A lifetime ago, I was traveling with a friend and having a wonderful time. But at one point I did mention to her that I missed my boyfriend. (I can’t even remember who the guy was, which tells you a lot about the passage of time.) To my shock, my friend got really, really angry with me.
Apparently, she was of the opinion that if you are busy missing someone, you can’t also be enjoying yourself, and I was therefore allowing myself to spoil the trip. To this day, I can’t relate to that mindset at all.
You see, when I am having a great experience, that’s when I tend to miss people the most, because I would dearly love to have the people I care most about with me to share in those joyful times. I can’t imagine thinking otherwise. It seems like a natural conclusion to draw.
I’m not going to start avoiding the good times, just so I won’t miss my loved ones. That would be absurd. And besides, I don’t think that yearning for someone’s company is necessarily a negative emotion.
I genuinely believe that I am lucky to have people that I miss. It means I’ve built up strong relationships over the years. It means that there are people who matter a great deal to me. It means that I know what it is to love.
Life will take you to many places. Sometimes the people most significant to you will be unwilling or unable to follow. They have their own journeys, after all. And sometimes their lives will be cut short, leaving you to forge a path on your own.
So cherish the missing. Revel in the fact that you have someone to miss. Be glad that love is a part of your life. What a gift! It doesn’t get any better than that.
I have always wanted a man who would actually listen to me when I talked. One who treated me with respect. Someone I could be proud of, due to his integrity, decency, honesty, kindness, and intelligence. A mentally healthy, confident, age appropriate, dog loving, nonsmoking, liberal guy. (Bonus points for being child-free and taller than me.)
Pfft. What are the odds of that? I mean, come on. Just the “listening” part excludes most of the world’s population. And finding someone who met all those criteria and then, on top of that, was also attracted to me — inherently flawed, overweight me… I may as well be wishing for a unicorn.
So, my whole life I set the bar lower. And sure enough, I always wound up with less than what I wanted or needed. Funny how that works.
But the older and lonelier I got, the more I started to think, what the hell, I may as well hold out for the unicorn. And if the unicorn never materializes, well, then, I’ll just do me. (I strongly suspected I’d be doing me for the rest of my life.)
But let’s just say, for a moment, that unicorns really do exist. Yes, they’d be rare. But what if they’re really out there? How would you find one?
Well, first of all, you have to be able to describe what one looks like, to you, at least. Done. See above.
Next, you have to feel that you’re deserving of a unicorn’s company. No self-respecting unicorn is going to hook up with just anyone. You have to be special. It took me a long time (I’m talking decades), to feel that I was unicorn-worthy.
Once you’ve achieved that level of self-respect, you need to start spending time in places where unicorns might hang out. Surround yourself with good, decent, loving people. Do not waste your time with fools. Don’t hang out in bars or places where you aren’t forming strong, long-lasting bonds.
And it’s important to be ever-vigilant. That unicorn might be right in front of you, and you just haven’t noticed. (Hard to believe, I know, but be open to the possibility.)
Once you’ve spotted a unicorn, it’s important to be patient. These things can’t be forced or rushed. They’re too important. Calmly state your intentions, and then, if the unicorn wants to come to you, he will. If he doesn’t, the horn is probably fake, anyway.
So did I find my unicorn? I believe I finally have. And may I never forget how magical it is to be by his side.
I was listening to Cher’s cover of The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss) on the way to work the other day, and I realized that that isn’t really true. I’m speaking as someone whose boyfriend just drove 7 miles to give me lunch before I headed out for swing shift.
It isn’t in his kiss. It’s the stuff he does when you aren’t looking. It’s in the many ways that he thinks of you when you’re not around. It’s the fact that you happened to mention exactly once that you like petunias and he actually took that on board and bought you some a few months later. It’s that he’s willing to help you with your yard work. It’s that he remembers how you take your coffee and that you don’t like lima beans.
Love is an action word. It’s the things you do when you want the object of your affection to be happy. It’s “I saw this really cool card and I thought of you.” It’s wanting to participate in each other’s bucket lists.
It doesn’t hurt that he’s a great kisser, too, God knows. But I’m saying that you might want to look a little deeper.
Listen to me, acting like the voice of authority when this is probably the first time in my life that I’m getting it right!
Chemistry and thermodynamics are weak areas for me, I must admit. Recently a friend was talking to me about the Triple Point, which is something that I’d long since forgotten about. (That’s if I had ever heard about it in the first place. I had a Florida public school education, after all.)
According to Wikipedia, “the triple point of a substance is the temperature and pressure at which the three phases (gas, liquid, and solid) of that substance coexist in thermodynamic equilibrium.”
That’s really rather fascinating. It seems like that state shouldn’t be possible. It seems precarious. It seems like something that could easily fall apart. It also could be a very magical point in time.
So I started to think about other pivotal points in life where anything could happen.
That split second in time when you move from thinking something is a catastrophe to realizing that it’s actually a catalyst.
That moment when you’re walking down the street, arm and arm with your new boyfriend, and you unexpectedly run into your ex. Awkward.
When you try to do a good deed, like break up a fight that has nothing to do with you, and for your effort you get punched or bitten or knocked on your behind.
The shocking discovery that it’s possible to love someone and yet not like them. (Dysfunctional families, anyone?)
The point where you’re given an ultimatum, and you make the choice that the person was hoping to force you not to make. And you then discover that you’re much better off because of that choice. (Yay, you!)
That moment when you bite into something, expecting it to be savory, and it turns out to be sweet. Or vice versa. And that next moment when you go from being disgusted to being intrigued.
And perhaps my very favorite—that amazing moment when you realize you are in love, and everything in your world is about to change.
May you survive the many shifting sands of life, dear reader!
It’s heartbreaking when a beloved dog dies. People who don’t have pets don’t understand, really. They become like your children. Only, if you lose a child, there’s a vast support network. When you lose a dog, people expect you to snap out of it. They nervously offer up something about the Rainbow Bridge, and then they feel like their job is done. They don’t want to dwell on it. That makes it really hard to grieve.
I’ve lost a lot of dogs in my lifetime. It absolutely destroys me, every single time. But I try to comfort myself with the fact that I always do all that I can to give my dogs safe, happy, love-filled, and comfortable lives. And they give me so much love in return. There’s no greater gift. “You are my person, so here is my heart.” It’s a rare human who is that generous.
The last time one of my dogs passed away, some fool said, “You can always replace him with another one.” I nearly lost it. My dog is not like a toothbrush. It’s not like just any old dog will do. “Honey, while you’re out, can you pick me up a carton of milk and a new dog?” None of my dogs could ever be replaced.
Having said that, though, you’ll probably be surprised at what I am going to say next. I sincerely believe that when you lose a dog, you really should get another dog as soon as possible. That’s what I have always done.
No, I don’t mean the dog you lost can be replaced. In fact, no two dogs are alike. I’ve had a unique relationship with every single pet I’ve owned.
The reason you should get another dog, and soon, is that you are needed. There are so many dogs out there who are desperate for love and nurturing. You have a lot of love to give.
I know many people who have been so heartbroken by the loss of a dog that they never get another. That devastates me when I think about it. Because there’s a dog out there somewhere that is supposed to be loved by you, and that dog isn’t getting that love. It’s so sad.
I know the pain of loss is horrific. I know that you don’t want to go through that again. But do you also want to never experience that kind of love again? How can you pass that up? There’s a dog out there, just waiting for you. And when you go get him, he’ll say, “What took you so long?”
I just watched the most heartrending 12 minutes of video I think I’ve ever seen in my life. If I Could Bark is about all the things you would say to your dog if you both spoke the same language. It’s about how much our dogs mean to us. It gets right to the very soul of the matter. It’ll make you want to hug the stuffing out of your dog.
So, what would I say to Quagmire if I could bark?
You are my best friend.
Sometimes you pull me back from the brink of a deep, dark depression just by being there.
You keep me warm at night, from the inside out.
Thank you for listening.
You make me feel loved.
I wish you could tell me all that you’ve been through, because I know it’s been a lot, and I want to comfort you.
You are what makes this house a home.
I’m every bit as happy to see you as you are to see me.
Sorry for putting antlers on you every Christmas. (Not really, though.)
Some people want me to give up on you, but I never will.
I will always take care of you. Always.
You are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
I live to make you feel safe.
For heaven’s sake, stop barking so much. I get it. Someone is on our sidewalk. I’ve got it under control.
You are the best dog in the entire world.
I’m lucky to have you.
I can’t imagine life without you, but I know that day will come, and I dread it.
If I could keep only one thing in my world, I’d choose you. You are precious to me.
I think unconditional love is an absurd construct. Even my dog has his limits. If I stopped feeding him or started torturing him, how much do you think he would love me then?
While it’s comforting to think that there is love that you can count on, I believe that the responsibility for maintaining that bond goes both ways. Frankly, I’d find it rather creepy if someone loved me so unconditionally that I could become a monster and that person would be okay with that. I do not want someone loving me even if I decide to be a serial killer. I expect to be held accountable for my actions.
I was once in a 16-year relationship with someone who enjoyed saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I knew he was attempting to be reassuring, but in truth that always made me inwardly shudder. I don’t want blind adoration. I actually kind of feel better when there are well-defined boundaries. When I know where I stand, I can do so with confidence. That, and there’s a great deal of pressure to maintain your center of decency when, literally, anything goes. (I admit I didn’t handle it well.)
Parents are expected to love their children unconditionally. I can’t really speak from experience, as I chose not to have kids, but I suspect that “unconditional” condition is the very source of a great deal of dysfunction. If “unconditional” were taken off the table, more parents would be invested in instilling values in their children that would encourage them to be decent human beings, because it’s safe to assume that most parents really do want to love their children.
If we stopped looking at love as if it were a possession, as if, once obtained, you get to keep it, a lot of things would change. If people genuinely believed that one must be loving and lovable in order to receive love, this would be a kinder, gentler planet. If we knew that love must be earned, fewer people would remain with their abusers. If we set the bar ever-so-slightly higher when choosing a mate, it would make for much healthier family units. And if we looked at love as something that must constantly be nurtured in order to thrive, we wouldn’t be so shocked and devastated when it withers on the vine due to our own neglect.
It might also allow us to exercise critical thinking. This whole blind loyalty thing that is becoming the cultural norm is actually rather terrifying. If you vote for someone whose behavior becomes more despicable over time, your FIRST instinct should be a withdrawal of political love for that person. Your standards should be high, and your tolerance for outrage should be short-lived. Our leaders should be kept in check, as their powers allow for rather more destruction than most of us can endure.
So, dear reader, be loving. Be kind. And remember that it’s okay to set boundaries.
So, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Hurray for love! I hope you appreciate it every day of the year. Love really is all that matters in this world, and the romantic kind is beyond compare.
Having said that, I hope you will be a bit sensitive to those of us who don’t have it in our lives. Some of us look to Valentine’s Day with a certain level of dread and resignation. It’s particularly painful for those of us who have lost loved ones. And it can be downright depressing for those of us who have given up all hope of finding someone to love. (I know you’ll be tempted to say, “You’ll find someone!” in the comments section. But the odds are equally good that I won’t. Please allow me to reside in the real world.)
For those of us in the lonely hearts’ club, your big bouquet of flowers, delivered to the office with a great deal of fanfare, is disheartening. Your chocolate makes us lose our appetite. We are happy for you, yes, but it would be nice to be able to be happy for ourselves.
And please understand that for the lovelorn, the day after Valentines is viewed simply as a great opportunity to buy chocolate on sale. We don’t rush to work in eager anticipation of hearing about your romantic dinner at the fancy restaurant, or your bed strewn with rose petals. We’re just happy to have survived the day once again.
So please, enjoy your flowers. But could you take them home now? Thanks.
The other morning, I went into the kitchen to fix some breakfast for me and my dog, and the entire room was full of rainbows. It didn’t last long, and no, I wasn’t hallucinating. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Diamond-like drops of water were hanging down from the awning outside my window, and the sun was out for a change, and at the perfect angle to cast its light through those drops, causing the rainbows. The mirror in the kitchen also happened to multiply them. I stood there for a moment, embraced by color, thinking how wonderful it is to be alive. What a wonderful life I’ve had and am still having!
Afterward, while poaching an egg, I wondered if my loved ones know I feel that way. You see, I do struggle with depression. I have done so my entire life. I suspect I’m better at hiding that from strangers than I am from the people who are closest to me. I can see how it would be easy to assume I lead a joyless existence.
That’s the beauty of having a blog. You get to put your thoughts and feelings out there for all to see. So, in the event I’m run over by a bus tomorrow, here, for the record, is how I feel about my life.
On the whole, I try to look at every day as a precious gift. I’ve been given ample opportunity to learn and to travel and to experience amazing things. I’ve loved a lot of people, and I’ve been loved in return. I’ve had quite a bit of good luck, having been born in a relatively free country with relatively good opportunities, at a time in this nation’s history when women have had relatively few restrictions, and I have cherished that independence.
If anything, I’ve eaten too well. I’ve mostly experienced decent shelter. I have taken advantage of the brain that I was born with. Even in my darkest hours (and there have been plenty of those), I have never forgotten that most people are far less fortunate than I have been, and I try not to forget that I’ve done very little to deserve this privilege.
There have been enough unexpected rainbows in my life to make me feel grateful. I am, right here and now, happy with how my life has turned out, and excited about what’s to come. Because of that, I fully intend to look both ways before stepping into any bus lanes. I hope you will do the same, dear reader.
Life is pretty darned good. I have a job I love, and a house I love, and a dog I love, and a lot of people in my life whom I love. I eat regularly, I have indoor plumbing, a car that works, and I feel relatively safe. Statistically speaking, I probably have more than a year or two left in me.
I get to goof off a good bit of the time. No one but me has to cohabitate with my dust bunnies, and I seem to have reached a nice compromise with them. If they keep to themselves, I leave them alone. If they start being show-offs, it’s time to go.
There are also some not-so-good elements to my life. Tensions that I can’t seem to resolve. Financial stress. Donald Trump and everything he represents. Minor aches and pains. Loneliness. Grief.
But you know, anyone who claims that the smooth peanut butter of his or her life doesn’t occasionally get interrupted by crunchy bits is delusional. And really, smooth is boring. I like a little crunch now and then. (Within reason.)
To maintain your sanity, you really have to look at your life in the aggregate. Yes, there are a few lumps in the ol’ mashed potatoes, but generally speaking, I find mine to be quite edible. Pass the sour cream and butter.
Don’t focus on the crunches and the lumps. Look at the big picture. If your life isn’t 100 percent smooth, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you’re living.
Wishing you a life that is good in the aggregate, dear reader.