Archive for May, 2014

Rearranging Poetry

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I’d walked by it for months and left it untouched. But finally I turned around and knelt down and started moving the pieces back up to eye view.

It was magnetic word poetry, given to me by friends. When I first put it on my fridge, I’d ask my friends to make a phrase or poem before they left. But last year, while I was dating a guy with kids, they got rearranged. The children couldn’t read, the words meant nothing to them. Instead, they focused on making random lines and bringing things down to their level.

It’s not uncommon for us to destroy what we can not appreciate. Or to disregard the impact of one existence over another.

The old poetry was gone. But as i moved the words back up within reach, new poetry started being formed. I found myself smiling at the new combinations I could make, the new phrases I could combine.

Maya Angelou passed away today. I remember the thrill of going to see her in person a few years ago and hearing her talk. I remember the inspiration her words held and still hold for me. I wondered what new words would inspire us now.

Maybe now is the time for us to look back at the language we use, the language that has been brought down to a lower level, and bend down and bring it back up to a higher view.

I wonder what poetry we could make if we only tried.

Tasting the Cake

I lied about my first kiss.

Not the one from the boy named Billy who defended my honor back in kindergarten. But the one in high school that I told my classmates about, rather than admitting that no boy had tried yet.

It happens. But it’s a shame when it does. Because when I finally did kiss a boy, when it finally happened, I couldn’t tell anyone. I remember leaning in, my lips pressed to his, and thinking “this is my first kiss!” But after boasting that I had kissed already, I felt I had to play it cool rather than reveal my secret.

Other times, I’ve lied to myself. “This is love,” I told myself with my first husband. At 23, I somehow convinced myself I was getting too old and may never get married. Then he and I met and rather than be alone I pushed and I prodded and I rushed our relationship from dating to living together to being engaged to getting married. One month after our wedding, I found myself lying face down on my bed, sobbing uncontrollably, feeling trapped in a situation that would continue until “death do us part.” It took me seven years and my dad’s death before I had the courage to admit failure and move forward.

Why do we rush love?

It’s kind of like power-leveling through a video game. We slash and hack and hurry through the starting zone, barely reading the quest descriptions or paying attention to the story line. We push to reach all the fabulous end-game content we’ve read about and then suddenly – we are at a standstill.

I don’t want to do that this time.

It’s like trying to frost a cake that hasn’t even baked yet. The process of mixing the ingredients, prepping the pans, preheating the oven, and the house filling with the wonderful smells: all this should be savored not microwaved. Anticipation gives heightened ecstasy.

Sometimes I wonder if we try to skip steps in the process because we don’t want to take the time and then see the flaws. We figure if we hurry past the red flags, maybe they won’t really apply to us. Sometimes we mistake the adrenalin of the hunt for the tingles of attraction.

I’m afraid to say that this time is different for me. That sounds so cliché and starry-eyed. But I’m not so anxious this time: I’m not looking to hit milestones and make declarations. I’m okay with taking things slow. I’m not seeking validation or assurances about what is happening. And for something truly shocking, I’m not trying to control the outcome.

“Who is this and what have you done with my Joey?” one of my close friends recently demanded.

She stopped to taste a bite of cake. And the cake is not a lie.

Dating at Fortysomething

I used to not have a problem putting myself out there,” my friend Randi said. “I’d go out, date guys, no problem. But then I got in to the more geeky side of things and when I’d flirt with guys they’d get this deer in the headlights look and I’d get self-conscious and now it’s been a while since I’ve been out on a date. I guess I’ve just forgotten how to flirt.

I’ve had conversations like this with many of my friends in their forties and fifties. They used to date, they want to date, but somehow they just stopped dating. And they aren’t sure why or if they are really ready to do something about it.

“Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?” I recently asked my friend Dave. “Do you picture yourself with someone? Or do you see yourself alone? What would make you happy?”

It depends,” he confessed. “Some days I see it one way, other times I see it the other.

I’ve never pictured myself alone. I’m not afraid to be alone; I would just prefer not to be. Yet the older we get, the more often I see my friends operating on a solo flight through life. Some choose that path; others just accept it as their fate. Like many things, I think the opportunities to find that someone change as we get older. In high school or college you had parties and activities and a seemingly endless pool of candidates. As an adult, you have smaller pools with more complicated consequences – you don’t want to date where you work, make things awkward amongst your friends, run in to them at your favorite hangouts, or be the creepy person in the grocery store trolling the produce aisle for melons and a phone number.

Plus, there is the rejection. There is always someone prettier, younger, richer, more successful, thinner. We feel broken compared to them. And then there is the fear: why does this person like me? What’s wrong with them? Why are they still single? They must be broken, too.

We are all broken,” Rocker points out to me a lot. “When you get to be our age, you are going to have a few nicks and dings and cracks. What you have to see is if both your broken bits work together or just make each of you worse.”

I kind of like that. In my head, I picture a wheel of four hands, each one holding together the broken bits of the other person’s spoke. I’ll have strength to cover you here, you have strength to cover me there. Together, holding hands, we’ll get through this journey.

I fail a lot. I look back at the past year and the men I’ve dated and the reasons why things didn’t work out. I’ve been lied to, cheated on, stolen from, and sugar momma’ed (is that a word?). I’ve flirted with men who patted me on the head and walked away. I’ve had others not even respond. But I’ve also made some great friends, had some fond memories, and told some funny stories. I’m not a natural at this dating thing – I’m sometimes worse than a noob. But I keep trying.

It’s worth it, y’know. Putting yourself out there. I know I’m in a good place right now, so it’s easier for me to say that. But this blog proves I’ve been in bad places too. You have to keep trying – working at it – failing at it – and trying again. May we all find someone else to hold hands with.

The Final Box

It was a short email.

“I’m finally down to the last little bit of stuff to get out of [the place], so please let me know when and how is best for me to get a small box of your things to you.”

You would think after over a year, I would be done with putting this relationship behind me. In many ways, I have. I actually suggested that anything that I hadn’t had in a year was worth throwing away. . . only, he had a DVD of my sister in her one and only horror film role (a very amateur film, but still).

Bite the bullet, Joey.

It really wasn’t that bad. I drove to his work and pulled my car beside his and texted that I was there. A bit of an evil spirit crept in and I pondered walking in to alert him that I had arrived. I wondered what his co-workers would say when they saw me, given everything. They had always been so warm and kind, and several had reached out to me after the split. But I stayed put.

He came out, I unlocked the doors, and he transferred the box from his car to mine. We said some polite banalities, and for the brief moment our eyes met I felt . . . nothing. I watched him walk away with mild curiosity, wondering if the moment was the same for him.

I had actually seen him recently – at a restaurant near my house. I walked in with a friend, deep in conversation. It was only after I was seated for a while and happened to glance to my left that I recognized first the back of his head, and then saw her. I thought of interrupting my friend to tell him, but it wasn’t important enough. I focused on my friend, he was more important, and when we had a pause, I told him only to realize they were gone. Whether they saw me or not, I do not know.

I’ve always said that anyone going through a major break-up or divorce needs at least one year before they are truly able to put everything behind them. I was no exception to the rule. Both moments had been times I had dreaded, but they passed with very little excitement. That’s good. It’s how it should be.

I’m so thankful that this all happened several weeks ago. When a new chance at happiness came into my life, I was able to approach it unfettered with any nagging leftovers from before. It’s an amazing feeling, and I’m a very lucky girl.

I Stalked a Boy and I Liked It

I saw him first on Tinder – a dating app that incorporates Facebook to compare your common interests, mutual friends, and location. If you and your match select “yes” for each other, a chat message feature is unlocked. I’ve been told that some people only use it for a hook up system – others use it to find someone to date. Me, I was using it for research. Yeah, research. I swear. No really. Uh huh.

I’d had a few chat messages with folks, some I already knew, but nothing magical. One guy’s idea of flirting with me was to assure me “I’d blow ya” repeatedly. This was after informing me he was a professor at UNC-Charlotte teaching classes in public speaking and writing. Really? That’s the best shot you’ve got?

Most people answered back within a day or two of matching. Well, except for one. Every time I received a heads up that there was a new chat message, I kept hoping it would be him. But alas, no: it was the “I’d blow ya” guy with another eloquent come on.

In frustration, I clicked on his profile again to see if there was something wrong with him that I could use as salve for my bruised ego. I mean, c’mon, I’m a catch y’all. He still didn’t have any flaws, except one. He hadn’t logged in for 3 weeks.

AAUUGH! How can you not log in when I’m waiting for you to reply?? How dare you!

But wait. We have mutual friends! On Facebook! I could find him!

I asked my friends if this was creepy, and they looked at each other and said “Yes!” but I didn’t care. It was at least worth a shot.

So I stalked him off a mutual friend’s page, friend requested him and he added me back almost immediately. We started chatting and I confessed that I had stalked him from Tinder. (I mean, what if he logged in to Tinder after and then saw that I had messaged him weeks ago – now THAT would be creepy). This way all the creepy was right up front and he seemed okay with it.

Long story short? We met in person and have hit it off really well. To quote a phrase, we are smitten. Indeed, we are in “deep smit.”

I’ve broken several rules this time around, including my “not-declaring-a-potential-new-relationship- before-90- days” rule. Sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. Or at least tested for validity. For research. Yeah, research. I swear. No really. Uh huh.

*dances off happily*