That feeling of having plateaued these past few weeks has been replaced with a reactivated sense of curiosity, an active quest for joy, and butterflies. I have lots and lots of butterflies. I’ve had them for a few days. They fill my whole core. I feel a big shift coming. I’ve been walking, stumbling, hiking, and dancing on my path for almost one solid year post Pocket Call. And I’m about ready to cross the street for the first time.
My arms are full to overflowing with all the tasty morsels of guidance and (tough) love and support, and my smile is broad. I want to run across the street like I’m hurtling towards the finish line at a shopping spree, my loot clutched in my hands, ready to go tear up the next block in my journey. I smile at that part of me.
But that’s not the pace to set for this leg of life.
This leg is all about the gentle. The transition is happening right now, which is probably a key part of why I have butterflies. This feels good. While it would be easy to become distracted and agitated by the arrival of The Genius, or the self-placed pressure to succeed…at basically everything, or the many unknowns in my world, I’m choosing an even easier path.
The gentle one.
I can thank Mr. Delicious for this revelation. We shared dinner in Napa the other night. And I do mean shared. Each dish and each glass of wine a communal partaking. Forks handed back and forth, glasses passed, senses delighted. For a germaphobe it’s a torturous way to dine, but for me it’s sublime. And intimate.
It had been weeks since we had last seen each other. When we met outside the restaurant he greeted me with my full name and a questioning look in his eyes, as if we had not yet met. And a smile. We hugged. I had butterflies. Gentle butterflies.
I felt immediately relaxed.
We sat at the bar to await our table. Because I have not yet accepted that I have to travel with glasses, Mr. Delicious read the wine list and ordered two different whites. Thanks to him I have rediscovered my love of white wine. In addition to glasses, I also need to travel with a pen and journal to record the wines and foods I sample, because to rely on me to remember them is misplaced confidence. Yet they were worth remembering.
While we shared our wine, the bartender was crafting a cocktail that I originally thought was a margarita. A pale, cool green, with a slice of…not lime, hmmm, that’s a cucumber…
I had to know. What is that cocktail?
A Clear Conscience.
We shared a smile. She continued,
It’s basically spa water with booze in it.
I almost laughed my wine right out of my nose. How perfect. I thought about getting one for a moment and decided that my conscience was already clear, so the affects of the drink for me might be long-winded monologues. Or worse. Best to stick with wine. But one day I’m going to have a Clear Conscience and take my laptop with me. You don’t mind my long-winded monologues.
We sat at a table inside, under a pitched ceiling of wood with exposed beams; the dining room, which once housed boats, was alive. But I couldn’t tell you a single thing about any of it except that the bar was to my right, the Napa River to my left and the two gentlemen dining across from us looked very familiar. I know I knew them. I tried to place them for about a minute and then turned my attention to Mr. Delicious as a fairly steady stream of plates arrived. I didn’t think of them again.
Oysters, pork belly, and as if that is not rich enough, sweetbreads…I am not kidding you. I had them once before and swore never again. The only thing missing was a lobe of foie gras and a pint of peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. I accepted the fork and threw caution to the wind.
I hereby declare, minds are worth eating.
Those courses were followed by salmon and another fish…do you see why I need the pen and paper? Little greens, froths of whipped something, forks passed, and with each bite the food was becoming less important. The conversation was that much better. We had a lot to catch up on. My hike and swim, his vacation, our wild west adventure. We talked about family, shared pictures, bared a little of our souls. Our eyes didn’t stray far from each other for long.
And then our server came over to say that the chef wanted to send out two more courses. We begged for just one but were denied. One dish was duck and the other could have been human for all I know. I was too intrigued by the tale of Mr. Delicious and his best friend. At one point in their friendship they decided to take their relationship to the next level. Get your head out of the gutter, kittens. They made a commitment to each other to speak the truth, and do so without reservation or judgment, if one felt the other was going off course, ready to make a blunder. That’s a heart-centered move. I was duly impressed. And utterly stuffed. And fully committed to feign offense if dessert was forced upon us.
waddle walk was in order.
We meandered through the riverfront area, taking in the glow of restaurants, sidewalks turned into dining rooms, laughter, storefronts and a cool evening breeze. Mr. Delicious suggested we duck into into the Napa River Inn, which began as a mill in 1884 and now a place to sleep off wine and food, among other pursuits. (For those of you who thought Mr. Delicious and his best friend were about to get intimate, this is so not going where you think it’s going.) Our destination was the couch in front of the fireplace in the smallest of lobbies, after touring the mounted photography paying homage to the early days of the Inn. Although the front desk, and it wasn’t much bigger than a desk, was behind us and just around the corner, I felt like we were alone in the living room of a beautiful home we discovered through an unlocked door. As we took to the couch I nearly sat on his lap. Grace is not my forte, but to be fair to me, my poor aim was because I was too delighted by the environment. It was the perfect place to end a really relaxing and fully enjoyable evening, being fully present in the moment in a building that was frozen in time.
We remained close on the couch. I felt alive again after a few weeks of feeling disconnected, distracted. As if the cords on a full body corset had been loosened and my rib cage could finally stop crushing my lungs. I felt soft. And completely content. I was at ease.
And gentle – a direct result of Mr. Delicious’ demeanor. Everything about him is gentle. Which is not to say he is without fire, or drive, or passion or a love of hockey, the least gentle of all sports. He’s not quiet or shy. He’s even opinionated, but gently so. And when he puts his hand on my back to guide me through a room he does so gently.
I didn’t need the spa water with booze in it. I was effectively blissed out by his company alone. And the affect has been lasting.
Since our dinner I have enjoyed the ripples of gentleness that continue to emanate from our time together. They wash over me at random points throughout the day, giving me an opportunity to interact with the boys more gently, spend more time scratching High Maintenance Kitty (Who, by the way, is no longer high maintenance! Thank you to Dick Van Patton’s Natural Balance Limited Ingredient food! Holy cats, break out the Champagne!), cooing to my massive furball of a dog while gently pulling burrs from between her toes. I’m more conscious of how a gentle nature paves the way for beautiful encounters and calmer moments, and how easy it seems to be to stick with it when I wear it like a cashmere sweater dress.
I felt it and I like the way it feels. Over the past few days I have truly embraced it and I like what it does.
I feel more connected to the boys, more in tune with who they are and how I can best support their growth. I’ve been more creative with them and more playful. They in turn have been even more affectionate, regularly helpful, decently behaved, and also more playful. More exuberant. More joyful. I’ve been more thoughtful.
Yes. All this since Saturday night. I am not playing with you. (But I would, if you were here. I’m always game for air hockey or backgammon especially, but I can lose myself in a Lego set as well as the next 7 year old.)
All because Mr. Delicious showed me the beauty of a gentle nature. (I should also extend my gratitude to the deer that have come to see me over these last few days. As usual, Nature lent a helping hand for this epiphany to be realized.) I knew he’d be a teacher, but I didn’t know that this first lesson would have such a profound impact on me. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. I’ll need to corner the market on gentle these next few weeks if I’m to remain joyful and centered, and focused on the priorities at hand: wrapping up this divorce and writing down this book.
I’m ready to cross the street, kittens. So very ready. I’d say Act One of HGM is coming to a close.