Heart broken and needing to shut myself off from the world, I walked around Gray’s Lake in Des Moines just before Labor Day 2021. As I passed baby catamarans docked on the shoreline, a man passed me and smiled. “Your hair is beautiful,” he said as he walked by. How strange, I thought. And yet, it was as if the universe was telling me that everything was going to be okay….to go ahead and feel what I was feeling, but I was still loved no matter how I felt in the moment.
I had a similar incident about a week ago. I followed a friend into a piano bar where she wanted to stop to see her daughter for a minute. A younger man tried to get my attention as I passed him…and even managed to stop me when he continued to call to me from behind. “I don’t mean to be so forward,” he said….”but you’re gorgeous.” Again, the heartache from a month earlier had been consuming me, as I hadn’t been able to shake it as quickly and easily as I had thought. No drama or desperation. I was coming to realize that It was deeper than that. “Thank you,” I said to the stranger who was likely half my age, but why was I getting this kind of attention? Sad people are usually less noticed…..less attractive. That’s how it always seemed to work. And negativity attracts more negativity…..except for now. Now was different.
It wasn’t long before my heart was broken that the universe was communicating with me in an entirely different way and it all started this past January when I met a person for dinner. My first and immediate impression of my date was that he wasn’t my type. When I got his last name to send to my friend who wanted to keep tabs on me as a safety precaution, I thought it wasn’t real…..and it was almost a turn-off for me. Sometimes, we do run from what we want….from things that seem too good to be true….or just weird. And yet, I soon mostly forgot about this little piece of synchronicity….that his last name was also the name of my favorite country. He still wasn’t necessarily my type, physically speaking. His hair was too light and although there was something quite kind and soulful about his eyes, I went for more intense heavy-browed types. But, the universe would have its way with me and continue to speak things that would surprise me.
After I returned to St. Louis about six weeks and fifteen dates later, I found myself missing this person way more than I expected. And yet, I was in a place where I wasn’t about to tie myself down emotionally to anyone who didn’t express a desire for more from me. I thought I was protecting myself. I thought that by leaving myself open to meeting others and letting go of all control, that I wouldn’t get attached. I believed, in fact, that time would reveal all and I just needed to continue on in the new found flow of following my intuition. I was still writing to a man in Michigan I had met the year before and new people were coming into my life all of the time with seemingly no effort. The person in Michigan, specifically, I did not want to give up. However, at some point, I did give up on the idea of ever physically seeing him again….and I think that was (in part) due to my increasing feelings for the person I was still seeing off and on when I would make the drive to him.
I felt so safe with him, although I stopped sharing many of my thoughts with him early on. Not because I didn’t feel I could, but because I never wanted to complicate things or take away from the enjoyment of just being with him in the moment. I needed the physical intimacy. Just a year earlier, I had joked about needing to be held for about ten years straight. Well, I got that when I was with him and although I believed early on that whatever was going on there was to be temporary, I intended to soak up every second without trying to make the relationship into something else.
And that’s all I chalked it up to at first…..our shared need for something….my need resulting from years of neglect, lack of love, and physical affection. He helped me in so many ways….an undeniable gift. There wasn’t supposed to be more. We were at different places in our lives and I was sure he needed things that would have been, yet, another sacrifice for me. But, against all I thought or believed, my heart was making its own choice day after day and when my camper broke down after leaving his place to head west, the message was clear. I shouldn’t leave him. But I did leave him again after he fixed my camper, because (again) what else did we have to offer each other? His life was so full as it was and his feelings for me, from what I could tell, were mostly “out of sight, out of mind.” They were pretty much zero, in fact, if I looked at the reality of things.
Nevertheless, I had an experience one day in North Dakota, after being on the road for a couple of weeks. Maybe it was a premonition of loss, but memories of him flashed through my mind while a song played on the radio and I just knew. I knew that I was in love with this person. After I returned to St. Louis a couple of weeks later, I found out that he had to make a trip to St. Louis and then Virginia….which is where I was going to be headed next to visit an old friend. More coincidence…..seemingly another message from the universe. By this time, I should have already told him how I felt, but I didn’t say anything until we said good-bye in Virginia. And then I didn’t say anything more than “I love you” until I wrote something about him maybe a month later.
But that’s where it all ended. I never really kissed him again. He told me he didn’t feel the same way about me and I believe he may even have someone else. Multiple phone calls during our last visit, his robe folded next to a chair instead of hanging in the closet, a mention of cooking in other people’s kitchens (plural noted.) Even when I had first visited with my camper, he made mention of nosey neighbors and people probably not being able to figure him out. There was also the shower he took before touching me one night after being at his ex’s with the kids and another night having taken a shower before coming back to the house after being at his ex’s with the kids. Things do not go unnoticed with me. Our last moments together were during the week….not the weekend when he would have had time. No progress made on his house. Yes, he’s terribly busy overall. Way too much on his plate….but that can be convenient when he doesn’t WANT to spend time with someone.
And does any of this really matter? Facts are facts. My first and even subsequent thoughts walking around the lake that day in Des Moines were that it was all for the best and I was being freed up for the person I was really meant to be with. A day or two later and I felt like I had molted….like a bird shedding its feathers to make way for new growth. I was more serious about writing my book and I felt somehow closer than ever to something/someone else. I felt so whole and complete….in a way I hadn’t felt in a very long time, if ever.
Maybe it was the drive I took to Michigan it all ended that did that. I found a log chapel in the woods upstate with two doors side by side. I walked in the door on the right…..cried what seemed like the last few remaining tears and then walked out the door on the left. I felt different….transformed….and it was good.
But here I am, writing this now, and I still feel like I don’t understand anything at all. You know how people say, after a break-up, that they never want to date again? That’s how I feel. Not because I’m hurt or afraid of getting hurt, necessarily. While that is most definitely the case, it’s possible that it’s more than that. I feel like I’ve already found whatever it was that I was looking for and maybe also I need time to just grieve….or time to get back to myself….no crutches….no looking outside of myself. But then again, the universe still has its will and way and say…..and surprises. A few days ago, someone from Pennsylvania texted me. Although I’m not currently on any dating site, it’s someone I started talking to before….but who I stopped talking to about the time feelings elsewhere were finally overtaking me. He (supposedly) had met someone, as well. At any rate, I’m finding myself a little bit curious about this new person, despite overall reservations about anything with anyone. The timing is interesting….and there’s an obvious spiritual component that I can’t overlook.
Come what may…..it would seem that I’m still listening….and still being heard…..even as tears flow down my face. I don’t know how that’s possible….but I’m getting better at not questioning….at just receiving the gifts and lessons presented…..and saying thank you.