Monday, July 29, 2013

Being Myself

I had a fabulous, fabulous, fabulous weekend.

On Saturday, I drove a few hours to go on a hike far from the city, with the intent of avoiding alpine lakes with more people than wildlife.  (The weekend before, I hiked to a gorgeous lake, took off shorts and tanktop to go swimming in my bathing suit, and heard "Go for it, babe!" from a short distance away.  Not the communing with nature I had in mind.)  I found an interesting hike in my guidebook, loaded up my bag with water and trail mix, and hit the road.

At the trailhead, I made an interesting mistake - though "my" trail was clearly marked, I went quite the wrong way.  I was a few miles along before I realized that the lake I wanted to visit was off in another direction, and that instead of entering the forest, I was heading along the ridgeline.  I started to head down a side trail towards my intended lake destination - and found that I was completely, utterly alone.  I could see around me for miles and miles because I was up so high and the day was so pristine and clear, and I couldn't see a single sign of humanity.  Forests below, rocky ridge above, mountains in the distance, ocean behind me.  It was inspiring, magnificent....and terrifying.  The trail was steep and made of shale, so that sometimes my foot would knock the rocks and send them scurrying down into the valley, and I knew that if I slipped like that it would be a long time before anyone found me.  (Especially because nobody knew I was on this particular trail, having made a mistake at the trailhead!)

I felt so tiny, the world felt so big, that it took my breath away.

Everyone should get to experience that in their lives.  I am blessed.  Thank goodness for wrong turns.

But I'm also smart, so I turned around and went back to the main trail, where there were very few people, but I didn't run quite the same risk of disappearing from the planet.  I hiked to a beautiful outcropping of rocks....and met a handsome stranger.

"Darren" and I chatted the normal chat of two people at a spot in the trail together.  "Isn't it beautiful?" and "Where'd you hike from?" and "Have you seen any wildlife?" and that kind of thing.  Except that we kept talking, about all kinds of things.  We ended up hiking back together (it was my turn-around spot), and then he invited me back to his camp to have a glass of wine.  (A big public campground in a national park - not too scary, not too risky.)

I had a magical dinner there.  The food was nice although exceedingly simple - he cooked (while I watched!) a tofu and veggie stirfry with garlic and chili sauce, served over rice, with some not-terribly-expensive red wine on the side.  The setting was nothing short of gorgeous, beautiful trees all around, huckleberries and blueberries on the bushes, chipmunks chasing one another.  And the conversation flowed, from literature to travel to relationships, jumping easily from one topic to another and looping back.

I ended up staying later than intended, given the long ride home; at 9pm the sun hadn't quite set but I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw the time, and scrambled to leave.

Five minutes down the road, my phone rang, and it was Darren.  "Come back and spend the night..."

I have to admit, I thought about it.  Only for a fraction of a second, but I did consider the possibility.  He was handsome and fit, bright and interesting.  Oh, and with an Australian accent - what's not to like about that?  Much better traveled than myself.  With sparks.  We hadn't even touched each other during the whole day, with the exception of a handshake upon meeting and a hug upon departing, so this was quite the leap.  I was pretty sure it would be a heck of a lot of fun if I did go back...

And I said no.  I said it with a smile, but I was clear.  I'm not that girl.  (Too bad.  It would have been a great deal of fun!)

The whole day, from beginning to end, was perfect.

That hike was magnificent. 

Being myself - truly, deeply, myself - and wearing hiking boots and a ponytail and being covered in dust in unflattering hiking shorts, but meeting a handsome man who saw my light and responded positively, well, that was a great joy.  I realized that all of my dates have been high heels sorts of events, and though I do know how to rock the heels, it's a small part of who I am.  Who I really am is a girl who hikes into the wilderness by herself, in a pair of big ugly clunky but very comfortable hiking boots, with SmartWool socks, and the ten essentials in her backpack.

The dinner will likely go down in history as one of my favorites, ever.

He and I have exchanged texts and emails.  We will not have a relationship - he's Australian, for pete's sake! - but I think I've gained a friend.  And perhaps he is as relieved as I am that I didn't take him up on his offer to do more.

Every day, I learn more about who I am and what I want.  This weekend was incredible, and I'm so glad for it.


Darren smiles with his entire being - his eyes sparkle when his face lights up.  We laughed over everything and nothing.  What a beautiful gift from the universe as I recover from the experience of Luke, remembering that though he wined and dined me, nothing we ate was as wonderful as that meal in the woods.  And there ARE men out there who share my joie de vivre.

Maybe next time I'll meet one who doesn't live in another country!  But Darren's gift wasn't about men, it was about remembering parts of myself, about being who I am, about knowing my own light.  He told me that he found my confidence attractive, and I thought, "Yes.  Yes, I am confident."

I've come a long way.

Friday, July 26, 2013

So that's why they call it a rebound

I haven't been writing here, but there has been plenty to write about.

Let's start with the juicy bits, shall we?  I know you want to know.


The good:  Oh good grief that man was handsome.  There wasn't an ounce of fat on his long, lean physique, and he had a soccer player's legs and a flat stomach that just about made me cry from joy.  Strong arms.  The height thing.  Good hair.  Skin that had a bit of a golden glow to it...  Oh, ahem.  Sorry, I've gone on.  I thought he was good looking, okay?  One of the most handsome men I've ever dated.  Which may have swayed me, but ahem, we are talking about the good.  Successful professional.  Sweeeeeeeet talker, he knew how to say just the right thing at just the right time.  Gave me butterflies every time I saw him.

The bad:  I loved that he was very self disciplined, but hated that he Did Not Eat Dessert (that could be his code name), and that he was a workaholic.  But mostly I hated that he didn't appear to know how to belly laugh, and that he took everything....and I mean damned seriously.  I was a woman who escaped a terrible marriage, and frankly, I want to PLAY and make up for lost time.  I want to laugh.  Why does it have to be serious all the time, even when it's sweet serious?  He told me "you are a gift in my life" more often than I counted, but I don't think we giggled even once.  He had interesting hobbies and did "fun" things, but he just didn't seem to have fun.  Yikes.

The ugly:  He imploded, freaked out and went from sweet talk to icicles, saying "You know, I just don't have time for a relationship."  Ass.  If you don't want me, then there's the door.

And in a combination of good, bad, and ugly, but with a preamble...
I don't take sex lightly.  I read a theory once that every time you have sex, you give your partner a little piece of your soul, and you want to be careful how much of your soul exists outside of you.  I like that theory on a number of levels: it's not about moralistic judgments, but it does make you take a breath before diving in.

I took a lot of breaths.  We didn't sleep together for two months even though the thought crossed my mind on the second date.  (Don't judge!  He was THAT HOT.  And do you have any idea how long it had been?  And hey, I didn't do it then!  No thought police to arrest me - it was just an idea...)  We talked about what sex meant.  We talked about partnership.  We talked about love.

We ended up having unplanned sex - not the weekend away I think I deserved, but a Sunday night at his house, with my dog at my house needing me to come home and let him out, and work the next day, we took the plunge for the first time together.

So....ladies and gentlemen, souls and emotions and such aside, sex is AWESOME.  How come I forgot that?  I really thought that the changes my body has seen (which include cancer and its corresponding lack of estrogen or real breasts, to say nothing of aging nearly 20 years since the last time I took on a new lover, and having had a child since then, as well as a total hysterectomy...yikes!) made it impossible for me to enjoy myself that way again, and my marriage hadn't done anything to change that opinion.

It was fantastic.  Oh dear God it was amazing fun, actually.  It was WAY more fun than I'd had in a long time, and most certainly more fun than Bryan and I ever had.

Overshare okay?  Well.....rolling waves of orgasms, one after the next, each unexpected.  Without trying.  Without tricks.  They just - appeared!  And when I thought that was all done, more.  Wow.  At the end of our first time, I giggled.  And I high fived him.  I said, "I had no idea my body could still do that!" and he frowned and said, "Well, of course it can!" but I think he had no idea what we were talking about.

In my 20s, there was this one guy, and the sex was off the charts.  My body was so responsive back then, and didn't take much more than a thought to enjoy sex.  He and I had incredible chemistry together for a year, and the sex never got old.  I thought that experience of sex was gone forever...and it's not.  I can hardly believe my good fortune: I am a woman in her 40s who has rolling waves of orgasms.  WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

And just for the record?  It was me, not him, and my body gets the credit for this.  He was fine - that beautiful body, that sweet talking - but it's not like he had some incredible sexual techniques, and we were fumbling to figure each other out, and that's it's own kind of fun, but we never did quite find our stride.  Frankly, I don't think he had nearly the level of fun that I did, and it's all a little unfair, but hey, a guy can only have so much fun, but for a woman it can be many layers deep.  Lucky me!

So, here's the thing:

I'm really glad I did this, all of it.  I was incredibly angry with him when he ended it, and I let him know it: I tore a strip off that poor man that he may never recover from.  (Tee hee.  He deserved it.)  I'm a nice girl - despite my love of orgasms! - and that he knew my stance on sex and played me anyway makes me pretty damned pissed off, and makes me understand that he was NOT the guy for me.  He was a sweet talker, but not genuine, and that is good information for me to have, because as soon as I figured it out I was OUTTA there.

But to remember what it's like to have a libido, to be reconnected to my own body?  That, dear readers, is not to be taken lightly.  I feel like I'm 22 again, and given that the past decade made me feel like Grandma Moses, feeling 22 is something I will take.

And to remember that attractive, successful men will be attracted to me?  Also priceless.  And to remember what sweet talk sounds like?  Very inspiring.

But there's more!

All of this has woken me up somehow.  (Sexually, it's a problem, because I don't intend to go find a new lover any time soon, and so now my libido is all dressed up with no place to go, which is frankly sad.) And I love, love, love this awakening.  I feel like I'm on fire again - ready to seize the world, ready to be spunky and sassy, ready to flirt, but also ready to write, to change up my career, to push myself running, to explore my dreams.  I don't know if it was the sex or the romance or the adrenaline of the ending, but something in me has ignited, and illuminated all that I want in my life.

There is a reason that people go through rebounds, I think, and I just experienced it.  I was so ready to believe that this could be my guy that I really had on some blinders.  And I was so anxious to get away from potato-chips-on-the-sofa-unemployed-man that I chose workaholic-no-fun-at-all-man.  I know now that "playful" is on my list of important attributes, and it's one I can't let go of.  Sure, I can be serious, and I need someone who is at least as responsible as I am....but I also know how to belly laugh, and I do it daily.  I need someone who will get to the top of the hike with me and race to take their clothes off and dive in.  I need someone who understands that a high five after sex is very, very funny.

So - now I know!  And I'm in no hurry to find his replacement....but I'm glad I went through that, good bad and ugly, and I'm in a better place now.