Tag Archives: love

Friends for Life by McKenzie James Part I


From the outside Meredith Blaine looked like a woman who had a full life.  She had experienced things that most people never would.  She’d traveled the world; met many famous, and some infamous, people, drove alone across America, skied the Italian Alps, rode an elephant in India, a camel in Israel, and a horse across the plains of Australia.

It was years before she realized that not everyone felt things with the same level of passionate intensity that she did.  When she loved someone she loved them to the point of aching.  She bonded immediately and would do anything for those she cared about.  She never played games.  She was honest to a fault.  When she cared for someone she let them know.  When they walked away she felt a pain that was indescribable.

She woke each day hopeful that she would meet a man who would understand and cherish her.  She met many men – she married two of them — she entertained them, they talked, they walked, they danced, they shared meals, they shared history, they shared stories, they shared sex – but always, for one reason or another, it ended.

There were professional men, educated men, simple men, working stiffs, artists; it didn’t seem to matter what their background was, where they came from, what they did for a living.  Apparently men never felt for her the type of love that caused them to feel a lasting connection.  She studied the women she knew who seemed to have wonderful relationships and simply could not understand what it was that she was lacking.  She could attract a man, she attracted plenty of men, but none of them seemed to have staying power.  Men were drawn to her for her outgoing personality and passion for life and then immediately upon getting her began the mission to change her.

Her latest heartbreak had been over a year ago and she still thought of him almost daily.  She had been attracted to him from the moment they met.  She was tapping her foot impatiently waiting for her carry out order at Louis’ and he started a conversation with her, finally suggesting they eat there rather than taking their orders back to their empty apartments.   They had gotten to know each other slowly and when he finally asked to make love to her she had wanted nothing more.  The courtship had lasted longer than the actual relationship.  Her time with Charles was over almost before it began for reasons she still couldn’t understand.

Meredith sat alone in her doorman apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan and wondered why she bothered any more.  What exactly was the point of getting up each morning and continuing on when every day was the same as the day before?  She got up, made herself beautiful, went into the office and managed all the issues that came up with intelligence and finesse and then came home to her stunningly decorated but very empty apartment.  She laughed sometimes thinking that most people would be shocked to know that Meredith Blaine spent most nights alone ordering in from the many fine restaurants in her neighborhood and watching reruns of NCIS on TV.

This particular night she felt empty and tired beyond anything a good night’s sleep could help her recover from.  She got up from her favorite chair and went to the medicine chest to get the sleeping pills her doctor had given her at her last visit.  She stared at the prescription bottle for a long time and then she sat down at her antique desk and began to write her good-bye.

September 7, 2010

Dear Eleanor,

I write to you because I know you’ll be the one who finds me.  You will be the one who finally wonders where I’ve been, what I’ve been up to, and worries enough about me to come find out.  After calling, texting and emailing me for a couple of days without a response you’ll spend at least an hour looking everywhere for the key I gave you last year (finally finding it in the basket on your dresser) and you’ll let yourself in and find my body.  I hope it’s not too gruesome for you.  I tried to make myself as presentable as possible.  I don’t know if that will make it easier for you, or worse.

I know you won’t understand.  You of all people, the one who has always been content with her life just the way it turned out, won’t be able to understand how achingly empty my life has become.  I will try and write something here that will help you understand.

I know it’s not politically correct to say all you want is a man who cherishes you and your life will be complete but, let’s face it, I’ve already got everything else and truly that is the one thing I’ve always wanted and that has always eluded me.  All the education, world travel and wild experiences in the world can’t top the look I see in Jim’s eyes when he’s watching you from across the room.  He truly thinks you are the most wonderful woman in the world and you can tell he still feels like the luckiest man on earth that you agreed to share your life with him. 

No man has ever felt that for me.  Do you know how it feels to have been married twice,  and to never have a man buy you a ring or ask you the question?  As you well know, both my husband’s had to be pushed, pulled and prodded down the aisle.  And neither of them, nor any man since, has ever looked at me with the love struck joy in his eyes that Jim has when he gazes at you.

So two marriages, an incredible career, and no children later…what has it all gotten me?–empty nights and emptier days.  My world is filled with activities but I’ve apparently failed miserably at the most meaningful part of life, human relationships.

The phone rang and Meredith wondered out loud if she should answer it.  “It may be an emergency”, she thought as she picked up the phone.

Dottie dialed her friend Meredith’s number hoping she would be home.  She just had to tell her the good news.  Her daughter, Laura, had just been chosen for the lead in an off Broadway musical.  Laura knew it was mostly Meredith who had given her daughter the courage to be herself and go for her dream.  She was always there for the kids one hundred percent and she had an enormous impact on the young woman Laura had become.  Thinking back, she didn’t know how she would have gotten through being a working Mom with three kids under the age of five if Meredith hadn’t stepped in to help and be there for them.

“Hi Mer, How are you?  I just had to call and tell you Laura got the part!”

“That’s wonderful, Dottie, is she over the moon?”

“That’s putting it mildly.  She started memorizing her lines the moment they called.  She really feels like this could be the beginning of something for her but she also keeps reminding me what you told her, success is doing what you love every day.  Wait, here she is, I know she’ll want to talk to you.”

“Hi Mama Mer, did Mom tell you?”

“Yes, sweetie, she did.  I’m so happy for you.  I know it’s what you wanted.  Have you met the rest of the cast?”

“Not everyone, but remember that gorgeous man we saw in “Grease” at the Playhouse last year?  He’ll be playing opposite me.  It could prove to be very interesting!”

“You have fun sweetie.  I know it will be a lot of work and many late nights, but just remember to have fun and enjoy yourself along the way.”

“I will Mama Mer.  Every day I remember how you told me to be true to myself and do what makes me feel good in my soul.  If I hadn’t done that all these years I wouldn’t be here now.  Thanks for always being there.  I’m going to be certain you have tickets with Mom and Dad for opening night.  You’ll come won’t you?”

“You know I’ll be there if I can.  Tell your Mom good-bye for me sweetheart.  I love you.”

“Love you too Mama Mer.  Bye.”

To be continued…..

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For Fathers


 He watches her, a pretty stranger standing in his kitchen. She is telling her mother how she is sleeping better now; the nightmares are beginning to subside. Dinner burbles and a house he does not remember building speaks of years passing that elude him.

 He remembers her as a tiny child. Even then something dark would grip his baby girl so she could not sleep. She would crawl onto his lap at night while he read his books, both of them cocooning in the safe cave of words and stories. He remembers placing his hand on her back and feeling her breathing mimic his until eventually she would be convinced of safety. Even then her tiny hands would grip fistfuls of his shirt, demanding protection from those leering monsters.

She is older now and the same exhaustion that haunts him seems to live in the crinkle of her eyes and the restraint of her laugh. He sees so much of himself in her. If he could he would protect her from everything and the fact that the world is corroding her fills him with a desperation he cannot name.

He remembers fights, grounding her when she was 16 and believed she knew everything. He remembers Christmas mornings when he would wake up to his two girls screaming for everyone to wake up, sleepy eyes not catching up with the excitement of presents. He remembers Disneyland, telling her stories, listening as she explained her Lego game of Indiana Jones. He remembers her soccer games and her small little legs tripping clumsily. He remembers taking her to get their first puppy on that brilliantly cold November day, she looked up at him covered in mud and grass and grinned from ear to ear when he nodded and handed her the leash. He remembers her tireless steps in caring for him when his oldest begged for freedom, a pain he still does not believe was possible to live through. He remembers dropping her off at college and as he drove away swearing it was his little 7-year-old bandit that was waving goodbye. He bites his lip and rolls his eyes, at himself not at her. It is unfathomable to love something so much you cannot understand it.

She seems unbeatable now. She is in love with a man but will not admit it to him. He remembers the first time she had her heart broken, she lay on the couch with her sister and he brought them bowls of ice cream. At that moment he considered threatening God for his affront in daring to create anyone that would harm her. He sees her today and realizes she has borne so much more pain than she has ever told him, realizes this need to protect those she adores through silent martyrdom is the same thread that is unraveling him now.

Now he is expected to let her go, his little baby that fit in the crook of his elbow. Now he is to let someone whose face he cannot even hold accountable grab her hand when she can’t sleep, trust that she will have someone love her through those gut wrenching dreams, pick her up when she cries, and protect her from everything he could not. Worse yet, his life is being haunted by demons he cannot control, cannot even describe. For the longest second in the world he has to say words that twist daggers into her limbs. All of a sudden in the space of breakfast she has grown up, and it is him she is seeking refuge from. He realizes with a flash of pride that she is strong enough to handle anything, but breaks with the weight of knowing that what he is saying is hurting her.

The superhero is gone but he adores her and is desperate still to protect her from what he can. When she lifts that bowed head and smiles through clotted tears, he wishes for a second that he could still swoop her up in his arms, laughing as she shrieks and makes him measure her arm muscles in case they’ve grown. It is cruel for men to have daughters, no person is capable of watching small angels grow up, and worse yet, away from you.

She asks forgiveness from him and he smiles at her through his pain, someday when she forgives him it will be with the understanding that she is his whole world, all he ever wanted was for them to be happy. His jaw clenches in anger at himself, for letting the years go by without realizing it, for what he considers weakness and what she calls humanity, for allowing the chasm to open between him and his little one. One too many tragedies have shaken him and he wishes he was the god she always saw him as, all he wants is infinite stretches and no end.

 He blinks, time has crawled across his face and now he does not recognize his life. But he looks at his two babies and knows; with love like this nothing could have been in vain.


Paula’s Irreplaceable Beauty


She is beautiful and vibrant and strong and unlike many it goes far deeper than simply the beauty of her youthful body.  No, her beauty comes from being wise beyond her years.  It stems from having already experienced much pain in her short life and having fought through it and risen above it.  Her vibrancy comes from experiencing the world more intensely than most around her and then, not simply allowing it to wash over her, but being driven with curiosity to understand and make sense of it.

She contemplates the world and human relationships with the same intensity and driving quest to understand that makes scientists capable of achieving the next life-saving medical breakthrough.  She loves people while being completely aware of their glaring imperfections and yet she refuses to accept her own human blemishes.

She strives to understand life and the human existence but doesn’t see how important she is to the daily lives of those around her.  She fails to see how many of us are drawn to her vibrancy and light.  She fails to see how many of us would be lost and left with a gaping hole in our souls if she were not a part of our lives.

She is beautiful in her intensity.

She is beautiful in her strength.

She is beautiful in her creativity.

She is beautiful in her intelligence.

She is beautiful in her vibrancy.

She is beautiful in her caring.

She is beautiful in her passion.

She is beautiful in her loyalty.

She is beautiful in her accomplishments.

She is beautiful in her spirit.

She is beautiful in her curiosity.

She is beautiful in her wit.

She is beautiful!

McKenzie James

October 6, 2011


The Long Good-Byes


In my experience breaking up isn’t as hard to do as the song suggests.  The actual break-up is usually short and sweet.  The hard part is the much longer good-bye that takes place inside your own head for months, sometimes years, after the relationship ends.  The things you were too polite to say; the things you wish you’d said but you know they couldn’t hear, and; the questions you wish you’d asked but knew they wouldn’t answer honestly.

NOTE:  Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Dear Garei (pronounced Gary),

                I know you think spelling your name strangely makes you unique and interesting but really it just makes people think your parents were stupid.  No, I don’t think smoking pot and drinking daily is a normal pastime for a middle-aged male unless he’s a total loser.   It’s called addiction.  Did you really think a woman would continue to respect a man who couldn’t make it home from the bar without stopping for more beer at the grocery store and then had to ask her to come in with him because he didn’t have any money to pay for it himself?

 Dear Geoffrey,

I told you the first day we met that I had no problems dating a recovering alcoholic but that if you ever took another drink the only word you’d hear from me again was good-bye.  Did you think I was kidding?

Dear Frank,

                You have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to such an extent that you can’t fit anything, or anyone, new into your daily routine.   Astronauts go to the moon with less planning than it takes you to go to Hawaii for a week.   Just for the record, having sex between 3 and 6 in the afternoon won’t fit most working women’s schedules even if that is the only time of the day when your “mojo” is working.  Plus, it was just plain stingy of you not to share your blueberries with a woman you were willing to share your bed with.

 Dear Paul,

I can’t believe you didn’t even call to apologize after the woman you failed to mention you were living with chased me across the yard and tried to pummel me.  I was pleased to note as I drove away that she had redirected her aim toward the true villain of the affair.

Dear Samuel,    

               Exactly how long had you been sleeping with the woman you told me you’d “just met”?

 Dear Bruce,

I vacillated for months between wondering if you were the cruelest man I ever dated, or simply the craziest, until one day a good friend reminded me that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Dear Larry,

               Please stop calling me.  No, I’m not mad.  Sadly I never cared enough to get mad.  The truth is you simply bore me.

 Dear Steven,

You’d pull me towards you and as soon as I got close you’d push me away.  I still can’t decide if it amused your ego or if you really were that confused.  Regardless, it was suppose to be a relationship – not a swing set.

Dear Geezzz,

                We haven’t broken up yet.  We’ve barely begun to see each other.  But you did say you’d like to see your name on my BLOG. 

               When you do break up with me I suspect you’ll do it using very few words in the same strong, responsible, calm way you take care of everything else.

 

McKenzie James

October 6, 2011


Mary-Go-Round


Leap

Run

Joy

 

Sweet

Calm

Spent

 

Touch

Whisper

Smile

 

Lazy

Soft

Slow

 

Longing

Dreaming

Loneliness

 

Ache

Break

End

 

Wink

Spark

Flame

 Leap

 

McKenzie James

 October 5, 2011


Lulu


The other night when Asher and I were preparing ourselves for sleep, I looked up onto his dark wall and noticed a spider comfortably squatting above one of the picture frames. Turning to Asher, I politely pointed out that there was an intruder in the room.

“I know, and when you’re sleeping he’s going to come and crawl right onto your face” he responded.

I’m not particularly afraid of spiders, a trait which Asher and my father seem to think can be broken with enough grotesque images of flesh mutilating arachnids. However both their attempts to instill this paranoia in me have only proven to me that spiders are about as snobby as cats, and generally like to be left alone. In response to Ashers picturesque night time pillow talk of how spiders were going to slowly scavenge parts of my anatomy, I decided to name the spider Leroy.

I have an unfortunate habit of naming most creatures and inanimate objects in my life, thus creating intense attachment to things that were not meant to last a lifetime. My cactus is named John Wayne, my bike Ted. Now there is Leroy the spider and, of course, the one time a slug came in with the garden collection he was promptly named Gary. When I asked Asher if he had seen Gary the next morning, he looked at me curiously and asked who Gary was.

“The slug that was on the lettuce, I put him on the glass and now he’s not there”.

Asher’s eyes just get bigger and he peers at me in utter disbelief.

”Why did you keep him in the house?”

So it goes, with me collecting friends left and right and Asher shaking his head and cursing under his breath as slugs, spiders, and cacti assort themselves like old drinking partners along our windowsill.

One sunny day, I managed to find myself running meaningless errands in an attempt to avoid the cleaning ladies at the house, and while walking up the curb to the grocery store around the corner I heard a faint and distressing peeping from a baby bird struggling for life. The pavement was hot, and from the perspective of the little creature looked like a barren, flat desert being marauded by large screaming figures and metal boxes on four wheels. I kneeled next to the bird and then looked around for its nest. I had no idea what I was supposed to do, but returning it to its home seemed like the best idea. I couldn’t find the nest anywhere, so the next step was to call my best friend, who happens to be a biologist, and an avid nature lover, and therefore would know a lot more than me about what to do next.

“Let it die” she heartwarmingly said.

“I can’t let it die its little and bald and ugly! No one else is going to save it!” I was aghast at the idea that nature had any idea of what it was doing.

“Fine. Then find its nest. Don’t touch it, whatever you do. And if you do touch it, don’t bring the diseases over to me”

Horrified I searched my car for some container I could save the little bird in. Finally I found one, and brought it back safe and sound to my backyard. The cleaning ladies were still at the house and tilted their heads in confusion to see me frantically running around the backyard clutching tufts of grass and twigs before kneeling down to speak to a Tupperware container.

In a state of perpetual anxiety, I decided to go back to the parking lot and find the nest. As I was rolling my bicycle down the driveway, Asher was pulling in. He rolled his window down to smile at me and say hello and in response I waved my arms over my head and shouted

“There is a baby bird in a plastic box in the backyard! Don’t kill it!”

He blinked twice and then just nodded, shaking his head slightly in disbelief. I of course could still not find the nest and when I got home he wrapped me up in arms that love me entirely too much and said

“Baby girl, we can’t keep it and raise it, and it’s dying right now”

“Lulu” I sobbed “her name is Lulu”

“Okay. But we still can’t keep her”

I nodded and turned away while he did the hard part, a small tragedy in the blink of an eye. Later, we buried the Lulu in the backyard, and Asher made sure she had flowers. It is his unending strength and steadiness that guide me, and that he loves me so much is a testament to why I am still here. He kept his arm around my shoulders and squeezed me in tighter as I dropped a small note alongside the little bird that read:

Life is a shipwreck, but we must remember to sing in the lifeboats

                                    -Voltaire-

That night he wrapped me in blankets and watched cartoons with me until we laughed. Leroy was still sitting comfortably on the wall and Asher breathed evenly next to me, I thanked whatever forces were at work that I had the capacity to live, and more so, to clutch his hand when tidal waves overtook me.


Original Sin


What a common scene, two people on a park bench in the middle of the night demanding perfection and facing the inevitable truth that it does not exist. I am broken from your knife in my back and you are screaming for me to let you in. One more fight, another head bent in despair. How many other couples reach into unlit caverns to try and make sense of this pain. Humanity is comprised of masses desperate to be unique, mortals looking for eternity in someone else’s arms.

You sit there alternately asking and demanding forgiveness, bringing up my lighter crimes that I have allowed you to own as perspective to what you have done. I have never seen you desperate before, but I still cannot breathe from this. I expected this cruelty from everyone else and it is shattering me to realize you are common. I want to tell you, shake you so you feel me; I am no one to ask forgiveness from. I am not holy. I am not perfect. A reel of my transgressions against you plays in my mind and I wonder if silent lies are all that holds us together. I wish I could be on a cross with the high-minded claim that my blood will save you but it won’t. It is not a blessing and mixed with dirt creates nothing but mud. A snake in our Garden of Eden has exposed us.

Listen to me; listen closely so that you understand. I am afraid of what you can do, of what you are doing to me. I am on fire with what you have done. How desperately I want to cling to my vision of martyrdom, isolate this event so that you are culpable and I am the gracefully wounded. But I cannot. How many nights have you already betrayed me? How many more nights I have already betrayed you.

This is dirty business, falling in love, and it’s going to eat me alive. I do not own a single hair on you and on days like today, I hate you for it. You have mistaken apathy for freedom and I have granted you permission to bear my silence. What if this is doomed? I have spent hours agonizing over the potential of losing you and my solitude is causing you to lose me. What if this is the mistake that erodes and one day you come home to your house being exactly as you left it with one room missing? Will you miss me? Swear your house is haunted because my footsteps will remain on your carpet? Hang figures of me on the wall as protection? My fear is not that I am made up of skin and bones and that you can indeed penetrate me, my fear is that you will overtake and then forget me.

That I cannot speak these words aloud to you seems a sin you will not bear.  But what would you have me do? This is not an anonymous cloister that I can simply regurgitate all the demons swirling in my head. I cannot look at your face while I spout venom and confession is a simplistic art form at best. We are simply two people who have done the ordinary and fallen in love. Nothing unique, we are daily. If we crucify ourselves it will not matter, and men in dresses will not quote these letters I write to you. These letters are sin not scripture. I am forgiving you, not for your transgression but for your humanity. Consider my confession, then- tonight when you fall next to me remember I can leave you too.

I want to cling to my grief, to the ‘how could you’ and the accusations of not loving me enough. But in the face of this I realize I am tiny, of little importance. Days go by from the fifteen seconds it took for you wound me. Slowly hours crawl through me and I am steps closer to being in the ground. I do not have time for grief and I can no longer wait to be saved. At this moment I realize that my imperfection is mine to own and I will grow, from grief to grace. You will not make me afraid and in return I will give you opportunity to face your weakness and slay it. We are both criminals aghast at being robbed. So you have hurt me, done what I have been so afraid of and I am still living. I made you a god and am now charged with forgiving you, and I will. Night after night I will peel this off of me and hand you the blood until I am new again. Finally I realize that love is a filthy verb and requires more blood, spit and tears than it does pink bows and champagne glasses. It is an action not a faith. You will hurt me again and I need from you the courage to admit you are flawed and broken. I will give you my dark corners and come down from this holy altar I built for myself. Be careful with this, with me. We are just two people in the end, just like all the other except that I love you and you, I must believe, love me.

I will breathe this onto you, I love you I love you I love you.


Is Heartbreak One Word or Two?


My husband and I were together for 19 years and then just two weeks before my 49th birthday he asked for a divorce.  Happy Birthday to me and then almost before I knew what was happening I was single and thrown into the dating world again.  Looking back I remember that my mother was only 50 when my father died.  As far as I know she never dated or slept with another man again.  At the time that didn’t seem the least bit strange to me, but now it occurs to me that perhaps she understood more about men than I ever gave her credit for.  She always had admirers, even at 85 she had a gentleman sending her poetry about her beauty, but she just smiled with a twinkle in her eye and carried on alone.

Recently I received one of those funny emails where someone had written eloquently (and humorously) about how men and women view their bodies at different stages of life.  I wish I knew who wrote it (actually I wish I had written it myself!) and I would give her credit here.  What she said so profoundly is that women feel very differently about their bodies at every stage of their lives until around age 50 when we finally all figure out that regardless of our body shape…we’re awesome!  Men, on the other hand feel the same about their bodies at every stage until old age.  They have a penis, it works, and they’re obsessed with it!

It was right on target and it made me think perhaps this is one of the reasons why men and women find dating so hard in middle age.   We’re finally at a stage of acceptance and the men we’re dating still feel the same way they did as teenagers.  It also explains a great deal about why so many middle aged men want to date women who are so much younger than they are.  Because they have a penis, it works, and they’re obsessed with it.  Wow, I never realized it was so simple!

Seriously though, sitting here today after suffering yet another middle-aged heart ache, I have to admit there must be more to it than that.  I swore I would not become one of those bitter, middle-aged women who hate men and have given up on relationships altogether.  But, it’s been seven years, and I have to admit to dating a lot of men, and each time things became serious, one by one, they broke my heart.  Some slowly, some quickly, some in person, some over the phone or with a text!  And every time I got up, brushed my heart off, and got on with my life.

Somehow, today feels very different.  This was, by all accounts, a very good man.  A nice, well-educated, well-spoken, attractive, fun, sexy man who just two days ago told me he wanted a “relationship”.  Just forty-eight hours later, nothing at all has changed in the world, and he calls me at work to let me know he can’t do it.

Is everyone so broken down by their previous heart aches that they just can’t do it again?  I try not to be cynical but I’ve heard it all before.  He actually said the “I’d like to be friends” phrase!  What is wrong with men that they think after you’ve slept with them and given a piece of your soul up you can just turn back the clock and be friends?  I can only determine they don’t “feel” things the same way women do.

I miss my twenties.  Not just the hot, firm body I had.  Not even the fact that everyone else was single too and there were a lot more men to choose from.  Mostly I miss that there were rules.  I have fond memories of dating in my twenties.  The rules were clear and everyone was aware of them.  You met a man somehow… through friends, or out at a club, or in the grocery store, or the parking lot of your apartment building.  You struck up a conversation.  If he was interested in getting to know you better he asked you out, usually for lunch first.   If that went well he’d ask you out again — usually for a Thursday night — because Thursday night was official first date night.

If you weren’t in a relationship, Friday night both men and women went out with their friends and continued to try and meet people of the opposite sex.  Saturday night was serious date night.  You didn’t ask a woman out on Saturday night unless you were serious about her or already in a relationship with her.  If you wanted to see a woman on Saturday night you had to call and ask her by Wednesday.  No self respecting woman would say yes to a weekend date any later than Wednesday.  If all went well after your first Saturday night date…you began to see each other regularly.  After a few weeks you began having sex and you were now a couple.  It was simple, everyone knew the rules, and it worked really well.

The Beach Boys knew what Saturday night meant.  In their famous cruising song, “I Get Around”, they sang:

None of the guys go steady ‘cause it wouldn’t be right
To leave their best girl home on a Saturday night”

We all followed the rules back then and a good time was had by all.  Now dating again at middle age it appears there are no rules.  For one thing dating was designed for two people to spend time together in order to see if they have the possibility of making good partners.  In middle age, very few people are looking for a life partner any more.  In fact most of the men I’ve met have no idea what they’re looking for.

You can date a man for weeks, sometimes months, and it usually never gets past lunch or a walk by the river.  (Walking by the river seems to be big with men over 50.  Don’t ask me why because I can’t answer for them.   I suspect it’s for budgetary reasons, since they’re all divorced and have been hit financially, but that would just be a guess.)  After hours spent talking, eating, walking sometimes you get to the sex part but you still have no idea what it means to them.

For me, sex means we’ve reached a new level of intimacy.  We now have a new dimension to our relationship; a joyful, exciting, fresh area to explore.  For men it appears to mean one of two things:  either they now own you and expect you to be with them every free moment, or the relationship is now over.  They become uncomfortable, don’t want to talk about what it meant, become frightened about commitment and ride off into the sunset.

Most recently:  I met a man.  That’s how it usually starts!  We enjoyed a lot of the same things and had a lot in common.   We met for coffee and couldn’t stop talking.  We enjoyed some lunches and dinners and a wonderful trip to the coast.   We dated casually for a while and then one Saturday night I invited him over for dinner and a movie.  We had some dinner, we watched part of the movie, and then in the middle of a quiet boring patch…he made his move… and we ended up having sex.  The next morning we got up and took my dog for a walk, after which he went home.

No flowers were delivered.  No phone call telling me what a wonderful evening he had.  Days came and went with no phone call, email or text.  Finally, being a person who has a need to know, I called him and asked why he would walk away without so much as a word.  He hadn’t called because: he didn’t know what to say; it was too soon; he shouldn’t have done it; it’s not me it’s him; he didn’t want a relationship, etc.   Oh my God — I’ve heard it all before – from men I’ve dated and similar stories from my girlfriend’s forays into the dating world.

Sometimes I wish they’d make up some fascinating new reason simply for entertainment.  Something like this: His first wife, who he believed walked out on him, really was in a car accident in New Mexico and suffered from amnesia.  She just recovered and remembered she was married and showed up on his door step the very morning he left my house.   If you’re going to dump me at least be creative so I have something new to write about!

It makes a woman wonder if she’s no good at the sex thing –but over the years I have had the opportunity to learn that can’t be the case.  Sex just simply seems to turn most middle aged men back into foolish teenage boys who treat girls badly because they’re embarrassed by their own behavior and it’s easier to make light of it in front of the other boys in the locker room.

I’ve been thinking of writing a sitcom entitled “Another One Bites the Dust” wherein every week a middle-aged woman meets a new man who for one reason or another isn’t ready for love.  My girlfriend said she can’t see the humor in it but I think if I’m going to survive middle-age and not become a bitter, old woman I’m going to have to find a way to laugh about it.

As I sit here alone again tonight, just having been dumped by my most recent love and drinking the bottle of wine he bought me and told me to save for a “special occasion”, I find myself wondering: Is heartbreak one word, or two?  (Because that’s the kind of things writers think about even when they’re in pain.)  The other thing I’m wondering is:  Is getting dumped “special” enough of an occasion?  And:  Is this it for me?  Is there a limit on the number of heartaches one person can endure?  Have I reached mine?  Will I now become that cliché I so wanted to avoid?  Will I have to learn to live alone for the next thirty years?  Other than the spelling of heartbreak, I don’t have the answers.  We’ll have to stay tuned to life and see what happens next.

McKenzie James

September 27, 2011


Crazy In Love


I’m ready to fall in love;

head over heals

crazy in love with you.

 

I’m teetering right on the edge of the precipice

but I’m afraid to make the leap.

I’m waiting impatiently for you to catch up.

 

It’s a long way down if my timing is wrong

and you’re not there to catch me.

I’ve traveled there alone once before.

 

It’s a painful landing

and a long, treacherous climb  back

out of the abyss when no one’s there to greet you.

 

But I’m ready.

The sound of your voice,

the touch of your hand,

the smile on your face

have me bursting my seams with joy.

 

I want to stop holding back and leap

free falling into your arms.

I’m ready.

I’m waiting.

Let’s dive in over our heads together.

 

McKenzie James

September 22, 2011


Origins of a Dear John letter


I am leaving you, and I will write the words that you can never hear on this page, so then you can never again accuse me of refusing you honesty. You accused me of so much, so here I will explain my going, in the quiet vacuum of literature so you cannot twist my words and deny my intent. Nine years spent believing you were meant for someone is a hard habit to shake. I realized that every day I was gathering up the strength to not answer your phone calls, not respond to your emails, slowly beginning that uphill battle against your psychotic ego and voracious tendency to destroy anything you encounter in the name of self-adoration. You claim innocence from the bloodied bodies lying next to you, saying you are not responsible for the terror you have sown.

I am here to tell you, in simple English so you understand me, you are. Every day I look around at the myriad of men in the world, and wonder what it was about you that entrenched itself in me until I was dead. I am tired of you. You throw beautiful women up into your sky and claim you make them shine, how do you expect me to stand out in such a cosmos? Yet if I do not try you decry me, claim I am flawed.

I am more than flawed. I am beyond imperfect. I am tiny shattered shards of dismay awkwardly glued together. I do not need you to love me for what I could become, if someone were to come along and fill in the cracks. I do not need you to tell me how great I could be, if I were only more like her (or her, or her). I do not need to bend my words carefully so as to not damage your ego. I do not need to quietly stand here, carrying your past like a trophy, listening to you claim greatness while refusing to see the happiness already in your world.  I do not need you at all.

I am leaving you because it is not my duty to make you a great enough man to understand a love like mine. I am leaving you because I am proud, selfish with my love, and because my pride can no longer tolerate watching my body cry when you forget to call, when you leave me for other women, when you forget my birthday.  I am leaving you because I want to believe in love stories again. I want to still believe in princesses, that I merit feeling like one. I deserve to have my hand held proudly, I deserve to be in love and be unafraid. I am leaving you because I want a love that is brave enough to want me, to want to build a life with me, a love that is not afraid of saying that. Your only words of commitment came after I had committed to leaving you. A safe bet for empty words.

You accused me of not caring for you, of not loving you, of being so enamored with the glint of titles that I did not see who you were. For those words, for that idiocy, I will unabashedly give you my anger, coldly and without pardon. For years you had my heart in a shoebox in your closet, a dusty toy you had long since forgotten to play with. I loved you intensely, the only way I knew how. I loved you with forgiveness, for every word you had said and more importantly, for the ones you never did. I loved you so much the force of it almost made me lose myself in you.

When finally, I stood up and faced you down, roared out my freedom with savage screams and tore off your shackles till there was blood running down my body, then came the accusations of selfishness, of lack of love. I am not leaving you because I am flawed, although I am, nor am I leaving you because I am weak, although I am that as well. I am leaving you because you failed me, and my anger filters through you back towards my straggling limbs for having latched on for so long. I am leaving you because when I laughed you said it was too loud, and when I cried you said you didn’t understand, and when I was angry you said I was irrational. I am leaving you because you never wanted a lover or an ally; you wanted a doll made out of mirrors to reflect your current obsession.

Staying with you is a lie, a play I can no longer act in. You spread your hands as if drawing a question mark in the air, easily forgetting your role in this two-man show. You repeat ‘I love you’ to me with a look of condemnation. I am the deserter, a criminal in my own right. I am leaving you for my own preservation, beyond that I am walking away because a life is built in moments of bravery, and you have faced life with nothing but cowardice.

I am leaving you now, and in a year I will be able to say why. In two years I will have forgotten the black anger that coats my muscles, in three I will believe someone when they say they love me. And in five, I will have forgiven you, and myself.


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