Hunting for Unicorns

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.


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No, not the city in Alaska. The word. A place to drop anchor. Most people long for this. Now that I’m a homeowner again, I kind of feel like I’ve finally found such a place. It’s wonderful. It’s a huge relief. As a matter of fact, for the first time in my life, I look forward to coming home, I feel safe here, and I am a part of a community. I’ve had maybe one or two of those things before, but never all three simultaneously. I’m 52, and this is a first. And I like it. A lot.

But anchorage is one of those amazing words that brings up conflicting emotions in me, depending upon the context. I hate to see people who are trapped in their lives. There’s nothing worse than doing a job that you hate because you feel as though you have no choice. It’s awful to stay in a relationship simply because you’re afraid to be alone. (Been there. Done that.) It’s heartbreaking to see someone stay someplace simply because it’s all he or she has ever known.

I know several people who have limited themselves in one way or another, and it makes me very sad. To me it looks like wasted potential. I want the most for the people I love. My expectations for them are high. It makes me crazy when I know people are capable of more than they are allowing themselves to achieve. I want everyone to go to college and travel and take risks. But a lot of people don’t do these things. Their fears hang on their necks like… anchors.

And now’s when I have to remind myself that everyone is allowed to live their own life. If you are content living in the place where you were born, and never expanding your horizons or learning anything new or being exposed to other cultures, then it’s really none of my business. You can and will make your own choices, including making no choices at all.

Is your anchor a connection or a hindrance? I’ll let you determine your own anchorage, as you have every right to do. Meanwhile, I’ll try to scream into my pillow as quietly as I possibly can.


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The Moment My Life Changed

After yesterday’s blog entry, Chuck is on my mind quite a bit. Even more so than usual, because I recently celebrated the 7th anniversary of our first kiss, or as I like to describe it, “The Moment My Life Changed”.

I actually made the first move. We had been talking for 4 hours on this particular day. We had everything in common. And he was about to leave for the last time. He had been my roofing contractor, and his crew was finished with the job and had left. I knew that if I didn’t do something, he’d walk right out of my life and I’d never see him again. So I kissed him.

And I felt it in my knees. Which was kind of dangerous, since we were standing on my roof. But it was worth it.

I had 4 amazing years with Chuck before he died, and he really taught me a lot about what love is, and also what it isn’t. Ours was a complicated relationship. But I don’t regret any of it, and I miss so much of it.

While he was alive, I described that first kiss as the moment my life changed, but little did I know. My whole life can be divided into before that kiss and after it. That first kiss meant I experienced love, but it also meant I experienced death and grief and excruciating pain and loneliness and despair.

That kiss and that love and that death also sent me headlong across the country, to Seattle. That has also been a bit of a jumbled bag of joy and sorrow. No regrets there either, most of the time.

Every year when this anniversary rolls around, I experience very mixed emotions. Part of me thinks I should stop writing it on my calendar, because I suck at remembering dates, so if I left it off, I would stop riding this particular roller coaster. But part of me thinks, no, I should hold on to it, at least until I experience another kiss that I feel in my knees. If I ever get that lucky.

Damn. What a kiss that was. Hoo!

First Kiss

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My Magical European Summer

Recently, I came across a diary that I wrote when I was 19, and I read it for the first time since I wrote it. That summer was the high point of my life. (So far, at least. Who knows what the future holds.)

I was traveling through Europe, and I was falling in love. Those were heady, intense, joyful days full of exploration and adventure. Love, with a backdrop of Holland and Belgium and France and Germany and Luxembourg and Switzerland… it just doesn’t get any better than that. It really doesn’t.

Reading about the events as they unfolded, with the benefit of hindsight, has been quite a unique experience. It’s kind of left me in a weird head space, if I’m honest. That summer shaped the rest of my life.

I don’t know if I’m the exception or the rule, but when I fall in love, I am all in. T was the one for me. I was convinced of it then, and I’m convinced of it now. That summer was full of laughter and endless conversations and making sweet, sweet love in strange places. I recount those things in my diary in intimate detail. I would have done anything for him. I would have sacrificed anything to make it work.

Unfortunately, he was of a more practical mindset. I truly believe that he loved me, but love was not his priority. I’ll never understand or relate to that, because in the end, love is all that matters, in my opinion. So the summer came and it went and he moved on — fairly quickly, I’m told, but I didn’t know that at the time. I kind of wish I had, because it might have made things easier for me.

I, on the other hand, went for, oh, decades, feeling like I wasn’t living the life I was supposed to be living. My life was one big detour down a really messed up side street in which I tried to settle for a happiness which always eluded me. I even trapped myself in a 16 year loveless, sexless, extremely safe relationship. What a waste.

I did fall in love a second time, with another California guy who also didn’t have the staying power or the confidence in our love to make a go of it. That’s a shame, because it could have been an incredible life. (I should probably run screaming whenever California guys cross my path.)

Meanwhile, T got married, and then divorced. But by that time I had fallen in love for a third time, with Chuck, who was amazing. For the first time since I was 19, I felt like life was “right”. I finally felt like I was over T. Chuck was passionate and intense and devoted and hilarious. And best of all, he loved me back in equal measure. He was all in. He was a gift. And then 4 years later, he went and died on me. Well, shit. That wasn’t the plan.

So now, on a whole lot of levels and for a whole lot of reasons, I’m even more convinced that I’m living a life that I’m not supposed to be living. Grief will do that to you. It changes you. But I’m sort of getting used to loving people who aren’t there to reciprocate.

After I read the final page of that old diary, I did something stupid. I went snooping on Facebook, only to find that T is once again in a relationship. He seems quite content. They travel to exotic places. They cuddle on the couch. They have family dinners. He managed to land on his feet, but then I always knew he would. He’s a land on your feet type of guy. I even saw a video clip in which he talks, and sure enough, my heart started pounding the second I heard his voice.

T once told me I wasn’t the kind you marry. Apparently not. Because the ones I wanted to marry didn’t want to marry me, and the ones who wanted to marry me, I didn’t want to marry. Things shouldn’t have turned out that way.

But I’m finally in a place where I think T got it wrong. I’m exactly who someone should marry, because when I love someone, that feeling never ever dies. (It’s the liking that comes and goes, and takes work to maintain.)

I have come to know that that never-ending kind of love is a rare, precious, priceless gift that should never be discounted, never be passed over. Because you may not ever see it again. Cherish it, nurture it, if you are lucky enough to have it.

It’s a strange feeling, having so much love to give and nowhere to put it. If I could go back and talk to that 19 year old, would I tell her to do anything differently? No, not really. The feelings she had were authentic and pure and undeniable. I might tell her to savor it even more. Devour that love, because you’re going to be on short rations the rest of your life, honey. When you’re young, you think there will be always be more opportunities, and that the possibilities are endless, that good luck will come to visit you over and over again, but that’s bullshit.

Before my comment section fills up with platitudes such as, “Before someone can love you, you must first love yourself,” or “You’ll find love when you stop looking for it,” or “There’s someone out there for you,” let me be practical for a minute and say that the older I get, the longer my odds become. It is equally possible that I’ll be living the rest of my life completely and utterly alone. I need to come to grips with that possibility. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll still hold out a certain amount of hope, but it would be much healthier to live the life I have and try to make the most of it rather than hold out for some fantasy. I’m working on it.

That diary, after that glorious summer, is full of so much pain and confusion and struggle that the re-reading often reduced me to tears. “Why is my love not enough?” “What did I do wrong?” “Why is this happening? I don’t understand.” I wish I could go back and hug that girl. But I couldn’t really offer her that much comfort. I’m still asking myself those same damned questions 33 years later.

Here’s a secret that no one tells you: Life just isn’t like a Hollywood movie. Hollywood is in California, too.

Suddenly I feel the need to go home and hug my dog.

Eiffel Tower

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Your Wish is My Command?

Guys, if you saw a cute little 20 year old girl holding up a sign that said “Master Now Wanted!!!” what would you do? How about if she offered to be at your beck and call 24 hours a day? And her sole purpose would be to please you?

She would wake you up in a bubbly, cheerful way every morning. She’d remind you to take an umbrella when it was raining out, and she’d even operate your robotic vacuum while you’re at work so that you wouldn’t be disturbed. She’d text you to say she was looking forward to your coming home. She would make sure the lights were on for you upon your return. She would drink tea with you, and tell you how much she missed you.

Her website will tell you that her name is Azuma Hikari, and her hobby is watching anime. Her specialty is making fried eggs. She likes donuts, and she dislikes insects. But to the wider world, she’s called a Gatebox Virtual Home Robot. I strongly suspect her eggs aren’t very satisfying.

And for the one time cost of $2,600.00, plus about $400.00 in shipping and handling from Japan to the US, she will be all yours. She will “live” in a glass tube, right next to your bed if you so desire. Check out this video to “meet” her.

Do you think this is appealing? Do you think this would make you feel less lonely? If you do, I suspect you’re a bit disturbed. (Sorry. Someone had to tell you.) To be honest, the video made me feel sorry for the guy, and he’s just an actor.

Forming a primary relationship with an inanimate object is not, repeat, not healthy. It’s important to connect with another actual thinking brain. Believing that it’s normal to have a girlfriend who does everything you want her to do, exactly when you want it done, without question, and then begs for more, is not the type of mindset you want to develop if you ever wish to pursue a real relationship with someone who has a mind of her own.

And if you think a hologram is going to keep you warm at night, you’re delusional. Save your money. Please get a cat. And a counselor.


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The Story of How We Met

I had been in this strange little relationship for 15 years. It wasn’t bad. No passion, per se, but it beat a sharp stick in the eye. We were just cruising along on automatic pilot, probably because we were both afraid of being alone.

And then we were at this backyard bar-b-cue and he decided to tell everyone the story of how we met. It was so romantic, he said. We’d met at church and she slid over on the pew to be closer to me, he said. We looked at each other, and the rest is history, he said.

That kind of made me blink. I mean, yes, the facts were true, but the conclusions drawn from them? Not so much. I slid over on the pew because as usual he was mumbling through his untrimmed mustache, and I couldn’t figure out what he was saying. And once I slid over, I simply couldn’t be bothered to slide back.

Could this be his version of our relationship? Did he think it started off romantically, was love at first sight, and was still romantic? That made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. We hadn’t even touched each other in any intimate way in well over a year. Was he happy? Seriously? Can you really survive when you’re deeply buried in such a steaming mound of pure fantasy?

He always had funny ideas about women. He thought his mother, one of the most flawed individuals I’ve ever met, was a saint. When he’d write stories, the female characters always seemed to need rescuing, and they often wore pillbox hats with veils, and would bite their nails through their gloves when they were afraid, which was often. They giggled a lot. They liked lace. They were easily shocked. To me they always seemed kind of like ideal mannequins stuffed with artificial emotions.

Suddenly I felt very sorry for him. And I felt even more sorry for myself, because he didn’t know me at all, and had no idea what I was feeling. It’s hard to be passionate about someone you pity. With hindsight, I realize that that was the beginning of the end. I wanted to live with someone in the real world. I wanted to be understood.

[Image credit:]
[Image credit:]

On Being a Fish Out of Water

Not fitting in or being uncomfortable is what the expression “like a fish out of water” means. That’s a pity, because if you think about it, a fish out of water is experiencing the ultimate form of enlightenment. If you’ve been in water your entire life, you don’t really realize you’re in water, do you? I mean, on some level you must, but you don’t know what it’s truly like until you’ve jumped out of it.

I discovered that on a small scale recently when I moved from one rental place to another. I knew I had been unhappy where I was for some time, but I didn’t fully comprehend what a negative effect that place was having on me until I got out of there. It was definitely just what the doctor ordered. I’ve had that feeling when I’ve quit a toxic job or ended a toxic relationship, too.

Now that I no longer have a completely crazy landlady and her ex-convict son living on the other side of my living room wall, I can breathe. Now that I don’t have to step over his cigarette butts and deal with the god-awful stench of their overly hoarded garage, I feel much better. Now that my dogs don’t get fed whatever crap they have as leftovers when I’m not looking, and don’t have to wend their way among the ever-increasing debris in their back yard to do their business, they feel better, too. Now that I’m not being constantly watched to see when I come and go and with whom, and how often I use my air conditioner, I can relax and feel like an adult in my own home again.

By the standard definition, I guess you could say I was a fish out of water at the old place. But if you look at it as a form of enlightenment, then I am a fish out of water now, and it feels really good. I will never take a comfortable living situation for granted again. If that knowledge is what comes from jumping out of my comfort zone and exploring the possibilities that come with change, then this is one fish who hopes to do it on a regular basis.


“End of Discussion”

More than one man in my life has said that to me, and it always works. For a split second. Because I’m rendered speechless by the arrogance, the gall, the unbelievable nerve that it takes to even conceive of that sentence, let alone utter it out loud.

It seems to be part of the collective unconscious that allows certain men to think that they have the right to stop women from speaking, that it is they who get to determine when we are and are not allowed to express ourselves. At the very least they must have learned it at the knees of their fathers, and they failed to realize that some lessons are best ignored.

But when you think about it, it makes sense. Study after study suggests that women are much more capable of communicating than men. I read once that on an average day, women use 20,000 words, whereas men only use 7,000. So if you’re going to try to take away a woman’s superior strength, and you already know that you’re most likely picking on someone who is not your own size, then you would naturally go right for her ability to speak, wouldn’t you? That is, if you’re so insecure that you require that kind of a leg up in order to feel as if you’ve “won” a debate. “End of discussion” is the communication equivalent of hitting below the belt. It’s beating a woman down by trying to handicap her very essence.

Here’s the thing that always stuns me about this flawed logic: do you honestly think that pulling the “end of discussion” card won’t permanently damage your relationship with the woman in question in some fundamental way? It may not be evident on the surface, but deep down when a woman is disrespected like that, she doesn’t forget it. She knows that in your soul you think you are superior, and that you believe that you have the right to squelch all communication, and that you can pull that stupidity again whenever the mood strikes you. Every time she speaks from that point forward, the implication is that she has to have your permission. But unbeknownst to you, you have chopped yourself off at the balls, because once you have done this, you have cracked the very foundation of your relationship. On some level, your partner will have lost respect for you. And once that has happened, it is extremely hard to get it back.

And the irony is that ironing things out requires communication. Once you have thwarted that, you may get the momentary peace and quiet that you crave, but the problem not only does not go away, it increases by a factor of ten. Open and polite communication is the pedestal upon which every healthy relationship stands.

Before I get blasted for this particular blog entry, please understand that I do realize that the vast majority of men do not fall within this category. Most are more cultured and respectful than that. Most are capable of civilized conversation. Most know how to have a reasonable discussion without things accelerating to the point where “end of discussion” is the only “weapon” upon which they can draw. In fact, most men do not feel the need to draw weapons of any sort on someone they love.

Real men do not beat their women, either. End of discussion.


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“I Love You” Too Much

The general wisdom is that you can never tell someone you love them too many times. And I subscribed to that philosophy for years until I got a boyfriend who also bought into it–in the extreme. Dude must have told me he loved me 95 times a day, to the point it became irritating. Obnoxious. Kind of stalker-ish and desperate, if you want to know the truth. I used to tell him that, while I appreciated the sentiment, when I heard it with such (annoying) frequency, it lost its specialness. In one ear and out the other, apparently. It became like eating carrot cake, which I normally enjoy, but this was about 4 slices an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 freakin’ days a week.

It got to the point where I’d hear “I lo…” and I’d think, “whatever.” Then one day, after a series of events that made me lose all respect for him, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe the reason I didn’t like to hear him say that he loved me was that deep down I didn’t love him. What’s more, I realized he didn’t know what love was. He thought it was all rooms full of roses and women who wear lace and big picture hats covered in flowers, and homemade valentines delivered with a soundtrack of violins. He didn’t love me, because he didn’t know how. And that was the beginning of the end.

Now when I think of him, I kind of feel sorry for the guy. I hope he finds someone who is so love starved that she is willing to be force fed and will beg for more, kind of like one of those geese with a foie gras destiny.

Meanwhile, my philosophy has changed. Now I think that you can never make someone feel too loved. But don’t always rely on words. Take action, even when things aren’t pretty. Because talk is cheap.


My Gift to Myself

For many years now I have been setting aside 45 dollars a month to give myself a gift when I turn 50. Just a sort of thank you for having been on the planet for that long, for having survived with at least a modicum of sanity and good health, for having taken care of myself. By then I think I will have earned it.

When the time comes, I plan to take all that money and spend three weeks in Italy. First I’d like to rent a villa on the Amalfi Coast, and explore Pompeii and Naples. I plan to sit in the sun and do nothing at all. Just watch people, become a regular at a cafe, if only for a few days, eat good food, and bask like a lizard on a hot rock. I want Italy to soak into my skin.

Next, I will go to Rome, and not do as the Romans do, because I’m sure they don’t spend their time seeing all the sights and focusing on the history that surrounds them every day. I will be the typical tourist in Rome, and make no apologies for it. I want to see the coliseum, sit on the Spanish steps, eat entirely too much gelato, and tour the Vatican City.

After that, it will be on to Florence. Ah, Firenze! There, I will focus on the architecture. I want to take photographs, and maybe even draw what I see. I have no drawing experience. I’m sure these drawings will be horrible. But I will take them home and frame them because there could be no better souvenir than a horrible drawing that takes you right back to the very moment it was drawn every time you look at it.

But the bulk of my money will be spent, I’m sure, in Venice. I want to live there like a woman of the upper classes. I want a room with a view of the Grand Canal. I want to wear beautiful flowing clothing that I buy in the city. I want to eat at the finest restaurants. My focus there will be art. I will walk slowly through the galleries and savor the creativity. I want to slowly luxuriate in all the best and most beautiful things in life.

One cannot plan these things, of course, but if I’m not in a relationship at that time, I’d like to fall in love–just for a day or two, and preferably with someone who would be facing the same language barrier that I am. Communication has a nasty habit of ruining the fantasy. I simply want to be enveloped in an Italian aura, and then go home and have people remark that occasionally I get a smile on my face that no one but me will understand.

I’m looking forward to turning 50.