At least that’s what my Mom says. She’s of the belief that one should wait a full year AFTER the divorce is final to date. As in final. In my case that would be around July, 2014.
That’s two years from now.
That’s just not doable. Not with my personal matchmaker, Nature, on the lose.
Yes, I meet women on the trails and in the water. I encountered a woman on the way down Mt. Burdell the other day. We immediately sunk into a conversation about exploring Yosemite with boys. She has two in their 20s. She started them young, camping in the valley, playing in streams, eventually climbing Half Dome, and fishing – their absolute favorite activity. When we parted ways I was left with a surge of excitement pondering the experiences I will have with my little dudes as they grow. I wrapped my hike on a high from more than just the endorphin spike courtesy of a good hike.
It seems to be a trend these days.
More often than not, as in nearly all the time, I meet someone who leaves a lasting impression on me either during or right after a bonding session with the planet. And more often than not it’s a man. It’s become a source of laughter for my mom and me. I’ll call after a hike – she likes to know that mountain lions have not taken me from her – and she’ll ask, And who did you meet today?
I met Mr. Triathlete on a hike of Mt. Tam in early May. We logged 13 or 14 miles that day. That’s a lot of time to spend with someone you have not met before. We barely paused in our conversation. The backdrop of the trail, ocean fading into the forest then emerging above the fog line high atop the mountain, delighted our eyes while our hearts and minds were playing with words, engaged in spirited banter. By the time we arrived back at Stinson Beach we were fast friends with plans for a swim in the bay.
You’d have to work hard at not having a good time on Mt. Tam. True. But beyond that, being out in Nature relaxes me, opens me up, allowing someone else the space to come make a connection, hold my hand. Her batting average rocks on delivering to me the perfect encounter for my journey that day. It’s remarkable. Notable. Impossible to ignore. When it happens I feel her smile.
She’s rewarding me for something. That or she’s a big romantic, because it seems as if she’s parading a steady stream of potential suitors past me, all while my mom is saying, Don’t date! in my ear. You’re not even divorced yet!
I haven’t been married for years.
Or she’s testing me. Backing my mom’s theory but wanting me to make the choice to abstain. Really? Until July, 2014? Why would I do that?
Because my heart might get ripped to pieces again, and who needs to clean that mess up twice? Not me. I have a hard enough time keeping this place clean as it is.
After betrayal, and in the midst of a divorce, one’s heart is raw and seeks protection. The desire to make a connection with someone can be misguided, and a missed connection can lead to feelings of inadequacy, yet another failure. Or the connection can be misinterpreted, labeled something it was never intended to be. The mind can take the lead and want its ego fed caviar and figs and romance when a diet of quiet and solitude is in order. The distraction of a paramour can lead to an avoidance of the self, prolonging the excavation that needs to happen so a new and stronger foundation can be built.
Dating too soon after an uncoupling can be a disaster.
As MLP says, like attracts like.
Imagine being at your lowest moment, first day of your period (guys, pick your poison), you just lost your job, your bra’s too tight, there’s a piece of broccoli lodged in your teeth and you have only a strand of hair to floss it out, and your cat died. Who might you attract that day?
Now imagine being content, healthy, happy, not bloated, centered, joyful, comfortable with being vulnerable, and in love with yourself. Who will you attract that day?
I met Mr. Jackpot in a bar. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I was dazed and befuddled, angry, full of false bravado, and in need of a friend. I attracted a man who was much the same, and for similar reasons. I was experiencing drama and Mr. Jackpot is energized by drama. We were like magnets.
As I became more clear about my needs and began to establish boundaries, I was able to see how Mr. Jackpot and I didn’t match up notch for notch, but in some ways matched up perfectly. The meaning of our experience on the journey to Yachats is so clear to me now. Nature took center stage (eclipse, Madrone tree, the Oregon coast, Fern Canyon…does the list end?) and drove a wedge between us. She sent a loud signal to retreat and ponder. And a call to be direct with each other about the role we can play in each others lives. She made sure that there was no misguided bonding on that trip. She got me and Mr. Jackpot back on track. Which seems funny to say given the total disconnect in Yachats, but it’s true. We were heading in a direction that was off course. Nature gave us one hell of a shove in the right direction. We give each other a lot of support, and I deeply appreciate his friendship. We have been, and will continue to be, great teachers for each other.
My relationship with myself deepened after our trip. My Observer Self felt trusted, loved, appreciated, understood. I felt secure, my emotions having the space to be but not run amok, and I was not in any way personally offended or upended by the unexpected end to our journey north. As I uncovered my needs and committed to respect them and see to their fulfillment, I felt loved. Tended to by the most suitable person for the task. All that love made me feel safe. And that safe feeling, the feeling that I was always going to be there for myself, allowed me to be vulnerable. Which opened up my heart.
And, apparently the flood gates on Nature’s stash of eligible bachelors.
I met the man with no name (yet) at Stinson Beach. (I’ve been trying to name him for weeks. The fact that I can’t is fascinating to me.) I had just wrapped a hike on Tam, watched the sunset at the beach and entered the Sand Dollar to find only one seat at the bar, directly in front of the upright bass player who, along with me, boxed in the piano player and the man with no name. The four of us occupied about 12 square feet, a generous estimate to be sure, including bar and instruments. And fake avocado shaker to be played by the patron who sat in the seat left to me. Meaning, me. I suck at playing the avocado.
Rest assured I rock at eating them.
I handed that puppy off quickly and began chatting with two men to my right.
We saw you on the beach taking pictures of the sunset. My buddy and I were just saying what a perfect day it has been and how the only thing that would make it better would be if that redhead from the beach walked in. And right at that moment you did.
How’s that for a welcome? I must have been glowing from my journey on Tam. The attention certainly couldn’t be attributed to my grooming. I changed in the car and washed only my hands. The rest was Eau de Sweat.
We kept the conversation going for a good twenty minutes, enjoying the opportunity to kick back and savor the day before I turned my attention to the menu and felt the presence of the man with no name. He noticed me pondering the short wine list.
Not a lot of options. Most of them jammy. That’s good on toast, but not in a wine glass.
His accent was hard to place. I coveted his wheat saturated beer.
I settled on a zin and ordered the salmon filet. 18 miles on the mountain left me famished. I could have eaten the whole fish.
An hour and a half later we departed the Sand Dollar and made our way across the sleepy little main drag in Stinson. At my car he asked for my number so he could forward some information he had about a gluten free flour, one of a myriad of topics we covered in our uninterrupted conversation. He kissed my cheek as we said goodbye. Standard practice for Europeans, but unexpected by me resulting in a less than graceful head butt on my part. Unexpected? As in not ready for…?
I drove on 1 to a lookout above the rocks just south of Stinson Beach. The moon lit a road of ripples on the water that traveled west with no end in sight. I could feel Tam behind me as I sat on the front bumper of my car gazing at the Pacific. My day and night left me thoroughly blissed out. I melted into gratitude. I was especially energized by the encounter with the man with no name. I recall simply feeling, Wow.
And then I didn’t hear from him for two months, except for one brief text about the flour. He sent me a text to say hello. I thought it was someone else, and replied with something that surely made no sense to him. It wasn’t until a month after that when I realized my error. We met for dinner the following week.
It had date written all over it.
My mother would not approve. Well, she would after she met him. And then she’d tell him that I’m not divorced yet and it would be prudent to be just friends for several years.
So, seize the day or wait a year or two? And what’s the advice for someone in a contentious divorce that lasts years? (Not that that will be me.) Date never?
I’m going with Date when you can walk away intact no matter what the reason. Which translates to Date when you love yourself. (And, by all means, stay true to your moral compass.) Date when you are able to be vulnerable without being fearful. Date when you are able to be yourself, not the person you think you should be. In other words, Date when you love yourself.
What started out as a tender way to urge each of us to care for ourselves, my Love yourself salutation has become the cornerstone for my healing. A mantra for us all. The end goal in Phase 1 of my Operation Excavation. It’s been my number one priority since the Pocket Call. In order to survive then, in order to thrive now. By the time I crossed the finish line at Crissy Field after swimming from Alcatraz, I fully accomplished that goal.
I love myself. Inside and out. Head to toe. It’s okay if someone else loves me, and it’s okay if they don’t. What matters is that I do. I realized that day, as I stood on the beach at Crissy Field, absorbing the details of the swim, that I am secure, safe, free to live, and loved by me deeply. As I said before, it felt like a coming out party.
Then I started to ponder the possibilities. Probably not the best move…