Friday, August 17, 2012
“Tell me more about these feelings you are having.”
“Well, I can’t quite find the words. It’s scary, you know? Just even giving it any attention.”
“Try to find the words.”
“It’s complicated, you know? I still love my wife. And I still feel her love for me. I mean, I still feel her love. How can I even think of it? What does that say about me? About what we had? We had something really great. Really great. And now she is gone and I can never get that back. But even so, there's this, well, I, would, um, I dunno. You know?”
“You know. I, I, just want . . .”
“Yes. What is it you want?”
“I just want a, you know, um, well, a companion. Sort of. A friend. A woman. A woman friend. A, well, someone to be with.”
“You want a woman to be with.”
“Well, yes, I guess.”
“Is that hard to say?”
"No. Yes. Ah, no. Shit . . . Well, I don’t know. It’s confusing. I mean, look at me. I’m 44 years old. Widowed. A single dad and looking for a date. What is that all about? How do I even do that? And anyone I find they are going to be, you know, widowed or divorced or whatever. And they’ll have baggage and I’ll have to deal with all their shit and their kids and I’m just too old and I barely even have the time to take a crap and I’m thinking of wanting, of having a woman friend? Woman friend. What is that? Woman friend. What does that mean? But what’s my choice? Girlfriend? I don’t even like that word. Girlfriend. I’m not 19. I’m forty-fucking-four years old! This is NOT how it was supposed to go. I’ll do what – go to a bar? Online? And find what? Someone with all sorts of baggage . . .”
“John,” she said unusually abruptly, cutting me off as she tilted her head to the side, “Baggage? Don’t you think perhaps you have a little baggage, and I hate that word, too?”
There are some days when I wonder why I pay my shrink what I do. Then there are days like this one. Like the day about two years ago where she verbally smacked me in the side of the head and I wonder why I don’t just go ahead and sign over my paycheck.
“Yeah, I guess maybe I have a little baggage, or whatever you call it.”
“Yeah, I guess maybe you do. But let’s just say, instead, that your life has become, well, complicated. And a lot of people have complicated lives, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t also find happiness. They can, and many do. And so can you. But I’d like us to go back to what you were saying earlier. About what it is you want for yourself.”
And that’s when I started pulling the threads together. I was tired. I was lonely. I was sad. I just wanted someone to hang out with. A reliable date of sorts. Nothing serious, but someone I could call up and say, “hey, what are you doing Friday? Wanna come over and do take out and watch a movie with me and the boys?” How hard would that be to find? And besides, it was September or October and the holidays were already starting to loom just over the edge of the horizon.
“The holidays are the worst. The absolute WORST!” someone told me. “What are your plans for the holidays?” And another: “Have a plan. You DO have a plan, don’t you?”
Holidays? I had never given it much thought. The holidays were always kind of fun and just sort of worked out. Thanksgiving was my favorite. I like Christmas songs. The shopping? Feh, not so much, but I like the songs and Charlie Brown and the Grinch and lights on the tree and cookies. It’s good. All good. But now I was seeing the coming storm of enduring the “holiday season” without my life mate. I swallowed hard and thought how I would make it through? And maybe it would be nice to have a companion. Someone to go to a holiday party with. Someone to come over and have dinner with. Someone to talk to. Someone to flirt with. Someone to hold and, who knows, be intimate with. But someone to get me through the holidays and someone I could say goodbye to afterwards so I could get on with my life.
And that was it: A dependable Friday date and someone to keep me company through the holidays. Simple. That was my plan and that is what I shared with my shrink.
“I see,” she said, nodding as she scratched her chin and jotted a couple notes down on her pad. At the time I was sure she was writing down how thoughtful I was. How well I was adjusting to my new life. I’m sure of it!
Well, a funny thing happened. Not funny, “ha ha,“ but the other “funny.” It was the end of October and I met someone. Someone online, of all places. We exchanged emails. Went on a date. And she was beautiful and funny and we laughed. Then there was another date and another. Exchanged more emails and called each other on the phone after my boys were asleep and talked for hours. Then another date. And I got to know her better. This single women, my age, and no kids, runs her own business, and is not even that crazy. Wonderful, in fact. Then she met my boys. And they started to like her too. And then more dates, and then she met my Mother-in-Law. That is, my late wife’s mom. And they hit it off! For real! And she fell in love with me and I fell in love with her and time started moving again. Time’s flapping sails filled full with wind and pushed us forward across this ocean to some shore we can’t yet see. And on we went, night and day, then weeks turned into months and still we sailed.
And then one day a couple weeks ago, we sat there on the back porch and the days that had turned to weeks and months came to rest and paused for just a moment as we looked at each other, balancing on this present moment, atop a complicated past and unknowable future and decided to commit to the rest of if, together. Neither one of us expected to be here, not now, and not with each other. But the fates conspired otherwise. And you know what? I like the adventure. And I’m pretty sure she does too. It’s a little scary, but no good journey isn’t. And so we’ve committed to see it through. Made a promise to each other. A promise from each to the other to make a promise to spend what is left of our lives together, sailing these seas.
Calls and visits to parents and in-laws and to various elements of my complicated life followed. Then lively and loving conversations of life and love to two boys who are quickly becoming men. A ring! We need the ring, then on to alert more more friends and family.
And, dear reader, that is where the story is, for now, as we sail to that unseen shore, its next chapters yet to be written.
Wish us well.