Tag Archive | relationships

A Reading Day

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So this is my agenda for the day. A child’s book, 84 pages. I like these Holling C. Holling books, because I learn so much reading them. I used them when I homeschooled the children in the early grades to teach subjects like science, history, and geography. But reading them aloud is not the same as reading them for myself. Today I have learned about the vast amount of things in the bottom of the Mississippi, and also that pearl buttons come from clam shells. And that turtle eggs take 100 days to hatch. And I have remembered my last camping trip, and how the kids saw a box turtle sitting in the trail, and I told them just to watch, but not bother her, because she was laying eggs. And how we watched a baby alligator swimming for over an hour. And how I cooked hot dogs in the rain. I’m on page 56.

I had also planned to read Self-Reliance today. And finish The Law of Attraction. But, the internet has been distracting. And text messages have made me smile. Repeatedly. Soon it will be time to cook. And then later tonight, I am putting my head together with a friend to plan my next adventure.

The internet, distracting. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I cannot deny that it is a massive time sink in my life. But I also cannot deny that the advent of such technology has enabled me to pull my circle of friends from far flung places and then keep up with them, almost in real time.

Which thought path led, this morning, to thoughts about laziness, and how invalid I now find the concept of not putting forth effort in interpersonal relationships. And how angry it makes me when people don’t. And then the side of me that doesn’t like to sit in anger had to remind angry me that maybe people who don’t put forth effort just don’t desire the depth of relationship that I desire. Maybe they would rather have easy than real. Maybe they are getting the quality of relationships they want, and I can’t judge them for wanting things to be more superficial. But I can say I think they are often settling, and settling is a miserable way to live a life. You only get one, so don’t settle. Work for what you want: in relationships, in calling, in art– in all you do, work for what you want. Do not let complacency, laziness or cowardice steal from you your one precious life.

I live a life of rabbit trails. I suck the marrow from the bone. I follow my bliss. All those cliches. But the thing is, living like this makes the joy rise up out of me and spill over. And in truth, I fail. I fail often, and I fail hard. But I don’t judge myself for that. I judge myself for the times I hold back effort. I judge myself if I have to ask “what if?” The last thing I want on my death bed is a lingering discourse with myself about what might have been if I had just tried.

Self Portrait Sunday

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I almost forgot, AGAIN, that it was Sunday. I was trying to think of a picture I could take that would go with today’s writing when I remembered. And that’s good, because today is a two-fer. You get the outside in the picture, as usual. But I have also spent some time today sharing my heart on relationships with a friend, and that, cleaned up, will be the bulk of what you read or skip today. 🙂

And truly, it’s okay if you skip. I will never find out. And I know it can be very uncomfortable to read about other people’s inner thoughts. Unintentional mirrors and flashlights and such. I get that.

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I like to laugh, to play. I have a lot of serious moments, deep thoughts. And then a flash of humor. It’s important to me to be able to share both. I want a man willing to both think and laugh with me.

Let me revisit that last statement. Not “I want a man…..”. I want people….who can accept me as I am in this moment, and in the next, different moment’s incarnation. And I want that badly enough that I am intentionally seeking it out. I want that depth of connection, because anything less feels false.

The interplay of love and freedom has been particularly salient for me of late, likely because I am spending a good deal of mental energy figuring out what open relating and relationship anarchy is going to look like for me. Letting go of that societal imprinting where the body is the person. And also figuring out what makes me feel caged and what makes me feel free. And how to approach people, but stay large, stay me even as I forge connections with others. I’m very busy pulling the lessons from the experiences.

I’d rather look at my fear and get to know it, get comfortable with it, than to set yet more artificial boundaries between myself and others. People hurt each other, as much as they try not to. I know that in any relationship, that’s going to happen. Because we are human.

There are two things about that. First, I can decide not to even get started because of fear, or I can accept it as a “cost of doing business” as it were and proceed. And the second thing is about when it happens: whether or not we move past it when it does happen relies to a very great extent on whether I make it about the other person or about me. And if I own my own feelings on that, sit with them, look at where they really originate, then that’s the better choice.

All of this is part of what my tattoo means. I was able to get it after I changed my perspective on some things. I’m not actually fearless. But I can act that way because I don’t let fear call the shots. I don’t let should call the shots. Should is another link in the chain of fear.

I let the shots call themselves, and attempt to walk in grace and beauty, treading compassionately in the lives of others.

Dining with Friends: An Allegory

Yes, this is my actual copy of The Joy of Cooking, snapped today, specifically for this post.

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Say you are hungry. And say you want to eat with a friend. There are several ways to accomplish that goal. The quickest and easiest is to call a friend and arrange to meet at some fast food joint. It’s pretty effortless, really. Everybody eats, and if the first friend is unavailable, you can just keep calling until you find someone who is free. You’ll get to the selected venue, and the noise level will be loud, the lights will be bright, and the colors will be garish. You’ll be looking at that neon menu board from the time you hit the door, and you’ll order pre-made food that has been sitting under warming lamps, take it to a table and unwrap it. And maybe at that point, you will have a chance to ask your friend how his morning has been. You most likely won’t pay much attention to the answer, because you are busy thinking about all the things you have to tell your friend about what’s been going on with you since the last time you saw each other. And you’ll be in a hurry, because fast food is something you grab between other, more important, events in your life. You aren’t concentrating on your friend, but on your to-do list.

When you eat fast food, it doesn’t much matter where you go. Your belly will get full, but you won’t be satisfied. Fast food meals are high in the fat, salt, and sugar your body doesn’t need, and low in the nutrients it does. You’re usually thinking about the next meal as you are throwing away the trash from the one you just ate. Still, people gotta eat, and this is quick, cheap, and easy. If you eat three times a day, you can feasibly squeeze in 21 fast food meals with friends in the course of a week.

The second option is a little more complicated. You could know on Monday that you are going to be hungry around six on Wednesday, and call a friend and invite them to a sit-down restaurant. Maybe you shift the day forward or backward a bit if your friend has a previous commitment. Or you choose another friend if your time frame is not flexible. You make a restaurant selection together, based on what you both like to eat. You get there, and the atmosphere is calm, voices are soft, lights are dim. The kitchen is separated from the dining area, so you don’t hear shouted orders or lots of clanging and banging. You get your table, and while you are waiting on the menus you get a chance to take a good look at your friend. You notice if she is relaxed or tense, tired or rested. You ask “how are you?” and actually listen to the response. You order food that is likely freshly prepared for you. The selection isn’t unlimited of course, but since you have chosen the restaurant based on what they offer instead of convenience, you are likely to be quite happy with the dinner. The conversation unfolds with the courses: appetizer, entrĂ©e, dessert. Maybe you linger over coffee. You take your time, because this friendly dinner is the last thing on your agenda for the day and you have nowhere else to be until the morning.

You leave this meal not hungry, but more importantly, you are also satisfied. It’s possible that you eat so well that you skip breakfast in the morning. But lingering is a luxury, and most of us have day jobs and other assorted responsibilities. And even though the memory of this meal will last far longer than the memory of the fast food meal, we have to ask ourselves how many times per week can we really afford, in terms of both time and money, to dine like this with a friend? I think three would be pushing it for most of us, and once or twice far more likely.

The third option is a bit more complicated, it takes a bit of planning. You realize on any given day that in the days to come, you are going to be hungry, and you want to eat with a specific friend. You call that friend up and say “Hey, I’d like to do dinner with you next week or the week after. Let’s cook together. We could make a day of it. Do you think that’s doable?” And you pick a date that works for you both. And then you zealously guard that date, both you and your friend. That date is taken, spoken for, sacrosanct. As the time gets closer, the two of you talk about what you want to eat. You anticipate. You look through cookbooks, think about old favorites, maybe decide to try something nether of you have eaten before. You choose something that takes a while to cook, but isn’t overly fussy, so you have plenty of time to talk. And you prepare yourself. Maybe you work late that night before, tying up loose ends so your job isn’t nagging at your mind on the appointed day. You tidy up your place once you get home. Get out the cookware you need so it’s ready to go. You do whatever it takes to ready yourself to be involved in making dinner with your friend. You confer one more time over the menu. You say, “Goodnight. I’ll see you in the morning.”

You wake up in the morning, excited that this is the day. You’ve cleared the calendar and the only thing going on for you are these dinner plans. Shower. Dress. Head over and pick up your friend. And you do make a day of it. You drive downtown and park the car. You take your time, and walking, visit the butcher’s shop for meat, the bakery for the bread, the farmer’s market for fresh vegetables and flowers. Stop at a bistro for tea and a light lunch. And go back to the farmer’s market for the two bottles of wine and several beeswax candles that you forgot the first time. Then the deli for some cheese. And all this time you are talking, catching up. Enjoying the walking, the weather, the talking, each other. Maybe you hold hands. Maybe you don’t.

When you get home, you open the first bottle of wine and pour out two glasses. One of you puts the flowers in water. The other slices the cheese and puts it on a plate. One puts the candles in holders and lights them. And together, you start washing and preparing the vegetables. You season the meat and put it on to cook. Slice the bread. You nibble the cheese, smell the beeswax, sip the wine, look at the flowers, look at each other. And sometime in the doing of all this, the conversation stops being about the news of your life, because you’ve already talked about all that in the morning. You move past sharing events and you start sharing your selves. While the food is cooking, you sit on the sofa with your wine. You ask each other questions, anything, everything. You wait for the answers. You listen. The food smells good, your stomach is rumbling, so you snack on more cheese. Finally dinner is ready. You eat it with another glass of wine. You wash the dishes together, side by side. You smile.

And then the rest of the evening lies before you. Maybe you watch a show you both like, or discuss an author you both enjoy. Or walk down to the beach and watch the surf and count the stars. In the dark, the conversation is even slower, deeper. There are comfortable silences as you sit there on the sand. The trivial stuff is long since uttered, the middle stuff has been aired, and the heart of who you are can finally get out.

This third dinner option takes investment. It costs time, energy, thought, self. It’s not a thing you can pull off at the last minute. You can’t be lazy with it. You have to be intentional. And it’s not really something you can do everyday, because again, we have day jobs and responsibilities. I’m pretty sure you could only pull this off every couple of weeks. Maybe as infrequently as every couple of months. But, you’d feed your belly and your soul, and the memory of the meal would linger. And linger. And linger. In fact, I think the memory of a meal like that would be almost enough to carry you through until the next time you could manage to spend an entire day on dinner.

There are hazards to this third option. A meal like this last one might make you realize what fast food really is. It might even make you unwilling to eat fast food. You might decide that sit-down-restaurant or cook-it-yourself are the only acceptable ways to eat. That could happen. And you’d be healthier for it, physically and spiritually.

Have you figured out yet that I’m not really talking about the food here?

In Virginia lives a mirror

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I’ve passed this sign and ones like it I forget how many times. I was finally aware that it was coming up in time to stop and take a picture of it today. I expect to see some friends while I’m here, have already seen two, in fact, with two more slated for tomorrow.

I have been writing this blog post in my head since I passed that sign. Nine hours later I am finally at my keyboard, I am exhausted, and I am crying, and I don’t want to write this post, but I’m doing the five hundred words a day challenge and I need to get this out, so I am going to write this post and you are going to read it or not, and there we go. But I need to tell you up front that even though I am going to tell you about a man, this story is not about him. This story is about me. And also, sometimes I just really wish I could be “normal.”

So, last year about this time, I met a man who lives in Virginia. It was an amazing adventure. I hate to say was. Was implies a thing that lives only in the past, and I really hope that’s not the case. But it will be or not be whatever it will be or not be. Anyway. Man, amazing adventure. We are so alike, or were so alike in our outlooks and interests that it was…he was, I was, we were like a chimera, like mirrors. I thought that I had met someone who would be a lifelong partner. I’m almost certain I have written about this part before. Search “mountain” if you want to read it, because having remembered that I have covered this material, I am moving this narrative forward.

There is a thing that I cherish about That Man™. He is never afraid to ask me the questions that make me think. Or rather, make me face what I have been thinking but do not want to look at. During what would turn out to be the last comfortable visit we had as dating partners, I spent the night crying on the sofa, and kissing Cinderella goodbye. Earlier that evening we were discussing our future plans, and I heard myself say to him. I opened my mouth and. What I said was “if I come here before 2015, I will be more dependent on you than I am comfortable being.” And we nodded and agreed with our mutual decision and we thought we were very wise.

And later that night, after we went to bed, I just started crying. No noise, just the tears tracking down my face, and what was happening there was me realizing that if I was not willing to give up my independence for him, this man I got along with so well, with whom I was so well matched, this man with whom I formed a chimera, I was never going to be able to give it up. It took me months to realize that’s what had happened. He asked me the next morning, when he woke up and I wasn’t in the room what was wrong. And I said, “I don’t know. I think in pictures but there aren’t any pictures. I can’t see what’s wrong, there’s nothing there.” And then I cried some more.

And that’s the painful part of that. There is a wonderful part as well. I learned then that I am a woman who is still quite capable of loving fiercely, freely, and fully. I learned that I consider boyfriend/girlfriend, even husband/wife to be temporary titles and that I consider friend to be a permanent one. Maybe that’s why I don’t claim many friendships. I have a lot of acquaintances. I have very few people that I would go to the mat for, and to me that’s what friend means. It means I am there. Like a rock. Whether it is convenient for me or not. Maybe I mean by friend what most people mean by boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife. I’m not sure.

What I am sure of is that there are several people that I am willing to share my time with, willing to share my self (space intentional) with, and none that I am willing to share my life with. And sometimes that just makes me sad. Like when I sit here late at night, writing the words and crying, and wondering why I can’t just want whatever everyone else seems to want.

I like being single. I really, really do. And I am happy. I’m just bothered that I like single so much I’m not willing to give it up. I’m well on my way to being a crazy old lady who spends her days talking to herself, petting cats, and knitting socks.