Christmas Day, 6:00 a.m.
I wake up, stumble through the house turning on the Christmas lights on my way to let the dog out for her morning romp in the back yard. It is a frosty, cold, foggy 28 degrees in Southern Oregon. I change the laundry, start another load of the eternal never ending chore and move back into the kitchen automatically, thoughtlessly, still somewhat groggily to begin the task of brewing coffee.
My house is silent except for the soft sound of heat being forced out through the furnace and the low rumbling purr of my cats who float ethereally in and out of rooms. Noiseless vapors appearing and disappearing of their own catlike determination. Once the coffee is brewed I pour a cup, add a bit of cream and a touch of the homemade peppermint schnapps a colleague gave me for Christmas. I pad silently to the living room couch where I plant myself, laptop on lap, facing the tree centered in front of the large picture window which looks out onto my quiet street. My mind and my heart are filled with thoughts and feelings. You would think that these thoughts and feelings would center on the fact that I am alone this Christmas without my children to share in the traditional holiday festivities. Such is not the case, because I know I am not alone in my being alone on this day. All over this country there are many men home alone without their children or families with them. This is the ugly sad side of divorce.
Men are often denounced and disparaged as being focused on sex over relationship. Women on the other hand place relationship as a higher priority than sex. These are broad generalizations and there are many exceptions to every rule, but just go with me here. Men, in general, are often villanized for being so very sexually oriented.
I’d like to suggest a different idea. I’d like to suggest the idea that men are every bit as interested in relationship (that deep, emotionally gratifying connected relationship) that women are touted as desiring. I just think they go about it differently. I don’t think that the differences in approach necessarily presume a difference in desire or ultimate goal.
I’ve been divorced exactly two years and four days now. In that time, I’ve had the freedom to meet, have coffee with, have drinks with and converse with many members of the opposite sex. I’ve had more freedom to engage in these conversations than I would have had I not been single even though many of these conversations have been completely platonic. I’ve learned a lot in these conversations with men. While most of them have been single, some of these conversations have occurred with men in relationships with other women, while the woman was there of course, and other conversations have occurred with men who are still married but separated (a definite indicator that the relationship will never be anything more than platonic where I am concerned) and still others have been casual encounters at Christmas parties or social gatherings with husbands of my colleagues and friends. These particular conversations all have one thing in common. They have at the core of them the question, “What is it that men really want?”
One thing becomes clearer to me, as I have these conversations. We really do all want the same thing. Some of us are fortunate, we’ve found it, we enjoy it, we are grateful for it. Others continue to look and wait and hope that someday we too will experience it or will experience it again. Still others of us have given up hope that this reality will occur for us and some of us might even now be in the process of giving up hope that we will ever experience anything like it.
What is it? What is this thing we all want? I suspect it is the same for men as for women though the sexes have very different and often opposing ways to go about getting what they want. This thing is love. This thing is trust. This thing is relationship. It is relationship that is deeply, emotionally intimate and fulfilling. The relationship that continues to be such after time, and change, and aging have taken their toll.
So as I sip my morning coffee and think about all the conversations I’ve had over the last two years and specifically some of the conversations I’ve had recently I want to extend a big hug to all my dear friends, male and female, married or single who’ve walked part or all of this journey with me these last two years. Thank you for conversing with me. Thank you for sharing your lives and your hearts with me. You’ve certainly enriched me. I wish you all the love you seek and all the joy that comes with that love. If you’ve found that in your life I wish for you a lifetime of experiencing it with that one special other. May you always be grateful for what you have in each other. If you still await that experience then I hope, dear friend, that 2010 is your year!
The Wild Mind
“When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time” ~ Author unknown.