vendredi, septembre 02, 2011

After the break-up: was she REALLY not the person you thought she was?

I can't tell you how often I hear someone say, when explaining why they had decided to get a divorce: "Well, she (or he) wasn't really the person I thought she (or he) was."

And I can't tell you how often I have listened with my tongue planted firmly behind my teeth, so as not to say anything skeptical.

I mean, who the heck did the guy or the girl think they were marrying? Are they blaming their former spouse for being an impostor? Insincere? A bad actor? A good actress?

But lately I've been wondering if they don't have a point - or if there isn't a point here to be made.

When you first start to like someone, you tend to want them to be the best person possible -- and certainly the best possible man or woman for you.

So what their idea of a hike is a walk through Center City and yours is 10 miles along the Appalachian Trail? They'll get bit by the fitness bug when they see how important it is to you.

What if they don't have kids, and don't even like to be around kids? Yours are so special that they'll have to come around.

What if their idea of a good meal is a great Thai take-out, and yours is a three-course orgy at home?

Often what seems so appealing at the beginning of a relationship can become an irritant after the 'crush and bonding' stage has been blown away by the winds of domesticity.

And it's at THAT point, where a lot of relationships fall apart, that a couple can decide to work it out -- to deal with the reality, not the dream they have built together.

Or they can, not liking what they see (what was usually always there) decide to go in search of the next romance.

Whether that's going to work (or not) in part is based on what they've learned from the woman (or guy) who "wasn't the person she seemed to be" when the two lovers met.

I've seen a lot of marriages and romances fall apart because someone decided to open their eyes and didn't like what he or she saw. And I wonder -- could I deal with that level of ridiculosity (sic) in a person that I loved?

I've seen some things that made me doubt my own sanity -- and I'm a boringly sane person most of the time.

That said, I have as many pecularities as your average single exurban writer clergywoman mom.

It's not at all bad letting your boyfriend or wife see the strange in yourself. Better sooner rather than later...and better be willing to allow him to be equally peculiar.

I still think it's better to go in with your eyes wide open. But if you don't, think about the possibility that the person you don't yet know might be more exciting than the person you do.

You're going to meet him (or her) -- and then you will get to pick. Are you going to be the person she or he thought they knew? Or not?

At the corner of "no" and "maybe"

You will never read this (unless I forget to delete it, of course).
It will be gone before I give you the key that unlocks this door.
And if we continue to get to know each other, you aren't going to show up here a lot.

I sense your openness.
Willingness to take the next step.
Interest in getting to know me better.

We have a lot in common -- more than in most such chance encounters.
Your intellect more formidable, perhaps, than mine -- always a humbling, but exciting, experience.
Your emotional intelligence.
A global perspective nurtured by travel and reading.
Lack of antipathy for a faith you do not share, but can find in analogy, in poetry, in metaphor.

So much to offer -- potentially.

And yet I am aware, as we crack the door open, what it is that, soon, I will say to you.

You need time. Space. Freedom. You need not, must not, even if the conditions are favorable, fall for me -- at least not now.

How strange, and how damnable, that I should once again find myself playing the worldly-wise, the detached, the rueful...I'm so good at rue.

Shall I watch? Shall I wait? Shall I open myself to the possibility that my heart shall, once again, be shredded?

Shall I trust that better conditions may produce a better outcome?

I don't know what occurs afterward, but I do know how the first act ends.

A woman sits across from a man somewhere...and sends him out to explore his new world, with her blessing. She walks out alone, at least for now.

The logical question after that is: will there be a second act?

mercredi, août 31, 2011

Irene II

In this telling, I do a little more reflecting and Wednesday morning quarterbacking on the same event. Both my son and I were convinced that tornadoes were in the area (in fact, central Chester was under a tornado warning).

The responses I have gotten, both here and on the Mommyish site, have been revealing. It's risky to admit that you made a questionable choice.

I just hope that I've learned something valuable about balancing one bad choice against another and making the safer one.

Please IGNORE the headline -- it's SEO-driven and innacurate.

mardi, août 30, 2011

Going for the story

The columns I wrote on paganism got more reader reaction than almost anything else I'd done recently - - and some people were genuinely offended. In this last column in the series, I explain what it means to me to be a journalist (without getting too reflective) -- and why I don't mind annoying people now and again.

Of course, they get to annoy me back!

dimanche, août 28, 2011

Gimme we found ourselves adrift on a dark, stormy night

My ex and I are at the stage of being the Bickertons -- we take a nip now and again, but don't go for the jugular.

It was odd, although maybe not unpredictable, that we had an argument on the night of hurricane Irene -- one that resulted in me and Mr. C being asked to leave the protection of his townhouse while the rain swept the pavement and the trees and on CNN the forecasters churned gloom and doom.

Believe or not, it was about where my son and I ought to sleep, given the tornado watch. Needless to say, we lost.

And so it was, dear readers, that we found ourselves caught up in a world of ordinary landmarks that had somehow, while we ate and watched the news and talked, become menacing.

By the time we got to the intersection of Route 30 and Ship Road, I deeply regretted having engaged in a dispute with my former husband. By doing so, I had taken my child into a difficult, unpredictable, and frankly scary scene, one in which I had little control.

The streets gleamed bright under the lights. There was almost no one else on the road. Already the ancient Volvo had pushed through a few curves at which water roiled, the saturated land no refuge.

Turning west on Route 30, we found ourselves in a rising tide of muddy water. A few seconds and I'd have to make a choice -- back up or try to move through the pool. It was at this point that a woman in white (I kid you not) arose from the water. Moving towards us, water up to her hips, she waved us back like a spectre from a 19th-century Gothic romance.

Eerie as her appearance was, I doubt that she was a ghost. When I asked her if I could help her, she answered practically that she was going to call for help. It was only then that I noticed a blue SUV that had gotten a few yards down the road before becoming helplessly stuck in the rising stream.

Backing up, we pulled onto Ship Road, which had no huge tidal pools waiting to suck us into their murky depths. Once on Route 100, we were able to find our way to Route 113 -- we knew that one of the local high schools had opened its doors as a shelter.

Safe in the antiseptic, empty rooms of a high school waiting for its students to come barreling in the doors next week, we sat there, a little traumatized and very grateful.

A cot, a blanket, a toothbrush, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- these were the gifts of the gods.

Mostly, I was grateful to the staff for taking care of us, for making us feel safe, for providing everything we needed -- in spite of a moment of foolishness that could have meant a lot more than we ever meant it to.