The Shift

Jocelyn, walk away.  The last thing you need is another lover. You already have three lovers, four if you count your husband.  Yes, he counts.  Okay, so I have four lovers and one more has presented himself when I wasn’t even looking for another.  But this one.  This one is different from the others because we have been friends for decades, but we’ve never had an intimate relationship.  For the purpose of protecting identity, I’ll call him Pablo.

Pablo’s mother is Spanish, his father, American. And like Picasso, he is a renaissance man, gifted in many areas: a graphic/web designer/IT guy, musician, potter, gardener, chef, dog-lover, song writer, singer, music lover, traveler and DIYer. Did I mention he’s also incredibly good looking, has a happy disposition and is still single?  From his mother’s side he inherited skin the color of caramel.  He has almost-black, thick hair flecked with some gray, full lips, brown eyes and a friendly, warm smile.  He’s taller than me by a few inches (I’m 5’9″) and has a nice, sturdy,  strong body.  Not too soft in the middle, but not overly ripped. Oh, and he has a serious girlfriend, so not exactly single, but, yeah, that’s what makes him kinda like Picasso:  always room for more lovers.  So what’s wrong with him?  Why hasn’t he “settled down?”  Why have I not known him to have long-term commitments or live with a partner before?  Is he actually gay and in denial?  Definitely things I’ve asked myself over the past 20 years with no conclusive answer. He might be a little OCD with cleanliness/neatness. He might also really enjoy his personal time, space and silence.  Pablo is probably an ambivert:  someone who is both introverted and extroverted depending on the situation and how they derive their energy.    He loves going to big music festivals with friends, but he also really likes chilling at home with his dog and refueling.  He’s quite a package.  And although I am definitely not looking for “partner-material,” I’d love to have a guy like him as a lover.  My current lovers are emotional and financial train wrecks.  Having someone out there who is emotionally stable, can afford a nice dinner or even a nice weekend away (and still pay their bills) is very appealing!

Pablo and I met at a bar in college (we think).  It’s all a little foggy and we continue to try and conjure the memory of how and where we met.  We probably sort of knew each other before our official meeting due to proximity of classes on campus, the places we hung out and the parties we attended.  He was an art major, I was a theater major.   He was in a band and I went to a few of his shows long before he ever knew I existed.  He was also in a fraternity and I remember seeing him at some parties, but thinking he would never be interested in someone like me: not a sorority girl, no long blonde straight hair, a little weird, not beautiful in a mainstream way.   In my mind, we met at a bar one night seeing one of our favorite college bands: Catwampus Universe.  We drank too much and I lured him home to my apartment.  But, strangely, we just went to sleep when we got home and said a quick goodbye in the morning, still fully clothed from the night before.   And when I say we just went home, I mean it.  Not one kiss, nothing.  From earlier posts, you’ll know that isn’t how I operate.

Despite our platonic night together,  I wasn’t giving up.  I specifically remember saying  to my best friend, Emma,  how incredibly excited I felt to have a new crush.  An idea developed with this crush that has stayed with me all these twenty-something years:  I was looking forward to heartbreak.  Who the hell looks forward to heartbreak? Weird?  It had been awhile since I’d had my heart smashed to pieces and I wanted to feel the extreme high of getting to know a new person as well as the extreme low of the let down when it doesn’t work out or isn’t reciprocated.   Emma gave me her usual scrunched up face and said “you’re so weird.” My response was that for every heartbreak, there is something new waiting around the corner.  Only recently have I begun to understand how valuable and profound heartbreak and loss can be. These soul-crushing moments allow us to grow.  More importantly when we are vulnerable enough to experience heartbreak in the first place, we are actually showing strength.  Vulnerability is a muscle that allows us to grow stronger each time we use it. When we take risks and put ourselves our there we evolve and come away with knowledge and understanding about ourselves and others.  The process can be so painful, but it can also be beautiful and lead to incredible experiences and sometimes love (or at least pleasure!)!

My crush on Pablo probably only lasted a few weeks, but time has a way of blurring our memories. We continued to talk on the phone and meet up on campus.  One Friday evening, Pablo invited me over to his place to cook dinner together.  For me, this is a really important memory.  I didn’t know any other guys who knew how to cook.  I, myself, didn’t even know how to cook much besides ramen.  Here’s where Pablo and I disagree: my memory is that he made roasted acorn squash stuffed with creamed spinach and maybe steak or chicken? . That’s definitely what we ate, but we don’t know who’s idea it was.  The more I think about this I have to admit that I think Pablo is correct:  I made the acorn squash stuffed with spinach  But, at age 22, he was willing to eat it.  That, my friends, is a beautiful thing.  And he will be so happy that I’m admitting that I, not he,  made it.  Pablo was, officially, my first foodie friend. Memories related to food or sharing a meal are extremely vivid.  For me it’s one of the lenses through which I see and remember my experiences.  Also, I love food!  Over the years I’ve discovered that Pablo loves food as much as I do.  We love new tastes and textures and we both love presentation.  Every meal should have a balance and variety of color and texture.  From that night forward, I often think of Pablo when I’m at a new restaurant or cooking a new recipe.  At the end of the evening we chatted, he played guitar and then he was ready to get to bed and that was it. No kiss.  No nothing again.  It wasn’t a “date.” It was friends hanging out (and that should have been okay with me, but I couldn’t get beyond the “why doesn’t he like me that way” feeling.)   I was a little crushed, but still hopeful.

The final chapter in this ancient memory happened sometime within a 6 month period of that dinner-not-date night.  I know it was 6 months because I remember shouting at Emma through tears “you KNOW i have liked him for SIX MONTHS!” Emma and I had gone to our usual campus bar, most likely to watch our favorite bluegrass band.   I could always count on Pablo being around if good music was playing.  My memory of this time is really fuzzy. Twentysomething-years-ago memories are difficult to replay accurately.  As the night went on Pablo was giving Emma a lot of attention.  My jealousy was starting to flare.  I can still see Emma’s head thrown back, her short curls bouncing, mouth open wide in her signature laugh at something Pablo said.  Eventually the two of them stumbled out of the bar arm in arm, laughing and flirting.  Sad, angry and hurt, I followed shortly after.   When I turned the corner to go home, Pablo and Emma were pressed up against the blue cinder block wall heavily making out.  Together in front of me, my best friend and the guy who embodied the perfect package making out. Humiliating and gut wrenching.

I blew up at Emma when she got home, we didn’t speak for a few days.  I shed a few tears and tore myself apart and wondered what was wrong with me.  When we’re in the thick of pain and rejection we can never see that it isn’t about us at all.  It never is, it never was.  My next memory of Pablo doesn’t reappear until a few years later.  I got over my crush or, more likely, moved on to a new one.  We remained friendly.  We both moved to the same city after college, so we were always running into each other at shows.  Emma and I were still roommates and went to a party at his house.  And at some point he and I and my parents went to see Patty Griffin together.  There is always a tender place in my heart for any man willing to go see Patty Griffin and more tenderness if they are a fan.  But there has never been another time in the past 22 years that I have considered him as anything other than a friend or even fantasized about him.  For more than a decade I think we both thought fondly of each other, but categorized each other as a tertiary friend.

The turning point in our friendship happened a few years ago when Pablo turned 40 and decided to come to the PNW for his birthday trip.  We had been in touch more via social media and I was more than happy to open my door to him and show him around the city.    There’s almost nothing I love more than being a tour guide in my own city, especially to an old friend who loves food!  His intentions were to stay with another friend of ours from college, but, God love her, she’s a total flake and she and her place-to-stay didn’t come through.  So Pablo ended up at our insane asylum, I mean, home, for several days.   We cooked and ate our way around the city.  Pablo made bolognese sauce from scratch and I picked up some culinary skills that I didn’t even know I was lacking.  The two of us went to my favorite Spanish restaurant for tapas. It was an indulgent meal and the chef sent out some complimentary dishes because a friend of mine happened to be working that night.  And although we hand’t seen each other in awhile or even really ever spent this much time together, it was very comfortable and timeless. I remember standing in the doorway of our guest room, him shirtless and laying in bed with his arm behind his head chatting with me as if we’d always had this intimate relationship. Not sexual, but very comfortable. It struck me then and made me really happy to know that he felt so at ease in my house. Pablo also took the chaos of our loud, somewhat dysfunctional kids in stride.  He never even flinched.  We also gave him a stomach virus!  I wasn’t sure I’d hear from him again after that fiasco. My husband is not a jealous person at all, and I must give him credit and appreciation for always allowing me space to hang out with male friends.  That visit, I think, gave both Pablo and I a new appreciation for each other.

Over the last few years we’ve made efforts to keep in touch.  I usually see him when I’m back in the SE city that we both call ‘home.’  In the last year I’ve been back to that area 3x and I’ve seen him each time.  We either meet up at a show or for dinner.  The last time I was in town was just a few weeks ago.  And in the most brief interaction we’ve had over the past few years, everything changed.  It only took a split second to change things, but, for me, standing there with one of my other lovers in a huge crowd of people at a music festival, I instinctively knew there was a shift in our friendship. So what cosmic event happened to create this change?  A kiss on the lips.  Pablo had found me in the crowd watching Fitz and the Tantrums.  I squealed, jumped up and down and we embraced in a big sweaty hug.  It was 95 humid degrees in the center of a thousand sweat drenched bodies in late September.  We were at a music festival on a farm in the suburbs.  Pablo and I hadn’t been in touch, so neither of us knew the other was going to the festival until the end of the first night when I saw his photos posted on social media.  And even then, we hadn’t texted or talked about meeting up.  I sincerely hoped we’d run into each other, but I was locked in the arms of my lover every spare second, so I hadn’t made much of an effort to make it happen. Turning to see that it was he who had tapped me on the shoulder was a great surprise.  The three of us watched Fitz and the Tantrums for most of their set, chatting in between and dancing during songs.  Pablo handed his phone to my lover, Tom, and asked him to take a photo of us.  Tom said “Damn, you are the hottest “couple” here.”  I don’t think he was wrong.  At the end of their set Pablo said he had to get back to his friends.  We leaned in for a hug goodbye and that’s when it happened: a kiss on the lips.  I’m positive the internal questions scrolling through my brain were visible in a banner above my head.  My lack of impulse control and filter couldn’t be quieted. As he turned to walk away I said, “is your girlfriend here?”  I completely expected him to say they had broken up.  That’s how cosmic the kiss felt.  But, no, they are still together, she was just busy with something else that weekend.  I know it’s corny but the phrase from the song Things that make you go hmmm? was on repeat in my mind. I turned to Tom and said, “hmmm, that was different.  He has never ever kissed me on the lips before.”  I almost immediately texted Emma and told her.  Although I described it as “he kissed me like he would his mom or something.”  In truth, that description was just to protect myself if I had completely misinterpreted it.

As the sun was going down, after Ryan Adams finished his set, I made my way over to the stage where Eddie Vedder would be playing soon.  I had lost Tom when he went off to get  me a drink.  I figured we’d find each other eventually.  At the edge of the crowd waiting for Eddie, there stood Pablo and his friends.  He warmly welcomed me and introduced me to everyone.  I was so tired from sweating and standing for the last 2 bands that I took a seat on the communal blanket.  Pablo joined me after the first few songs.   He asked if I was staying with my parents (as usual).  I told him I was actually staying at an Airbnb.  He flipped. “What?!  No! You should stay with me! You can always stay with me!”   When there was finally a pause I said that it might be kind of awkward since I’m actually here with Tom and that we had booked the Airbnb together.  A little confusion spread across Pablo’s face, but he quickly processed it and understood.  I shared a little of what was going on with Tom and I: he’s my good friend, I really care about him, he’s my lover, but he’s not my “forever person” and I’m still married. I’m not in an open relationship (although I’ve suggested it several times!) And I’m still figuring it all out.  Tom had found me in the crowd.  We all shared the blanket.  Friends watching a show and singing along.

As we sat on the blanket I noted each little event that contributed to this sudden shift in our friendship:

1) Pablo really made an effort to see me in June during my last visit.  I felt that he’d gone out of his way to make it work somehow to see each other.  At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, but now I was adding things up. 2) He was very animated when he said that I should be staying with him. He’d never expressed such an interest in having me stay with him before although I’ve no doubt the invitation would have always been there. 3) He said that I looked really good.  That wasn’t too out of the ordinary. He could say that to anyone, but I’m not sure he’d ever said it to me.  4) That kiss on the lips.

The show was over, his ride had arrived and it was time to say goodbye again.  We stood up and had a long hug and there it was again: a kiss on the lips (only this time I turned my head a bit and he caught the corner of my mouth.) As our extended arms began to slip away and he was just about to turn, with one hand still holding my arm he sort of pointed with his free hand and looked me in the eyes and said “hey, I love you.”

There it was again.  The shift.  Never ever had he said “I love you.”  There was no doubt he sincerely meant it.  Not necessarily in a romantic way,  but the timing, the place, the people around us said to me, he’s choosing this moment to say it because his heart needs to say it.  I love you are big words.  I have quite a few people in my life to which I say that, but all of it was earned and took time.  For many of us, it’s not something we throw around.  Of course, what can I do other than reciprocate with a big smile “I love you, too!”  And then that stupid phrase enters my mind again, Things that make you go hmmm…

Tom and I went back to our Airbnb and made all the love we could handle.  Okay, we fucked ourselves raw.  True story.  But that’s another whole post all together.  The next day I flew back to the PNW and back into my regular wife-and-life-with-three-kids duties.  But I could not shake those tiny little events that happened with Pablo.  My third day back I decided, after waking up at 5am, that I needed to clarify the intent.  Intent isn’t really the right word.  I don’t think there was intent behind the kiss, just feelings.  But I needed to know if it was in my head or if something, indeed, had shifted.  I texted Pablo and told him that I sensed something different between us.  I was so relieved when he messaged back quickly to say, yes, something is different.  Despite acknowledging it, he was still very vague with me.  I wasn’t sure if he felt that we’d grown close like extended family or was he feeling attracted to me?  And I didn’t really have the guts to come straight out and ask.  I felt content with validated vague.  Another week or so went by and one late night we started a text conversation.  He asked when I was coming back to visit?  He’d really like me to stay with him.  Hmmm. It was at that point that I thought, okay, once and for all I need to figure this out.  What does he mean by that?  So I suggested meeting in another city.  I could more easily manage to visit San Francisco, where I have friends, than fly back to the SE for the 4th time in 6 months. And what better place to meet with my food-soulmate than SFO?  Not to mention the idea of exploring that city with him and taking him to Heath Ceramics is pretty dreamy (as friends or lovers!)  Finally, I got the answer, still vague, but enough info to solidify the intentions.  Pablo really liked this idea and then, somewhat hesitantly (if you believe hesitation can be felt in a text), asked if I’d consider staying with him in San Fransisco? (As opposed to my friend’s home.) Of course!  Relief!

Pablo knows I’ve been having a rough year in my marriage. He knows (almost) all about my mid-life crisis.  He knows I have a lover or two.  And I know he’s in a serious relationship with someone who he thinks he might like to have kids with.  Despite all that or because of that, I’ve become attractive to him.  He’s always been attractive to me.  In full, painful truth, I really didn’t think I was “pretty enough,” “feminine enough,” or “something enough” for him to find me attractive.  And somewhere along the line I stopped caring because I’m a grown woman now who doesn’t need validation.  (Okay, let’s be honest, some validation that our 40-year-old bodies are still sexy, our minds still sharp and that we are as funny and fun to be around as we once thought we were, is really appreciated!)  When I say I’ve always been attracted to him I’m referring to the the full-spectrum of attributes.  Yes, Pablo is a good looking guy, but he is also someone with whom I share many common interests and he’s not a mess.  He has a good job, he owns a home, takes care of a pet and garden (seriously, that takes some commitment), he is creative in every sense of the word, he has a reliable vehicle, he likes to travel and he values money in a healthy way.  Pretty much an excellent recipe for a great lover! I want this experience!  I can think of no better terms for a lover than someone who really cares about you, but doesn’t NEED you and vice versa.  I’m excited to see if we are compatible sexually.   SFO, here I come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brain Ramblings (from a stay-at-home-mom)

*A few months ago I made a new friend, Ali.  I sought her out because I discovered she was newly divorced. I was intrigued not only by the separation (which I had been considering for myself for some time), but because, at the time, Ali was seeing someone she had dated in college.  I was having a cyber affair with someone from college.  I can’t say someone I dated because we never dated, Mark was a one-night-stand.  (To this day I have a hard time actually saying his name because I don’t know if other than him telling me his name I had ever uttered it to him.  It’s a weird feeling.  Obviously I know his name, but because we never had a relationship, I never used his name on a regular basis. I digress!)  I’m going to quote Ali right here with the best way to describe what is going on in my life and in my brain right now.  The first night she and I got together to talk  I told her about my marriage problems and my cyber affair with Mark. She asked, “How old are you?”  I said I was almost 41.  She got a big smile on her face and said “Oh! So you’re coming in HOT!” It’s true, I’ve entered my forties with a a deep desire for change.  I want change so much that it physically hurts.  I want a career, I want to travel again, I want to have new sexual experiences with new people, I want my life with my kids to be peaceful and happy.  I would like life with my husband to feel peaceful, easy, care-free and happy, too.  I also wish he would allow me to sow some wild oats and have some new experiences while I’m still healthy and attractive and I would allow him the same.  I’ll be very clear that an open marriage would not solve all of our problems.  There’s so much more to the story.

Today I’m letting readers in on a day inside my brain.  A brain that is very confused, conflicted, busy, horny, funny, good, bad, honest, dishonest, loving and loathing.  Here’s a sample from my brain with some artistic liberties  taken by combining several days worth of thoughts into one.

Sex. – Divorce. – I want to go back to school. – Ugh, no coffee is made? Fucker. – What should we have for dinner? – Crap ! I need to do xyz for kid #3’s class. – I wish I hadn’t said yes to so much volunteer shit. – Time to wipe a butt. – I need a shower! – Shit, I forgot ______. – I wish I was in an open marriage. – You have a poopy?  Let’s change it. Why do other people’s kids poops smell so much worse than my own? – I need a new therapist to talk about all this shit with. – Damn, I really want to have sex with Mark. – Damn, I wish there was SOMEONE else I fantasized about.  – I love Ellen!  –  I love Justin Timberlake, too. – I wish we were all friends, that would be SO MUCH FUN! – Sex.- Wait, Chip is coming to Charlotte, too, I always wanted to hook up with him. – He is married, but so am I, so maybe? – We  always said we would get married if neither of us had any prospects by the time we were 30.(Who cares now that we’re 41?)- I’m definitely going to see Tommy the Hottie who Needs my Body when I’m in Charlotte, but he’s probably fat. – I don’t want to break Tom’s heart, I can tell it’s fragile since his divorce. – Oh, and I’m married and I can’t talk my husband into an open marriage.- Sex.-  I love my Shibari vibrator so so much! – Time to wipe another butt. – I need to schedule____________.  – I need to make a grocery list. – I kind of want to take the summer off anyway, regardless of how hard he’s “trying.” – Time to go hang up some laundry because we can’t use the dryer and be “average Americans.” – I miss our cat. – I’m so lonely.- I just need out of this house. Divorce. – My hair is so gray and dull.- How in the hell would you support yourself if you did leave this summer?-  You have GOT to go back to school.- Spring Break should be fun. –  We travel well together despite me wanting to shred him when we’re at home. – Time for lunch.-  Maybe I’ll get on Tinder when I go to Charlotte. – If I’m not fucking Mark, I sure as fuck am fucking someone. –  Jeeze, Jocelyn, what the fuck is wrong with you? –  You’re fucking married. And married to someone who has already told you that an open marriage is not happening. – Dear Sugars, Please help!-  If I do go on Tinder I wish I could confirm penis size first. I’m not wasting an infidelity on some shrimp dick. – Shit! Make the fucking appointment for an IUD! –  I want to go to Hawaii or Mexico or Thailand.  I just need a tropical vacation. That would solve everything!  Ha ha! – I love The Lumineers. – I love The Avett Brothers. – I love Brandi Carlile. – I’m so happy I have music in my life. – Gratitude. – I need more of that.- If I do write to the Sugars, where would I even start? Too many tangled problems to ask one question.-….

My thoughts are varied with many plot lines that have yet to be explained in this blog. This is my life right now.

*Names and places have have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty.

 

 

 

 

 

Adrian

In the fall of 1998 I traveled to Cambridge, England to study abroad with about 30 other people from my university.  We weren’t actually enrolled in Cambridge University, but we used their facilities. Basically we were on a 4 month field trip taking 12 credit hours.  We studied Irish Drama, Modern British Drama, Modern British Novel and Elizabethan Drama. The gregarious, flamboyant and passionate, Dr. Pat Taylor, lead the way and taught all of our classes.  It was my first time abroad and paved the path for my future travels. Pat had pointed to me during her Modern American Drama class and said, “You are coming to Cambridge with me next fall!”

This was the fall following what had been me throwing caution to the wind and hooking up with anyone for whom there was a mutual attraction.  In the time between April of 1998 and August of 1998 I had slept with, given blow jobs to and/or received oral sex from at least 9 people.  For me, the girl who was “trying to keep her numbers low” prior to this time period, that was a record.  I was 22, about to be a college senior and really unsure of what life had in store for me after I graduated.  I believed that this was the time I was supposed to be finding true love.  And I guess I thought I’d find it while sucking someone’s cock.  Funny enough that penis always went limp when he asked me what I planned to do when I graduated.  I always told the truth:  I want to be a mom.  Maybe I’ll find a part time job at a theater.  My husband will make enough money for me to only have to work part-time.  I’ll do yoga, cook and bake, and do art projects with my kids.  Yeah, no guy wanted any part of that equation.  They all assumed that I wanted to be a mom right now. That wasn’t the case.  I knew there was some living I needed to do before becoming a mom, but, in the end, it’s really what I wanted. Truthfully, I couldn’t imagine anything else for myself.

I hadn’t found love with the baseball player, the football player, the Governor’s grandson, the actor, the set painter, the cook, the other set painter, the photographer/ex-boyfriend of my best friend(I know, totally shitty), the other photographer or the ex-lover who had a new girlfriend(to whom he is married now).  So love must be waiting for me in Cambridge!!  Can I tell you what a bummer it is to look around at the group of 33 of you who’ve just arrived to the UK with for a semester away and think, ugh, I will not be fantasizing let alone kissing a single one of these people?!  For one, there were less than a handful of guys on this trip.  Secondly, two are gay (but one didn’t know it yet), one was into death metal and one was taken.  I knew I had to look elsewhere.

Our classes were held at Fitzwilliam College on the edge of town. It was about a 10 minute walk to Cambridge City Centre.  Many days after classes we’d walk into town to browse Boots Pharmacy, drool over clothes at H & M or have a plate of chips and a pint at a pub.  Often in the center of town there would be musicians busking (think Once).  The first time we came upon the string quartet I immediately fell in love. Classical musicians rocking out.  Their music was gravitational.  They played classical with a twist as well as traditional folk music.  And in the center of the quartet, standing about 6’5″ was the violin player, Adrian. His first asset was his instrument; I have a deep love for the fiddle.  And his second asset was his height.  From earlier posts you’ll know that I really like tall guys.  Adrian stood above his band-mates and nearly everyone for that matter.  He had blonde curls and often wore a thick cream-colored cable knit turtle neck sweater.  He looked like a Norwegian dream.  I was instantly smitten.

I remember going back to my host family’s house the evening  I first heard and saw Adrian.  My host mum and I were washing dishes and she said, “you’re quite cheerful, what’s happened today?”  I told her that I’d fallen in love with the fiddle player in the square!  She said, “oh, he is quite nice! Did you speak to him?”  Um, no.  But I’ll definitely be going back to see him play again!  And so I did.  Eventually I got the courage to speak to the band one day when they were finishing up.  I introduced myself, “hi, I’m Jocelyn.  I love watching you all play.”   “Hi, I’m Adrian, yes, I’ve noticed.”  Blushing!  “I’m studying here from the US.”  “Yeah, I can tell.”  Ouch?  “So, what do you guys do after?  Are you heading to a pub? ”  “Nope, heading home.”   Hmmmmm, that didn’t go as well as I’d have liked, but I’m not one to give up.

Every Wednesday afternoon, I made my way to the city centre to see the quartet play.  I continued to hope that maybe Adrian and I could go get a pint when they finished.  And I continued to tell my classmates, my professor and my host family about Adrian sightings!  Literally everyone in my life knew about Adrian.  My professor, Pat Taylor, encouraged my crush.  She was a very passionate woman who strongly promoted the idea of “intense physical passion.”  She shared that she had experiences of being intensely physically attracted to someone outside of her marriage and that it was a shared, reciprocated attraction, but it didn’t mean she didn’t love her husband.  And that all of us, being single, should follow that attraction.  We’re young, we’re free.  Don’t deny yourself the experience of physical passion!

In November our class set off on a week-long bus tour of Northern England and Scotland.  We visited the Lake District, Loch Ness, the home of the Bronte sisters and Edinburgh.  Our bus had just pulled into Edinburgh on route to Edinburgh Castle when I awoke from a nap.  My head was leaning against the window and I was looking out. We were literally inching along in bumper to bumper traffic.  All of the sudden my eyes focused on someone walking down the sidewalk next to our bus.  It was Adrian!!  Four hours away in a different town and country, Adrian was fucking walking down the street!  This could not just be coincidence, it must be fate!  Immediately I jumped up from my seat and began shouting, “oh my god!  It’s Adrian!  It’s Adrian!  It’s the violin player!  He’s walking down the street!! It’s fate!”  My friend sitting next to me said, “you’re not getting off the bus are you?”  I said I had to go talk to Pat.  I ran to the front of the bus and said,  “Pat! It’s Adrian!  You know, Adrian, the violin player?!  He’s here in Edinburgh!”  Pat said, “Go! You must go!  Driver!  Let her off the bus!  Honey, meet us at the castle!  Good luck!”

And there in the middle of traffic, with 32 of my peers watching, I ran off the bus, through 2 other lanes of standstill traffic to the sidewalk shouting, “Adrian!!  Adrian!!  Hey!!” He turned toward the call of his name with a look that said who could possibly be calling to me?  I ran up breathless and said, “Oh my god!  Adrian!  It’s me!  Jocelyn?!  You know, from Cambridge? From the square?!  I saw you from the bus and was like, oh my god, it’s Adrian.  It’s like fate!  Can you believe we’re both here?  Who would have thought? I just had to say hi! Where are you going?  We’re going to the castle. Are you going to the castle?”  I literally never took a breath.  His head tilted from side to side.  And then very slowly and with some concern he said, “Uh, did you know I was here-”  “No, of course not! I mean did you know I was here?” “Wow, yeah, so this is my girlfriend, Catherine.”  I  had not even seen her. I was blinded and could only see him.  She had dark hair styled in a pixie cut, creamy fair skin, brown eyes and seemed to be half his height (the complete opposite of me.)  With a look of confusion and almost disgust her eyes narrowed as she said, in her British accent, “So, that’s your coach?”  Yeah.  “And you just ran off?”  Yeah.

At that point I decided I needed to quickly get myself out of this extremely awkward situation and get back on that bus.  The light had turned green, but traffic still wasn’t moving.  I said I’d better get back to the bus before it took off. I turned and ran.  As I climbed back on everyone cheered and clapped and said, “That was so amazing!”  “You’re so brave!”  “Beautiful!”  “That was like a movie!”  I screeched through my red face, “That was his girlfriend!” and burst into tears. Despite the praise and admiration from my classmates and professor  I felt embarrassed and heart broken.  I wanted the Romantic Comedy ending.  Needless to say I don’t remember much about Edinburgh Castle. I sat on the bus for quite awhile letting the tears flow. The shame and humiliation getting the best of me. And for the next few weeks, under gray cold skies, I listened to Jonie Mitchell’s Blue on repeat as I walked through The Commons.  I never saw Adrian again.

Neither love nor intense physical passion was to be had while studying abroad.  I didn’t even have one single kiss the entire semester.  Not even when I went to Italy! (Hmm, or did I? At 2am after that dance club with those two Italian guys?  But there were three of us girls, so that doesn’t add up.) Despite the heartache, this is one of my favorite experiences of my life.  I took a risk! My story actually preceded me coming back to the States.  When classes began the next semester I was hanging out in the Green Room of the Theater Department when two guys came up to me and said they’d heard “The bus story!”  They were truly in awe.  They asked if they could write a screen play about it.  A big smile crossed my face, “Sure, go ahead!  So happy my heartbreak is entertaining!”  And I meant it without one single bit of sarcasm.  If I hadn’t jumped off the bus I would have never known the ending and that would have pained me so much more.  The crush needed that closure.  I needed that closure to know that love was still out there for me, most likely stateside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Library

The weeks following the one-night-stand that I write about in the first blog post were filled with heart-break, rejection and general self-loathing.  I went into that incredible night thinking it was just sex, and it was, but I wanted more of it and he did not. The night had been so electric and magnetic that I couldn’t imagine why he wouldn’t want to do it again.  I remember blathering through a tear-stained face to my roommate, Ashley,  that it was because he was wearing beer goggles and when he woke up in the morning he knew he’d made a big mistake.  I felt ugly, unwanted and so upset with myself for caring.

Ashley was getting sick of me.  Of course, she was still hooking up with various people and clearly didn’t carry the plague I did.  I was moody and irritable.  I hadn’t even turned a head since my epic night of uninhibited fucking. Ashley came home one day, literally with her new swimmer on her arm,  and said “get over it!”  “It’s time to get yourself together.”  And even though it hurt, I knew she was right.

We were coming up on end-of-semester finals.  One evening, mid-week, Ashley and I decided to go to the library together to study.  In between studying, we took spots at the computers located in the center of the library.  This was 1998 and the internet was still very new to me.  Ashley was the first person I knew who had a Hotmail account and she may have even helped me set mine up that night.  She also knew how to message people on the other computers around us.  Across the table from our computer was a tall, chiseled, muscular football player named Jake.  Ashley and Jake had hooked up at a party in the fall, so she new him a little.  They were flirtatious for sure.  I drooled every time time I passed him on campus.  I seriously doubted that he even knew that I existed.  I know, I know. This is sounding much like a John Hughes movie! But this, in fact, is the retelling of a true story that happened to me. As fantasy and wet dream as it sounds, it fucking happened. Sometimes I still cannot believe it.  Ashley sent a message over to Jake that said “my roommate thinks you’re really hot.”  His interest was peaked (really, is it always that easy?!)  Then she said, “She’s really sad. You should come over and cheer her up.”  He asked why I was sad.  She told him a baseball player had ditched me after a hook-up and I was having a hard time getting over it.

Jake then wrote, “I’ll be over around 10pm, I need to study a little more.”  What?!  Ashley and I walked home from the library giddy.  I really didn’t believe he would show up.  Ashley, on the other hand, said, “Yes, he’s totally coming!  I can tell by the way he was checking you out.  He thinks you’re a hottie!”  I wasn’t buying it.  When we got home, I got into my pajamas, brushed my teeth and headed to bed.  I had just turned out the light and was laying in the dark when I heard a knock on our front door.  My heart was racing.  Ashley answered the door and I could easily hear them in the living room of our tiny little two-bedroom carriage-house.  At first I thought that since I’d gone to bed and they had history, they’d just hook up again.  Then I heard Ashley say, “C’mon, let’s go in her room and cheer her up.”

What happened next is a blurry, yet totally sober exchange of saliva, hands, sweat, moans and cum.  Jake and Ashley sat on either side of me in my double bed and pulled down the covers.  I really don’t know who kissed who first, Jake and Ashley or me and Jake.  Ashley had one rule with me, no kissing each other.  I could lick her tits, finger her and kiss any other part of her body, but no kissing on the lips.  Jake went down on both of us as we caressed each other from top to bottom. I can still feel the goosebumps on Ashley’s skin as she came with him sucking on her clit.  I remember Jake standing silhouetted from the alley street lights at the foot of my bed.  Ashley and I unzipped his pants and pulled them down.  We took turns taking him into our mouths.  Then he layed back and I finished him off.  It was an absolutely amazing, dream-like night for all three of us.  And it was just what I needed to get over the hump of the rejection from the one-night-stand.

*What started out as our own little inside joke ended with each of us hooking up with someone from nearly every sports team at our university: soccer, track, baseball, football and swimming.  I never connected with a swimmer. Only Ashley could add that one to her list.  Ahhh, but baseball and football will forever stand out in my mind!

 

Porn Novice

So if you were to stand a hetero couple side by side which one would you think the title refers to?  I’d say 90% would assume the female in the relationship is the porn novice.  Yesterday I learned something very interesting about my husband of 15 years:  he’s porn clueless.  Actually, it’s like he lives in a porn vacuum, a time warp.

In the past 6 months we both agree that I have hit my sexual peak. We are having sex more frequently than ever.  We’re having mind blowing orgasms.  We have DAY sex.  We even put our kids in front of a movie and tell them we’re going to take a “nap.”  We lock the door and totally get our groove on.  It’s been awesome for both of us.  So yesterday we found ourselves alone in the house and my husband was eager for me to finish some household task  so that we could have some pleasure before going out.  I don’t remember how we got on the topic, but he said something about licking my ass.  And then we both laughed and joked around about “anal tongue darts.”

For some reason I said something about everyone loving it, but in real life it’s kind of gross.  Some serious scrubbing and washing needed to happen before I’d feel comfortable with that.  My husband said “what do you mean ‘everyone loves it?'” I clarified that it seems to be in every porn I watch and that, yes, I think it’s totally hot, but then there’s the reality of it being an asshole. “When have you seen it in porn?” Um, well, sometimes I watch porn.  As is usual for my husband, he went a bit off on a tangent and said something like “yeah, we’ve not really watched much porn together.  But it would be too difficult anyway because we don’t own any.”

Honey, sweetie, um, who does OWN any?  I wish you, my readers, could have seen the very confused look on my face.  The same one on my face right now.  Forehead scrunched up, eyes narrow and coming together, almost a frown on my lips.  What do you mean?  “Well, I mean unless we went to like a video shop and bought some or rented some.”  What    the    FUCK?  Hon, no one buys porn.  You just watch it on the internet.  “Oh, no, those are just clips. And they’re really grainy.”  Again, insert a big fat WTF right here?!  Actually, not true, I just watched a nice, hot, fully satisfying 25 minute one in HD two days ago!  Really.  For real.  “Well I like the ones with a plot.  You know, the classics, like Debbie Does Dallas and Deep Throat.”  Sweetie, there’s a category for that.  You can actually pick “vintage porn” or “plot porn” and there’s even a category called “porn for women” and it often includes porn with plot lines because women tend to like that.  (And, p.s. I think it’s totally okay and cool that he like plot porn).

Holy fucking shit.  Am I teaching my husband about porn?  Yes, yes I am.  I’m still flabbergasted.  Awhile later I said, so wait, like you really don’t watch porn?  Really?  It’s such a taboo subject which is, in fact, why I had never shared with him that I sometimes watch porn.  But I always assumed that he did every once in awhile.  Clearly last night we entered new territory in our sexual relationship.  It made me reexamine why I always wanted to hide that part of myself.  I don’t yet have an answer for that.

Later that night I said I was thankful he didn’t watch porn.  He said “why?”  I said because it can be really damaging and ruin relationships.  This may or may not be a fair statement coming from the “porn expert” of the household.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hammam

In 2001, when I was 25 years old, I had the opportunity to travel around the world with my boyfriend for a year.  We spent every single day, 365 days, 24 hours a day, seven days a week together for the entire year minus 2 nights!  In our 11th month of travel we were in Morocco.  It was around Christmas time and I was feeling weary from travel and missing my friends and family.  I was feeling PMS-y, a little depressed.  I wasn’t a newbie. I’d been exploring and having experiences outside of my cultural norm for nearly a year at this point.  I decided I needed to do something for myself, by myself.  I read about the hammam, a bath house, in a travel guide. The description sounded like what I was looking for, an invigorating cleansing.  I gathered my soap and washcloth and sarong and exactly the amount of money the guide book said I needed to bring to the bath house to enter and to get a massage.

During my experience in Morocco, I did not see many women.  They were not working in the hotels, restaurants and cafes or even at the market.  I would see clusters of women walking in the markets to do the shopping all covered from head to toe.  But I hadn’t had any interactions with them. This was to be my first time to be communal with Moroccan women.  The hammam was for women only.  I walked up to a ticket window and purchased my massage and entrance into the bathhouse.  When I walked in to the changing area I was shocked to see many naked women of all different shapes and sizes, but all very different from myself. Feeling shy and rather exposed, I went to a corner and undressed down to my bathing suit bottoms (I was the only one wearing anything at all) and wrapped a sarong around myself.

I walked over to a desk where they would keep my belongings.  No one spoke English.  Only French or Arabic.  I didn’t speak either language, but could understand a little French and say a few words.  The lady at the desk was irritated with me because I was supposed to pay her to keep my things, but I didn’t have any more money. I had only brought enough for the bath and massage (the guidebook didn’t mention this coat-check place!).  As she was arguing with me, a round, jovial woman appeared at my side and argued on my behalf for the woman to take my things.  She reluctantly agreed, but first reached across the counter and snatched the sarong that was carefully wrapped around my body saying that I wouldn’t be needing that.  I was left standing there topless wearing only my bathing suit bottoms and holding my washcloth and bar of soap.
I quickly figured out that the jovial woman was my massage person.  She led me into the bathing area which was a giant walk-in steam room.  It was quite shocking. There were about 60 women off all ages, shapes and sizes in the steam room.  Women and children, friends, grandmothers and their offspring.  They were clustered together in groups or twos washing each other’s hair and backs.  They had dark hair, olive skin and large breasts.  In the center of the room was a trough of water flowing to a drain full of black hair and orange peels.  Women were brushing each others hair and eating oranges to stay hydrated. It was also a very social situation. Women were animated and speaking loudly. Children were laughing.  Clearly, I was not part of this group: tall, thin, blonde-ish and no boobs.  And I was alone.  Very alone.  The hammam is where  everyone came to wash.  They didn’t have a bathtub or shower at their home.  This was their weekly ritual.  In addition to coming in groups, they also came with many toiletries: brushes, shampoo, exfoliating soap and gloves, baskets full of goodies. They had small stools to sit on and little bowls and scoops that they used to pour water on themselves and each other.  I had only my washcloth and bar of soap.  Feeling under-prepared is an understatement.
My round jovial woman walked me to a corner of the room and motioned for me to sit and wait.  She came up to about my shoulder, was wearing a large pair of thinning underwear that came up over the top of her belly and sat beneath her large breasts.  She was topless and her hair was wrapped up in a cloth.  She was very friendly, but left me in the corner with no instruction. I didn’t know what to do.  I looked around and saw the other women scooping up water from bowls and pouring it over their heads.  So I thought I would do that, too.  I squatted down. There was a bowl near me.  So I reached over and scooped some water and poured it on my head.  The woman next to me glared over, pointed her finger and shook it as if to say “No way, that’s my water!” Then she pointed to another area and said in Arabic that I should go get my own.  I felt embarrassed and panicked!  Where was my jovial woman?? Another woman admonished the mean woman for yelling at me. She waved her off and looked at me and said something in Arabic which I’m sure meant “ignore her.” But I was already feeling really uncomfortable and alone.  I felt fragile.I just wasn’t up for this cultural experience and decided to stand up and make a run for the door. Not literally. I tried to walk quickly to the door to leave.  I had forgotten how slick the tile floor was and slipped and fell flat on my back. My long legs sprawled out on the floor.  As I sat up, two young kids stood in front of me staring with mouths open.  I started to cry.
Just as I carefully went to stand up again, my jovial massage woman reappeared again.  She saw my tears and started belly laughing.  She motioned to me that there was nothing to cry about. She helped me up smiling, speaking and laughing and led me by the hand back to the corner.  I cried harder.  Then she sat down, pulled me down to the ground and literally slid me on my bottom between her legs and started dumping water on my head. At this point I was heaving and crying so hard I couldn’t catch my breath.The more I cried, the more she laughed.  I could feel her large breasts jiggling on my back with each of her belly laughs. I had turned into a little baby as she shampooed and washed my hair.  She was speaking in Arabic and French and saying that “no one comes here alone, no solo, only in tourist groups!” She also may have been telling me that I was very brave or a very silly American, but I’m going with brave!  After awhile I stopped crying and started to slowly catch my breath again.
She then wanted me to lay down on the floor (not a very clean floor!!) so that she could scrub, exfoliate and massage me.  I did NOT want my body to touch that floor, but there was no fighting it.  She was pushing me flat and almost forcing me to relax.  She scrubbed my legs and back hard and flipped me over and did the same to my front. When I say exfoliate, I mean vigorous scrubbing and skin flying.  It was intense.  But at last I was shiny, glowing and clean.  I could leave! The crying had stopped and I could almost breathe again without making that hiccup sound that little kids make after a tantrum.
I walked out laser focused willing myself to make it back to the hotel in one piece with no tears. As soon as I stepped out of the bath house that was at the end of a long pedestrian cul de sac, I was faced with hundreds of men sitting outside at the tea houses.  It seemed that all of them felt necessary to call out to me “How was your bath?”  “Did you get a massage?”  “Can I give you a massage?”  “Take me to America?”  I walked briskly, keeping quiet.
When I got back to my hotel.  My boyfriend said with open arms “Hey!  How was it?!”  I burst into tears and said “It was terrible!!”
Each time I share this story I learn something new about myself.  I’ve learned that I am brave and vulnerable and that allows me to have authentic experiences. I’ve wondered what was it that made me cry so much that day?  Many possible answers:  not being part of group, cultural barriers, language barriers, PMS, homesickness, etc. Experiences like this have made me do my best to show empathy and compassion when I see someone struggling to fit in. And I’ve learned that sometimes the things that make us cry at the time, make the BEST stories later!

Music in the Shower

I have a new bathroom. A fancy new spa-like shower. It’s a Japanese-style shower/bath combo.  Meaning a wet room where the bathtub is in the shower.  You can see one like it here.  The bathroom itself is incredibly indulgent and sexy. And I’ve just (re)discovered the bliss of having music in the shower.  My new bathroom is my escape from the stress of my life.  Sometimes I get a few minutes to have a hot shower ALONE in my bathroom. (Other times I begrudgingly allow a tiny human to take a bath while I take a shower). The music adds an element of sensuality.  It’s also uplifting and can take me away to another time and place.  My Spotify moods have changed daily, even hourly.  If it’s a Saturday morning I may play Stevie Wonder.  On a Sunday night I’m listening to Ryan Adams.  And the other days I’m rotating through Florence and the Machine, Brandi Carlile, Pete Yorn, Patty Griffin, Ben Folds and My Morning Jacket.  Lately I’ve wanted to be carried away quite often.

If you read the last post you’ll know that I sent a Facebook message to someone I had a one-night stand with 18 years ago. It was actually a thank you note.  “Thank you for one of the best nights of my life 18 years ago.”  About three months to the day of sending that message, and thinking that I would never hear from him,  I got a message back. The response came at such a strange time for me.  I was on vacation with my family and having a wonderful time!  The week couldn’t have been more perfect.  We were at the coast with perfectly clear, sunny, warm weather ALL week!  Everyone was getting along.  It was stress-free and easy.  I was feeling so grateful toward my husband because he had stepped up and was cooking most of the meals.  We weren’t bickering.  We were experiencing a peace and calm that my family rarely achieves on a daily basis.

On Thursday, in the middle of the day, a Facebook messenger message popped up on my phone screen. My heart skipped a beat and I grew flush immediately.  My throat felt tight.  I had a pit in my stomach.  His tiny picture was on my screen in a bubble.  This wasn’t an email he penned hours ago that I was just now reading.  We were in real time!  2300 miles away he was responding.  I was so nervous to open the message.  Was he going to say, sorry, I have no idea who you are?  Or, no, I don’t remember that night, are you sure it happened?  Or, I’m married, you’re married, what gives?  I let out a deep breath I’d been holding (possibly for 3 months?) and tapped on the bubble.

His reply started off innocent.  Wow!  It had taken him so long to see it.  “What he wouldn’t give to read that journal.”   I was laughing inside and thinking, well, we did share the experience together so if I was going to share the journal entry with anyone it might as well be him.  He asked if I’d written anything about the gap between his teeth.   I couldn’t believe he remembered how much I love that.  Remembering my love of the gap signaled to me that we both had a pretty strong memory of that night. My messages grew more flirtatious, but just out of the reality of the explicit journal entry.  What brought us to that moment in time was a very x-rated recounting of an amazing night.  So it’s not so surprising that there would be a sexual overtone to the conversation.  I told him there was mention of another body part!  And that I’d wondered if he ever got to play MLB (Major League Baseball)?  He asked “How long was it? The journal entry, of course. Ha,ha.”

The exchange started off that Thursday evening and picked right back up on Friday morning.  It seemed innocent, albeit exciting. After all, I was chatting with the person whom I’d had one of the most significant sexual experiences of my life.  I wasn’t announcing it to my husband. In part because I didn’t want him to know that I’d contacted this guy in the first place. But also because of the super frail male ego. I didn’t want my husband to think that one sexual experience in my twenties was comparable to the hundreds we’d shared together. It was just different. That was the first clue to myself that maybe I was hoping for something else, something more.  But I didn’t know what or how.

And then the conversation picked back up on Friday night.  At first I was clueless as to the direction we were heading.  It was late.  I was in bed when my phone dinged. My husband was snoring like a freight train in the next room.  He’d fallen asleep in a bunk bed with our daughter.  “Who are you with?”  “Let me see.”  See?  See what?  See me?  Why?  I’m wearing leggings and a fleece and my hair is windblown from the beach.  Just go look at my profile on Facebook.  And then his phone number appeared.  “Call me.”  I fumbled in the dark to the living room downstairs and wrapped myself in a blanket.  I was nervous and shaking.  But also very excited.  I dialed the number and and heard “hey.” It wasn’t an altogether unfamiliar voice.  Even 18 years later I could hear the person with whom I’d made such an incredibly magnetic connection.

And for that night and the next i found myself doing something I didn’t even know I could or would ever do.  I had phone sex.I could not have predicted that one month later I’d be sitting in my bathtub, drinking wine in candlelight waiting for the ding of my phone from someone 2300 miles away.