vendredi, août 19, 2011

What to wear the first time

My house is a total mess.

In fact, it's barely a house right now. I can glide through it without opening a door, walk though walls because there are no walls.

My clothes sit downstairs on racks, crammed together like the basement was a giant thrift shop, and I was the only buyer.

The number of dresses I have exposes me as a clotheshorse. One of the contractors, who is building me a closet, decided he had to make it bigger (boy, did THAT sound privileged).

But that's a rabbit trail. The fact is, I needed to find something I could wear tonight, for a first date.

Usually I'd make the female calculation.

Nothing too theatrical. That gets saved for particular evening events.

Above the knee? A little decolletage? Nix on that.

I don't want to appear too sexy. Besides, he might be a Republican.

Pants or a long skirt? I don't want to seem like I just left the convent. Although, come to think about it...

We're going to an upscale tavern in the West Chester area. A night at the Philadelphia Opera it ain't.

Viewing my collection with dismay, I ditch the calculator. Do guys even worry about what they put on before a date? Or is deodorant and a sports shirt enough to make them feel confident?

The black dress will have to do. It's the only one I can find right now!

Grabbing it, I put it aside for the evening. Now, if I can only find my mascara....

What do YOU wear on a first date?

jeudi, août 18, 2011

The (wo) man you let go

Recently I found myself thinking of someone.

Someone I knew a while (years) ago. A guy from my past. We'd been close to each other, and then we'd drifted apart.

And I found myself thinking....what if? What if we had taken our relationship one step further? What if we'd persevered? What if we'd tried to make it work?

Maybe you have someone like that in YOUR past -- a man or a woman you knew in high school, from your first job, from last year.

The years may have flown by...but you've always wondered.

You can't quite recall why you broke up with him. Maybe he wasn't the "total package. " Maybe you fought too much. Maybe you disagreed on things that felt fundamental at the time. Perhaps you didn't like his taste in beer, or music, or football teams. Maybe he didn't fit the "template" you had, the habit, your vanity.

The guy you're with now? He's financially successful, bright, a "guy's guy" that your girlfriends also like -- but there are times when you are so bored with your life that you could scream with frustration.

And when you are running, or at work, or sitting at home before he arrives, you think of the man you have tried to hard to blot out from your mind.

What if I'd been more loving and generous? What if I'd been able to deal with my own insecurities, instead of blaming it all on him?

If I emailed him, would he answer? If I texted him, would he bite my head off? Would he remember me?

No, impossible -- or close.

She lies beside you at night, sleeping peacefully. You and she are comfortable together -- she's a harbor in the storm, will never rock your boat, finds your utterances wise and your essence lovable. Every day, in some way, she tells you how grateful she is that you two found each other. She is beautiful, she tells you, because you love her.

She makes you feel good about yourself. You revel in her compliments, and her need -- it is balm for your spirit. Each time you look into a mirror, you see the same person -- no need to change. She likes you just the way you are. She lives the answers rather than the questions.

But in the moments before you go to sleep, you turn from her, and those old longings reassert themselves, in spite of your best efforts to incinerate them. You recall the other woman's gentleness, her quiet passion, the way her eyes would widen when you teased her -- the ingenuous way she'd tease you.

Grinning wryly, you are reminded of the way she would challenge you in a way that didn't offend -- believing that you could go deeper, jump higher, dream larger. Life would have been different -- the difference between a quiet, never-changing stream and the sometimes exhilarating rapids.

And for a moment, just for a moment, you turn away from the one who lies beside you. Slipping quietly out of bed, you look out the window, at the night that seems so tantalizing and full of mysteries. Even if you don't ever see her again, you wonder, a little impatiently, are you really done with her?

Will you ever be done?

mardi, août 16, 2011

The Sex talk (sigh)

I could sense that it was coming (just accept that now that I've used the word "sex," everything else will sound suggestive.)

Having tried to deflect it, at least once, I wasn't sure that I was up for it.

But I could see that, this morning, there was no way under or around it.

The sex talk -- it's almost as inevitable in online communication as figuring out whether the person is actually the age he or she posts on his or her profile.

In my admittedly unscientific experience, it's only a matter of time before a lot of guys attempt to either have some form of online sex chat, or to have sex without strings.

Apparently, in the age of readily available pornography and online messagers, it's just part of the process of getting to know someone.

At first I felt awkward, or annoyed, or dismayed.

Now I'm very matter-of-fact. I'm not a prude. My curiosity, and general attitude towards life, make that impossible.

But I do have principles. I tell guys that I don't have those kind of discussions before I've met someone. I'm not a vehicle for a guy to satisfy his itch on the way to his office. Sex, at least to me, is about intimacy, and intimacy comes from knowing someone's mind and heart -- not solely his online persona.

Sex is worth waiting for.

I don't blame. I don't even judge. I just put it out there -- and risk, of course, that the man with whom I'm speaking is going to walk away.

So today, I spoke my mind -- I hope I did it kindly. I told him, too, how smart and appealing he was.

And then I waited, readied myself for the possibility that he would click off...and move on.

He apologized. He said he'd misread me. We chatted a few more minutes, and then he disappeared.

Maybe he can find another woman who wishes to play the online sex game -- or who does it because it's the "price" of admission to his life.

I don't know if he's gone forever. I feel a little sad, and just that much more disillusioned. But if he's intrigued enough, he'll be back.

And he'll find a real woman waiting for him -- imperfect, inquisitive, warm and willing.

Willing to wait.

lundi, août 15, 2011

Random Acts of Unkindness

"I'm not perfect, just forgiven." She's a CHRISTIAN -- and she wants you to know.

Just stop off at the next church, kneel down, and become one too. It's easy.

"If prayer worked, 911 would be a church hotline." He's an ATHEIST -- got it, babe?

"Practice compassion." He's....well, he's hard to pin down, but nice to have around when visiting grandma.

"Be the change." She's got that activist vibe going on. But don't worry, she usually doesn't practice.

"My child is an honorable student." The woman in that SUV? She's an achievement-prone parent. She'll be nice to you unless you drive the speed limit.

American culture is littered with bumper-sticker slogans and phrases. They are everywhere -- in advertisements, on social media sites, on the backs of cars, on doctor's walls and physical therapy offices.

Bumper stickers are identifiers -- telling readers (particularly those stuck behind them in traffic) that a person cares enough to make a public statement of faith, or wants to get you thinking, or just wants to piss you off.

When I survey the American landscape, I see the potential for many of us to make the simple choice -- the slogan instead of the behavior.

Are these Christians actually forgiving others?

Is the "activist" helping out in a soup kitchen?

Does our parent model honor at her workplace?

And what, exactly, is compassion if it is not practiced in one-on-one relationships, in social justice activism, in making choices about where to spend (or not spend) your money?

With the advent of the self-help movements of the 20th-century, many of us started to believe that change, change for the good, was possible.

But it's not easy. It has never been easy. And it's not all about our good -- change is about the common good.

As a granddaughter of an activist grandmother, I deeply believe in the power of nonviolent social change.

And I feel bothered that I don't do more to make the world just a little bit kinder, fairer, gentler. Even this crazy busy life has room to engage more.

I've got lots of work to do in that arena -- so if you see me with a bumper sticker slogan, feel free to call me on it.

Unless it's the one I've always wanted -- 'Lead me not into temptation. I can get there by myself."