Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Move Me

I realize there are a lot of men in the world. And yes, I know just how big the world is. Because of its sheer size and the fact that, like snowflakes, men are all different, it’s inevitable that somewhere, among the flickering brilliance, are a good many with whom I’d have a lovely time.

But I wanted him.

So now it doesn’t really matter how many other men I see. It doesn’t matter if they’re more handsome or have more money. It doesn’t matter if they would take me to see the Lion King or if they are dying to whisk me off to Aruba. I don’t want to go.

I only wanted to go places with him.

It’s stupid, really. To sit here, pining for a man who has long since forgotten about me. A man who felt it more important to clean his stainless steel gas grill than to trace the lines on my body with his fingers. A man who found more time for his friends than he did for me. And a man who said he wanted me, said he wanted only me, but after awhile changed his mind because making me fit into his world just didn’t feel “organic” enough.

Apparently, I wanted a man who viewed me as produce. And not even the good kind. Organic is good. But to him, I wasn’t.

I know, I know, if my mother were reading this she’d yell at me. “YOU, my dear, are enough,” she’d say. “You are always enough. It just meant he didn’t want what you could give him. Doesn’t mean what you had to give wasn’t good.”

Yes, mom, I know. But it doesn’t mean that, in the throes of despair, I won’t start thinking myself horribly sub-par. That’s just how it goes. We do this. Women. We blame ourselves when men change their minds. It’s silly. We know this, but we do it anyway.

I’ve had plenty of men tell me how lovely I am. How beautiful, how elegant, how goddess-like, how intelligent, funny and sexy. According to them, I am the most amazing woman they’ve ever met and they can’t even believe I’d be interested. Yet…I am still alone. All this fabulousness and still, they don’t want me.

I asked him, “If I’m so great, why isn’t it enough?” He said because. Because. That’s it. No reason, really. Just because.

“We’re just in different places in our lives,” he said.

Funny. I thought when our bodies were merged, when I could feel the heat from his breath on my skin, it meant we were in exactly the same place. In that moment. In each other. United by something. Passion, perhaps. But in the darkness of his bedroom, with the lights of Mercer Island flickering on the water below, I thought I heard a whisper. It said, “This is something. You don’t know it yet, but it is. One day you will be moved.”

I believed that voice. I was waiting to be moved.

And I guess that’s what I’ve always been waiting for.

They say the religious folks are moved by spirit. That something just comes from above, enters into their body like a breath, and envelops them entirely. Their voice, their actions, the way they walk, is all directed by this spirit. It literally moves them. It becomes them.

I want spirit to move me.

I think it’s love I’m after. But now, as I recall those nights of silence, the heat all around me, I think I’m confused what love feels like. Was it passion or spirit that entered my body that night?

I’m not sure I’ll ever really know. I guess I just have to trust that voice. “One day you will be moved.”

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Red Curtains

I knew the moment I saw them. There, in the entrance of my yoga studio, was a cloud of dazzling red curtains, framing the doorway. I felt like I was walking into Aladdin's bedroom.

One look and I already knew they were mine.

It's funny how you can look at something and know that. Up until recently, I've only felt that way about drapery.

The day after I saw those curtains, I went right to Target to purchase some. I walked in the door with the full intention of leaving with the exact curtains I spotted. No other color, no other style, nothing. I also knew that I didn't want to pay $20 a panel.

After thumbing through several rows of fabric, I still hadn't found my curtains. But there, in the bottom of the pile, buried beneath fabric the color of cotton candy and lemons, I saw them. The 100% same curtains. On clearance for $6.48. For two of them!

I'm a big believer in fate and in the universe providing exactly what you ask for. The curtains seem such an obvious example of love. With love, you have to know exactly what you want. You can't take whatever is on top of the pile, or something that's on sale but is in a color you hate. That's not the point. The point is walking into the universe knowing precisely what you will and will not accept. And refusing to leave until you get exactly that. The universe is your fabric store.

When I saw Blondie, I knew he was my red curtain. I asked the universe for a funny, good looking, intelligent, well traveled foodie who doesn't want kids (and possibly marriage), and that's exactly what I got. And I got him on the tails of heartache, when the man I was falling head over heels for didn't want me because we didn't share the same dream. He was sort of like a burgundy curtain. Really close, but not right for my walls.

And here is Blondie, standing in front of me, the perfect shade of red. The same size, the same texture, the same everything. It's proof positive that sometimes, the very thing you're looking for may not always be visible. Sometimes, you have to dig through a lot to find it.

I haven't taken the curtains out of the package yet. They're lying on my floor, half of the bag opened. Same with Blondie. I'm not ready to open everything. Just one piece at a time. That's always been my mistake, anyway. I just grab a package, rip it open and take whatever is inside.

This time, I'm going to take my time displaying things. I can't wait, though. I know the room is going to look gorgeous.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fear: Let It In, Then Let It Go

It's like this: I'm terrified of love.

And yet, it's the one thing I want most. Makes sense, though. We're often the most afraid of that which we truly want. Why? Because sometimes just the idea of knowing you might actually get what you want is terrifying.

For 32 years, I never wanted love. I wanted nothing to do with commitment or being open or vulnerable. I didn't know until recently that it was all about fear.

It used to be about running away, but now it's all about staying put. I suppose I can thank the last man for that. He's the first man in 14 years who even came close to breaking down my walls. He was like some sort of spiritual glue. I was stuck. On him. On the feeling of joy. On freedom. On the idea of loving. On security. On trust.

He went away, not because he wanted to leave me, but because he didn't want to stay. He knew that we would probably fall in love and then one day wake up and realize we were still on completely different pages. We didn't want the same future.

I've felt an emptiness I couldn't quite place for the last few months. The pain was paralyzing. But now that the veil has lifted, I realize now what remains. It's the space in my heart that's now open and ready to be filled with love. The space that was once covered in cobwebs, is now filled with light.

And am I scared? You bet. But I'm working with the feeling of embracing that fear and then letting it go. And letting someone into that open space that's been waiting all along to be filled.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Another You

I look around me, on the street. My eyes stray from the produce in the grocery store. At the pump at the gas station, I am pumping my brain with questions. Could he be you? Could the next man I see be more wonderful than you?

My gut tells me no. The same way it told me when I was locked in the embrace of a tall, dark and handsome man who spoke a foreign language and wanted to take me to Costa Rica. He smelled of soap and cucumbers and he never wanted to leave. I tried hard to make him fit, to wrap my legs around his waist when he had me up on the counter, his hands gently stroking the bare skin on my back. When our tongues were dancing a quiet symphony and his hands dug into the flesh of my hips, I was praying for something that never happened. I prayed that he would turn into you.

After all, that's where you once stood, your body wrapped around mine like a scarf. I was making a cup of tea, and you were so delicately folded over my shoulders. I could feel your breath on my neck and I never wanted to stop making tea. I wanted to freeze time and just keep you there, next to me.

I've been running most of my life. Running from all the feelings and the closeness. Running from love and commitment and couplehood. Running from you. But there you were, next to me, and suddenly, the only thing I could think of was standing still.

The new man in my kitchen never made me think this. In fact, as he was probably dreaming of lifting me from the counter and dropping me onto my bed, I was worried that the whipped cream I'd just made would go flat. I wanted to slather it on the profiteroles I'd just made. I wanted something that was not him.

But if it had been you, I'd want to feed you a cream puff, then have you lick the whipped cream from my fingers. I'd purposely make some of it run down your mouth, so our mouths would taste the sweetness of the cream - and each other. I still taste you, even now.

And I wonder, as I look at the man in line in front of me at the DMV, if I would ever hold his taste in my memory. I'm 32 and I've never felt even half as lovely and full as I felt when I knew you. How can I expect another man to fill me that way? At this point, I'm not sure. I still date, but the hope isn't really there. It's just a way to pass the time.

But with you, time sped up. It was full of fireworks and rockets to the moon. We skipped through the moonlit streets, rolled around each other like cigars in the warmth of my bed, raced each other on the pier in front of Salmon Bay. We counted starfish the color of clementines and took trips through the country where the leaves looked like tiny pieces of the sun. I remember lying on the beach with you, our heads propped up by sweaters we didn't need. I asked you about your life, and you told me. You also told me you were growing attached to me. But...

It wasn't enough. You wanted something else. You wanted children and a house with a picket fence and PTA meetings and lollipops. That's not my dream. The only dream I ever had, and still do, is to keep running with you into the unknown. We may fall sometimes, but we could get up - together. I want to keep laughing and holding you there, under the moonlight.

The man next to me at the bank has your build. He turns to look at me, and smiles. I smile back, but inside, I feel nothing. Could he be you?


But I wish he was.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why I Don't Love You Now

I cried in the car, there next to you. We were in the parking lot at the bank, and the street lights were painting the side of your face bright yellow.

The engine was still running, and I was thinking about how the exhaust pollutes the environment just like your memory pollutes my thoughts. My head is full of poison.

You are devouring your quesadilla and bean and cheese burrito in a way you never devoured me. There were times I would’ve given anything to be a tiny dollop of sour cream on the side of your mouth. At least then, when you licked your lips, part of me would be inside you forever.

Instead, I got stuck with your taste in my mouth all the time.

But that night, in the car, with me like a limp piece of soul on the seat beside you, something changed. I spit you out.

It wasn’t easy. Four years of hanging on to every word and every hope, moving to another country to try and escape the hold you had over me, these things were not easy.

But since you just sat there, a frozen piece of flesh, something in me saw, for the first time, what you truly are. You are a man who doesn’t love me. A man who doesn’t want to feel the warmth of my skin. You don’t want me to rush into your arms after a day apart, and laugh as I tickle your earlobe. You used to look at me in a way that said everything without saying a word. You used to love me.

Somewhere, in a tiny corner of my heart, I felt it. But it was never enough. It never filled me. I was always aching, hungry and desperate for more. More never came. Only anger. And isolation. And loneliness.

So as we sat in the car, me telling you how much I still yearn for you, and you ate, quietly swallowing a piece of something that was not me, I just stopped. Everything stopped. Me loving you stopped. Me wishing you were different stopped. Me longing for a part of the past that never really existed outside my mind stopped.

And now I am done. We are done.

People who watched me falter along the way, tripping so many times over empty promises, they don’t believe me. How could they? I kept running back, every time I’d get far enough away, flinging myself into the arms of a man who didn’t want me there. And every time I’d feel that truth, I left.

“This time it’s for real,” I’d say.

It never was. But now, as I remember how cold the leather felt on my skin, how washed out the street lights looked against your mocha-colored skin, I know something has changed forever. Because there is a man here, in my new city, who doesn’t look anything like you. His smile is bright and he spends all day telling me what he likes about me. Mostly, it’s stuff about my soul and my spirit, the way I am kind to people. He notices things about me no one ever has, and when he wraps his fingers around mine, I feel like I’m on the inside of a beating heart. It feels warm and alive. There is no more heaviness. No more self doubt. No more working so hard to be noticed.

Instead, I’m just me. And I like that me. She smiles more. She feels like skipping sometimes. She doesn't feel unwanted.

She feels like she doesn't love you now. And that feels pretty good.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spare Change

He was a terrible kisser.

I mean, like, beyond bad. I'm 31 and I've kissed a lot of frogs, but this one was toad in the tongue department. What, exactly was he trying to do with that thing?

I thought this the entire 11 hours we kissed. Well, it felt like 11 hours. It was probably a minute or two - a minute or two too much. Although I liked Surfer Dude, I wasn't sure if I could really teach a 37-year-old dog new tricks.

But when he dumped me, my heart and my tongue were crushed. "What? No more make-out sessions?" I thought.

So let's just get something straight: I'm terrible when it comes to change. What I mean is, when it comes to men, I seem to change everything about them in my head. I make them up. Here they are, live in front of me, yet I'm dreaming about a totally different man. I'm creating a fantasy.

I've done this with the last few relationships I've been in. To start, they weren't even relationships, so this alone is the first mistake I make. I create more than there really is.

The second mistake comes from the fact that I change them from emotionally barren, inattentive jerks to lovable, passionate and kind images of perfection. So when they lose interest or go away, I become devastated - the way you'd feel as if someone ripped off your left arm. That's how I'd imagine it feels to lose your soul mate and in my mind, that's exactly what I lost.

But really, I lost the fantasy. The poetic, sensitive Mr. Corkscrew really wasn't all those things. What he was, was a lust-filled Harvard man who knew his way around words almost as well as he knew his way around the curves of my body in the darkness of his bedroom. And The Mad Scientist never promised me a committed relationship. But he did buy an Amtrak ticket and a box of chocolates on his trip to KC, which I mistook for something serious. To me, chocolate is serious.

And although Surfer Dude enjoyed learning yoga, gave me 20-minute massages (that were terribly inferior, but I somehow wax poetically about now) and paid for two barf-worthy dinners out, that's all he gave me. That, and a really bad gag reflex. But here I was, for weeks, lamenting my sorry state for losing him. "He was perfect," I heard myself telling friends. "We shared the same fundamental views."

But little else. That's the thing. I changed his story in my head because it looks so much prettier.

I've finally realized just how much I love writing stories. I write my own all the time. I'll spare you the fictional version next time. And spare myself a lifetime of unnecessary editing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why I Love Men

Why do I do this? Get rejected from a guy and immediately go into “not enough” mode? It makes no logical sense. I know I’m a groovy chick. People like me. Men have liked me – a lot – in my short life. And somewhere deep inside, I really like me too.

Yet it’s my knee jerk reaction to being dumped. I blame it on King Kong and the slue of men I hurled myself at after his complete dismissal of me, but I know I have to start being accountable for my actions.

I really wish I didn't love men so much, because they wreak havoc at every turn. They think they want something, go after it, then change their mind. This guy I started dating, Surfer Dude, was saying things like, "I'll take you to Ikea, of course i'll help you move, I'll paint your toenails, grill you tuna I caught in mexico..." Barf.

So many men out there just do whatever and don't give a flip about what it does to someone else. I know this is a human thing. Plenty of people do this, but it's just not in my understanding of life. I don't get it. And it makes me sadder each time I see it happen - to me or someone else.

When something ends abruptly for no logical reason, it stings. You're attracted to a person, they laugh at your jokes, they don't want to leave when they hang out with you and you have to kick them out, you talk on the phone hours on end, they make promises and say things like "we will" and "next time." Why?

As much as men have confused, hurt and completely messed with my head, at the end of the day, I still struggle endlessly in this murky abyss because I love men. I love that they don't make any sense. I love that their skin is rougher, their touch calloused. I love their wiry hair and the way they smell of earth and sweat. I love their strong hands and muscular arms, the way they wrap around me with the force of a tornado, keeping me swirling around in their cloud of chaos and confusion. I love it when they look at me. The way their eyes turn to chocolate and my insides turn into molten lava. I love their warm breath, how it feels to connect at the core in a way a word or a smile never could. I am a total sucker for the idea of a man. And even more, the idea of sharing love with one. Even if they hurt me again and again, I feel like i'd give it all away for just a taste. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so darned hungry.