“If you are serious about loving someone, you have to surrender all desires within to manipulate the relationship.” Rob Bell
“Men always wants to be a woman’s first love—women like to be a man’s last romance.” Oscar Wilde
I didn’t know him from a can of paint. An utter stranger, met in a bar. And yet I let him into my home, into my bed—and into my heart. More’s the fool was I! He was the worst possible choice. Twice married and divorced, with a penchant for “dating” much younger women, he was as different from me as could possibly be. And I as literally opposite from his preferred choice as black and white. Married but once (and for 36 years!), I was as domesticated and faithfully monogamous as they came; while he was wild as a wolf with a proven and unrepentant proclivity to hit it and quit it and roam. Truth be told (and in hindsight it is ever so much more painful to acknowledge), I was a staid and stationary, lichen-covered stump to his rolling stone that was going to gather no moss—or entanglements. So why?
I have asked myself that question for nearly 2 years. Yes, he made me feel alive and desired, cherished and valued. Emotions and sensations I had never known. It was supposed to just be sex, fun, casual. But insidious oxytocin had another plan. Or was it fate? It was supposed to happen so I could feel what I’ve never—valued for my intellect and independence? Or was it intended to be a step on my life’s journey? A painful lesson of loving selflessly. And of losing utterly. Lessons I had not yet learned—even when my marriage ended. Or perhaps it was as punishment and penance for having been the one to end it?
All these thoughts I have entertained. But it’s not just about him in my life. It’s also about me in his. The reason we met, persevered and continued . . . because I have twice saved his life. The particulars don’t matter. Just the fact that were it not for me, he would likely be dead. But now he is healthy. His need of me is gone, yet my want for him remains. The hook-up who became a fuck buddy who became a friend with benefits who was briefly a lover. And yes. He said the words.
Those three little words that are supposed to mean everything. But really didn’t. Except to tear down my final defense. Thus unprotected, I caught feelings. I fell in love. But he didn’t. He doesn’t do relationships. Sure, he loves me. As a friend. He has said I am one of his closest, a person he trusts more than probably anyone else, who has been there for him as no one ever has. Yet he has pulled back, drawing a solid line. It’s safer that way, he says. But for whom? And besides . . . now it’s too late. The line is all blurred for me. I wish I’d never slept with him. Friendship would be so much easier without those haunting memories of what once was. . .
Naturally my female friends insist he is afraid. He’s been burned—and badly. He’ll be back, they say. I don’t think so—despite all the cosmic signs that once seemed like neon billboards. In a long line of dark-haired men, he is the only blond—save my first. Bookends, I thought, the first and the last. Even their 3-letter names rhymed. Speaking of names, the first time I went to his house, I couldn’t help but notice the street before his was his full first name, while the street prior was my ex-husband’s full first name. Coincidence? Or sign? You know how I took it! A meant-to-be hint from the Universe. For why else would I accept the things I did? A 6-month disappearance among the worst.
Blue collar to the core, he didn’t even have a passport until I took him to Europe. Yes, me the sophisticate, the bi-lingual writer. Educated, classy, way too good for him, I’m frequently told. And 9 years older. Most people don’t see me with him. (BTW, because I have made the mistake of opening up to my sons, each would now deck him on sight.) But he is deeper and more layered than anyone could know. Profound and intuitive, he understood me better than any man I’ve ever known. He appreciated me for me. Loved that I was smart, wrote books, traveled. Yet he held his own in every conversation—and challenged me. Even taught me a thing or two.
But now I think the worth of this relationship has run out. Like an hour glass, there’s only a tiny pile of sand left on top to trickle down. I am in love with him. Deeply. But he doesn’t feel the same. Yes, I’m like no one he has ever known, trusted as he’s never trusted, been there as no one ever has. But it’s not enough. It’s not enough for him to love me as I want to be loved. He once asked what I wanted from him. I didn’t know. Now I do. I want a relationship. For me it HAS been a relationship. And I persevered, never believing it was over. Until now . . .
It’s so cliché! The smart woman making the stupidest choices where a man is concerned. I hate myself for it. My mind and my heart have been at war for over a year. Strong logic. indomitable reason and irrefutable fact united to defeat the weakest of foes: that emotion called “love” and some indefinable thing called “gut feeling” that so dearly loves to don the more glorious cloak of “instinct.” But instinct is what got me into this mess in the first place! The instinct that let me take him home and into my bed, into my life, into my heart.
And so the battle wages. Three against two—it should be a no-brainer! But every time one sides sees imminent victory, the other rallies. The cause is capricious and cruel: each side has the same interloper, a turncoat who keeps changing alliances, snatching the win from the hands of certainty triumph. When I say, “I’m done. It’s over. He’s disappeared one time too many”, fact prepares to take a victory lap. Reason and logic cheer. And then he shows up, says the right things, does the right things—and emotion and instinct raise their flag. The clarion of triumph prepares to trumpet love’s victory. But then the bastard defects and the tide turns once again. So it has gone . . . over and over and over again . . . an ever raging war I am tired of waging. Fucker! Pick a damn side! I want to scream. Love me or leave me. Stop playing me. I need a resolution.
I am just terrified it will be the one I don’t want.
Now . . . in a note of final irony . . . Sunday and I are leaving tonight for Italy. It is a trip we have talked about and planned for months. Here’s the irony- . . . the night I met him (two years ago this September 28th)(and my birthday–oh joy! NOT), he talked about how Venice was one of the places he most wanted to see. It’s as good a place as any, I guess. And certainly a fitting place for fate’s perfect circle to close as it ever does–upon its own beginning.
BTW, the Fates are sometimes as kind as they are cruel . . . for I do have two pieces of good news. The first two books in a “best of series” inspired by singleat60sucks are now complete. Entitled Breakups and Starting Over and Relationships, each is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. And my humor memoir about online dating, I Still Want Fireworks, was just awarded the Readers Favorites Bronze Medal for Best Humor/Comedy Book of 2018. Moreover, of the 750 entries, my book was one of only ten chosen by Headline Books for a possible publishing contract. So always, even in the darkest storm . . . look for the rainbow, ladies. I promise, it’s there. Or it will be!