This photo of my Mom and Dad on their wedding day inspires me to pause and reflect, to respect this opportunity to go back in time…
Just before I met my former spouse I FINALLY got my act together. It took a few years, about three, but after moving to a new city (leaving my Mom and the home I was raised in shortly after my Dad died) and launching a new career, I started to feel myself. Get to know myself. A little, tiny bit.
As you know, in our twenties, knowing a little tiny bit about something often makes us believe we are experts. I was a know-it-all at almost thirty. So it was with absolute certainty that I decided within 10 weeks of meeting my former spouse that we were soul mates. Actually, I probably decided that the night we met. 10 weeks later I said Yes to his Will you be my bride. I was in NO way prepared to make that judgment. (Fascinating that he chose the word bride and then cheated on me in the first year of our marriage. I’m paying closer attention to chosen words these days.)
It was only a few months prior to meeting him that I had moved into my own apartment after living with my boss/best friend (who was initially my boyfriend) for a few years. That platonic living arrangement kept me from dating. Why bother? I had a built-in who made no demands. I focused on work and swimming and little weekend adventures breaking into long shuttered steel plants or sanitariums or warehouses in coal country. We shared cats and could get more square footage for less cash. I adored him and he me. Perfect recipe for spinsterhood.
Then we both realized that in order to move on one of us had to move out. So off I went to my loft one-bedroom in the olde part of town with the long hallway and the brick wall. And the roof deck. I focused on my career and made more time for trail running. And I started doing more of the things that made me happy. While I appreciated being introduced to the joys of exploring abandoned buildings and climbing trestle bridges, I also loved to be alone in the city at night. Mainly going to see live music. My agenda did not include meeting a man, but rather racking up encounters of all styles, and observing people in action, a favorite pastime of most writers.
I can immediately dial up the feeling of getting dressed and heading out into the night, walking up 2nd Street past storefronts and over cobblestones, making my way to a small music club with the big doorman and the dark interior. Back then I could still tip back beer. With glass in hand I drank in the energy, let the music move me, and left alone, filled to brimming with the buzzy energy of being alive. An energy that we all felt back in that decade, in our twenties.
I would walk home alone (Sorry, Mom!) and totally content. I felt some blend of confidence, afterglow, bliss and satisfaction. My night was complete because it was spent with me, and I really liked me. I didn’t need to come home with digits in my pocket to feel as if it was a night to remember. I loved waking up alone and heading up the block to get the paper and a muffin and read away the first three hours of a weekend morning. Alone. There was a shimmery quality to that time in my life. Magic was in the air, around the corner.
I was living. And being alone was the best part.
I wasn’t eking it out, or protected under the wing of my Mom, or down the hall from my former boyfriend. I was doing it on my own. As I wished. Making good choices and having the time of my life. I bet I glowed.
I started dating like a grown-up. Not launching into relationships but just going on dates with guys. I began noticing men in my neighborhood and wondering if our paths would cross. And if they did we would exchange words, grab a cup of coffee, a beer. Once a week, after work and a run, I would walk down to the new hip (and I do mean super hip) martini bar and sit alone with a margarita and salad and enjoy my freedom. I wasn’t in a rush to get to know someone, but I did enjoy the flirt – the time after Hello and before Where are we headed? As I think back on that period in my life the memories that I find most fascinating, the ones I most cherish, are the ones where it was JUST before something big happened. Seeing myself moments or a day before and sensing that even prior to meeting that someone or closing that deal or having that amazing weekend in the Hamptons I was completely content and loving life.
Oh, had I realized then the precious nature of that time and the benefit to staying there and not rushing into love!
But everything was going so well! So it only made sense that when I met my former spouse it HAD to be part of the larger plan. Right time, right place…we have this connection and that connection. This is the ONE. I know, I know, I JUST said I wasn’t going to get married. But how can you ignore these signs? We’re so comfortable together. My head fits so perfectly on his shoulder. I’m so at ease.
We’re so getting married.
Okay. You know the rest. I have no regrets. I value the experiences. We created memories. And best of all we created The Dudes. Out of all the souls in the Universe they are the perfect fits for me. I hope I am for them. Next best – the Pocket Call was my own version of Extreme Makeover. The changes I’ve experienced since that night have dwarfed all other periods of transformation in my life. Nothing even comes close. I would not trade in the Pocket Call for anything in the world. Not an intact family, not for a pass on the pain, not for nothing. I’ve never worked so hard to achieve balance. I have never been so grateful for such a heartbreaking experience.
So, here we are. Three years removed from the Pocket Call, from realizing that my former spouse had discarded me at least four years prior and was living a double life, using me as his nanny and her as his companion. I’m JUST now getting it all together. I’ve settled in to my cottage (that has a loft), I relish the times when I can head to the Sand Dollar and sit at the bar with a margarita and salad and talk to the wide variety of people that flow through the doors. I don’t need the attention of a man to make it a memorable evening, preferring instead a rich conversation with someone I will probably never see again. Or listening to the stories spill forth from a woman who has thirty years on me and wild tales to tell. I smile outwardly when I remind myself mid-bite that I’m a few hundred yards from the Pacific ocean, a few years removed from watching my life melt like hair to a flame, and living in a magical town next to fairy godparents.
I am living.
Not barely hanging on, not medicating myself with half a vineyard, not punishing myself with three hour workouts. I’ve created balance. I figured it out. And right now, right this very minute, I have the opportunity to, using the words of Mr. Perfect Timing in a way he didn’t intend, Press Pause. But in this case it’s to UN-pause. To begin again the life I was living before I totally detoured and handed over my passions, my dreams, my goals in exchange for a ring I didn’t truly want on my finger at that time.
Do you see why I am so grateful? Why I trust that I am creating my reality? Why my time is not best spent critiquing Mr. Perfect Timing’s choice to Press Pause in his way, but instead it’s best spent learning why I am creating my present reality?
This is why.
Mr. Perfect Timing spent some quiet moments with my Mom. She was so happy to meet him. They shared ice cream. I rubbed her feet as he sat at her side. I felt as if I was the chaperone, bringing to my Mom someone SHE needed to meet. Not a meeting I needed to have occur, although I was happy it did. The two of them made the connection happen. I was simply a facilitator. I don’t know why it needed to happen, but there were a dozen opportunities to insure it didn’t; none of which were capitalized upon. They hugged and kissed goodbye. As we left her home and made our way down the path with boxwoods on either side and the ever-present thunderheads of Spring overhead, Mr. Perfect Timing looked back at me and said,
That was perfect.
I drove him to the airport and he flew home.
My return trip took me past Yankee Stadium and around the northern end of New York City. I recalled my weekends in the Hamptons and long drives back home navigating roads I didn’t know well in hellish traffic, a memory spurred by hearing songs I played loudly as I drove my convertible around the southern end of New York City and due east to where the road narrows to two lanes and the hedges grow to twenty feet and the water is on all three sides. My head felt like it was pinging all over trying to find the connection between Mr. Perfect Timing’s email and subsequent words and my needs. Why did I create this?
In the middle of the George Washington Bridge while I listened to 90s rock – the exact same songs I was listening to in those magic 20s – my body filled with excitement. A ridiculous amount of excitement especially considering my Mom’s declining health and having just been Paused by a man I already loved, in the way I love souls.
Mr. Perfect Timing unPaused me at the perfect time, the ABSOLUTE PERFECT TIME, by pressing pause on us.
I need this time. He needs this time. At the risk of sounding like I am hoping to control the outcome, WE need this time. Pressing Pause has nothing to do with not being good enough or the time being wrong or Mr. Perfect Timing flying any number of red flags. When he Pressed Pause he made a fantastic choice for us both.
Now it’s up to us to make the best use of this time. And that is why I am so excited. I’m going to take the time to get to know myself as this balanced person who IS still ready to love. And to live. I know in my heart that this is going to be a pivotal and exhilarating time for The Dudes and me. For the first time in a post (I believe) I’m going to extend gratitude to myself. For remaining present after The Pause, for not spending valuable time analyzing Mr. Perfect Timing’s choice or reasons, for being optimistic that everything was unfolding in the most perfect way. Leading me to magic because I believe.
I believe in love. I believe I create my reality. I believe that by owning that responsibility I make good choices. And I’m able to remain centered as others make their choices, honoring their individual needs and not taking any of it personally.
Well, I did take one thing personally. The accusation from my former spouse that I’ve been keeping two people who love each other apart. You are NEVER going to guess who those two people are.