Dating In Your Thirties

Joe and I don’t go on many dates. I mean the kind where you have a destination, like the opera, and you spend time primping yourself and curling your hair and wear lipstick. Our dates usually consist of jumping in the car and spending time getting ready by taking a shower, if we feel like getting really crazy.

This is fine. I’m not one for exerting all that energy too often to look a certain way. I prefer my jeans and a sweatshirt while we drive around and talk. Sometimes we stop and get a coffee. Sometimes we don’t. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy a nice dinner out with friends or something, because I do. Just not every week.

This short recipe for our dates is one of my favorite parts of our week. So much time is already taken with day jobs and freelance work. With mundane things like grocery shopping and the post office. And trying to plan some elaborate date for Friday night was just not happening. So somewhere along the line, we instituted The Drive.

“Wanna go for a drive?” Joe will ask. I’ll smile and say, “Sure.” And we grab the keys and go. And for the next hour, all the things that we haven’t found time to talk about for the last few days will come tumbling out, possibly out of order, but the jumbled nature doesn’t matter. We talk. And we talk a lot while we hold hands and listen to jazz on the radio in the dark.

Last night, as we drove around all the parts of our town and never reached any burned or charred fields or scarred skeletons of where a home used to stand, I felt so incredibly lucky. So fortunate. My heart aches for all those families that have found themselves homeless and who are hoping for the best case scenario to be that they had good insurance that will actually cover the fire damage, although so many things were lost that can never be replaced. I hope along with them. And I was thankful that we had a car and a bed at home. And that the air was clear and we could roll down the windows and not choke on scorched wind while we drove around and counted neon signs that were broken and missing letters.

By the time we’re done talking, the road will bring us home and scoot us into the driveway. We’ll kiss and grab the trash and head into the house. Dating in your thirties might not be the same as dating in your twenties. There is definitely less hairspray. But I like it.

Always Me

I feel the need to rove. To travel. To roam the planet. I’ve had these feelings before and I’m sure I’ll get them again. Over and over again. It’s an itch under my skin that I just can’t get to because my fingernails are too short or my arms aren’t long enough to reach.

I want to go to Paris. Or down the street. Back to see my parents or my sister. I want to go to the beach and the movies and walk the rows at Target.

Remember when you used to drive down the freeway with the radio turned up and your favorite song playing and you’d look out the window and see miles of glittery dark and twisted tape? Someone had thrown it out the window – what was maybe their favorite tape or maybe their most unfavorite – and the wind had blown it into one very long glittery streamer. And you saw it out of the corner of your eye and wondered for a fleeting moment what tape it was. Country? Pop? Chicago 17? But the Patsy Cline playing in your car was so much better than anything out there on the ground that you let it go and went back to munching on sunflower seeds and drinking Dr. Pepper and singing along at the top of your lungs even though you aren’t that great of a singer.

If I go to Target and wander the rows I’ll end up spending money. I don’t want to do that. If I get a plane ticket I’ll spend money and I don’t want to do that. If I drive up the coast I’ll need gas and a place to stay and that costs money and I don’t want to do that.

The video interviews had much more to do with this than anything else I think. Now, after realizing I won’t be doing them, I can see that. Yes, I sincerely wanted to document a part of history and maybe I still will, but, the getting out and away and going somewhere and doing something…..that isn’t here where I am…..that is the thing that I crave.

I take myself everywhere with me, wherever I go. It doesn’t matter how far I ‘get away.’ And I do know that. But I also know that it takes a few days for me to catch up with me and in the meantime? I feel productive and worthwhile. I feel like a real person, whatever that is. And I’m happy.

When I come home, it’s all hot chocolate or a glass of wine on the front stoop and a happy hug to see me. It’s catching up on the news and sifting through the mail and feeling comfortable in my own skin wearing my comfy jeans and a sweatshirt with paint on it. And it all feels so great. The promise of what new projects might happen, as they loom on the horizon.

A few days later it hits me – I’m just me. And I’m home. And I’m always going to be me and things are never going to change. And living in that world of absolutes is what home turns into and I fight it and try not to obsess about it until it becomes so tight, this second skin, so tight. And I just want out. Someplace to go. Some people to see and talk to. Away from me. Before the darkness swallows me up again.

In No Particular Order

>We have friends coming this weekend. Yippee!
>I hope everyone knows how much I love my kids and my last entry was not supposed to mean otherwise.
>My ex did mention he was looking for work to me before my son mentioned it. It was the ‘far away’ part and the ‘back where I used to live’ part that got to me.
>Need some design work done? Ask me.
>I vote the weekend starts tonight.
>The word ‘autumnal’ makes me very happy. I say it over and over like a mantra.
>The Crazy is ebbing and flowing.
>I feel confined in a box. A smaller box than I used to be in. The highs are less high and the lows are less low. I dream about feeling the highs. I suppose some part of me misses it.
>I also dream about chain smoking and self-harming and eating disorders. So far not much of that has made it to the daytime hours.
>I’m sleeping better and longer than I have in years.
>I’m waking up at 7am every morning. Sleeping in is a thing of the past.
>I’m thinking mostly in lists and the rest of the time in ‘writing conversation’ style in my head. Pretty much all the time. Like right now.
>I would like to invite you over for a cup of coffee and crochet. I promise to talk in complete sentences. Mostly.
>If you are one of the people that couldn’t find me after I redesigned my homepage: sorry and I added a link now. Future employers will just have to be won over by my brilliant smile and critique me on my writing style more than content.

Fruit Salad

I sat at the table opposite my son and wondered not only at his ability to sound just like his father, but also to eat an entire bowl of fruit salad. A bowl that held at least 9 different fruits in their entirety and while I supposed the bite-sized chunks didn’t mind being nestled amongst each other in the plastic bowl, I did suppose they minded being inhaled without a second thought.

“And if Dad moves for his new job, it might be as far as Norway or something. We might spend six months abroad.” He chomped and fiddled his fork into another piece of papaya.

“Norway?” I blinked my eyes a few times. No words were readily available.

“Well, that’s just one idea. He’s also looking for jobs California.”

All the nights I planned with Joe the best way to move here. All the days spent telling ourselves that the sacrifices were worth it – living in this area we can’t afford – because it was close to them. And they needed me close to them. We were so wrong. Even more wrong than I knew last month. Last week. Five minutes ago. But those words weren’t ready to be spoken. So I stared at his jaw, chewing, and said only, “Wow.”

“It might be fun. And even if his new job is in San Diego, the football is great there.” Always thinking about football. It’s important. More important than me to a fifteen-year-old boy. Normal.

“I think what I’m wondering,” I said, “Is why you’re so ready to move after your dad telling me for the past 5 years how important it is for you to be here, in this particular spot, for the schools and the football.”

“Like I said,” he said casually, piercing a strawberry, “they have great schools and football there.”

“Where I used to live.” I stated. “Before I moved here. To be with you.”

“Uh, yes.” And he looked up and met my eyes, for the first time registering what I was getting at.

I maintained eye contact, holding him with my gaze for a moment before dropping it out of kindness. My goal, after all, is not to skewer him like fruit on a fork. “And you never thought of me as a viable home? If your dad moves, you could stay with me and finish high school – that didn’t cross your mind? To stay at this very important school? And football team? With me?”

The squirming was almost invisible, but it was there. He stared at a green grape and pushed it around with the tip of the tine, slowly, in the nearly empty bowl. “No.” And then his eyes met mine and he stared. ‘It didn’t. I don’t know why.” His eyes were slightly shocked and a little wary. And sad. And tired.

“But the football and the schools are great in San Diego, too.” I said quietly and quickly, taking his point of view. To save …what….? The moment? His feelings? “And it might be fun to move. It’s been a while since you have.”

“Ya, it’s kind of like starting over. It might be fun.” And with gusto, he took in the last bite.