Tag Archives: past

The Ramifications of “No.”

After the performance 1.0 gave me when I was sitting at the hospital with Metalhead, I started to change my mind.  Not that I’d ever really made it up to begin with.  Oh, sure, I understood what he thought he wanted when he suddenly (and inexplicably) started talking about getting married and having kids and how many he wanted to have.  I’d heard all of this before, many times, from many different people.  I hadn’t decided whether I was going to allow it… after all, I was still waiting for Botboy, and I felt funny about breaking that promise… but on the other hand, Botboy hadn’t said much for awhile, and here was 1.0, paying for plane tickets, and flying down almost immediately.

I had, for a little while at least, started to open my mind.  But that had changed.  I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I did not want to be with someone so selfish.  If he could not understand why I was doing what I needed to do for my friend as things were now, how could he be expected to understand it later?

And then there was his living situation.  1.0 was three years older than I am.  He lived in New York… I got that… but he had roommates.  He’d had roommates, in fact, ever since he’d started college in 1997.  And while part of me realized that that was a way of life when you lived in New York, I did not want to live that way.  His living space consisted of a single room… the rest of the house in Brooklyn was shared with others.  And I could not imagine doing that for any extended period of time.  Granted, I am an introvert.  I need a certain amount of “me” time in order to be functional.  And maybe the “me” time is a lot more than he needs, but still, I could not imagine coming home from work every day, having to socialize when I don’t feel like it… because that’s what he was doing.  It worked for him.

But for me?  It was a reminder of 3.0… it was a reminder of why 3.0 and I did not work.  Not so much that 3.0 was or was not social… but more because I was not allowed to be an introvert when I needed to be an introvert.  And I could see it going there.  Not now, not immediately, maybe not even for the first year.  But eventually…  And of course, also, I had no desire to move to New York, and he had no desire to move to Florida.  I’m fine with long distance.  I’ve done it a lot.  But not perpetually.

It was a lot to give up, all at once, and it was a lot to ponder.  All of those things had been in the back of my mind for awhile, but with his revelation of who he really was, well, things became clearer.  It’s funny how that happens, right?  If you wait long enough, people begin to show you their true colors.

It was decided, at least by me, then, that I did not want him to visit.  I wasn’t really comfortable with him being in my house.  I certainly was not comfortable, any longer, of going to Orlando to meet his friend (and spend time with him – extended time with him, possibly overnight with him) when I had never met him before.  I felt funny about kicking him out, though.  Call me old fashioned… call me southern (I’m a little bit of both), but I have manners.  They don’t dictate everything I do (the Internet Dating Escapades are living proof of that) but when I’m having company, or when I may have company, one of the first rules is that you don’t tell them that you just want them to go home.  Even if that’s how you feel.

So I began to hint… I began to drop clues… I tried everything.  Even to the point of asking if he’d mind to rent a car and drive himself to Orlando because the painting I was working on for my sister’s wedding was not done yet (this was true) and I needed to work on it and get it in the mail as soon as possible (also true).  He agreed to visit his friend alone, and I breathed a sigh of relief, but still, I wasn’t relieved enough.  Because he was still going to be here, with me, for a night… possibly two.

I asked myself whether I could do it… if I could host him for a night, if I could entertain him well enough for a night so that I would feel okay about it and he could go, and nothing would be disturbed, but if I were truthful with myself?  No matter how much I spun it, no matter how many ways I tried to make it doable, I just couldn’t.  I did not want him in my house.  I did not TRUST him to be in my house… especially not now that he was being quite pushy about how this was MY idea all along, and how it was MY fault that I was backing away…

You see, neither were true.  I hadn’t asked him to come, he’d invited himself.  And I’d told him, again and again, that I wasn’t really comfortable staying with his friend.  I’d told him about Botboy, I’d made it clear that I was waiting.  His answer?  “People ‘try’ things all the time.”

But not me.

I wasn’t in a relationship with Botboy.  I hadn’t been since May of 2013.  But still, I was waiting.  I don’t cheat.  I don’t lie.  And I don’t break my promises.  And 1.0 was, essentially, asking me to violate that.

Before I made my decision I thought long and hard about what I was doing.  If I told him no now, I knew that that would be the end of things.  I’d lose him forever… that link to the past, to 1997, to the mafia… it would be gone.  And it would be irretrievable.  I asked myself if I could do that… more importantly, was it worth losing?  The more I thought about it, the longer I pondered it, the more I looked back at the past, I realized that I could.  Because whoever that girl was in 1997, I wasn’t her anymore.  There were still pieces of her, sure.  We never quite lose everything we ever were as we grow.  But who she was, and what was important to her… it didn’t exist.  I had a different life now.  And, whether or not it pained me to say it, 1.0 wasn’t a part of it.  And I didn’t see how I could make him a part of it.

So I told him no.  He spent the weekend, the full weekend, in Orlando.  I spent the weekend painting on my patio, finishing the monogramed canvas for my sister’s wedding, getting it ready to mail to her the following week.  I didn’t hear from him at all.  I haven’t heard from him since.

I finally, seventeen years after it started, managed to put a piece of my past to bed.  And you know what?  It felt great.

1.0 – Another Flashback, 2002-2014

By the time 2003 had rolled around, I’d met someone who was now living with me in the small condo my parents had bought me in 2002 so that I would not have to leave Louisville to go home during the summer breaks between college semesters.  It was an accident, really, the way all of that had come about – my boyfriend had had nowhere else to go, he moved in temporarily, and then we’d decided he’d stay.  It was my first experience with “housing the homeless” and at that point in my life, I wasn’t great at telling people to leave when they’d overstayed their welcome.  At any rate, 1.0 and I had been friends throughout this time… civil, friendly even, sometimes talking on the phone, but not like it had been when we were dating.  I was seeing someone else.  Over him, really, but I’d still wanted to keep my friend.  After all, I hadn’t put in four years of work for absolutely nothing – to lose him now would be, at least to me, right then, a failure.

In 2003, 1.0 decided to visit Louisville again.  It would be easier this time… I had a condo.  There would be no need to put him in a hotel.  Mr. Ex, as I have said, was living with me then (this was before we were married).  I had stopped going to school by this time and while I worked during the days at the vet clinic, I had the evenings free – many of which 1.0 and I would still be able to spend alone so that we could talk.  I had no money.  He had no money.  We could not really afford to do a whole lot.  But we could sit around and watch stuff on television.

Mr. Ex and I were sharing an air mattress on my living room floor.  I had a bed.  He never wanted to sleep in it… come to think of it, looking back on it, I find that to be ridiculous now, but it was what it was then.  1.0 would have the bed, in the bedroom.  We picked him up from the airport, we went back to the house, he set up shop in there, and the three of us shared this absurdly small 500 square foot living space for four days.

Mr. Ex did not like 1.0.  I did not understand why this was… at least not at first.  1.0 did not let on that he wanted anything, at least at first, and the men were civil to each other.  Mr. Ex went to work, 1.0 and I walked up and down Bardstown Road.  I showed him the clinic where I worked, he saw the Hemingway kittens that were up for adoption in the clinic.  I wasn’t old enough to drink, so we didn’t do that, but he did seem to enjoy the atmosphere there at least.

On that Saturday, though, things changed.  I had the television on as usual.  I did not get cable, but there was something mindless on television anyway, and I had it on for background noise.  I was lying on the air mattress, watching it, as I normally did.  1.0 came into the room, asked what I was watching, sat on the mattress to watch it with me and eventually reclined.  I paid him no attention… if he wanted to be there that was fine… but when he started stroking my leg lightly, I was horrified.  Remember… I don’t cheat.  I don’t break that rule even for someone that I consider to be one of my best friends.  I jumped up, said I had to go to the bathroom, and when I’d come out, I’d decided that he and I were going to go to the casino to see Mr. Ex.  I was no longer comfortable being in the house alone with him anymore.  At least there we’d be in public… and my boyfriend would be there.

When we arrived at the casino, we found the Legends restaurant and got a table there.  1.0 decided to check out the boat (the casinos in Indiana are on Riverboats).  I was not old enough to board (you don’t have to be 21 to be in the food areas, but you do have to be 21 to be in the gaming areas) and so I agreed when he left me behind.  Hours passed.  Literally hours.  Legends closed (and on a Saturday, they closed at 1 a.m.).  By this point, I had been in the casino, alone, waiting for 1.0’s ass for a solid four hours.  He hadn’t bothered to check on me, he did not have a cell phone (even if he had, I did not get a signal there).  Mr. Ex got off work, and I sent him onto the boat to find him… 1.0 assured him that he’d be out in a few minutes… but minutes turned to more hours and when he finally came out, it was 3 a.m.  I was beyond pissed.  I said little to him as I drove him back to my condo and was glad to see the back of him on the Sunday when he left.

We did not speak again until after my divorce was final in 2006.  By this point, I was “seeing” Buttface, but I was glad that 1.0 and I had gotten back in contact again.  I hadn’t forgotten what he had done, but catching up after all of that time was nice.  I had no desire to see him face to face again… I was busy, driving up and down the road to Columbus, trying to put my life back in order, going to school, working an internship on top of the promotions and the modeling I was doing.  And yet, one night, he called and said he felt like going on vacation.  I didn’t know what he meant by that, so I encouraged it… I mean seriously… who doesn’t want to take a vacation now and then?  It was only after he kept pressing and told me he wanted to come see Louisville again that I hesitated.

I had nowhere to put him, and I told him that.  I did not want him in my bed… I was sleeping with someone else.  I also voiced the concern about his newfound marijuana habit… I did not want that stuff in my house.  I was living on the top floor of someone’s house… they were renting it to me, cheaply, and I did not want this under their roof (and I wouldn’t have wanted it under mine, either).  We fought over it.  He blocked me.  I was fine with that… I carried on about my business, went through the Buttface saga, moved to Florida, found a good job, got fairly comfortable.

In 2014, though, in March, we got back in contact again.  Granted, I’m more open minded now than I was then (though I still don’t use pot), and our conversations were very touch-and-go from the beginning.  We never chatted for very long, and never about anything important.  That was fine with me.  I was, again, involved with someone else.  Waiting for Botboy to return from this deployment, having promised him that I’d do so, took precedence.  And anyway, even if I hadn’t been, I don’t know that I would have been interested in 1.0… after everything that had passed between us, knowing what I knew, knowing how pushy he was, I knew it wasn’t what I was looking for.  I may have been okay with it… passive about it, even… back in 2001.  But I’m not nineteen anymore.  I know what I want, and that is NOT what I want.

That said, people change.  And against my better judgment, I decided to give him the chance to prove that he had.

Which is where we pick up in this crazy-ass shit show of mine.

Naked

Relationships are complicated.  Somewhere between elementary school and adulthood, we’ve gone from the silly notes in our lockers that say “I like you, do you like me, circle ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” to full blown mass “freak out” sessions where we obsess over whether that guy is ever going to call again, whether she’s going to be turned off by too much back hair (if it’s me?  Yes.), and we overanalyze every extended silence, every stupid Facebook post, and every text we DO get that isn’t to our liking.  We’ve gone from knowing that we’re a couple because we circled “Yes” on a piece of paper to wondering after a few dates, a couple of heavy makeout sessions, and a romp in bed whether we can start thinking of ourselves as a couple, or if we’ve just been used.

And I don’t know if it’s become standard for everyone, but I know that for me, this has gotten more and more complicated as I’ve gotten older.  People have gotten to be less apt to communicate, less likely to be reliable, more likely to “disappear” rather than to answer the “hard questions” or talk about the “hard issues.”  No one wants to WORK on problems anymore, everyone just wants to see if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence (regardless of whether it turns out to be the Garden of Eden or a yard full of volcanic ash).

I label my dating life as pre-divorce and post-divorce.  Pre-divorce, I dated a fair amount.  I’m not saying everyone was awesome (as a matter of fact, many of them were NOT awesome), but just about everyone was, at least, straightforward about what they were looking for.  Dating was a means to entering into a relationship – it was never, or at least usually not, a means to an endless string of interactions that resulted, finally, in an abrupt disappearance.  Most times it ended in commitment.  Or, at least, the expectation toward eventual commitment.  It was understood that things were going to go this way or, sooner than later, there would be a parting of ways.

The funny thing is, I used to think this was “complicated.”  Maybe in its way it was… Because in those days, it wasn’t so much the worry about whether or not I was actually “in” one, but it was the worry of what said significant other was doing when I was not around.  No stranger to the “cheating” boyfriends, I can’t say that I went into those relationships believing that people were going to cheat on me, but I’d say I was more hyper-vigilant about it than I would have been had I never been cheated on.  Still, it was easy to get a date, nothing was expected out of me except to be a good dinner companion.  If things went further eventually, it was “understood” that we’d do it again.  It was “understood” that we’d see each other again.  It was “understood” that the likelihood of becoming exclusive was imminent.  I learned, after a few months of this, that it was better to trust until I had a good reason NOT to trust.

But that was then.

Post-divorce, dating has gotten significantly harder.  And I’m not sure if it’s that the attitudes of the world have changed, or if I’ve just gotten worse at choosing men, but things are VERY, VERY different.  As I said earlier, people don’t communicate anymore.  Instead of phone calls, we text.  Instead of using complete sentences and punctuation, we use chatspeak.  Spelling, even, has fallen by the wayside – and smart people, like myself, who give a shit about such things are expected to just roll with it and lower our standards.

Because no one wants to communicate, we’re all afraid of each other.  Some of us prefer to keep our relationships completely text or chat based (and we have no idea how to interact face to face).  Others can’t be straightforward and upfront about things when we don’t expect them to work – we’ve been dumped (or have done the dumping) so many times that we’re afraid to do it again… we don’t want the shit show, we don’t want to deal with the fireworks, so, to avoid confrontation, we just walk away and expect the other person to just “get over it.”  It’s easier for us… we don’t have to see it.  Who the fuck cares what they have to go through?  We say it’s to “spare someone else’s feelings,” but that’s a cop-out.  It’s really to spare ourselves from the discomfort.

Further, and I think this has to do with my age, everyone who is still out there, and single, has been burned, by now, more than once.  It’s left us all jaded.  No one trusts anyone anymore… we’ve all been through the ringer so many times that we jump into our relationships EXPECTING to play games.  We go into these things BELIEVING that everyone we’re talking to will lie and cheat on us eventually.  And so, finding something solid, something dependable, something lasting has gotten really difficult.  I don’t lie, and I don’t cheat, but if I’m completely up front and I TELL someone these things, I don’t expect to be believed.  After all, why should I?  Everyone’s heard the same story again and again.  My predecessors got there before me, said the same shit I did, but did it all anyway.

And so, instead, we’ve become a culture that goes through life, pretending to attempt to find something solid (probably genuinely desiring something solid) but are too afraid to truly stick our necks out there to GET it.  We settle, instead, for superficial relationships… we text each other a lot, but don’t interact in person.  We get to know someone at a high level, perpetually hold them at arm’s length.  We use each other for sex, because the orgasms are nice.  We’ve become more and more accepting of being naked in front of each other, but we’re too afraid to REALLY be naked, to REALLY show someone else who we are, out of fear of being hurt again.  We’re protecting ourselves, but essentially, our inability to expose ourselves to pain, our unwillingness to put ourselves out there, is the same thing as punishing a complete stranger (or, at least, someone who has done nothing to us) for something that someone else (or several others) have done.

I’m just as bad about this as anyone else.  Communication has never been my problem.  If I want something, or if I like someone, I fucking say it.  I’m not shy about that.  I don’t mind being naked, literally, in front of someone either – I got over that when I started doing nude modeling a decade ago.  But I still have my hangups.  After the divorce, rather than finding boyfriends, or potential boyfriends, I realized that, I could easily find someone to go to bed with, but it became difficult to find someone to BE with.  And when I did find someone to BE with, well, if you’ve read the blog, you know what I’ve found… 3.0, who couldn’t get himself “sold”; Botboy who could fall in love with TransFormers, fall in love with me, even, but only say so when he was drunk and who ran the first chance he got when he came home.  I can go on dates with others and things will look as if they’re going well, but then, without any sort of explanation, the guy disappears.

And with every failure, with every disappointment, I myself have become more jaded.  I find myself going into relationships EXPECTING to be disappointed.  I find myself, essentially, punishing someone who has never had the chance to prove himself to be different for bullshit that others have given me in the past.  I wait for a screw up, and I use that screw up to further the conclusions I’ve drawn about everyone that’s already out there.  I don’t let people in because I’m too busy blaming total strangers for the failures of the douchebags I’ve already known.  I’m just as jaded as everyone else.

Back in 1998, a friend told me something once and it’s stayed with me through all this time (despite the fact that he turned out to be one of the ones that wanted to “fuck me” but not “be with me):  Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups.  Assumption is what we’re all doing these days – instead of giving people the benefit of the doubt, instead of letting them prove themselves to be different we’re assuming that they aren’t, and we’re sabotaging ourselves.

Life is about choices, life is about decisions.  In the end, I have to make a choice.  I can choose to remain alone because I’m too afraid to open myself up to potential failure.  I know that if I continue to choose to punish people for what their predecessors have done, then that is the same thing as choosing to be alone.  It’s like having a “self destruct” button that I can press whenever I feel like it.

But I can also choose to stop this.  I can choose to stop repeating old patterns that clearly have gotten me nowhere.  I can choose to stop assuming the worst.  Does that I mean I go into every situation wide-eyed, naïve and ready to throw it all out there (emotionally) to someone I barely know? No.  We learn what we learn for a reason.  But it does mean that I stop expecting the worst out of everyone… it means I give them a chance to prove that they really are different without judging them before they’ve ever had their say.  It means that I open up a little, give people the benefit of the doubt, and that I, at least, start looking at things more objectively.  It means that I let myself truly bare it all when I feel ready to do that, and I do it without expecting that I’ll immediately be steamrolled as a result.

It’s scary… but when have I ever been chickenshit?

 

(Also if you think for a minute I’m going to stop doing the Internet Dating Escapades, you’d be wrong… some people are just asking for it.  Or, well, I’ll keep doing this until I do find someone that lets me in… once I do that, the IDEs stop, because my profiles will come down.)

The 10 Spot

This guy I know apparently has a list of all of the people he’s ever slept with.  I’m told it’s fairly long, though I have never seen it.  I don’t know how common this is – I know that (based on stuff I’ve read) women tend to like to keep their numbers “low” and if they think they’re too high, will lie to make them “lower” to make them appear more virtuous.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  I can tell you there are nine in the list – I am thirty-one.  I don’t know how that stacks up with anyone else’s numbers, but that’s mine.  A list as follows (rapist not included):

  1. Jake
  2. Professor
  3. This dude whose kid I was babysitting – we got into a relationship for a little while, he has no nickname.
  4. GI Joe – dude who was convinced that he was going to be an astronaut by being in the KY National Guard and reading Physics for Dummies.  He was also cheating on his wife – hence why I ended it (after I found out).  FYI – he is not an astronaut now… per my Internet Data, he’s just another (now divorced) loser who probably sits around and wonders where he went wrong.
  5. Mr. Ex
  6. Buttface
  7. 3.0
  8. Metalhead
  9. Interim Guy – the one I dated for a small period of time between Metalhead and October.

That leaves us at the 10 spot.  I offered it, once, to Botboy who said he was not “just looking to get laid”.  Neither am I – I never was.  I misjudged him.  I’ve apologized for that.  Moving on.

Since I wrote “Let the Games Begin”, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  I promised Botboy, back in January, that I would wait for him.  I meant that then.  I feel strange about breaking that promise now – but I’ve opened the door.  I can always shut it again, I realize that.  But, considering I have no guarantees that he’ll want me when he is home again, I don’t want to do that.  However, by the same token, a promise is a promise.  It seems, in a way, unfair to him for me to open the door and start seeing a lot of other people when he does not have the option to get his chance, or his say.  The playing field is not even.

Further, it’s not like I’ve ever had gratuitous sex.  I fool around, sure, but it never leads to intercourse.  Think mostly makeout sessions with heavy petting – a blow job or two on a rare occasion when I’m feeling generous.  Though never a blow job without a makeout session.  Protocol must be followed.  At any rate, I’ve dated far more men than I’ve made out with.  I’ve made out with far more men than I’ve been in a relationship with.  And I’ve been in relationships with far more men than I’ve fucked.  I don’t know if this makes sense to anyone except me… I guess it doesn’t have to.  The point is, there are rules that I have for these things – they make sense to me, and I don’t often break them.

So, while I’m not “waiting” per se – while my profiles are still up, and while I’m leaving the door open for any who would like to try to come through, I’m still being inordinately picky.  The truth is, like it or not, I have serious doubt whether anyone could ever, ever compete with Botboy.  It’s funny I say that, since he and I have shared nothing more illicit than a couple of hugs in a parking lot.  And he bit me.  On the arm.  While I was driving.  Left teeth marks.  I have photos.  But it’s gotten no further than that, despite the fact that he and I were once in a relationship and despite the fact that I did, and do, love him.  I guess maybe that’s why I still, despite everything, feel that I need to be fair.

I’ve left the door open, yes.  I’m keeping an open mind (or as open as I can, considering how I feel). I think of it as a challenge); if someone can come in here and make me forget, which would be an inordinately difficult thing to do, then they deserve to stay on the table.  But because I feel that I need to be fair, while I’m willing to entertain the possibility, I’m not being exclusive with anyone.  No relationships.  I’ll date, but I won’t be exclusive.  At least, not right away.  That thing about taking things “turtle-slowly” that I said to Bot – I think that needs to apply to everyone else, too.  Because ultimately, I need to be sure.

And since there will be no exclusivity, there will be no sex either.  Inherently you see the problem with this, right… I love sex.  I love everything about sex.  The lead-up, the foreplay, the teasing, the wrestling (yes, wrestling), the reveal of taking off the clothing and the smell of arousal.  I love the penetration and the thrusting, the positioning, the varying speed and depth as positions change and as things grow more passionate.  I love the sounds.  And, of course, the orgasms.  The many, many, most times unstopping orgasms that leave me on the ceiling afterward while my body finally rests, exhausted, between the sheets – disoriented and not even caring until I pull myself together long enough for a post-coital shower, emerging either ready for bed or ready to start the day (or ready to do it all again).

Now, granted, I could go out there right now, I could find a reasonably acceptable substitute.  I could make him fall fairly quickly, I could get into something exclusive, and I could have all this sex.  I could find one of the nine and go to bed with them as well, thereby keeping the number the same and staying well within the limitations of my agreement to “wait”.  But I’m not doing that.  One would be a violation of the earlier agreement.  The other would be cheating (cheating as in cheating at the game, not cheating in a relationship, because I am not in one).

And so, here are the new rules:

The 10 spot is reserved for the one I am exclusive with next.  No one gets it, period, condom or no condom (and there will be a condom) without an actual, exclusive, profiles down, (possibly even Facebook official – as much as I hate that site) relationship.

Until Bot is back, I will entertain the possibility of seeing others – if I find someone I want to see, I may go out with them, however I will refrain from becoming exclusive with them (taking it “turtle-slowly,” because that is what is necessary to be sure in the short term, and because it leaves the playing field more even in the long term).  At thirty-one, I realize that my window is getting smaller.  I can’t keep playing this “one at a time” hoping the one at a time will get me something steady.  If dating is a numbers game, and really it is, then I have to play the numbers, knowing that if I do that, there’s a better chance of ONE of them becoming exclusive eventually.  Anyway…

In the interim, there will be no sex with any of the nine.  Thank god I have a vibrator – a weak substitute, but acceptable in the short term.  (Nemesis, please don’t fail me now.)

When Botboy returns, if he wants to date me, I’ll date him.  We will take things “turtle-slowly” as I’ve said – I want to be sure he is here for the long haul, that we can give each other what we need, and I want him to be sure that he is sure.  In other words, I do not want my heart broken again.  Or, at least, not without giving an actual relationship a “fair” shot.  In person.  When we can see each other regularly.  Therefore, until he is sure, then we will be unexclusive. And there will be no sex.

I know I’ve said that rules were made to be broken in the past.  I believe that in most cases.  But not in this one.  The rules are in place to preserve my sanity, my honor (whatever there is left of it).  And despite what my friends say, they are in place to ensure that Botboy gets a chance if he wants one – a fair one… once he is local again and not busy saving the world.

Anniversary

In a couple of weeks it will have been exactly a year since Botboy returned from Afghanistan, took all his toys out of my closet, and left.  It sounds funny when I say it that way, and I mean for it to sound funny – because if you can’t find some humor in a situation, no matter how badly it made you feel at the time, then you never do quite manage to heal from it.

I’d be lying if I said I was ready to face that anniversary on my own.  I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in my house, alone, on that day with nothing to do but remember how I felt after I’d came home a year ago and found my closet empty, his note on my end table, and his energy bouncing off the walls of my apartment.  Or how confused and completely bereft I felt for a couple of months after that.  It’s quite something when you realize that someone who had made the first half of a year spectacular has the same power to make the first couple of months of the second half of a year absolutely horrible.  I have no other way to describe it except to say that it truly felt as if someone had died.  Because here was this man who had been a constant (virtual) companion for the first five months out of the year and then who, within the course of a few hours, was suddenly, and inexplicably, gone.

But, what was done was done.  Time moved on, as it tends to do. And when it does, we have the choice to linger behind while the world moves on without us, or to pick ourselves up as best we can and move along with it.

And, regardless of how I did it, I chose to move along with it.  I healed.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t carry with me some very real scars from the earlier damage, but I became stronger for it.  I’d spent the first half of 2013 getting ready for his arrival – moving things around, rearranging the house, revamping the bedroom and the bathroom.  I’d made space in my closet for his things, given him the two lower drawers, and lived in constant anticipation of his arrival.

I’ve since spread back out into the rest of my house (I needed the room).  Although he is away again (and not due to return home until later in the summer), I am not living in constant anticipation of his arrival – I can only hope that when he returns, I will see him.  But otherwise, it is out of my control.  I do not want to be alone on the anniversary day, but, then, likely I won’t be.  Metalhead is a fairly constant fixture here during the week due to those anxiety attacks and I’m sure we’ll be sitting around, as always, watching television.

True to my word, though, in an attempt to make something potentially irksome into something more tolerable, I’ve been building May into something better. I’m attempting to give myself something to look forward to despite all of the mental garbage that I could potentially fall victim to.

There is that wedding of course.  I’m not looking forward to the wedding.  But I am looking forward to my Louisville trip.  I’ll find myself zip lining through some underground caverns under the city of Louisville on the very day I get there.  I’ll get to spend time with my friends.  I may find myself at Kentucky Kingdom (the amusement park in Louisville) one of the days that weekend – this is the first year it’s been open since a ride cut a teenager’s feet off several years ago.  I’ll be so busy there that there won’t be time to feel sorry for myself.

But, as they say on the TV infomercials, “Wait, there’s more!!”

I’ve had a surprise!!

I reconnected, recently, with a very old friend (like a friend I’ve had since I was fourteen) that I call 1.0.  Or, as he described it, when he heard his own nickname for the first time, “DOS before Windows” (that’s about the measure of it).

1.0 has decided to make plans to visit Tampa, citing a need to get out of the city.  He asked which weekend in May would be good for him to do that.  My social calendar is not brimming of late, so I told him any (even that weekend for the wedding – since he could come to Kentucky instead if he was really that desperate).

A little back story on him.  After August 1997 – as in after I got raped, escaped the rapist, and found my internet connection disconnected, I needed to set up a system that would allow me to keep in touch with the people I needed to keep in touch with.  Very long story short, with the help of my friends in high school (who still have my undying gratitude), I managed to keep in touch with two:  Buttface and 1.0.  1.0 and I talked through most of my high school years (he was in college) and finally met in person during my Freshman year of college.  We dated for a few months (we never had sex) and then broke up.  I saw him two other times after that – once when I made my own pilgrimage up to New York for the first time, and the second time after I had met and was living with Mr. Ex (who was very jealous of him).  I haven’t seen 1.0 since.  And twelve years have passed.

And so, once he found out that I was okay with it, he bought the tickets.  Sent me the itinerary (I didn’t ask him to, but I appreciated it – after last year, the proof of all of this was awesome).  It was a very welcome surprise – I was so excited I almost couldn’t get through the webinars that day.  We’ll have fun.  Because we’ve always had fun when we’ve been around each other.  There are so many things I want to show him – my Alice bathroom, photos of my mother which most people never get to see, downtown Tampa and some of my favorite places, the beach at night (we’re going to smuggle some wine).

It’ll be good to catch up now that the divorce is well behind me and now that I am truly settled (or as settled as I care to be for the moment) for the first time, really, since we started talking in 1997.  We’re taking a short road trip up to Orlando to visit one of his friends as well.  And it should, really, be quite a good weekend.  It won’t be exactly the anniversary of the Botboy fiasco last year… but it’s close enough so that it gives me something to look forward to during that week instead of letting the demons get the best of me.

And so, despite the fact that May is the first anniversary of that very horrible experience, intentionally or otherwise, it’s wrapping up to be very different this year.  I’m busy taking care of my friend who needs me at the moment.  I’m hosting another one of my friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time.  And then I’ll wrap it up by going to Kentucky for this wedding – and seeing even more friends there.

The past is resonating… it always does… and it’s doing so especially right now in ways I won’t disclose, because I’m still sort of watching to see where all of this eventually goes without any interference from me.  But just because it resonates doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.

What If?

In 1999, when I was sixteen years old, I moved out for the summer for the first time to go work at a camp.  I met a boy there.  We fell in love.  There were fireworks, he was my first, and six months later, on December 18, he gave me a ring to replace the promise ring he’d put on my finger a month before.  As it was being sized, two months later, in February 2000, a woman who was 28 years old (and who he had apparently been in love with since he was eight) told him she loved him.  He became confused, left me for her, I was devastated.

It was the shock of my life – at least back then.  I didn’t want to get out of bed for weeks (and did only to go to school – the rest of the time, I spent moping in my bedroom).  I ate, but didn’t taste anything.  I broke another boy’s heart when he asked me to prom because I realized I just wasn’t over the first one enough yet to really be with anyone else.

Four months later, I agreed to work at the camp again.  I knew he would be there.  I don’t know what I expected to come of it… but things were very awkward.  He was still seeing the woman.  She had a two year old son that was mad about him.  He was crazy about her.  Despite all of that, we were the only two staff members in residence that summer, so we were forced to share the living space above the dining hall once the day was over and everyone else had gone home.  Awkward silences spent staring at each other from across the breakfast table eventually became limited conversations which evolved, finally, into hour-long talks that never ended, quite, in a reconciliation, but the interest was still there.  He felt it, I felt it.  And I still loved him.

On the Fourth of July weekend, the camp always hosts a special festival event for the small town that it’s located in.  The camp staff usually works the hot-dog and refreshment stand.  I wasn’t scheduled to work until that Saturday, and I was looking forward to having the Friday off.  The guy, also, had finished his work for the day, and we’d sat upstairs talking.  Finally, he’d invited me to go with him to visit his sister, her boyfriend, and their kids.  It was a three mile walk, but I didn’t care… this was the alone time I’d been looking for.  And I said of course I’d go – I had to change my shoes.  About that time, my boss came upstairs, frantic, because the girl who was supposed to work the evening shift that night didn’t show up.  She asked if I would work.  I didn’t have a choice… I lived there… I was the only one that could be there.

He walked out to the stand with me, and I asked him if he could wait.  He said he couldn’t… he wanted to get there before dark.  I understood that… walking down a busy highway at night is not the safest thing to do – especially when there is not only traffic to worry about but coyotes as well.  And so he set off.  Several weeks later, he took another job with a construction company.  Permanent, and making better money.  I was happy for him.  Whatever happened between the two of them, he needed a job now that he was out of school and had decided against joining the army despite his ROTC program.

But I still wondered what would have happened had we gone on that walk.  I felt, the way that I feel things, that something would have turned that evening.  In my favor.  Knowing what I know now, that my gut feelings are rarely, if ever, wrong, I believe that things would have been very different once the evening had completed, had I gone with him instead of spending my time working in the Canteen.  But things were what they were.  He married her.  I moved on and married someone else.  They are still married, they have a little girl.  I am… well… divorced.  And in some ways, I’m grateful that it didn’t work out.  It would have been a hard life, and I don’t know that a marriage between us would have lasted – we were both so very young.  But still, I wondered.  Because sometimes “What If” is worse than anything else.  You can try and fail, but at least then you know.  “What If” just… lingers… with no resolution.

But I believe the past resonates.  I believe that, if we just wait long enough, we are given a second chance… a chance to repeat where we were before.  A chance to clarify a resolution that never came.  A chance to resolve the “What If” question.  The past resonates.  It repeats itself.  But the repeats are more of a “harmony” than they are a carbon copy of the past.  One can say things differently, do things differently, wait if they want to wait, work if they want to work, and go on walks, if they want to go on walks.

I experienced the same shock, the same devastation, eight months ago when Botboy came back from Afghanistan and left suddenly.  It was the same surprise, the same unpredictability, the same chaos and the same depression that had set in before.  And for at least a week after, I was back where I was before.  He was the only other man that ever affected me that way.  But the depression didn’t last as long… I wouldn’t let it – a casualty had come out of the first one, and while the casualty wouldn’t come out of the second one, I wouldn’t let those feelings eat me alive, either, so I got busy doing other things.  Time passed.  Things healed.  I wouldn’t say I got over it entirely, but I was better.  Botboy started calling again, we talked.  And finally, in January, we went to dinner – a “flashback” date as he called it.

And so, two months ago, when I was in the car with Botboy, and we were talking, despite the fact that I was very much in the present, and very much interested in what he had to say, and very much smitten with him, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities.  Botboy was not, by his account anyway, seeing anyone else.  Or in a relationship.  Or married.  But there were similarities all the same.  The way we talked.  The things we said to each other.  The two of them look nothing alike.  Their mannerisms are nothing alike, and they don’t even speak the same way.  But there were enough similarities there that my mind was drawn, for an instant, back to the summer of 2000 when Jacob was leaving for his sister’s house, and how he’d invited me to go with him.

Somehow I knew that this was a repeat of the walk that I never got to take.  It wasn’t the same… hell, we weren’t even walking, I was driving, and when we got back to the parking lot, we were standing between our cars (and Jacob didn’t have a car).  But the feeling was the same.  Botboy did not invite me along with him that night – it wasn’t that kind of evening.  And we aren’t kids.  But I was given an option all the same.  I could walk away, I could go, do whatever I wanted to do, and, likely, be gone by the time he got back.  Or I could stay.  I could wait.  I could see what happens.

I chose to wait.  Because I love him, yes.  But also because I know, because I feel it in my bones, that this is the answer to the “What If” question I’ve been looking for since I was seventeen.  Botboy is not Jacob (thank god – I love Botboy now more completely than I ever could have loved Jacob at the age of seventeen).  And this is not an instance where I am being called to work an emergency shift at the Canteen.  But it is another “What If” situation.

If, once his adventure is over, he comes back to me, I’m willing to make a go of it.  At least to try, to make an effort, to see if we can.  And if he doesn’t?  Well, I’ll be disappointed.  Not as devastated as last time – I won’t be so blindsided this time.

Regardless, though, once this waiting cycle is over, I believe I’ll finally know what would have happened had I gotten to go on that walk.  And then there’ll be a new phase, though I don’t know what it will look like.

Silver Linings

It’s a funny thing about cycles.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re monthly ones, weekly ones, or yearly ones, no matter what you do, they always seem to cycle – and there’s nothing that you can do to put an end to it.  If it’s a good one, you’re perfectly okay with it.  If it’s not a good one, you’re not necessarily okay with it, but you’re at its mercy.  And you know it.

I seem to be trapped in one.  And I seem to have been trapped in one, at least since college.  I’ve written about the venom before.  I’ve talked about it in the past.  It does its job and yet it still manages to leave me bereft of that which I really want.  Perhaps that’s my fault – my fault for looking in all the wrong places.  I don’t know.  But let me explain.

Six months ago, my world got turned upside down.  My boyfriend came home from Afghanistan, took all of his things out of my closet, and left me wanting – without any explanation, without any sort of cause, without, really, anything.  My job got turned upside down when the Groper decided he was going to come in and first tempt me to cheat on said boyfriend (before boyfriend disappeared) and, when I didn’t, decided to start slandering me to those around the office for not acquiescing to his request.  The boyfriend thing was worse than the groper thing – to begin with.  I found Metalhead, healed, got back out there.

But when I talk about cycles, I mean that it’s funny how things cycle back in their own time.  Because where I thought I’d settled the issue with the Groper, it turns out I haven’t.  It’s nasty, really.  The guy doesn’t want to drop it.  Like Botboy, I have no idea what he wants.  He doesn’t want me.  I can’t imagine that he wants my job.  I don’t know what his motives are behind all of this.  I don’t see that it really matters.  Truthfully.  I was willing to let the past go.  I largely have.  Yes, I stay in my office most of the time.  No, I really don’t talk to anyone.  Yes, work has become, really, in most cases, bereft of any sort of socialization the way that it was months ago.  But, Botboy or not, I think that would have happened anyway because it couldn’t have continued the way that it was before.  It just is what it is.  And I was perfectly happy to let it remain so.  Let him crucify me for whatever fucked up reasons he has for doing so.  Let him tell the new people that I’m a whore.  Let him tell them not to associate with me.  He hurts only himself.  And the people that matter at work, and there are a couple that I’m friends with there… they know it’s not true.

The thing is, apparently he is not satisfied with leaving it the way that it is.  Apparently he is not satisfied with letting things go.  He wants to blow it out of proportion.  He wants to file paperwork that will keep this in the system for months without a resolution. I don’t like it, but I don’t see that I can stop it.  I’ll stand my ground inasmuch that I won’t admit to doing something I have not done.  But, if I can convince my boss to convince him to just let it go, that he can win without the filing, I will.

It is inutterable chaos.  Botboy causes chaos, yes.  He readily admits to that.  But his chaos I can handle.  I have handled it in the past, I can handle it now.  This sort of chaos – the kind of chaos that affects my livelihood, the kind of chaos that threatens my wellbeing – that I cannot handle.

I suppose the gold thread in all of this is Metalhead – as odd as it sounds.  Months after he stormed out of my door, after I did what he once told me he wished people would do, and I left him alone, we have started talking again.  Like we did before all of that craziness happened last summer.  We’re friends again.  It was what I wanted, most deeply, out of everything that I lost over the summer.  I’ve missed Botboy.  I still do.  I’ve miss the social whirlwind that work used to be.  But I’ve missed Metalhead the most.  He’s the oldest friend I have in Florida and it has seemed strange without him.  Despite what happened over the summer, he’s still like my brother.  And whatever that cultlike organization did to him several months ago, he seems to have stopped following them now and is more like himself.  I guess there’s always the silver lining somewhere.

Tonight we went out for drinks after work.  I had dinner – he did not eat.  We talked a lot – mostly about the crap that’s been going on at work.  Also, a little, about what caused him to storm out of the door – even he doesn’t remember – though he says that’s just what happens to him sometimes and assured me I did absolutely nothing wrong.  He read the parts of this blog that I’ve been dying for him to see (especially the part about where I said I don’t sleep with homeless people – to my utter glee, he filled in the sentences before he read what I wrote: “Well, technically, you kind of did.”)  We went to the beach, and walked around for awhile (until the security guard chased us away).  That was kind of fun because I haven’t been chased out of closed areas since I was a teenager.  Ha!

I got home, and I thanked him for coming out with me.  And I told him I was still worried.  His words:  “I told you to keep your chin up.  Probably not as bad as you think.”

That’s the thing about silver linings.  No matter how shitty things get, no matter how hard they are to find in the midst of the chaos, they’re always there.  Sometimes more evident than others.  But this time, I know I not only have right on my side, I know I not only have the couple of friends at work that stand with me, but I also know that if I can make something that got so broken stand upright again, I can do this with something else.

I just don’t know what It’s going to look like once I’m finished.

A Year of Echoes

This year has been a year of echoes.  I’m of the opinion that things echo, for me, because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do with them the first time.  Like in school… if you don’t master the concepts of a class, then you fail the class and you take it over so that you DO.  Life is like school.  Only harder.  And less forgiving.  And at the end of the day you don’t get a report card that tells you exactly what you did wrong – no, you have to figure that part out largely for yourself.

I thought I’d learned the lessons I needed to learn from Botboy when I squared things away with Jesus.  I don’t think I was necessarily wrong – I still believe I did the right thing in that situation.  But I suppose the Universe had other ideas with the new guy I’d started seeing about a month and a half ago.  This is the one I manifested.  And he was, by all accounts, at first glance (and even over the first through fourth dates) perfect.  But then he started pulling away.  He started getting quiet.  He’d still text me now and then, but it was different somehow and at first I didn’t understand how.

Then it came to me… those texts weren’t as involved as they used to be.  They weren’t as enthusiastic.  It reminded me of how things had started to go downhill with Botboy.  I remembered enough from then to know not to push now.  And so I didn’t.  I assumed he was busy, because he does have a lot going on, and I let it go.  I pulled back, I didn’t try to make plans with him, and I watched.  A week went by and I finally got a text, apologizing for the distance, and telling me he had a lot going on – and would email me about this later.  I did not get the email for a couple of days, but when I did, the email was long, and clearly worded.

As I read the email, I was astonished at the similarities between his situation and my own.  He was reminded, when he was with me, of his ex.  I knew what that felt like.  I remember all too well the inability to move forward from an ex.  The haunted feeling you get, almost torturous, when pieces and reminders of the one you are not over are thrown continuously in your face (making it impossible, really, to get a handle on things and move on anyway).  I had been here before.  In both places.  It echoed the conversation I had with Bot in April.  It screamed everything I’d already been through.  And the mantra, “When you don’t learn from the past, you repeat it until you do it right” kept rolling through my head as I read it a second time, trying to internalize it all, attempting to figure out what it is that I needed to do – or essentially, what it is that I DIDN’T do the first time that I need to do this time.

I knew the answer to that. But, then, I’d seen it all before, too.  A full stop toward progression, silence where there had been none, the occasional daily check in but no attempt to make plans.  I’d been right not to push it.  That much I’d learned from the past.

I suspected I even knew what I needed to take from the past and apply to this situation, too.  It wasn’t that I handled the old situation incorrectly… it’s not that the conversation I had with Botboy didn’t need to happen.  But I’d broken one of my cardinal rules then – I’d gotten angry at him and I’d confronted him when he was at war.  And I’d said I would never, ever do that – because if something happened to him, I did not want to have to live with the thought that the last thing I ever said to him were words spoken out of anger.  And yet, I spoke them.  I was harsh.   And I made demands of him that I had no right to make– so what if he wasn’t over things?  Who am I to tell someone to get over things?  It’s true there can’t be three people in a relationship, but we all have baggage, and sometimes that baggage is harder to throw away than we’d like to admit.  It wasn’t my job to tell him to throw it away, he knew he needed to throw it away.  It was my job to be there, to listen when he needed to talk, and to be understanding (as long as there was no chance that she was coming back).  And I hadn’t done that.

And here I had it.  The same situation, dropped into my lap.  This time, I came from a different approach.  Acknowledging that I could not tell him whether he was ready to move forward or not, I left the ball in his court.  If he wanted to continue to hang out, to date with INTENT (I made that part very clear, because I am not and will not be a fuck buddy), then I would do that.  If he did not, then he needed to tell me so that I could move forward.  And no hard feelings either way.  I did not speak ill of his ex (either of them), I did not get angry.  But I also said that putting me on the back burner is not a good idea.  Isolating yourself, remaining stagnant, is never a good idea if you’re truly trying to move on.

Things ended with the agreement that we were not going to stop hanging out, that we were going to take it slowly.  And during that period, I was going to see other people.  Because while he may not be ready to move on, I am.  I have been divorced for five years…  And in that five years, I have had a multitude of flings but nothing real.  And I am sick of flings.  I am sick of dating, and dating, and dating, finding a relationship but realizing that it’s unsteady because he isn’t sold; or because he can’t love me; or because he’s afraid and won’t admit it; or because there are too many complications; or watching (figuratively) the one that came so close, packing up all his TransFormers and walking out the door.   As long as there was effort to move forward, I could take things slowly with Nameless, and I could leave that door open.  But I can’t close the door to any others who come through either.  Because if I’ve learned nothing else over the last five years, I’ve learned that closing the door prematurely to anything (despite what my friends say) is not conducive to progress.

It has been two weeks since that agreement.  I have been patient.  We have texted, but only when I initiate it.  We have not seen each other during that time (where we were, at least, getting together at least once a week).  I was watching – waiting and hoping for some improvement.  Hoping for something to give me a sign that I needed to continue to hold on.  I waited.  I was optimistic.  I was patient.  After no plans were made, after no attempts to make plans were made, I conceded.  His ghosts may not exist anymore, but he’s still giving them a priority in his life.  The past, mourning over the past, is, at present, more important to him than moving forward from it – and because of that, making something happen between he and I was not a priority.  And I know, better than almost anyone, that someone who wants to see someone, makes it a PRIORITY to see someone.  It’s a shame, really, but I don’t have time for someone that doesn’t have time for me.  And so, I sent an email.  Because I don’t like leaving doors open.  I closed the door… as nicely, and as patiently as I could.

It is two weeks until my birthday and two weeks until this blog celebrates its first anniversary.  It’s been a hard year in some ways; a happy year in most ways.  And I’ve come a long way from the woman that had just ended a very unhappy relationship when I began this blog.  The thing is, through all of this, I’ve learned something:  I’m a busy girl.  Despite all of that, though, I can make time for the people I want in my life.  I do not, however, have time for the people who cannot make time for me.  And I am not obligated to make those people a priority.

Candlelit Intentions

A couple of weeks ago, after cleaning my house from top to bottom, I took it a step further and bought a stick of sage.  My intent for that sage was to clear the bad energies that had been left behind from the changes of the previous year, and to attempt to usher in something more positive.

I used the wrong color candle… I should have used a black one, since black candles are used to clear negative energies.  But I got the feeling that for this, the color didn’t really matter.  It was what I had, anyway, and the shops were closed.  I didn’t want to wait on it any longer… I wanted the negative vibrations out of this house.  Metalhead.  Botboy.  Gatsby.  All of the wreckage that I brought in myself with the stress at work, the anxiety over the Groper.  I wanted all of those things gone so that something better could take their place.  So I lit the candle that I had, I used the flame from the candle to light the sage stick, and I did the smudging.  The stick didn’t want to stay lit.  And every time it went out, I’d go back to the candle to relight it.  Finally, after thirty minutes, the house was cleansed.

I don’t know if it was the ceremonial aspect of the smudging or if what I did actually did what I wanted it to do, but immediately afterward, the house felt more calm.  More peaceful.  And I had better dreams that night.  And in all the nights after.  It left behind a nice, lavender and sage-y scent.  I’d do it again.  And there is plenty left in the stick to do it a time or two more if I need to.  I should not need to for awhile.  I am, yet again, being cautious about who I let into my apartment.  I forgot that one rule of thumb, and I’ve paid heavily for that forgetfulness.

Two weeks later, with the dreams successfully at bay, and a new fascination for candles and flames reignited, I went to one of the shops I frequent and bought several colors of smaller candles.  Two yellow ones for communication – open communication, communication with the guides, etc.  A pink one – to usher in positive relationships.  A cranberry one – for passion.  A black one – to rid the house of negative energy.  And a purple one – to heighten spirituality and psychic abilities, also used to increase the effectiveness of astral projection.  I won’t be burning them all at the same time… It’s more to build a stock and a supply.

But I did use one of the yellow ones last night.  I sat down with that yellow candle, in its selenite candleholder, with my pendulum, my favorite decks of cards, and my intent.  As I consulted the cards about issues that I needed answers to, I found the ones I sought.  Some of the answers were straightforward.  Simple.  And I could understand them.  Other answers were just as straightforward… though how those things will manifest, how they could possibly manifest, I do not know.  But I also know that the “how” is not something I need to worry about.  And then I used the pendulum to throw out the intent… because I read, in one of my books, that the pendulum can do that.  And as I spoke to it, holding it steady, my arm braced and still, it swung in that candlelight.  Slowly at first and then faster as it gained its momentum.  I said what I needed to say.  I said my goodbyes.  And I closed that circle.

When I had finished that, I sat, quietly, my eyes closed, waiting for the candle to burn down.  It’s one of those small ones.  Ones that will burn out in about an hour, an hour and a half at the most.  I meditated while I did that… and things began to happen.  The house became still, first.  And then there was a faint tapping on the walls.  A presence came from within the bedroom… one I cannot identify, though I don’t think it was hostile.  I was not afraid… anxious, maybe, but not afraid.  I have not felt something so close to me, watching me so intently, since the days before I left for college.  I did not move.  Instead I sat, with my eyes closed.  It was there, and then it was gone.

The candle burned low enough… I did not want it to burn so low that I would not be able to remove it from the candleholder, and then I blew it out.  I blew it out and removed it, and I left it sitting next to the candleholder all night – it didn’t seem right to throw it away just then and burying it is not an option.  Last night, I dreamed, but I do not remember my dreams.  I do remember, though, moments before waking, being able to see myself laying in my bed, then returning to myself, and seeing my first actions of that day before I did them.  This is happening more and more often these days.

When I woke up today, I knew what I needed to do, though.  I turned off Skype.  I severed the last connections to the things I banished last night.  I turned my back on those things – because I cannot move on while I still have one foot stuck in the past.  If the past is supposed to become my present again, then it will catch up even if I move forward.  And those things will happen in an order that makes sense to the universe, not on my own time – as frustrating as that can be.

I have spent my day cooking.  And finishing the cleaning project I started.  I have returned, somewhat, to World of Warcraft – though not as heavily as I did in the past, and this time with an intent to simply level the characters I already have.  Not to fall back into that lifestyle of sitting on the sofa, gaming all weekend.  Tonight I will burn two more of the candles, I will focus my intent, and I will let things happen.

Because there is no time like the present.  And I have spent too long mourning over the past.

 

**Afterword:  When I burned the two candles tonight, I looked for the remnant of the yellow one I burned last night.  It had disappeared.  I have looked everywhere for it and I cannot find it.

Maybe it’ll turn up… for now, at least, I do not have to wonder how I am supposed to dispose of it.

Home

I looked at the calendar a couple of days ago and realized, with some surprise, that I have lived in Florida now for nearly three years.  I can still remember what it felt like to get off of the plane that carried me from Kentucky to Atlanta, with three thousand dollars in my checking account, no job, no apartment, nothing except a car that I’d bought that was waiting for me in Florida.  It was still more than I’d had seven months before that – seven months before that had me sitting, freezing, in a basement, playing World of Warcraft so that I didn’t get too bored while I waited, desperately for a phone call for a job.  I’d gotten the job in Kentucky.  It had given me enough money to make a fresh start elsewhere.  I took it.

Three years later, I find myself sitting in a fairly large apartment, with vaulted ceilings, in the land of eternal summer.  The beach is at my fingertips (though I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been there since I moved here).  The sun shines the majority of the time.  I have a job that pays better than I ever could have dreamed (or ever could have had if I’d stayed in Kentucky).  I have, essentially, everything I ever wanted – at least materially – and I found it all within a couple of months of moving.  Moving may not solve all your problems (case in point, I am still single, with no legitimate prospects), but sometimes a change of scenery certainly helps.

That’s not to say it’s not hard sometimes.  I am, essentially, down here by myself.  When I got very sick this time last year, I had no real support system – aside from Gatsby/3.0 who made me feel as if the proposed tumor was more of an inconvenience for him than a serious issue for me.  My parents, family, sister, everyone lives 1000 miles away.  A two hour plane trip, yes, but a sixteen hour drive.  Some days I like it that way.  Other days, like when I’m sick, or on the holidays when it’s not so easy to just fly home so that I don’t have to sit here, alone, it’s hard.  And while I don’t let it show, I do get homesick sometimes.

Kentucky was not, by any means, all roses and daisies for me.  But still, there are roots there.  Roots that go deep.  And they’re undeniable.  I sit here, in Florida, in front of my television, in front of my computer, with my cat.  I sit here and I talk about these menial things that I’m doing in my life.  I sit here and I chat with my friends (most of whom still live up north) and I Skype with others.  And fairly frequently, I’m asked why I don’t just move home… or at least to Nashville… or maybe back to Louisville.  The fact of the matter is, I simply don’t want to.

Truth: visiting there is fun.  Going house to house, seeing people I don’t get to see very often, it’s like a big party all the time every time I get off the plane and get in my rental and drive the two hours to the little town.  It’s a nice change – a welcome change, really… to go from almost constant solitude to having people around me all the time.  There’s home cooked food.  And the air there is clean.  There’s no smog, the stars go on for miles, and when you go outside you can hear frogs and crickets… sometimes a coyote.  You see deer literally everywhere – which can be a bad thing if you’re driving.

And of course there’s my family, too.  My mother who loves to cook and who swears up and down that she never gets tired of me visiting.  And my father whose laugh is the best sound in the world to me sometimes (even if it’s from 1000 miles away, on the phone).  I do my best to get them to laugh.  When my father laughs… my little corner of Tampa gets a little bit brighter (if that’s even possible).  There are my aunts and uncles, my cousins, my sister, my best friend.  Lots of catching up to do, and it seems like we never really do seem to get completely caught up before I have to get on the plane again – though we certainly try as we work through the multitude of restaurants I absolutely have to hit up when I am there.

There is all of that… but then there’s Florida.  So many years I wanted to move here.  I can remember sitting in my house as a teenager, snow on the ground, wishing I could live somewhere that wasn’t so cold.  I can remember asking my now ex-husband time and time again to move here (he never wanted to move).  I finally got here.  And I did it all by myself.  And I’m ridiculously proud of that.  And financially, materially, it has been the best move of my life.  Yes it can get lonely sometimes, but, then, I wasn’t NOT lonely in Kentucky either.  I didn’t spend the last decade of my Kentucky life in that small town.  I spent it in the city… and I didn’t know anyone there either.  I tell myself that it’s no different.  And in many ways it isn’t.  But in most ways, in the majority of ways, I’m still happy here.  Happier in Florida than I can remember being in Kentucky – at least for the second half of my habitation there.  I know that if I did move back, that I’d no sooner settle in than I’d find myself unhappy again – and this time, unhappy and shivering in the middle of winter.

And yet, the rolling hills of Kentucky still call to me as I sit here, on my couch, listening to the mid-summer Florida thunderstorm outside my window.  Innately, I feel them drawing me in.  Beckoning to me to come back – to visit the family I grew up in.  To visit the graves of the family I never knew.  To spend time walking around the high school track where I can still feel the awkwardness of those stupid first dates in the bleachers, still hear the kids outside the school waiting for the first tone to sound.  In my mind’s eye, I can see the endless expanse of the corn fields down the highway and I can see the way that the sky, and the stars, seem to climb into the sky forever and ever – layers upon layers of eternity.  Kentucky calls to me when I am in Florida.

And yet, Florida calls to me when I am in Kentucky.  Surrounded by the clean, fresh air that I love, amused by my friends, comfortably pampered by my family, Florida beckons to me when I’m there.  It wants me back.  Tampa, the seductive city that she is, seems to throw out her arms and grab my hand, reminding me of the palm trees and the sound of the waves crashing into the beaches at night.  She sends me visions of the downtown areas that I love so well.  Palm Harbor, too, wants me to come back – the shops I love, the friends I’ve made there, the community that’s growing right before my eyes.

It is as if some days, I cannot win.  Some days, I feel myself being pulled into two opposing directions; the one where my history, for better or worse, is so deeply entrenched.  Where I will likely return, one day, to be buried with the rest of my family.  And the other where my present lies… possibly also my future, though, being the restless wanderer that I am, I’m always open to suggestions.  And then I realize… it’s not that each location, each life, is pulling me in two different directions.  It’s not that at all.  The truth of it is this: neither is pulling me anywhere.  Because I have something that not everyone has… I have two places that I can call home.  Whether I am here in Florida, whether I am there in Kentucky, I am home no matter where I go.

And, knowing that, I feel truly rich, indeed.