Facebook, High School Reunions, Birthdays and Aging

Note or disclaimer or preface or something:  I wrote this article, several months ago, long before the class reunion occurred.  I was going to post it, in advance of the reunion, but I hesitated, intending to go back and edit and re-work it. Call me chicken. Now that I’ve actually attended my class reunion, reacquainted myself with people I’d lost contact with, and heard some of their feelings about our 30-year reunion, I’m posting this, even though it is after the fact.  I looked forward to this reunion with hopeful anticipation, but also with a great deal of dread and anxiety.  I now know I wasn’t entirely alone in that experience.

I do know this for certain, after having attended the reunion:  We are no longer in high school anymore.  I also know my classmates and I have grown and matured into respectful, decent, thoughtful people.  Because of that, I know that my thoughts here will be treated respectfully and sensitively.  It is in celebration of all our successes over the last 30 years that I offer this series of posts as a humble treatise of gratitude for the part each of you have played in making me the person I am today.  Thank you.

malheur_butte My 30-year-high school reunion takes place this summer in a small dusty town in eastern Oregon.  Though there is likely more pavement there now than when I packed my bags and hustled out of there without looking back, the place is still rather small and somewhat dusty in comparison to the lush green venues of Western Oregon and other areas in the Pacific Northwest.  This is not to criticize the place where I spent most of my childhood.  The high desert definitely has a solitary rugged beauty all its own. It is just that I am a mountains, rivers, oceans and trees kind of girl.  I’ll take forest over sagebrush, and beaches over buttes, any day of the week.  Though, admittedly, wild antelope effortlessly bounding across the Oregon outback is certainly a breathtaking sight.  Even so, unable to fully appreciate it at the time that I lived there, I did make haste to get out of that part of Oregon as soon as I could do so and, as I mentioned before, I never looked back.  I subsequently lost all contact with friends and classmates from my high school years. Continue reading

First Dates and Moonlight–More From The Friendship Files

I finally wheedled the story about Mexico Friend’s First Date with her Husband out of her.  Here it is:

Mexico Friend and her husband had quite the chemistry in the early years of their relationship.  Of course, Husband was irreversibly smitten the minute he saw her.  (We are all irreversibly smitten the minute we see her.  She really is an attractive woman. And she’s really nice.  In fact, she’s in the Makes Me Sick category.  I had to video tape her this week and as I was reviewing the tapes I was reminded just how much she Makes Me Sick.  The rule about the camera adding 10 pounds did not apply to her!  On the other hand the rule about the camera adding 10 pounds tripled with me. How fair is that?  See?  Makes Me Sick. But, I’m doing the ADD thing again.)

Husband knew what he wanted the minute he saw Mexico Friend.  He never let her phone grow cold and it wasn’t long after they met that they were on their first date.  It was a cold winter’s eve with snow on the ground.  The two of them went out for a nice dinner.  Great food, good wine, wonderful time together with chemistry catching the place on fire between them. 

After dinner, they decided to go for a drive in the snow.  Somewhere out in the country they pulled off on a lonely little unpaved side road.  In fact, it was probably more like a path.  There they were, alone, secluded, nature’s beauty all around and their young 20-something hormone’s raging, fed pretty well by the wine and the chemistry.  They decided to get to know each other even better.

Before long, they were in horizontal hold and things had heated up making it impossible to see out the windows of the vehicle.  That didn’t matter, because the sights they both wanted to explore were inside the vehicle. They were both thoroughly enjoying this Getting To Know All About You Game and they were just really getting in touch when  Mexico Friend opened her eyes for just a moment then opened them again. “There’s something shining in the window,” she commented. 

“It’s probably just the moonlight shining in,” her date responded in muffled short amorous breaths. Clearly, he wasn’t interested in anything but continuing the Getting to Know You game.

Mexico Friend glanced at the extremely fogged up window again, “I think that’ s either a really large moon or it is very, very close.” Relunctantly, Mexico Friend’s Husband slowed himself down and looked up.  He wiped off the window and jumped in shock.  There staring back at him was the face of a woman in her 50’s.  Apparently neither of them heard the woman drive up, turn off her headlights, get out of her car and tromp through the snow to the side of the vehicle where she stood staring in at them in their mostly nude state enjoying each other. How long she’d been there neither of them dared guess, but they knew what she’d seen was definitely the rated R version.

They scrambled to pull on their clothes as quickly as they could, and after dealing briefly with the strange woman who claimed this deserted path led to her house, they got out of there fast.  

As I listened to Mexico Friend retell this story, I noted that she broke one of the cardinal dating rules which is No Sex On The First Date.  When I questioned her about this she said, “Yeah, we did.  Two weeks later we moved in and six months later we were married and we’ve been going like that ever since.  We’re still like that today after 15 years of marriage and two children.” 

As I sat briefly pondering these words, she continued, “When you know, you know.  There’s just no question.” 

In looking at these two, I have to give them a spot on my Happily Ever After List.  These two have fun, humor, friendship and chemistry and they’ve kept it alive through the stresses of having children, job changes, job losses and tight finances and home remodeling projects.  In spite of it all, they are as in love as they’ve ever been.  I love these two because they provide for me a real life model of  many aspects of the kind of relationship I want.  These two have been able to weather life’s marital and financial storms for a decade and a half.  They’re doing more than just staying married, they really enjoy each other and they nurture their relationship by doing the fun stuff and staying in touch with each other as often as possible.

Sanity, Syndromes, Phenomenons…Conclusions

I’ve gone on and on, ad nauseum, about what I call “The Going Silent” phenomenon.  Just as a refresher, I do not consider it going silent when you’ve emailed a couple of times, maybe met once, or had a phone call or two and then silence.  I call that phenomenon, The Never Getting The Thing Off The Ground Phenomenon.  The Going Silent Phenomenon is the thing that occurs after a relationship is airborn and some emotional intimacy, probably even some physical intimacy has developed and suddenly one or the other of the two people draw way, way back or they disappear altogether.  I still believe and will always believe that The Going Silent Phenomenon is simply cowardice.  Somebody got in too far and couldn’t get out courageously or without looking like a complete shit,  so they just disappeared. 

 There is a less severe form of this same phenomenon in existence though.  It’s called the You’re-The-Best-Thing-I’ve-Got-Going-Right-Now-But-If- Something-Better-Comes-Along-I’m-Outta-Here Syndrome .  Another equally disconcerting malaise is the “I’m Just Not Sure How I Feel About You” quandary.  In each unappealing dating situation one partner is more vested than the other and is unable to see clearly the writing on the wall of the relational dynamics.  I’ve been there.  I know deep down when I’m dealing with just such a situation.  I’ve never been inaccurate when I suspected one of these situations existed.  I just didn’t always like being honest with myself about it.  Now, I know that both these situations occur with men and women, but since I’m female I want to address this situation from the perspective of the female being more vested than the male or when the guy goes silent or keeps her at arm’s distance. Again, I recognize it happens both ways, but for the ease of me sorting things out for me, I am going to address it from my particular point of view.

Here are some conclusions that I’ve arrived at after recent  life events, dating experiences and being the victim (and, yes, sometimes the perpetrator)  of several of these Phenomenons and Syndromes.

Conclusion 1:  I do ultimately hope to be part of a rewarding, enriching, fulfilling and vital intimate relationship with someone of the opposite sex in spite of my quickly advancing years on this earth.  (Okay, the aging thing was said tongue in cheek).

Conclusion 2: If this does not happen for me, I will, feel like I’ve missed out on one of life’s greatest joys and adventures.

Conclusion 3:  If this does not happen for me, I will still have a great, fulfilling, rewarding and exciting life because I will still have many of the adventures I hope to have and meet many of the people I still haven’t met yet that I will ultimately come to know and love as dear friends, colleagues, children-in-law, and grandchildren. 

Conclusion 4:  I’m not going to waste time in situations when I know they are not moving  me closer to my relational goals.  In other words, I’m no longer willing to just pass time in an okay relationship when I know it isn’t going to be the relationship.  I didn’t really do this before, but I’m writing it here to remind myself to stay on that track and never veer from it.

Conclusion 5:  He’s just absolutely got to be crazy about me and I need to know it.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time or energy on the “I’m Not Sure” thing or the “Stay Out Here At Arm’s Distance” thing.

Conclusion 6: Going Silent or Cutting The Engines when the relational jet is airborne is a non-negotiable dealbreaker for me.

Conclusion 7:  I can’t even believe I have to say this,  but I’ve modified my stance on “They’re okay to date if the divorce is filed but not yet final”.  I’ve concluded, after more hard knocks and disappointments in this area than I care to admit, that I won’t date anyone who doesn’t have a signed judgement.  It’s just the emotional equivalent of treading water incessantly.  Too exhausting for me and I have nothing left over for the people in my life who really are available and who do desire my companionship and friendship and love.

So, what brought all that on?  Well, nothing really.  Things are pretty up for me now and life is busy, hectic, demanding like it usually is.  Things are really looking better and better for me here in post-divorce world.  I know I’m not going under and while life isn’t perfect, it continues to improve daily for me.  I’m happy and content.  Sometimes I feel down and blue and miserable and tired, but that doesn’t mean life still isn’t very, very good.  It’s just that I’ve been kind of rolling this stuff over and over in my mind for the last year and thought I’d put it out there more as a means of clarifying my own position to myself.  (Things tend to get muddy and murky in the heat of the battle otherwise.)

There are times, though, when some distantly related thought comes blistering into your conscious because of some benign comment or statement someone makes and instantaneously the unrelated connects you to something else and something else again and the entire thing (whatever that “thing” is) crystallizes for you.  That happened to me today.  Nothing big or earth shattering or anything.  It was just a funny little comment, meant mostly tongue-in-cheek probably, but it had that crystallizing effect on me.  The comment was made on my other blog in response to my post Time To Buck Up.  Sanityinthenorthwest was actually the inspiration for that post and his comment became the crystallizing force for this post. 

So, here’s what  Sanity sanely said:

I will stick by my comment that men will jump through many hoops just to get hugs and kisses at the end of the day. I am sticking by it because I see men jumping through hoops every day just to get some hottie to adore them. If the guys you are hanging around aren’t doing that for you, toss them to the curb.

That’s the third time in the last month a man has given me that advice.  Something in my gut resonates with his statements about men jumping through hoops.  In looking back at my own conclusions and convictions, I have to admit, on this one, I think Sanity is spot on. 

And that brings me to Conclusion 8:  I am going to follow Sanity’s advice.

The Friendship Files Are Born

The Friendship Files began with my story about Sleepovers and Regifting.  The humorous anecdote told to me by a friend, made its way onto my blog with full prior approval by those I was writing about.  The friends I  wrote about loved the retelling and asked for more.  The friends who read the story were entertained, amused, and inspired. Then came the Friends Who Pull Off A Great Bash,  Christmas Party Friend and Mr. Knows, and Mexico Friend and Husband.  I currently have Mr. Christmas Eve Party, Colorado, Single Girl, Gamblin’ Betty, Aspiring Writer Friend Back East (AWFBE), Semi-Professional Photographer Friend (SPPF) and others waiting for me to tell the story that reveals the way they’ve impacted me, inspired me and encouraged me by simply being my friends. Sometimes they’ve simply done nothing more than make me laugh at times when I thought I might sink into the quagmire of despair.  They rescued me, each and every one of them by just being them and by loving me in their own peculiar ways. I am beginning to have people line up to tell me their story and have me write it.  I love this!  Each story tells me something more about the way life is, we are, family can be.  Stay tuned.  There are so many ways my friends enrich my life and make me a far better person than I would be otherwise. 

There are also those friends who stopped in at a point in my  life when I needed whatever they had to offer, or maybe they needed what I had to give, but they didn’t stay long.  They all taught me something because I was willing to pay attention. This is what my friends and aquaintances do for me.  They move me toward being the best possible me I can be.  If you are blessed, your friends do this for you as well.  I only hope I am the kind of friend that returns the favor in this regard. Maybe in these vignettes that I’ve written and will be writing you’ve found something of life, of love, of hope, of the human condition we all partake in that resonates with you.  If so, I hope you’ll comment.  If not, I hope you’ll comment.  No matter what, I do hope that The Friendship Files bring you hope, encouragement, inspiration, laughter, and when needed that clear realization and assessment that only you can make for yourself when you realize you’ve bumped into an area of your life that you need to take control of and master so that it doesn’t master you anymore. 

May “Further Tales From The Friendship Files” encourage you and help you find the strength and determination that you need when you need it most, the humor to help you laugh at yourself and the desire to seek to be the very best you possible…after all…that’s what you were born for.   

P.S.  Mr. Christmas Eve Party don’t despair. Even though I haven’t written your story yet …your graciousness in inviting me in to your family’s inner circle at a time when I was most lonely meant so very much to me.  May your kind multiply and fill this earth rapidly.

Compatibility Under Fire

In the online dating arena and in the offline dating arena there is a buzzword evolving that is beginning to annoy me because it is so vague as to be meaningless, but it is also becoming overused.  This word is “compatible”.  Another variation of it is “compatibility”.  People talk about compatibility like it is the end all and be all, the one single ingredient to a successful, lasting relationship or at least one of the top five.  The problem, for me, is not that compatibility isn’t important, it is that it is so difficult to nail down.  Just exactly what does it mean to be compatible?  

Does compatibility mean sharing the same interests?  If so, then I know plenty of people with whom I share the same interests, but we would never make good partners for a romantic involvement.  They are either too young, too old, the wrong sex, already married…but we are compatible if compatibility simply means sharing the same interests.  On the other hand, I also know plenty of people with whom I have no common interests as far as activities or hobbies are concerned, but I really connect with these people on some level other than mere interests or hobbies. In fact, some of these people share none of my interests, but we still get along fabulously and have been able to find things to do or places to go spend time together that we both like.  Compatibility cannot be simply reduced to being able to share the same interests or hobbies.  It can never simply be evaluated based on how many things we like to do together. 

Does compatibility mean we get along well together?  And what does get along well together mean?  Does it mean we never argure, never disagree?  Does it mean we can work well together?  Does it mean we resolve conflicts effectively when they do arise?  Does it mean we just don’t care what the other peson does so they never get under our skin?  Hmmmm, that sounds problematic to me.  I don’t think compatibility can be limited to merely getting along peacefully either.

Paul Reiser, in his book Couplehood, 1994, Bantam Books, offers this explanation instead:

Because the way I figure, there are two types of people: those who get it and those who don’t.  If they get it, there’s nothing to explain, and if they don’t, there’s no point in trying to explain.  They don’t get it.  Move on.    But I remember thinking that if you’re going to be with someone, you should find someone who gets it.  And someone who fits.

Simplistic as it might seem, I agree with this assessment.  I’ve done my share of agonizing over the online profile.  I’ve wondered how to nail down exactly what I’m looking for when it can’t be nailed down other than to say that when I meet him I’ll know it.  He’ll get it.  We’ll be a fit for each other. There is no need to agonize over the descriptors because the descriptors can take a million different forms and they can all fit or none of them fit. 

The key is knowing when it is a fit or when it is not and moving on and staying committed to the process.  The bigger problem here is that we want to make what doesn’t fit…fit…because we are tired of the search and afraid the search will never end.  This is where fear creeps in and heartache is born. 

I never want to go that route again and I never want to use “compatibility” as my excuse for doing so and I dont’ have to agonize over what it will look like when it is right.  They’ll either get it or they won’t.   He’ll either get me or he won’t.  There is no better litmus test of compatibility than this.