Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Demon and the Muse

There can be no doubt that March is exiting like a lion. It’s cold, it’s wet and I feel as though I have been mauled. So in the end, I am left shaking my head thinking what the hell just happened? You know, I didn’t write very much about this summer/fall because the whole thing was so utterly and perfectly surreal that I didn’t want to look straight at it or jinx it. I’ve never spent time with someone where I could just enjoy watching the world, talking about the most at times ridiculous and at other times very serious matters, held tenderly and amusingly awkwardly by someone who was about as comfortable as a nine-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The thing is, it was always wrong. I knew it. I knew we weren’t right for each other and I said so...often...yet we continued to plug away, happily enjoying the random argumentative, vertically challenged stranger or blood spattered tween. Yup, that is not an exaggeration. The Demon and the Muse. That was us; I was light and color, bubbly but filled with a deep-resonating sadness, and he was tall, long spiky blonde hair that looked like it took too much effort but with a dark side, always in leather, unkempt despite the coiffing, ridiculously out of place in our sunnier climes, but tender and thoughtful, quick to laugh, still but troubled and forever challenging. I liked that. I have always been able to read people and it was nice to be with someone who wasn’t obvious, who I had to work at a bit. And at first, it was just this amazing friendship that had nothing to do with love or seduction or any of it. Just a kindred spirit.

I’ve always been somewhat blessed (read cursed) with an innate ability to not really predict the future so much as predict how people and events will play out, based on the facts presented. It is a terrible thing to know that you can predict the outcome of events and yet have no recourse or perhaps precourse to avoid them. It is especially difficult when you see your friends making insurmountably bad decisions and if you say anything, yes, you may help them but you will inevitably lose them as a friend as well, so I have grown accustomed to saying nothing except “I’m so sorry” when at last events play out. So it is a uniquely painful experience to be on the receiving end of my own, “I’m so sorry you got hurt.”

It’s interesting, the most random things happen to me at regular intervals, as you have taken note at this point, and doubly so when we were together which was probably part of why it felt so right, the world had become our own private joke. But while I was away, I knew things were falling apart and I couldn’t do anything about it. I panicked, I pushed and I looked too closely at the surreal fantasy world we had created and discovered our moon was made of cardboard, thank you Fantasticks. The funny thing is, I spent so much time nay-saying until finally I decided to go for it, take the leap of faith and...NOT trust my instincts and yet...

Here’s the greatest bits of irony. First, I spent almost my entire vacation simply sorting out what had transpired; he’d had my entire contract to get his thoughts in order and move on, he just didn’t have the heart to tell me. And I knew it was happening but when I would freak out and try and get information, it was always, “don’t worry”, “nothing has changed”, “my feelings are the same”, and “all of this will work itself out.” Well, sort of. Truth is, I’m mostly mad at myself; one, for not taking my own advice in the beginning, and two, for allowing myself to indulge in such a beautiful little lie, a pretty fantasy of the future I painted in my mind of how things could be, how they could play out if I was willing to believe that things could. So I did. And in the end, things went as I knew they would; because of life, because of responsibilities and because of character traits that surfaced while I was away, rendering me incompatible; how about that one? The one person who loved me for exactly who I was…never really did. He just didn’t know me well enough to know he didn’t really love me, well not in the way he thought, anyway. Nor it appears, did I ever really know him. Well, crap!

I’d like to feel relieved to have it all over. I’d like to say, “yay, now back to being my awesome single married girl self!” and fear not, loyal reader I’ll get there. But for now I am left wondering, is this how it was supposed to end, or did I just protest long enough to plant the seed of doubt, thus creating some horrible self-fulfilling prophecy of self-destruction? It is a quandary.

A Single (Married Girl) Sad Revelation

He said he loved me for exactly who I am, but in the end, he loved me for exactly who he thought I was.  Well, really, who he thought he could make me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jane Austen F*cked Me Up

I try too hard. And I love too hard. And I push too hard. And now, I am once again alone. I used to think love was all about compromise and sacrifice and pain, like ballet or gymnastics, where they would say, "If it doesn't hurt, you're not doing it right." And I met my Mr. Darcy and my Heathcliff and in the end, I was never going to be enough. Why? Because I couldn't just be happy, and because sometimes it's not enough to find love. I spent this whole year trying to love myself and become a whole person, and I thought I had gotten good at it. But sometimes it just isn't meant to be. And sometimes, the truth is, it is easier to be complacent than to be brave. I have spent a lifetime being complacent; being too scared to cross the finish line because on the other side of it is what? If I was truly successful and happy and whole then when it wasn't enough, what would I have to blame my unhappiness on? So I shortchanged myself. And then I decided to be brave; I wasn't going to walk away from opportunity, I was going to grab it. But it didn't work out, it was a lovely dream that didn't translate to a concrete day to day reality.

And now I'm sad; it's not permanent and it's not anyone's fault. My husband shall soon no longer be my husband. My lover is no longer my lover. My soulmate was an ethereal fantasy, a beautiful lie that I created in my private thoughts. But all these people started out as my friends. I am returning to the beginning, the scene of my crimes against myself, trying to make good on them. I have said I'm sorry and asked for apologies and cried and raged and sought out calm. But I think perhaps I still owe one more apology.

Dear Laurel, I am so sorry for putting you through this. I didn't meant to hurt you and though I knew what I was doing, I know that it was necessary. We had to try, and risk hurt in order to grow and to prosper. I know you are hurting right now but it will get better. And while you are healing, I will still be here. I know we need a little distance but when you are ready, I'll be here to start again. I love you.

When all is said and done, I think in the end, I may just keep my friends...and myself.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Life Diverted

So I'm going to take a moment to break from all my self-analysis and just talk about my road trip. First of all, I was planning upon leaving the ship to jump in my car, maybe take a day's break and then head on home, 1 day, 2 at the most. So the day before my departure, I over hear a conversation. Seems one of the other crew members who was leaving with me had lost his hotel and not being from the area or even from the country had no idea what he was going to do.

"Hey, I've got a car, no deadline and a crew discount on a hotel. Wanna go halves with me, and I'll plan on staying down here for two days?" As he was actually staying in the area for few days and then reboarding the ship as a guest. So I called home and said I'd be coming home probably late Monday. My husband was out of town all weekend anyway and didn't seem particularly anxious to have me back.

So I figured I'd stay two nights and head home Monday. But then I found a deal for two nights, get the third free. Cool. I didn't have anything planned until Friday and I thought, "why not, I do need a bit of a vacation." Besides we were having fun going to the parks and finding little pubs and anything "American" to whet his appetite for the wackiness of American culture. The M&M store was a particular favorite. A symbol of American capitalism, utilizing a logo into mass marketing. It was kind of fun to see this capitalist world through the eyes of an outsider.

So three days passed in blissfully ridiculous adventures-oh, no-nothing romantic about it. We got to know each other rather well, but, to say that we both had enough on our plates is an understatement. In a way, it's nice to take sex and romance off the table anyway, no pressure, no need to look good or more importantly, smell good. Oh come on, we've all been there. "Does my breath smell? Is there something on my face? Is my hair ok?" Nice to not have to impress. We could just have fun without having to worry about what it all means or where it's all going. Don't get me wrong, he's cute as the dickens...and a musician which is of course my weakness...but I thought I was still coming home to...well, I don't know what, but something.

Anyway, our last day arrives and we fill our time with shopping and food and mini golf and then I drop him off at his hotel. Sadly it is another hour before they can check him in. Some sort of mix up with the reservation. No worries, it just means I'm not on the road until nearly 6 pm. Hmm, I've a fourteen hour drive ahead of me. Do I stay another night and head out fresh in the morning? But I can tell my companion is looking forward to a bit of time on his own, so I opt to get going.

I will just drive until I start to grow too tired. That time arrives around 10:30 or so, so I start looking for potential hotels. Now there are plenty of options in the $25-$35 range. Admittedly until recently I have always followed my mother's guideline of never stay in a place with a number in the name, but with her passing, I've grown less particular. And I have found sometimes there still are bargains to be had. But as I am wrestling with my conscience over whether to cast caution to the wind, pick a dive and just use my harp to barricade the door, I see a sign which reads "Savannah 26 miles". I love Savannah. I have been there twice in my life; once when I was married, we stayed for one day and then last year we went back for a week and stayed at the most beautiful B&B, which I discovered later was run by the son of a friend of my parents. Small world. But I digress. The point is, I decided completely spontaneously to take a little side trip, which I knew would cost me time-wise. But again, I didn't have anywhere I needed to be before Friday. So off I went.

Now this is the point where I need to tell you about my GPS. I don't know what it has against me, but I do wants me dead. No, really. More than once she has lost me in the wilds of Washington with no rhyme or reason. I think she may have a thing for my husband. I only get lost when I'm driving alone. When he is in the car, she is all smiles and right turns and accurate time assessment. But when it's just the two of us it's, "right turn in, oh, my bad, you missed it." And "sharp left turn into"...a one way street. And I could swear one time I heard her say, "when possible make a legal u turn, u whore." Now, I'm not being judgmental here but I genuinely think she doesn't like me.

So I pulled over and programmed in Savannah into my GPS and she said something derogatory and possibly anti-Semitic about how I didn't deserve him while we waited for a signal. Finally, grudgingly she acquiesced that Savannah did actually exist and we were on our way. Now it wasn't long before I knew there was a problem. My GPS kept telling me to take turns for roads that didn't exist and it didn't escape my notice that I'd been driving on railroad tracks for a LONG time. I think it was when she told me just to relax and close my eyes that I really started to worry.

Anyway, I was on the phone with my friend (hands free before you get all in a tizzy) and he was on Google earth trying desperately to figure out where I was. At last we found the downtown area and I ended up on Bay Street. Looking at the row of hotels, my heart sank a bit knowing that I could add a zero to the cost of these hotels as compared to the Supersketch I had planned on and budgeted for. Well, whatever, I WAS HERE! And I was ready for adventure.

So I head in to the hotel which looked most likely to be under the century mark cost-wise and begin the check in process, buyer’s remorse immediately taking hold. Even with my AAA discount (no crew discount here) it is $116. Whatever, I'm right by the water and I want to stay. So I give the woman my credit card. She begins the process, a slew of emotions contorting her welcoming southern countenance. I begin to panic a bit...'I mean, I know we went a little crazy in Orlando but I had like $3000 on that card and I know we didn't spend...' My troubled musings are interrupted abruptly as she looks up at me and in her most conspiratorial voice says, "I found a coupon. How does $79 sound?" How does it sound? Like a symphony of book it!!!

So I check in, freshen up and head out! I am a block from the water, though I don't really want to take the river walk at this hour alone, just a little too much cobblestone and shadow and potential loss of life for a Tuesday night. So I walk up the street looking to see what's open when I hear music. Yes, perfect. Like a siren's song of ridiculous adventure, I followed the sound to a little hole in the wall bar, which was open til 3. From the moment I opened the door, I knew I was in the right place...and the right time.

My first impression was of a smallish bar; burley, shaved head bouncer-looking bartender at the ready, aging hippie at the mic, six or seven disinterested patrons on the stools, one emo guy hiding behind a pillar and one shamefully drunk, very loud fan. I take a seat at the bar. Drunk fan, in mid rant, catches sight of me and says, eyes glazed and tongue lolling, "Who are you? Where did you come from?" To which I give no response or sign of recognition.

Hippie guy plays a bit but it is obvious he would prefer to drink and chat. His ranting brings me no small amount of joy, each gem imminently more quotable than the last. He asks me about where I'm from and I tell him I'm off the ship and here for the night. "*****'s (insert company name here) the devil, but it's cool, 'cause you got benefits. And that's smart," and "I don't give a f*ck, except I do give a f*ck, 'cause I got a kid. You know what I mean. And she needs training wheels."

I exchange occasional glances with my beefy bartender who looks ready to pounce should things not go my way but I give him a reassuring nod. I got this. And he returns to cradling a vodka bottle tenderly whispering, "Just a few more minutes baby...just a few more minutes."

So hippie guy comes over to talk to me as crazy drunk fan continues to interject random thoughts apropos of nothing and completely unrelated to anything we are discussing. He decides that he wants to hear me sing and won't lay off until I do a tune. We agree on a song and I take the mic. At the end hippie guy gives me the once over and says, "You got a decent voice. You should do somethin' with that." I say nothing about the last couple of decades of performance or the CDs I've recorded. I'm not here to brag, I'm here for research. :-)

So we sit down to talk again and I'm looking at hippie guy, he is looking at me and drunk fan starts saying, "I think she's into you man. I think she digs ya. I think you're going to get laid tonight." Apparently in the course of the evening and unbeknownst to me, I have been rendered deaf. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the external nature of his internal monologue.

And then my hippy pal says the most wonderful thing a single married girl on an adventure could hope for. Turning to his companion he asks for silence. Turning to me he solemnly confesses, "I'd love to bag her. I mean, I'd love to bag you, cause you're hot. But you're cool too...and I respect that." Thank you universe for letting me be present in this moment.

Well the time comes for hippie guy to leave and he offers his drunk fan a ride. As they reach the door, drunk fan hesitates and beckons, "Laurel, you comin' to party with us?” the longing barely masked by the Jaeger shots we had shared. "No thanks, I'm cool," is all I reply. "Ok," and they are gone.I look at the bartender, he sighs, looks at me and says, "What the f*ck was that?" I don't know dude, but you're cool. And hot too. And I respect that. Really I do. No point going on, how could I top that?

Sunday, March 13, 2011


There are times in your life when you feel like a sheetrock wall which has gotten wet. Sturdy to look upon but crumbling at it's foundation. This is one of those times...

I am not good at vulnerable. It's weird. I can be open to new experiences and open to people and when others are in need, I am happy, though at times reluctantly so, to help. But I have a hard time admitting to needing anyone. And worse, I don't know how to be vulnerable. Looked at from a strictly academic turn, vulnerable is not good. In it's narrowest definition, vulnerable means open to attack or suspectible to being wounded. Hmm, not good. That doesn't sound like anything I should want or welcome.

But vulnerable can also just mean "exposed" which just doesn't feel safe to me. But love and human interaction, and human contact aren't about being safe, are they? I tried to make myself safe, to be invulnerable to the same hurt I had experienced before, and it didn't really help. Just shut me off to opportunities all around me.

Here's the weird thing. I'm an actor. I'm used to being vulnerable and exposed, put on display to be torn apart by the script, the audience, the critics and I do that fearlessly because in the end, I know I still have the element of control. I can turn it off. I can walk away. And I think perhaps that is how I have approached the other aspects of my life. I can turn it off. I can walk away. Except, when I let myself be vulnerable, I give over some element of control. I can still turn it off and walk away, but some piece of me is lost in the departure.

So what do I do? Take back the control. Instead of leaving myself open to attack, I attack preemptively. It's not blind rage; it's targeted and usually quite accurate. I know people, I assess their weaknesses and, on the rare occassions I truly lash out, I take no prisoners. It's rather like an injured animal that brings about it's own demise by straining against it's confines or thrashing about in terror until it bashes itself into oblivion.

So, how do we achieve calm? That's what the animal needs, right? Calm. Time to heal, to assess the wound and apply the proper salve. How do I achieve calm? Is that giving over power or taking it back? To not say, "this hurt me" or "this was your fault", is that misguided or healing? Perhaps if we can just stay vulnerable,we will remain suspectible to attacks of kindness and strength and the assistance we need. I don't know the answers. It is a quandary.

So why address this on my wacky little blog. Because ultimately you are a part of this journey and this is definitely a growing up moment. If we continue to make the same mistakes, we shall continue to have the same results. So as a single married girl, it's time I learned this lesson. If nothing else, perhaps my next adventure will have a happier ending and you, seeing a little of me in yourself, can be smart enough, cool enough and perceptive enough to avoid the same pitfalls.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Emails and Cocktails

Where to start...hmm, where did I leave off? Well, first of all, please know that it was not intentional, the months of neglect my poor little blog has suffered. While at sea I discovered that my netbook, which was a going-away gift, had a trial version of word installed which, when it expired, locked not only the program but all of my documents as well. Seriously, who does that? It's not like you didn't KNOW I was spending the next few months in the middle of the OCEAN! Oh well, I digress. So I have given you a few tales from my shipboard adventures and there are more to come. And I gave you a teaser of my summer/fall escapades but with no details at all. And now, everything is once again different. So I am forced to jump around. That's ok, I'm a multi-tasker.

So, the time has come to talk about my newest love. It feels funny to even say that, as things have already progressed past the point of no return and we are now into the, "but we'll always be friends" stage already and I haven't even gotten to the good stuff. But the funny thing is, the good stuff is really good. Not scintillating. Not selacious. Instead, just kind and unexpected and well, confounding.

It all started out innocently enough. Isn't that always how these things go? We would go out after work, usually in group settings and somehow end up in a corner talking, laughing mostly, sometimes for hours. And it was easy and comforting and I didn't have to worry because he was happy in his bachelor life already, I thought. It was like we shared this private joke all the time, even if we didn't say anything out loud. We would go on the grandest of adventures and meet the most interesting people, all without going much of anywhere or doing much of anything. I have met few people in my life who could make the mundane so delightful; my best friend is one, he is another.

That's how it started. Well, sort of. It's not like we were strangers before, but always when we worked together, we knew eachother only peripherally. I don't think we'd ever had a proper conversation before. So things started slowly and quietly. But, as is the way in my world of course, out of the ordinary. One night we went out for fun and got into a club for free. They were charging cover, and I just plain didn't want to pay it. So I started to leave, and they waived us in. And we had an amazingly innocent and unpredictable time. And one time, we got caught in the rain. Actually, this was the first night when we really ended up talking about anything personal; just the two of us. We ran through the the downpour to shelter and I sat watching the rain light upon the streets while I sipped a martini and told him my life story.

It's funny how these things develop. Occasional outings and emails. All the time, completely naive of where we were going. I think that's part of what made it so special. There wasn't an agenda, ever. Sometimes, I still look back at those early emails, sublime and ridiculous and lovely.

So what happened? Life happened. My leaving happened. Many things happened. For the briefest of time we were able to maintain an existence together, completely off the grid and without hurting eachother or anyone else. But then the reality of living apart and in the real world came rushing back.

So why did I do it? What was the attraction? It is inexplicable. Nothing about it seemed to make sense and yet, week after week, there we were getting closer and closer. Truth to tell, at first I thought he was just messing with me or testing me somehow for some weird sociology experiment. But he was kind and smart and funny; at times I felt so awkward and off balance and tongue-tied. And...he loved me...for exactly who I am. No, I didn't believe him either. I mean, I don't even love me for who I am. But he actually loved me exactly the way I am, his words. And that is something worth holding onto. But of course, I couldn't.

"Two lovers meet in relative darkness. Everything falls away. The world turns a blind eye and there is only skin and breath. The universe can but forgive an act of such pure necessity. A pretty dream, from which they hope to never wake. But then the moment is gone and the world comes rushing back. They part as strangers. Until the next new moon. And the dark.
That is what he did for me, brought strength and love and poetry back into my world. Showed me that I don't have to be afraid all the time and that sometimes things don't work out the way we hope, but they might still work out the way we need. I have realized over the past couple of years that I am a muse on earth inspiring people to figure out what they want or need or crave. And I have mourned the fact that I had none. I think for the first time in a long time, I might be wrong about that. I am inspired; even if I am alone again.