“What is your ideal man?” she asked.
“I have no idea”, I replied, “I think I’ll only know when I see him… when I smell or touch him. I can’t make a list, it’s not tangible.”
Do I walk around life with a red pen, making checkmarks, drawing lines through words? Is this why the dating sites make no sense to me? How can I know that I want to meet someone when I haven’t yet stared into their eyes, touched their hands, observed the way they walk into a room, through a room? Do their feet unconsciously tap to the beat of a song; if so what song? What or who has shaped them?
I’ll know when I feel it. When all my senses tingle together at the same moment. Lists don’t work for me; they never have. I could never go on blind dates; the getting all done up to go out with the intention of trying to meet someone. It was always a random occurrence for me, timing. I know there was always a lesson somewhere pertaining to timing….mine has just always seemed to be off. I’m ready to comprehend the lessons. Live them, feel them, own the fucking things.
It was a round table discussion had on my back porch almost four years ago, my coven gathered, helping each other navigate what was ahead; all of us bound together in various stages of divorce, separation, the dating world. I had spent so long contriving my path to ease any suffering or heartache, to make everything easier. But in that process, I wasn’t true to myself or who I really am… something else I was searching for. I had lost myself in the shuffle of life. I always settled. I knew the reason. Fear had become my ruling planet.
I always joked, “I blame the parents!” My Dad specifically, for the infusion of music growing up. You know, the songs and the ensuing romantic notions that accompany them, all the old movies, and the literature I absorbed. I felt and saw it all play out in my family; seeping into me during my formative years. I truly believed that against all odds anything is possible with true love; breaking rules to be together and creating your own. My parents: my mother from a wealthy family; class president and homecoming queen, my dad, the older guy she fell in love with in high school … from the other side of the tracks. It wasn’t always an easy road, but today, 49 years later, they still kiss and dance in the kitchen. My Jewish grandfather married the love of his life, a Protestant, in a time when it wasn’t necessarily a popular thing to do. This was true love, real and tangible; the impetus for my quest to find it for myself.
I thought I had it a couple of times. At 16, after a chance encounter with an older man, we fell in love, breaking free of the norm, marching around to our own set of rules — but the timing was off. We had all options in front of us, but at 22, I needed to go live life, and experience and explore for myself. The unbearable sadness that followed was palpable. I still feel it sometimes. I thought that was the most pain I could ever bear to experience. (Haha! said the future). Then again, a few years later, the guy from an old Southern family (which I decidedly was not from) who I swooned over in my head. It wasn’t the intense love that I knew deep down I longed for, but it had a hint of it with the “against all the odds.” See, we can be together even though his society frowns upon marrying outside of the ilk. It didn’t happen. That was more of a kick in the gut than pure sadness, but still brutal, and it left me battle worn and weary.
So I decided to start settling, at first unconsciously, but slowly I became very aware of my choices. I was not going to allow any of that icky stuff to happen to me anymore. I chose safe and passionless, tinged with love and respect, but that deep fire burning in the pit of my being wasn’t ignited. I’d made sure to deprive myself, so I wouldn’t have to feel the icky stuff ever again. I was married for 12 years and had two of the loveliest girls in the world during that block of time. I wouldn’t change that for anything. Deciding I could live without depleted who I really was, but it now has allowed me to build back up with gusto, and my girls are witness to it all.
So I began again; for real this time.
Becoming reacquainted with oneself is the hardest task when you actually have lost yourself in the shuffle of life. Mid-40s with two lovely children, my health intact, tons of friends and family, all filled with love– but you don’t know what you want anymore. You don’t even know what your favorite food is. You walk around and nothing makes sense, nothing brings joy anymore, because what is that? When you spend so long not being true to yourself, even though every single day you feel it deep down in your soul and visualizing exactly what it would take. Knowing what you need and what you want. But if you don’t live it every day, you lose it. Poof. Just like that. So daunting, so scary, but it also forges a new path to be blazed for this new and improved “What’s Next?”
Uncertainty has always meant anxiety for me. I’d been reading how anxiety hinders humans everywhere from enjoying the moment you are sitting in. Add fear to the mix and opportunities won’t present themselves to you because you aren’t open to them. A heart can mend when broken, with time and perseverance they say, but regret will stay and haunt you until the end.
I thought finally busting free from the marriage to be my authentic self was all I needed to go forth, to overcome my fears. I know now it was only just the beginning. Just one turn of the key on my way to unlocking all I had been searching and yearning for. One step outside the door. The best and the worst was yet to come. I was finally in year three post-divorce, and I felt it all clicking into place. I was experiencing everything, dabbled in it all. I always had though, this was nothing new– just a new decade in my life. Children in the picture, realizing that interpersonal skills were dying or dead and trying to wrap my head around texting to communicate. I got a pretty good feel for what it was like out there, all the textbook stories you hear. For a bit, it was easier to blame others for who they were and not my role in it. But the patterns were starting to feel eerily familiar, and I wanted out.
Cue in live music with friends; all the venues, all the genres. Eyes closed, swaying, head-banging, sweaty. Music as therapy, empowerment, tapping into my core self with every melody, finding comfort from the energy of strangers with personal demons of their own… ears ringing at home in my silence, finding solace in my aloneness, not feeling alone. I had firmly decided with my fist raised that I would never settle again.
I have never known why or when I’ll be drawn to a particular song– that one where nostalgia surges through my soul, tears rolling down my cheeks standing in line at the grocery store, leaving me with such a longing to feel that way about someone, or someone for me, always desperate to insert that someone into those lyrics, to meet that person, so then the emotions resonated were actually, finally for me.
I started taking ownership of my choices and how they got me to this very moment, and how moving forward they would also create who I would become. Family and friends and music, and the renewed glimpse into what was ahead of me was so visceral and becoming clear to me for the very first time in my life.
And then He appeared.
He was 21. I was 45.
I remember vividly the place where I was, exactly what I was listening to, singing loud and dancing in the kitchen, what I was shedding and what I wanted to become …. He just walked directly into it with ease, filling up those blank spaces that I didn’t know were ready to be filled yet. All that had been seeping into me from years of the music, movies, books, coupled alongside my awakening, I felt in him, with him, for him. He is unlike any man I have ever known. I learned how to truly live in the moment and accept a love so pure that it seemed surreal. Every single choice and experience led me to this exact moment. I allowed vulnerability and tore myself open to receive the magic. I felt love pour into my soul. We made perfect sense and it is the most beautiful and tragic love story. And it’s only ours. It affected everyone who surrounded us that matter, and we are all the better for it.
It ended just as it began; full of love and magic and passion and truth, and unlike anything I have ever experienced before. And fear may never again. There’s that word again. I’ve vowed to march forth full of what I now know can be, who I can be, full of all of the things I dreamed of. Harness it inside of me and go do every damn thing I am capable of. Fueled by the love that once was, the love that still is – the love that will always be, the love that cannot be.
No one saw it coming. It turned so immediately from raw sex to pure love in just a blink. I thought I knew and understood everything from the beginning, the limitations were already set for us, but then again, we were going by the constructs and the rules of the land. So we made up all of our own, together, organically. It flowed so easily. We were on a magical, magnificent journey of self-discovery and self-awareness. Both of us living our true selves, side-by-side, completely intertwined. But simultaneously our destinations were independent of each other. We had to each jump off the tracks at different stops.
One day I am propelled forward with the strength of a billion suns, “I can do anything!” I roar, sipping coffee with the birds as we wake up together each morning. The next day I’m paralyzed as fear creeps back in, winding it’s way in and around me, squeezing my insides so tightly I fear I can’t breath at the thought of never finding that again, and anger at the why? Why, after all of this, am I just allowed so little time to have it? One year. One measly year. It’s not enough, this was supposed to be my forever. Universe, look at all this fucking work I have done. How cruel the fates are, to dangle merely a brief infusion in front of me, into me.
But everyday he will be the lyrics to all of my songs. And now, when I listen, while I may still feel an earth-shattering, guttural ache of nostalgia, I won’t need to cry anymore.Browse Front PageShare Your Idea
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