There’s the 90 Day Rule and then there’s the 3 Date Rule. Mr. Viking has a 3 Date Rule. 3 dates ought to be enough time to demonstrate one is not too quick to disrobe and also enough time to assess compatibility. If the hand is still up after 3 dates, so is his – waving goodbye.
Having sex by the third date is not going to ruin a great connection, and it’s not going to morph a misfire into a direct hit. Two years later, in the midst of a long term relationship, I’m not going to say, You know, this is great, but the fact that you had sex with me on the first date – I just can’t get over it.
I need my letterman sweater back.
Thanks to a devastating foot injury, I have not been subjected to the 3 Date Rule. A rule I would not have obeyed. In a complimentary fashion, Mr. Viking told me he would have amended the rule to 4 dates for me.
I would not have played by that rule either. We did kiss in the first half hour – I guess I can see how his 3 Date rule is easily accommodated.
Mr. Viking is realizing that some old rules no longer apply. Especially the one that says, you have two feet and an intact spine, you can walk.
Mr. Viking can’t walk.
The day we met he was hobbled. Now he’s shy of being an invalid and worse off than being merely compromised. After barbaric clamps battled his epidermis in an effort to close the canyon sized gap on his heel, the epidermis decided to call it a day, a night, a life, and died. While not quite back to square one, he’s facing another few months of crutches, pain, no showers, no exercise, no standing up, and no walking, once the doctor cuts away even more flesh.
This is a most fascinating way to get to know someone.
Did I mention he’s moving? Let me clarify. (because he’s barely moving) He’s relocating. Pretty hard to pack when it’s a herculean effort to simply pee without falling backwards and painting the ceiling.
I knew there was a story behind the limp when I watched him enter Trader Joe’s. That story seemed to be nearing its positive conclusion when we had our first hang. The injury wouldn’t impede the natural progression of our encounter.
Alas, The Foot is center stage, and it’s run has just been extended. This is a show that is going to play out for a long time, leaving Mr. Viking to spend his days glued to an office chair; a trip to the bathroom like a commute from Napa to Los Angeles. He’s on lock down.
Along with the death of his brother, this wound has altered this alpha male in meaningful ways. The lack of enforcement on the 3 Date Rule is just the beginning. With all this time on his hands and off his feet, he’s questioning everything.
During our first phone conversation, just after Text Gate was exposed, Mr. Viking mentioned in passing that he was a glass half empty kind of guy. I shuddered.
For the record, I have a Pessimist Rule: If you’re a pessimist, we are never, ever going to get to the 3 Date, Ninety Day anything. I don’t do pessimists, vertically, horizontally or otherwise.
I sat across from him that Friday, a perfect margarita in front of me, and watched his blue eyes sparkle like crushed diamonds as he laughed when I confessed my love of all things 90s grunge music. I didn’t see a pessimist lurking.
But he’s there. Although, much like Mr. Viking himself, his bags are packed. Which doesn’t necessarily mean a move is imminent.
People can, and do, change. If we can’t change, then why does Hollywood and the world of publishing always ask, How has the character changed? Not only can we change, it’s likely the single most important reason we are here – to change. Some changes are lasting, some passing, some subtle and some are shockers. Some we blow off, refusing to budge. And some opportunities to change we may never even notice.
To change is a choice, of course. Often involving a leap of faith, or made with one’s back against the wall. Choosing to change also suggests some level of self-awareness, which is itself a choice – often born out of a desire to change. Sometimes the choice to change is made without being clear about the impact of the metamorphosis. And then there’s the transition period. Exhilarating? Scary? Daunting? Rejuvenating? Limbo? A mad dash to the finish? Uh-huh.
While unpacking boxes and moving stuff from over there to over here, I’ve been looking intently at this transitory period in my life. Not much is static, except the over-population of dust bunnies scattered about my floors. (I think they’re about ready to organize themselves into a union.) Beyond the facts of moving, divorcing, meeting new people, developing new routines, and learning to love sulfur infused water, I’ve been transitioning into the application phase of my Earthademic career, discovering how these 3D events are providing me with the opportunity to change, on a grand scale.
It’s seems my major here is Boundaries. Now that I’ve figured out what they are and how to be present with them, changes are happening all around me. It’s as if my being knows I can handle it (because of my boundaries), and perhaps more importantly, knows that I need several experiments in process at once to implement all these barely tested boundaries.
I’m fortified. I’m game.
Meeting Mr. Viking was as guaranteed as me screaming when a cocky, burly arachnid stamps out letters, numbers, symbols and the space bar as he races across my keys. (I used to projectile vomit. Screaming alone suggests dramatic change.) Pre-boundaries, I could have also guaranteed that our encounter would have been short-lived. There are a few too many (perceived?) red flags, complicating factors, and life trauma.
Let’s just say he’s not Tim Tebow.
I am not attracted to safe. Conventional. A no-risk kind of guy. I didn’t date the Michigan grad who’s first job was in marketing at Proctor & Gamble. Suits make me nervous.
Is this a character flaw? Am I a woman with issues who attracts a man with issues?
I attract ballsy risk-takers who break out in hives when they imagine themselves living a standard or normal life. But they’re often wounded. In the case of Mr. Viking, literally and figuratively.
And I clearly have issues.
Is that ‘like attracts like’ or ‘opposites attract’?
How about, We attract what we need. Whether we like it or not, and whether or not it’s what we want.
As kittens have mentioned before, there’s no need to run from the wounded, unless they don’t know they’re bleeding. But I still felt like going all Iron Maiden and Run to the Hills, away from Mr. Viking.
Then I remembered (seriously, it was like a dawning day inside me) my boundaries.
I’m to remain on my path. I’m not interested in marriage or any other version of a conventional relationship. I don’t want a boyfriend. I’m not to be possessed or looking to possess. I don’t need someone to do things my way. I am not going to alter who I am to make someone feel more comfortable in my presence or out of fear that they won’t like who I am. I won’t compromise my morals or values for another. I don’t need to be part of the in-crowd.
Without these drivers, I can just enjoy spending time with someone, regardless of how they would fit with some long term partner check list. The only list being followed is the list of my boundaries, and that comes from me. And is for me. I don’t need to rely on anyone else but me to see that they are respected.
I can be vulnerable and open to exploring unfamiliar territory knowing I am safe and whole. I am not in danger of bleeding into another. I’m not in danger of giving myself away a little piece at at time.
When faced with an infringement on one of my boundaries, I feel comfortable addressing it directly and in a timely fashion.
I’ve had the opportunity recently to do that with Mr. Viking. Astonishingly, I was able to do so clearly, calmly and with so much unconditional love that I could have said, You’ve just lost your every possession and he would have said, Thank you for sharing that with me.
(It took until now – 47! – to be able to pull off that feat. SO many times I tried and failed to communicate this way in my marriage.)
A few days ago I met a friend of Mr. Viking’s. They were having a chat off on their own. I heard the words ‘pretty’ and ‘girlfriend’.
He better not be talking about me, I thought.
In the car on the way home – me driving and his 6’6″ body crammed in the back so his leg could remain elevated on the center console – I mentioned the girlfriend reference. It was clear it was a casual reference, but one that I’m not comfortable with at all.
He had a few artful suggested replacements like, some chick I know and my hot friend.
How about, Cleo?
Then we got serious and talked about our distaste for labels and the need to anoint an encounter with a name. And how we both wish to remain independent, with no desire to cohabitate or procreate or date.
We just want to hang out.
Later that evening we laughed about the nature of our encounter and the set of circumstances shaping it.
This is unprecedented.
I’ve had a lot of girlfriends, but I’ve never been friends with a girl before, you know…it’s…I can’t believe I am saying this, but this is really a wonderful way to get to know a woman!
5 minutes later we stopped laughing.
As I wiped tears from my eyes I looked at a man who was seeing a small bright side to his bad foot.
We owe a great deal of gratitude to the wound on his foot for our friendship.
I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like to go on a hike with him or take a walk on the beach. For now, he lets me use his washer and dryer and I run some errands for him. Then we talk. And talk. These conversations, held face to face in a small loft library, the shelves lined with Joseph Campbell, Terrence McKenna, and the Kama Sutra (I had to throw that one in there), a fridge inches behind our side by side chairs, have provided me with the ultimate opportunity to naturally express my boundaries. No emotional or romantic upheaval can get in the way. There’s too much risk that they will bump into The Foot and create yet another setback.
I’ve met Mr. Viking at the worst time in his life, yet we’ve had the very best time.
But I’m still not going to be his girlfriend.