Meet My “BFF”…

So, a few posts back, I mentioned the conundrum of what to call someone you are dating seriously when you’re beyond the teen years.  When you’re young, and I mean, “ink is barely dry on the driver’s license” young, you refer to each other as “boyfriend and girlfriend”.  It’s cute…he’s a boy; you’re a girl, and you’re friends as a somewhat exclusive unit.  Ergo, “This is my boyfriend.”  This nomenclature remains as we age I suppose; I was married during the “boyfriend” stage and didn’t divorce until 47.  So I skipped that entire awkward period of trying to figure out what to call someone I was dating during my more mature (and we use that term loosely) years.

 

When I found myself easing back into the waters, I was “just dating”.  Men I had coffee with were “dates”.  That makes sense, as a coffee date is what we had.  Nothing more complicated or committed than that.  So there was no need to classify or explain the event.  Coffee date.  Most of us have coffee dates, so there is no hint of a relationship.  However, my coffee date with “Bruce Wayne” (go back and catch up if you are wondering…) progressed to dinner right after coffee, on the same night, so this one looked to having naming potential.

 

And it was…around family and close friends who know we are together, there is no need to slap a label on what we are.  We’re…well…together and supported by our inner circle.  And that is a lovely feeling.  We don’t need to explain ourselves to this group; they know we’re treading carefully yet joyfully having both had long first marriages.  But since we are moving out and about all over the city more and more frequently now as a couple, we are starting to run into people we know.  Rather than just strike up a conversation and fail to bring the other into it, we’re pretty well-trained to make introductions (good “home training” I like to say).  Here is where it gets a trifle “odd”…it feels a touch weird to refer to the man or woman you’re with as your “boyfriend/girlfriend”, when said person has gray hair and grandchildren.  “This is my friend, Sally,” sounds too impersonal, as if you’ve just started bumping into people you know while running errands and want to make sure everyone can follow who is who.  You aren’t engaged, so fiancé isn’t appropriate.  “My BFF” doesn’t quite cut it.  “My date” isn’t exactly right when you run into people you know in the Walgreens…or else it might lead people to jump to conclusions about why you and your “date” are in a Walgreens in the first place.

 

So, what exactly “is” this called?  I suppose one could, depending on your personalities, start interjecting some humor into the labeling.  “I’d like you to meet the woman who gives great back scratches but can’t find her clip on sunglasses twice in a row,” or “Betty, meet the man I’m seeing who stuffs his pocket like a squirrel.”  You know, just to distinguish this person from anyone you might have seen us with, date or not, in the past.

 

Personally, I’ve taken to introducing “Bruce” by “I’d like you to meet ‘Bruce’,” and then I leave it at that.  Let’s be honest, regardless of how you introduce the new person in your life, people will make their own conclusions, or not, based on their level of interest in your life.  If they are really interested, they’ll ask you something personal such as how long you’ve been dating.  If they don’t care, they’ll just move on with their conversation or life, as it should be.  In the end though, it’s only what the pair of you call each other when you’re together that matters, isn’t it?

 

So let’s weigh in here.  Leave a comment with how you and your other half/partner/BFF have handled this socially awkward situation.

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Rain and Rebirth: Originally drafted June 5, 2014 at 6:51am

Again, found another post I had not published.  This one also dates back to the first week of June, what was so obviously a turning point week in my life.  Strong and deep, without bashing you over the head with what’s on my mind.  If you know me, or have been following along to this point, draw your own conclusions.  Heck, interpret this how you will anyway!
June 5, 2014
Sometimes standing in the rain is required. Or at least, standing under shelter in the rain. Conducive to writing with a depth of emotion I haven’t felt in years. Enjoy ( or skip… Your call)Thunder is rolling in. Best sleeping weather in the world. Yet here I stand on the deck. Fresh smells, cool water in drips on your skin. Refreshing and cleansing for body and soul. Even the night-time creatures are quiet as if they sense a washing away and purging of the day’s heat.Pause again, face upturned, and just breathe. I am alone out here, but not lonely. I am blanketed by darkness, but not in the dark. I feel small, but not helpless. The rumbles grow louder and bright streaks flicker slowly at first, then more urgently, glimpsed through full shadows of leaves.
Normally the storms bring pain to my body. Tonight, I don’t feel it though I know it’s there. I pause. Rain begins to flow over my shoulders and down my back and chest in thin rivers, washing away the day’s troubles and doubts. I feel reborn with each chilling trickle.

I know for certain there is a Power greater than myself leading me if I am wise enough to follow. It is known by many names, but for me tonight, this Power has no name, only a sense of strength and comfort.

The thunder rolls in, more insistent that I listen, yet more gentle in its chiding. “Change is coming,” it whispers, then startling me, it booms an aftershock that startles me back from my mediation.
“This change will be a challenge! Are you afraid to face this? Can you stand there, as strong as you think you are, and take what comes next? Or will you retreat, cowering for someone to rescue you?” The thunder shouts at me to listen.

I draw a deep breath. Wait. Observe my heart pound. Exhale. Rain pours around and on me now. What is my answer?

My response comes slowly, with conviction:

If the rain continues to fall as if to drown me out, I am ready to fight it.

If the rain softens to a caress again, I will accept it with love.

I bid the night and its energy Namaste, then walk to the door, confident I am where I need to be, even if I am unsure where I am.

 

A Time for Knowing: Drafted June 5, 2014 at 7:22am

I thought I had published this one…apparently not.  It dates back to early June, nearly 6 weeks ago.  It still is very much a description of me, perhaps even more so than ever.  I challenged “Bruce Wayne” earlier this week with the prospect of being in a relationship with a writer..that we just aren’t “normal”.  Everything that happens to us impacts us, but we’ve got to learn to get it in check to avoid hurting those around us who perhaps didn’t sign on to be part of our story, while still remaining true to our hearts and needs.  He simply responded that it is part of who I am, and that it is part of what attracts him to me.  Crazy person….I’m dating a crazy person…and loving every minute of it. Enjoy!

June 5, 2014

This is me, as naked and laid bare as it gets for a writer; I am sharing a work in progress.  It will change; it will morph, but I’m laying this out there to share a process.  I am strong enough in my feelings to allow you to watch.  I know that only those who know me best, will understand how I can share a process like this.  I know my fellow artists/writers may question my sanity.  I need to do this. 

 

 

I didn’t sleep a great deal last night following a brief, yet intense storm. It wasn’t a violent storm, but it had moments of demanding thunder, brilliant lightning, and steady purifying rain. The episode moved me to write an intensely personal piece. As someone who must write as surely as I must breathe, this unleashes an almost palpable pain.  Years of not writing interrupted by a torrential flow of thoughts and emotions is as excruciating a release as cramped muscles screaming in painful protest after sitting in hard-backed chair for too long: it was necessary to do to accomplish a task, but the end of that torture is exquisite.

 

As I write again, I am quietly aware of a flood of emotions, all competing for attention.  Which will I acknowledge; which will I ask to wait patiently? Which is certain to be ignored, if only for a little while?  Joy, sorrow, faith, doubt, trust, jealousy, love, apathy…these all jostle for time in my mind and heart. There is no better way to describe these qualities than yin-yang.  In the Chinese culture, yin-yang refers to two complementary forces: not precisely opposites, but complements.  There is no darkness without light; these forces all must co-exist, in order to exist. The yang, or “sunny” of these if you will,  can leave me breathless with their intensity; I crave them more as I experience them in their various forms. The yin, “shady” complement of these, at times leave me confused.  I want the yang of life! Why should I have to accept the yin as well?

 

In order to appreciate the sun, it is necessary to also know the night.

 

It strikes me that I may not be quite as simple a person as I thought. True, you don’t get much plainer than “let’s cook at home/take a walk/paint a wall/read a book/play in the rain/go to the thrift store”, but it will take someone truly gifted, and even more patient than I am, I think, to accept my need to express my thoughts and observations.  Right now, they are raw and reflecting where I have been; a river overflowing its banks after a storm.  It will subside, but who will flee, afraid of the power and intensity?  What remains to be seen, is who will stay, confident with the wisdom that the excess water will return to its source, once again flowing on its gentle path.  The river is beautiful in its grace, giving life, supporting life, bending around obstacles to continue on its journey. I hope that I too, will return to my banks, more gentle yet fuller, than I was only months ago.  I’ll overflow my banks again in time, of that I’m certain.  But I hope that this time, there will be someone along to patiently wait out the fury as I grow.

Pain, Fog, and Stillness

Used with permission from flickr.com/photos/2kun.  Photographs on this site are copyrighted and are available for purchase.  Do contact the original owner for details.

Used with permission from flickr.com/photos/2kun. Photographs on this site are copyrighted and are available for purchase. Do contact the original owner for details.

What a dark sounding title for a post, eh? I promise it’s not all gloom and doom, but it comes from joy birthed through pain. At first glance, the photo above struck me as painful…despairing…alone. But the more I stared at it, the more I could see it as a metaphor for life, specifically, my recent life.

 

Let’s start with the bleeding obvious, the barbed wire: sharp, restrictive, and exclusionary. It says “You are not allowed in here, or out of here. Any attempts to gain entrance or escape will be met with sure pain…and lots of cursing and blood.”

 

Now, turn your attention to the fog. Fog clouds, shrouds, and obscures our field of vision. Think about driving down the road when you encounter a smoky blanket of cloud, kissing the pavement and making you nervous about what lies ahead. Where is the road? What if the guy in front of me doesn’t have on his/her lights? I might smack into him! I can’t see! Never mind you’ve traveled that road a gazillion times before and know every pothole and bump. You doubt your own history, prior knowledge, and assume the worst. You know the road is there somewhere, but you’re just not certain where anymore.

 

Finally, the water: gray, still, perhaps stagnant. It’s deserted; there is no sign of activity, devoid of all visible life.

 

If I were to describe my life for about a three-year period, I would use these descriptors as the colors to paint what seemed a grim picture. I felt trapped and the only way out would be painful. I couldn’t imagine that there was anything out there that wasn’t as bleak as what I felt at the time. Just nothing. In my mind, there was absolutely nothing out there to find that didn’t have the potential to be more painful than what I already knew. So for the longest time, I stayed with the pain I knew, rather than risk a pain that was new and unknown.

 

But slowly, I came to understand that reality is what you make it at times. Through an enormous amount of hard work and a dose of prayer, I began to rewrite my reality. I could now look at the picture above in a different light. The barbed wire came to represent the challenges to my life that I could get through; all I had to do was find the right tool to cut it. That tool exists; it’s not mythical. It’s Faith. My faith allows me to break through any obstacle to reach what I need to live.

 

In the concrete sense, I need water…the still quiet of the water. I find that I am calmed by water. A mountain stream, the gently lapping tides in the morning on the beaches at the Outer Banks, but especially the Chesapeake Bay…these all ground me and have the ability to instantly make me appreciate that there is a Creator who made these marvels for me to experience and protect. In the abstract, water is to me a metaphor for love. Love, like the waters of the Earth, can be calm and still, or turbulent and stormy; it’s never the same from moment to moment, sometimes it is present in abundance. Other times it seems scarce or fouled. I look through the pain of my past, break through with the aid of my faith, to find love, still, quiet, and ready for me to wade in as deep as I am willing to go. I will float along in it, and allow it to carry me where it will, unconfined.

 

Which brings me to the fog. No longer does fog represent fear and darkness, but rather a soft unknowing. I think of this as trying to understand or explain God’s purpose for me. I think I have an idea of what lies ahead, but in fact, I don’t know for certain. I can decide what I think lies ahead, but when I open my eyes and my heart, I may find something very different…that God’s purpose for me may be unknown or unclear at the moment, but the uncertainty isn’t permanent. In time, when the conditions are right, the fog will lift and all will be made clear.

At church this weekend, the pastor spoke of unanswered prayers, or more correctly, that God answers all prayers, just that sometimes, the answer is “No”. And like children, sometimes we don’t like to be told “no”, but it’s for our own good. I really struggled with this for the longest time in my past, and I even used this as a rationale to turn from my faith for many, many years. If I prayed, and the prayer was answered the way I wanted, then I could “see” that there was God. But if the prayer went, in my mind, unanswered, then this must be proof that there was no God, as a merciful God would surely grant me what I wanted. But it doesn’t work like that, no more than a child asking for cake for breakfast is going to get told he can have it (well, ok, once in a blue moon we get something extraordinary like that, but you get my point). We are children who need to be told “no” once in a while, for our own good.

 

So when I look again at this picture, and I think of my prayers for the pain to be lifted, for the path to be cleared to love again, and I reflect on who is in my life right now, I can’t help but believe that this is a special time in my life of prayers being answered and people being placed in my life in response to those prayers. The question that now remains to be answered…that will be answered in time, is this: has God placed this person in my life, so seemingly out of the blue, for the remainder of my life, or only as a lesson that His plan is for me to have this love for a moment? I don’t know, but I do know this; I will do everything I know to be a good steward of the love He has laid at my feet and not take a single drop for granted.