I was working in my yard the other day when a little girl from our neighborhood, Maddie, wandered over to say hello. Maddie is a sweet and inquisitive six-year old and eagerly pounces on any opportunity to chat me up. She is terribly curious about me for some reason and follows me around the yard, pelting me with questions and cheerful chatter. I adore her.
I noticed her watching me intently, actually staring openly at my stomach. I stopped weeding and asked her what was on her mind. Maddie bluntly asked, “Are you going to have a baby?”
Ok. I tried not to take offense and assume I looked pregnant. So I responded, carefully, “Why do you ask, Maddie?”
She said, “Well, I think you should have a baby because you would be a great mom!”
“Besides, this house needs a baby and I need a babysitting job!”
I cracked up. She was savvy, I’ll give her that! I explained that there was no baby in the cards for me, not now, not ever. She fell silent. I could tell that wasn’t going to last long and that another question was brewing within her busy brain.
“Are you married?”
“Of course not, Maddie, you know I’m not married!”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
This was getting dicey.
“Um, not really.”
“Why not, don’t you see anyone you like?”
Oh, if only it was that easy.
“Why, yes, I see lots of boys that look nice.”
“Well, then just ask one!”
Dating advice from a six-year old. Apparently, hooking up was a fairly easy endeavor. At this rate, I’d have a date and probably be laid by week’s end. I had to admit, I liked her positive spin on the whole process.
“Honey, I’m kind of old-fashioned. I like the guy to pursue me. I don’t want to walk up to just anyone and ask them out. It’s called having standards. You need to have them, too.”
Again, silence. I could sense her thinking, “and how’s that working out for you?” I silently responded, “Mixed results, honey, mixed results!”
Then she asked, “What about the man in the blue shirt? He looked nice!”
I frantically searched my memory for a guy in recent memory who came to my door wearing a blue shirt. Came up blank. Surely she didn’t mean…the mailman?
“He didn’t have flowers though. If he brings you flowers next time, you should have a baby with him. That means he’s a nice one.”
I was speechless in the face of this seemingly reasonable advice. I had never quite fathomed the relevance of a bouquet of flowers before.
So I lamely said, “Don’t you worry about me, I’m just fine in the boys department and you have plenty of time before you need to be concerned about it.”
Maddie shook her head as she walked away and muttered, “I really needed that babysitting job!”
I was reading over some of my past posts and came across the one titled “Restless” from March of earlier this year. In that post, I talk about the sense of unquiet that I was feeling deep within me, that I felt like I was searching for something. I concluded that perhaps it meant I was open to new opportunities and that a bit more risk-taking would be in store for me this year—and that this would be a very good year indeed.
Since that post, I have been laid off from my job of over four years, applied to countless positions in my determined job search, only to be told that I’m over-qualified or that I made it to the final round of interviews onl y to be beat out by one other candidate. I’ve trimmed every ounce of fat off of my already tight budget, anticipating a long haul before I am gainfully employed again. I worry that, at 48, my age is becoming a factor in weeding me out as a viable prospect. So I worry and worry, and worry some more…
I find myself working out more than ever, to use up all this restless energy—running 6-10 miles a week, working out with a barbell program 4-5 times a week and one session of yoga. It’s a way to funnel this unsettled energy into something productive.
Interestingly enough, all this exercise and restive thought is igniting my libido. I feel like the perpetual crouching tiger is prowling within me, searching for release and as I lie awake in bed, my mind fills with wanton sexual fantasies. A girl could go crazy for lack of sex!
I realize that a part of me feels like it has been on hold for 20-some years–my health, my emotions, things that I want to do and experience. I want someone to ask me what I need, what will make me happy. And care about the answers.
I feel like doing something delightfully rash, like pulling out a few grand out of my meager savings and flying off to Europe and wandering the streets of Paris. Just shaking loose of Pittsburgh and these Etats-Unis. Being uninhibited, unfettered, impractical. God, I’ve been practical and reasonable for so long, about so many things.
Writing this makes me resolute: my time will come. I just need to plow through this short-lived period of unemployment and separation from what I really want, and then…and then…I am going for it. And what will be, will be.
Paris, here I come.
I’m in love. I’ve known it for some time and it has taken some getting used to. I don’t do the dance of intimacy easily. The steps are not familiar to me. At 48, I have never been married and I carefully navigate friends, acquaintances and lovers with artful dexterity, never getting too close so as to manage the dialogue of actual relationships.
Past experiences have taught me to protect myself, to hold people at arms’ length. I recognize that it is a control mechanism. I do have some insight; I realize that the bullying I experienced in my adolescence has a lot to do with this.
For years, I was unaware that I distanced myself from people. I had been told that I was standoffish in college, that boys were intimidated by me. But I had a lot of “friends”, had been very popular. So I blew off the comments. But this behavior really manifested itself during my illness when I almost completely withdrew from all but a few close family and friends.
In the past few years, I’ve consciously worked on breaking down my barriers, letting people in. It’s been met with mixed success. I can count on one hand the genuinely intimate relationships I have—the people that know me inside and out, my sister, Kathy; girlfriends, Libby, Linda, and Coletta; Alexanndra, my intrepid counselor; and finally, P., the love of my life. It is my relationship with P. that in turn astonishes, terrifies, excites, stimulates, and soothes me.
Ours is an unconventional relationship. We have known each other for over 25 years; we were lovers in our twenties, parted ways only to reconnect via social media years later. We have yet to meet again; instead we have been communicating via phone, email and text, reconnecting and rekindling our relationship through cyberspace and the sound of our voices over the past almost three years.
The question begs to be asked, why haven’t we met in person in these past three years? P’s life is…complicated, complicated in a way that I don’t need or want. He has some decisions to make and I don’t think he is remotely ready to make those decisions. That alone scares and cautions me. It gives me pause.
But I don’t think I ever fell out of love with P., all those years ago. He was my soul mate then; now he has evolved into something much deeper. I can tell him anything and everything. I can imagine what it was like to make love to him as if it was yesterday. The touch of him, the smell of him, his taste. I simply cannot imagine him not being in my life.
And yet I stumble. What would it be like to really be with someone? To share your heart and soul, willingly, with that other person? I know P. would give me my space, would respect my spirit and individuality, my independence. It’s the intimacy that is scary and lovely, all at the same time.
He’s such a strong, charismatic, yet patient man. I said his life is complicated right now, even as I wrestle with moving forward. He is wrestling with his own thoughts: is what we have real? Or is it rooted in some long ago passion? I wonder if those are the real objections and if it is more a fear of breaking away from what is known and familiar. Like me, he is not a risk-taker when it comes to his emotions and I think the virtual relationship we have is safe and comfortable for him. It doesn’t rock the boat or change the status quo.
But at some point too much time passes and you’ve lost your opportunity. I’m so very conscious of passing time, time I want to spend with P.
Even as I write this, I can mentally see me dancing from one foot to the other, indecisive. Am I ready?
I think we both need a bit more time.
P. is one of the most driven people I know and he excels at his career, athletics, and academics. You’d think that would make him insufferable. Instead, he is one of the most down-to-earth, modest, astute, and kind people I’ve ever met. And he makes me laugh, completely disarms me. I am myself with him, no barriers, no guard. I forget myself with him and am totally at ease.
And that is foreign to me. I’m used to being completely in charge, alert, in control. I know I should think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread but, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is he for real?
What am I so afraid of? To fall in love? To take a chance on maybe getting hurt? Perhaps it’s time to parlay my ability to take risks in other parts of my life to love and intimacy.
P. always teases me about over-analyzing things. I can’t approach a situation without sizing it up from every direction. Sometimes I need to mentally shake myself.
And perhaps I need to stop trying to choreograph every step of my future. Just let it happen. Loosening the reins of control, ah, that is indeed scary. But a little improvisation, a few daring high-kicks, could push me out of this solitary rut.
What possibilities could the future hold? A committed relationship? Marriage? Friendship? They all have their precious and priceless benefits. I realize that with P., we already have a deep and abiding friendship.
So maybe the steps toward intimacy aren’t so hard to learn. I’ve always shortened the learning curve with every new skill set.
I’m not naïve, I know there is give and take with every relationship. I know that you have to want to make it a priority, make what you have together important over your careers and other life distractions. I get that. But when I imagine what my life with P. could be like, it feels like it would be…effortless. I have to trust that and take my first step.
Late at night, as my body relaxes and I begin to ease into sleep, the image of P’s face drifts into my mind. And I imagine falling into his arms and murmuring softly, “Come dance with me…”
“More eyes looking means more children found and returned home.” That is the vision of the BairFind Foundation and their BringHome 100 Campaign–a challenge to bring 100 missing children home. I invite you to visit their homepage: http://www.bringhome100.org/ for more information about how you can help them in their mission to find missing children!
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