It’s been so long since I’ve typed that I don’t even know where to start. Lots has happened, and nothing’s happened, ya know?
I went on an epic, multigenerational trip of a lifetime and I have so many thoughts about that. But they are not yet for this space. And things with Monsieur Magique are… the same? And yet everything is different.
I’m not going to drag this out in the typical way. I think I will just summarize, because I’m tired of myself. I keep getting stuck on the same parts of myself, the parts that needs attention and validation, which I’m well-versed in Buddhism enough to know is my ego. I, like 99% of people on this planet (in the west, at least) am trying to fill a hole somewhere that doesn’t actually exist, because apparently none of this is real. It’s all projections of our minds. Huh.
If you’ve been coming here a while, you know my sticking point. I’d like the men I’m dating to text me and say that they are thinking about me. Or to pick up the phone and call me. My love languages are Words of Affirmation, Touch and Quality Time. My custody arrangement is such that I only really have every other weekend to myself overnights, and even that often gets eaten up by my ex’s work schedule or the kids having events that a mom should attend.
But most men are unitaskers and compartmentalizers. They don’t talk to four different group chats all day long in the middle of work. They are not wired that way. I, on the other hand, am co-dependent with everybody. Haha. I have bazillion group chats, plus robust social media friendships where I am constantly communicating all day long. Writing stuff down feels good to me. However, I think it’s all a bit much sometimes. And in working through a new relationship, you can’t compare one method of communication to another.
I am dating someone who works 80+ hours a week, super-parents his kids, and hardly sleeps. And somehow, despite this, he is trying to make a wee corner in his schedule for yours truly. And yours truly has a lot of trouble just accepting this. She gets restless and makes up stories about her time being disrespected. Or that maybe this dude is so scared of his past mistakes that he is keeping her at arm’s length.
All of this turned out to be right, but it’s also wrong. When I feel like MM is disrespecting my time, I’m also disrespecting his. He works A LOT. It’s unsustainable and he knows it, as we discussed when we last hung two weeks ago. I tried to get to what would his life look like if he was working 40-50 hours a week. And after some deep heart to hearts, I think I both confirmed what I already knew and asked for what I needed, as did he. I will paraphrase somewhat.
“I get the sense that you want more, but right now I work 80 hours a week. The limited time I have free I want to spend with you. Alone. I’m this close to burning out and can’t take on more right now.”
“Of course I want to meet your friends and I want you to meet mine, but I just can’t right now. I do want to plan a future at some point but I’m still finalizing my separation and trying to close these deals at work, so it’s not clean right now. And that’s not how I do things. You’re not seeing my best and I don’t feel good about that.”
So basically he’s a grown-up. I can’t have all of him right now. Maybe never. And vice versa. I don’t want to give up my lady friendships or my writing time. Or my concerts, which I get the feeling he would not enjoy because his love for cheesy pop doesn’t jive with my passion for alternative bands and singer-songwriters.
However, if I’m truly honest with myself, this isn’t working for me. I’m being asked to stay cool on ice for four months. I’m subtly being asked not to text or send photos. The issues here aren’t that different from the ones I had with Ali, Mr. Saturday Night, or even Theo. The men in my life aren’t showing up the way I need them to. My expectations get called into question and I end up vacillating between wondering what’s wrong with me and feeling gaslighted or disrespected. I get told I should accept the male need to chase, but I detest playing these games. They are not true to who I am, which is raw, honest and excited.
My favourite Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, asks us to stay with ourselves in times of discomfort. Don’t act. Sit still in the eye of the storm. And I have been trying that, but with varying degrees of success. I’ve realized, it’s OK to have limits. I’m not a Buddhist nun. I have wants and needs and desires. I’m human. I’m not ready to give it all up to live in the grace of the universe 24-7, although the Buddhists would have you believe that the love of source energy is better than sex. I want to have my cake and eat it too.
But perhaps, this experience will lead to my final act of total surrender. I can’t control life or love and neither can you. I can imagine a future, dream of it, try to manifest it through beliefs, but at the end of the day all I can control is how I prepare for a moment and how I react to a moment. And I’ll admit I haven’t been too graceful at reacting to being ignored. Being ignored is my trigger. And social media makes it so that I never have to feel ignored, not even for half a day, unless I don’t need it or care about it that day.
So much meditation and thought work still to do to clear this hurdle. And maybe an acceptance that I never will. All my important relationships with men have been “Do you love me?” exercises, stemming back to things that happened with my own dad. The difference is: I’m quite certain I love myself now, and yet, perhaps not fully. Perhaps the “Do you love me?” exercise is really one I have to apply to myself? Time to do a Wild style walk in the wilderness? Or hit a silent meditation retreat? I’ve got no problems being alone, I even crave my solitude. But perhaps I have to go cold turkey with my addiction to people and the internet?
Let me ponder this some. Am I looking at this all wrong? Am I right to express my disappointment about how this is going after six months? I welcome your comments and suggestions (scroll back up for “Leave a Comment” feature).
After we made plans, he suggested a phone call. “Heading home in 1o and then I’ll call.” The pattern continues of course, the one where he says he’s leaving work but he doesn’t leave work. Something to keep watching and being curious about, seeing if it shifts.
I was putting the kids to bed when he texted and told him to go home, get settled, eat something. I know he doesn’t take care of himself consistently, that he rushes from A to B and fuels himself in frantic sprints in between. And there’s the cigarettes, which we know is gonna be a thing eventually, but it’s early enough on this journey that I feel like something could shift.
45 minutes later I messaged him, “OK ready! In bed and drinking my sleepytime tea!”
“Just leaving work.” He called me from the car, smoking out the window while he drove and we talked. He walked in the door talking to me, fed the cat while talking to me, made himself a wrap while talking to me, and then finally sat down. Exactly what I was trying to avoid. But maybe it doesn’t bother him?
“So what do you want to do Friday night?”
“Should we go straight to bed this time?”
I had another intensely chaotic work week, where everything is changing hour by hour and I am honestly not sure if I should keep working there because the universe keeps trying to throw me off this horse and somehow I keep insisting on hanging on, but that’s another story.
I worked a bit later than I would have liked and decided to go to the work gym to shower off the day and prep for a night of SEXY TIME! I texted him at 6:30 to say I was prepping but might be a bit later than 7:30. “No rush! Still at the office.”
Me, sarcastically. “Where else would you be?” Not cute, Maria, not cute. Passive aggressive snark is not a good look. Stop it.
Packing my overnight bag was a bit of an ordeal as I didn’t know what we were doing the next day so I overpacked and that took time to sort. I decided to Uber instead of taking public transit due to tardiness.
“I’m here!” I texted at 8 p.m. (A beat as I looked in the windows and rang the doorbell for the third time…) “But you are not.” Harumph. My phone rang immediately. It felt like he was giving me extra French accent to make up for it. “Hi sweetie! You’re there? Have a seat in the front or back. I’ll be there in 10.”
So much for going straight to bed. I was pissed and staring at an ashtray of cigarette butts. I decided to write a dirty story on my phone of what I’d like to happen (I walk in the door and he is all over me before I even remove my coat. His hands are up my shirt, undoing my bra…) when he showed up.
DAMMIT. That smile. Those piercing blue eyes. Dammit dammit.
But also… no crotch heat. Just friendly familiarity. We hadn’t seen each other in three weeks. I thought… I thought… (I walk in the door and he is all over me before I even remove my coat. His hands are up my shirt, undoing my bra…)
He produced the French wine he brought me from the place where he visited his parents. I produced wine from the same town, bought here though, because that’s how I roll. We drank both on the couch and ordered pizza and watched American Idol clips on YouTube and it was all comfortable as hell, but, but, but…
It’s a bit soon for this level of comfort, no? I wasn’t getting any crotch energy from him at this point. Whenever I playfully approached him, got the feeling he wasn’t into it, so I backed off. He seems to be stuck in these habits: work more than is healthy for a human, come home, drink and smoke and watch purely entertaining things on YouTube. So I went to the bad place. The place where I’m so triggered by someone who consumes too much wine to relax, triggered by someone who watches too much YouTube to relax. The place where someone is avoiding my advances. I was married to that person.
But then we had such an intensely personal conversation. He said that he could tell I was feeling frisky, but that he felt so gross after work that he needed to relax and have fun a bit first. I was glad he told me, and I get it. It’s not always going to line up perfectly. But let’s just say that I like nothing more than forgetting about work with a good romp. I’d had too much wine by that point and I have no idea what I was saying, but if I’m this candid when I’m sober, you can imagine what I might say when tipsy. It’s all blah, blah, blah in my memory right now, but I do recall saying something about how our values are so aligned and how much his children would adore me.
“You don’t need to sell me on this. I know my kids would love you. I see it (pause) but I just can’t.”
That’s when I realized that it hasn’t even been a year since he left the woman he lived with AFTER his marriage ended. Slow your fucking roll Maria. If you think you’re scared, he’s doubly so. “I understand, and I respect your boundaries.” And I truly do. But I can’t shake this niggling question in the back of my mind. “Is this working for me?”
“Right now, I want you to look at me like I’m sexy,” he demurred. As if. I guess I’d turned off my searchlight eyes when I got the cold crotch. Blink. Just like that, back on. I’m amazed that I’m in my forties and still this horny all the time.
“It’s 11 p.m., time to put you to bed.” So to bed we went and it was fun, but still a bit rushed. I forgot my earplugs, so his damn jealous cat kept me up all night. I was uncomfortable and stuck in a negative thought loop, and lo and behold I woke up with an old neck injury from 2012.
I have talked about the metaphysical before. The body has a funny way of showing you the secrets its been keeping. If I read my diary from 2012, it’s the beginning of the end of my marriage. At about the same time, my neck got severely pinched, causing parasthesia (that’s a feeling of tingling, like spiders crawling on you) on my face. It took months of chiropractic, massage, desk adjustment to repair it. I used to joke to Theo that he was the literal pain in my neck. When he left, the pain and tightness disappeared.
Monsieur Magique had to go to an appointment first thing, so he kissed me and left me in bed. “Maybe you can sext me,” he joked as he left, inferring to an article I’m working on about the ubiquitousness of the medium. I slept for a bit and then I had a shower and got back into bed. I light sexted. “Showered and back in your bed, waiting for you…” He’s still new and not ready for tit pics yet.
I lay in bed, lucidly resting, when I heard him come home. He came up and saw that I was “sleeping” and then went back down. What?! Did I look too cosy? I fell asleep again and when I woke, I realized he wasn’t coming back up. How much time had passed? Was I merely being impatient? I began to get dressed. Suddenly he was outside the bathroom door.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m getting dressed.”
“I just got your text right now.”
Whoops. Signals crossed again. I made my way down to find a gorgeous spread. Croissants, hand-chopped to perfection fruit salad in pretty bowls, tulips. Sigh. No crotch energy, but so fucking romantic.
We loitered a bit. He tinkered in the yard while I closed my eyes and tried to stretch out my neck. But I was stuck in a horrible place mentally. Like with the neck pain, an old version of Maria, one I’ve worked through (or so I thought), showed up and wouldn’t leave. And she was picking apart all of it and mad because the day wasn’t meeting her expectations of hand holding in the sunshine and going for walks. Also that we weren’t shagging again. I just assumed it would be a weekend fuckfest. Nope.
Instead we ended up at the mall to buy his daughter a birthday gift. Then we went for tacos. I was exhausted and repeating myself and just not my sparkly self. It felt like there was a wall where normally I’m happy to just orbit in his energy. I could not shake it. We decided to break after lunch and meet up later. I needed some alone time to clear my head, maybe do some yoga and some work. Little did I realize that my mood would get so much worse.
Monsieur Magique was headed to Europe for a week of business and visiting his parents. He asked if I was able to switch up my co-parenting schedule so that I could come see him before he flew out. My ex, who is a lot of things, but chiefly a lovely, kind man who wants me to be happy, was good enough to accommodate and take the kids so I could connect with MM before he left. (Yes we are THAT open with each other as exes. It oddly works for us.)
I was worried that MM would not leave work again, so I texted to say I was making reservations near his office. He replied that he was thinking takeout and chill at his home and could I come by for 8. He’s on the opposite side of the city from me, so I decided to go straight from the office and therefore had some time to kill. I had my nails painted “Bastille My Heart,” bought a little lingerie set (silky, lacy shorts and a tank plus something to throw over for breakfast the next morning), two tarts for dessert and headed over.
I wore my favourite red pixie pants with a navy silk tee and straightened my hair. He misses NOTHING. “Ooh, I like this! You’re wearing the French colours!” Coincidentally, I redid my whole wardrobe, a la capsule collection recommendations (stick to a colour palate) before going to Spain in 2017 and bleu, blanc, rouge is a BIG part of my closet. We quickly fell into easy chatter, had Lebanese food and Spanish wine and all my worries were addressed in one very wonderfully honest conversation.
“I’m sorry we didn’t go out to eat,” he began. “I don’t feel good about this. It’s always the same and I’m sorry. We meet late, we eat something, we’re probably going to have sex later…” hinting at a pattern.
“Oh are you sure about that?” I teased.
“I’m just so busy with work and the girls. I want you to know that I want to take you out. I want to do fun things with you. I don’t want to rush from work and then off to work again. I’m sorry it’s not turning out like that.”
“Magique,” I said with kindness in my eyes, “You made it very clear from our first date that work and the girls are your priority this year. Do I like to go out? Of course! But I am very good at filling my time with fun and don’t need a man to make that happen. What I’m not so good at is slowing down. And to be honest, this enforced relaxation has been really nice, because I’ve never met someone who made me WANT to stay home before.”
And I meant it, honestly. I do want to take this relationship out on a test drive with friends, of course. But I also get that with all the travel he does, he craves staying home. I have a full dance card all the time, so taking time to rest is becoming increasingly important as I grow older. And I’m terrible at it, because I want to do ALL THE THINGS! I want to see ALL THE PEOPLE! So having this sanctuary with him, well, it’s turning out to be exactly what I didn’t know I needed.
He balked and apologized some more, so I looked at him and smiled, “I don’t want to add to your stress or your guilt. Your stress is often palpable, it’s so present, but you can still be light and funny despite it and that says a lot. I have learned from YOU. You are such a clear communicator about your availability that if I don’t hear from you, I find I’m not spinning about whether or not you like me. You have always been so confident that this was going to be a thing. So I just trust that this is going to happen in its own time. I’m not in a rush. I will text you on occasion when you cross my mind and you can respond when you’re able. And if you have time for me, you let me know.”
He softened and smiled, a thousand suns shining from his beautiful blue eyes. I see you. We connect on a level so deep that sometimes I wonder if I’m imagining it.
The rest of the night needed some adjustments, and I realize that there’s something in each of us from our pasts that made it this way and upon reflecting over the past week, I have a good sense as to what’s happening here.
After dinner, he made a quip about wanting to play hide and seek and I missed the cue. So instead, I ended up sitting on the couch and we stayed up until nearly 2am playing “The Best Duets Ever” contest on YouTube. As in, we’d each think of a duet and then say it into the Apple TV remote to pull it up and then we’d laugh as we watched the performance. “Go gently,” he teased, putting the remote’s microphone to my mouth, “It’s used to a soft, French voice.” Swoon.
We were snuggling and touching the entire time but why neither of us jumped each other’s bones, I don’t know. Except, well, I know my side of it. I’m paralyzed by my past experience with Theo. With Theo, after the kids were born and especially after we realized that I get pregnant at the drop of a hat, I was called a “nympho” for wanting sex as much as I did. I could initiate sometimes, but I could not guarantee his participation, and I certainly could not guarantee that he’d be invested in my orgasms.
But MM and I are in our 40s now, so going to bed at 2am is going to guarantee that sex is not an A+ scenario. He’s stressed and tired, and I had stuff on my mind too (THE FUCKING BOIL that will not DIE), so neither of us could really get into it. I mean, we did OK, but it was like “sex five years in” sex, not “we just met and want to bone all the time” sex. It’s full of comfort and warmth but lacks some of the experimentation and unexpectedness of what I experienced with my last two lovers.
I spent the next day wondering if sex matters that much when everything else is so great. And then I realized I was being a dolt. I can tell this man ANYTHING. So why is talking about bedroom stuff so nerve-wracking? And what’s with this idea that everything has to be 100% exactly right, right out the gate?
Good things take time. They evolve through respect and trust, one conversation at a time. And if I am truly in no rush, then I should just relax and know that someone who cares about me will care about my pleasure too, and will make time for my pleasure. I need to stop taking the past to bed with me. I need to be more forward, too. And if sex is not as important to him, I have a right to ask why, to try to crack that nut, and to express that I’m a highly sexual being who will not hold back her desire or make concessions for it. I don’t have the same life pressures I felt in my twenties. There’s no clock or life list forcing me to get off the dating train here. It’s a choice.
I sent him a text to say I’d made it home from his place the next day, thanking him for a lovely time. He took a few hours, but responded later with a heartfelt thank you that I had switched things up to see him. “Chilling with you is just so comfortable and pleasant.” I asked him to send me a postcard. Let’s see if it shows up. I’m curious about my feelings should it not materialize.
He has messaged me from Europe nearly every day since the vacation part started. He has been sending photos of where he spends his days and even a photo of his parents. Then he told me that he told his mum about me, that “funny, light-spirited” Maria. That he showed her photos. That she said I looked, “douce.”
“I told my mom about you, too.” I felt 17.
This morning I woke up to a photo of a sunrise. “Sharing my sunrise for your rise…” He’s on a plane home. I decided to risk it all and reply with,”You are the most wonderfully romantic man I’ve ever met. Thank you for sharing your last French sunrise. I don’t know how I will be able to last two more weeks without being able to wrap my arms around you, but I’m really happy we found each other. Welcome home, Magique.”
Home. Feels a bit like we are starting to build the foundations of one together. I feel it in my solar plexus. But I gotta stay in the now. Only time will tell. I’m going to get up the courage to write down my vision for a future, just to keep myself from getting scared of it.
It’s hard to believe it’s only been two short months. 70 days at best. And yet I feel as though I’ve always known him, Monsieur Magique. I feel so SEEN, because although many of our interests are different, our spirits, our energy, our values are so aligned. He seems to just GET me. Sometimes it’s like looking into a mirror and seeing a smarter, more logical version of myself.
Except there are things I have mastered that he aspires to. I bring something to the picnic too, big time. Through hard work, focused learning and constant dedication to prioritizing what fuels me, I’ve got my stress and self-care in check. His desperate need to make time for relaxation means that my desire to reduce my tendency to overschedule myself is addressed through our time together. My planning brain doesn’t need to change drastically. On the contrary, its enhanced by creativity, trying to find fun new ways to rest or create de-stressing. It’s self-love partnered with caring for this man, who fell from the sky and anchored me to the universe. It’s less about doing and more about being.
I’m going backwards through time at the speed of light I’m yours, you’re mine, two satellites Not alone No, we’re not alone A freeze-frame of your eye in the strobelight Sweat dripping down from your brow, hold tight Don’t let go Don’t you let me go
I listened to a great podcast this week called Unf*ck Your Brain. The host specializes in thought work. And she blew my mind a bit, although there may be more enlightened schools of thought that disagree with what I’m about to break down. But hear me out. Basically, love is just your thoughts that create positive feelings. So loving someone is just for you, really. You can go ahead and love someone as much as you want, as long as you are being treated with respect and it feels good! Love is not a finite resource. We can make as much love as the love thoughts we have the capacity to generate. You do not need to ration it or budget it. You can spend it, assess if where you spent it served you well and decide to keep spending it there or withdraw and spend it somewhere else.
But start with yourself. Because negative thoughts are just that—THOUGHTS! And you have the power to change or re-write them. If you’re not feeling it with someone you’ve loved, examine YOUR thoughts first. Start with yourself. Is the issue deeper, a past hurt or trauma perhaps? Or is it simply that you chose to love someone/spend love thoughts on someone who can’t meet you at your level?
We all grow at different rates and paces, not just physically but intellectually, cognitively and spiritually. You can wake up one day to find you’ve outpaced the person you started out with, be it your parent, your friend, your spouse. Or that they couldn’t keep up with you. And that’s when things get painful. Because you either start holding yourself back for the person you love to catch up, or you constantly feel like you’re not enough to keep up with the person who got there before you. You don’t understand why the other person doesn’t see the world the way you do. And it hurts, because our instinct is to think that one of us is wrong, when often we are both right.
When you start tuning into where you are vibing, when you pay attention to your pace and your steps, the body that houses the spirit and the mind that often gets too much power beyond running the order of operations of that body, THEN things do fall into place. The only two things we have control over is how we prepare for a particular moment and how we react to a particular moment. Once you spend some time with that, little by little, you let go of worry and fear, one act of surrender at a time.
In that regard, I see falling in love as a choice and staying in love a mix of choice and actions, small surrenders and kindnesses done on the daily—by choice.
And I never was smart with love I let the bad ones in and the good ones go, but…
I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before I’m gonna love you like I’m indestructible Your love is ultra magnetic and it’s taking over This is hardcore And I’m indestructible
Monsieur Magique was an hour late. I expect him to always be 30 minutes late—that’s the basic buffer I mentally put in as a safety measure. He’s a European stereotype with those things and also has an extremely intense job, so I understand his dedication to his work to-do list. So I just physically prepare on the off-chance he will be on-time, but mentally prepare for the fact that I have 30 minutes to tweak things like my makeup, my food presentation, or the arrangement of pillows on my bed. I put music on, I pour some wine and a just float through the house. If it’s a restaurant and I’m waiting the 30 minutes, I flirt with the waiter. But by the time he arrives, he expects me to be angry. It’s like he wants to be punished for being a naughty boy, and I think he might be disappointed when I’m completely unfazed.
I was irritated, and he’s right, I should be mindful of that. I think that this is me choosing not to be angry, but also I’ve learned that expectations matter. That if we don’t say something is unacceptable when it is, the person trespassing will continue to trespass and offend and you will keep saying, “It’s fine,” but not really mean it and then 20 years later you will wake up and hate the person for not knowing it’s not OK and not being able to read your mind after 20 years.
But also, do I need to sweat the small stuff? No harm, no foul. He usually let’s me know he’s running late in plenty of time and so we’re good. But on Friday night, 30 minutes became 60 with no notice. And the thing that irked me was I had gone out of my way to make him dinner, because I knew he was coming from work and probably had little but cigarettes for dinner. He has not been great at taking care of himself in the time I’ve known him, though he manages to go swimming or to the gym when he can.
His job is eating up his life. He works seven days a week AND tries to be SuperDad at the same time. From school to the airport or office and back again. And from our very first most magical date he made very clear that work and kids were the priority right now, so I accept that completely. But I CHOOSE to care about him, and seeing him constantly putting himself last (save those tiny smoke breaks), hearing him complain, seeing him look so stressed and tired… well it tears at my heart strings a bit. He’s a giver, but I wonder if he’s giving so much at the expense of himself. And then where do I fit in? What’s my part in all this? Do I need to define it or do I just go with the flow, filling in the gaps as I see them?
So I chose to welcome him into my home, to ignore his guilty look, and to wrap him up in my arms and hold and kiss his face to tell him it was OK. Because I wanted to create a safe, comforting space for him. This home was a battle zone and not a sanctuary for so long. I’ve worked so hard to give it new energy, and I want there to be something sacred in the space and time I choose to spend with the person I choose to care deeply about.
As I was flitting about the kitchen, getting everything reheated, he came up behind me and held me tight. “Smells so good,” he said, “Thank you. It kind of feels like I’m coming home.” My knees buckled a bit.
We ate and talked in depth about our kids and it’s never a problem because it’s both our favourite subjects and a great way to learn about each other. “You bought French wine!” he remarked. Indeed, I’d bought it with intention, thinking about how he told me that the good vintage is 2015. But I love Bordeaux, it’s one of my favourites (along with Rioja and Garnacha), so much so that it was the colour I had my toes painted this week (also with intention). “I often buy French wine,” I smirked.
Dinner was cold and not my A-game, and apparently I was a bit cold and B-game too, because he commented that I didn’t seem myself, that I seemed distant. I think I was just trying to observe what was happening, trying to keep an eye on how I was feeling and reacting to things, but he was convinced I was mad and holding back, not showing my Greekness enough. So I said, “Fine, I will tell you. This work stress is not your forever, but it’s your right now. And it’s OK right now, because it’s cold and icy, so hibernating is something I appreciate and a night at home is a nice thing. But come long, sunny days, I will resent you for being late. I’m very good at filling my own time with fun. Don’t keep me waiting. D’accord?“
We danced to 80s records again until late. But I was cognizant of the fact that he had to be up early to get his kids the next morning. “How much sleep do you need to be functional for your kids tomorrow?”
“Hmmm? Are you getting antsy to get me into bed?”
“No, well a bit, but I’m also respecting your time and your schedule,” I replied. “And don’t feel like you need to stay. If you need to be in your own house tonight, just say the words.” I was antsy, but only because the ghost of Susan FUCKING BOIL was back and I wasn’t sure how to address the fact that my ladytown was off limits.
“Five hours,” he replied, putting on Duran Duran’s “Reflex” and twirling me around the room. “Last song,” he said, and when it was done, he reshelved the record, then calmly walked over to his overnight bag. “I brought my jammies!” he smiled, tossing a pair of PJ pants down to my bedroom. I guess we were having a sleepover. Not gonna lie, I was giddy.
Hands up in the air like we don’t care We’re shooting deep into space And the lasers split the dark Cut right through the dark It’s just us, we ignore the crowd dancing Fall to the floor Beats in my heart Put your hand on my heart
I won’t get into details of what ensued (sorry pervs), but let’s say that some interesting things came up, all of which are promising and can be worked through with communication. He is a giver! And I think has a hard time with letting go, like he’s too wrapped up in his own head. I can work with this.
So I pretended I had my period to not get into the whole “maybe I have a staph infection” conversation. And as a result, try as he might to change the course of the evening, I did not have an orgasm. And I was totally OK with that. It was my choice, not due to a bad lover. You get to choose how you ride your ride. Instead, after we fooled around in other ways, I got another all-night snugglefest. And for the first time, I really fell asleep. I woke up a few times to adjust blankets, pillows, positions, the thermostat… but I learned how to accept his snoring as purring and let him white noise me to sleep in his arms.
When I called it purring in the morning, he softened. “You’re so kind to call it that.” We don’t have to make someone’s physical flaws a liability. We can be gentle with them. And we should be just as gentle (if not more) with our own. What I adore about Monsieur Magique is how he notices kind gestures and really expresses his appreciation for them. No one is perfect, but I get that some things are deal breakers, I have them too, and I watch for them like a hawk. Perhaps I should make a post about them, my makers and breakers, because I’ve put a lot of thought into them, but haven’t validated the breakers properly.
We shared a bagel and talked about our plans for the week. He thanked me countless times, apologizing again for his lateness. We hugged deeply, with meaning. “Text me to keep me updated on your adventures and I’ll try to do the same,” he said over his shoulder while leaving, eliminating the last niggling feeling I had about our inconsistency in texting styles. I had permission to text when I felt like it. I just have to accept that the response will come in its own time.
I went to yoga later and had a hard time setting my intention. I settled on choosing an open heart. My mom and sister constantly worry about how trusting I am, about how I give my love to everyone. But if love is a choice to think love thoughts, what’s the harm in that? I’ve proven that I’m not as fragile as I was lead to believe. “You’re just so sensitive,” my mom would say, mistaking empathy or heightened awareness for sensitivity.
I’ve been hurt before (or chosen to think painful thoughts about the end of something) and I licked my wounds (with the help of many MANY people, mind you) and moved on. Isn’t life just a practice of this? Love with abandon (as long as you’re being mindful throughout the process) and if it comes back to you, great! If/when it ends, accept it and move forward in your own time. Nothing’s here to stay anyway. Shouldn’t we all just savour the love when we can get it?
I’m going all in.
And I never was smart with love I let the bad ones in and the good ones go, but…
I’m gonna love you like I’ve never been hurt before I’m gonna love you like I’m indestructible Your love is ultra magnetic and it’s taking over This is hardcore And I’m indestructible
I don’t know you But I want you All the more for that
I open the door to Monsieur Magique’s beautiful home and try to play it cool. He bought it before his kids were born, before his marriage even, when he was on his own in the world. He’s lovingly renovated it himself. It lacks clutter and pretension, it’s imperfect and yet simply beautiful… kind of like him.
He’s making us a salad at the breakfast bar and pours me some bubbly with a glint of the magic that first drew me to him. There’s a confident, shit-disturbing impishness to him. I am butterflies and yet completely calm. I recognize this feeling, but I don’t want to name it yet, because I need to examine if it’s true. Everyone is their best at the start of a relationship, so it’s important to watch for the rough spots and see if they will become deal-breakers as days, years, decades pass.
We talk easily and laugh plenty. He’s fun, SO FUN! We tease each other playfully, and it’s not mean-spirited but exactly the kind of flirting I adore. Physically, he’s not totally my usual type, a bit shorter and stockier than I normally go for, but I’m so attracted to him. He’s so comfortable, barefoot in his kitchen, shirt sleeves rolled up, the way he is making a vinaigrette or tossing pistachios on the salad. He gives me a tour of his house. His kids’ rooms are lovingly appointed. Nothing is ostentatious. It’s bigger and nicer than my house, but not in a way that makes me uncomfortable.
Words fall through me And always fool me And I can’t react
I keep looking at him, trying to understand what all these feelings are. Could I fall for this person? Have I already? I feel like he’s all heart, and I’m all heart, and that the sunshine in his heart acknowledges the sunshine in mine. But what happens on days we are both cloudy? Is there a way to know? The red flags I see are mostly around the smoking, and yet I enjoy sitting on a porch or deck with him while he politely has a cigarette, careful to blow smoke away from me. His post-cigarette smell is oddly SEXY AF. He’s so careful to wash his hands and chew gum or take a mint after. It says a lot about who he is, his occasional self-deprecating comments about it, but also how he’s unapologetic about his stereotypically French vice, out in plain view. I think there may be challenges with stress relief, he’s incredibly hard on himself in general, he’s a “weight of the world on his shoulders” type. So when he’s in fun mode, he is down to blow off some steam.
Leading me to the other red flag: His European attitude towards drinking. We seem to get stinking drunk every time we hang out. My old drinking habits find their way to me; I will drink whatever you put in front of me, and fast. The “best rosé in all of France” goes down like water. He thinks he’s being a good host with the subtle top-ups, and I don’t ever get a sense of how much we are imbibing, but there are two bottles turned upside down in the champagne cooler. Is he this much fun when I’m not so drunk? Why do we need to get so drunk when we are clearly so compatible? I feel too old to continue doing this to myself and make a note to call him on it.
And games that never amount To more than they’re meant Will play themselves out
After a delicious dinner of roasted halibut and ratatouille (elegant in its simplicity, homey, nourishing, comforting… like him), we retire to the couch to watch concerts. It’s a YouTube sharing bonanza. He loves going down rabbit holes and we use concerts and other things we enjoy on YouTube to tell the story of ourselves. It’s different, for sure, but there’s just so much sharing. In contrast, Mr. SN would tell me about certain shows but we never watched one together in 10 months.
Monsieur Magique’s tastes are on the lighter side, far cheesier than most men would admit to loving, but he’s resolutely French and makes no apologies for his Eurovision ways. He LOVES the Grammys, and Daft Punk, and fun collaborations. We watch old French singers and movie clips. I tell him I have a love of Celine Dion that I will never apologize for and he casually says we should go to Vegas before her show of 15 years ends in June. I die a little? No, I come alive a little bit more. Everything is suddenly more vibrant. This is a man who would whisk me away to places to see a great show. He’s mentally planning weekends away already, which is something I have tried to do in the past with others like Ali and Mr. SN, only to get pushback. Is this really happening? Am I allowed to indulge in this daydreaming about future trips? What does it say about him that he’s so self-assured, that he completely seems to lack any fear about me? Pace yourself, Maria.
Take this sinking boat and point it home We’ve still got time Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice You’ll make it now
I make him watch La Divina doing Casta Diva. Then I let him see me in a celebrity’s kitchen watching my favourite band do a private concert. “You told me I could Google you easily, but I haven’t yet,” he says. The alcohol makes me slow to react. I don’t pursue this off-the-cuff comment, but in hindsight I should. I don’t even think he knows my last name, which is different on social media than it is in the public sphere.
We dance until two or three in the morning again, trying once again to outdo each other with song selections. He says he let me think I won when I played “Groove is in the Heart” as a reaction to him playing “Funkytown,” but that “Funkytown” will always be superior. And that really says it all for me. This is not someone who is cool in that downtown, “city guy in the know,” “go where the hip bands go” way. He’s an unabashed pop music lover, something that was always insulted in my marriage. We kiss and dance and hold each other close and he spins me around and then we kiss some more. He doesn’t have cool dance moves, but he’s so damn happy when he’s dancing! You can’t help but be carried away by the spirit of him.
After a big bout of giggles, he holds me still and looks into my eyes. “I think we should go to bed.”
Falling slowly, eyes that know me And I can’t go back
We weren’t supposed to sleep together. I haven’t had a first-time sleepover with a man since 1998. I tell him this is a big deal and he should know that it’s A BIG DEAL! He has given me many options to back out and somehow I just never call that Uber. I have bought a travel toothbrush and face wipes and a clean pair of undies. I’m a big girl now. I’m ready for this. I think?
Except the fucking BOIL. Susan BOIL! It’s a fraction of what it was, just a tiny pin head really, but it’s still present. I have come up with a game plan and tell him I’ve had a small procedure, then end up talking WAY too much, making up shit that no one needs to hear. “I’m cysty and sometimes things have to come out when they are too painful,” I tell him. WHAT?! (Well, I AM cysty, my body loves to make cysts to deal with stress, but did he need to know this on date #4?) He laughs at my use of the made-up word “cysty” and tells me no problem.
I tell him everything else is available but my underpants are off limits, and he’s respectful. But I’m drunk and the second his mouth is on my naked body and he’s begging to see and taste more of me, I buckle. Because I want him too. And my normally solid willpower is nowhere to be found. Booze and sex are my vices and both are partying with me tonight.
It’s dark and I’m slutty. I guide his hand to the bandaid on Susan BOIL, “Avoid this part.” The rest is a loud, drunken fumble. It’s messy, but fun. He spoons me without hesitation afterwards. He apologizes for the fact that he will snore and we fall asleep holding each other.
Moods that take me and erase me And I’m painted black
I wake up every time his cat meows but manage to experience the snoring as a sort of white noise, and fall in and out of dreamy sleep. Until 5 am, when I experience an intense hot flash. Hormones and alcohol and 40-something me do not mix. I’m AWAKE. And THINKING.
Is this real? Is this happening? Why doesn’t he have curtains? Will the cat shut the fuck up? Does it endear me to him that his cat is all up in my grill, or does she do this to every woman he brings home? Is any of this sustainable? Will I get used to this snoring? Why didn’t I say no to the digestive cognac? Why didn’t we just fool around without full fucking? Why am I so soft on my healthy boundaries around drinking and shagging? And so on, and so on.
I try to use my meditation skills to sort myself out, but my brain is MUSH and I can’t recall a single mantra from Thich Naht Hanh. I just lie there, with my eyes closed, in his dreamy bed, trying to get out from underneath his snuggle grip without waking him.
Later, he comments that I’m a furnace. I tell him I’m perimenopausal and to get used to it.
You have suffered enough And warred with yourself It’s time that you won
Then WHOOSH! I decide to just accept that I’m not going to sleep. I decide to delight in the warm glow of the sunrise in his picture window, the hotel quality fluffiness of the duvet and the pillows, the arms wrapped around me, attached to the caring, snoring Frenchman next to me. Haven’t I earned this comfort, this security that I don’t seem to be able to trust? Don’t I get to have this after the past 5-10 years of struggle and heartache and pain? I think I do.
He wakes up around eight and says, “I think we should eat and then come back to bed.” We are both FAMISHED. I love how sensible and “here’s what the right thing to do next” he is. I borrow a t-shirt and I can barely speak from sleeplessness and hangover. He expertly whips up some eggs and reheats some ratatouille. He has NO COFFEE. Well he has coffee, he just has no way to MAKE IT and I am too out of it to try to rig some camping style contraption to have it. I make a mental note to bring a French press next time I visit.
We talk about our kids, their personalities, their weak spots. The conversation is so natural, even without coffee. He looks at me intently as I describe reading about my son’s perspective on his sister’s illness in his high school application essay. His eyes are so blue. Gah! WHAT IS HAPPENING? I break his gaze but then meet it again. It’s like he SEES me.
Take this sinking boat and point it home We’ve still got time Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice You’ve made it now
We go back to bed, and joke around about our rumble in the sheets the night before (“Who needs Callas when there’s you?” Hahaha!), then we fool around a bit, with exploring hands only. I tell him no more drinking so much, that I want to get to know what we are like together sober and he agrees. Then he spoons me again and we take a four-hour nap. And I sleep this time, relaxing into the unknown, embracing this imperfect human who is so open and giving. Grateful to have him lead me a tiny step towards who I can be in a relationship, while figuring out how to stay in the present when with him.
I decide I should leave. We both have to work. He offers me a shower, which I take gratefully. His bathroom is full of sample sized shampoos and soaps from all his business trips and I love that he’s a sample hoarder like me. The shower does me good, I feel half alive after. I get dressed, but half of me doesn’t want to leave. The alive half.
He sits on the stairs and makes sure to put our next date in his mental calendar. Our kid-free weekends typically line up, and unlike Mr. SN, he seems comfortable booking me so far in advance. He seems to get that I’m a planner, and if he wants to be in those plans he has to be vocal about it. He texts later to say I can drive the next date, but might he come over the night before, after my dinner guests go home, to keep me warm in my cold basement bedroom?
It’s a beautiful dance this. Not a cool one, not a smooth one, just so damn flawesomely pretty in how it’s coming together.
Falling slowly sing your melody I’ll sing it loud
“Falling Slowly” written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglová, from the film, Once
So you’re probably wondering about Mr. Saturday Night. I mean, I’ve been seeing him for nine…? ten months now, and it’s been delightfully challenging in terms of learning. But didn’t we always know this wasn’t ever going to be the real deal?
I don’t know why for certain. When we are together we are thoroughly engaged in one another’s company. But perhaps it’s because from the beginning, it was always just for me. I didn’t want to see this relationship through the context of the eyes of my cherished friends, because that would burst my romantic Bohemian bubble of an affair.
I ADORE him. When we’re together, when he has energy to give and is full of stories and curiosity, I drink him in. I ENJOY him, his company, his stories, the lines in his face, how his hands seem impossibly small for someone who can do so much with them. How his mind is always jumping to creative projects, how he’s passionate about his work, about what he can contribute to this fair city, his impact. What a devoted dad he is… but… well you’ve read various iterations of this hemming and hawing for months now.
I didn’t want to assume that a 56-year-old lifelong bachelor would not be ideal for coupledom. The thing is, until recently, I wasn’t sure I wanted I even wanted coupledom. There’s a difference between companionship and partnership. I had a companion and while I never got the chance to test out this theory, I still believe that if I had a +1 to an event, he would be lovely to take with me. He could charm the pants out of any room.
When we started out I’d asked him over text what exactly he wanted out of a relationship. He’d said something along the lines of, “If a person wanted something casual, I’d be into that. But I’m also open to the possibility of magic.” And that’s just what it’s been. It’s been casual AND magical. And while we are both kind humans who offer each other support, there’s been nothing, NOTHING, to suggest that the opportunity for partnership is there.
I get into these strange thought patterns where I wonder if he’s assuming all these things about me and that’s why he’s not able to talk feelings or give an generous compliment. But then I go over the facts. He has not shown himself to be someone for whom romantic generosity comes easily to outside the bedroom (where he gives his ALL). He’s in love with the history of our city and his telling of it. He has space in his heart for his adult child, his adorable dog, but does he want to make room in there for me?
And if he did, wouldn’t it just freak me the fuck out, because I know this isn’t right in the long run? But is it not right because he decided that, with a look, when we first met? Or is it not right because it’s just not and it’s time to let go?
I have other single mom friends who are now partnered up, and they all have a longing look in their eye when they talk about that one certain lover. “Ah, my Turk,” says one friend, recounting nights spent smoking pot and talk serious pothead talks about existentialism and the theories of the universe, before making love on his mattress on the floor.
So please don’t judge me too harshly that I went to see him on a Saturday after a month of only random texts. That I went to see Mr. SN, even though I’ve met Monsieur Magique and would like nothing more than to spend the rest of this gloriously new year exploring what that could be. See, I’ve spent a lifetime being taught to be monogamous, and while I do truly believe that I’m inherently monogamous, no one has asked me to be exclusive yet…
…But a boy did ask if he could hold my hand while we crossed the street to a bistro on one late December night, causing a shiver up my spine. And I do REALLY, REALLY want that to be more than just the most magical first date I’ve ever experienced (and a pretty great second date in January). But in the meantime, I’m guarded, I’m cautious. Is Mr. SN like a lottery ticket you know probably isn’t a winner, but you keep in your wallet anyway, just in case it might ferment into a winner the longer you hang on to it?
How do I say goodbye? All my past breakups were messy, teary dramatic affairs. And usually someone had really wronged me. But Mr. SN is a dear friend now. I hope he is always in my life in some way. I feel so blessed that I’ve gotten to know him a bit. He has done SO MUCH, without realizing it, for me on my road to self-acceptance. To embracing my sexual self free of past scars, free of patriarchal religious ideals.
There was a time in the recent past, when Mr. SN really needed a friend. I was someone he could confide in, so I couldn’t kick a man while he was down. But at the same time, staying put in this limbo relationship (where we’re not FB friends, we don’t ever hold hands, and I’m only ever introduced as a “friend”) is subconsciously keeping me from fully moving forward into the present and into the possibility of a future with Monsieur Magique.
I’ve been trying to “optimize my life” to such a point, that I’ve been head down and focusing on a lot of unsexy things like, “Make your bed every day,” and, “Pay off your credit cards by January.” Sure, these tasks will make me a more responsible human, but in talking to Dr. X I realized that I’d stopped dreaming. That in an attempt to stay in the present moment, I’d stopped truly imagining what my future could be.
Part of that is that I am a hopeful romantic, and I don’t trust myself. I worry, as do lots of my closest friends and family, that I will end up choosing another version of my ex-husband, another Peter Pan. I don’t trust that things are different now; that I’m not a 20-something this time and in the two decades that have passed I have learned a few things and have become a more fully actualized individual. Shortly after I met Monsieur Magique (MMmm), I wrote in my journal, “It’s too soon to tell if what I am feeling is truth or imagination, but something in me says that my sunny heart sees the sunshine of MM’s heart shining back. I’m curious about it.”
So I’m spinning a bit, which we all know I do. A friend asked whether I shouldn’t just “stop spending energy looking for a man at all right now. Why not spend the energy getting into the headspace you want to be in, then seeing clearly the kind of partner you deserve?” (Clearly some friends are getting tired of all the questioning… as am I, as I edit this weeks after first drafting it!)
The thing is, I’ve spent two years trying to get grounded, centred. I’m ready to explore groundlessness. Giving up on the idea of getting ground. As RuPaul says, we’re all just the universe pretending to be humans for a time. I don’t want to get hung up in my identity any longer. In labels and definitions and in using my great taste in ALL THE THINGS to define me. When I wrote all those paragraphs above, I wasn’t grounded. I can see that clearly now, two weeks later, after going through some major things. (A WHOLE ‘NOTHER POST).
I’ve lost the ending to this a bit, which is fitting, given I’m trying to determine how to close the chapter of Mr. Saturday Night. Even the super fun, super delicious in life gets boring if there’s no substance. If you decided to eat nothing but hipster donuts for a week because you felt entitled to that experience, you’d not be wrong, it wouldn’t be bad really. But in time, you’d probably be craving something healthier, something with sustenance that could fuel your body better. My next post will deal with the metaphysical more directly, because it matters to this story and where I’m at in my journey. In the meantime, I’ve decided not to reach out to Mr. SN at all and see what happens next. More to come.
Crazy I know, places I go Make me feel so tired I can see how people look down I’m on the outside Here’s, where the story ends Ooh here’s, where the story ends
The week after Thanksgiving, I was kid-free and looking forward to seeing a new exhibit at our art gallery. Should I invite Mr. SN? I knew he wanted to go, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask him. Because every time I ask him to do something other than have sex, he either ignores the invite or turns me down because he’s working. So now inviting him somewhere has become risky, and I feel vulnerable and fear rejection.
I type out, “Would you like to see the exhibit at the gallery Friday night” and delete it three times. Instead I text my Cinema Gay, “Whatcha doing Friday night?”
“Hanging out with you, obviously!”
Right or wrong, this is my expectation. I want a romantic partner to react the same way. I want to know that the mere mention of me having free time is cause for joy!
I went to the gallery with Cinema Gay and another dear friend, and the gallery happens to be around the corner from Bohemiatown where Mr. SN lives. And somehow I couldn’t let it go that I might be so close to him and not see him. So I asked him if he’d like to meet me around 9 to go see a really cool light installation.
His responses left me wanting something else. He wanted me to come over, told me it was his preference to spend time with my lady bits over looking at cool lights. I told him that I was menstruating and not in the mood for what he had in mind, but did he still want to see me.
How to decipher that “sure?” I now detest communicating over text. Too much room for ambiguity and me attempting to read between the lines. In future relationships, I may try to avoid it all together. “Sure” is not “SURE!” I consulted a sage friend and decided I didn’t need to see him after all. I texted that I only respond to “sure” when followed by “!!” and I’d catch him another time.
“!!” and “I was working…”
OK whatever. Immediately after the text, I so wasn’t myself. I was looking at my phone and being all weird at the gallery. I was distracted at dinner. It’s actually unfair for my friends that I’m so in my head. It’s unfair to all of you to have to keep reading this NEUROTIC bullshit when we all know I should have cut this off months ago if I was going to go for heart. But I wasn’t ready for heart then, and I’m scared now, but I want to try for heart at least.
He suggests meeting at the bar across the street from his place. I tell him I have a gaggle of friends there celebrating a birthday. He says he’s not feeling social, to just come up for a drink.
I go there anyway.
It’s that little souvenir, of a terrible year Which makes my eyes feel sore And who ever would’ve thought, the books that you brought Were all I loved you for Oh the devil in me said, go down to the shed I know where I belong But the only thing I ever really wanted to say Was wrong, was wrong, was wrong
We sit in his kitchen for two hours, drinking whiskey out of a mason jar. He reads me another chapter from his book. It’s all so familiar, but in a way that has me looking at the clock. If we are not having sex, and we are not going out to do something, is there any point in this? I could be having a drink with the Witches across the street, I keep thinking. Finally I get up and say, “I think I’m gonna go.” Is it disappointment I see on his face?
I use the bathroom (there is always toilet paper now), and when I round the corner back into his kitchen, he’s standing and looking at me like I’m a chocolate eclair. “Fuuuuck…” comes the breathy whisper from his normally guarded self. He is a giant man in a black t-shirt and I have no will power when he is looking at me like this. I am in his mouth, I am gasping for air. “Well,” I quip, “I think we were pretty well-behaved until now.”
“I don’t know,” he responds, “I don’t think I’ve been so well-behaved. Touch the front of my pants to see how I’m behaving.” And that was it folks. I was in his bedroom, making out and giving him pleasure in the blink of an eye, even though that wasn’t what I’d hoped for. I missed my birthday celebrating pals and instead let him drive me home. I left wondering if I’d gotten anything that I wanted and realizing I did in a strange way.
I want more, but not from Mr. SN. There’s more to this story, but I’ve already shared too much, and the new development is not my story to tell. It does, however, follow a pattern and the note in the previous post warns me to believe patterns. I want to keep enjoying Mr. SN on occasion, because what we have is sweet and spicy, but with full awareness that it lacks sustenance and nutrition. And when I’m finally ready to let go of Mr. SN, I think that a real meal will appear. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy some last bits of fun and exploration, enjoy being friends and lovers with someone who is delightful AF but with whom I cannot share my heart fully. It’s been a delicious ride and I’m grateful for the experience, but I’m truly ready to explore what else is out there. As my friend Brenda says, “When you find the right one, it will be easy.” I’m counting on that.
It’s that little souvenir, of a colorful year Which makes me smile inside So I cynically, cynically say, the world is that way Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise Here’s, where the story ends Ooh here’s, where the story ends
People I know, places I go Make me feel tongue-tied I can see how, people look down They’re on the inside Here’s where the story ends
Mr. Saturday Night has gotten confusing as all fuck. Or rather, I’m confusing the fuck out of myself by not being able to read Mr. SN, nor being able to flat out ask him anything. At the end of September, on the day I found out my employee had cancer, I was bereft. He hadn’t so much as asked me a question in seven days and while I now know why, at the time I was so over it.
Normally on a week where my kid-free time was coming up, he would have made plans with me already, knowing I will fill my time otherwise (planners gotta plan). But that week, nada. I deleted his photos from my phone and tried to pretend that I didn’t care. Then in the middle of the day, PING!
My heart pounded, why does he have that effect on me? Deep breath. “Struggling to work through emotional distress. You?” Did I need to be so honest? When would I learn to hold back?
He was sympathetic and caring, “Would a chat later help?” He’d been in my life for six months and had never called me on the phone. Not ever. I said it would be lovely, but didn’t hold my breath. I went home and had wine (and a Timothée Chalumet movie) for dinner.
Then my phone rang.
Instantly I am teenage Maria. OMGOMGOMG he is actually calling me. Hyperventilate. Miss the call. Do I call back?
He calls back. “Hi, it’s Sam. Just wanted to see how you were doing. You sounded like you needed some support earlier.” What? We had a nice chat that I don’t recall the details of. I think I was so surprised that he’d actually called that I just graded the whole call an A+.
It left me completely confused. Did he care? “All it proves is that he’s not a sociopath,” a friend said, probably my divorce and sex guru, Colette. Later that evening, he texted to check on me again. Was I wrong about him? Who goes from not asking me a single question for a WEEK to being so lovely? Why are men so confusing?
“PAUSE, breathe,” my therapist friend said.
People I see, weary of me Showing my good side I can see how, people look down I’m on the outside Here’s, where the story ends Ooh here’s, where the story ends
Thanksgiving came and while last year I’d spent it with Theo’s family, this year I wasn’t there. I wasn’t invited. And while sometimes I think there might be a day where we could all be one big family, Theo is moving on (ish) and she is not going to want to have to meet his family AND me in the same go.
I had planned on spending it alone, working on my budget and other painful things that would feel good in the long-run, but then Mr. Saturday Night reached out, “Thanksgiving plans?” I made us dinner (a failed mediocre attempt at Thanksgiving dinner) and answered the door in a wine-coloured negligee. Because I could. And because there’s nothing like dulling the pain of holiday traditions you have to say goodbye to like feeling sexy and having good sex. (I’m sure hiking alone or something would be on the list, but this works for me, k?) He was 20 minutes early though, so I didn’t have on a stitch of makeup. I did have a new hairdo, which he noticed right away and complimented me on. He’s not a man of many compliments, so I took it.
He kept his hands to himself and we chatted and ate appetizery-snacks, while I OVERCOOKED the turkey. He was complimentary on the food and we enjoyed one of our typical great chats and eventually he said, “Let’s go get that p*ssy of yours licked,” or something to that effect, and really, if you could argue with that offer, then you are a stronger person than me and should go hang with Pema Chödrön in a Nova Scotian monastery or something.
It’s that little souvenir, of a terrible year Which makes my eyes feel sore Oh I never should have said, the books that you read Were all I loved you for It’s that little souvenir, of a terrible year Which makes me wonder why And it’s the memories of the shed, that make me turn red Surprise, surprise, surprise
Mr. SN revealed something intimate to me that week, that a former lover had died of tragic causes, and I knew that might mean he’d retreat. Or maybe it’s just that my expectations are out of line with how he shows up. Maybe what I view as “retreat after reveal” is just him not even thinking about it, because he doesn’t seem to need as much connection as me. But either way it just doesn’t line up. Something sad had happened and I wasn’t the person he immediately sought comfort from. Just like how I didn’t call him after I smashed my car.
With a bit of distance (and a bit of therapy), I can see the gaps in the affair. They are the same ones I flagged in this post over the summer. Red flags matter, because over time they become giant landmines that you can’t diffuse. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted the story to write itself differently. But why? I can’t seem to separate sex and the desire to love. I wonder if it comes from a super Christian upbringing, where girls made rules to get around not feeling slutty about wanting sex. Some girls had anal and called themselves virgins. Some of us thought that if we just married the guy we lost our virginities to, then we were still living “under His eye.” Is there a part of me that wants to love the person I sleep with? In that desire to make my lover worthy of my love, I start to fill in the blanks with things that are not there, but could be there if I just wished them hard enough, no? NO!
The list above was posted on Instagram and I loved it instantly, because who of us hasn’t been guilty of at least one of these items? Pick any past relationship and hold this list up to it.
Theo: Adorably charming and loveable, but all of the above apply to him.
Ali: 1, 2 and 4.
For Mr. SN, 2 and 3 jump out the most. And as a result, 4 and 5 scream at me.
I wanted this to be a summer lover thing, and now it’s fall and it’s lingering, because damn I am so attracted to him and he’s an incredible lover. And also, we are probably both lonely and get along well enough to fill time and scratch itches with each other. However I’m getting incredibly tired and bored of the sandbox. I’m a girl with an explorer heart, so I keep walking around the edges of the fence he’s put around what this can be, or rather the fence I’m perceiving he’s built, based on our interactions. And the truth is, maybe this is all he can give right now and so keeps reinforcing boundaries. So the question becomes, is it enough for me? And what is enough for me?
“Don’t fall in love with potential,” should be tattooed where I can look at it every day. I keep thinking, “Oh but this could be so great if he’d just let himself fall and start treating me the way I’d like to be treated.” I want to be adored, as the song goes. And Mr. SN, he doesn’t do “adoring.” And that’s not a slight on him, if that works for him, great. No this is about me and what I want and what I’ve always wanted. This is about the fact that what worked for me last spring and summer isn’t going to cut it for much longer.
Another enchanting evening with Mr. Saturday Night… swoon. We made love in the late afternoon light, to the sounds of tango music that floated into his bedroom windows from the street festival below. He read me chapters from the novel he’s writing. I brought him funky beers from my neighbourhood and we chugged them when we’d good and earned them, washing down salty chips to get our electrolytes back up (it was hot and we sweated, a lot). We walked his adorable dog and then he made me dinner in his kitchen. He laid down on his kitchen floor and we talked until I decided to join him on the floor to kiss his handsome face. We made each other laugh out loud. And then he drove me home.
YEAH. IT’S LIKE THAT! FOR REALS! Sigh.
But parking for a moment the joys of sexual ecstasy, the history lessons received while snuggled down in the pillows, and the countless hours of delightful conversation, there are these moments of complete cloudiness for me. And in those uncertain seconds, I go to a dark place. I get frustrated by what’s NOT happening, instead of tuning in to what IS happening. But after stewing in my discomfort for a bit while alone in his kitchen, I got a little clarity into it as he walked me to his car (to drive me home) and told a story about a family member and her expectations.
Just to give us a little sun There’s a limit to your love Like a waterfall in slow motion Like a map with no ocean There’s a limit to your love Your love, your love, your love
It’s too soon to even use the word “love.” That’s not what this is, and I’m often so certain that that’s not even where “this” is heading. But I’m using one of my favourite Feist songs as the inspiration for this post. Because if anyone knows the realities of love and pain, it’s Leslie Feist. If you’ve never listened to her, go and seek some of her music out now. She’s a national treasure.
There are times where Mr. SN is so closed, and if I focus on those infractions, then I miss all the times when he tells me something really personal and intimate. He can go five days without texting me, and then I think he’s just not that into me, but he always re-emerges and when we’re together I don’t get that feeling at all. He’s into me. He wants to spend hours with me. It’s in between visits that trouble brews, when there are these long lags where I don’t quite know what’s going on or where his head is at, and the writer in me is very good at filling in blanks with nonsense.
There’s a limit to your care So carelessly there Is it truth or dare There’s a limit to your care
There are moments where it all feels so vulnerable and exposed that I want to leave and say this is over. I am still longing for him to truly HOLD me, for example, and when that feeling comes over me while we are naked, I want to run. And I think I want to run because I can’t seem to ask for what I need in that moment. I’m still wondering why I can’t say, “Do you mind putting your arms around me?” Sometimes it’s actually not so exciting, or the conversation lacks honesty where honesty would satisfy my curiousity, and in those moments where I feel one of our walls up, I want to leave. But I’m missing the bigger picture as a result.
I can’t figure it out, what’s holding me back, or what’s holding him back, but each time we’re together, eventually it’s like a tiny piece of the puzzle reveals itself. We each give the other a clue about what makes us tick. Two passionately curious individuals who are (maybe?) both wondering which one of us is going to expose themselves first. And often, during these moments of honesty and vulnerability, there’s a little window where I think, maybe, just maybe, we could fall in love. Which is bananas. Or is it? Am I fast forwarding rather than letting things unfold? Yes. Am I letting what others think, based on data I’ve given them (which I’m learning that I need to keep to myself) influence my thinking?
I love, I love, I love This dream of going upstream I love, I love, I love The trouble that you give me I know, I know, I know That only I can save me I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go Right down the road
My friends and loved ones don’t want to see me get hurt again. They believe I need someone to take care of me, financially, emotionally… but I’ve gotten pretty good at taking care of myself. And truly, even *I* know that I need to find someone who is at my level. So when I do find myself wondering whether “this” is “anything,” the universe has a way of snapping things back in focus.
There’s a fake Kurt Vonnegut account on Twitter (actual Vonnegut is deceased) that posts some great life insights, in honour of the late writer. I read this today before heading out to see Mr. SN.
A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.
And isn’t there something profound in that? Should we not just be loving the aliveness we each see in the other? What does that look like?
Now the key to that quote is in “whoever is around to be loved” — this does not mean the person next to you, but it implies that someone is present and ready to be loved. I know, after today, that there are some pretty big heart hurts in Mr. SN’s life, ones that cause him to put up walls or give me a small sandbox to play in. Ones that make him wince and shut down if I ask something that brushes up against his pain.
There’s a limit to your love Like a waterfall in slow motion Like a map with no ocean There’s a limit to your love Your love, your love, your love
But no one controls our emotions but us. And if I do “fall” then that’s my choice. It doesn’t mean he has to love me back, though from experience that gets painful in a hurry. And what I love about this slow, steady pace is that events and feelings can just happen, in their own time, like the flame of a candle rather than a bonfire.
No one knows the right path, because there isn’t one singular “right path” for any of us, especially couples. Instead there are a million opportunities to grow and to tune into the “now.” The key to a long relationship, if I reflect on it, is in the choosing of the partner. But it’s also in our expectations. If we continuously focus on what’s NOT happening (as I often did in my marriage and STILL DO in any interactions with Theo), we will miss what IS. Full stop.
I know I’m not “supposed” to fall for the guy with the roommates and the boho lifestyle. I know I’ve been advised against it by countless women whom I respect and love. And so I’m pacing myself, but trying not to miss the fact that every date we have leaves me with a HUGE smile on my face. I may not be spending time with someone who is filling up my heart, but I am sharing an experience with someone who is feeding my mind and, to some extent, my soul. There’s personal growth happening here, via this path I’m choosing to be on, and that should not be discounted.
I can’t read your smile It should be written on your face I’m piecing it together There’s something out of place, ooh
On his end, I don’t get a lot. I have no idea what he’s thinking about all this. But I do know that in the moment, there is a mutual pleasure in being in the company of the other. I’m not going to spend much time agonizing because he never says I look beautiful (I KNOW I do) or because he never says more than, “I had a lovely time, thank you.” I’m not going to get an “I’m thinking of you,” but I might get an “I read this thing and think you might find it of interest.” He doesn’t speak my love languages, but do I actually NEED him to right now?
And then, BOOM. My horoscope came through on Chatelaine.
“It doesn’t need to be perfect, or even what you think it “should” be in order for it to be exactly what you need. This week will confront you with a pretty simple situation that feels really complicated. Don’t confuse potential for reality, or the past with the present, Moonchild. Accept things as they are in the present moment and do what you need to in order to grow. Nothing stays the same, nor is it meant to. Actively co-create your life, my love.”
If I can stop my mind from spinning, and I can stay focused on all that he brings to the table RIGHT NOW, then I think I’m good. And for those who are doubting that I’m making the right choice, I hope some of this writing leads you to see that this is all from a place of clear thinking. I don’t want another man to makeover. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Even if this thing with Mr. SN is not a forever-ever thing, I’m completely OK with the fact that it’s a “delicious for right now” thing. And if that leads to feelings, that’s OK too. I want to explore who I am as a woman who is not afraid to take emotional risks.
Yes, I’m in love with love. Yes, that may get me hurt more than the average person. Yes, I should choose wisely when I finally decide to lay roots with someone. But dear reader, please understand that I am completely accepting of the impermanence in all things. I am no longer afraid of a man who may not be able to show he loves me in the way I’d like him to, because I truly love myself. The end of a relationship doesn’t upset me anymore in the way that it did. Sure it will hurt, but I have survived it before and know that no matter what, I will rebuild and keep moving forward, until I have no life left to live. I surrender, completely, to what each moment will bring.
I love, I love, I love This dream of going upstream I love, I love, I love All the trouble that you give me I know, I know, I know That only I can save me I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go Out on the road Because there is no limit There’s no limit No limit, no limit, no limit to my love
I should have known when my horoscope suggested the hell that would erupt from three planets being in retrograde. But what does one do when they only kinda-sorta believe in astrology? Stay in bed for a month? Not an option.
It has been A WEEK! What happened to me was enough to put most people in hospital. I’m shaking my head trying to understand why I am still standing—with a smile on my face, no less. I have truly, never felt more grateful to be alive, healthy, with most of my mental health in tact.
A day after dancing to Stevie Wonder in a field under the super powerful Blood Moon, I had a fairly busy day. I picked up the adorable dog of Zofia and Lars (of the Peaches), whom I had offered to watch for a week while they travelled around Europe. Saw the movie Eighth Grade with my “cinema gay,” a dear friend for almost two decades whom I love going to see art house films with. Then ended up going to see a Chicago House DJ I was a big fan of…
The women I went with (my Witches crew) were all doing E or M or whatever the kids call it these days, because the late night house music scene does pair nicely with a lick. I have not touched the stuff since 2003, and with all the fentanyl-laced horror stories I’d heard of the current stuff going around, I decided not to chance it 15 years later. Also, I’m a 40-something mom, and given I’m already playing in enough spaces that would make my children shudder, I decided to pass. Instead I got stupidly, embarrassingly drunk; the kind of drunk where you don’t realize you’re drunk or how much you’ve been drinking so you keep going because you’re in a social situation that makes you feel a bit out of your element.
I was so drunk that I picked up a HUGE Georgian man with a thick accent, but not so drunk that I gave him my real name and number. But drunk enough that I left before the Chicago DJ came on, because I’d puked in the bathroom and had the spins.
The following day, I convalesced in my “convalescing chair” (AKA a zero-gravity chair). I knew I had to pull it together eventually, because I’d offered to make Mr. Saturday Night dinner. I am getting used to the parameters of this relationship: We meet, we have a toast and share stories over food, and it’s often book-ended by seriously hot sex. Every. Other. Week. There is some sporadic texting in between, which we’ve established is not his A-game.
BUT HELLO! I have an attentive lover with a cool job and an incredible mind. He is gorgeous and makes me laugh and literally asks nothing of me. He still doesn’t hold my hand, but to be honest, we’re not walking down the street so much these days. I can’t recall what it was that I asked him a few weeks ago, but something along the lines of, “How come we haven’t gone to X together?” And he replied, simply, “Because we are doing this at the moment,” and then proceeded to make me have an orgasm that shot out the top of my head.
I AM HAVING HOT SEX.
And yet I am not able to stay there, in the “I am having hot sex” zone. I’m constantly wondering if we’re veering into a relationship, or what that looks like, and what my people would think of him, and, and, and. Why? We’ve already established that this current affair is all I have space for at the moment. Are we so programmed by society to try to turn every encounter into a “RELATIONSHIP”? I am truly trying to be mindful of this and reprogram myself. This is so good right now. Enjoy it, Maria.
I will blame my hangover on the stupid decisions I made that night. We were in the midst of insanely hot sex, in between sex courses, if you will. And so it wasn’t a “condom on” moment and somehow he slipped inside me. And I didn’t immediately jump off. Instead I had a beautiful, shuddering orgasm with him unsheathed and inside of me.
We had had a discussion about birth control, namely that I feel like I spent too long taking synthetic hormones and didn’t want to do that again. I have done my duty for procreation and avoiding it, and I don’t want it to be mostly my responsibility anymore. Also, everybody is fucking everybody in this brave new world and I don’t want a disease. And yet, it happened. And I didn’t stop it.
Condoms protect you against pregnancy and disease, but what I didn’t account for was that condoms also protect you against FEELS. Everything about the experience felt so intimate. I suppose firsts always are. But this subtle act, whose impact could be HUGELY disruptive (or even deadly), changed the nature of “us,” leaving me so vulnerable and tender, that when he left I could feel myself falling.
AND I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.
If I was falling, was he falling too? Should I allow myself to fall? Should I, instead, consider dating other people to prevent myself from falling? I made a panicked call to Dr. X the next morning, who reminded me that I’m an adult, who is smart and— when grounded—is not going around subconsciously choose another version of my ex. “Give yourself a break!” she admonished. And she’s right, I’m too hard on myself, and my childhood patterns of being made to feel like I shouldn’t trust myself, my own gut, because I’m too sensitive, too romantic, too trusting rear their ugly inner voice. A lifetime of being gaslighted. I second guess myself. I forget that no one can know me like I know myself. I forget that I, too, am trying to choose what is best for me, what will protect me from getting hurt again.
Later that week, reading out on the back deck, adorable dog at my feet, I caught the faintest whiff of skunk musk and decided we should come in. I tried to coax my sweet charge in. He made it to the threshold, looked into my eyes and was suddenly off like a shot. It took a moment to understand what he’d caught by the neck in the back bushes, until the overwhelming stench took over. This sweet little, maybe 18-pound dog had just viciously murdered a skunk. What. The. Fuck. Was. I. Supposed. To. Do. Next?
I have little experience with dogs, and frankly dogsitting was an attempt to see if we could manage adding a canine love to our family. But now I was in over my head. What do I do? Tomato juice? No that’s a myth, I think. Uh, uhhhh, uh… I called Theo. Out of habit. He was just about to go to bed and offered to Google it for me. Um, thanks?
I hung up and called my pal Blanche from up the street, who has lots of experience with dogs. She had all the stuff and drove over, helping me to bathe a dog for the first time, one who was covered in skunk musk, no less. I bathed him again the next morning and decided that if I’ve experienced one of the worst things a dog owner can live through, then maybe I could hack being a dog owner after all.
(I made Theo come over to deal with the skunk carcass and bought him dinner as thanks.)
I put the rotting skunk in several plastic bags and out on the curb for the city to pick up. Then I passed it, stinking in the flaming hot sun, while I packed the car for a week away at the beach with the kids. I was so proud of myself, covered in bike grease, tits sweating, for doing it all by myself.
On the way up, I decided at some point to stop using GPS navigation and to teach my kid how to use a map instead. But GPS had rerouted us to avoid traffic and we were on unfamiliar roads. My kid got distracted and we missed a turn onto another highway. I was so eager to get up there and to start the holiday (especially after the week I’d had), that I turned into a farm house driveway to get back to the missed highway. I perceived a break in traffic and proceeded.
An SUV was approaching and I’d somehow failed to see it, as had my co-pilot. In milliseconds, the front of our car was shaved clean off. My children were beside themselves with fear and panic. I felt beyond terrible. What had I done?
Fortunately, by a complete miracle, no one was hurt. The tow truck driver said that even a second difference in the collision, our car would have flipped. The officer was incredibly kind and compassionate. (And hella handsome. In fact, I considered trying to find him after to ask him out.) We were a short drive from a key landmark by the cottage we were staying at, so the tow truck driver took us there, where family members met us to help us take our things to the house, before our car was towed away. We are incredibly lucky. We were on the beach two hours after the incident. I had to check if I had a horseshoe shoved up my arse. I have never been more incredibly grateful to be alive.
I wasn’t distracted by a device, but my mind was so focused on the future, on the destination, that I completely missed the present moment of the journey.
BAM! Life has a way of teaching you the lesson you need to learn.
I am on a journey with Mr. SN. He is a gift, a miracle of sorts. He is building me up sexually and in some ways spiritually. Whether by what he does, or what he doesn’t do, he is teaching me about boundaries, about choices and decisions and consequences. He is teaching me that some things that I’ve prioritized in the laundry list of things a man should bring to the picnic matter less than I once would have thought, and that other things—ones I hadn’t even considered—matter more.
The universe does not give us what we want. The universe gives us what we need. I clearly wasn’t paying attention to that, and BAM! If you’re reading, I hope this is a reminder to be gentle with yourselves and to be mindful as you go about your day to day.
I have to stop focusing on the destination. I have no spot on a map that I’m trying to get to at the moment, and even if I was, it would be irrelevant, because the future does not exist, except in our minds. By the time we experience “the future,” it is the present. Be present. Be careful. Look both ways, multiple times, before crossing the street. Enjoy the ride. Don’t become obsessed with the seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months where you have to wait before proceeding. Proceed when the time is right. Proceed when it’s safe to do so. You will get there eventually, even if you don’t know where “there” is quite yet. In a mindful life, it’s the road shows you where you need to be.