A friend of mine once said, “To know yourself is to know yourself in love and honey, at some point, you have to stop learning.”
I was in the middle of yet another ship-wrecked romantic entanglement, doing the love contortionist jig-a-ma-joo, bending, twisting, crunching, folding, tap-dancing and stretching myself into a shape I thought would make the relationship work, as though the problem could be fixed if I simply conformed to the image of his expectations, his needs. My partner was sweating just as hard, bouncing off of me at odd angles, trying to catch himself before he broke the furniture.
Of course it hurt to squeeze myself into an unnatural container but so did being alone. I hoped that a little hard work would compensate for a bad fit, but, of course, it didn’t. It never does. You can’t have a homely beauty queen, no matter how great her personality is, and that’s just the harsh truth Ruth.
When we’re young, we are easily swept away by the tidal-wave of romantic love. We expect it to hold the answer to the question of life. We hope it will show us the yellow brick road of our lost, confused souls. We will do anything to hold onto that love even when it hurts, when it scorches, when it consumes.
We go from relationship to relationship searching for fulfillment, as though such a thing as the hole of love can be fulfilled. We are too young to know that love and loss go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Loss is the price we pay for having the gift of love. Period. There is no way to fix this. No remedy for such things. They are only meant to be lived, expressed and accepted.
I remember first meeting my fiance. I wasn’t looking for a man when he came into my life. I thought maybe it was time to let go of the whole romantic thing. I was ready to toss it in the trash with the curling irons and steam rollers from so many ill-fated hairdo’s.
A gay friend of mine once suggested that if neither one of us found a partner by a certain date, we would buy a house and move in together and just have each other as companions. We would write our own version of happily-ever-after. After so many failed relationships, on the brink of my fortieth birthday, I was considering taking him up on his offer.
But after a series of magical, sacred heart opening experiences (involving yoga retreats, sweat lodges, singing naked on a Vancouver beach, you know, my kinda stuff) my heart said yes to him. And my grizzly ole’ thumper ain’t never ever said yes to nobody! It’s not that I hadn’t loved before. I had. Deeply. It’s just that I’d never had the sanction of my inner voice.
In fact, once, when getting involved with a younger man, my inner voice said quite clearly: no no no no no! Now the inner voice is usually subtle. She speaks in metaphor, in feeling. But this time, sista came through loud and clear, saying, and I quote, “He does not belong to you. You will have to give him back.”
Did I listen to sista? Naaah! Of course not. I went on a roller-coaster ride of sorrow that lasted four years, not counting the year and a half it took me to get over him after we finally broke up.
But this time, with the man who is now my fiance (applause, applause, thank you) I got the go ahead from Inside. Sista said softly, at last, “Yes.” Our first real get together was at a party for a mutual friend. As I was getting ready (cute outfit, not too hoochy) sista spoke up again. She said something like, “Just go along with whatever happens tonight.” And I said, “Ok,” and she said, “Ok,” and we said, “Ok, Ok.”
The first stop of the party was at a drag show, and you know I love me some drag. But the show ended rather early (that’s Boston for you). Some people from our group wandered off, but about six or seven of us, including my suitor, were still itching to party. So we go to a strip club.
Now, this is where I have to remember what sista said because, Lord have mercy, I think of myself as a spiritual, feminist type. But strangely, at the suggestion of the strip club, my hackles do not go up. I play along.
[Mom, if you are reading this, please skip the next two paragraphs.]
All of the dancers look so young. All I can do is think about dey poor mamas at home, hunched over the kitchen table with a half-empty bottle of scotch, wringin’ dey hands with the worry, wondrin’ what went wrong. I am about to reconsider when a fine lookin’ sister starts her strut down the stairs to the stage. Suddenly, I hear a ding in the universe. She is hot hot HOT! Cyrille, my suitor, elbows me in the side. Says, “This is gonna be good.”
Indeed. Now, as a dancer, I gotta give her props. She was workin’ that pole like nobody’s business. She sported a hoe-stamp tatoo of the letter “T” and forever after, she is “Miss T” to us. She was like some Hindu goddess and we were under her spell. She broke through the barrier of fear around my heart like a knife through creamed cheese. We followed her, dazed, to the back room where Miss T gave us a lap dance and Cyrille and I shared our first kiss. And a little extra. Hehe ;).
Actually, it was.
And the rest is history.
Throughout our courtship, followed by moving in together and our engagement, there has been little resistance. My fear perked its ugly head up out of its rat-hole from time-to-time. Sniffed around. Poked Cyrille in the ribs here and there to see if he’s real, but eventually, I dropped my contortionist routine. I didn’t need it anymore. I started to let go. It’s not just that I love him, it’s that, well, to put it in new age-y lingo, our frequencies align.
Recently, I came across an old boyfriend on Facebook. My first love, in fact. We hadn’t spoken in over fifteen years. When I saw his face again, different and the same, I realized that the love was still there. It would always be there, but what I can see now that I couldn’t see before in the chaos of young love is that we could not be together in a long-lasting way because we are too different. I could never need the things he needs in life and vice versa. To love him is to honor that.
In other words, we can tune into each other’s frequency, but that takes some focus. The frequency that we tune to is too far from our normal resting, every day frequency. We have to work at finding the place where we meet. There’s nothing wrong with this. We do it naturally with others all the time. But a marriage, it does not make.
So, here goes. Marriage round two for both of our old, middle-aged asses. And I haven’t forgotten about the love and loss part I talked about earlier. I have to accept that. As much as I love to joke on this blog, knowing that we will change, that this state of affairs will someday end, hopefully in death, brings a stream of tears down my face.
Well, it’s good to cry. It means it’s special.