Friday night Barbie with Brains and I reunited and it felt so good. We gathered to celebrate on the eve of her son’s wedding, in a town known for quickie marriages that lack staying power, Las Vegas. I met him when he was a boy and now he is a gentle, open-hearted and sweet man. Genuine, loving and kind. Just like his Mama. Knowing how he was raised, this marriage will go the distance.
If not for The Genius, BwB and I would not have met over 15 years ago, in a hotel bar in the city of London. I recall in great detail the evening of our meeting and the days that followed as we bonded over sightseeing and late night wine fests while our husbands worked. She bought an anniversary gift for her husband in The Hague – two wine glasses. We stood and gawked at the masterpiece, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, hanging in the National Gallery in London. We sat at a tiny, round table in a centuries old room, darkened by wood walls, red drapes and low lights, at the foot of a staircase that held halfway up a stunning grandfather clock. On our table sat a bottle of wine left by the bartender so we need not interrupt our conversation to get his attention. By the end of the evening there was more than one. A small, light-colored figure ran along the nearly black wood paneled wall. We shrieked, not necessarily because we were scared of mice, but because all of our senses were heightened by being in each other’s company. Laughter followed for several minutes.
We had lunch in a castle. After eating we stepped outside to greet the host’s pet elephants.
I’m not kidding.
From the night of our first meeting I felt a bond with BwB that goes beyond friendship. We are in many ways an extension of each other. We share the same name. Our journeys look alike in formative ways, to include infidelity and divorce. Our green eyes see life in much the same fashion. Over the years we’ve only seen each other a dozen or so times, but we are so emotionally close that physical separation has meant nothing. The same day The Genius, the dudes and I moved into our rental home in Marin after moving from the East, BwB and her husband moved from the Bay Area to Seattle. We were this close to living near each other for the first time.
Now, I will wave to her as I climb Mt. Rainier, if I can see through the snow.
Remarkably, we will be growing old together as she and her husband plan to move to Bolinas or thereabouts to retire. And I plan on never leaving.
What are the chances…
She remarried after her divorce. He’s perfect for her. The next best part? He’s perfect for me, too. We both love nature and fishing and sports. He’s warm and funny and he loves her completely. For who she is as a person. After his speech honoring the bride and groom, we spoke about falling in love after divorce.
I found my best friend, he said.
Inside I wondered, Why do husbands and wives betray each other but best friends rarely do by comparison? It happens, but not half the time. Not even close. Especially after we escape the brutal high school years.
And what do best friends have that spouses don’t? One significant characteristic is the willingness to be vulnerable. More than willing, we nearly demand that our best friends tell us everything and be open 24/7 so we can offload our fears and hopes, sins and dashed dreams and future fairy tales. Manning that confessional is a key responsibility of the best friend.
Best friends earn the designation by not judging and loving unconditionally. And dealing with a whole lot of unburdening. It’s a big job. But we cherish it. It feels good to be a best friend. To be married to your best friend must be the best feeling in the world.
Way better than being the female version of the World’s Most Interesting Man.
Do you recall when I decided that was my destiny? Maybe you thought I was being funny. Or clever for the sake of spinning a tale. But I really believed it. I envisioned a future with just the right amount of fascinating encounters with men to whom my greatest commitment would be to show up on time and be interesting.
The World’s Most Interesting Woman would spend her time in Vegas on The Strip. I was miles away tucked up against the rugged, red striped mountains. She would hold court, the life of the party. When not at wedding festivities, I sat in the midst of the action, invisible. I observed the boys’ clubs, the flirts, the gaggle of bachelorettes and bachelors and the bump and grind that Vegas demands of its visitors, completely alone. Over the course of three days one person engaged with me in a conversation, a woman. She was divorced and looking for love. The most important attribute in her desired mate?
Sexual chemistry. I guess she was looking for lust and hoping it would turn into love.
What I once thought would be a fulfilling way to spend the balance of my days as an unattached woman felt like The Strip – too loud, too bright, too depleting. And so not me.
This journey has been about digging deep. Excavating to uncover all the parts of me that have been buried or forgotten. I’ve been tending to my relationship with myself for two years now. The idea that I would be satisfied or attracted to a relationship with another that was anything other than a deep soul connection is silly. Completely counter to what I believe life is all about.
I was protecting myself. Afraid of making a mistake. Standing behind a shield. Pretending I was something that I wasn’t. Which would have insured that I made the wrong choices, repelling the right people.
…so this is what it means to live authentically.
Being honest with yourself and genuine with others.
This may be old news to you all, but I’m have a revelatory moment right now…
The detours I’ve taken in life are a result of not living as I really am, which means that I felt that who I was wasn’t good enough. I made choices not because they were the right choices for me, but because I wanted to create a picture that was different than the one I painted before I got here. I made choices based on how things looked rather than how they felt.
Case in point – I spoke a while back about my first true love. He wasn’t a mover and shaker, not flashy. He was a bit nerdy in high school but had blossomed into a handsome man, to me. He worked in a little cafe in my home town having dropped out of college. He was a really simple guy. Loved his dog, hiking, camping and me. We were truly in love. He would have never hurt me. Oh, goodness…here come the tears. One night I said,
I can’t marry you.
He hadn’t even asked. I just wanted to be sure he didn’t. He cried. I cried. I had no good reason for my statement and some reasons that, in hindsight, prove that I had no clue who I really was and what really mattered to me. I wanted the guy who was on a fast track, who had big, big dreams that were brimming with excitement and promise. Not the guy who wanted the small and simple home at the base of a mountain, who selected a job that gave him the freedom to hike and mountain bike and fish. I wanted to fly through the sky to distant lands and he wanted to lay under a sky with my head on his shoulder and stare at the stars.
I moved to the city and he moved to Wyoming.
He lived happily ever after, until his wife cheated on him.
I wasn’t mature enough then to have known that we were a perfect match.
I don’t need bright and shiny. I’m not looking for a character in a story that I want to tell. And I’m sure not looking for a cluster of men to hang on my words and vie for my attention.
I’m not even looking.
Because he’s already here. For the last month I’ve felt his energy. Calm. Serene. Happy. At peace. Living his life how he always imagined he would live it. I will know it’s him on sight. But there won’t be any dramatic score or Cupid’s arrows flying overhead. No rush to love or losing sight of my path. I don’t even think I’ll get butterflies. We won’t court or date or dance around getting to know each other. We’ll become best friends. Neither of us will need to make any concessions. I’ll be myself – vulnerable, honest, and open. And he’ll feel safe, too. It won’t be buzzy or shiny. No one will fall hard or fast.
Basically, it’ll be anticlimactic in the most perfect way.
Now I know why Vegas was on the docket on the eve of my divorce. I celebrated all the right things – a wedding, not the dismantling of one, best friends not lovers, and my true self, not the persona I thought would keep me entertained and safe.
What I thought was a playful post written poolside became a post for me to ponder that slowly came out over the weekend and was wrapped this morning in Bolinas. Last night, as I drove down the gravel lane that leads to my cottage I got lost in the bumps along the edge of the road, trying to see what the message was going to be for me in all these words. Halfway down the lane I saw the image of me as The World’s Most Interesting Woman and then it vanished.
That’s not me! I laughed. And then swerved the car to avoid hitting a massive, antlered deer who was resting, legs tucked under him, half on the grass that bordered the gravel drive. His enormous brown eyes met mine from 3 feet away. He rose – I swear I thought he was going to stick his head through my car window and make out with me – and walked into the woods.
Good. She’s finally home.