Tag Archives: love

Merging lives, merging Christmas ornaments: A love life in review

12375314_10156316791195072_6745333156560058817_oI have never read the New York Times’ Modern Love columns for the same reason I avoid real estate flyers in resort towns: they aren’t for me. I’ve never been able to take the flight of fancy needed to read about others’ love stories or dream houses.

I was so far away from a robust love life or bank account that reading stories of love or listings of vacation homes made me sad and resentful. Even stories of heartbreak or failed relationships elicited a response of, “Hey, at least they experienced love before it all went to shit. At least they had a relationship.”

I was 46 and had never gotten out of the gate.

Sure, I had been in relationships here and there. I was in a six-plus-year relationship in my twenties. But it was mostly long distance and when I finally moved cross-country to be with my boyfriend, we decided to live separately but within walking distance of each other’s apartment.

In retrospect, that was a bit fucked up.

But truth be told, deep down I knew he wasn’t “the one.” I loved him but I was laissez-faire about the whole situation, which should have told me something long before I was six years into it.

My thirties and the first half of my forties are a blur of Nerve, Match and OK Cupid first dates that didn’t lead anywhere but to a closed door and closed heart. I had a yearlong booty-call with a depressed, possibly alcoholic academic. That was a meager Band-Aid on my painful love life. Then there was the musician-electrician, a lumbersexual who broke things off with me via Facebook IM, preferring to get back together with his much-younger, former drug addicted ex-girlfriend.

That left me licking my wounds for years.

Then Carl—my unicorn, my white whale—appeared. All those lonely years melted away into a vague memory in the face of our love.

We’ve been together just over a year and have been marking relationship milestones: moving in together, two-week vacation, meeting the family, wearing matching Halloween costumes, hosting Thanksgiving, one-year anniversary…

That brings me to our Christmas tree. After a quick trip to Home Depot, we erected our 7–8 foot Noble Fir in the living room next to the fireplace for what was sure to be a welcoming, cozy tableau. We brushed off dead needles and filled the tree stand with water, and then Carl left me alone to string colored LED lights and strands of bubble lights with the strategery that comes from mild OCD.

Then came the ornaments.

There was a enormous Santa-sized buttload of them. Carl had accumulated an impressive collection over the years, adding to his treasured retro ornaments, handmade by his mother and spectacular in their number and craftsmanship.

As he laid out his assorted angels, Santas, and snowflakes, I opened my own bin, rediscovering my beauties, nestled in tissue and shredded paper. In addition to the hipster raccoon bandits that look like extras in a Wes Anderson film, I pulled out my tiny glass birds with the tinsel tailfeathers that clip to branches.

Negotiation ensued. Collectively, there were just too many ornaments for our tree. Carl suggested another tree for upstairs but the thought of going back to Home Depot hurt my head. My OCD flared with a plan: we would start with our A-list ornaments and work our way down to the filler nutcrackers and shot-in-the-ass snowmen. When the tree reached maximum ornament capacity, we’d pull the plug and ship the crappy leftovers to the island of misfit ornaments to think about what they’d done. In other words, back into the bin for another year. Thankfully, Carl agreed and we proceeded to integrate our ornaments with the grace and communication with which we’ve integrated our lives.

Who knows, maybe we’ll get two trees next year to accommodate the full lives we’ve lived separately, and the ornaments we’ve picked up along the way. But for this year, we came together, merging our lives, belongings and yes, even our Christmas ornaments.

Now that I’ve done the unimaginable and met the love of my life—at 46, no less!—I may just resolve to read a Modern Love column or two in the new year. I think I may even write one.

The pod person cometh

Now that I’ve outed myself as a woman in love, let me let you in on another dirty little secret: I’m afraid of turning into one of those people who turn their backs on their friends as they retreat further and further into their relationship.

I’m afraid of becoming a pod person.

That’s what I call them, those people who share an e-mail account, don’t go anywhere without their partner, are rarely available for a planned evening out, heaven forbid something spontaneous. Nesters.

Now, on the other side of the relationship fence, I see that these people are happy, content. But I can’t shake the feeling that they are also hella-lame. My friends have been paramount in my life, inspiring, buoying, humoring me. I refuse to let that change or let those relationships erode.

But things have changed. While I am still in touch with friends and we regularly get together, I don’t have the same drive. I have become, at 47, that happy woman.

It’s so weird.

People admire my vast social circle, or circles as the Venn diagram may be, but those people who marvel at my busy schedule are usually coupled up. I had to have a lot of friends and a lot of happy hour and shopping and mani-pedi and writing and movie dates. I needed to go to networking events, if not for the business contacts, for the conversation. I got monthly massages for tendons that snapped loudly when manipulated but I also sought rubdowns just for the human touch. As a perpetually single gal, getting my flesh pressed was a rare-to-nonexistent occurrence unless I coughed up a Benjamin every now and again.

The alternative was sitting at home, cat and computer on my lap, even on a Friday night.

Then I met Carl and my social circle sort of wobbled as all my needs were met on the homefront. I’ve been keeping it going, don’t get me wrong, but seasons have passed before seeing pals that I was used to seeing on a monthly basis. There are friends who I haven’t actually seen in person since I met Carl on November 8. I’ve been throwing relationship Band-Aids at them in the form of texts, e-mails and the occasional phone call but I fear the friendships are suffering as I snuggle up in my cozy pod.

Sigh.

I’m human. I fell in love and in the process, fell into a warm, satisfied life. No one is more surprised about that than me. My friends, however, are a key piece of what fulfills me so I’m going to pick up the phone but this time to make plans for lunch and gabbing and pedicures. A woman in love needs to have a polished pedi, sure, but she absolutely must have her peeps.

Taking flight

I’m usually a content machine, but sometimes life gets in the way.

In other words, I fell in love.

Fell deliriously, deliciously, full-heartedly in love. I know! I can’t believe it, either. Me! A snarky middle-aged singleton whose hope was ebbing away a little with each passing year. Like the Grinch, when I met the guy, my heart grew three sizes that day.

As my heart and my life became full, my writing seemed less important. With a popular book and blog called Things I Want to Punch in the Face, I was suddenly at a loss. I couldn’t muster up more than tepid irritation over anything, and that’s saying something, seeing as Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump exist. I’ve been writing a memoir about my teenage years, which seemed farther and farther away as my lovely new life left less and less room for memories and musings.

Instead of writing, I spent time with my guy, finding ways to be brave off the page. We traveled to a remote island in the South Pacific, where I drove a scooter and snorkled for the first time, trading in my anxiety for wind in my hair and tropical fish before my eyes. When I got bit by a 200-pound trevalley, I gave Blackjack the finger. Our boat captain taped up my bleeding middle finger and put a work glove over it and I got back in the water. I wasn’t going to miss seeing a giant clam.

I generally feel alive, present and engaged on the page, as words unspool from my fingertips. Here, now, I was bruised and scraped and bleeding and I didn’t feel like writing about it. I felt like living through it.

Since then, I ziplined despite my decades-long fear of falling. I loved it. I know! I was shocked too. I was prepared to say, “I told you so! I told you I’d hate this!” but instead, with a toothy smile plastered across my face, I said, “Let’s do it again!”

Through all this, the biggest big-girl step isn’t strapping myself into a zipline and praying to sweet Jesus not to toss my cookies or fall to my death; it’s letting myself be completely, joyously smack dab in the middle of a relationship with the love of my life. I’m letting myself be loved, even if I deep down doubt I deserve it. I have no plan B, no safety net. I’m all in.

That is some scary shit.

But as I told him yesterday, there’s a beautiful giddiness that constantly runs through my body because of him. My toes curl, my stomach flutters with butterflies taking flight. To paraphrase a card I gave him, “he makes me feel as if kittens are exploding out of my head.” But I also feel calm, grounded, certain.

Ben Affleck said in the screen gem Bounce, “It’s not brave if you’re not afraid.” Well, I’m going to continue being brave in my life and as I turn my attention back to my computer screen, I’m going to bring that attitude into my writing. Stay tuned for the next installment of my glorious adventure.