For most of my soon to be 49 years, I have successfully dodged the bullet and managed to avoid this situation at all costs. By design, I have molded and sculpted a life for myself that neither resembles nor fits into anything that most people would call “normal”. The reason address books (remember the old fashioned kind with an actual binder and paper?) have so many pages for the letter “S” surely had something to do with the fact that I liked to relocate my life on a fairly regular basis. Not as often as, say, taking out the garbage, but with enough frequency that people started making reservations to visit particularly good locales within the first six months of my “settling down” for fear that I would find another spot on the globe that tickled my fancy before they could get their indecisive (or scared) asses to any of these destinations. Many of them were big talkers and never showed up. Tant pis!
My oldest friend Roberta did manage to make it to Budapest even though it required two harrowing attempts within 24 hours to actually make it across the border and into the country. Her first try (with the new Olympic scoring system, had a risk factor of 100) got her taken off the train by armed soldiers when she handed them her Visa (as in credit card) instead of the unbeknownst –to- her required document coming from France via Austria. (This was the early 80’s and Ronnie and Gorbachev were not in the wall demolishing business). Her recently acquired sister-in-law the travel agent, was a leetle slow in zeese matters or just didn’t particularly care to have an “etranger” married to her brother. The French can be a little passive aggressive sometimes, but they have nothing on the Hungarians. Those communists were mean motherfuckers, I tell you. No sense of humor when it comes to border crossings, but a much better one than the French when they have been drinking. The French cancel out the Hungarians in food but the Hungarians are more agile by nature in nonconformity. Both nations have inordinately high numbers of men that like to pee on public walls. I smell collusion.
Since returning to the US in 2001, I have stayed in Florida and only moved once – less than 20 minutes from my previous residence. For me, this represents nothing short of a record. I rarely finish a meal or a cigarette and have put out my share of relationships before they were ever served or lit. I’m a picky eater. Which brings me to my point.
I’m not easily “caught” by members of the opposite sex. A part of me is terrified of that notion – I have visions of being dragged back to the cave to grow old and haggle toothed, never to be seen or heard from again. I like to keep my options open. My first hero was Magellan if that’s any indication. Caves are for wine. I’m not a commitment phobic but I am a tough vintage to pin down and to some, an acquired taste. I’m bold and explosive, yet smooth on the palate. My sweetness might linger on the tongue while complex hints of difficult to pinpoint herbs taunt other flavors to reveal themselves. But I do have a round, delicate finish. I’m best left to breathe and should be sipped lovingly and slowly.
Not long ago, I was called “wormy” (but in a good way, as we were falling asleep after canoodling and I was trying to slither my body into just the right place). But I have also been called “Gulliver”, “Mama Teresa”, “Dr. Phillis”, “as wide as the sea” (no, not referring to my ass),” incorrigible”, “different”, “the most romantic woman in the world”, and “too much”. I am probably a combo platter of all these things and more. No one has ever accused me of not being enough. See how that cave scene doesn’t have my name on it?
A while back, after several false starts that yielded introspection and defiance, I imposed an Autumn Rule of non-engagement. If I haven’t met and/or gotten involved with a man by Labor Day, he has no business becoming part of the business of Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. If he hasn’t crossed my path (or my heart) or caught my eye by that first Monday in September, he’s kind of like white shoes; something I won’t be caught dead wearing until the spring. I have no “type” other than VERY smart and VERY funny. Smart/funny trumps everything. Even me.
My older brother’s best friend summed it up pretty well when I was in my early 20’s. He told me that my nature required me to have a very big backyard in order to be able to roam and experience life (he told me this when I was living abroad for the second time and hadn’t even hit the quarter century mark). I participated in as much of it as possible. He also observed (rather wisely, I might add) that my character precluded me from being captured or held hostage by love (ditto that for money or status or comfort). The minute I feel locked down or separated from things somebody else says I can’t do or say or be, my instinct is to want to go and do or say and be those very things. Recalcitrant comes to mind.
He also told me that the smart guy would be the one who could put up with my unbreakable spirit (think a horse that refuses to break) and would understand that every once in a while, I might run like crazy to the edge of the farm or nudge my nose up to the imaginary fence or wall just out of curiosity (or even desire). And that same (nobody said “sane”) right man who would “get me” (literally), would also know that if he tried to restrain me, I would bolt. Instead, he would outsmart everyone (including me) and would lower that fence or buy the adjacent piece of property.
I added more dimensions to this invisible man as the years passed. That man would be smart and funny and kind. That man would be well traveled and curious about life. The beauty of nature would move that man as much as the creation of art. He would see life and the world through a soft, open lens instead of remembering it from a single, faded picture that never really existed. That man would have a mind and heart of his own that begged for exploration as much as a city block or a piece of music that could elicit awe or soft tears. That man would crawl inside my soul and not look for the nearest fire exit. In turn, he would let me into corners of his being that he had thought he had left behind or had never allowed himself to reveal. Together we could be playmates of laughter, love and exploration and the world would become our cave.
I successfully dodged this man all my life for one simple reason. I was sure that a man like that could not be found (even in my own overactive mind). For such a man to exist, I would have had to invent him.
I am here to tell you that I was wrong.
I have found him. And I am amazed that he has found me.
We are finding each other.
And I love him.