Of romance, we always hear the tried and trite, “It happens when you’re not looking.”
After Jax, I didn’t feel the least bit moved to date. I don’t know that it even crossed my mind. Guys & Dolls closed. I was tired. It was winter. I wore woobies and cuddled cats.
I was dissatisfied with the stinking hole I moved into after the breakup, and bitter that my roommate had lied about being a hoarder. (Full-on lied! Actually advertised herself as clean! Did she think I wouldn’t find out, when used cotton balls and everything else made their way from her floor to the living room floor? This 32-yr-old woman drops garbage on the ground, in her own home!)
Nevertheless, I was content being there, all the time. I made it beautiful.
(In an interesting twist, I got a call at work from the girl’s former roommate, whose lease I was buying. She wanted to donate her couch. I’d have told her to leave it, but it was ugly. When she gave the address [sans apartment number], I knew it had to be her, though all of my dealings had been with property management and my new roommate.
It freaked her out momentarily when I called her by name, haha! She warned me that this roommate was awful, but it was too late. I’d signed the lease. I was disappointed, sure, but not too rattled. It was her deception that pissed me off. The filth that followed underscored that anger and kept it fresh. In spite of that, I did accept it on some level, and contented myself knowing it was a landing place to keep looking.)
I felt safe, and happy to be free of Jax and Carrie. I felt proud of my show and grateful for new friends, ever humbled by the life-saving experience of their companionship coinciding with the most important role of my life, the only part I ever really wanted.
I took pride and pleasure in beautifying my home. I always do, but in that apartment cesspool, it was really an accomplishment! There’s only so much you can do, but even the hoarder was amazed and inspired to explore her own decorating style (though it never moved her to minimize the biohazard that are her life and space).
I made my boundaries clear: Leave one sink empty for me. I will not be forced to move (and smell) fetid dishes in order to do my own. And keep your bedroom filth from spilling out into shared spaces. It never lasted, but whatever. Leases end.
I expected trauma to hit me after the show closed and life quieted down. I was prepared to weather it gently, accepting the process, and healing soon enough. It never came.
Guys & Dolls was so frenzied and joyful, it replaced the twitching in my nervous system after Jax & Carrie. I kept company with TV and chips ‘n’ dip.
Soon enough, I left that dungeon and the squalid girl in it (who bathes and showers up to three times a day). (If you cleaned your room, you might not feel so gross.) (If your house didn’t stink, you might not fear that you do.)
Who am I to judge someone’s brand of mental illness? Nevertheless, I don’t have to live with it, and that’s where you find me today, in my favorite home ever.
My landlords are my neighbors, and friends of 10 years. Across the street are more friends from the same time and place. There’s activity and laughter every day! I’m so happy to have people come and go. I love hosting small hot tub parties.
I ran into Galen, and that part of me started singing, too. Yeah, it’s nice to get laid regularly, but I love more that we’ve come full circle and I get to heal the parts of us broken by my needy, frightened aspect.
For the first couple of months, my healing was wrapped up in his. It was so beautiful to hold him, to earn his trust and laugh together, without need or want for anything beyond each other’s company and the moment’s joy.
Just weeks ago, I began to recognize that I’m experiencing myself in an entirely new way. I’ve never trusted anyone to love me, so I was never honest! I never loved wholly, without restraint, risking all, guaranteeing nothing, controlling no outcome.
I had no idea! I recognized fear and habitual destructive habits, but lacked any awareness that I was lying to myself, and subsequently my partner.
I’m loving in the present for the first time. It’s life-altering.
Who am I, intimately, when I don’t lead with fear? What if I needed nothing? Who would I be? How do I love when I don’t consider the risk of heartbreak, first and always?
And there they all were! Guys just started asking me out. I’m not kidding. It’s the weirdest thing. At first, I thought it must be afterglow. Blood’s pumping. Hormones are flooding. I look flush, rosy, happy, young-ish.
My vanity has required the same age or older. I need to be the pretty young thing. But young men are asking me out, and not the pups who’ve “always been attracted to older women” (said every boy attracted to the middle-aged woman he’s talking to).
My new suitors are stunned to learn my age! I’m in perimenopause, y’all, and I smoked for 22 years. I don’t look young for my age anymore.
It must be my energy. I don’t know. I don’t care.
On the heels of asking, “What is it like to be loved by me when I’m unafraid,” I decided to find out. If I meet someone “too young” or too different from me, and that exchange is easy and pleasant, coffee or dinner is in order. What was so hard about that?
I’m still selective. I’ve only given my number out twice.
The first was last month. We went out a couple of times, and I’d love to see more of him. He’s exotic (Moroccan), cosmopolitan, and sexy. Conversation flowed endlessly like liquid, but he’s going through an acrimonious divorce, and I’m just … not.
Last weekend, I went to a one yr-old’s birthday party and met my friend’s neighbor. We spent the whole time together, laughing, playing with kids, making fun of each other. It was that instant, effortless chemistry that feels familiar.
I did everything wrong. For a flirt, I’m surprisingly concrete. I guess I just think everyone’s enjoying the exchange itself, and not aiming for anything like a date.
I told him my target market: Men my age or older with long-standing, amicable divorces, healthy custody arrangements, and children open (hopefully) to a friend/family relationship with me, if not that of “stepmom.” Dare I dream? Grandchildren one day?
I told him his target market. In other words, I confessed just how likely I am to tell you how to live your life: Damn near guaranteed and within 5 minutes.
I told him my MO – break up/get back/break up/grovel, with two significant accumulations of time, though, “The 5-yr on-and-off was really just a codependent shambles.”
“Substance or emotions?” he asked.
“Both, at first,” I acknowledged. “Then drugs and desperation for the rest. It was neat.”
I even told him I have a fuck buddy! Good grief!
I should be humiliated, but I can’t wait to see him again.
“Oh my god, are we flirting?” I realized eventually.
“I hope so,” he teased.
I did have the sense to be momentarily embarrassed and walked off laughing, shaking my head. I visited with party guests I’d ignored. So did he. We made our way back to each other and kept talking, with numbers exchanged at last.
We’re going to the mountains for the total lunar eclipse. Bonfire, friends, natural hot springs on private property, no light pollution!
What a great first date!