Houses or Playgrounds?

Short and to the point: The Beau is no longer “The Beau”.  (Surprise! Surprise!  Gasp!  Does that really surprise anyone? N0.  Didn’t think so.)

Don’t know how to quite explain all the details to myself, except to say that it was a mutual misunderstanding.  I can’t share really how things started declining from his perspective, only from mine, though he’s enlightened me through discussions over the last week.  And he makes some valid, very understandable points.  I only wish he’d shared where he was with all that a month ago when he began feeling that way.

Things with us started off really great.  Had they kept going really great, no doubt, I would not be writing this post.  Now mind you things weren’t going badly…they just kinda weren’t really going like they were before.  Sometime after the second weekend I went up to visit him I noticed a bit of a “pull back” from him.  It was slight and subtle but very, very perceptible to me.  Things like no longer reaching out to hold hands in the car when we went places, no (and I mean absolutely none, where before there had been plenty) physical affection other than a quick good-bye peck at the door as he left or I left.  Things like calling me really late at night after being on the phone with others (who were just friends, yes, but nonetheless female and not me).  Things like a reduction in the number of texts or other contacts in a day, making it feel a bit like he was just making the obligatory once a day phone call.  Things like simply not seeming as interested as he previously was.

Now, The Beau, is not, was not, a bad guy.  Something changed for him…or he saw something that gave him reason to pause.  Nothing at all wrong with that.  In fact, there is quite a bit about me that would give most people pause, not the least of which is 4 kids, a fixer house and a very tight budget and this blog.  I really have a problem with none of that.  It is totally understandable to me.  

We’d been dating about two months and he’s the one that mentioned not dating anyone else and taking off his profile from said dating sites.  I did not bring up this conversation…he did.   I guess I didn’t ask enough questions about what that meant for him.  I guess, maybe, that conversation was premature.  Maybe I misunderstood the seriousness of that kind of behavior.  To me that means, “I really want to focus on you.”  To him, well, I’m still not clear what he intended by even bringing up that conversation, but that’s okay too.  I don’t need to be clear on that.  It just didn’t appear to indicate a single purpose to him quite the same way it did to me or he thought better of it after he did it.  That’s alright too.  I just wish I’d understood all that before I stopped dating the four or five other very fine men, that I stopped seeing to date The Beau exclusively only to have The Beau get cold feet.  (j/k about the 5 guys, disappointed about the cold feet, but aware that it happens and am not losing sleep or wasting tears over it)

I guess the best analogy is this one:  “Are we building a house here or are we building a playground?”  My thinking is that the foundation for either of those endeavors is very different and you can’t exactly change projects midway, without some serious investment or strife or, at least some conversation.  Both of them serve their purpose and are wonderful projects.  Really, I don’t care which one it is, but if he wants the house and I’m thinking playground or vice versa things can and will get weird, misunderstandings happen, communication begins to miss and, well, feelings get hurt.  Further, if  both begin with the understanding that a house is to be built and the other changes what they are building without telling his partner, things can be really messed up and strange. None of that bothers me, it’s called relationship.  This is why human beings were given the gift of speech, so we could address these misunderstandings.  (P.S. I know the analogy is weak and flawed, but it worked for us and it helped us both understand each other better, so I’m going with it.)

I thought he wanted the house (no the house does not equal marriage, LTR or anything other than a mere exclusive dating relationship and the interested behavior to match…there are never ever any guarantees, I know this.  Yes, the playground does equal the non-exclusive, let’s just have fun and be friends casual dating kind of thing).  He probably did want the house for a couple of weeks there, maybe a month, but then had second thoughts and he backed off to the playground project, which is fine with me or maybe he found another house or playground he’d rather explore a bit more.  Only problem was, he didn’t tell me about it.  Well, yes, he did, just not with words.  That’s okay too. I was able to figure it out, pretty accurately without the words. Maybe I’m getting better at reading that nonverbal stuff more accurately. I don’t know. This time hearing the words only confirmed what I already knew several weeks ago was true. 

I guess I just don’t play the game well.  I’d rather have a guy just say “I’m not that into you” than to waste my time pretending he is in an effort to avoid hurting my feelings.  Cowardly as it is, even going silent is a bit more honest than continuing a game that one simply isn’t sure they want to play.  I won’t waste time (and it is a waste of time if  someone is not being completely honest and candid with the other person) spending time being with a person I really like who’s kinda sorta not sure he’s that into me. 

Now, true, it’s not like I’m the only consideration here.  I know that.  I come with a lot of  “baggage”.  I prefer to refer to it as responsibility, but face it, kids, fixer, finances, two ex’s—yuck, it’s just baggage to most people, no matter how neatly folded and tucked away it may be. (That reality does make me very sad sometimes, but I can’t fix any of that, so I just feel sad for a bit, then get up and forge ahead.  I mean really, what are my alternatives?)  He’s got lots to consider before making any serious commitments where I’m concerned, but I am not even remotely talking about that nor was I even remotely expecting it.  I just wondered how come he no longer wanted to hold my hand, be with me as much or he preferred talking to others instead of me.  I’m just talking about enjoying spending time together and it seemed to me that somewhere along the line, that changed for him. It seemed really, like he was no longer as interested in being with me and that I was not as attractive to him anymore.  It changed for me only because it changed for him.  My feelings for him and my attraction to him never dimmed or wavered.  I’m just not willing to be in a place where I feel less than desirable, like I don’t quite do it for him, or where I’m just not all that big of a deal to him. 

So, that’s where it stands.  My understanding has been cleared up about what his intention is and where he stands with me (the words now match the behavior)  and, to be very honest, I’m relieved.  No one enjoys feeling like the person they are with is just not all that excited anymore about being with them. 

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

Brave New Post Marriage Dating World

I have several friends lately who are just newly divorced and starting to think about dating again.  After many years in a marriage, no matter how bad it was, one can really miss the companionship of another adult.  And, yes, one misses the sex too.  Although, in some cases, the sex might have been nonexistent long before the marriage ended or it might have the reason the marriage ended. 

Whatever the situation, many of my now single friends are trying to negotiate this new world that I refer to as “Post 40 World” (even though some of us are not really post-40, all of us feel like it) where we are now single, in our 40’s, not ever wanting to be here at this stage of our lives and with a boatload of responsibilities (aka, baggage).  We try to date, and if our personal worlds don’t bring us near any prospective individuals that we can even consider talking with over coffee, we turn to the online arena.

Online dating has advantages and disadvantages.  It’s been said that in 2006, 1 in 8 married couples met online.  I can only imagine the number has swelled in the last few years. As one who recieved her graduate degree online, and feels fairly comfortable with the way the digital world can expand our ability to connect with those from places we might otherwise only read about in books, online dating doesn’t scare me.  However, I say that, knowing full well, I’ve been very, very fortunate so far.  Those I’ve met have been decent people.  Only one in probably a hundred or so folks have lied about their age and that’s pretty good.  No one, so far, has stalked me, though there have been several that I wished would have.  

Today I received an email from a friend who is just recently and hesitantly venturing out into the world of online dating.  He’s a card carrying member of “Post 40 World”.  Married his true love and when he did so he did it for life but she didn’t have the same agenda.  She’s moved on and now he’s here in “Post 40 World” wondering how to navigate the terrain.  Well, like I’m the world’s greatest expert in this.  Anyone who reads my blogs can tell I struggle with trying to figure out how to do the dating thing when things are so very different than they were when you were in college and had your whole life (and your best body) going for you.  So, I gave my friend some pointers.  Here’s what I said.  Look the advice over and see what you would add:

1. Create an alias and don’t reveal your true identity until after you have met the person in the flesh.  Okay, you can give out your first name, but much other than that, just don’t!  Remember, if they have even your last name they can find out exactly where you live.

2.  Don’t believe the pictures. I’ve been burned and had many friends who’ve been burned by the fake picture. It’s disappionting and a huge waste of emotional time and energy when it happens. Hold everything at arm’s distance until you meet. 

2a.  Be very cautious of someone who doesn’t post any pictures and isn’t willing to send you any.  Be equally cautious of the person who posts a picture that looks airbrushed or like it is of a magazine model.  (It just might be.)

3. Don’t spend a lot of time chatting online.  Exchange a few emails, get to know enough to determine if you would like to meet or not, then meet.  You can create this big fantasy online and then when you meet be completely disappointed and heartbroken.  I’m not sure why this happens, but it does.

4.  Be cautious of the person who after a few tries still finds excuses not to meet or talk on the phone.  I personally hate to talk on the phone, but will do it.  I’d rather just meet. If the person is unwilling to do either, suspect that a.) they are not really interested in a relationship like you are or b.) they are not really female. 

5. Be very suspicious of those who cannot communicate reasonably well in writing.

6. Never entertain further communication from those who ask you for money…it is probably a scam from someone outside the country.

7. Trust your gut (you already know this, I know).  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

8.  Don’t make a dinner date your first meeting. Something light and casual like coffee or a walk is great.  It can be shortened or lengthened as you feel and you don’t have to endure a long night with a lot of expense if the interest factor just isn’t there.  

9.  Obviously, don’t tell anyone where you live until you’ve checked them out and know they are who they say they are. 

These items are the most salient points I could think of on the fly.  I realize I am pretty inexperienced in this realm, after all, I’ve only been dating for about a year and a half. I’m still evolving in my view of what it is all about. I feel I’ve had a good experiences overall with online dating, but I’ve also been very foolish and very lucky because worse things didn’t happen than did (in other words, it could have been so much worse and you could have read about me in the papers…I’ve really been that fortunate).  I also live in a much smaller area and not a big metro urban area…so, maybe the risks are fewer?  Not sure about that one, but it sounded good.

What else can everyone add to help those out who are trying to find their way in this Brave New Post Marriage Dating World?

Ideas For Musings Submitted by Readers…#1

If you click on over to my page titled “Submit Ideas For Future Musings” you will see that reader Kip submitted several interesting and thought provoking topics for consideration.  All of them are good but after some thought, I’m choosing his last one, which I wonder if he suggested because he might have Google Earthed me or something and found out something he thought I didn’t already know.  Anyway, the topic for this reader submitted post idea is:

How about the Wild Mind’s response to a known sex offender moving in just a couple doors away from where she and her four children live?

Here’s my response:  Big Fucking Deal.

Now, before y’all go gettin’ sideways on me and accusin’ me of being the worst candidate for Mother of the Year, let me explain.  If you Google earth me, the house you come up with will not be mine.  Sorry, I’ve tried it.  Many folks have tried it.  You get the wrong house every time.  So, let me say this.  I do have a convicted sex offender living in my neighborhood, closer to me than I’m going to reveal, for his protection in spite of the fact that Google Earth has our locations off.

Let me also say this.  I found this out because he and his wife (he never goes anywhere in the neighborhood without his wife) showed up on my doorstep a month or two after I moved in and told me the whole long sad story.  He is truly a convicted sex offender and earned the label.

Let me further say…he is the best neighbor I have.  I would go so far as to say he is the best neighbor anyone could have. 

I’ve lived in my home for 5  years now. The man has never done anything inappropriate.  He goes to work, comes home, drives up into his garage, the door closese securely behind him and he goes into his house from the garage.  He interacts with neighbors when necessary and is always appropriate in his demeanor and distance.  He lives with shame of choices in his past that keep him harbored away in his home with minimal contact with the outside world. He’s a homeowner, not a renter, and for someone with a prison record that’s quite an accomplishment.  He has two children and a wife and they’ve tried to give their children the most normal stable childhood they can, in spite of the laws of my area that say every single person must be notified of the residences of convicted sex offenders. This notification occurs by the local police force showing up on one’s doorstep each year with a flyer with the person’s picture plastered prominently on it.

This man is the neighbor who walks boldly up to strangers in cars who do not live in the area, asks what they are doing there, then gets their license plate numbers.  This is the neighbor who if I need help carrying in the big TV I bought three years ago came over to help me (wife was with him, of course).  This is the neighbor who helped me gather wood this summer.  This is the neighbor I can rely on to watch my back should strange people be hanging around my place. This is the neighbor I make sure I inform that I am going to be out of town so he can be on the look out for anything awry.  I do the same for them when they are out of town. This is the neighbor who’s kids come over swim in my pool and play with my kids.   His wife comes over and gives me hand me down close for my youngest all the time.   This is the neighbor, and the only neighbor I might add, that if I really needed help would be there for me. 

My kids know the score.  They never go over there alone, nor would he want them too.  He is all about changing his life and living right, even though he knows he has to deal with the consequences.  He doesn’t complain.  He realizes that he’s earned all the treatment he receives.  He only regrets what this means for his children and the shadow of shame and humiliation they have endured because of his folly. This is where our system in its great attempt to keep people informed and criminals in check goes wrong.

He’s lived in this neighborhood longer than I.  He didn’t move in after I was here. He’s been completely honest with me about his past and the public records validate this.  He and his family were the first and only ones to greet me in this neighborhood when I moved in , they continue to be one of only two households who are even remotely friendly to me.  If anyone has ever earned the clean slate treatment this man has. And if I ever move from this neighborhood, he and his family will be the neighbors I miss most.

February

I’m not much for winter.  It isn’t that I dislike winter, it is that I hate the darkness of the days in winter.  Now, I suppose this would be different if I lived in a place like Colorado where it snowed a lot and the sun shone often in spite of the frigid temps.  The combination of the snow and the sun would effectively ward off all gloominess associated with the dreary winter days that are oft experienced in certain parts of the Pacific Northwest.

I can handle winter up until New Year’s Day.  Then I’m ready for Spring, and more better, summer!  Every year, and especially this year, I party pretty hard through the holidays and winter doesn’t bother me much because I am distracted.  January was easier this year due to The Beau; he distracted me quite a bit this last month. In spite of the distractions, the early nightfalls and scraping the car windows every morning before work (when I’m already late and don’t have a handsome, considerate significant other to help me out with that) really create some serious resentment when it comes to all things winter. Never mind that I love the warm winter evenings near the fire.  That’s good only so long as there is firewood.

As I was driving my oldest home from her job the other evening we both noticed that behind the cloud cover and peeking through at points there was still light in the sky.  This cheers my soul.  This means, the worst of winter may be over for us and within two months spring will be here. 

I love February for this reason.  The cold, freezing biting frost begins to give way to the drizzly, cozy, coffee sipping days of February which magically turn into March leading us ultimately and inevitably to those wonderful days where I do not have to get up at the crack of dawn every morning (though I often do, just because I can) and can spend my days as I wish doing all the things I didn’t have the free time to do during the school year.

It also means quite a few months before the summer heat wave hits that I can save money by not using heat and not having to cool the house either.  That rocks!  

P.S.  My heat bill usually hits $400 a month.  By heating with wood and turning my heat way down during the day and only up when absolutely necessary, I was able to cut my gas bill in half.   It sure helped all summer to scavenge that free wood off friends who needed help clearing their properties.   And the little tip about turning the furnace down overnight even when we are here was golden!

P.S.S.  The upside to winter is there is no yard work, well, not as much anyway.

It Appears I’m The One Going Silent This Time…Sorta

A short post tonight.  I’m tired.   I still have a ton to do before tomorrow, when I can hop in the car and travel 90 minutes north for my mini-vacation of sorts with The Beau.  We have plans to relax (I’ll probably collapse) Friday evening.  Knowing him, he’ll cook for me, I’ll eat, we’ll talk till wee hours of the morning (yeah, right). 

Saturday morning, he’s cleaning his garage, I’m going to grade papers.

Saturday afternoon it is a wine pairing session at our winery.  That will be fun.  I will actually be able to talk intelligently about something I know nothing about afterward.  Okay…I am becoming such the wine snob.  Not!  However, it is true.  I now know the difference between a $15 bottle of wine and a $6 bottle of wine.  And the $30 bottle?  Oh my! 

Then Saturday evening I do believe we have a concert he’s lined up.  I really like not having to be the one to come up with ideas for stuff all the time.  I dated one guy recently and he couldn’t make a decision if his life depended upon it.  I’m a pretty decisive person most of the time, but that one wore me out.  I was actually glad he went silent.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be dating someone who is somewhat imaginative, creative and, yes, takes the initiative, oh, wait, and he communicates too.  Wow.  What a concept. 

I’m going to be behind on laundry when I get back, but…it will be worth it. 

Okay, I have to go.  I’m tired.  I have a big day tomorrow.  I probably won’t post much this weekend…for obvious reasons.  Ha!Ha!  It appears I’ll be the one going silent this time.  Okay, but I warned you in advance and it isn’t indefinitely.  So don’t be too unhappy.  I will be back with stories to tell. 

Sorry for the rambling, disjointed post, but I’m about ready to fall off this chair.  I’m going to be surprised if I reread this and there are less than a dozen typos.  I’m really that exhausted.

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.

My 2009 Off To A Great Start

My year is off to a great start.  Already, I’ve renewed what once was a valuable friendship to me. Yesterday, I met up with a friend of mine that I haven’t seen in almost a decade.  In a previous life, our husbands worked together for the same big church in my area.  She is still married to the same husband she was married to then (yay for them!) and my husband from that former life is now my ex.  He still works for the same big church.  Things changed, my marriage and my life erupted like the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima as failing marriages of staff people in  large conservative fundamentalist churches have a way of doing. My friend and her husband moved away to Portland, Oregon, went to school and well, though I’ve thought of them over the years often, we just lost contact.  But our daughters, who were born about the same time nearly 15 years ago, stayed in touch.  Earlier this week I received a surprising phone call from Portland Friend with the request that our daughters get together since Portland Friend and her family were in town for the holidays. 

I have to say I was a bit nervous about this.  I felt the shame of my past come rushing up as it sometimes still does when I come into contact with folks who were in on the front lines of the action when that whole nightmare went down. I needn’t have troubled myself.  When Portland Friend walked in the door, it was like time had never passed.  Her first words to me were, “You know, Cat, one of these days you’re going to start aging!”  I laughed at her.  I was thinking the exact thing about her.  “You look great!”  I fumbled.

We spent some time getting caught up on each other’s lives and just talking about bigger things.  Like God. Like Church.  Like life, dreams, goals and purpose.  Like how we’ll probably neither of us do the organized church ministry again and how that entire experience changed our lives. Like how we really take issue at some points with organized religion…at a lot of points.  Portland Friend and her husband are now working with people in crisis, homeless people, drug addicts, those most people would call the dregs of society.  Church image, attendance, activity and rules are no longer the focus of their lives.  She relayed to me how her husband was noted as saying, “If given the option to spend an hour with heroin addicts or the church board, I’ll choose heroin addicts.  They are the ones who know they need to change.”   

I found as we talked that though our lives had gone different directions over the years our perspectives continued to be as congruent as they’d ever been.  We’d ended up in the same place on many issues though our roads to get there diverged greatly.  It was a fascinating almost revelatory conversation for me in some ways.  I told her of my feelings of restlessness here and that I felt I was nearing a bit of a crossroads.  I’m not exactly at the place where I can make the choice to go one direction or another but I see something like that appearing on the horizon. 

“I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if it meant I moved away from this area”, I told her, “But right now the liklihood of that seems so remote.”  

“It sounds like you smell a change coming.  It will be interesting to see what happens to you.  Let’s keep in better touch from now on.  And I want you to come up, stay with us for a weekend and explore the possibilities in our area,”  she smiled.  I knew she was not just offering that invite out of courtesy either. I know this about Portland Friend, she doesn’t have a false bone in her body.

Eventually we both realized that though we could have talked all night, we had to get back to reality. We exchanged phone numbers and emails, said our goodbyes and off Portland Friend and her daughter went.

I don’t believe people enter our lives or leave them on accident.  I don’t believe Portland Friend’s re-entrance in my life at this particular time was inconsequential.  What does it mean?  I have no idea. What will come of it?  I may not see the significance of that particular event for years to come.  It is nice to know, that if I should ever want to consider relocating to Portland, there is someone there who could help me navigate what could be an overwhelming transition were I to go it alone.  That reality alone is significant.  I’m reminded again how life turns on a dime and sometimes the little things turn out to be really big things.  I’m wondering if this little conversation might be one such little thing.

I can tell you this: Because of that conversation I’m anticipating an interesting year.

Starting 2009 Peacefully With A Cuppa Joe In The H.T.

Alright, everybody’s already been up and at ’em and posted their good-byes to 2008 and their hopeful wishes for 2009 on their blogs already.  In spite of my lack of originality on the topic, I’m still going to chime in with my perspectives on the transition from the last to the current year. It will, at very least, help me sort out all the varying and wayward thoughts streaming through my gray matter this morning…which this morning especially…feels particularly gray, like it is socked in under a deep cloak of tangible fog.

I am getting a late start so far on this first day of 2009 due in part to way too much celebratory cheer last night…and not getting to bed till nearly four this morning.  Gads, that’s about the time my friends on the East Coast (should those be capitalized?) were getting up for the day.  I do hope this slow beginning is not indicative of how the year will go.  Unless, of course, slow is to be interpreted as peaceful, which is indeed how my day, particularly my morning progressed.

In spite of the slow, or maybe relaxing is a better word, start to my day, once I awoke at something like 9:30 this morning, I was wide awake, and thanks to lots of water, some ibuprofen and valerian root last night, no headache this morning.  Well, okay, a minor headache due to too much vodka and not enough water or sleep last night.  I should and have felt much worse in the past after drinking such quantities.  I’m glad I feel fine this morning.  What’s a temporary minor “heckake” as my dad used to call them?

I decided that, in spite of feeling particularly regretful about how the family celebrations last night transpired, I would not berate myself for the  choices I made and instead choose differently in the future.  In the spirit of this commitment, I got up and opened up the hot tub, fished out a mismatched two piece swim suit, made some coffee and enjoyed a steamy morning cuppa joe in my HT, completely alone, with the rain falling down around me.  Ahhh, cool mist on my face, embryonically warm water enfolding me  and warm brew inside me.  As I enjoyed these physical sensations,  I contemplated the past year and pondered as much as I could see down the road of the days ahead.

It feels like a different year, same ole stuff to me. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. 

I’ve gone on and on about the challenges 2008 posed for me. I don’t want to do that anymore.  You can read more about my personal trials in previous posts here or at my other blog at Welcome to CABsPlace! 2008 actually began with the end of 2007 and if that pattern holds true, then 2009 is beginning with the end of 2008.  This is not such a bad thing. 

The end of 2008 is an improvement over 2008’s beginning.  Life after divorce has stabilized.  While the financial picture is still somewhat bleak, there is great improvement each and every month.  My family is settling into the routine of our new life post-divorce.  We are not in danger of foreclosure, bankruptcy, job loss or health issues that plague many, many others.  We are indeed very fortunate and I am very grateful.  We have each other, and we actually enjoy being with each other…most of the time.  So, I guess, when I sort through all the things I’m feeling and thinking at this juncture of my life, I’m thinking I hope that none of these things change for the worse.  Improved circumstances are always welcome but I’d be completely okay with the status quo remaining simply that.  

I’m content to declare, “Out With The Old, In With the Same Ole, Same Ole”.

Yes, I’m going to put my list of hopes, dreams, goals, resolutions up eventually because I’m a believer that a written and spoken goal is far more likely to be achieved than an unspoken or unwritten one.  But, I’ll not do that at this moment.  I’m just pretty glad to enjoy this peaceful day that started with a cup of coffee in a hot tub. I do hope that this is some indication of how my year will be.

How To Start Things Off Right With A Woman

I bumped into Christmas Party Friend (from my last post) and I asked her if she’d heard anything from Mr. Knows How To Ask A Woman Out.  She had quite the encouraging story to share.

Disclaimer:

Now, before you begin thinking my Christmas Party Friend is just a woman who casually let’s her lips flap about the latest relationship in her life to just anyone, understand, that this is a woman I’ve known for quite some time.  Our friendship spans nearly a decade and I was with her through her dark night of the soul and during  many of her post-divorce dating nightmares and she patiently walked with me through mine.  This isn’t just any casual friendship. We keep in touch fairly often and sometimes cross paths at work, then sometimes don’t see each other for months. When we get together again it is like we were never apart.  She happened in at my place of work today on some official business or other and I happened to be on lunch when we ran into each other.  Oh, and, before you start thinking that I write everything about the people I interact with here on my blog, understand that I change so much of the details and specifics as to make my “anecdotes” completely fiction worthy.  No one reading this would recognize themselves in this story, yet everyone might, at some point.  So, consider that my disclaimer.  While my ideas may be (not always are) taken from real life experiences, they are just that “taken”.  The life experience may simply give breath to a larger idea I am trying to express. Savvy?  Okay, then.  If the stories do represent real people, these people are disguised and I have their express permission prior to writing and posting. In other words, unless the story is specifically about me, no animals were harmed in the writing of these anecdotes.  In the case of Christmas Party Friend, well, she’s given me her permission, but even she wouldn’t recognize herself here.  However, Mr. Knows How To Ask A Woman Out would certainly see himself in these posts, if he does, indeed, exist.

Now, back to the story.

So, Christmas Party Friend ashamedly admitted that she forgot Mr. Knows How To Ask A Woman Out’s  name. She admitted this kicks her out of the running for Socialite of the Year Award.  She spoke with the woman she worked with who hosted the party today and got, not only his name, but some other interesting tidbits as well. Like the tidbit about the fact that he asked said Party Host about Christmas Party Friend on several occasions during the evening.  Hmmm?  Was he interested or what?  Methinks he was.  Shethinks he was too, in spite of the fact that he didn’t call her the very next day.  ( I think there’s a rule about that.  Isn’t there a rule about that?) Christmas Party Friend was intuititive enough to figure out that no man worth his salt goes to that much effort and doesn’t follow through…unless there is something very wrong with him and then better to know that early on, she thinks.  I tend to agree.

Apparently, as Christmas Party Friend was leaving her office the Monday after the Saturday evening party, she received a call from Mr. Knows How To Ask A Woman Out.  It was pretty casual, very fun and the conversation flowed.  It wasn’t a long conversation from what I gather, but it was incredibly effective and to the point without coming off as interviewer-esque or drill sergeantish.  As best I can remember from her this is basically how it went.

Call rings in. She answers, “Hello”.

He re-introduces himself.  She indicates that she remembers.

He asks about her day.  She answers, then asks about his.  (Great exchange of lifestyle information there.  Don’t knock the things you can learn about a person in the small talk.) During their conversation, she is in the process of leaving work, he is still at work and looking at putting in a few more hours. 

He says, “I’d really like to see if we can figure out a time to get together, where we can talk and see if we’d really like to pursue this any further.” 

Well, no beating around the bush there, is there?  I’d say it was pretty clear that he was interested but also realistic about the fact that they might just not hit it off. He sure wanted to take the time to figure it out with her though.  How very direct, yet low pressure.  He didn’t play games.  He put his cards out there in a non-threatening way.  No guesswork for her to sleuth through or wonder about.  She had a decision.  Did she want to meet with him to explore the possibilities or not?  He made it a simple yes or no answer for her.  Of course, my friend, said she’d like to get together with him. 

After a bit of “well this is what my schedule is like, what is yours like?” they narrowed the time down to which meal and what days.  In fact, his exact words were, “It’s looking like something like lunch early next week might be best for both of us.” She agreed.  He followed up with, “Let’s get through this week and I will call you toward the end of the week and we can set specifics up then.  How does that sound?”, (they are both in similar career fields and this time of the year is high pressure for them).  My friend was fairly impressed with how easy he was making this for her.  Prior to this, she’d spent so many of her interactions with men who gave her their numbers, never called, expected her to do all the work of trying to get the relationship off the ground.  My friend is not opposed to putting in a great deal of relational effort, but when she begins to feel like she’s the only one in the relationship she’s just got to stop and wonder how interested the guy really is.  Her guess is, not very.  She’s usually right.  She’s pretty smart that way.    This guy, on the other hand, was not taking the easy way out.  He was taking the initiative, setting the pace, being assertive and every step of the way he was Mr. Respectful and Considerate, because he stopped and listened and heard from her before moving forward or clinching the deal.  He put himself out there, made himself vulnerable but he was in no way wimpy or needy or passive. There was simply not going to be any “here’s my number, call me when you are free” with this guy.

He wants to move this thing forward with her, but he doesn’t appear to be in any big, huge, needy, insecure rush.  He’s well aware that busy professionals have demanding lives and that it might take a bit of discussion and patience to carve out some time together initially. He seems to be understanding of this reality.  In fact, as I listen to my friend tell about this brief exchange, I realize she seems to be dealing with a fairly confident, well adjusted, mature individual. That’s a rare thing these days according to her. 

My friend is a pretty put together, attractive, self-sufficient, independent woman who really enjoys her single life.  She someday hopes to be in a long term exclusive relationship, but she’s not desperate to be in one. She, like so many of us would actually rather be alone forever than be in a bad relationship again. She gets the sense that Mr. Knows How To Ask A Woman Out is coming from the same place.  Of course, it is all still too early to tell but that’s her first impression. She finds this refreshing.  She’s hopeful that they’ll be able to take the time to get to know each other without having to sacrifice themselves to do it.  There’s already been far too much communication about what works and what doesn’t for each of them in a very respectful manner for that.

As I reflected on my conversation with my Christmas Party Friend today, it  dawned on me that these two, in just the three or so short interactions they’ve had, accomplished something many married couples never achieve.  They negotiated the differences to gain a positive mutually satisfying outcome.  They’ve taken two worlds, two very different worlds, negotiated all the existing hurdles and roadblocks to find time to spend together. He had to give up some information, she had to do the same. A great time to meet wasn’t readily apparent to them.  They both would probably prefer to get together earlier but they both have prior commitments they can’t change and they shouldn’t have to. They both are mature enough to realize that life doesn’t quit just because “you met someone”.  

In thinking about the example of good relational interactions that my Christmas Party Friend and Mr. Knows demonstrate, I realize one more thing:  He is not just Mr. Knows How To Ask A Woman Out but he is also Mr. Knows How To Start Things Off Right. Precedents and expectations are dynamic indicators in the health or illness of a relationship. Mr. Knows set the precedent for considerate, thoughtful interaction in scheduling and planning time together. Christmas Party Friend matched him stride for stride.  It is now the expectation that they will both have as they continue to interact together. I mean, didn’t someone somewhere say, “As the thing begins so it will go”?  I suppose much can begin badly and turn out alright, after all in Shakespeare’s words, “All’s well that ends well”.  I’m certainly hoping on many levels that this can be said about me at the end of my life.  Even so, in relationship, it seems much more difficult to fix a bad start than to start it off right to begin with. 

Mr. Knows seems to get this. 

He sure seems to understand how to start things off right with a woman in three conversations or less.