Bad Trip

Not that long ago, I often traveled for work. This was when I was single and lived alone. Traveling for work became routine after a while. I would even say I got to the point where I enjoyed traveling solo. I remember one conference in particular. It was in San Diego and I didn’t know anyone at the conference or in the city, but I explored and found fun things to do. I even blew off the “networking” session of the conference because I saw a sandwich board advertising, “One Night Only: John Cleese Live!” It was a great choice; he was hilarious! I just wish I would have bought one of the t-shirts that read, “I saw John Cleese perform RIGHT before he DIED!” (This was in 2008, by the way. He is still alive.)

This was also the trip where I accidentally ordered veal because I thought “scallopini” meant “little scallops.” I felt terrible once I realized what I had done, but it wasn’t like I could give the little guy CPR once it was on the plate. So I ate it. (And goddamn it was delicious.) Then there was the supposedly haunted restaurant in Old Town with the margaritas the size of bird baths. Well, the first one is a bird bath. The second one threatens to become a facial. But I wasn’t driving, and I was without a companion to judge me, so I enjoyed both, completely.

As I said, this was 2008, over ten years ago. Many things have changed. I’m in a relationship. I have a stepson.  I had Wensley in 2008, but now he is an older dog with some health issues. (He will be fourteen years old this month.) That’s a lot of comfort and responsibility to leave behind, especially when I haven’t traveled on my own in years. It didn’t actually occur to me that I hadn’t exercised those muscles and therefore had lost all the tone until I went to Austin by myself last weekend.

I made a New Year’s goal to do more with my blog and I searched for learning opportunities. I found an online community of blogging women with a conference coming up in Texas and I bought tickets and booked a flight. I was anxious about the trip, but I have acute anxiety. I am anxious about everything.

The morning of the flight, Ethan (who is six) told me he was worried that I might get lonely on my trip and asked if I would like to take one of his soft friends (his word for stuffed animals) with me. It was such a sweet gesture and it touched me. I even took out an extra top to make space for the soft friend he selected, which was a black bear featuring a radio collar because it was purchased at a national park where bears are tagged and studied.

As soon as I buckled in for the flight, my anxiety went to work. “Why are you doing this?” It asked. “Can you even afford it? What if something happens to your extremely old dog while you are gone and you aren’t there to comfort him?” Tears welled up behind my eyes. I fought them back, but they pretty much stayed right there for the rest of the weekend.

I want to be completely clear: the conference was great and the ladies I met were lovely. I might even go again next year. That said, it was a hard experience for me. From the moment I entered the first event (a cocktail party on Friday evening), women were reaching out to me to help me feel welcome. Obviously they picked up my introvert vibe and reacted by inviting me into their conversations, metaphorically putting an arm around my shoulders and saying, “You’re good; We got you!” But I was not prepared for what a room full of female Texas bloggers (who refer to themselves as “influencers” and “momtrepreneurs” would be like.

These women are poised and glamourous. They are fit and fashionable, and they wear lipstick and high heels on Saturdays. Where I come from, Saturdays are for skiing, or biking, or hiking (depending on the weather). There are definitely no high heels. There may be tinted chapstick, but it has to be SPF 15 or higher.

They sell their makeup and outfits and home décor ideas on their feeds and they make serious money doing it. They have class and style and they will help you have it, too. All you have to do is click and add to cart. And that is exactly what thousands of people on Instagram do, every day. You have to see the photos of their picture perfect lives to understand it. I felt like a fraud sitting with them and taking notes on what makes the perfect Pinterest board.

I know what you are thinking. “Oh, Rachel, we all feel that way! I’m sure half of them thought you were the one that had it together! It’s just a bad case of imposter syndrome, that’s all!” No. Wrong. I can prove it. Here is a photo I found on the photographer’s site (@mandiroachphotography) in a collection of pics from the event.

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In case I have to explain, I’m the one in the center dealing with, I don’t know, an entire chicken wing or similar stuck in my back teeth. If you could zoom out you would see one hundred more women just like the ones surrounding me here. Lovely, lovely, stinkin’ lovely. Not one giving themselves dental work.

Feeling out of place just made me feel even more homesick. And then, the last day of the conference, I made the mistake of checking my email and discovering that the coverage I had set up for my day off to go to the conference hadn’t been adequate. I realized that I was in some trouble with my boss and that sent me into minor crisis mode. I felt like the whole trip had been a mistake. This was just before the smaller focus group session where we discussed questions and takeaways. I had been conspicuously quiet, so the group leader asked me to share my thoughts.

“I’m totally overwhelmed,” I blubbered, the tears that I had been holding back breaking forth in a torrent and hitting the floor. “I don’t even know what an ‘instagram story’ is!”

Again, the lovely ladies enveloped me and told me I was okay. They reminded me I just needed to get one actionable thing out of the conference and hold on to that. And someone else told me something that did stick with me. It isn’t about followers, it is about authenticity. What is your “why?” That is, why do you blog? What are you bringing to this space?

So I went to the loo and washed my face. Then I went back to the table and sat down with my notebook to draft a mission statement. I didn’t figure out exactly what it was, but I realized that I do have a “why” (aside from needing a place to write and hoping someone who likes my sense of humor will read it). I want to live an examined life. Writing helps me do that examining. My hope is that sharing what I unearth will help others, too.

Whew! I got my one thing, just before the conference ended! But then it was over, and all the ladies headed off for home. I, however, headed back to my hotel. I wasn’t able to find a non-red-eye flight, and my red-eye days are behind me.

Or so I said when I bought my tickets. My hotel had a spa and a gym, surely I would be able to find something to do that last evening before catching a reasonable morning flight, right? But then I was in the hotel with sixteen hours to kill, completely stressed out about work and needing a cuddle from each of my boys, human and canine alike. As good as it would have been for me, I wasn’t going to go to the gym.

I went down to the hotel bar and started texting a friend to ask her how she got 10k Instagram followers, but we ended up talking about the conference instead. The tears came back and I couldn’t make them stop, not even when my amazing mac and cheese with brisket tips arrived. My poor waitress probably thought my best friend died. I snapped a tearful selfie and sent it to my friend, but I’m sharing it here also in the spirit of authenticity.

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And the mac and cheese… (that’s cornbread and bacon butter in the background)

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Throughout the trip, I kept an eye out for good spots to pose Black Bear so that I could send photos home to Ethan. I looked through them back in my hotel room and realized that, based on the photos, the bear was on the trip that I hoped to have. It seemed significant and apropos of the conference and the idea of sharing an authentic experience, versus and idea of perfection. I can’t do what those other ladies do. I am not here to tell you how to have the perfect vacation because I don’t know how to do that. I’m here to tell stories about why I spent last Sunday ugly crying in public places. I’m here to talk about how living with acute anxiety is hard. I have learned that it is possible to live a full life with anxiety, but you have to work at it. It won’t always go according to plan, and sometimes you have to force yourself to get out and do it. Luckily, there are also stuffed bears to cuddle while waiting for planes, and there is love and kindness waiting to reassure us on both ends of the trip.

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AlpenGLOW

Our little family joined up with friends at an Airbnb in Colorado last weekend. We decided to leave our cold mountain and go to a higher colder mountain to celebrate President’s Day because who doesn’t love a long car ride to go to someplace similar but worse?

Actually, I can’t explain why. We are mountain people and it was a different mountain. We went. We looked at it. We sledded down a part of it. And we explored some of it’s microbreweries while the children sampled the mac-n-cheese each establishment had to offer. Mountain people stuff. You just have to trust me, it was fun.

Monday morning, I got up early to get a shower before the line formed and to begin packing up before the long ride home. Check out was 10 AM which I thought was too early for a place that specifically advertised for families, but I can’t help following rules, even when they are nearly impossible.

I was packing up the kitchen while Ethan (age 6) ate breakfast and Matt went up to take his turn in the shower. That’s when the fight broke out. The very near next door neighbors began to shout at one another over who (the man, apparently) is lazy and who (the woman, eventually) should leave. I looked over at Ethan to see if he noticed anything but he looked untroubled. It got louder and louder and until each were daring one another to call the cops.

Of course, Wensley chose this moment to ask to go out for a wee, as the back yard was directly adjacent to the situation. I gave in before having to clean up a mess and risk losing the cleaning deposit that we had managed to retain all weekend. I opened the door and each word became as clear as if the conversation were happening there in the kitchen.  “I do every-%$^@ing-thing around here! Why don’t you &(%*ing *$@# yourself? You $*&^@ing @&%$@#er!” Or something like that.  Meanwhile, Wensley sniffed the snow, being particularly particular about picking a spot for a 15° morning.

Ethan walked over to stand by me and peered out the door to see who was yelling.

It was clear that I wouldn’t be able to just ignore the fight at that point, so I said, “Well, I’m glad I’m not in that family. They don’t speak very nicely to one another.”

Ethan considered this for a moment and then said, “At least there hasn’t been any contact, I don’t think.”

I was stunned by this statement. I wondered if he even meant what I heard when he said the word “contact.”

“Yes,” I hedged. “That is good.”

“Because the only people who should make contact are professional wrestlers,” he added, sagely. “That’s pretty much the only time it’s okay.”

“I agree,” I said, biting the inside of my cheek to keep from smiling. “Leave it to the professionals.” Wensley came back inside and Ethan went back to his cereal and that was the end of the conversation.

Oh my goodness, I love that kid. Where does the kid get this stuff?

Adulting

None Shall Pass… Without Cake!

When I asked Ethan what he wanted his 6th birthday party theme to be and he said “knights,” I had to double check that I understood.  After all, it wasn’t that long ago that I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he responded, “Nocturnal.”

“Knights? Like, Knights of the Round Table?” I asked, knowing there was a better way to phrase this to a kindergartner.

“No,” Ethan said.  “Like knights that fight.”

“Okay,” I said.  “I got it.”

I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find good decorations easily.  At least, not as easily as if he said, “Starwars,” for instance.  But it wasn’t a problem.  I ordered a dragon pinata, foam swords for a melee, and foil crowns and stick on plastic gems for a craft station.  Easy peasy.

There were about 40 people on the guest list, so we had the party at a park in the neighborhood.  This took care of seating and shade.  Also, I thought if no one wanted to sword fight or decorate a crown, there was a playground.

I’ve never thrown a child’s birthday party before, and I admit I stressed over it more than I should have.  I didn’t sleep much the night before and then I went to the park early and claimed some tables (they don’t take reservations).  I did my best to plan for all contingencies, but there are always things beyond one’s control.  For example, a block away, a sewer pipe burst and each time the breeze shifted there was a distinct barn-yard smell.  I could have been upset, but I decided that it gave the medieval theme an air (pun intended) of authenticity.  Hopefully the guests felt the same.  (They did not, but they were very polite about it.)

The final touch were two figurines to decorate the cake – a knight and a dragon.  Once everything was set up and we were waiting for the guests to arrive, there was nothing to do but sit and wait.

“You know,” Matt – my history teacher boyfriend – said, pointing at the cake, “there is a historical problem there.”

“Oh yeah?” I asked.  “What’s that?”

“Yes, I think the knight should have a sword.  I was just reading that knights, who usually came from the aristocracy, actually looked down on archery.  Archers were from the lower classes.”

“That’s interesting,” I said.  “Also, there’s a dragon.”

“True,” Matt said.  “Very true.”

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Precision Cooking

My man is making dinner.

Me: Why is there dough on the tape measure?

Matt: The recipe says the biscuits should be 1/4 inch thick and 2 1/2 inches across.

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Weekend in Zion

At The Desert Pearl Hotel in Springdale, Utah

Ethan (age 5): The sink in our room is so short! I had to bend over to use it!!!

Me: What sink? What are you talking about?

Ethan: The one in the bathroom.

Me: Right next to the toilet?

Ethan: Yeah!

Me: That is not a sink. It’s a bidet.

Ethan: What’s that?

(Pause)

Matt: It’s European.

Me: Only it’s for when you’re-a-poopin’.

Ethan: WHAT?

Matt: It’s a sink for your bum.

Ethan: 😐

End scene.

(Photo: Zion National Park –  Mt. Carmel Highway Scenic Drive)

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The Introvert at the Party; an exploration in Haiku

Introverted girl
at a social gathering
trying not to cling

Releasing Matt’s arm
I take a deep breath and wander
deeper in the house

Determined to learn
from the mistakes of my past:
don’t drink all the wine!

What is the most time
I can hide in the toilet
before eyebrows raise?

Do I look social
crossing the room with purpose
looking for “someone”?

Hovering over
the table of finger foods
not sure what to do

It’s called ‘finger food’
but do I use a napkin?
What’s the proper way?

And then what happens?
If I put it in my mouth
I will get a question

From someone or other.
I’ll stand there, mouth full of cheese…
happens every time.

Better to slip it
quickly into my pocket
for later, alone.

Time to venture off;
initiate a friendship…
thank God, there’s a dog!

Check the time, dear Christ!
How can that be possible?
It’s six forty five.

Cross the room again:
bathroom appetizer time.
It’ll be a long night.

Transitions

My writing group was discussing a piece submitted by our youngest member, a very bright and passionate millennial girl. Young woman? It was mostly great but I told her that I was having a hard time keeping her characters straight and maybe she could give them names?

“There’s just the one guy,” she said.

“Really? Oh I thought there were two. You are talking to your ex in the first scene but then a few pages later you wake up next to this guy and there’s no transition…”

“Yeah it’s the same guy. It’s just one guy.”

“Okay, well I was confused. Maybe I’m the only one…” I looked at the other writing group members for help.

She laughed. “You Gen-Xers. You don’t get us at all. When I say that we broke up I don’t mean we are over. I still need to get off. I still need a roommate. You guys are so easily shocked.”

She was right – I didn’t get it. But it wasn’t in a prudish “do you mean that you did the DEED with a BOY you aren’t IN LOVE WITH?” way.  I don’t care. It’s a clarity problem. Not a generational problem. Also, for the record, I spent most of the last ten years focussed on either dating or writing.  Good relationships are hard.  Good transitions are harder.

Still, it reminded me of the time I was at that dance club in Greece (I never go to dance clubs but we were in the Greek Islands) and I was wearing white pants (I never wear but we were in the Green Islands) and I got my period of fucking course. And I asked a group of Australian college aged tourists if one of the had a tampon and they looked at me like I was a particularly nasty leper asking for a band-aid and said, “Uh – no!? We haven’t had a period in years!”

Once I got over how an accent could be super cute and way judgey at the same time, my mind exploded. “What do they know that I don’t know?”

When I got back to the States I asked all my friends, “We are all still having our periods, right? Because apparently Australians have evolved and don’t do that anymore.”

So, apparently Aussie girls had that figured out back in the aughts and now millennial girls have evolved beyond broken hearts and paying full rent. Good for them. Less Tampax and Kleenex in the landfills.

Cohabitation

I started this blog after a breakup – a really bad one – with the idea that I was done with relationships.  I decided that I was tired of comparing myself to my ex-husband (married with two kids, while I was still single and lonely).  I decided I was done waiting for a guy to come along and stay in my life.  I was going to take myself to a sperm bank for my next birthday.  I was going to write about this process as it went along, as I made lemonade out of my sour relationship lemons.

I didn’t get far.  I went to my doctor and told her my plan.  She was discouraging.

“Your eggs are old; they won’t be very high quality anymore.”

I was 37 at the time.  I thought I was still in the window.  When was I supposed to freeze them? In my twenties?  Teens? No one told me!  My poor eggs.  I knew I had passed the ideal age, but I imagined there was still some green in my inner garden.  Suddenly I saw my eggs, not as colorful uncut blooms, but as the dusty and mold spotted roses rotting away on Miss Havisham’s wedding cake in Great Expectations.  Intended for a joyful event that never took place.

“Have you thought about adoption?” my doctor asked.

I did.  I thought a lot about it.  I certainly wasn’t opposed to it.  I did contemplate the fact that it is much cheaper to make a baby from scratch than to adopt one.  But the real deterant to me was the the fact that I would have to convince a number of people that I would be fit and capable of doing it on my own.  The sperm bank doesn’t have that obligation.  And I imagine they take credit cards.

The thought did leave me with the question… Could I prove to some strangers that I would be a good single parent?  If not, what did that mean? Would I be a good single parent?  I’ve got a paycheck, insurance and a spare room.  But it’s just me.  There’s no fall back plan.  If something happens to me, what happens to the baby?  Would bringing a child into the world, or even just my life, be a terribly selfish thing to do?

I decided it was.  And that was the end of that lemonade stand.

Let me say with full caps for emphasis: I AM NOT SAYING THAT SINGLE MOTHERS ARE SELFISH!!! THAT IS NOT WHAT I REMOTELY THINK OR FEEL!!!  I just decided that I didn’t have the resources to do it.  I have an amazing family, amazing friends, and I’m living a rich life that a part of me would love to share with a child.  The rest of me, however, is afraid.  Afraid I don’t have the physical or mental staminal to handle it.  Afraid that I would be too anxious or too sad to do it well.  And what if I get injured or sick and slide into destitution or a coma…?  As it stands, I already lie awake worrying about things like this.  If a little person were depending on me and only me?  I don’t think I could function.

ONCE MORE! FOR EMPHASIS! THAT IS JUST ME!  THE WORLD IS FULL OF AMAZING SINGLE PARENTS WHO KICK ASS ON A DAILY BAISIS AND I HONOR YOUR CHOICES AND YOUR AWESOMENESS!

Also, I heard a story on the radio about a woman whose 35 year old autistic son took a shit in the back of her car, and it terrified me so much I couldn’t blink for forty-five minutes.  So, just in case I implied that I am NOT selfish, that’s not what I meant.  I am.  I’m completely selfish.  That may be the real problem.

Anyway, that was three years ago.  And I did move on with my life.  I sold my condo and bought a house.  I got a promotion at work and that was a good thing.  I found other ways to connect with the children that were already in my life.  I focused on being the best damn aunt that I could be.

I didn’t want a relationship.  Frankly, the pain just wasn’t worth the reward.  I was never going to throw that much time and energy and love away on anyone ever again.  But time passed and – like I always do – I started losing my resolve.  Because I got lonely.  And I have these coupled friends that I hang out with and they make it seem so… possible.  So, I got back out there.  I met somebody.  And yada yada yada… my boyfriend and his five-year-old son moved in with me in September, just after my 40th birthday.

So far, it is going really well.  I was worried I would feel invaded and have a hard time downsizing enough of my stuff to make space for “the boys” (two human males and one snake that I am told is male; I haven’t verified).  There were a few pieces of furniture that I gave to charity that were harder to let go than they should have been.  Perhaps because they were things that I bought immediately after the divorce and were emblematic of my independence?  I bought them during the first period in my life when I had the freedom to choose a piece of furniture for myself.  First, I had to figure out what my own “taste” was, and I honestly had no idea.  I chose a few things, including a red armless chair and a faux leather trunk, that may well have been completely ugly, but they were new.  And all mine.  It was a scary, fun, and luxurious place to be.  Maybe giving those things away felt like closing of a chapter on my life, and that’s the issue?  Even though I wanted to close that chapter.

Or maybe I just liked that chair and that trunk and now I don’t have them anymore.  I guess I don’t need to get all Freudian about it.

My other concern was for Ethan, the kindergartener.  He expressed enthusiasm over moving in from the beginning.  He most often expressed excitement about getting to live with Wensley, because apparently moving in meant that the dog “will officially be my big brother!”  There was one other time that he told me he was really excited to come and live with me because I have Blu-ray, but mostly it was all about Wensley.

Still, I was concerned.  I was worried that once he saw his stuff in his new room in my little 1940’s house, he would realize just how much smaller it is than the one he had in his 2010’s town house.  He didn’t have a backyard at the town house, but there was a playground with a slide and swings.  And the old living room was more accommodating to wrestling.  Similarly, the old couch was more suitable for cannon-balls and similar.  I had the idea that I would set up his room with all of his old things but also put up a few new things that he could get excited about to distract him from the habitat shrinkage.  So I set about doing one of those HDTV makeovers, but on a much smaller budget.

First I got a Totoro night light.  You can choose if you want the stomach or the umbrella to be lit.  (When I turn it on for him at night I ask him, “Belly or brawly?”)  Then I got a large wall decal showing an X-wing and TIE Fighter battle over the fate of the death star from any one of the Star Wars movies (am I the only one who has noticed that they all seem to end the same way?).  His rug is five foot Millennium Falcon and his light switch cover says “Light Side / Dark Side.”  Admittedly, that last one was for me. Ethan will appreciate it when he is older, I’m sure.  But puns are not the natural purview of five-year olds.

Ethan got a tour of his room and he loved it.  Matt even helped make the light switch a success by acting out the difference between “light side” and “dark side” at the speed of Ethan’s switching.

It was a little strange because we were heading up to Idaho that day for a long planned visit to see Matt’s parents, so Ethan got to see his room but not stay in it that night.  While we were in Idaho Ethan and I were hanging out in Matt’s childhood room, looking through his old knickknacks.  We were blowing dust off sports trophies and holding sea shells up to our ears to listen for the ocean while Matt and his parents talked in the other room. Ethan put down his sea shell and told me again how excited he had been to move in with me.

“Daddy said we were moving and I said, ‘let’s move Friday!’”

I laughed. “Yeah, it took a little time to get it all planned.  We still have a lot of unpacking to do.  But I’m glad you are happy about it!  I’m happy too.”

Then he looked me in the eye and said, “You and Dad made a really good choice.”  I know it sounds like I’m putting words in his mouth, or like I don’t know how to write children’s dialogue.  But he talks like he is 28.  He just does.

I was charmed and more than a little bit verklempt.  He’s such a sweet kid; of course he wasn’t focused on the size of his room, or his stuff in general.  He’s been through a lot in his five years, and he is good at making lemonade, too.   I felt like he was telling me he’s glad I’m in his life, Totoro night light or no.  It suddenly occurred to me that he is gaining more than a dog and a yard – he’s gaining me, too.  I’m so glad he thinks that is a good thing.

V-Day

I don’t write much about my love life here.  Long ago, in another blog far away, I used to write about it a lot.  But that was back when I never imagined that I would be divorced for ten years and still live alone.  The dating adventures were fun and made funny anecdotes for my goofy blog.  Then, somewhere in there, it got sad.  I met some guys that I really hoped to make a connection with, but it never worked out.  There came a point when I realized that I wasn’t laughing at the anecdotes, I was just bitching.  I didn’t stop trying to find love.  But I stopped writing about it.

I’m a happy person with a full life and a lot of interests and accomplishments.  The relationship piece is missing, and I feel its absence.  It’s tricky because I feel so much gratitude for the life that I have.  And as a feminist I feel ashamed when harping on about being lonely or feeling incomplete without a man.  But I do feel incomplete sometimes.  And there are times when I wonder why – exactly, why – it is that I wasn’t able to make something work with someone after all this time.  My ex-husband is married with two kids.  Meanwhile, I feel like I haven’t made any progress down that road since we split and went our own ways.

A few days ago I was catching up on podcasts and I listened to the first of a three-part series from Dear Sugar, an advice column which has transitioned to audio format.  (I’ve written before about my love for Cheryl Strayed as a writer. Dear Sugar is her podcast.)  The title was “Looking For The One,” wherein “The Sugars” (Cheryl and Steve Almond) discuss one of the most oft asked questions they receive, “Will I ever find the one?”

A quick re-cap… They related the stories of the askers, all women who are single but range in age from their twenties to their fifties, who are trying to come to terms with single-hood.  They want relationships and they, like me, feel shame when they say they need a man.  And like me, they also feel anxious about the complexities.  What is wrong with me? Why her and not me? Am I going to be able to have children? I have a great life and this is the one thing that is missing, but if someone had asked me early on to choose between career and relationship, I would have picked the relationship. But I never got to make the choice.

I was sucked in, completely. This is my story! And they were talking about it in such a candid and empathetic way.  I have been at a point where I am feeling pressure to come to terms with my situation in a final way and find some acceptance, and to hear this discussion and the letters of other women in my situation was meaningful to me.  If I were to break it down to a list of the three primary takeaways (because let’s face it, I LOVE lists!), it would be these.

A). I’m not alone.

If this is the most common question that The Sugars receive, then that is informative to me.  Perhaps it shouldn’t make me feel better, and I’m not sure it does.  But five years ago, I had a lot of women in my circle of friends who were in the same situation.  Now, there are still a few. But not many.  It is good to be reminded that I’m not the only person who hasn’t found a chair this long after the music has stopped.

B). Of all the women who wrote these letters, most will find someone.  And some will not.

Thank you! Thank you, Cheryl and Steve, for saying that!  I can’t explain how much it made my heart sing to hear someone admit, “Actually, yeah – some of these women will not make this happen for them.”

I am so tired of reading that if I just keep trying and “put myself out there” and “never ever settle,” that I will find some dreamy and delicious relationship that was totally worth waiting for.  Because it isn’t true.  I could “put myself out there” and go on thousands of first dates and keep my heart open, and it still may never work out because frankly: I do not have control over the outcome.

Also, isn’t there a contradiction in telling someone to “keep their heart and mind open” and also, “never ever settle!”?  At this point, after a decade of being on my own, I don’t need to be told not to settle. I have seen what my options are.  If I do decide to try to make something that is less than ideal work, you can trust that I thought out that decision.

I have taken breaks from the search but, to date, I haven’t given up.  I know that being alone for the rest of my life is a distinct possibility.  But if it doesn’t work out, it wasn’t because I didn’t try.  It didn’t work out because sometimes it doesn’t fucking work out.

C). There are many kinds of ‘life partnerships.’

Amen.

There is a point in the episode where Cheryl makes a point of saying that they aren’t prescribing remedies or tactics for these women. But she did remind me that there are people in my life that have partnered with me for the long term.  I have two sisters and a number of wonderful friends who are on this journey with me.  They have witnessed and help me keep my history. They are loyal to me and know that I am loyal to them.  They would have my back in a bar fight.  Of that, I am certain.

Today is Valentine’s Day.  There were years in the last decade where that little day would creep up like a bad flu and then it would hit and I would suffer through it.  It wasn’t an issue this year.  It was just another day.  I mostly took note of it because I wanted to plan around the restaurant crowds (food: my other life-long partnership).  In fact, when I got out of bed this morning I had forgotten it was a holiday.  Then…

First thing in the morning, I had a text from my niece sending love and wishing me a happy Valentine’s Day.  I was touched.  People don’t give millennials a lot of credit when it comes to thinking beyond themselves, and yet that girl remembered to send a Valentine to the single auntie in her hermitage, and I appreciated it.

Then my friend Gina sent a message asking me to be her Valentine’s lunch date.  She’s in a newish relationship and I know they had evening plans for the big day of love, but still… she carved out time for me.

My friend Stef then got in touch to ask me if I wanted to do yoga.  We have a standing Sunday thing but I thought she might pass on Valentine’s to over plans with her husband.  But she wanted to go.  And what was I going to say?  “I can’t go; I’m busy”?  I went and it was great (especially when it was over).

I also got to talk to my younger sister and her son on FaceTime.  And I even heard from my older sister’s family, even though they are camping and off the map for the President’s Day weekend.  I didn’t expect to have either of those connections today.

I love.  And I am loved.  Not in a traditional Valentine’s Day way.  But I don’t care.  It is more than enough.  It is profound.  And I am full of joy and gratitude.

Don’t get me wrong; it would have been nice to get laid today.  But I suppose that goes without saying.

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