Monday, June 11, 2012

312 Days - Waking Up is Hard To Do

My first “date” happened when I was fifteen years old. I was just starting to turn the corner from "übernerd" to "somewhat-humanoid" when a boy not much older than I told me that he liked me and proceeded to thrust his tongue into my mouth while I stood, motionless, like a swarm of wasps was buzzing around my head as a grizzly bear was swiping at them with a mace and a hatchet… on fire. I was so taken aback at what was happening that I feared any sudden move would cause me to vomit in his mouth, and I knew, at that point, I’d never get another date in my life. My “relationship” with Jason lasted all of 41 days. But even in that seemingly tiny time period, I allowed myself to be blinded by infatuation and disbelief that someone like this boy actually liked me, causing me to be something I had never been before but would be many, many times again in my life… naïve. This was the beginning of the Barbara that would go on to trust her body, her heart and her friendship to those who didn’t realize how big of a deal that was for her, all the way into her almost forties.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Chris looked at me from across the bar. He was shorter than I, as are most, with dark wavy hair and an Italian tan that would have made my father proud. We kissed at his car that night, and I neither threw up in his mouth nor felt the need to. At this point, I was experienced; in my early twenties with my own apartment in the city and a job that allowed me to come and go as I pleased. I was smarter, and more aware, and ready to give something like love a go again, one more time. And he seemed willing, and talked a good game, and showered me with attention and cards and dinners, and good sex, all until he didn’t. And the more he pulled away, the more I hung on. And the shadier he became, the more I clung to the hope that he’d be back. “How could he walk away from this?” I’d naively think. “I’m tall and smart and funny and attentive and giving and I cook, and fuck like a teenage boy. Isn’t that what guys want? I’d again, naively think. And many, many years later, long after he and the ex-girlfriend broke up that he got back with and left me for, and years after he got fat and sloppy and married, he realized, it was what guys wanted. It was what he wanted. Only then, it was too late… for him. One point for me. A point with a lower-case “p,” but a point, nonetheless.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time. And always one more time.”
Maya Angelou

There’s something to be said for being a little naïve in your life, I think, because the naïve are also usually the dreamers, and what’s life without good or even bad dreams? I like a good story – a drama, mostly. I live for passion and betrayal; I’m all about the forbidden nature of tragedy as well as the feel-good emotions of undying love. The standard boy-meets-girl/boy-kisses-girl/boy-takes-train-to-another-state-and-lies-on-beach-with-girl story, well, that was never for me. It doesn’t interest me if there isn’t a bit of blood, sweat, and tears and maybe that’s why I’ve had the heartache I’ve had, as well as caused the heartache I’ve caused in my life. So is it time yet for me to wake up and get my shit together, altogether? Can I truly arise from the land of dreamers and naïvety in all aspects of my existence? Do I even want to now, at 39? Will I ever want to, at any age? Or will I be pushed to the point of so much pain and letdown that I will need to because I have no other choice?
As sad as it seems, I’ve had to say goodbye to members of my family and folks I considered friends as recently as this year. Sometimes, things just don’t work out. You think, for a while, that this person has your best interests in mind, or shares your humor, or your outlook on life and your love of all things Tolkien, when in reality, fate put them there to teach you even greater lessons – lessons that you didn’t know you even needed to be taught until they are shining brightly in your face as your mouth drops open. Sort of like sitting in the chair while your dentist fills your cavities. That damn bright light is on and your dentist is grilling you about carbonated soft drinks and flossing and coming back for your cleaning when you’re supposed to instead of letting it go until it’s too late. You sort of know you need to change your lifestyle and your habits, but you never really know you need to until holes start to show up. Then, that dentist is there to fill all the voids, and talk you through the pain of it, and hand you a new toothbrush, and tell you he’ll be there on your next visit too, because he always is, no matter how much harm you do to yourself. God damn, I love my dentist. I have the best fucking dentist in the world. See? Dreamer. And so you walk out of the dentist’s office realizing that fate, yet again, taught you a hard-learned lesson in the form of a new BFF that is now an old BFF and if you’re me you shake your head in disbelief that you once more allowed yourself to be so fucking stupid and you look around to make sure that there are no small children or elderly people nearby, and then, you let out your blood-curdling scream.
If there is one thing that can be said about having been on the other end of a relationship with yours truly, it’s got to be this: it was never dull. Whether it was with a friend, a family member, a boyfriend, or a lover, I know that I did all I could to leave my mark, good or bad on their lives. It was seriously, genuinely, hopefully, never dull. And as hard as it is to say goodbye to someone forever, sometimes you have to let go in order to move on, and sometimes in order to move on, you have to wake up from the land of dreams and jump with both feet into the pool of reality, where all of the love, friendship, and adoration that you ever needed is waiting for you in the form of a 6’2” brown-haired, gray-eyed, long-armed lifeguard … who also moonlights as a dentist.
It’s morning time. Yeah. It’s morning. Good morning to me. This… this is my wake-up call.

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