He’s Just Not That Into You

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

There are more than 9 million Google results for this title:  He’s Just Not That Into You.  It’s the title of a 2009 RomCom that is described as “[a] movie of interconnected story arcs [that] deals with the challenges of reading or misreading human behavior.”  I’ve actually never seen the movie, but I’ve read the phrase in tens of memes and “inspirational posts.” Okay, it’s not a phrase that inspires, but it speaks volumes.  Truth is sometimes hard to hear, but it can also unknot feelings, clear up a cluttered mind and feel very empowering.  I’m curious how many bloggers have written on this topic and I wonder if I’ll say anything more insightful than the others.  The difference in this post may be that this is an open letter to the person who just isn’t that into me.  Keep reading.  This isn’t a plea or persuasion.  It’s perspective and clarity.  It’s juicy and heartfelt.  It’s raw and ripe with desire.  It’s intuition and self-realization.

Dear A,

You know what? I’m not sorry.  I’ve spent the last five days fighting with you in my dreams.  I’ve spent the last five days suppressing my need to explain myself.  I’ve cried and cried feeling so guilty for crossing your boundaries when that wasn’t my intention at all.  And I felt confused about how I had “made advances.”  I wrote friends to ask “how can I cry this much over someone with whom I haven’t even had a relationship?” On Sunday I thought I’d started to breathe again and feel better.  I planned to walk right up to you on Monday and tell you that I’d fought with you in my dreams.  That I felt your reaction to two texts was unfair.   You shut me down and out when I wanted to explain myself.  That’s why I called you: nuance, humor and intent are often lost in text.  (On a side note, do you know how Instagram works? Everyone can see what you like. I’m not a see-er. That is said with complete sincerity, not bitchiness. Glad to give you a tutorial.)   But Monday came and I chickened out.  I tried to be brave and casual and opened myself up for conversation and you did not engage.  You treated me like I was just another mom on the playground.  But we both know I’m not.  I don’t mean we needed to hash it out right there.  I wouldn’t do that.  But I expected genuine conversation. Genuine interest.  Genuine engagement.  And Tuesday brought the same amount of (dis)engagement.

Meanwhile life goes on.  And I participated in life fully over the weekend after crying myself to sleep Friday night, but with a nagging, restless feeling that woke me several times.  A weird weak and tingly feeling pulsed through my body.  A heaviness in my chest that took my breath away. And a confused mushiness in my head.  Feeling rejected by you and wanted by so many more.  I went on two Tinder dates. I sang in my choir concert and was so pleased to have 3 good friends in the audience who were so gracious and happy to have come.  I went to one of my favorite restaurants and out dancing with M.  Sunday night, I had another incredible dinner at one of my favorite farm to table restaurants with one of my favorite people, D!  I sexted two people to sleep and declined two others.  Clearly, my sexting abilities are a gift! (Jeez, that’s a gift I never could have predicted or dreamed up and not even sure I want.  I do enjoy making people feel good.)  But when I close my own eyes and go to that place of fantasy in my head, I see you.

My favorite literature professor in college, Pat Taylor, loved to lecture about “intense physical passion” between characters in a novel or play.  Her description and anecdotes about her own experiences left an imprint on me.  She would always say to us (I had 5 classes with her!) you are young and free, don’t deny yourself intense physical passion.  Enjoy it.  Feel it. Embrace it.  You can’t turn it off or shut it out.  This idea has always stayed with me.  And naming it in this way is so much more expressive and resonant than calling it lust or infatuation.  Actually, I think it is different.  The words lust and infatuation conjure one-sidedness.  Intense physical passion depicts two people drawn to each other by physical magnetism that eclipses all other factors.  Intense physical passion is what drew us together.  It’s bigger than us. I’m not saying it means that we’re not in charge or responsible for our how we act on it, just that it’s to be recognized.

Wednesday came.  What a day.  I was still reeling with guilt. Guilt for being too much, saying too much and wanting too much.  I awoke with an ache. Although I knew we were not going to see music together on Friday, it hurt so much to finalize it.  G and I  had a marriage counseling (that I’m now calling co-parenting) appointment and I did not want to go.  I was so emotional, so tired.  The tears unexpectedly flowed.  There was so much more going on in my head than I could share during our appointment.  And once the faucet was turned on, I couldn’t stop them.  I sat in my car crying for an hour.  Self-loathing.  Aching.  Feeling guilty and misunderstood and unheard and irritated that I hadn’t been given a chance to verbalize my side.  And I felt like I was, once again, being treated like a child and being told what to express, what not to express.  This is so embarrassing to admit, but I was also deeply hurting because I knew you were intentionally not “liking” or commenting on any of my IG posts in an effort to disengage.  Was I to assume you were just watching from afar or completely avoiding?  No matter which, it was hurtful because it is the one way, if no other way, I felt we could connect authentically.  It’s a platform where I feel I can be truly seen, appreciated and understood. And I feel that you, of all people, “get it.”

I decided I couldn’t join a walking field trip because I could not stop crying.  And then I saw you 5x that day and you didn’t see me at all (Short little aside here: Seeing you, whether I tell you about it or not, i.e. me opening my blinds the first thing in the morning and looking out my window to see you sitting in your truck in traffic; is not making advances. It’s time and space putting you in front of me. For what reason I don’t know. At the time, it just felt like torture.)  I’ve not been eating well and not been getting any real work done, so I went across the street to eat a salad and work.  You came in, you went out. (And, damn, you looked so fucking good!!)  Then I went into school to pick up and saw you in both directions.  I had to pee really badly and would usually use the bathroom near you, but my eyes were puddles and I knew it would be obvious, so I had a teacher unlock the bathroom near the office.  It was a busy day that never stopped moving despite all of my tears.  I, too, had my own therapy appointment.  As I pulled out of the driveway I had a sense that you were leaving school (I told you this stuff happens to me all the time!) But my practical mind said, thank goodness he’ll be walking up the hill and you won’t have to see him again. But no, you had different plans, I drove right past you walking with someone.  There you were in the sunshine with a smile and ease and engaged in conversation and clearly a spring in your step (okay, you kind of always have a spring in your step.) But you looked really happy.  Not so unlike the way you looked when we walked to the corner last week.  Welcome back waterworks!  And thank goodness for therapists!!

Wasted is an understatement.  By the end of the day yesterday, I was raw.  Therapy helped. Texting with friends helped.  On Sunday D asked me, why does it hurt? I had to think about it for a minute and then I said, because I want to be known and to know him. And I cannot do that unless I am myself, unless I am authentic.  If over the next few paragraphs I get contradictory, I apologize.  As we both know, humans are extraordinarily complicated.  And despite my best effort to look inside myself and dissect my feelings and understand my relationships, sometimes there are still contradictions.  For the rest of the evening I wallowed.  And then at midnight I reread every single message, every exchange, every shared post.  It only took me about 45 minutes to do that (insert- wtf, it’s not like I’d been writing novels or texting 20x a day).  And I replayed in my head the 6 hours or so of conversation we’ve had in the past month.  And the first 5 hours happened all in the first 8 days.  I wanted to see me the way you see me.  I wanted to understand what I had done.  I wanted to interpret every word from your angle (as best I could without being you). I know, I know, sounds like a crazy place to go.  After reading everything and looking at all the posts I suddenly had clarity:  This isn’t about me at all!  It never is!

In those lines of text, which were mostly mine, I read lines from a person who is open, honest, vulnerable and 100% me all the time.  I read dozens of questions that remain unanswered written to a person who is not open and not willing or able to be vulnerable. I read a person who does not want to be known and does not want to know me.  And then it hit me, He’s Just Not That Into You.  You’d think that this revelation is more heartbreaking than thinking you’re into me and just have a lot of “rules” about how I’m supposed to interact with you.  Nope.  It’s absolutely freeing and feels so much better.  In replaying those conversations with you I remembered when I asked you why me?  You said you’re not used to being pursued so hard. It took me awhile to ponder this and retrace all the steps, but I still don’t see it.  I’m not arguing what it felt to you. But I’m not buying that my pursuit (I wouldn’t even call it pursuit) is how we ended up at a bar talking (you asked to have a face to face) and in my car having an incredible make out session (you said, i think it’s time to kiss) that left me wanting so much more.  More passion.  More kissing.  More body worshipping.  I really don’t want a long term relationship right now.  (Here’s where I sound contradictory.)  I want to physically enjoy someone that I’m really attracted to on a physical and intellectual level.  I want to be made to feel like a goddess.  And I want to make someone feel like a god.  I don’t need you.  And you don’t need me.  I desire you.  And I desire not only your physical being, but your authentic self. In one of our conversations you said something about if the circumstances were different we could get together.  And I said that we wouldn’t be getting together because proximity is what brought us to this point in the first place.  Time and space.  Attraction comes from both the physical attraction and the curiosity of the person we both see:  the girl playing ukulele in the garden, the girl with the IG of flowers and plants who shows her soul in a public forum, the girl who has curly hair and a big smile and loves people and looks kinda fun, the guy who has an amazing smile, a spring in his step, is eternally patient and kind (in front of all of us:), the Italian who has amazing hair and hazel eyes (right?! they were glowing in the sun on that walk last week and absolutely gorgeous), the guy who believes in and practices what he teaches, the guy who is a world traveler, an adventurer, the guy who remembers and uses people’s names (so fucking sexy) and for both of us: the specialness of getting to quietly admire each other from afar, sometimes daily.  Proximity.  It’s what communities are made of and what brings people together.  I don’t know if we would would have been a Tinder match.  Probably, maybe?

But what it all comes down to is you’re Just Not That Into Me. My theory is that the Universe placed me in front of you and you were drawn in for a brief second and then almost simoultaneously the Universe placed someone equally as alluring right in front of you.  I had the same thing happen to me a year ago.  I know what it’s like.  I had butterflies in my stomach for a man in my past and they literally flew away the moment another man, who I’d had a super hot one-night-stand with (years and years ago), appeared. My interest quickly waned and I cut communication with that first for quite awhile because I Just Wasn’t That Into Him. (An aside: I absolutely love the one I ignored for awhile and we have undeniable physical chemistry, but that’s another story.)  If you stood the two of us (me and the other lovely lady I’ve conjured) in front of you, it’s obvious that you’d choose the one who is less dangerous, perhaps less vulnerable, more restrained, less messy,  but most definitely the one you are more attracted to.  I’m fully committed to the idea that intense physical passion eclipses all other circumstances standing in it’s way.  The body wants what it wants.  I want your body.  You want someone else’s.  What a unique story.  I could be wrong, but my intuition is pretty good.

But it’s okay.  From my line of suitors I have no doubt that I’ll eventually feel excited and attracted to someone out there.  In the meantime, I have my shibori.  But one thing is certain, I am not ever going to apologize for being myself again.  When we met up for the  second conversation you (maybe mistakenly) said you wanted to forge a friendship with me, get to know [me] slowly.  That’s when I said fuck friendship  (and took it back, but you don’t remember me saying it anyway).  But getting to know me involves all of me.  I’m sexual, irreverent, honest, vulnerable, authentic, passionate, creative, wordy, emotional, compassionate, empathetic, intuitive, unique, sexy, a chronic friend maker, adventurous, curious and funny.  I can be serious, but not if it feels unauthentic.  I have issues with impulse control and boundaries.  And, oh holy shit, my nickname is a reference to being slow, but not because I fail to quickly present all of me.  I’m a slow walker, hiker, sewer and reader.   I’m a lot.  No doubt about that.  And when I meet someone new, especially someone with whom I have a physical and intellectual attraction, I’m excited to get to know them.  And, yes, I am, absolutely physically attracted to you.  I said I couldn’t turn that off.   And, although this may no longer be true, during our 2nd conversation you said, this is not rejection.  You said were were very attracted to me and curious and fascinated by me.  Writing this has been cathartic.  It’s also been eye-opening.  The truth is : He’s Just Not That Into You.

Love,
J

P.S. I don’t know if it was, but looking back, talking on the phone to me feels like it was a pity conversation and that feels really yucky.

Wow. That felt really fucking good.  I feel so much better.  No more tears.  No more guilt.  I have always hated, with a passion, the rules of romantic relationships.  The restraint, the holding back feelings, the dance of trying to understand the other person without directly asking them and telling them.  Who made up these ridiculous rules?  It’s never been my way.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Kitchen Dance Party

Hey. I’ve had a pretty good week.  There’s been quite a few kitchen dance parties going on mid-day at my house.  I’ve been blasting Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Our favorites are Downtown and Dance Off . And I’ve been feeling like the ceiling can’t hold us.  It’s fun. It’s a release.  And my kids get to see me being super silly and I think that’s important.  There are too many moments when I’m hustling everyone to get ready, eat breakfast, brush teeth, brush hair, get in bed, get out the door and on and on.  And half the time I’ve lost my shit and my barks turn to yelling.  I hate being monster mommy.

But honestly there’s another reason for my kitchen dance parties.  Something no one can see in my head.  Inside I’m bursting at the seams with lust.  I know. SAHM, married, young kids. Those words aren’t usually in the same piece of writing as lust. I can’t believe it myself. And, unfortunately, the feelings of lust aren’t for my husband.  Well, he is benefiting, but that’s another blog post altogether.

So how in the hell did I get here from where I began? I wasn’t unhappy per se.  I wasn’t looking to have an affair.  The potential for one just fell in my lap.  Read on to find out how I went from being a regular mom and wife to a virtual adulterer.