Mom, you are getting sleepy. Very sleepy. By the time you read this first paragraph you will be in a deep state of bliss. In this state, everything you read will actually be the opposite of what is written. So when the words say, I want to have sex, you will read them as, I don’t want to have sex. Sleepy. You are getting very sleepy. Prop yourself up so you don’t fall over. You will remember nothing. Except that your daughter is a really good person who is just trying to figure this all out. Sleepy. Sleep Slee Sle S
Okay. She’s asleep now. I won’t have to upend her at age 88 when I say that I want to have sex. I want to be intimate with a man. A man I don’t want to marry, because I don’t want to get married again. Thankfully, anonymous sex is not at all attractive to me. (Uh-oh, my Mom is going to read that the wrong way. I hope someone is there to resuscitate her.) Unfortunately, neither is dating.
A kitten asked me to write about dating and sex, so off I went to ponder my feelings on the topic. After a year and a half of self-excavation, the building of boundaries, and uncovering my needs, I would have expected to be on solid ground, happily ready to date. But dating just doesn’t do it for me. It’s right up there with small talk. I’m bad at it, don’t like it, and can’t fake it.
You know how much I love encounters. They’re in the moment, with no destination in mind. They whip around corners, explode from nowhere, or tumble down sand dunes all playful and free and bright. A child in computer lab, a man driving a taxi, a bobcat on a west Marin hill, a woman on a trail, a boy without a pinkie, a dashing man at Trader Joe’s – all encounters with beings that have changed me, invigorated me and left me with fresh perspectives on old ideas. Encounters are perfect. If you were to ask me why, my gut reply would be because they require no commitment and they always deliver, never disappoint.
I don’t want to make a commitment to anyone because I can’t imagine that I am able to do so without the possibility of making a giant mistake. The thought of making a commitment to the wrong man, leaving me right back in the belly of a mountain, stuck in an icy crevasse, when all I want is to be on the summit, is enough to keep me alone at the keys, hoping you all will be my virtual date forever.
Way back when, after the majority of the tears had been shed, forgiveness granted and anger thanked before being blown out of my core while I stood tall on the summit of Mt. Tam, kittens far and wide told me that my day will come. I will feel secure in my ability to spot the right kind of man, hear what he is actually saying, and not what I want him to say, and know in my heart that he’s someone with whom I can have a long term relationship. I believed them. But now I’m starting to wonder…
All that work to fall in love with myself has made me afraid to fall in love with anyone else.
Two nights ago I went on a date (That’s it. I officially can’t stand that word. Must come up with something else.) with the dashing man I met in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s. After Text Gate was cleared up, we spent an hour here and there getting to know each other on the phone (how old school!), discovering that we had some common interests and both come from creative fields. I came to know his voice, his rhythm of speech, his laugh. Because texting has ruled the day for so long, talking on the phone is now way more intimate than ever before. By the time I showed up for our evening of fun I felt completely at ease, excited and ready to be there because he wasn’t just words on a small screen but a voice I could still hear in my head.
Seated he looks like a tall man. Standing he is a redwood. When he hugged me I felt like a size 2, not a size 10. His wrists are equal to the circumference of my biceps, and with all my swimming and hours on the elliptical that makes his wrists the largest ones I’ve seen on any human. Seriously. I recall staring at them and having a hard time believing they weren’t legs.
He ordered margaritas, with a specific set of directions for how they were to be made. It was the most perfect margarita I’ve ever had. So I had one and a half. Two would have required a piggy back ride home. By minute four we were talking about ancient civilizations and the business of war. My kind of small talk. After covering the Mayans and our Nordic homelands, the conversation segued to music.
I like hard rock.
Then he paused. His eyes locked on to mine to be sure he could read a truthful reply to a question he asked as if it was a deal breaker.
Do you know the band Alice in Chains?
My eyes lit up.
Layne Staley. A tragic death and loss of one of the best voices in rock. I love Alice in Chains. Nine Inch Nails is my favorite band. Followed closely by Tool. Layne, Maynard, Trent – …
He grabbed my face in both his massive hands – I felt like only the tip of my nose was showing – and planted a kiss on my mouth.
…I love them all.
Wait. Did you just kiss me?!!!
We burst into laughter. And then he kissed me again.
Our cocktail hour was followed by sushi and more spirited conversation. We both commented on how comfortable we felt with each other. The lack of first date jitters was celebrated. Then rewarded with this:
Do you want to watch some TV?
That was exactly what I wanted to do. Lay on the couch and watch TV. But I hesitated. I’ve spent three hours with this giant man and now I’m going to take him back to my house to watch television? My mom is going to kill me! But it felt like the perfect thing to do.
My couch, which some of you know about in detail, is an L-shaped behemoth that can morph into a queen sized bed with one swivel. Which was exactly the position it was in, left over from Super Bowl Sunday when the dudes and Mr. Jackpot and I crashed on it to watch the Niners fall in epic fashion to the Ravens. My house was an infirmary with my exhaustion cold dutifully passed on to the little dude. He was flattened and needed to be horizontal, emerging from my bedroom only in time for kickoff. So the couch became a bed.
I pictured myself opening the front door, from which one views the living room, and there sits, basically, a bed.
Sure. It’s still early. Why not?
…my Mom would give me at least three reasons why not.
PBS was showing One Last Thing, a profile of Steve Jobs. It felt luxurious to recline on the couch and watch something other than Scooby Doo. We lost ourselves in the story of a remarkable and not always likeable man who will (does) rival Thomas Edison in the history books for how he changed the world through invention. But even with all the fascinating storytelling our eyelids were getting sleepy. I forced mine to stay open, while he lost the battle.
At one point he came to and sweetly said, Don’t make me drive home.
In my head I said, Now my Mom is really going to kill me.
I get up at dawn. I’ll be gone before you wake.
As he dozed again I studied his face. Even though all dating guide books the world over would slam shut on my mouth, I finally whispered, I’ll get you a comforter.
(And it wasn’t going to be me.)
I had some writing to do, a kitchen to clean and the trash to take out, so I got to work while he slept in the next room. Having him still there after our date had ended made for an interesting scenario as I looked around inside me to see what I was feeling. There was no buzzy high or butterflies flitting about on the jet stream of possibility. I actually felt quite subdued.
That was an unusual feeling to have after the sensation of being with someone who seemed to vibrate on the same frequency as me. It took until today for me to unravel what I was feeling inside.
I don’t want to find out that he’s not what I see on the surface. Encounters don’t require one to dig deep, investigate, analyze and discover flaws, fatal or otherwise. I want everyone to be the beautiful soul that I know their soul is, not the flawed human that we all are. I’m afraid to date if dating means that we need to progress to a point where I have to go all in or go home.
It’s not that I want to hide in my lair. You know me by now – I’m a junkie for human interaction. I just don’t want to get on that moving sidewalk. I don’t want to talk about dating, expectations, long term relationship goals and desires. I just want to stay right here, right now.
Which brings me back to sex.
What’s wrong with getting to know someone well enough to feel comfortable enough to have sex with them? Does it have to be burdened with all sorts of rules and commitments? Does it need to imply that a relationship is going somewhere?
It sounds like I’m describing friends with benefits, but that’s not what I seek. If I even know what it is I’m seeking. What I feel I desire is a deeply fulfilling emotional, intellectual and physical relationship that allows me to remain on my path, not joining up with another for the predictable journey to partnership.
Dating and sex after betrayal and divorce is a complicated frolic. Perhaps fear is at the root of my desire to edge toward encounters and steer clear of partnerships. Or, I’ve hit on the best way to live out the balance of my days. But I do believe strongly that our primary reason for being on the planet is to interact with each other. To make the most of encounters. We’ve been given the gift of communication and emotions and hearts that break and mend and sing for a reason. We continue to desire relationships even after being broken apart by them.
I’m afraid to fall in love but I want all the benefits of love. I want (not need) the comfort of knowing the man on the couch is someone I can share time with but not lose myself in the process, so that when we part we are still whole.
Early that morning I heard him leave. My dog cried at the door as he made his way to his car. I’ll see him again. And when I do I will tell him one reason why he needed to sleep on my couch that night. It may be why we were brought together. But before I share it with you, I must share it with him.
It’s a life-saving reason.