Native Californian

IMG_0217

I’m a native.  My Dad grew up in Houston, Texas and my Mom in Samut Songkhram, Thailand.  They met in Thailand when my Dad was on R and R from Vietnam.  When Dad finally got permission to bring Mom stateside, they landed in Houston, but set off for California to chase Dad’s dreams of making it big in movies.  He acted.  He wrote screenplays.  He still writes.  I was born at Cedars shortly after they moved from the blue Scientology Building in Hollywood.

Last night was another beautiful beach sunset for me.  I spent the morning at the mercy of a headache and doing housework.  By the end of the day, my escape hatch became a craving.  I watched the sunset and smiled at text messages from a handsome skater boy.  I took the advice of another man with beautiful greenish hazel eyes and a gift for finding healthy and good food and walked to the Promenade to pick up dinner.  On my way back to the pier, I pointed at my ear buds and said, “I can’t hear you,” to the two men trying to talk to me.  I kept walking and a block later while waiting for a light to change, they caught up to to me to tell me how much they appreciated my walk.  It’s more of a strut. One foot in front of the other. They walked another block with me, and we chatted a bit and once again I was struck by the awe of people who think being a native is a big deal.  I suppose we are.

Growing up we weren’t well off, but we weren’t poor either.  I had two parents that always made sure I had what I needed and often the frivolous things I wanted as well.  We lived in East Hollywood until we moved to Echo Park right next to Dodger’s Stadium.  My next home was in North Hollywood and I’m now in Lincoln Heights.  I’ve never left my county. I don’t want to.

We live in one place but visit every other area because we can.

Los Angeles spreads out pretty far.  From the time we were kids, it was normal to live in one area but get into shenanigans elsewhere.  When we were little we went into Hollywood a lot.  My sisters would take me to Westwood.  We would take the bus to Santa Monica.  When I was with the youth group in church, we were often in Glendale or Burbank.  I got older and Pasadena was where we would end up.  Being a native means we’re less likely to want to stick to places that are walking distance.  We’ll do it, but why?  We can go to the mountains to be knee deep in winter snow and be at the beach for a bonfire in the same day.

Hollywood is a right of passage.

We have decent weather most of the year, so filming a summer or fall scene in February isn’t a big deal.  Set dressers make that magic happen.  We’ve grown up with film crews in our neighborhoods and on our streets.  My highschool is a fairly popular setting for television and film. Modeling or acting schools pitched our dreams to us in school and yes, my Mom shelled out tuition to John Robert Powers for me. (That’s where I learned my strut.) I spent a few months being an extra or background artist. I was acting behind the actors in my favorite television shows and loving the free food and dating scene. Eventually you will know someone that is successful in their career behind the scenes and you went to school with at least one actor that has a regular gig that lands them on television. We have friends that get paid to work in local theaters. We know that going to movies means we will get approached by someone trying to get a screening filled for a free movie and unpaid focus group. People in the industry are idealists and a bit neurotic, but they feel like home.

We trust street vendors.

Most of us trust street food.  We had ice cream and produce trucks drive through our neighborhoods, playing a warbling tune on bad speakers or a fancy horn to let us know they were outside.  We walked through parks with men selling cotton candy on wood trees.  We wanted elotes, and tamales, and freshly cut fruit with pico de gallo, lime and salt. We know how good a bacon wrapped hot dog tastes with grilled onions and peppers.

Growing up with LA Nightlife  was a navigation.

We knew where to get the fake ID near MacArthur Park, but mainly we knew that getting into a club when underage was more about walking in with the attitude of someone that belonged there.  Our clubs were either empty warehouses painted black with a few go-go boxes, or plush couches, artwork to perch on and psychedelic paint jobs. I was also into flyer parties and raves with happy balloons, and dollar beers. We knew which homeless men were willing to buy our beer at the cost of a 40 ounce.  We knew which clubs would let ladies in free before 10.  At the end of the night, we always had Tommy’s.  It tastes like nostalgia and makes a satisfying cold breakfast when you’re fighting a hang over.

We know our weather.

We know our weather shifts but not by much.  There’s rainy days where I wear flip flops.  Wet feet dry faster than wet socks, and it’s warm enough that wet feet won’t really suffer.  We know the warm caress of the Santa Anas and that she is dangerous during fire season and will make you suffer with allergies.  We know fire season scorches the hills before raining season and that’s why there is flooding and landslides.  It’s on the news but we’re still shocked every year. Typically we won’t need more than a sweater.  A hot day gives way to frigid temperatures when that day is spent at parks and beaches.  A hot day in Los Angeles means it will be comfortable in the local mountains but there’s a good chance you’ll end up in a summer mountain thunder storm in Big Bear, and if you head to the beach, expect it to be much cooler. We also know our water quality will make you sick, but we venture into the water anyway, knowing to dive beneath an approaching wave and to swim parallel to the shoreline when you notice a riptide is trying to take you away. You learn that jellyfish stings are quickly soothed by human pee and it’s really not a fetish at that point.

Our freeways are not very free.

Growing up, we didn’t have many toll roads.  There were carpool lanes and you just needed a travel buddy or two.  When travelling by freeway, expect certain times of day to be a parking lot and the 405 is good at making a short commute feel like 4 or 5 hours. This is when it comes in handy to know the many streets that will get you to your destination.  Sometimes there are feeder streets along freeways and other times there are long streets and side streets. I used to keep a Thomas Guide in my car and pull over for a quick alternate route, but Waze has replaced that in recent months.

Gangs were a reality.

Junior high was more than first periods and a new set of boobs.  Gangs were actively recruiting kids to join them because you were vulnerable during school and on the way to the house you had to let yourself into.  Kids were killed while we were supposed to be going to school dances and having first kisses.

Neighbors.

We had a few neighbors that we were able to call family because they came from other cities, but eventually having neighbors meant you didn’t get to know them.  They wouldn’t be neighbors for too long anyway.  People in Los Angeles often get sucked into the glitter and glam and spend through nest eggs to enjoy the sparkly bits until they have to go back home.

Earthquake Country

We have earthquakes.  The first one can be terrifying, but eventually you get used to the idea that the earth will shake and you just need to ride it out.  You will feel the ground rumble with trucks, but eventually you will look up to lights and anything hanging.  When chandeliers sway, you’ve just been through an earthquake.  Eventually you will try to guess the magnitude before the newscaster tells you.

Melting Pot or Bouillabaisse?  

When my parents arrived, interracial couples were still taboo. Even in church. They were asked to not return to a church once. Being mixed meant there really wasn’t a cultural niche. We lived in an area with Hispanic people from all over Central and South America. We had black and white neighbors. There are areas that have now become Koreatown, Little Armenia and Thai Town, but when I was a kid there was just the old and new Chinatown. My hair and word choice made it hard to fit in with the black kids and my skin and lack of language made it hard to fit in with Thai kids.  I don’t blame Mom for not teaching us Thai at birth.  She came here when it wasn’t okay to be who she is, and her adaptability made our family the international bunch we are.  (One day I’ll wow you with my family composition.) I have a hard time stomaching bigotry because it was never normalized for me. I’ve been to quinceaneras where I learned to salsa and punta.  I’ve been to bar mitzvahs and been lulled by the song of an ancient language.  I’ve tried to stomach chitterlings and menudo.

Love with a Native

I realize most of us are unique in our loving styles, but there is something about being from a big city full of people vying for that special snowflake attention.  We tend to see everyone as eye candy.  It’s a geographical hazard.  Love becomes what we can feel from others, rather than what we can contribute to the lives of others.  Southern manners are desirable because we just don’t function that way for the most part.  Relationships are fleeting.  Family and friends don’t care unless it gets serious because we’re used to it not getting serious.  Everyone will chime in because we can see the step down you just took and we know you deserve better because we are vapid and better is on the next corner. We can see what you are too busy feeling.  But when you find it and it’s real, you hold on for dear life.  We all crave more but rarely look past what we would look like together.  A nephew from Alabama just introduced Facebook to his girlfriend, and all the southern family has greeted and introduced themselves to her in a comment.  In Los Angeles, we haven’t met her and we’re not holding our breath.  She’ll come around eventually if it lasts.

We love our gays. 

I didn’t grow up with friends getting beat up because of their skin, but because they were into people that shared their sex. When I was young, Sunset Junction was the only place to find an annual “Fag Fair.”  That’s what we called it and where we would enjoy carnival rides, eat great food off of trucks and watch men wearing chaps and a thong while holding hands. Some of my favorite men would talk about boys with me and we understood the fun and heartache of horny teenaged boys. My curious phase was met with acceptance and encouraged. Deciding that I was curious and then really don’t like women was never about rebellion. It was something to try and no one cared either way so there was no pressure for me in letting go then letting it go.

 

 

Advertisements

Beautiful Sunsets 

 

Friday was a good day at work.  I did a bit of a run around scavenger hunt for toner and was surprised that my security badge got me into places I didn’t know I could go.  I learned new things, and I am really digging finance.  I left work and drove to Santa Monica for another glorious sunset.  I live a blessed life.

I walked the pier and saw that friendly photographer that once offered me a free picture and still offers a warm hug and a hot beverage.  He kept offering hot tea and I accepted. I watched people on the pier land small mackerel.  I looked for the seal that appears to prefer warmer weather.  I even watched a man toss back a crab he caught, accidently knocking his drink into the ocean.

I answered a call last night that carried a redemptive value I never thought I’d see. It was a shift I didn’t know was coming and it arrived long after I gave up on it. The freedom it brings comes with a weighted burden of the heartache that came as a cost to the person bringing my vindication. After being accused of insecurity and jealousy over a friendship, I was told that yes, my ex left me for another man’s wife, and there is something wrong with what the two of them did and continue to do to my family, with blessings from those I once called my family. Being right doesn’t always feel good.

I spoke about the ex for the first time in months and it wasn’t painful. It was more a dull history lesson with angry highlights.  I’m moving forward and experiencing many beautiful first times in a long time. It tastes like freedom. It smells like aftershave and feels like facial hair and solid muscles.  I waited a long time for that conversation and last night I realized it didn’t matter anymore. I don’t feel happy about it.  I feel pity.  It sat on my shoulders and as the wind whipped through my hair, I couldn’t toss back the weight of disappointment that this woman felt.

I made a last stubborn walk through forceful winds to look for the gamboling seal that often cheers me up, then headed to the parking lot.  I stood in front of Pier Burger and while I felt that dinner should be had, my appetite was gone. I met Patrick with beautiful and haunting blue eyes. He was searching for dinner in the trash in front of the restaurant and I offered him a hot meal instead. I looked in his eyes and addressed him by name.  In his uncertain smile I found the cloying weight was a layer of shame that I was feeling and I let go of that weight long ago.  I could see it in the way he looked at me, that the weight I was starting to shoulder was no longer my burden to carry.  In the glimmer of hope shining in his icy blue eyes, I found my anchor in joy.

Online Dating Tips or My Dating Cheat Sheet

I had a great date last night. If every date was this great, I wouldn’t have much to write about. I won’t go into details because he is my treasured memory for now but I will say I am willing to see him again and I’m even willing to spend some time on the freeway to do so.
I’ve been a bit jaded and before last night I was seriously thinking a hiatus would be necessary because I was starting to believe men are horrible at being human beings when it comes to dating and mating rituals. This is my cheat sheet. This is my easy access list that will help secure a first date and keep you from getting ignored.

Hey! I see you. You should see me too, because I like you so far.

1. Winks

A wink from me means there was something in your profile I liked. It might have been your eyes or the line of your jaw. Maybe it was the fact that you are well written and witty. It’s also likely that I feel your workout routines are God’s gift to me. I can appreciate appropriate male aggression but I’ve winked, opening the door. Be bold and brave and take that to mean yes, I would like to get to know you better.

2. Messages

If I’ve messaged you, I see enough potential in you that I’m not willing to be passive with my aggression. I’ve very intentionally placed the ball in your hands and I’m willing to wait a bit. A very little bit.

If you’ve messaged me and I took the time to write back, I’ve given an opportunity for you to shine. If you really don’t care that my first few introductory lines are that I don’t date men too far from my home or age, you have already irritated me and only have a message or two to redeem yourself.

3.  Your Profile Picture

I like slightly snug jeans and a t-shirt. I also love a man in a crisp and fitted button down. I want to see your eyes and a genuine smile. I want to see a clean shaved face and a 5 o’clock shadow.

We’re messaging on the website that doesn’t allow pictures.

1. What I want to know

I like to take this time to share a bit about what we are looking for. Are you looking for a travelling buddy? White picket fence and a house full of kids? A drinking buddy? Do we have things in common? Are you 420 friendly, because I really am not.

2. What I don’t want to hear.

Please don’t call me a “good girl” or “bad girl.” I’m not a girl. I’m a grown woman and I know you can’t determine my worth because I already have. These phrases tell me you are probably into spanking and probably need to spend some time in a therapy session or twelve with your parents. I’m the average bear when it comes to dating. I don’t want to dominate you or be dominated. I’m looking for a partnership. Those of us that have walked away from a marriage have probably had our fill of a spouse telling us what to do. Personally I really dig my independence. Deep down I would love to follow the leadership of a good man. You just have to work on proving you are him first.

I’ve given you my number. Use it now. Not next week or in a few days when I get to guess who you are.

1. Here’s my number.

At this point, I would like you to give me a ring. I mean, yes, we can text, but you could do that from the website as well. It’s not like traditional dating where you should wait 3 days to not seem too anxious. We met on a dating site. That means I’m matched with someone that will look better than you every single day, and when bored, I will spend free time swiping left or right. Assume you might lose me because chances are that at this stage, you probably will. You have my number. That gives you an edge. Use it before it gets dull.

2. Texting Etiquette

As for pictures, I post most of the good ones and you’ve probably already seen them. I get that you are probably asking for a special private show, but do you realize you haven’t earned that yet?

I really am not interested in a picture of your penis. I have probably seen enough of these unsolicited pictures to know I will never choose to study urology.

It’s also not a good time to tell me you want to play proctologist and that I can be your patient.

While a good morning, good night and 4 am text may look endearing on the surface, if those are the only times I hear from you, I will assume you are horny or lonely and not really interested in getting to know me.

At the same time, it’s not wise to wait a week. If I’m into you, I will reach out whenever you cross my mind. If you don’t hear from me, I may have already forgotten about you, deleted our texts and moved on. A week later and I am scrambling to remember who you are and it’s a fun challenge for me, but I have already given you a hard pass. I try to keep it simple but it’s not lost on me that I can go for part of the day without hearing from anyone and go through a rush hour of navigating 7 texting conversations at once. I will assume you’re doing the same.

You’re calling me. Oh my goodness. 

1. Sensory Outcomes

I love hearing the sound of your voice. It’ll cover up your poor grammar and punctuation and I’ll have a better chance at getting your jokes because you can’t time that in a text. It’s also a good time to get me used to hearing your voice and looking forward to hearing it. Meeting you should be a sensory fulfillment. This is the time to tell me about yourself and what motivates and moves you.

2. Sex Talk? No. Not yet.

This is still not the time to talk sex. I’m sure you are excited. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t want me to tell you about my wedding dress and where we are getting hitched. Don’t put the cart before the horse when I’m still deciding if your juice is worth my squeeze.

3. Shop Talk

I’m curious about your work. It’s not an interview. I’m not going to offer you a promotion or raise. It lets me know if you are a gambler, or frugal, or if you have no sense of responsibly taking care of yourself, or if I may have to bail you out from time to time. It’s not necessary to lie about what you do.

1. Lying

I won’t be honest about how many people I’m talking to. I don’t expect you to be. I expect both of our numbers are high because that’s the beauty of hiding behind a keyboard. I am being picky because my time is valued. I may have exchanged numbers with about 30 men in the past month, but I’ve only met four. Hiding the competition is a kindness. Take it as such.

At the same time, don’t lie about what you do or who you are. If you have to lie to keep someone, they can never really appreciate and value you. If you have to lie because you aren’t worthy of who you want to be, then change who you are until you can look in the mirror without needing approval.

I have been cat fished enough times that it irritates me, but since I’m passive aggressive, I will continue to let them flirt and think they have another chance at my wallet, even though I will never graduate past texting and email.

2. Tips

Assume you aren’t the only one I’m interested in and assume I’m letting you tell me how interested you are in me before I move on. I will not go where I’m not wanted, but I may look at your profile a few times because I have a thing for beautiful things and I’m not above objectifying you.

If you gravitate toward talking about sex, your car, your wealth or your board room domination, I will see it as insecurity and that is unattractive. I get it, men are visual and they want to see that I can enjoy what they do. It’s a thing. What you should learn is that women tend to be aroused when their emotional needs are met. It doesn’t mean I care about how much you are spending. I care that I was listened to, and engaged with, and I don’t like the feeling that there is a deposit limit of affection and attention before you make your sex withdrawal. I will offer more than you need when I feel ready and it won’t be over the phone.

I want to know more about you as a person and that has nothing to do with what you can do or what you have. I’m already into you. Believe it or not, your rock collection and what makes you choose a rock is actually interesting to me. Maybe I’m exaggerating but hopefully you get my point.

If you’re still asking for multiple pictures, I will assume you are rubbing one out while imagining my voice. If you keep talking about your needs, I might suggest you find a prostitute. I don’t charge, but I also won’t offer what she would.

If I mention I’m kid free at the moment, do your best to join me. I can be spontaneous and that was your opening.

The First Date

1. Where to?

I don’t mind if you pick a place. I prefer that but I will overanalyze your choice. It’s who I am. If you want late night drinks close to my home or yours, I will assume you hope that’s where we end up on the first date.

If you choose a well populated venue for nonalcoholic drinks or a meal, you’ve gotten past apple points and there are now brownie points involved.

2. Wait for me.

I’m usually early or punctual. On the off chance you arrive before me, please order yourself a drink, but wait for me to order mine. I will assume a drink waiting for me has been drugged.

3. Don’t order for me.

I know what I’m interested in eating. I may have eaten earlier and have a smaller appetite. I may be on a special diet. I’m casing the menu for gluten free options.

4. Body language.

There is a certain amount of skill in not creeping me out.

So totally kidding. 

Keep the conversation going, but do try to mimic your mate. If you are staring at me, but my glances at you are fleeting, I will be creeped out.

If you sit next to me, and I don’t pull my leg away when we graze each other, then it might not be a bad time to brush my hair out of my face, or go for a light pat on my thigh so I can feel the warmth of your hand, but not so I feel felt up. See if I reach for your hand when you reach for mine. If I pull away, maybe we can change subjects and see if I’ll warm up. A warm hand on my upper back that is brief is always worth an attempt, but make sure to watch for a reaction before going further.

While we have an audience, it’s best not to try to feel out my tonsillectomy scars. I don’t mind a chaste kiss on the lips if I have not denied your other advances first.

I like being walked to my car, and it’s nice when I have a chance to put my purse inside of it before you go for that goodnight kiss. Keep it calm. If I’m into it, I will move in closer and there’s no need to guide my hands to your high and low points. You’ll know where you are invited and where access is being denied. I may grant access and then never intend to see you again. If I feel you are looking at my smile and body but aren’t interested in my large brain or engaging personality, you will get a hard pass on any future shenanigans or debauchery.

5. Goodbyes

Parting is such sweet sorrow . . . But I’m an early bird wearing contact lenses and I will need to get going. If you are interested nail down a date. We can talk specific locations and times later, but the less we nail down, the more my attention will drift to the other men that have been texting me all night.

Cat fishing 


Last night after work I drove to Santa Monica. I took freeways and streets and got there in less than an hour. I had a beef tamale for dinner because I was in need of a masa comfort food session. It was cold and windy.

I talked to a few anglers and watched them catch a few mackerel. One man caught a bass by the eye. I didn’t see the seal I always look for at the end of the pier.

My cat fishing suspicions were confirmed yesterday.


I’m not heart broken. It’s frustrating that I’m perceived as so naive. Or maybe I’m too caring. Part of the fun of online dating is meeting so many people. I don’t keep all of my eggs in one basket and I prefer to meet right away. My gut instinct is strongest in person.

There’s a pattern. They meet but are always busy being hugely successful. I have a weakness for foreigners appearantly. They say sweet things and hope they’re the only one. You exchange pictures and boring details about day to day life.  Everything is right now with meeting one day and no real future plans or dreams. After a while they feel you are comfortable and they will start professing life altering love and a desire to take care of you. Then they ask for financial favors. I had a feeling about this man for a while.

Happy Days

Usually a new job interview means I arrive super early so I can check out the neighborhood.  I want to know how safe I’ll feel leaving work after the sun goes down.  I want to see what my lunch options are and how close my nearest bank branch is.  I chose a brick and mortar bank with the highest APY I could find.  That means fewer branches are available.  I get to the job and the first two things I look for are the break room and bathrooms.  You can tell a lot about a company by the way it treats its employees in places unseen.

I’m no longer funemployed and job hunting at the beach on phone apps. Honestly, if I had not landed this job, I would have been happy with the 40 minute interview. My supervisor is phenomenal and every ambition I’ve ever had danced a jig during our conversation. I have a desk and not a view but the people are nice.  The bathrooms are huge with many extra supplies in plain view.  They not only have girl products available, they’re free and each sink has Bath & Body Works soap and lotion bottles.  The coffee bar is insanely huge and stocked and while it isn’t as beautifully designed as my last job, they clearly love us here.  I walked in and was given a mug, pen, and notebook with my onboarding signatures.  They’re pretty sly.  My marketing swag also helps them cut costs and save the earth in not needing to provide paper cups.

I’ve learned my lesson and can’t afford another workplace crush that will keep me distracted and giggling, so I’m keeping my head down.  I still think about him and that’s insane. The job I’ve been waiting for is here, and the greatness I experienced on my first day made me appreciate what waiting means, and I got home and let go of someone I was trying to make worth my time. I needed yesterday’s work lesson to sink in to get that it translates to dating too.  I can wait for the right one and I don’t need to settle in the mean time.

Online dating is amazing and funny and insanely crazy.  I’ve had the bad.  I’ve had a creepy man not notice when I flinched from his lean in to kiss me.  I had one tell me about wanting to live out a rape fantasy and needing me to fight him to excite him.  I’ve had the ones that wanted to dominate and the ones that wanted to be dominated.  I’ve had the ones that wanted me to want them, knowing they were happy sleeping around with anyone willing.  There was the one that keeps checking in with me to see if I’ll give him my banking information. But there’s good too.

Yesterday was my first day, and throughout it, I had 4 to 5 men check in to see how my first day was going.  There was my first kiss in over a year and the first kiss I willingly gave to someone other than my ex in the last 16 years. There was the one that is too young, and too far, but I wanted to bend my rules for him.  He’s beautiful. There was the one that is willing to teach me computer coding.  He’s kind. There is the business man half way around the world that texts me at random moments.  I’m on his mind and he keeps telling me he wants to shower me with his love, but I’m skeptical. He may be catfishing me, but that’s okay too.  There’s the one that isn’t that cute, but determined to show me a good time. He gets that he comes after my boys. And of course the deployed men that I’ve turned down, but haven’t had the boldness to tell that my Dad’s PTSD ruined their chances with me.  They get turned down, but don’t seem to read or hear my rejections because they think an email will change my childhood.

These men are clearly only interested in how I can make them feel and not me, because my blog name is in my profile and I can always use a boost in my stats.  I can see how many hits I get at any given time.  I’m really not worried they’ll read my words.

The best moment was after work last night. I was dealing with co-parenting issues on my way home and when my anger was peaking, I got a call that made my ride home special. He is beautiful and has a really thick Italian accent.  I can’t understand half of what he says, but it sounds so sexy that I don’t think it matters. I can hear him tell me I’m beautiful and he wants to spend time with me.

I’m having fun.

Healing, Growing and Helping Others

Lately the power of “no” has been an elusive friend.  She watches me from her corner booth with a dry vodka martini in hand and the solitary light of an inhaled ember that is a beacon in her ephemeral haze of cigarette smoke.  I can hear her laughter cutting into me like a slap across the face that is kissed into tenderness.  My life has been vacuuming away my choices, so I can only see decisions.  These decisions have a heavier weight to them.  There’s an honest clarity that we can’t always coat in confectioner’s sugar and the independence of a choice is shackled in duty when it becomes a decision.  We must do what is right, even if it is not easy.  Especially when we know it doesn’t feel good.

It’s the stress of the last couple of weeks that has had me blogging less, but it’s not so much about being busy or distracted as much as I’ve been holding the choice to be a dutiful “person to ______” as more important than the choice to be selfish for myself.  Right now that means I’m taking on a little too much and processing it all just before falling asleep and the meaning escapes me in dreams but I wake up with hopeful anticipation. Stress relief looks late late night flirting into early morning hours because I can and a nap is never not an option. I’m reminded fairly often that I need to take care of myself first and this late morning while still in bed is me doing just that.

I am mother before I allow myself to be me. It has been a few days of frustration, disappointment, powerlessness, and when I wait patiently, I can even see Grace.  Yesterday Facebook reminded me of what I went through “On This Day” last year. I’m editing out a few names, but essentially I wrote:

May 20, 2015 at 4:29 PM

It’s been a rough few months.  I’m not ashamed.  It is part of life.  Alone with the kids at bedtime last night, I was feeling too low to want to read to them.  Kid3 had a tantrum, so I went ahead and started reading.  I keep telling them that giving them less than what they deserve because I might not be happy is a choice and they need to call me on it when I do that.  Kid1 called me on it. It’s not their fault life is unfriendly to me right now, and I won’t punish them for it.  So I started reading, and as I’m reading, the tears start and so do the sniffles.  My throat gets tighter and the words struggle free and choke with emotion.  They didn’t say a word.  They listened quietly and said thank you with goodnight kisses when I got to the end of the chapter.  Their hugs were loving and gave as much as was received.  It’s a new day and looking at last night, it encouraged me and right now it’s lifting me up a bit. I have great boys.  I want the world to know how great my boys are.

Kid2 is going through a rough patch right now and last night Kid3 blamed their Dad.  It wasn’t until after I defended him that I realized how well I’m doing.  At first I was devastated.  I was happy in my marriage and blindsided that he wasn’t.  I’ve found there is true joy in my daily life now that I am single.  There’s so much joy that even when situations are out of my control, I can find peace and laughter if I dig deep enough.  I’m learning how to deal with what life hands me in a way that lets me react in making difficult choices and tough decisions without selfishness and greed.  I can hear my son blame his Dad for the family falling apart and I can hear the pain when he feels hopeless in helping his brother.  Hearing his concerns allowed me to comfort him and remind him that I have fallen apart myself and it’s a choice to decide you want to get back up.  I reminded him that his Dad is much happier now.  I told him that I’ve found ways to be happier now and we all just need to find ways to move with what life looks like to us.  I felt the weight of truth in stating that this situation with Kid2 really isn’t anyone’s fault and that we just need to find a way to help each other feel better and be better.

I saw my cousin and sister late last night and he shared some of the pain from his break up.  I told him I’ve found my joy in crashing waves and smiling at strangers. I love matching bra and panty sets.  My sister asked who is going to see them and I pointed out I see them in the mirror every day.  I showed them my latest tattoo which is over a year old and we talked about online dating.  In the end, there is good with the bad, and I am having fun with it.  I’ve found fun on one site and I can let go of the other one.  We made tentative plans to go to Florentine Gardens because that was a club we all went to when we were fledgling adults and it would be fun to revisit.  Mainly we talked healing.

I love my cousin. He is beautiful and feminine and so full of deep love.  I reminded my cousin that he was born at a certain level and lowered himself to be with his ex.  I told him he keeps entertaining his ex to offer another opportunity to get kicked. I did it too. If he stops looking below him, he’ll see all of the many beautiful men at his level and above.  He needs to stop looking down and back and look forward.  I told him he may never find closure for the relationship but he will one day find closure for why he thought he needed to allow someone below him to act as if he was above. He wanted to know why his ex would enter another relationship right away and accept an obvious downgrade with worse treatment.  I told him that his ex sees him as better than he deserved which is why he’s often the object of aggression.  Say “have a nice day” and hang up. I do.  He looks at what he has and knows it’s a downgrade.  He takes whatever he’s dished because he’s afraid to look lower.

I told my cousin about the many great men I’ve been meeting and he started to say that I would find someone better than my ex. I don’t look to compare him to anyone. Not anymore. He’s a good Dad.  He does what he thinks is best for our kids, as far as he can see. We’re just no longer together. I compare these beautiful and intelligent men to me. Can we hold a meaningful conversation? I have goals, does he? I’m taking care of myself, is he doing better than I am?  Things are looking better from this vantage point.

I went home and realised the pedestal we place our loved ones on are designed for us.  We just need to look around, up or down, but we’ll eventually see where the people we love are placed, and we will eventually see that we don’t need to put them in our place because they won’t always be willing to set us on their pedestal and their pedestal doesn’t always lead us forward. If we’re lucky, we can hop from stand to stand, side by side and not feel like one needs to be displaced for the other. And sometimes it’s not worth it to date a charity case.  Letting them go and washing off their sticky insecurities can be a little exhausting. That really doesn’t refer to the ex.  We’re happier apart, and I’m happy with casual dating.

 

Shifting Gears and Lane Changes

I have a habit of auto piloting to familiar destinations.  I tend to get behind someone and follow their path and pace until I realize I can go around them.  Frustration becomes joy when I check the lane on my left, and slide over while speeding up. Sometimes I feel more creative and will zip in and out, weaving through traffic because somehow that feels good.

I used to hate driving.  I wasn’t trying to get my license right away.  In fact, I got my license the day I graduated high school at 18.  It was a couple of years later than necessary. I didn’t want a license.  I could just ask my parents to drop me off, pick me up and give me some spending money. I got my license and I would borrow my mom’s car until she bought me one.  She valued her ability to pick up and go when she needed to. She kept finding and buying used cars for me because she understood my need for independence, even when I didn’t.  I would let other people drive for me because I loved falling asleep while giving someone else control of my wheels.

Earlier this year I leased a car and for the first time in my life, I did it on my own.  I went in and negotiated on my own.  I set up a down payment and have been following through on my obligation without failure.  The payments are larger than necessary, but I accepted terms I outlined.  In fact, I only went 3 cents over my planned monthly expense.  I love the independence I felt in doing so and I love driving now.  I’ve only had one other person drive my car, and it was my niece who needed to take her driving test.  I love sitting behind the wheel and being in control of my time and destination. I keep my car neater than I ever have, although she’s due for a deep vacuum session and detailed scrubbing.

I’ve been spending the last couple of days thinking about driving and the other controlled choices in my life. I have enough control to decide what route to take.  I can take the scenic route. I can take the straight shot.  I can look out the windows around me and catch a coastline or a hunky driver racing alongside me.  I don’t have to focus intently on the car right in front of me, because I believe in a large amount of following distance that my peripheral vision can easily discern from the brief flitting glances at all of my surroundings.

I’m seeing the correlation in my dating life.  Most men are still compared to the first crush I’ve had in a decade and a half.  That crush had the benefit of my vivid imagination and I’m faced with the realities of knowing what is right in front of me is a game and I’m expected to lose. Most are given the full weight of thoughts that will beg my intuition to kick in.  It always kicks in.  It might take a day or two but it kicks in.  It is the flinch that pulls me back instead of leaning into a kiss.  It’s a look that lingers and shifts from soft desire to the hope of a guaranteed conquest and fills me with dread.  It’s a tingle that crawls up my scalp while focusing on the eyes that can’t match the rest of the features I’m watching.  It’s questioning motives and looking for meaning.  I’m listening. I follow their script as they discuss wanting to tie me up, and live out a rape fantasy.  I hear their choices and lack of leadership or empathy for others. I hear the fantasies of control and the push and pull of who holds it is a dance that I’m swaying to but these shoes aren’t for that dance and I am not ready for those blisters.  I let them blather on about my smile and what pictures they like the most while I hear their lack of drive and determination.  I hear their insecurities in trying to impress me because they can’t understand how I may already be impressed or talking to them out of boredom.  I can’t offer my motives if I refuse to delineate between what I want, and what I want to entertain myself with. I hear their need to be desired and know it’s stronger than their need to connect on a mental and emotional level.  I hear it and it’s fluffy noise.  I want a companion that can become more.  They want to fulfill the fantasies born in an album of vapid self indulgence that can’t capture the moods and thoughts that have slipped through my mind faster than they were able to make an introduction.

I change lanes.  I don’t have to stay the course to the destination they have in mind because I’m in my own car and headed to my own escape and I don’t need permission or an escort to do what I have been doing. I’ve slipped into old habits of shuffling between conversations and switching lanes with the nausea of exhaust fumes clinging to my clothes.  I shuffle them around and give the illusion that I’m playing their game by their rules but I’m in my car and looking to the traffic jam ahead of us.  I’m plotting my lane changes and deciding on dinner because I have no problem eating alone.  I can even take the streets. I’m not a player playing a game.  I’m just two steps from becoming a pawn, but this game is familiar and the moves and rules haven’t changed.  I’ll be fine with wind whipping through my hair and a radio to sing along to.