shower, I remembered The Girl of Your Dreams. You remember her—the one you were secretly still in love with while we were dating and who you were ready to throw me under the bus for as soon as she said when. Even after I played host to your friends from Germany for over two weeks. Even after I spent five weeks with your children, both alone and with you, when they were here from Germany—when they made predictions I would be with you for years and years to come. Even after all that, as soon as GOYD, with her big breasts and her big purse that she spent on you out of guilt, like you were her gigolo, you pushed me away so you could “figure things out.”

by LJ-24 —www.deviantART.com

You would still be “with her,” figuring things out if it weren’t for the big reveal. Wondering why she never had time for you on the weekends. Wondering why she only had a couple hours every few weeks for you, if you were lucky. Wondering why she spent time together with you texting and taking calls from everyone else. Wondering why you never met any of her friends or family.  Wondering why your relationship never felt like a relationship over the last almost two years—how only three to four months felt like magic. Yet you clung because she was young, the sex was fabulous after an intimacy-free marriage, she had the curves and you were flattered that she chased after you at first.

If you hadn’t accidentally found out she was engaged and set to marry someone else, you would still be pining, waiting, and keeping me pining, waiting on the side, while you tried to figure things out. You would still be calling me to spend time with on the weekends when GOYD didn’t show.

You claim that you never would have stayed so long, wasting your life if you had known GOYD had gone back to her boyfriend. But where were your self-respect, your dignity and your character?  You knew something was wrong for over a year and when she stopped sleeping with you and dropping you a check once a month six months earlier, surely you sensed the tides had changed. Yet you still wasted months lovesick waiting for her.

You recognized I made you feel special, you saw my great qualities and you were deeply attracted to me. Even when you were supposed to be “back together” with her, you came to me. Your kids loved me and you allowed them to feel like I was a part of family when they were here. Your friends welcomed me with open arms. My family welcomed you and your kids like family, which is what you always wanted. Yet you gave that up so easily for her. I don’t know why, except that a part of you was so broken, is still so broken.

You wondered why I gave up on us? I didn’t give up on us. You never allowed there to be an “us”—truly—the entire time we were together. When you finally found out GOYD was engaged and then, wife to someone else, then I became the one you punished for all GOYD’s sins. I had a life of my own, not GOYD’s, to live.

nataliedee.com

Maybe one day you’ll see that I am not GOYD. Maybe one day you’ll see that not every woman is GOYD. Notice I used the word woman, not girl. Maybe one day you’ll realize you are a man who deserves more than someone who would use and abuse for two years of your precious life. I know I deserve more.

I deserve to be someone’s #1. I deserve to be more than someone’s afterthought or one’s part-time girlfriend. I deserve to be able to live 100 percent of my life and be admired and praised for that.

I thank you for helping to remind me of that.

Yours truly,

SingleInMy30s

Week’s End Round Up

Top 10 list for what I have done in the last week:

  1. Stayed up past 3 a.m. at least three nights…for work.
  2. Done a crazy urban scavenger hunt in the middle of NYC where, among other things,  I: did a handstand on the sidewalk, performed some break-dancing moves on a street corner, mimed a silent movie of a robbery-in-progress, and personally serenaded a complete stranger who actually seemed to enjoy the attention while eating what I think was a stromboli.
  3. I have gotten tipsy with my boss with whom a discussion was had about how some men are “f*cking assholes,” while others are merely mildly irritating only sometimes. The latter are thus worth sticking with for the long haul when you think of the kind and loving person they are most of the times and when you relish the wonderful ways they treat you.
  4. Dared by my co-worker, I got up in front of the rockin’ cover band and danced on stage next to a group of sloppy, drunk girls. Met with exuberant applause, co-worker helped me off the stage with a “I can’t believe you just did that” look in his eyes and a firm hand, and I felt a bit like Courtney Cox in a Bruce Springsteen music video, except in 6-inch heels. Got the verbal and physical thumbs up from people I’d never seen before.
  5. Was told I was a superstar by many senior members of my company–makes these ridiculous work hours I’ve been putting in worth it.
  6. Dropped my second more than halfway full Jamba Juice smoothie in as many trips to NYC. That just ain’t right, Manhattan!
  7. Realized that there are only 12 days left before my news site launches!!!
  8. Received the corporate credit card…Office Depot now loves me.
  9. Actually asked to go to the principal’s office at the high school.
  10. Bought myself a Wii Sport this week, which I finally played today to combat the work-life imbalance threat that seems to overwhelm a majority of my colleagues by job definition. Wii bowling, I so own you! And you just wait, Wii baseball, there are more home runs, fastballs, and curve balls coming at ya. Seriously, I need to get the new dance game (version 2) that just came out.

And now off to bed, after a little over four hours of sleep last night and another early morning tomorrow. I get to spend a few hours with some cops. Love my job. 🙂

Jumping Head In, Part II: Match Comes Up With a Winner

“You scare me,” said Mr. Etiquette with a smile and a voice of wonder. He was stroking my back at that time and looking at me with his chameleon eyes.

“Why do I scare you?” I asked, meeting him with a smile.

“This is too good. I can’t keep myself from you. It’s scary,” he said. It was true. It was more than the deep, penetrating conversations. It was more than the sweet caresses. It was more than two people baring their souls so easily and freely in just three dates in less than a week. It was eerie.

“I can see inside you, and you inside me. When you talk about your pain, of the life you left behind in Germany—losing the ability to be in your children’s lives daily, of the pain of your childhood…I feel it too,” I said. “When I talk of my suffering, you just want to protect me, stand up for me, comfort me.” I looked out the window at the dusk sky, milky with clouds. “Maybe this is what happens when two empaths get together.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Mr. Etiquette agreed.

I didn’t intend for this to happen. My first date with Mr. Etiquette was more like a social experiment. I was intrigued by his profile and emails, of course, but I had never dated a man over the age of 39. I’ve never had a problem with numbers, per se, but even the last 39 year old I grew close to thought he was old, was a bit too stodgy in his ways and was afraid to take chances, and he just looked down on everyone as silly and frivolous, regardless of their maturity and intelligence.

As for divorcés, my last boyfriend was divorced but he had almost no positive things to say about his ex-wife, and they didn’t have kids. He was terrified of future commitment because the last girlfriend he had, while he was separated (though still living with his wife), broke up with him just when he was finally fully available to her

I had gone on one date with a divorced dad before, but I quickly found we had nothing in common. So, here with Mr. Etiquette, I was curious what a mature, loving father who’d been married for twelve years, had a stable career in an area of passion, and with whom I had multiple things in common and communicated in a language I spoke, was actually like in person. The fact that he was 41 was a consideration—a man I date has to be young in spirit and actions, whatever age he is.

So, date one was a success. Such a success that the next day Mr. Etiquette—who is so named because he is so out of the dating loop, he constantly asks, “What’s the etiquette on this? Is this a date? Can I pay for your food?” and “What’s the etiquette? Do I call you tomorrow?”—said, when we were on the phone briefly,  “I want to see you tomorrow when my out of town visitor leaves. Can we make that happen?”

That Saturday, I was having a rough afternoon physically, so I called Mr Etiquette and told him I understood if we called off the date. “Of course not,” he said. “We’ll just deal with these as they come. Just tell me what I need to do when you’re in trouble.”

“But this is our second date,” I whined. I had fallen in the check-out line in Walmart, in the parking lot of Walmart, on the way into Target, and had to use electric scooters there and at Sam’s. “I don’t want you to see me at my worst.”

“Don’t be silly,” he reassured me. “We’ll get through this together.”

I arrived and he showed me his lovely home. Pictures of his beautiful children were all over the house. His son and daughter’s rooms were decorated for when they come for their five-week visits in the summer. He took me to the basement to show me his electriconic drum set. He played around with the setup and sounds for a little bit before breaking into a Journey song. He was amazing, and I was impressed to hear a rather pleasant voice come out of his mouth as well.

After a dinner of frozen dinner, we sat down to watch SNL highlights of Will Ferrell. We talked about music and comedy and film. We watched Any Which Way But Loose, as I found out that Mr. Etiquette loves him some Clint Eastwood. The main female character was a “biyotch,” Mr. E announced in a hilarious redneck accent, and every time he said it, I tickled him.

It always starts with tickling. By the time we put in Seinfeld, the fun had begun. Mr E had disappeared for a moment and come back with mouthwash breath. I proclaimed the unfairness of the moment as I had stale pizza breath. He said, do you want M&Ms, to go to the bathroom and get some mouthwash of your own, or do you want to use my mouthwash? I’m thinking is he actually giving me my own mouthwash to use? Finally it dawns on me as he looks at me with his penetrating eyes with a flirtatious grin on his face. “I want your mouthwash,” I say shyly. Then he leaned over and gave me the perfect, soft and sensual kiss. “Wow,” we both said.

When we broke away, we watched some more Seinfeld, but he kept saying things that made me tickle him, which led to a dare to see who could endure the longest tickling. I won. Then Mr. E. got saucy and took the dares further and further.  By the time 2:30 a.m. rolled around, he said, “This is silly. You could just spend the night here and we can continue this through the night in between sleep.” But then of course, that would scare him…the domesticity of it all.

He texted a brief note on Sunday saying: Okay. Unexpected! Wow! Thank you. Hope you have an awesome day.

Today I texted him a “Hope you’re having a good day.” Within minutes he called. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot. It’s scary. I know I’ve been distant. But you know my past; I’m a little beat up emotionally. But I have been thinking of you.” He mentioned the possibility of a client canceling for the evening and the fact that his German visitors may not arrive on the weekend as early as expected thanks to the volcanic plumes delaying flights in Europe, but he left it there.

I texted him this: Of course I will do my best to respect and honor all the space and time you need. I promise to let you come to me if and when you want to. 🙂

He replied: Wow. The perfect, fantasy girl.

But I meant it. A gun-shy guy always retreats when he feels pressured or too scared. So imagine my surprise when he calls five minutes later to tell me he definitely wants to come out to see me. So we’re on for date number three.

After grabbing some food, I show him a little of the town green, highlights of key places where I grew up, which he seemed to enjoy. Then we headed over to Crandall Park, where I first learned to swim with the pollywogs and unidentified nasties.

We took to the trails, talking about how he missed his little girl’s 9th birthday. We talked about my frustration with the school board that abandoned me when I started getting seriously ill. Mr. E. got indignant on my behalf. He told more about his career plans. We talked more about his former marriage, my past relationships. We talked about intimacy and fantasy. I had my first episode in front of him, and he gently wrapped his arms around me until they subsided. “It’s okay. I’m here. You can lean on me.”

And then when it got dark, we pulled the car under a tree, away from the light, and parked like crazy teenagers, praying we wouldn’t get caught. Apparently, two other couples had the same idea, but they politely left. One tooted his horn, giving us the stamp of horny approval.

We laughed, but held on close to one another, admiring the shimmering chemistry between us: the blend of compatible personalities, interests, sensibilities, and of course, attraction.

I don’t know where this is leading. We have almost three weeks of time and space with his visitors for Mr. Etiquette to decide if he really is ready for this. I think he can picture possibilities of a future. But he also is still trying to find peace with the past. I know that will take time. I know it really is too soon to tell for sure, but my gut is telling me he really might be worth waiting for.

Jumping Head In, Part I

The last time I was on Match for a month was a bust. I wasn’t catching any good fish, and I felt no real desire to do anything with it. By the middle of the month, I was already becoming totally smitten with a wonderful guy, who unfortunately lives in a different time zone, but we were doing what we could to stay connected until we could find some way to see if a future was possible.

Of course the day after I canceled Match, I get the email saying something to the effect of “Anonymous is interested in you and sent you an email. Find out who’s interested.” The next day, I received another email saying a second person emailed me and is interested in getting to know me. By the middle of the week, I had collected six emails, and I thought, what gives? I’m getting more action than I had in my month on there previously.

Yet, when I saw all this anonymous interest, brazen hussy that I am, I was curious. I waited, knowing that a discount price was sure to drop in my inbox any day now. When it did, I signed up just to find out who these goofs who were emailing me now. Several guys were carry-overs from before who I’d left dormant and were nothing to write home about, some probably would make decent friends but wanted more. Then, in the midst of the pile, there was a diamond sparkling.

Mr. Etiquettte, aged 41, divorced dad of 2. Had lived in Germany for the last 19 years. Was previously a professional drummer in very successful band overseas. Now a marriage and family therapist,  psychotherapist, and adjunct professor teaching online classes in psychology. He had written a brief, sweet email, sounding a bit nervous, asking me to check out his profile and hoping I liked what I saw enough to want to start a dialogue.

I waited almost a week because I knew that this guy might actually be promising. I needed time to decide if I should actually pursue this or focus solely on my long-distance lover. How would one email hurt? I bet he had some amazing stories to tell; I’m a writer, and I was curious to hear his life story. And not for nothing, he’s pretty cute.

So I sent him a long email about myself. Talked about my singer/songwriting background. Told him about being a teacher, a journalist, and fiction writer. Mentioned my near future career goal direction into expressive arts therapy. He replied fascinated. He also thought we had a lot in common, with similar sensibilities, and looked forward to hearing from me soon

He shared more about his background: his heartbreak that his children, ages 9 and 10, now live across the seas. He spoke of the divorce—his German wife missed her old life and family when they moved to the States a few years ago.

On a whim, don’t really know why, other than that we kept sending novel emails when he’s an incredibly busy man, I entrusted him with my phone number saying we could probably cover more ground more quickly that way. Surprisingly, he called me in the middle of the next day. After brief niceties, he said, “I have visitor coming in tomorrow, but I would really love to meet you. I’m booked all day. Would you have time for coffee or something tonight?”

For some reason, I said yes. I made myself pretty and begged my mom to drop me off at Border’s. Unfortunately they were closing up the coffee shop section, so we headed across the street to Chili’s. That’s when I had to explain why I didn’t have my car, why I couldn’t drive, and thus explaining “the illness.” He DIDN’T FREAK. Instead, he was incredibly compassionate and supportive, and we just carried on with our date.

We ate, talking about everything for several hours, though he had a long work day again tomorrow and a out-of-town visitor coming over night. “I don’t want this to end,” he kept saying.

Truthfully, I was enjoying it too. We’re both meaningful communicators and pensive. So we shared a lot of deep thoughts and explored heavy emotions for a first date.

Mr. Etiquette mentioned his previous night’s date, where he felt zero chemistry,  but she said, “So you’ll call me?” He said, “um…yes?” trying to be polite. So at the end of our date, he said, “So call me or email me. You know, if you want to.”  It was very cute. I told him to feel free to do the same.

It was such a non-awkward first date, such easy, comfortable conversation. Especially by the end, we were showing our compatible sense of humor as well. I thought I really think I might want to see this man again.

In Grief and In Confusion, The Past Meets My Future

Monday was the wake. The place was packed with dazed and crushed 21-year-olds who had never faced mortality so close to them before. HH's little sister was loved by so many people from so many walks of life. Memorials to her young life paved the walkway–photographs, a video montage, her baptismal gown. At the head of receiving line was Mom, who burst into a new dose of painful tears when each person representing a different part of her life or the daughter's walked by.

When I came in with my oldest brother, who grew up with HH, HH gave me a huge hug and whispered how much it meant to him that I came. Later, in a text, he asked if I saw him smile when he saw me come in. He thanked me for making his insides light up.

The next day, Winnie and I went to the funeral together, as planned. We met up with two other childhood friends and sat together through the touching ceremony. The congregation was overcome with a chorus of sobbing when HH's middle sister, S,  got up to give her tribute to her little sister. She talked about their close bond, tearfully spoke of how her sister will never be an aunt to her kids, how she will never get to see her little sister get married, etc. She shared funny memories as well. I've never seen a crowd so overwhelmed with emotion before.

The burial was somber and mercifully brief. Afterward, HH came over, surprised to see me and nearly picked me up with a huge hug. He asked how I was, and I shook my head. "No, how are you?" He commented on how I was burning up in the heat of the sun, dressed all in black, giving veiled compliments about my looks. S came over to us, her friends, and we spoke about how it was a perfect day. How the birds were singing, the sun was shining despite the threat of clouds later in the day. Little sister was buried next to a plot carrying a Yankee flag, her favorite baseball team. HH and his sister said the family had been seeing signs of little sister everywhere.

We went back to the church for the reception. Winnie, M (one of the dear friends of my childhood), and I sat at a table by ourselves. We spoke in hushed tones about the accident, our worries about how the family was holding up, noting how neither HH or S were eating, how S looked like a frail bird.

M asked if HH was going to move up here. I said I sincerely doubted it. Somehow we began discussing my brief relationship with HH, how it went from absolutely amazing to heartbreaking. M commented that S was exactly the same way. She only let people get so close before she pushed them away. That brought me some kind of comfort and closure, even.  M said how our job was to stay in touch with S, to make sure she remained connected with her friends, and that my job was to convince HH to move back to the state to be back with his family.

Suddenly HH, S and her husband swooped upon us. HH sat next to me, pulling me to his side. He kept hugging me, squeezing me to his side, and finally he tightly grasped my hand in his hand. "It means the world to me that you are here." We closed out the reception, bringing smiles and laughter to S's face. When Winnie and I got into the car, she said, 'I would certainly say the HH was very glad to see you!"

Yesterday, I texted Harlequin Hero, asking if he wanted to get out and do something outdoors while the weather was nice, also allowing him to get away from the sadness and drama that surely overtook life at home this week. I wasn't too surprised when later, HH replied, "What are you doing tomorrow? Is the weather supposed to be nice again?"

Today, he wound up being caught up in family stuff all day. I was about to write it off as a raincheck or even a blow off, when he texted, "I'll pick u up in a few."

It was after 7 p.m. when he arrived in his new truck. "Did you have any thoughts for where you want to go?" he asked. "I just needed to get out of the house." I mentioned we could try to find a park or something that wouldn't kick us out after sunset. As we drove by the tavern where we met and where we went to many a karaoke night, he noted all the vehicles parked out front and I said teasingly that it was Thursday: karaoke night. "Really?" he replied. "Maybe we'll drop by there afterward."

First, we just drove. We talked about my illness and my plans for the near future. We talked about his sister. We talked about spirits and signs from loved ones when we needed them after they'd passed. He painfully spoke of her last attempt to reach out to him before she passed and his missed opportunity to reply. He shared more extended family drama.

We navigated the familiar streets of our hometown. We went through the automatic carwash to wash his truck. Then we headed for this pond that we thought was still accessible. It wasn't. We wracked our brains for other teen haunts, and tried another place. We saw a fence and a "No trespassing sign." Next to that, though, we saw fresh tire tracks through the grass. HH followed it until we got to the beach in front of a lake.

It was a beautiful night. The sky was clear, and we could see stars everywhere. We could hear frogs and crickets and smell the water as the breeze wafted its aroma in our direction. We found a park bench to sit on. He pulled me toward him. "You are so warm," he said.  "I'm freezing." Our bodies remembered history, as he pulled me onto his lap and pulled my face to his.

After a time, the breeze was no longer refreshing; it was just cold. We retreated to the truck. We continued where we left off. We enjoyed each other a little bit more, we laughed. Reaching for him, I accidentally grabbed the Gatorade bottle in the beverage console in front of us and started cracking up.

"Have your boobs gotten bigger?" he asked later.

"Why, do they seem like it?" I replied. "Yeah, I've gained a little weight," I said proudly.

He nodded appreciatively. "I thought they had an extra bounce to them; I can really cup them good now," he said, gesturing with his big hands.

We started talking about everything. He is looking at houses in town, including some in my neighborhood. The taxes scared him, so I told him to look one town over. He mentioned he'd need a roommate. I asked how serious he was about getting a house here. He said something about how he was almost 40, and it was time to settle down.

"What, with wife and kids?" I asked. He said he was too old to have kids. I said, you're an athlete, that's no excuse. "Marry a 23-year-old," I joked. He said that was too much for him to handle. "Okay, marry a 30-year-old." He said, yeah, someone closer to his age would be more realistic. But then he ducked his head and said something about how all that's not so important to him right now.

Then he told me how until last week, he had gotten back together with his ex-fiance. The one who had completely shattered his heart and forced him into a shell from which it took him months and months to emerge. I was the one who first drew him out of it over a year ago. His sister had sincerely thanked me for bringing some happiness to him again. Anyway, a little over a month ago, the ex drew him back again. He was ready to move her up with him, he'd bought a truck just to handle the horse trailer she'd need to bring her animals up. He planned on surprising her with the truck last week, but she couldn't/wouldn't find the time for him. Then, his sister died.

The gf's response was terribly lacking. Then, instead of comforting him on his long, agonizing drive home, even for just a few minutes on the phone, she couldn't find time for him, instead more concerned with her friend who broke her ankle. Boyfriend's sister dying vs. a broken ankle. The former kind of seems like it should rank as a higher priority in terms of being there for someone, IMHO. HH agreed. He couldn't believe that all he got were a couple of empty texts. Any time he called, she never answered. He wrote her off then and there. Deleted every text conversation, her phone number, etc.

He said, what am I going to do, go back down to my place down South and be a hermit or be up here with all these people who love and support me? Exhausted from an incredibly long day, he took a power nap in my arms. Wide awake, I thought about everything that had happened this week, the sorrow, the surprises left and right. I thought about the other person in my life who suddenly seemed very far away, and yet more concrete and complete, filling my cracks and never leaving me wanting except for his physical presence.

After HH dropped me off, I talked to one of my best friends who saw me through and after my relationship with HH, and she surprised me by saying he sounded like he was starting to realize how much I meant to him. I said he's probably just reacting in grief and will disappear. She said it was more likely that if this is what I wanted, I would have to be very, very patient but this might possibly lead to a happy ending.

At the beginning of this week, I was thinking about being ready to start a future with someone else. At the end of this week, a part of me is left pondering the past again. I feel like this is the story of my life, to always have the past drawing me back in, forcing me to make difficult choices or wonder if I'm really able to let go. Honestly, I don't even know if there even really is a choice to make, but if there is, I don't know if just how easy it would be for me to say no this time.

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Does He Always Come in Threes? Part II

Where we last left off, I was describing the trend in my life of old flames coming back in triplicate. One of those times brought me back in touch with an ex for whom and with whom closure was severely needed. Unfortunately, true closure has never occurred with the long-term relationship that followed with V-Man. Ironically, of all my exes, we probably have remained in touch the most and been the closest post-break up.

After two years of a relationship, and one year of time apart, V-Man and I are buddies. We have spurts where he calls several times a week, or we text back and forth throughout a day. He’s watched my cat when I went on vacation in the early days. We’ve hung out as friends-only last year when we were officially no longer a couple, going to concerts, meeting for meals, seeing fireworks.
During the times when we both knew better, there were times when we gave into the attraction that was still electric between us and enjoyed extra benefits. I’ve gotten confused, overreacted, rehashing the issues that caused me to break up with him in the first place and never were resolved back then and still fester from time to time, and he’s wisely withdrawn. Then two weeks later, he texts: “How doin?” as if nothing ever happened. And things go back to normal again.
This year, when I was in the hospital for a week, he came to see me though he hates doctors and “medical stuff.” He held my hand during the horrible seizure-like episodes, and he came to visit when I got to come home. He was the first person to take me out to do something fun, see a concert. My boyfriend at the time didn’t do that. The V-Man held me protectively and tenderly, treating me like a fragile china doll only when necessary, but also let me feel free to be normal when I could.
So why the confusion? Well, late last year, when I was obviously dating someone else, the V-Man turned alpha male, for the third time that year. He talked into my ear with urgency how the only reason he and I aren’t still together is because of me. He talked about how my parents have misconceptions about him because of lies or half-truths I told them about him, because I have this misconceptions about him, that I don’t know everything about how he really feels. He was overtly flirtatious, which is normal, but this other side of him that was basically saying, it’s still your move made me think, is he really saying this doesn’t have to be the end of our story? Do I want it to be?
It took me getting sick and seeing the way he tended to me so lovingly to really take the question seriously again. So, after breaking up with said boyfriend, I brought it up. In a text, blech. He said, “Why do you always do this over emails and texts. Let’s do this face-to-face, so you can hear my side of things and know how I really feel. I want you to get better first. [my emphasis hereI’m not going anywhere.” So, days and weeks pass. He constantly asks my status. Are you eating well? Are you gaining weight? How many episodes did you have today? How are you walking? No mention at all of the topic.
Today was the first time we’ve seen each other since then. We’ve talked plenty. When he was covering the NCAA Women’s Tournament in Dayton, he called me first after he arrived before he called his mom. He’d call to ask me where he should go to eat. He called the next night when he was waiting to get food. He’s called several times this week about various stuff just to share random or crazy work or life stuff.
Then today, he said he wanted to have the cat play date before I left for vacation. Since we broke up, he finally moved his cat into the no-longer new house, so my cat has never met him. We worried there’d be some strife. There was. What I wasn’t at all prepared for was the “SexySweets”, the touching, the “what do you want to do?” bit. Bent over to rescue my cat from under the sofa, the V-Man was envisioning an entirely different bending over. Figures. I know he still lusts, he still loves, but he doesn’t seem to want the relationship. I really don’t think I want it anymore either, but what gives?

Last night, the most recent ex who claims to be un-datable but still wants to go on dates that aren’t dates, hold hands, hug, and kiss, asks me to sleep over. I don’t. Today, the other ex wants to give me a “complimentary special.” There are only two and half more days until Vegas. Do you think I can make it through without any more temptations? Because I haven’t even told you what’s awaiting me there…

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Does He Always Come in Threes? Part I

For reasons that will become apparent later in this [way too long] post, tonight I started thinking about things that come in threes. According to Google: bad luck comes in threes. Bad news comes in threes. Trouble. Death. Good luck. Apparently even comedy comes in threes?
Thinking about my dating life, it always seems like romantic opportunity usually comes in threes. In most cases, this usually comes in the form of old flames. For me, when one old flame flickers back into the picture, I always have an eye out for at least two others to shortly follow. They usually do within a week or two. I always feel like God is pulling a sick joke on me when this happens.
At one point in my life, a guy I had dated for a month emailed over a year later to re-kindle our friendship (read: ring for a booty call while his nearly live-in girlfriend was away on a business trip, ass). At the same time, an old lover, always kindred spirit and good friend, from maybe six years earlier announced he was coming to town and was finally completely single at a time when I actually was too. Meanwhile, my ex-boyfriend, with whom I had lived for over two years and dated off and on for three, was making contact finally after close to two years.
The last time we had talked, he had admitted impregnating his (formerly our) neighbor shortly after we had last seen each other, which was a nightmarish scenario when I walked into a bar with my new boyfriend only to see him, the man who was still in love with me after four or so months.
This particular old-flame reunion was the most cherished one for me, as it was the first time R had picked up the phone to reach out to me and ask to meet. Some mutual friends were throwing a concert at our old stomping ground. He and the mother of his daughter had finally broken up, presumably for the last time, so he felt it was okay reaching out to me.
He talked to me about everything. He seemed a changed man; one, he was completely pot-free; two, he was a father of a beautiful little girl who he absolutely adored; three, he as changing his career back to teaching and coaching; and four, he was the fittest I’d ever seen him. I told him how proud I was of him, and I meant it. He took me back to the house, let me see my cats that he forced me to leave behind when I moved out. A lot of old memories swirled together with the new changes, and we stayed up until maybe 4 a.m.
Our relationship had never had resolution or closure before. When he had called me those years before to tell me his girlfriend was pregnant, he had been in tears, saying he still had love for me and hadn’t even been sure our story was over yet. As painful as it was to hear, I told him, this was his story now, and if he wanted to be a good father to his daughter, he had to be a good partner to the mother now. I told him I knew he loved the mother, especially if she was bearing his child. I knew his heart. He had to let go of the past and look to the future.
Sadly, this mean he cut everything off completely. I sent emails of congratulations when news passed via our mutual friends, I remembered his birthdays, but he couldn’t and wouldn’t reciprocate anything back. I understood why it had to be that way, but it still stung to have been so close so many years and now be nothing at all.
Today, we do not remain in touch. We finally had our one chance to say everything that needed to be said. Sometimes we are never given an opportunity to have full closure with someone we once loved. I feel especially blessed that I did with R because I never have had the opportunity to with V-Man, the one who came afterward.

When Temptation Knocks, Do You Answer?

Today I went over to J's house to listen to his latest set of music, grab some fried chicken and coleslaw at Popeye's, and watch The Tudors (which I highly recommend–it has romance, sex, violence, historical intrigue, and lots of sexy men). J is a singer/songwriter, like me, which is one of the common interests that brought us together. When we first met, he played to an invisible audience in his bedroom. I encouraged him to play at his first open mic, which led to a couple more. Then, I casually talked to one of my friends who is a drummer in three or four different bands, what would be the best way for a musician to start off getting gigs at a bar. He said, "Talk to someone like me. We just had a cancellation for our opening gig. Is he interested?" The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, I have been J's "musical muse," as he often says, but mostly I have been his sound (wo)man. I listen to his music during the practices, tell him what sounds good, whether he should move up or down a capo, alert him when he's off key or playing a funky chord, etc. He feels I'm the only one he can trust with his sound. It's a fair-sized responsibility that I've enjoyed even after we broke up.

J and I dated for a little more than four months, and we broke up shortly after Valentine's Day when he began to passively withdraw, and I finally decided to end both of our misery. My illness made things difficult in terms of togetherness. I didn't get to see two of his big gigs. He never saw me without my family home. It broke his heart to be unable to just "fix" things, and I could feel it becoming a burden to have to come by every weekend. However, what really broke us up was admitting once again for the last time that we were just not right for each other, which we had been fighting since the very beginning.
J was still heartbreakingly in love with his ex when we began dating, which of course I didn't know until maybe a month or more until things. Yet it wasn't as painful as it might have been since I was still in love with the V-Man, who I had been seriously dating for two years up until November of the previous year. Over the year since, we still spent a considerable amount of time together and talked often.
J actually met V-Man early on, not knowing that he was an ex. The energy between us was something J instantly noticed and envied. Chemistry was never a problem for me and the V-Man. Throughout my relationship with J, he told me I never seemed excited around him. I didn't seem thrilled to share my world with him like I did with V-Man or any of the other friends and family he'd met. It was a fair observation. As sexy as he was, as much as we had in common superficially (writing, teaching, and music), we still lacked that magnetic pull. I found myself preferring to spend time with others more than him. So many times when we'd do something special, I'd be enthused and think I was showing, but he'd say I didn't really seem enthused. In the bedroom, I'd be aroused and ready to play, but he'd say I didn't seem into it enough. In short, I just wasn't into him enough. And you know what? With all his doubts, his back and forth between being present and being distant, he was right–I wasn't feeling it like I should.
J has a track record for either rushing in, way in too soon, which is what he did with me as soon as he finally accepted things with his ex were finally undeniably over, or distancing himself and creating a cocoon of J keeping him and his passions and toys inside and the rest of the world out. He recognizes this, and he calls himself broken and un-datable, excusing himself from ever having to try harder or compromise or admit he can have at least parts of it all.
Somehow, we've managed to stay friends post-breakup, but even a "platonic" friendship with him is confusing. The first time we really spent time together after the official break up, he came to the house, picked me up and we went to a nearby park to do a little hiking. We were walking along, talking peacefully, when suddenly he reaches out for my hand, like it's the most natural thing in the world. As we crossed the bridge, he stopped me, gave me the biggest hug, saying, "You really are a beautiful woman." I didn't know how to react, so I just kind of went with the flow and let the moment pass.
Last weekend, he asked if I wanted to go see a movie with him. Eager to get out of house lockdown, I agreed. We went out for sushi for dinner, on him. Yes, he's making money right now, and I'm not, but he shouldn't be assuming to pay for my meal like that when it's not a date. So we walk around the outdoor mall for a while. I have a couple episodes, he holds me close, protectively, jokes about whether he'll have to carry me back to the car. We head to the theater. I pay for the movie to be more fair. When we sit back and the movie begins, J's hand immediately crawls over to my leg and gives it a lingering squeeze before it just rests there, claiming it. It feels nice there, so I hug his arm with my hand briefly. After the car ride home, he kisses me.
Tonight, after music, food, and shows, J casually offers, "You can spend the night if you want." I remember the last time I came to listen to his music, when he couldn't keep his eyes and hands off me. But he stopped himself from getting too out of line. "No, I can't." On the car ride home, I asked him what he meant by that. He said he was worried about what I'd think. I said what that I'd be upset that this was purely a physical thing, it didn't mean anything more than that. He nodded. I said if we were to have sex, it would be no strings attached. I think I meant it, and I wasn't even so sure I did want it.
But tonight, I admit I was tempted. Our coats were on to go, though, but I allowed myself to feel the way his hands caressed my sides. I allowed my hands to slip under his shirt around his waist. He truly does have the most beautiful male body I've had the pleasure of intimately knowing. He greatly admires mine as well, but his body is truly a rarity in its perfect combination of height, leanness and muscular strength. Finally he pulled away. He knew I had already made my decision. I didn't want this. Even if he doesn't know what he wants, or he's just confused because he enjoys a female's company every now and again and it just happens to be me every time, he would still pull away immediately afterward. And even though I don't want the relationship back, I wouldn't want that emptiness. We had something meaningful between us at some point. I've done the friends with benefits thing, and it last left me with a shattered, splintered heart. I don't want my friendship with J to leave me with a bitter tongue and even icier heart. 

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