The Whirlpool

Remember the text and phone only connection I was about to experience in real life? It happened yesterday, over an epic lunch near the airport. I was so very nervous the morning of, but after thinking and writing and feeling, I settled into something that seemed more like first-date jitters.

He was sweet. It felt so good to share space with him. The conversation was easy. There’s this calm, introspective energy about him. Like a young Gandalf. He has such beautiful blue eyes – not the slightly creepy, startling kind. More like the broody slate of an autumn lake. He behaved like a perfect gentleman.

Too perfect. In fact, I quickly realized that he must not have been attracted to me in real life. That whatever whispers we’d exchanged were based on some notion of me, and not the actual me-in-the-flesh. I am well-versed on the subtle nuances of attraction and flirtation. It wasn’t there. So, I remained open, glad at least to have such an interesting and talented friend.

When he walked me to my car, I wondered what he’d do if I kissed him. How his too-long mustache might feel. I figured this would scare him off, and if he’d wanted to be kissed, he wouldn’t have a too-long mustache in the first place. So I settled into the hug he offered. I was genuinely glad that he set aside three uninterrupted hours in his insane schedule for me. I was happy to be clear on the fact that whatever fantasies we’d created, we were, it seemed, just friends.

Then he texted this morning. He told me the attraction was there. I hadn’t missed it, he’d just tucked it in a drawer so I couldn’t get at it. Things got confusing. He would have welcomed the kiss. Silly me – I put myself out there again by suggesting we meet up while he’s close by over the weekend, and he didn’t take the volley in any kind of immediate way.

I stopped. I felt my heart. I asked for the ball back.

A long distance relationship with no quick end to the distance is crazy. A ‘live in the moment’ exploration of friendship and sexual connection only works with two people who both want to navigate that with care and clarity. Neither of those things were on the table. I can’t fault someone for knowing what they don’t want.

I wished him well, and I meant it. Whoever gets to love that guy…she who cracks open that drawer and gets at the passion I got a tiny taste of…who inspires songs that aren’t about longing and lost love, well – she’s going to be very lucky indeed.

But here’s what my heart told me; whoever gets to love me is very lucky too.

I would rather not be valued solely for my ability to occupy sexual space with ease. I’m not saying that’s what happened here, but maybe it did, a little. This feels like the truth in all of my recent attempts at relationship. Did Marilyn Monroe have a boyfriend who brought her soup when she was sick, or who was content to rub her feet when she was bloated with PMS?

Maybe not the best comparison. I am, however, getting a sense of why she was so lonely.

Is it easy to confuse fluid ideas around monogamy with an inability to connect deeply? Because I may not be real clear about the ‘one person only for the rest of my life’ business, but I do want to sink deeply into someone and see where it goes.

I guess I’ve been guilty, once again, of amplifying things that may not have been real for everyone involved. Perhaps they were an experiment of sorts, or a way of trying something on. Like a hat you’d never actually buy.

I got an important reminder last week from a new acquaintance. I’d expressed hesitancy at showing up to an event solo, and he pointed out the fact that not too long ago, I’d declared myself my own primary partner. Why couldn’t I go anywhere I wanted with myself as my date?

I feel like such a great deal of my energy is invested in these connections with people. I wonder what would happen if I put zero effort into finding, chasing, or trying to nurture romance?

What if, for the month of April, I just stopped? No more dating apps, no sending the first text. No more circular conversations with my close friends trying to analyze the people I am seeing.

On my kid-free nights, I could take myself out on dates. Spend my money on pampering instead. I could buy fancy cheese and olives and enjoy some binge-watching with a glass of wine. There’s nothing confusing about smoked gouda and Queer Eye.

I won’t ignore or reject anything the Universe decides to send my way, but it’s pretty darn clear that it’s is telling me to stop chasing love. I’d be very silly, after the year I’ve had, to ignore the Universe.

When love shows up it will push through fear, emotional complexity, and distance. It will feel full, not hungry. Clear, not muddy. They will say “I love you,” and not just “I love how you feel”.

Meanwhile, I’ll embrace April and be the best primary partner I can be. I will dazzle myself with romantic gestures and loving caresses. I’ll dress up for myself and take myself out on the town.

When Beltane comes in May, I’ll be even clearer on my worth.

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