27 January 2018. It’s You.

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If you asked me five years ago, on a regular Saturday morning such as this, anything having to do with dating or coupling (outside of business or creatively contributing to something) or, God forbid, Love and such, I would have quickly changed the subject to you, your life and goings–on; or my daughter or our home or my employment (or my employer) or a movie we should see at the Cinema Arts Center (because likely, I had already seen it, alone, and will always tell someone when something is really worth the price of the ticket.)

What we would *not* have talked about was “r e l a t i o n s h i p.”

Strung out letter-by-letter because after divorce – those of us once-married (remove the ‘i’ and you’re “marred”, if you didn’t already notice) are somewhat loathe to jump back into the dating pool, let alone broach the subject at all. So, we literally d r a g it out (or avoid the word and idea altogether.)

Five years ago, single-mothering my then-14-and three-quarters-year old offspring, in a too-big (and cold) old house with indoor/outdoor cats and a puppy with the worst case of PTSD – ever – we would NOT have talked about Match.com or Plentyoffish or speed-dating or blind dates or group dinners or meetup.com or meeting someone in church or taking a class or doing another show or volunteering (I was already doing that) or how involving myself with yet another oddball-people-project adult male who needed more help and more ego-massage than anyone in their right mind would ever take on would be really stupid (but oh so familiar. And easy.) I would have to be NUTS to get involved with anyone again – be they near or hundreds of miles away. I was done and comfortable knowing I would be my nephew’s ‘crazy Ant Jaye’ until the title aged-out as he aged-up.

And, yet…here we are.

We do not use the word “r e l a t i o n s h i p”.  We use “partnership”.

We do not talk about getting married, though people who don’t know us refer to the other partner as “your wife” and “your husband”.  It’s funny.

We do not cling to each other the way we might have, earlier, younger, when one might believe the more time you have together the better things get and nothing could possibly go wrong if you lost yourself in another person losing themselves, too.

We do not lose any part of our Self from being part of something together. And that is the very biggest treasure: I get to be me, He gets to be He, and we get to be we, how ever we see fit.

Oh, hello, it’s you. It’s going to be you.

And how delighted I was to have that realization strike, just about five years ago, dead center in my chest, when meeting you for the first time, as adults, in the middle of Penn Station in the middle of New York City in the middle of our lives. It was very different than when we met, briefly, at 13 and 15; fish in the pond.

Hello, it’s you.
Happy Five, this Friday.
ox

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Loose Ends, Tied.

This final week of 2017 I have unplugged from Facebook to the extent that I am, in three day’s time, remarkably happier and more unburdened than I have been in five years.  Maybe more.  The planet continues to have hope and disaster hand-in-hand, but I don’t have to read or know about every single detail worldwide, nor do I feel the overwhelm of responsibility and obligation that “social” media, literally, feeds.  I am fed up with “social” media, which becomes more and more anti-social and numbing every day.  I am better, more useful, in real life with real people and immediate, local problems to salve and solve.  Not that I am any great heroine, but I do my best work right here:  at home.

The Messenger still pings but now I take comfortable time responding, not jumping to reply as though every message were on fire and my life depended upon immediacy.  It’s nice.  It’s at MY pace and convenience.  And, it’s real.

Running through the months, April stands out as when we purchased our Together home after almost four years of long-distance partnering and challenges inherent in such an endeavor.  I must have been crazy, frankly.  So must have he.  And yet, our crazy (and weird) seems to get along with the other’s and that doesn’t happen every day.  In August, the book cover became a reality and in October, the finished product was in-hand.  I am still beaming and high on gratitude.  More projects are in the pipeline.  I can feel them approaching and am very excited for the opportunities to grow and show my work.

 

Two years ago this evening, I penned the following and am grateful for a brain that thought to save the words.  Now seems a good time to share.

Happy and Healthy New Year to you and yours.  Thanks for reading along. ox

31 December 2015

Long silver hair streaked with the last moonlight
she gently steps from her celestial footwear
Barefoot she exhales and lets her heavy
calendared gown 364 days
ago as light as gossamer
fall around strong tired feet

Quietly peaceful soul and countenance wise
she walks waters
rhythm to the turning of the ancient wheel

A shooting star, one hundred million simultaneous wishes
she dips beneath the surface one final time
Can you hear – off in the distance? Small but mighty
bold uninhibited wail the wordless arrival of baby New Year

Pick her up, nurture her well
Love her wide full and without reservation
Go big this year…and leave your own dressing at the shore in a year.

DJDawson 2015

 

 

Harumph.

Home Alone, adult style.  All menfolk out of the house for the night.  My evening plan to attend the roller derby nixed, though I could have attended had I gone in my own vehicle.  (An option left unsuggested.)  But, I shall sit outside in the cricketsong and honey-pinking sky against the mountains, with a favorite pen, drawing paper and adult tonic, and ask myself why I allow others to decide what is right for me. (I do this more than I care to, and more than I should.)  

Stern, well-shaped brow bent in moderate resentment (well, I did ask, didn’t I? And this is what you get.  Duh.)  Just lettin’ it gooooooo.

Dar Dawson 2016

Barley September.

These last few mornings, before dawn, I have walked the dog.  Because my head is thrown back mouth hanging open dazed by all the stars, I have no idea whether or not she has relieved herself of her night holdings.  Let’s presume “yes”, as she has not soiled the carpet (recently).

On our walk this morning, cows lowing and uncensored roosters on the farm through the wood tuned up for their field day.  Again, the sky invited gazing.  Orion, clear as ever, sparkling belt and all, beginning to dive out of sight into the gathering equinox. Tonight, we will be blessed by the pull and push of September’s full Corn moon or Barley moon; the true Harvest moon this year does not rise until October.

Orion, whose body so powerful, his ego so big, believed no creature would or could ever slay him, stung by a lowly scorpion and up into the stars he went.  The scorpion, receiving similar celestial treatment, was placed on the opposite heavenly hemisphere so the two might never meet again.  Orion’s story, far more detailed and varied than what I share here – versions that include seduction, death by arrow, sobbing goddesses and angry gods, mothers and daughters, and other narrative rhinestones – a familiar and ancient myth.

This morning, realizing the constellation was leaving our sky for a while, I felt an overwhelm’ment of gratitude for having those few moments of unlit quiet, alone and outside.  And, immediately after that peace, I felt as though the calendar would suddenly move more quickly than the last eight months.  When the grape harvest is over, our home life will return to ‘normal’.  No more insanely early wake-up times for him (which also mean for me because once he’s up, I basically am, too); no more going to bed directly after 5 o’clock supper (which means being in bed with a full stomach, tossing and turning and trying to screen read in the dark, and being awake long after he has crossed into deep sleep).  The return of morning and evening in-bed conversation and planning and mindwandering, and communion.  As much as I may become periodically flummoxed about these temporary changes to our household routine, Orion reminds me to never get so brazen and full of myself to believe I can get along without these things; to not take the small stuff for granted, lest they creep up and bite/sting/kill me.

Harvest isn’t going to kill me or us.  Neither is the changing sky…because there is always a reason to get up in the morning, and not just an anxious dog – whether or not the fruit is ripe and ready, and there is always something to look at in the sky, day or night, clear or foggy.

Just keep looking up.

Forest Through.

Empty nest – what empty nest?

Our nest has people.  Some are not-quite mine, some (when they visit) are very much mine.  Our nest is not empty.  There is a dog here, and a man and a teenboy.  And me.  Not empty.

 

But, it is not full, either.

There’s an essay going around social media by a parent, whose son is going off to college.  Toddler to young man in a blink – that sort of thing.  It’s a tearjerker (no, I am not going to read it; my spawn left for college last fall, 2016.  I’m a veteran empty nester compared to many of my friends.)  Don’t be fooled:  a year in and it still hurts.  I miss her like crazy, in between worrying about her health, safety and welfare.  We never stop doing that, the worrying, the parenting-feeling-stuff.  The willingness to be needed, and hope that they call us when they do need us (and to check-in when they don’t).

It’s a weird between-chapters place to be, made weirder by my own life upheaval just over one year ago.  Mid-August, Mr. Virginia and I passed the one-year mark of my move to be with him.  A year living together went quickly, and was a lot of fun.  Eight months after I moved here, we bought a house together.  Eight.  Months.  We are almost fully moved out of his house and in to this new, shared space… .  Our work keeps us busy, tired, and the last thing we wish to do with any free time is go back to ‘the other house’ and load the cars.  It needs to get done – we know this.

 

Scrounging-around somewhat-empty-nesting I am uncomfortably perched on the fence between being needed and being completely and utterly without purpose. I feel lost and a bit dissatisfied at work, which, normally, I adore (try as I might to feel worthy and belonging), and feigning interest in any hobby or creativity. (Crochet ain’t doing it, sorry; neither is looking at other people’s maker ideas on Pinterest. Nope.)  I need something and I have a feeling it’s not outside of me, like a child or a job or someone’s touch.

 

While I do believe opportunities are on the way, perhaps, I am simply not ready.  To be honest, Mr. Virginia asked me earlier this evening if I was happy.  (This, a sign of worry and caring, which I may never get used to.  He is an excellent partner.) I told him that I was not very interesting nor intriguing these days, and would he mind me as a boring partner for a while?  He said he would not mind.  I also told him that, yes, in general, I am quite happy.  (It’s just smothered by a steaming pile of angst, right now.)

What I am is frustrated with the whole reinvent yourself when you move thing.
Or maybe it’s not feeling like a useful person or the lack of creative brilliance, or that I am no longer someone’s long-distance desire but their in-the-next-room squeeze.  Nah, that latter is nothing to whine about. *smile*

Whatever is missing – rather, whatever the “blah” antidote is – is probably right in front of me, so big and tall and obvious that – whatever it is I need to see – I’m too close to see it properly.  What does one do, then? Take a step back.

And, then, a few steps more.

When the ‘aha!’ moment finally happens, I will let you know.  Until then, all I’m seeing is a lot of tree bark and no forest.

djdawson

2017

August 13, 2016.

Dump (last few wine bottles from garden project).
Break the fast.
Weird here without the dog.
Weird without WiFi…but, whatever.
Radio all day.
Bag hanging clothes. Box last few breakables, pack odds and ends.
Break down sofa.
Rapid and merciless assessment of garage (not much packing, mostly organizing).

Confirm start date of new job (Tuesday?)
Moving truck: Monday.

Too damn hot to cry.
Too damn tired not to.

Autumn: 40 days.

Hustle, hustle.

The Evidence of Love.

It’s good to remember that so much of who we are and how we behave stems from how we were raised.

I grew up in a family where our Mom basically dreaded every holiday.  It was a lot of annoyance and overwhelm and effort for so little reward, was the annual message.  Despite this script, I do not share her disdain for any of the holidays or celebrations days.  Our mom did make a deal (not a huge, overblown deal) about our immediate family birthdays; there was cake or special dessert, and for several years in our childhood, my sister and I got to choose our respective birthday dinner – be it specific dish or where the family would go out.  My favorite place was Fong’s, a family-run Chinese restaurant about 10 minutes from our house.  Sweet and Sour Chicken, wonton soup, egg roll with hot mustard, fortune cookie.  I was in heaven.  Mother would make sure we received a card, cards sent in the mail she’d saved in her ‘secret’ kitchen cabinet, and meaningful gifts, very often items she deemed worthy versus fad or trendy things we may have desired.

When Mother’s birthday came around, and at Christmas time, our father would roll out beautiful gifts – jewelry, English dinnerware she favored and collected, perfume, and, predictably, she would break into tears that he spent too much money or he shouldn’t have at all.  (He did anyway.)  And for a moment she seemed to feel loved, and she would be happier a day or two.  Just that.  Her humble awkward joy never lasted much past any celebration.

To be honest, I greatly love respect our father for trying so hard to please her.  In my kid mind I wondered why he went over and above, some years trying to best the last.  (And I pondered what had she done that was so extraordinary to have warranted such gifts?)     Watching him give and her receive, I learned it wasn’t enough to say “I love you.” It wasn’t enough to give a card. It wasn’t enough to buy a thoughtful gift. He had to perform ALL those things EVERY year for every birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day.  Thankfully, Easter, Arbor, Presidents’, Independence, Mother’s Day (she wasn’t HIS mother), Memorial, Labor and Thanksgiving days are virtually gift-less.

As a result, my upbringing taught me that this grand gesture, this show, is how men treat their special lady on special occasions.  I never questioned it, but I did (until very recently) judge dates and boyfriends using the example of my folks’.  Of many boyfriends and two fiances – with the exception of the early part of being with wasband (was my husband), and my current beau – hardly any were naturally thoughtful and generous.  In my early 20’s, I had a boyfriend who gave me my first single lens reflex camera and a really good pair of German leather hiking boots.  Speechless was I from his keen and targeted gifts.  They meant so much, they validated who I was, or wanted to be.  He understood my love of photography and helped me graduate to a real instrument.  I soared.  He wanted his partner to keep up.  The boots did that.  I’d never been so thought-of before, not by a partner.  I still have the camera; the boots finally died after 30 years and I pitched them last summer.  A fond farewell.  Unfortunately, I dated men with a serious abundance of flaws and a glaring lack of sensitivity or awareness… Until current beau, who is a masterful blend of thoughtful, generous, and what he refers to as “pretty damn cheap.”

Now, current beau, with whom I am now living, after three-plus years long distance, IS thoughtful AND generous, and yes, he can be cheap.  Sometimes.  I don’t think of him as cheap but fiscally practical.  This doesn’t mean he’s “bad.”  I have come to understand that the predictable grand romantic gesture is not at the top of his vocabulary.  It’s not dead last but it’s not at the top.  It’s somewhere in the middle-ish.  And just as I learned what to expect by watching my parents, perhaps the how-to-treat-your-woman memo didn’t go around his family like it did mine; maybe a different memo circulated there.  Maybe his parents behaved differently and his upbringing did not include the every-holiday-make-a-fuss-about-the-romantic-gifts choreography.  Come to think of it, he is not the “make a big fuss over me” sort of person at all.  It’s OK to make a medium-sized fuss.  He’s cool with that.

That said, this is the same man – yes, my beau, the man who refers to himself as “cheap” – who put together a surprise party for my 50th a few years ago OVER FACEBOOK! with friends of mine he had never met! and took a seven hour Amtrak to New York just to be there for the party, my actual birthday and that weekend.  No one can tell me he doesn’t have his own snappy brand of the grand romantic gesture.  It just doesn’t include many sparkly things or lavish restaurant dinners or horse and buggy rides or weekends in the country.  And I’m OK with that.

When I was dating the no-fuss-making guys, my resentment was palpable to the point of dreading every gift-related date on the calendar, be it holiday, anniversary, birthday.  I was disappointed regularly and eventually pled ill or working late or family emergency just to avoid being on a gifty date.  NOT that they weren’t good, nice men.  I just didn’t feel desired or lovable because they weren’t giving me some meaningful trinket to validate that.

*a ha! moment* somewhere in my early 40’s.  Yes, it took THAT long.  The model my parents provided worked for them.  It didn’t work for me; it doesn’t work for me and my current partner, Mr. Virginia, the not-so-cheap WonderBeau.

This man does sweet, thoughtful and generous things every single day to make my life better, easier, more fun.  He makes us brunch on Sundays, he pours me a glass of wine for dinner (when I’m in that mood), he offers to run a hot bath for me (when one of us has remembered to scrub the tub so a hot bath can be had), he works hard at a physically demanding job, he texts me from work to see how my day is going or from his weekend at the rescue squad to say good-night and I love you.  He folds laundry, he starts laundry.  He switches laundry from washer to dryer.  He supports my writing, my art making (when I finally stop being annoyingly perfectionistic and just play), he listens to my bad days, tempers my hormone swings (deserves a medal for that one), acts as a soundingboard when I need to lay out thoughts to see them clearly, and he never complains when I leave the dinner dishes in the sink ’til the next morning or when my dog comes in after rolling in cow poop.  He also hides paper and tinsel Halloween spiders around our bedroom (often tucked into my night clothes or under my pillow) making me gasp or cringe – and ultimately, laugh.

When I stopped valuing material things to validate my lovability it made a huge difference.  It quieted the worry of whether or not I was loveable at all; and, the evidences of love are so much easier to see when you’re not looking for something else.

It is all right here, all the time, with this generous and loving partner of mine.

I just had to see it.