Category Archives: Being Single

Unhitched

img_6581

Unhitched

I’ll slog through the mud and slog through the rain,
but I’ll never slog back to you, ever again.
If ever again I work fingers to bone,
I will be doing it here on my own—
not chasing your dreams or plowing your furrow
like a mule in a trace or a poor laden burro.
Life was a hard slog, dear, trudging with thee—
much more of a grind than just being me.
So I’ll point my gaze forward, not back where I’ve been
without pulling you with me, ever again.

As Groucho would say, “The secret woid today was ‘Slog!’

DSC00994 - Version 2

Devil # 3

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Helpless.” Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?

Okay, I was going to give this prompt a “miss” and went to the new prompt generator I’ve been using for the past few days.  I hit the button and was served up the two-word prompt: “Ill Devil”.  At first I read this as #3 Devil, and I must admit, I got a chill, because what I immediately thought about when I read the prompt was the third time I was in a near-death situation where I felt totally helpless.  What are the chances, I thought, that these two prompts would line up?  This must be something I’m meant to write about.  But then reason stepped in and I realized this prompt always gave an adjective and a noun.  What they probably meant by the prompt was ill Devil. (Changing the capital to a small “i” clarified the prompt.) But then I realized that ill devil described the occurrence I am trying not to talk about as much as #3 devil did, so I guess, prodded on twice by fate or coincidence or synchronicity, I will try.

I have written to a similar prompt twice in 2015, so probably most of you who read my blog have chanced upon one of those posts, but when I wrote to a similar prompt in June of 2014, I wrote a different piece and since I had few of my present-day readers then, I’ll mention that THIS is what I wrote.  It may not be obvious that the topic given in today’s prompt was what I was really talking about then, however, because it was a poem where I actually stood to one side of what I was really remembering and wrote about the subject as an onlooker rather than a participant.  I only alluded to the real subject, which is what I’m going to attempt to write about today. That real subject is Ted Bundy and how otherwise respectable women sometimes fall prey to such predators.  Okay, deep breath. I’m going to tell to the world something I have actually told to very few people. Yes, this is a true story.

Devil # 3

Nineteen seventy-something. In the bar with friends.
When you are in your twenties, the partying never ends.
It was rodeo season  and the big one was in town.
As one by one they ordered drinks, I couldn’t turn them down.
We were a rather rowdy bunch of teachers in our prime
Devoted in the classroom, but wild on our own time.

The bar was crowded hip to hip, the music barely heard
over the loud cacophony of laugh and shouted word.
It was my turn to buy a round. I struggled towards the bar.
My polite “Excuse me’s!” really hadn’t gotten me too far
when a guy appeared in front of me and moved the crowd aside
as though he had appointed himself to be my guide.

As I returned with eight full drinks, again he stemmed the tide
by walking close in front of  me and spreading elbows wide.
He smiled and then departed, back to the teeming mass.
Impressive that he had not even tried to make a pass!
My friends all wondered who he was. I said I had no clue.
Tall and dark and ivy-league, he vanished from our view.

This story happened long ago. Some details I’ve forgotten,
and any memories he retains, you’ll learn were ill-begotten.
I think we danced a dance or two. I know we talked awhile.
I liked his fine intelligence, his low-key polite style.
At three o’clock the barman’s bell commenced it’s clanging chime
and I made off to find my friends, for it was closing time.

Two lines of men had split the bar, lined up back to back.
Their hands locked and their arms spread wide–they moved into the pack.
One line moved east, the other west, forcing one and all
Either out the front door or towards the back door hall.
I was forced out the back way–out into the alley.
My friends and I had made no plans of where we were to rally

and so I walked around the block, sure that was where they waited,
but there was no one there at all–the crowd had soon abated.
I went back to the alleyway to see if they were there.
but all was dark and still, and soon I began to fear
that both carloads of friends had thought I was with the other.
I had no recourse but to walk, though I prayed for another.

I combed my mind to try to think of anyone at all
living in this part of town where I could go to call
a friend to come and get me and furnish me a ride
for 3 a.m. was not a time to be alone outside.
There were no outside phone booths and I lived so far away
I simply had to rouse someone, but what was I to say?

But since I had no other choice I thought I’d check once more
if any single soul was waiting at the bar’s front door.
And as I left the alley to be off to see,
I saw a new familiar face looking back at me.
It was my dancing partner, his face split in a grin.
It seems that he was going to save me once again.

He had asked me earlier if needed a ride,
but I had told him wisely that I had friends inside
and so I thought he’d left, but I could see he was still there.
Yet, ride home with a stranger?  Did I really dare?
And yet I had no other choice, abandoned as I was.
And so I said I guess that yes, I would, simply because

I knew there was just one of him and I was young and strong.
And he seemed kind, polite and gentle.  What could go so wrong?
His car was just a block away. Our walk was short and brief.
And when he pointed out his car, I felt a great relief.
For it was a convertible–and easy to escape
If I detected the first signs of robbery or rape!

He opened up the door for me. I got in the front seat.
But as he started up the car, my heart skipped a beat.
For from the bushes, two more men emerged and jumped inside–
one man in the backseat, the other at my side!
He pulled out into the street, though I protested so.
I didn’t really want a ride, so please, just let me go!

(And here I have to beg off and say I’ll finish this story tomorrow.  Right now my heart is pumping and my head throbbing as though I’m re-enacting this whole tale physically as well as mentally.  I’m totally exhausted.  Why I decided to write this in rhyme I don’t know. Perhaps I thought it would be easier, or more fun or more lighthearted, but there is simply no way to write this from any other frame of mind but the terror I felt that night. So, sorry, but I will resume tomorrow. You all know that I’m here telling the story, so be assured that the worst didn’t happen…but the story is by no means over, so join me tomorrow for the rest.  I, for one, could really use a drink, but it is only 1:40 in the afternoon so I’ll find some other means of escape.)

To see the conclusion of this poem, go HERE.

If you’d like to try out Jennifer’s new prompt generator, go HERE.

Snapped!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I can’t believe that I’m actually going to tell you the story associated with this picture, but here goes! Most of you know the story of how I decided to move to Mexico for a year with my husband, who was very reluctant to spend even a few weeks in Mexico, let alone an entire year!  When he got here and got adjusted, however, it was he who started agitating to buy a house, with the end result pictured here–a house on the side of a mountain above Lake Chapala. The problem was, that shortly after we bought the house and before we could move into it, he passed away.

I moved to Mexico, but memories of Bob moved with me and it was as though he was inhabiting more of the house than the small shrine I constructed in his memory in the entrance hall.  For seven years, I just felt married.  I think I dealt with the loss of him well.  For those seven years, I journaled most days, wrote a book and numerous poems about dealing with the loss of a loved one and other aspects of moving to a foreign country. The thing is, that my heart didn’t go along with my head and in spite of everything, I felt married.

A part of this may have been that I just didn’t meet anyone who triggered that first automatic response that Bob had.  The minute I’d set eyes on him, I suspected he was “the” one. Once I’d heard him read his poetry, I knew he was.  But Bob was gone.  Had been for seven years, and I decided it was time to go about trying to meet someone else.  I joined Match.com and in a year found not one person I wanted to meet, let alone anyone who wanted to meet me.

Then a friend told me about OkCupid and within 24 hours, I had met a number of people I was interested in and the response indicated that they felt the same way.  But Mexico is a long way from the states and the obligation associated with having someone come all this distance made me reticent about encouraging visits.  I wrote to a number of people, and then Jerry came along.

Although we were very different in some ways, our communication was conducted on a more intimate level than any of my other conversations.  We seemed to get to the meat of ourselves and I was intrigued.  He was the first person who made me start to feel romantic again in the way my heart had turned over when I met Bob.  I was due to give a talk at a local lecture series and it might be an indication of how my life was quickly transitioning if I admit to you that the night before I gave a 45 minute speech on Bob’s death and overcoming grief, I stayed up all night taking to Jerry.  That morning, after only one hour of sleep, I gave my talk about Bob and overcoming his loss, but it was Jerry I was thinking about.  That quickly, I had gone on to a stage unmentioned in my talk.  I no longer felt married.

Our long conversations on Skype turned  sensual–not in a cyber sex sense, but in a romantic sense.  When we met, what would the setting be?  What would I be wearing?  What would he be wearing?  What would our first words be?  We constructed romantic dialogues–and this writing was a new and exciting experience for him.  He began to paint again–something he hadn’t done in years–and attributed this new interest in writing and the rebirth of his artistic life to me.

Within a few months, he had decided to fly to Mexico for a 4 day weekend. I’d meet him at the plane.  This was very different from our initial resolve to meet at a location other than one of our homes.  We had envisualized meeting at a beach resort.  I would be sitting at a table with my back to the door.  He would enter and recognize me immediately.  He’d come up to me and kiss the back of my neck.  Then he’d sit at the table and the tension would build as we had margaritas and dinner, a walk on the beach, and. . . .  Who knew what it would lead to?

What would I be wearing?  His choice was a full Mexican skirt and an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse.  Sandals.  He’d be wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Levis or shorts and huaraches or sandals.

When I first heard word that he was coming in a few weeks, my sister and her friend were visiting me in Mexico.  I finally revealed to them the details of my cyber romance and they threw themselves into the task of helping me to find the right wardrobe for our meeting.  It was fun combing the shops for a full skirt.  The peasant blouse was another matter, but we finally found it. They were complicit in my plans–nothing short of a romance comic book come to life.  They left.  Jerry’s arrival was that night.

Unfortunately, in the time between my shopping spree and Jerry’s evening arrival, the weather had turned cold.  As I stood at the airport reading the notice that the plane would be delayed by two hours, I shivered in my skimpy gauzy clothing and sandals. Around me were Mexican citizens in their Levis, Reboks and down jackets.  I was seemingly the only senorita in sight and I was cold!  I went into the warmest spot I could find–a restaurant on the second floor–and asked to borrow a tablecloth to wear as a shawl as I ordered coffee, then soup. Anything to get warm!!! Yes, I felt foolish.

As I waited, I thought of what I knew about him.  I knew he had 4 more years until retirement and that he had saved up enough air miles to travel around the world for a year. He had asked me to go with him, saying he had enough miles for two.  He loved Mexico and wanted to retire here.  He’d been married but had no children. He didn’t drink, except on vacation. He was going to quit smoking, but couldn’t until after we’d met–the tension was too great in the interim. He was trying to lose weight. His favorite food was flan. (I had three different varieties of flan awaiting him in my refrigerator: my mother’s recipe, a killer variety cooked by a friend who was a chef and a diet variety.)

Then, finally, the plane was announced.  I took the elevator down to the first level, stood by the railing watching person after person come out of the doors of customs and scan the crowd.  I was looking for the athletic handsome man pictured in his OK Cupid profile.  Person after person passed.  Then, when I’d about given up hope, a chubby man with a  foolish sort of grin came down the “runway” stumbling just a bit.  Weaving just a bit.  He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  Could it be?  When he caught sight of me, his grin widened.  At the end of the runway, he caught me in a big hug and a brief kiss.

Even in that brief kiss, I could tell he’d been drinking.  His erratic walk told me he’d been drinking quite a bit.  It turned out that during the 2 hour delay, the airline had offered free drinks to everyone, and it had been a shame not to make full use of the offer. I could understand this.  The conversation on the 45 minute drive home was fine and half way home, he asked me to pull over for a full embrace.  Again, my hopes soared.

That night was as romantic as I might have wished. When we arrived at my house, he put his suitcase in the spare room.  No pressure, he said.  I appreciated this. Loved it, in fact.  We ate.  We danced for hours.  Talked.  Kissed.  He did not use the spare room for anything other than a repository for his suitcase.  It was one of the most romantic nights of my life and the fact that I’d been waiting for it for seven years did nothing to dispel its effect.

The next morning, we slept in.  Or, at least, I slept in.  When I woke up, he was already in the kitchen making breakfast.  We ate on the patio.  The weather had warmed up and everything should have been perfect.  But, when he kissed me, I noticed tequila on his breath. Wasn’t it a bit early to be drinking tequila? He was on vacation, he told me.  When he went back into the kitchen for more orange juice, I could hear him uncapping the tequila and pouring some into his glass.

By the end of breakfast, the tequila bottle that had been full before I drove to the airport was 2/3 empty. By then the gardener was there.  My living room is pretty much floor to ceiling sliding glass windows the entire expanse of the living and dining room that face the  terrace, pool, and back garden.  I’m sure Pasiano was a bit shocked to see me close dancing in the living room with this stranger at 9 in the morning.  It was romantic, yes, but I kept looking up to see Pasiano’s reaction.  He was watering the plants nearest the glass wall.  Now and then when I looked up, I met his gaze and his somewhat stupefied expression.  This was something new in this house!

Over the next few days, we drove around to the other side of the lake, walked the malecon in Chapala, went out dancing with friends.  The entire time, Jerry drank.  When he had said he only drank on vacation, I had not understood that what he meant was that he Only drank on vacation!  Once he hit Mexico–his usual vacation destination–what he did was drink!  By the second night, his libido was somewhat inhibited by the tequila. By the third night, he nodded off the minute his head hit the pillow.  The romance, if not over, had certainly hit some ruts in the road.

Before I drove him to the plane to return to the states, I confided to him that I would  be writing a new book and wasn’t going to be able to devote as much time to talking to him as I had in the past. (Our record marathon call had lasted 9 hours.)  He got the message loud and clear.  The romance quickly cooled.

I went on to meet other interesting prospects and several have come to Mexico to visit, but never again did I invite anyone to stay with me prior to meeting them. At one point, I preferred going to the states to meet prospective love interests–during visits to family and friends.  Some of these encounters have turned out well and I’ve made at least one lifelong friend whom I hope will always be in my life, but I’ve retired the peasant blouse.  Only this picture remains to remind me of my foolish foolish heart and to remind me never again to let it rule my choice of wardrobe!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Snapshot Stories.”  Go to the first photo you find of yourself in the first album you locate and tell us the story of that photograph.

NaPoWriMo 2015, Day 4: Internet Appetizers

DSC02137 - Version 2

Internet Appetizers

Casting our nets wider,
we gather matching minds and hearts
like small silver fish–
just a tiny bite, each one,
trying to fill a big appetite.
No big fish
to struggle to land.
Just nibbles,
one after another,
taking the edge off our hungers.

The Prompt: Write a “loveless” love poem. Don’t use the word love! And avoid the flowers and rainbows. Try to write a poem that expresses the feeling of love or lovelorn-ness without the traditional trappings you associate with the subject matter.

This subject seemed to grow when it came time to do my Daily Post on WordPress.  To see more of what I’ve said, at greater length, go HERE.

Now, Voyager

                                                          209a3984-32bf-375b-99f0-3a7c774a75b0      Now, Voyager

I love transformation movies: ugly ducklings turned beautiful, wallflowers who become the belle of the ball, villains turned saviors, shady ladies turned good girls, wild horses tamed.  If you can name one famous example of each from the movies, you win the prize, but for me the top entry in the first category would have to be Bette Davis in “Now Voyager.”

I’ve always been surprised that they haven’t done a remake of the film, but on the other hand, I don’t think they could probably equal the romantic pathos of the dowdy, overweight, aging and submissive spinster Bette Davis, living with her dominating mother, her one rebellion–cigarettes sneaked on the sly.  As her mother slips the noose of control ever tighter, Bette is “saved” by a nervous breakdown and a visiting psychiatrist who persuades her mother that she must be sent to a “rest farm” where the transformation takes place.

The resultant makeover, sea voyage, love affair and. . . but wait . . .  I’ll tell no more, for if you haven’t already seen the film, it is a must-see and I don’t want to issue further spoilers.  As a matter of fact, if you have seen it, we should both probably see it again.  The last time I saw it was in VHS form ordered from Amazon twelve years ago and yes, I still do have a VHS player hidden away somewhere in the highest reaches of my house.

At any rate, I have been diverted by the film review when my real intention was to talk about the title and plot itself and the significance it has in my own life; for I, too, seek a transformation.  Just once I would like to be that stunningly glamorous, thin mysterious stranger who turns all heads.  Yes, superficial, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to experience being that woman who could have any man in the place.

For too many years, books and movies seemed more real than the world around me.  My boring existence in a small town could not be all there was to life.  Surely, if it were, then all those exciting books and movies would never have been written, for where would they have come from except from the patterns of other places and other lives that contained more possibilities than a small dusty town in the middle of South Dakota prairie?

Yes, I did eventually voyage off into life and I found places more exciting–more in line with my own interests.  And although I had love affairs, married the man of my dreams, had careers I felt adequate at, traveled to exotic climes and never had trouble making friends, at age 67, I have still never been the femme fatale of my childish and teenage and middle-age dreams. I have made starts and even accomplished some of the goals.  I’ve lost weight, found the perfect haircut, bought more stylish clothes.  I’ve gone to clubs and danced unabashedly, joined internet introduction clubs, gone to singles parties. But still, at my best, there is some quality lacking in my makeup–some ineffable clue that I am available, sensual, smart and fun to be with.  What is it?  My entire life I have wondered why, with a few notable exceptions, I will invariably be the last woman at the table asked to dance. For years I believed it was because of my weight and at present that may be so, but even at my skinniest, there was some signal I sent out that made me unapproachable or unappealing or uncharismatic to most men, and as old and wise and introspective and analytical as I have become in my middle-to-old age, I do not know what it is.

Have you ever known someone who is doing something wrong and who just can’t get it right?  Everyone knows what it is but no one tells them, for fear of hurting their feelings.  And so they go on in life, never quite getting what they want and not having a clue why that is.  Why don’t we just tell each other?  It would be so much simpler.  But, the truth is that we probably would not listen even if our friends told us.  We would find excuses. We would not believe them, no matter how many people told us the same thing, because there seems to be some radar causing us to become who we are–strengths, talents and faults all combined.

A complete stranger sitting next to me at a banquet once said to me, “You don’t need that!” when I reached for the dessert held out to me by the waiter.  I was astonished, insulted, irate.  I wanted to take two desserts and put the bastard in his place! But the truth was, maybe he was that one person in my life who decided to tell me the truth.

Today when I got up to let the dogs out and give them their morning meal, I saw the dusty blistered card of diet pills on the kitchen island.  I broke one off and swallowed it with a long drink of water.  Perhaps I’ll start again that journey towards sylphdom.  I’ll lose dress sizes, get a facelift to deal with the resultant sags and wrinkles, fit into sexier clothes, go back on OkCupid, meet another stranger grown familiar through words over the internet.  Maybe it’s still not too late to be an object of desire. Or, perhaps I’ll just write about it.

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/642826/Now-Voyager-Movie-Clip-I-Met-A-Doctor-In-Rio.html

The Prompt:Silver Screen–Take a quote from your favorite movie — there’s the title of your post. Now, write!  https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/silver-screen/

Strangely enough, this post also ended up answering today’s prompt so I’m posting it there as well: But No Cigar–Tell us about a time things came this close to working out… but didn’t. What happened next? Would you like the chance to try again, or are you happy with how things eventually worked out? https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/but-no-cigar/

Wooden Heart

Wooden Heart

He handed it to me without ceremony—a small leather bag, awl-punched and stitched together by hand. Its flap was held together by a clasp made from a two fishing line sinkers and a piece of woven wax linen. I unwound the wax linen and found inside a tiny wooden heart with his initials on one side, mine on the other. A small hole in the heart had a braided cord of wax linen strung through that was attached to the bag so that the heart could not be lost. He had woven more waxed linen into a neck cord. I was 39 years old when he gave me that incredible thing I never thought I would receive: his heart—as much of it as he could give. Continue reading

Interlude

Disclaimer Notice:  This is a work of fiction, not of fact!!!!

Interlude

I have been dieting for months and I’m in fine fettle. I can see the admiring looks of several men as I enter the restaurant, along with the slightly irritated stares of their wives or girlfriends. I’m fresh from the beauty parlor: newly coiffed, manicured and pedicured, wearing a size smaller than I wore a month ago and several sizes smaller than a year ago. Feeling buff, I slide into a booth, fanning both hands over the smooth surface of the Formica table top, admiring my French manicure.

He enters the restaurant shortly after I do. Taking the long way around the aisle that runs between the tables in the center and the booths along the four sides, he scans the faces of diners with a curiosity that signals an interest in life. He is tall and intelligent-looking with a quirky doorknocker beard and mustache and a Hawaiian shirt—all elements of his appearance that call out for notice. I do not disappoint.

I watch him as he draws nearer, but drop my eyes as he approaches my booth. So it is that I am surprised when he stops in front of me and says, “May I ask you what you name is?”

I bring my eyes up to meet his. Is this the Cinderella story I’ve been waiting for my whole life? Quickly, my mind fills in the prior details. He noticed me on the road and followed me here. Or, he was driving by when he saw me enter the restaurant and, on a whim, seized the day and came in search of me. Or, this is an old and long-forgotten flame, someone from my past—a college or high school friend I haven’t seen for twenty years.

Without asking why or giving a smart answer, for once I merely answer the question. “Judy. Judy Dykstra-Brown,” I purr in a humorous, slightly sexy voice, not once looking away from his clear hazel eyes.

He does not disappoint. “I’ve been looking for you,” he says.

“I’ve been looking for you, too—for a very long time,” I answer in my best low flirtatious tone.

He reaches out toward me, and I extend my hand toward him as well; but in place of his own hand, he places something soft and warm in my palm.

“You must have dropped your wallet in the foyer,” he says to me, “You’re lucky that the right person found it.” He turns then and walks across the room to sit down at a table with a lovely woman in a white sundress and two darling tanned children. They are like a commercial for a Hawaiian vacation.

I open the wallet to see that all the money is intact, the driver’s license just slightly askew from where he must have withdrawn it to see the picture of its owner, and my mind replays his final words to me.  “You’re lucky.”

“Welcome to Perkins!” The waitress interrupts my thoughts in a perky voice, living up to the name of her place of employment. I take the menu she proffers and order humble pie.

The Prompt: Greetings, Stranger—You’re sitting at a café when a stranger approaches you. This person asks what your name is, and, for some reason, you reply. The stranger nods, “I’ve been looking for you.” What happens next?