Tag Archives: lost love

Worth Being Won

27 Feb

Couer_BriseLiterature always feels the most sorry for women like me. Years of their lives lost on a love never to be requited. Narratives are built to leave these women alone in rooms with cobwebs, or sitting helplessly by while the man they love struggles with whether or not he is gay. There is a very slight tone of mockery, and heaps of sympathy for one so lost as to perpetually let love for another remain unfulfilled.

Earlier tonight I was on script and said, “I have a sickness, and it takes the form of him.” (Classic daddy issues, never good enough to gain his love, yadda yadda.) But after a few more hours wandering my 700 square feet of hardwood floor over the earth, I was telling my kitchen cabinets, “It is the great romance of my lifetime, loving this man and his sons.” I would say that on my deathbed. (I watch too many really silly, not at all violent, pseudo-dramatic murder mysteries.)

It’s really not that tragic to love and not be loved in return. Certainly my own true New York Friend would attest that Unrequited is a genius for keeping us in the first flush of love for ten years. Maybe I don’t mind being held in suspension. Clearly I’ve chosen this simulacrum of affection over any truth that will flicker and fade.

Because I actually know what was written for me, and it doesn’t involve a fulfilling love. Or at least, not any more of those. I was so lucky to have so many. Maybe it’s okay if I let my mind manifest the script in which I know I’m already riding along. Sitting on a bus, looking out the window, I’m connecting my isolated self to each of the crazy, old eccentric ladies walking by on the sidewalk, usually pulling laundry carts full of random bags. I psychically high-five them. Yes, hey hey, you were loved and lost. Then you loved and lost and decided never to pick it up again. You started believing in some impossible unattainable love, or forever mourned the loss of a great one, to occupy that part of your mind, and then gradually filled in all the empty bits of your life with despair-deflecting activities and routines.

At worst, the patterns slip and your apartment gets messy and people see your lunacy in unkempt hair. But if you can keep it tidy, like my own loneliest mother did, then no one has to know the hollow echo of so many chambers of life left unfilled. Laundry done again and again, meals made and eaten, dishes washed. Motions are to be gone through, and they provide built-in comfort through the reward of endorphin release when each box is ticked.

Everybody on the outside reassures me that my story has a different ending, and that I’m beautiful and, oh, I’ll find someone. But what if I’m Jane Austen minus some novels. What if I’m noble and brave and just decide that the best love on offer for me is an impossible love. Would I really be so much better if I hadn’t ever met this person and we locked in to an eagle-talon-clinging platonic tumble through space? Would I be in a functional romantic relationship? Or would I be in a terrible situation with someone who added little color to my life while I erased his, until we both faded to a pair of patterns clicking along a set track.

I know there is a third option there, an in-between, but I don’t think in-betweenness suits me. You really have to make me laugh and think hard, as often as possible. That’s not in between. I think I’ll take the amplitude of hearing from Unrequited and feeling some happiness that he’ll visit New York, and later sink a bit in wonder about the guy he mentioned who lives here now.

Will I be supporting him in a big, new life? Will that be what finally releases us from this strange death grip of pseudo-romantic love? Thereby completing our terms using each other for whatever healing distraction or suspended animation we needed to repair deepest damage. Because the older I get, the more I know it’s damage that holds me here. And I may be the most enlightened, meditating, self-aware version of myself, but I can’t for the life of me see one tiny sliver of a path that will coincide with another.

I resent the fact that the Beatles are in my head right now. But it proves my mind has a sense of humor even when it’s spinning the oldest piano reel of my disconsolate viewpoint.

You see, honestly, as my teachers and practitioners tell me, love is about how you are together. Not about some list of things in common. But what if the best I am together is with this person who elevates every thing. I cannot feel low in our suspension. We look ever upward for some gesture we can make for others or one another. We hold doors, we make jokes, we return people’s dropped slips of paper, we make up silly narratives for bad pieces of architecture, we carry bags up stairs for strangers, and we never stop adding to the moment while being in it. There isn’t a story like ours. One where I am so clearly a better, more open and generous person for knowing him. And where we honestly have constructed the best humorous devices and philosophical enquirers of this epoch.

I need him. And I would never say that he needs me. But I know in my heart that this gentleman sees the world differently when he’s saving bits to share with me. Sure, I’m a fool, and I am that literary figure who waits and hopes for what she is told to be impossible time and time again. But Tame Impala says it: People change. And hopefully you have a chance in this lifetime to hear that song with your Unrequited while riding in a tiny Fiat Cinquecento over the limestone hills of southern France, only the dashboard light to keep  you company when the engine gets overwhelmed and you have to pull over and hope the car will find the spirit to move on.

And on that dark winter night hillside, you laugh and are calm together, because you operate on this very placid level and you love the story while you’re in it. You’ve both seen things shatter and you’ve both done a bit of that breaking, and now you just want to love every chance you get, no matter what form it takes. Because maybe, just maybe, your script hasn’t been written, and you’re fumbling through the greatest love story of all time. Too many times, you don’t recognize a good love story until you’ve crossed some preordained threshold, or it’s all over. So maybe hang on to whatever this is that’s unfolding around you, because it feels like an intimacy you haven’t known before, and you can’t predict the ending. Or every time you think it’s really over, the engine kicks back on and the music starts and you find you really can lean on this person for gradually more and more things. Maybe it is just a lifelong, beautiful friendship. That tortures you with its perfection never to be fulfilled.

So, maybe you see why I’m stuck. Until someone is bold enough to take the very slight risk of guessing my affection for them (I show it pretty clearly, and you’d have to be a moron or simply a modern-age, “infinite choices are available to me so why should I bother with this intellectually thrilling but sub-par on the attractiveness scale selection” love-resistor not to feel it), and asks me to follow through on a mutual feeling, then I’ll just maintain the status quo. Because I used to be a little too willing to try other narratives that might bring the feeling of this trophy heart… and too often I pushed them most of the way there myself before I realized it’s not the real thing. So, alright, no pushing. I’ll just wait patiently to see what arrives, and in the meantime keep my trophy heart in its glass case, where it’s well cared for and gets a good amount of laughs. 

A Stitch in Time

26 Feb

patchwork_quiltAll these years of wanting the same thing.

Because there we were, perched on a sagging cot that served as a makeshift sofa in the tiny flat he chose in the 18th arrondissement. Dusk-blue light tinted darker the denim I was sewing near the window, and a little bit of kitchen incandescence filtered around the shape of his profile to my right. Thus framed, my travel sewing kit needle guided thread through pocket and trim, back and forth, zig-zagging with the conversation around a quilt of previous patch jobs.

This darling pair of trousers, the long legs flopping over stumpy femurs bent beneath me, bore the sewing of our tailor in Utah and the stitchwork of our denim knight’s mother. We had all tried to hold together the edges of pockets he himself had tried to reseal with cut-outs of iron-on fabric patches.

I felt tremendously important as I sewed between all that shared handiwork. I knew our tailor would see my haphazard field repair and wonder who could be so erratic, and with dark blue thread on white cotton pocket, too. But the truth is, I had every intention of making a mark. And the sewing gave me a good place to fix my attention when I continued a point I’d made just a bit previously over a late lunch in the south of Pigalle.

“You know, I meant what I said. And I guess you know because I said it years ago. But I do still love you.”

A low level of gravely assent lumbered from his side of the cot.

“And I guess I am probably still quite obsessed with you. But I do keep it in check.”

Then I emitted one of my newly perfected pauses, to let someone else think and speak, instead of speaking for them to fill the gap. Pushed the pause out there, let it sit while I sewed.

There was some stretching and extension of long limbs, long so long I measured the distance from hip to knee when first we boarded the plane to Barcelona, and touching the bone at each joint, I held and said, “Do you realize that the length of your femur is the same as my entire torso?” Admittedly, I have a freakishly long torso, but I did want to point out how I sympathized with the discomfort that would be inevitable on the long flight from New York.

The limbs settled and seat shifted. “I do. And I feel the same way. And I would do just about anything for you.”

He said more and more, and I kept stitching. I’d sealed the gap that was setting coins free to roll down his skyscraper legs to the pavement below, and now my needle was going back and forth, worrying the thread against a worn connection that would break quite soon, too. This was preventative maintenance, and I made my future-seeing strokes quite evident against the white cotton.

This is where I thought of you first. This is where I put extra care in attendance to our future.

I wouldn’t touch the subject again other than in teasing, until some six days later we were stood in customs at JFK and I tucked a hand down the edge of the reinforced pocket and turned up the inner edge to show him the darning. “See, I did a little bit extra, too, so it won’t tear again right away.”

Then lifted my gaze and artificially adhered it to some far off bit of intrigue, and felt how still he was beside me.

Self-Contained Heart

9 Feb

Couer_LevitéThere is a walk I know so well, it becomes shorter with each passing. East to west, and back again, the street on which I reside runs one way across four miles to New York Harbor. Then against the current runs back again to my landlocked, hillocked Brooklyn berm and a little bit beyond to East New York, where it terminates.

Ideal walking conditions exist for the duration of a journey in either direction, and conveniently, the best coffee roasters in Brooklyn have a shop about two and a half miles west of my front door. No need to zig-zag, I just go directly there, and it’s a perfect way station to everything else I adore downtown.

I am, actually, ideally situated. Unless I’m going to my new motorcycle writing job in an office two neighborhoods to the north in Williamsburg. Then forget about it. It’s a misery involving public transport.

But anyway. Anyway. I am ideally situated. And I actually regret that the journey grows ever shorter as my mind wears soft the edges of every landmark along the way. Nothing is entirely erased from my attention, but now the scenery is just quiet background material that gives my mind a little too much license to run to extremes.

Tonight my round-trip journey was evidently an experiment in the amplitude of my emotions. On the way to a celebratory evening, I was all playlist-induced positivity and hopefulness. Homeward only a couple of hours later, listening to the same music while I begrudgingly saluted myself for making responsible choices, I scraped the absolute boggy bottom reaches of the pits of despair (that will always make me think of The Princess Bride).

I debated hopping on to a bus to shorten the grueling duration of my thoughts, but the true and earnest part of me knew that walking home (and texting a soul friend as I set my course) was the only cure for a bleak mood. So I did it. And by golly, as my steps neared home, the amplitude soared and sank and then reached the even keel of a solid midline.

You wanna know what did the trick? Walking meditation produced a bounteous truth, friends. I’m talking major stuff from minor obsessing. Swinging my little tote bag full of coffee beans (of course I stopped for those, are you kidding?), I let my mind trace and retrace the contours of an indelible impression made upon me by a certain blue-eyed someone earlier today.

Ohhhh but the mark of this occurrence was like the century-old cowboy graffiti on the canyon walls of Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. This was deep stuff. This was good stuff. This afternoon I walked into a perfectly eastern-lit room and watched a set of shoulders and chest rise up and pull back in an opening sequence to a smile that lit eyes and then wandered mouthward for a grin and a startled hello.

I was everything that lit this moment for this man. And I say, I note, that this uncultivated, unsuspecting and unchoreographed. I was tumbling into this space all aflutter because my actual office reeked of some sort of construction fumes, fumes that ol’ blue eyes himself here had caused with his own manly machinations in the space.

I felt my own being spread into a slow smile as I carried myself to where he sat and plunked down, leaving empty plenty of other rows of seating around us. Pointed, I was. And sharp with my “you fumigated my office” accusations. I didn’t say that, but whimperingly implied it and then extolled the virtues of my new motorcycle writing project office, to which he countered, “And I bet that reeks of grease and exhaust.”

Oh no, quite the contrary, it’s modern and beautiful, thank you. (And later I was to realize that I am actually living the dream of having a writing office in a garage full of motorcycles, but that’s another topic entirely!)

But truthfully, I was backpedaling and avoiding eye contact because, goodness. That was a reaction. That was the reaction of someone I have not seen in quite a little while because I’ve been so busy living my dreams, making dreams come true, dreaming big. You know, all that stuff you’re supposed to do when you “do you.”

Et voila! That was it. I nearly stopped in my leaden tracks as snowflakes began to fall in the cooling air tonight. “Scarcity increases demand.”

It’s not just an economic principle. And I’m not talking about “playing hard to get.” But I am referring to what my friend and I have long termed “The Monastic Vibe.” That amazing, impenetrable, unobtainable aura you project when you’re actually only focused on getting work done, for yourself. It’s less about feigning hard to get, and more about actually living as yourself, your whole self, in your life. When you exist that way in the world, you not only feel better, but you project a radiance unique to the unobtaniums of the world. You are not just a simple take-down, readily available, easy to find, crumbling edifice of a human. You are a rare and scarce specimen of human achievement, and by golly, people want you.

So there I was, limping home, murkily revisiting every lost hope of love and tumbling into an abyss of forgettable self. When a few mind’s eye replays of a glowing look startled me back into head-held-high belief in my own scarcity:demand ratio. Then I realized that the reaction Mr. Blue-Eyed Tiger had when I walked into the office was the same brightening of spirit that I can’t help but exhibit whenever he walks into my workspace. It’s a total uplift of shared but scrupulously contained excitement. We hardly know each other, and I’ve been putting this one on the way, way back burner to examine it for veracity of feeling. (New habit, trying it out, thanks, Soul Friend.)

Realization complete, I felt a smile return to my countenance, and then my mind bookended the revelation with the recollection that when the Blue-Eyed Tiger left the office today, after he put on his coat, readied his earphones, and was walking to the door, his look back was for me and me alone. I raised my eyes in an office full of people, found him looking directly at me, and then seeing me look, he waved and bid his farewell.

That is what I thought as I climbed the stoop to my front door: “Those looks were for me alone.” Scarcity increases demand. I’ll keep those looks, thank you, and live in a way that’s true to my heart and keeps me centered on my course. That’s where I’ll find my midline-walking equal, and our eyes will meet in rare understanding. Oo la la!

Let Yourself Be That

30 Dec

IMG_1982

I apparently make it a habit to rarely be at home, and this year was no exception. Some months, I was only in my own bed four nights out of the calendar 30 or 31 for which I pay precious, precious Brooklyn rent. I don’t regret living (actually, just leave it there: I don’t regret living, full stop) in the many different experiments I put myself through this year. I let myself live in the mountains of Utah and on the beach in Southern California, I tried roaming free in Alabama shortly after returning home from Assen. I was in crummy places like Washington, DC and Baltimore, and I took up temporary residence in my childhood hometown of Minneapolis. There was time in Amsterdam and Barcelona (actually, three trips to Barcelona) and France. And there was more, much more. So much more that I’d have to consult my trusty Moleskine calendar to track it.

Oh! What a natural segue. Moleskine calendar, you say? Well, that must be precious, and since its rear pocket carries the folded poems you must carry with you at all times, you never let it out of your sight, of course.

Of course.

Except for the day in October when I actually lived my worst, most persistent recurring nightmare. I’m talking about the dream that I’m sure I’ve written about here, the one where I endlessly pack my bags and never, ever go to the airport. Or if I’m at the airport, I somehow never get to my gate, whilst losing articles that tumble from my over-filled bags.

The dream v. life metaphors are obvious, but the point is, I never make a flight in my dreams. But in real life, I’ve never missed a flight. Until October 8th, 2015. (Dramatic chord!)

I was in Minneapolis, and I was at the peak of my self-loathing for a terrible habit that was only getting worse as I aged. I was becoming one of those people who begin to pack for a trip at the precise time when they should actually be going to the airport. This was not my dream self, mind you. This was the awake version of the girl who had just arisen from her slumber packing session and was at present dawdling through the newspaper, some coffee, room service breakfast, some lying around and moping… you get the drift.

So, I loathed this girl. But I took her rumpled self down the escalator of the fancy modernist hotel where I’d indulged in an extra night because my friends’ daughter had taken ill and I was already at this conference anyway, so Overburdened Charge Card picked it up. Like I said, I loathed this irresponsible, hapless person that had taken over while my restless soul wandered elsewhere, trying to find itself.

Ahem. My hotel was 15 minutes away from the airport, which helped but also hindered me, because I abused that fact. I glanced at the free airport shuttle, filled with hapless tourists lugging those gigantic bags that only tourists carry, and checked the time. No, I had to take my own transportation, direct to my own concourse, with no stops for Sally Six Bags along the way. I summoned an Uber, smug that I was such a fancy traveler girl that I had to get a car while a van was still being loaded with more girth-testing bags and people beside me. And then I opened my Delta app to check the time of my flight.

To my horror, I saw what I’ve never seen before in my life. It said, “Information is no longer available for this flight.” Which prompted me to wonder, why, wait, what time does it leave?

It left five minutes ago.

You thought it left an hour from now, because for the first time in your life, you let your Calendar app store the flight info, and that app pretended we were on East Coast time, and we are, in fact, in the Central time zone.

A very, very quiet little thunderstorm began in my brain as I smiled at the driver who opened a door in front of me. I was living my recurring nightmare. Well, let’s see what it’s meant to teach me, I told myself in an attempt to soothe the very recently Zoloft-deprived brain in my skull.

The details of what lengths the universe went to in order to demonstrate how far I’d fallen are actually, seriously, too painful to relate here. Let’s just say I cried in the airport, in a ridiculously overpriced Uber Black Car that took me away from the airport so I could kill six hours elsewhere, at a random diner that only took cash, at a shitty bar possessing the only ATM for miles and it was out of money, on the sidewalk in front of the bar, in the stunningly proximate office of my friend’s husband, and then in a Tumi luggage store at the airport, where I let a luggage therapist try to piece me back together again in the form of needlessly overpriced bags that are nowhere near the quality of those made by my own brother. (Sigh.)

I finally did arrive home, with lots of that “kindness of strangers” stuff cheering me along the way, but little did I know that somewhere in all of that Tumi shuffling, another very small thunderstorm was erupting, and it would be two months before it was over.

I’d left my Moleskine calendar, filled with more personal details than anyone should ever put on paper, in one of the many overwrought pockets in one of the many overpriced Tumi bags in a store 1500 miles away from my home.

I didn’t realize this until I’d turned my apartment upside-down and inside-out every night for two weeks. (Sheesh, I look back on this now with true horror at how low I was a the time. You should have seen the wreck my living room was then. Unrecognizable!)

Finally, dust settling on piles of unsettled detritus all around me, I told Unrequited about my lost calendar drama one night while we planned our trip to Spain. His clenched cowboy voice rumbled across cellular transmitters from Utah: “Well. Maybe it was something that you had to let go.”

Gulp.

It’s like he knew that one of the poems in that calendar was the Irish blessing I’d read to try to convince him to love me way back in 1972 (translation, 2011). Ughhhhh… okay, yeah, I should let it go. I get it!

But the universe had other ideas. The night before our flight to Barcelona, I received a phone call from Ohio. Someone, some very lovely one, had found my calendar in a bag they’d bought in the Minneapolis airport! And in the most charming phone call I’ve ever experienced, that someone’s husband cheerily told me how yes, he’d found the poems in the back pocket when he was looking for any means of identification in the calendar. This was the one time I hadn’t written my contact information in the front of a Moleskine notebook and promised a reward of fresh-baked cookies to anyone who found it. The ONE time. Fortunately, he’d found a receipt from my tailor (whuh huh huh, I use a tailor).

Anyway. Profound gratitude pulsed my heart and filled my soul. He was going to mail the calendar back to me, and it would be waiting when I came home from Europe. I promised to send him his rightful reward of freshly baked chocolate sea-salt cookies.

“I’m not one to refuse freshly baked anything,” he said.

Except, when I came home from more Unrequited adventures with Unrequited, the calendar wasn’t there. It was not there in my mailbox, nor there on my doorstep, nor in the hands of any of my kind neighbors. It was clearly in the hands of nefarious agents of the internet-posting world where they were surely going to scan the trembly drivel on my calendar pages and share them with readers of “Found” magazine or whatever it was called. I was going to be a laughingstock. A meme. An animated .gif.

More letting go. Letttttting go. Apparently I was never meant to have this calendar again. I get it. I get it!

But do I get it? Do I have any idea why I let this completely implausible fantasy persist? No, because if I did, I would let it be the beautiful idea that it actually is—and that is, if I let go of trying to control every step that anyone makes toward my heart, someone will actually walk right up to it and embrace me (see previously mentioned Lao Tzu mantra).

Here’s what it’s all about. You see, there’s a meditation that I rarely let myself indulge in doing. It’s effect is blissfully powerful, and it leaves me feeling exactly as I did when I was a giddy little girl who still thought she could do anything in the world, because her golden, pure heart loved everyone, so why wouldn’t that love be reflected back toward her?

The meditation is called “Follow a Desire into Fulfillment.” And people, it’s a magic spell. At the end of its very short ten minutes, when you’re so elated you think you might float away, the very lovely Sally Kempton says, in the kindest, most sincere imperative ever: “Let yourself be that.”

Except she says it with all the right pauses between the words. “Let yourself (pause) be (longer pause, just a slight bit of extra emphasis ahead) that.”

If we could all let the controlled steps of the calendar go, let the missteps of lost love go, and be unafraid to follow the true desire of our hearts (ironically, that’s what the Irish Blessing that I carry is all about), we could let ourselves be that. And I reckon we’d be pretty elated.

By the way, the calendar came to me two months after I lost it, and one month after it was returned-to-sender to the kind people in Ohio. I sent them their well-deserved chocolate sea-salt cookies and I hope those confections made their Christmas as lovely as their kindness made mine. 

 

Music to Have Feelings By

28 Dec
Very_Merry_Mixup

My most favorite Hallmark Channel holiday movie this year!

There have been at least 107 Christmas trees in my living room since October. Or maybe even more. It’s hard to get an estimate, because some of them are the same tree twice or thrice or… multiple times. Cuz, like, I love to watch holiday movies, okay? And they’re definitely NOT of the cinematic classic variety. They’re absolutely the most low-budget, thrillingly flawed Hallmark Channel productions imaginable.

But don’t be mistaken, I don’t have an actual tree in my living room. Because I don’t celebrate Christmas. Well, at least, not at the moment.

(That’s called a cliffhanger, movie fans.)

Here, let me cue some slow but sweet instrumental music to set the tone for my heartbreaking and yet hopeful story…

I am a girl who loves love. All forms and expressions of love are welcome here. And I’ll tell ya, some of the best, most upbeat, least conflicted love stories are found in holiday movies. In these delightful romps through the full spectrum of new love, old love, found love, lost love and imaginary love, amidst the clumsy continuity errors, extremely fake New York City sets and inexplicable Canadian accents (almost all Hallmark movies are evidently filmed north of the border), if there happens to fall a tense moment, it’s only a super brief one. Maybe for approximately ten minutes, our heroine believes that her love interest might not be the man she imagined. But that’s quickly forgotten in a hail of other love subplots involving unexpected revelations from family members, emerging affection from new friends and/or the children of the hero in question, and maybe some appropriately cuddly moments with domesticated animals, too.

So, I guess I’m admitting that the reason I watched even more holiday movies than usual this year (after I ran out of free streaming movies, I actually BOUGHT several Hallmark productions on Amazon Prime), is because I needed to keep cataloging all the best moments of seeing family and friends and finding love even when it seems impossible. I used the movies as instruction manuals in addition to their very successful provision of tinselly distraction.

You see, this was the year I paused Christmas before I start it again the way I like to see it best. It’s only the second time I’ve celebrated the holiday without my mother, and in the first year, I made a valiant effort to go to a friend’s house and celebrate with her. But this year I owned the truth of how much I miss the one true Christmas lover in my family. I stayed home, I declined plans, and instead I went to lunch and saw the new Quentin Tarantino film with some of my Jewish friends.

In response to that choice, even without any soundtrack music to tell me how to feel, I can actually hear my mom sighing a woeful “ohhhhhh,” in her Minnesota accent. Yes, it sounds so sad, the inevitable life-changing happy ending could write itself. And in fact, it did. (Cue upbeat, hopeful music.)

My ideal version of Christmas is just an amplified version of how I endeavor to live all year long. I love seeing friends and connecting with family as often as possible. I try to move with joy and compassion in my heart, and from the depths of the most average (or below average) day, I try to smile at fellow sidewalk travelers and subway riders even when it’s 100 degrees outside and we don’t have any Christmas music to tell us to cheer up. I really try to be that Hallmark movie girl, even though I’m secretly also feeling like an extremely whiny girl who doesn’t believe her own script.

So. Here we are in the last six minutes. (My mom and I loved watching Hallmark movies, and we analyzed the scripts constantly, loving the guarantee of an endorphin rush during those final six minutes of the movie, when everything seems like it couldn’t get worse and then it all comes together for the payoff.) Holiday cheer arrived in my house in a whole bunch of scripted and unscripted ways this Christmas, all of which I cherished. And I have to say that my mother would be very happy to see how well I am doing.

But the endorphin rush came tonight. When my one true love, my Unrequited always-gonna-be-a-friend friend, sent me a photo of his two sons each holding a copy of the “Pocket Pema Chödrön” book that I carried with me on our trip to Spain and France last month. (Yes! I went to Europe with him! And he also sent me a really great book for Christmas!) He borrowed the Pema book from me while we traveled from one scenic locale to the next, and I knew it made an impression on him. But tonight, to see those two boys, whom I have known for ten years, grinning in front of the Christmas tree and holding their book for a photo they knew was being sent to me… that was enough to make me utter my own Minnesota-accented “Ohhhhhhhhh”—but in the “sooooo cuuuute” way.

I am loved. And I love. So the magic of the season worked after all, even if I didn’t go through the old familiar motions this year. I am going to keep building new annual traditions that are founded in my everyday heart. If by loving without expectation I receive those amazing six minutes of happy ending, then I’m going to keep watching!

I Have Dreamed that Your Arms are Lovely

23 Mar

The bracelet is brass, hammered by hand with tools replicated from those of the Egyptian era. He lifted it from the velvet case in the front window while I was at the back of the shop, talking with the proprietor. I saw his rangey silhouette make its way around the dress dummy with zipper popping from vintage yellow satin, pause, adjust footstep angle, and zigzag through retail obstacles human and metal to approach me. He proffered a square band, rounded at the corners and graced with a cluster of enamel-filled smaller-scale echoes of the same shape in a multi-layered pendant that would rest above my pulse.

My jaw dropped. Where did he find it? He led me back to where the window lit a tray of other future artifacts that would all fill my best-imagined jewelry box.

Here, he indicated, resting it precisely where the square had lain, green enamel and brass cluster of adornment facing the street.

I love it, I said. All of this is gorgeous. But I could never, my wrist wouldn’t…

And he picked it up and made as if to slide it over my hand, so I proffered my right appendage limply, self-conscious about a desperate need for some serious hand creme.

And it fit. And we smiled.

Let me get it for you, he said, to my immediate refusal. No, it’s the least I can do.

So I did. I let him wrap my wrist in a vestige of our closeness in a store we may never see together again. Now the square bangs against my ulna and I sense the trace of a love that would never, not in a million years, be as real or solid as this piece of adornment. Still, I let its weight remind me that there was a real, human form which stood tall and sent brown eyes gazing down with love and left a mark on my heart and arm.

Now I Know

22 Mar

twoheartsSomewhere deep in my sense memory was a perfect point-for-point recollection of what it is to be held in the tractor-beam of another’s affection. When that other actually feels a profound attraction and love for my every blink and shift, my words and gestures, and all the complicated machinery that brings those traits to the surface. Behind my twinkling eyes, a thumping heart. Behind my flinch, a headache. Underneath a furrowed blanket, a sad little soul who needs some coziness.

Someone, my ideal someone, sees all of these facets and assembles them into a shimmering gem. Then I, feeling the very particular sensations associated with being cherished, actually give more than I ever thought possible. I speak the truth of my heart without hesitation, and I do not fear a negative reevaluation of my worth. In fact, I’m worth more with each little ding on the gem, divots that indeed present just a tiny addition of shimmer to the overall picture.

I have remembered this many-layered love in a sudden burst of slow expansion into ease. It was a big and bold revelation, and one I immediately undertook without hesitation. Days passed and means of communication evolved, and between points of connection I felt myself expanding into one who is truly loved.

Now there is one more layer to that sensation. I can compare the embrace of unencumbered love, from thousands of miles away, to a convoluted love very close up and sleeping in the next room. The former is the love I will keep, and the latter is a love I will now very contentedly pack away as the ultimate Unrequited ending.

This is what it is to have a beautiful friend gaze into your eyes with the warmth of affection and endearment, but who does not feel more than a platonic level of attraction toward you. But more importantly, this is what it is to have found the real someone, the one whom you chose in your mind’s eye ages ago, and have them feel the strength of your love and respond in kind with even more emphatic connection.

Sometimes the demonstration of these extremes, both positive in their own way, arrives at precisely the correct moment, and the physical form of someone far away can be felt more supremely than that of a visitor staying in your own apartment. My dear Unrequited will always occupy a place in my heart. But my heart can only hold him there because it is strong with the support of true love from my soulmate.

Your Eyes Could Steal a Sailor From the Sea

9 Jan

IMG_6385.JPGOne rainy night I was in a cab with the gentleman from Boston, and the atmosphere was fuzzy with the glimmer of night signs and soft rock on the radio. I was mid-sentence when the softest of soft rock, a song that evokes the grocery store Muzak of my youth, convinced me to stop talking and listen:

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of the man that Brandy loves

He came on a summer’s day
Bringin’ gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn’t stay
No harbor was his home

Entranced, I smiled and used my powerful pocket computer to identify it: Brandy, by Looking Glass. Even before naming, the gentleman said he’d heard it often before and marveled I missed it. Apparently few others had in the small town where my mother deposited us briefly while I was in elementary school. I’d always wondered why so many girls in my grade were named Brandy. Now I finally know.

I’m so glad I didn’t discover this song until now, when my soft rock soul grants me permission to like trifles. The irony that deadened my sensibility for decades would have disintegrated under the light weight of this song.

But now, fluffy and free, I’m the girl who walks the streets with the smile of new love. I smile because I know why Brandy would pin her hopes on the unavailable, giving her solitary malaise purpose with misguided affection for the undeserving. I can feel her sustained loss, but I also know how lucky she was to look into those sailors’ eyes and rise and fall with the waves of their sea-flung stories. It’s likely she had as much wanderlust as any ol’ sailor, but her means of remaining unattached was to connect her heart to a floating buoy out in the ocean, rather than any anchor on land.

Blow Me Down

28 Dec

threadsI am a succulent in the botany of love. I thrive in isolation and neglect, and I wither beneath an over-abundance of life-sustaining hydration. Please, let me dry out alone here in the sun, but do pass by on occasion with a drizzle of sentimental connection. I will soak up each molecule and enter my most blissful state, that of the sometimes forgotten lover.

Were you at a bar we once frequented, “running into” my dearest friend, who happens to be a very cool DJ who sets a very cool scene? I’m glad I was able to make you look good in front of your sister and your friend from Hong Kong. Would I love to meet these characters I’ve heard so much about? Yes. But I know, I see. You travel at the frayed edges of our fabric, gleaning the occasional tassel of affectionate reverie and then moving on.

Tell me you want to play records for me, discuss plans and drink scotch. Remind me that you owe me ice cream for my birthday, and pretend you will actually appear anywhere near that date with an offer that we get same. I crave each droplet, basking in the very specific comfort of dejection and closing my petals against better offers.

You, you give me just enough sustenance to carry me through months that I know I will endure alone.

You are just like my father. So triple cool and busy and knowledgeable. So brilliant and witty. And showing just a shard, a tiny shattered glimmer of sweetheart every now and then. Dangling this enveloping comfort as a possible outcome so that I chase it like a hummingbird sipping for a tiny drop of nectar.

When last we listened to records together, you tugged at my arm and pulled me down from sitting to repose with you. Your eyes were filled with tears when we heard notes from early Chicago soul. I fell, and I am still falling. So when you promise records again now, I think of the painting on your wall of two faceless people snuggled together in an armchair, the lady’s arm dangling languidly over the needle on the record.

It is a form of intimacy we both crave, but we are astrids in sand, and our spines fold at the prospect of too much constancy. We never had it, we tried to manufacture it, we rejected it, and in so doing built an exoskeleton of spiny scaffolding around our hearts. Nothing will crack us, not even our lingering tendency to reach for one another when the sand becomes too dry.

You will disappear when the work week resumes, and I will pretend to flourish, ignoring the watershed of interest I receive from other cultivators wishing to pull a harvest from this broken garden.

Hashtag sigh.

Fools Rush In

26 Dec

fuzzOn the scale of coincidences, with zero being “total disconnect” and 10 being “amazing cosmic intervention that could cause one to drop everything and change one’s life,” I think I just had a 10++ event.

Just a moment ago, I opened my laptop to write a whiny post about how the wrong guys fall in love with me, with some incisive analysis of the horrible realization that leapt into my mind the other day: “There is nothing worse than someone wanting more from you than you are willing to give.” For appropriate musical accompaniment, I clicked on a WNYC link that carried me safely to the bliss of jazz standards. And when the stream began, it was mid-song, precisely at the moment at the end of “Fools Rush In”, when the singer sums up the whole scenario for us. Awestruck by the serendipity, I started typing immediately, transcribing the lyrics as they came, and not knowing how many lines I’d get before I could stop:

Fools rush in
where wise men never go
But wise men never fall in love
So how are they to know?

When we met, I felt my life begin
so open up your heart
and let this fool rush in

***

And that was it, exactly the right amount of information to help me see my damaged heart more clearly. All those truths, laid out right in a row for me to contemplate immediately upon my attempt to discuss the inner convolutions of my heart. Suddenly, I seem to have retired my status as the fool in favor of being the wise girl, rejecting two perfectly nice suitors because “there wasn’t any chemistry” and “I just wasn’t attracted to him.”

Let’s parse the facts. Wise people never fall in love because they’re wise, and hence they protect themselves from a long list of harmful effects, including, but not limited to:

• Comfort and understanding
• Affectionate regard for one’s wellbeing
• Having someone to lean on/cling to/miss/long for
• Romance
• Thrills and surprises
• A date on a national holidays (When Harry Met Sally)
• Assistance and support for personal and professional pursuits
• Rides to and from the airport
• Someone who can hold your coat/purse/popcorn/heart
• Thoughtful responses to trifling problems through to major life crises
• Flowers

Wise indeed. In the past, when I whimpered and moaned, “You could have called me,” or intoned, “If you’re stressed out, you can come over here and I’ll help you,” I actually had no idea that the aloof anyman on the other end of the conversation was in fact well aware that he had the option to take succor in my presence. He just had absolutely zero interest in taking me up on it.

Now I know how he felt. Feels. Is doomed to feel forever in an independent hell of one’s own making.

Until love can run tackle through my wounded heart, I’ll just have to get used to being the fool. Chasing aloof men is easier than being the strangely complicated wise girl.

☽ Of Wildest Heart

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