Burdee, I always knew you saw far into the future…
She was a special woman. Her heart was wide open for anyone. She had no agenda. She didn’t need to create drama to focus attention on her self. She knew she was important simply because she was alive. She was full of wisdom.
And now I have discovered that my Mom could predict the perfect time to start dating without worrying about Pressing Buttons or wondering if my ass looks fat or concerned that I’m not fun enough or pretty enough or good enough.
Without recalling her words at the time, I made July 2014 the cornerstone of my summer of love. Lessons were learned from Mr. Perfect Timing. I was able to handle Press Pause, Stop, Press Off. And I was fully present for my Mom as she passed on from the planet. I felt ready. And steady enough to explore a playful time of dating. Nothing serious. Just play.
I posted a simple, one-picture profile on an online dating site and challenged the Universe and the Internet to bring forth their very best candidates for summer nights. I wanted to see who could make the best match. Would I find him swimming toward me in Bass Lake on an early morning with the trees shimmering off the morning mist? Or would he message me saying that my profile sparked an interest and ask me to join him for a glass of wine?
I would send him a note. Because I liked the way his smile lit up his eyes. And I liked that he made time to admire art in galleries, on the streets, perched on the edge of the Marin headlands. That he chose to balance a demanding job with a lot of play. That he knew how important friends are and made time for them. He seemed to have his priorities in the proper order.
His smile was snatched off the face of a young boy who just caught a long ball and was anticipating soft custard with rainbow sprinkles to celebrate. His eyes soft, gentle and pale blue. His youthful appearance challenged the posted age of 49. Couldn’t be, I thought. But who rounds UP their age on a dating site?
I almost didn’t write to him. And then I made myself do it.
He seemed too nice, not fiery enough. Then I reminded myself to follow my intuition – that initial reaction. And take a chance on someone who intrigues me but doesn’t fit the profile. You know. The profile that has gotten me jack in terms of love and a freaking PhD in everything else.
Just send him a note.
And so I did.
He was one of three architects I met that month. The first two were cool. Fun. We had wine and laughs and kisses on the cheek goodbye. They were both kind and good conversationalists. Both were still smarting from divorce a bit but were optimistic that with time they would fully move on.
Then there was the lawyer who sailed. And the sailor who used to be a lawyer. And the surfer/philanthropist. The chocolatier, the vintner…it was a busy month.
After a few tries, Mr. Ellen DeGeneres and I were able to get a date set.
It wasn’t the typical coffee or adult beverage – a brief encounter to get acquainted and see if there’s chemistry. Nope.
Meeting at the festival, with The Dudes, was a perfect representation of how I felt at the time. I’m not looking for love; I’m here to play. A first meeting doesn’t have to follow someone else’s protocol. I’m me. A mom. I have two boys who are closer to me than anyone in the world. If you want to come hang out with us, awesome. If not, that’s cool, too.
As I drove past the festival I spotted a man in a blue and white shirt, jeans, and wearing an Indiana Jones hat pulled down over dark sunglasses walking on the side of the road along with about seven hundred other festival goers. I found a spot to park and sent him a text.
I’m here. Are you wearing a blue and white shirt?
That’s me! Wow! You’re good!
The Dudes and I picked up our tickets and walked toward the gate. And on the edge of Love Field Mr. Ellen DeGeneres and I met. We hugged. He brought his smile that gave away all that is in his heart; he’s a content and happy guy. Relaxed. Excited to be out and alive and stimulated by art and humanity.
I brought a tent. One that my Mom purchased for me. A beach tent to keep the sun off my tender, Swedish skin. The Dudes said hi, shook hands and ran off, leaving Mr. Ellen DeGeneres and I to attempt to erect it.
We failed. Three times. Everyone else popped tents up with ease. We crawled around on hands and knees trying to put poles in places they didn’t belong. We were sweaty and confused as the festival came to life around us. Eventually, we let it stand, half-caved in, and went off to get oysters.
Midway through the festival we decided to give it one last go. It all came together, amidst fits and giggles, after he overruled my insistence that the poles criss-cross and not run parallel. Our eyes met as the tent snapped up nearly on its own.
And then we collapsed on the blanket, in the shade, with a breeze flowing through the open sides cooling us off. The Dudes came like moths to light, lying on each side of me as if to say, You go through us first.
A giant beach ball flew by and off The Dudes ran to hunt it down. Friends who had joined us were dancing to the music in front of the stage. It was just Mr. Ellen DeGeneres and I. As we talked, he slid over so he could touch my arm.
He pulled out his phone while telling me a story about his mother-in-law who recently died from cancer. Like him, she was an artist. And when the pain got too bad and the hands could no longer paint, he would come to her bedside and paint for her. He’d known her nearly his whole life. He started dating her daughter at 15. His first love. They married after college.
Then had a son.
They grew up together. They were loyal to each other.
Until she cheated on him. Said she found her soul mate. His world imploded. Their son was just 8 years old. Mr. Ellen DeGeneres was 40. He’d been with her for 25 years. Her lover was 22. My goodness, s…tuff can go haywire.
And this is how it all ends? A lifetime romance?
On the day his mother-in-law died he painted a picture. A watercolor. Scrolling through the phone he told me the story of their love for each other. And how her daughter broke his heart. But that he has had a magical decade since his divorce. He discovered his passions, fed them, and in turn they made him feel more alive than ever.
“Here it is,” he said. He turned the phone to me.
It was a beautiful hummingbird. A bird.
Tell me about your Mom, I asked.
It wasn’t a conventional story. His father and mother divorced when he was eight. She ‘checked out’. His Dad moved the children to South Africa where they counted wild game at dusk for fun. Eventually they moved back to Marin. And eventually he rebuilt a relationship with his Mom. The challenges of having her absent were balanced by the close relationship he had with his Dad.
Over time he nurtured a relationship with his Mom. Sadly, she died young.
I asked her name.
We were walking through the crowds. His hand brushed mine. I didn’t pull away. When he told me her name I stopped walking.
My smile spread. Say it again, I asked. He did.
His mother’s name is the same as Aunt Awesome’s.
And my Mom’s.
Both names. And this is not like BettyJo or AnneMarie or SallyAnn. There might be two other people with this name.
I forced myself to not give that much weight.
It was a fun day. Which we wrapped with a lightening quick, sweet kiss that I didn’t expect.
That night as I lay in bed listening to the coyotes howl and High Maintenance Kitty’s jumbo jet purr, I played the day back. Instead of feeling incompetent myself, or wondering if he could ever put up a real tent, we both laughed until we were sweaty and laying on the ground as we built shelter. We people watched and story-swapped with ease. He stood just close enough, and it felt comfortable. He wasn’t trying to impress me. He was just being present and engaged. He was gentle. Tender. He had an easy laugh and a real goofy side.
I sensed he was a good guy.
A really, really good guy.
The last time I dated a really good guy was my first love, J. The one who moved to Wyoming. The one who was just SUCH a good guy that I couldn’t see myself married to him. He wasn’t edgy enough. It didn’t seem sustainable. I feared being bored. So I broke up with him. I broke up with the only guy who ever made me feel 100% safe.
Funny how I misinterpreted feeling safe as being bored and read a narcissistic man as a confident man.
Since our first meeting at the Far West Festival we’ve taken our time getting to know each other against the backdrop of art installations and during long phone calls, that old-fashioned way of getting to know someone. I’ve invited him ‘into’ Bolinas, which is kind of a big deal because this is a VERY small town. Until now I have been the redhead who is either alone or has those two blonde muppets with her. We’ve connected while I was building campfires in the Sierras and he was building a dome at Burning Man. He watched me carry art across the stage in the Peace Barn for the Bolinas Museum Benefit Auction.
The other day I asked the Tall Dude to describe Mr. Ellen DeGeneres. He paused for a brief moment and then said,
He’s thoughtful, smart and loving. I’m pretty sure it was Mom speaking the words that came out of the Tall Dude’s mouth.
In my heart I also heard, He’s loyal.
And he’s falling in love. Half that sentence tumbled out of his mouth as we walked along Wharf Road in Bolinas late at night listening to the ocean swells, wrapped in a sky of ink and twinkling lights. He knew it was too soon. I’m not ready for that.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since Mr. Perfect Timing it’s that we dive into committed, monogamous (I’m not speaking just about physical intimacy.) relationships too quickly.
So I’ve decided to go abalone diving. And not alone. We’ll see where this takes me. Hopefully not into the mouth of a great white shark. They’re in town now. The Dudes and I saw our first one while out fishing a mile off shore.
Two years ago my Mom told me in no uncertain terms to wait until July 2014 to date. She must have known it would take me this long to be ready. I needed to feel safe. I needed discernment. And boundaries. I needed to love myself. And I needed one last fling with someone who’s sense of importance comes from what they do, who they know, how much they have. So that I could appreciate Mr. Ellen DeGeneres.
He’s someone whose sense of importance comes from how blessed he feels to be alive. He shares that feeling with my Mom. She would be so happy.
My Ego? It’s still trying to talk me out of it all.
PS: Some exciting things are in the works to include a new website! Stay in touch in between posts.
BTW, if anyone knows ANY HUMAN that works at Facebook I would LOVE to find out how to change my ‘community’ status to that of a person. Cuz I am one. DM me. I’ll love you back. XO