I’ve never had a real set of luggage.
I think I’ve had a piece of this and a piece of that. And now that we have to pay to check a bag I think most people pare down and stuff as much in one little roller as possible. I know I do. We cram our stuff in, hoist it onto the roller scanner thing hoping that they don’t open it and see all of our underwear falling out (or worse).
But over the past few days I have been thinking about all the baggage I have and it is quite an impressive set of luggage. Dating after many years of marriage and when you are in, ahem, ‘mid-life’ is hard and made harder still by that fleet of Samsonite residing in your brain. And my ‘luggage’ is the hard kind. It can be almost inpenetrable. Not the soft squishy kind that can always hold the hairbrush that you forgot to put in.
I have the kind you have to sit on to close.
I could even name these three.
The big one: All the other men I dated between 18 and 25 then 27 and 32
The middle one: Toxic Boyfriend of my middle twenties who required years of therapy
to get over and still causes me pain upon remembering.
(You know, all boyish charm but no where near this cute even though he thinks he is)
The small one: Stanley and my marriage.
Is it odd that the man I was with the longest is in the smallest bag? Maybe that isn’t a true statement. I think my marriage requires a big bag. But Stanley, because we weren’t very emotionally connected doesn’t need a huge bag.
Oh and Archie deserves at least a carry on.
I haven’t seen Al in weeks. He is coming this weekend because I start zipping and ‘buckling’ my luggage up and storing it in the attic and he has to come and unbuckle and coax me into opening it back up again.
It must be exhausting dating me.
Bless his heart.
All of these life stressors and the more I have to manage on my own
well the more I decide I don’t need anyone else.
Buckle Snap Pop!
(If you are so young you never closed one of those suitcases
then you have no idea what I’m talking about.)
I’ve been exhausted with flu kids, trying to fit in a full time job between them being home sick, dealing with the stress of Stanley wanting to sell and bail on birdnesting, plus other life stuff like I’m still having to go to PT for my injuries sustained when I fell down the stairs on Christmas Eve. The PT can’t figure out why my shoulders and neck are like a brick. I got a lecture about letting my stress go since my injuries can’t resolve when I have so much tension. Really? Really?
Then yesterday, after hiding from my bf for most of the last week, I finally kind of went off on the phone. He was going to a concert last night and was stressed about transportation. No biggie, right?
His concert thing, he loves to go hear live music and he always wants a t-shirt, bugs the crap out of me. Why? Because I have already dated that guy. And bought the t-shirt. I had a bf in my late twenties who followed Bruce Springsteen around. And he was like 30. He barely worked, could hardly make ends meet, and Bruce was his life. He worked intermittently, you know, when Bruce was off the road. We loved each other and I was getting ready to settle down but I knew deep in my heart he would bail on me for Bruce. And it wasn’t just Bruce, it was a whole roster of performers.
Is that fair to Al? NO
It is horribly UNFAIR to Al. He enjoys hearing live music. But it triggers every flight response that I have. Should he give it up?? HELL NO. He has few vices, really he is so wonderful, and I want him to enjoy himself. I’m sure I trigger a few of his too. (I think because he got married so young, he has fewer bags, but his marriage bag is the size of a truck.)
Dating at 50 years old, is hard. The slightest feeling of rejection or not being understood (mostly configured in my head because really people are busy and it’s not rejection at all) and I’m like, “that’s it, he doesn’t respect me, I don’t matter.” Well I’ve done that! A quiet moment becomes, “Oh no, he isn’t going to talk to me or share is feelings.” Well I’ve done that too! And I can tell you now, that if I went on a coffee date with a millionaire that looked like George Clooney and he said, “I like to home brew” I would be off like a shot.
“I like to home brew.”
Fuck no! I’m outta here!
Even Downton Abbey triggers old resentments because after an hour of hearing their uppity British accents (Stanley again) I want to kill someone and walk through the house for the rest of the evening muttering to myself about “Cold fish”!
The question becomes, “How do we get rid of the luggage?”
I don’t want to live my life in fear of how I have been treated in the past. I don’t want to make Al scared to tell me he wants to go to a concert because truly, this man is good to me and I want him to be happy all the time. If that includes a concert t-shirt, I should buy it for him myself. But how do I get over the million and one small rejections and infractions that I have suffered in my 48 years in order to give someone else a fighting chance? Oh, and just to be clear, I have inflicted damage on others myself. We all have. My mother told me when I was about 31 that I was going to go to hell for how I treated men. (But by that time my rope was getting short with them all and I was considering lesbianism. If only I could have found one that looked like George Clooney and had a penis.)
The other side of the coin.
Is that my defenses are hard earned. I’ve suffered along the way and become protective of my little tender heart. I don’t want to give my baggage away completely, I need my defenses. We all need a few buckles and snaps to help protect us from evil doers, right? We don’t want to keep dating the same ole jerks over and over or even have our friends or colleagues make us feel bad all the time. Right? It is good for me to see warning signs in people and to have learned some things in my mistakes. Right?
My luggage isn’t going anywhere anyway. It is a part of me just like my brown eyes and fear of reptiles. The most I can hope for is to take some of the hard edges off of my bags. Refurbish them from the unforgiving Samsonite into a lovely squishy Vera Bradley floral.
I’ve decided on the best course.
Al needs to keep mostly mum about the concerts, perhaps just the
mearest of mentions, and I will slip a $20 in his pocket to buy
him the t-shirt just to show him that I do want him to have fun.