Love is a fraud ~ Belle & Sebastian

My dog listened to me sing for 10 hours in the car ride up into the hills of the tri-state area (NC/TN/GA).  If his farts are like contractions, how far apart must they be before I pull over?

On the way up, I took a detour through Athens to avoid Atlanta altogether. I not only didn’t feel like dealing with the traffic but something about passing what used to be the Flake’s exit hurt my heart.
I reached the base of the Smokies around 7:30pm. From there, the temperature dropped quickly and the scenery improved. It might have triggered my first sincere smile of the day. At this rate, I reached my mother’s property just before 10 pm. My only prayer was that she had toilet paper and a coffee pot, which she did, but in hindsight, I should have prayed for a working shower too.

It was like camping with a roof over my head. I bullied opened the sticky windows that would budge and cleaned up the rodent, bug and bat carcasses. While washing in the kitchen sink, dead bats floated up from the garbage disposal and by then, without gloves, I couldn’t bring myself to stick my hand down there and fish out the rest. The next day, I drove to the nearest town 40 miles away and rented an electric floor sander, found a wifi signal and ordered electronic plug in rodent repellants from Amazon. One of my Army buddies who said he would drive up to help me didn’t show but luckily the old woman living in the property adjacent put me in touch with a local handyman who would repair the shower (not til after I left) and helped me lug the 150lb sander up the narrow staircase. I was proud enough that I got it out of the car and into the house by myself but making up it up the stairs without throwing out my back or falling down the stairs was too risky. When did I become so weak? I bathed in the rain, in creeks, and in the (clothes) washing machine (when I was caked with sawdust from sanding and sweating so a baby wipe just wouldn’t suffice). I spent two full days working on the floors and a few odd repair jobs around the property then dedicated the rest of the time to hiking.

Raven Cliff falls was my favorite. Five miles round trip, a gradual incline and path that hugged the water all the way. My dog LOVES creeks. I discovered this when I went to visit the Flake in Atlanta last year. He literally bounces with joy, plunging his face and body into the cold water. He can’t do this at home because unless it’s on the ocean or gulf (which he can’t drink), there are ‘gators.

The next day, my dog was moving as stiff as I was so I opted for a much shorter trek closer to “home” at Fires Creek (although armed with two walking sticks, I insisted on keeping us in the water, navigating over slippery rocks which proved to be challenging and hardly qualified as “taking it easy”).

The next day was supposed to be the big hike: Finally, after nearly a year of cancellations, I was going to do the Full moon hike over the suspension bridge at Tallullah Gorge, leaving my dog behind of course but wearing him out on trails during the day to include Minnihaha. But we woke to the sound of rain and a message from the state park calling off the hike on account of it. The extended forecast called for rain the rest of the week so there was no “waiting it out”. In this environment, I could not re-wear the same clothes day after day and I had only packed enough underwear and medication for 9 days.

I also woke to an email from the Flake. How does he know just when to reach out and just what to say to bring me back on the line? He apologized for not being a friend to me. Said Atlanta was a transition period and he was at peace in California. Thanked me for being there for him at his darkest, ugliest. Said he was again the man I met and fell in love with at the Pelican pub 7 years ago. He wasn’t asking for anything but to talk to me. He missed me so much. I caved. Replied that I was in the hills without a steady signal and couldn’t call. But the door was open again.

As I weighed my options and decided ultimately there was nothing to do but start to head back towards home, he suggested Amicalola Falls. I’d been there before but not on a trail because my family couldn’t hike. It was on the way so I decided to stop and gauge the weather once I got there. The nice thing about hiking in wet weather is the trails are abandoned. Amicalola is labeled “difficult for dogs” but another pooch-traveling hiker hinted that the East Ridge trail was suitable. And it was. A bit rocky at the top so I released my dog from his leash so that he and I could both pick the path most appropriate for us. Besides, he’s responsive to voice command and has attachment issues so he never got more than 20 feet ahead of me before stopping and waiting for me to catch up. And he’s smart. He would creep towards the edge and look out but never got too close and was never tempted to follow a small animal to his doom. Amicalola was just over 2 miles round trip and a much steeper incline than Raven Cliff. The sky cracked open when we reached the top so we ducked back into woods, taking the west trail down, protected from the worst of the deluge by the woodland canopy. Unfortunately, I had no clean, dry clothes or towels left to change into when we got back to the car so it was a wet, chilly drive for 6 hours to a dog friendly motel on the FL/GA border where we stopped for the night.

On the way, I chatted with the Flake. He invited me to come see him. I mentioned plans to go back to Cali later this year but the highway through Big Sur was still closed and Esalen was too expensive. He said he would take me hiking through the Redwoods and we would drink wine in the hot tub overlooking the Ocean where he lives on in apartments on a cliff. Of course we would also hit the nearby nude beach. Things were and still are sexually explicit between us. I mentioned I had told my sister I would visit her sometime during her next contract job in Sacramento from Sept-December but she stays at places through AirBnB so I would have to do the same. Or stay with him. I considered the state-run lighthouse hostels and calling my Army buddy from WA state down to hike (he already said he would come and of everyone who says they will make it, he’s the one who keeps his word). So I can go back to California and not see the Flake. I should NOT see the Flake. I know I can’t handle it. I know we would have a great time and then I would crash on the plane home, emotionally. I would be left empty, just like last year, struggling for months to recover from a few days of happiness with a man that loves me but isn’t IN LOVE with me. And I’ll tell him this, in a few weeks when I book my next trip that does not include seeing him.

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“Remember me in your lucid dreams as the best you ever…” ~ Michelle Branch

waterfall rapellingMy blind date ended up looking like Zorg from the Fifth Element. And when I handed him my phone to show him “A” picture and he took it as an invitation to flip through more photos, that’s when I tapped out.

My friend asked me about my love life. Well, do you want to know about the man who holds my heart but doesn’t want it, the man I have a crush on who doesn’t know I have a vagina, the man who only wants my vagina, or the Dropkick Murphys roadie who started out promising but then faded away when I wouldn’t respond to his racy selfies in kind.

I also unblocked the Flake. Three months after the fallout, I held out strong but now I caved with his “I miss you, can’t we just talk?”. Out of curiosity, cracking that door open to see if it was safe to come out. It was especially hard to turn him down weeks earlier when he was passing through and asked to see me. I told him in an email that I couldn’t be “just” his friend, that I still wanted him and couldn’t pretend that I was okay with him not wanting me back. “But if you show up on my front lawn with a boom box, I’d consider it,” I replied, rather seriously. Miss me? Prove it. Our few conversations since then have been brief and rather awkward. For a week, I was back to anxiously grabbing my phone to see if I had a text from him in the morning (never did) and considered re-blocking him for my own sanity. He’s also spending 10 days traveling the Pacific Coast Highway without me and I told him not to send photos rubbing it in my face. Because I should be there with him. The walls are up on both sides and it leaves me feeling very sad.

So I hopped a plane to Puerto Rico for 5 days. It was a hell of an experience complete with a trip to the VA hospital Emergency room when I decided to chew on a poisonous plant in the rainforest. I blame my friend for double dog daring me with “Don’t even think about putting that in your mouth…”   The upside to the pain was lips that swelled like a perfect collagen job. Even the doctor remarked (while giving me a steroid cocktail via IV) “Well, your lips do look fantastic”.

I couldn’t resist sending a picture to the Flake, a breathtaking shot of me looking like a total badass, rappelling down a waterfall. He of course responded with a selfie of him at a vineyard in Napa Valley. I didn’t respond but gloated to myself  “I win!”

The roadie hasn’t asked about my adventure or my self-poisoning but offered up more late night photos to which I responded “thanks but I’d prefer we leave something to in-person discovery”.

That same night, a former supervisor from SOCOM who I haven’t seen or spoken to in years and never hung out with outside the job contacted me to ask if I wanted to get a drink. I joked that it was past his bedtime but then we set a date for next week. He was married when I worked with him but he’s either divorced or separated now. And entirely too old for me (although still younger than the 60 year old retired marine “Dos Equis” that I crushed on two years ago). All things considered, I have this foreboding that this is not innocent interest in catching up with a former coworker and already it is feeding into my inner monologue about how men want to fuck me but not keep me. Blame that on my poor choice in men to date but these late night calls out of the blue from recently single (or worse, still married) men doesn’t help. And I’ve never been promiscuous so I’m not sure why they call me. I know I’m a good catch but these men and their transient interest makes me feel disposable.

“I want you to notice when I’m not around…” ~Radiohead a-la Postmodern Jukebox

“Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”

Not today, is my usual response but the last two days, I considered it an option. Not the best option but as an analyst, of course, I consider ALL options and Full Stop was one of them.

Was it because the man I love remarked flippantly that he “didn’t feel like making the drive” to visit next weekend? Or that he was considering playing in my backyard in the mountains without inclination to include me? I had been pulling punches since our fallout two weeks ago because he took what I told him in confidence and not only held it against me (“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”) but also threw it back in my face. He JUDGED me. He made me feel so ashamed. So I don’t tell him what I’m feeling now. He doesn’t want to hear it and I don’t want to give him ammo to use against me later. Some friendship, huh?

But the last two days were so dark. A friend text this morning to say “Smile! I love you” and I snickered at his uncanny timing because I was doing the opposite. He joked, “I felt a disturbance in the Force.”

But that’s what this is really about, isn’t it? My friend “L” is staying with me for a few months following a bad breakup. He seemed okay until two nights ago when he found out his ex was seeing someone else. He told me this today. Told me he hasn’t slept in two nights and he is deeply depressed. Bingo.

Empathy strikes again. I share his pain like it’s my own.

The Universe, I’m told, is full of vibrations, frequencies, which I don’t understand but I know this: These vibrations are like metaphysical dog whistles: What one person may not “hear” at all may cause others pain. Saying I suffer from being an empath sounds hokey, like someone suffering from the supposed ghost pain of fibromyalgia. These ailments cannot be scientifically “proven” so they must be psychosomatic, right?

I read Psychic Shielding for Dummies last year and admittedly the techniques haven’t worked for me. Or maybe it’s a Catch 22? Maybe I have to be in a better place physically and spiritually in order to manifest a shield but I NEED a shield because I am physically and spiritually vulnerable!

Not vulnerable. Sapped.

I fondled the bag of rocks and “wish” I had been toting round my neck for two weeks. In a fit of frustration, I tore it off and threw it across the room. Feeling sacrilegious, I apologized and put it back on. Then I lit a sage bundle, set it near a lit candle and walked outside to nurse a whisky while the space fumigated. Walked back in 10min later to see the bundle on fire. Well, that should do it.

I am the worst “witch” ever.

But there is a small comfort in knowing where these feelings are coming from and knowing that the root of the problem is external. Why am I bleeding?? Oh I see. I’ve been shot. A psychic bullet sponge.

If the pain is not entirely mine, it doesn’t hurt less. I exhale every drop of air in my lungs and pause, willing my heart to stop. Just. STOP…

“Give me 2 weeks, you won’t recognize her” – FKA Twigs

Like premeditated murder, the internal debate has intensified over the last couple of weeks. I’ve come to realize there is no hope of him coming home. If he ever has moments of regret about leaving, he gives no indication of it. So if warm water and palm trees year-round can’t tempt him any longer, maybe a taste of my kink can.
Although that hasn’t quite worked out for me in the past. Men who, to this day, reminisce that no one else in their lives has ever been better to them in bed or out of it, and yet still it wasn’t enough to make them stay, or keep them faithful, or to “Pick” me forever. Somehow “told you so” or “their loss” fails to achieve any sense of gratification when one suffers from loneliness.

And yet, I left an impression with them, didn’t I?

And that’s what I want to do to him. With me, he will experience something rare: uninhibited, sincerely enthusiastic intimacy.  Even if it doesn’t reel him in closer to me then at least I’ve doomed every woman he encounters from then on to comparison with me. If I let him go for a ride in the spaceship, he will never forget it and no one else will ever live up to it.

I’m also doing it because I want to. There will be consequences either way. Because I DO want him and it’s been two years since anyone put their hands on me. So there’s the consequence that I’ll regret not scratching that itch while the opportunity is there. The consequence of sex without the comfort of commitment is that physical intimacy will likely further cement the deep feelings I have for him already, and I’ll have to go through the motions of withdrawal and perceived rejection; the end of a relationship that never existed except in my head.

So I’m going to treat it like the Last Supper. If he offers me a piece, I’m going to take it and devour him like it’s the last meal I’ll ever have. I will wear him out like a puppy, suck him dry and then fill him back up with me.

 

“And I’m craving, craving, craving something I can feel” ~ James Bay

(July 15-24 2016)

THe military likes to use a “BLUF”, a “bottom line up front”. And my BLUF when asked by military cohorts “How awesome was  your trip to Scotland?” I tell them it was “LIke SERE school, minus being smacked around”. Because I was cold, wet, hungry and exhausted the entire time.

Day 1: Spent almost entirely in an airport or plane. No drama, no hurrying so I settled down at the bar to kick off my vacatio with a glass of wine, smiling, chatting with strangers, feeling mildly excited at the prospects of my adventure. Fast forward 11 hours, I land in 50 degree (freezing for a Florida girl) Scotland and am informed “You missed the sunshine by about a week”.  I’m at the rental car counter in Glasgow. I reserved the smallest vehicle they had for a reasonable $260. When they asked if I could drive a standard, I said “Yes”. Wait. Shit. What side is the stick on? Um, make that a “no”. So I was “upgraded” to an automatic that cost as much as my f*cking plane ticket. Thanks Budget/Avis, for the ass-rape there. Not like I needed the steering wheel on the other side of the car…

Trying to maneuver in downtown Glasgow, I immediately regretted not brushing up on traffic signals before I came. THere are no stopsigns, only round-abouts and traffic lights on the side of the road which are split into lanes. Meaning, I see a red light and cars behind me honk because one of the lights in that signal is green, the light for MY respective lane. Oops. I breathed easier outside the city but I still hit the curb periodically while trying to guage how much distance I had to work with from oncoming traffic on roads that felt half the size of those in the US.

One thing I DID do prior to my trip, thank G-d, was pre-plot all the points of places I intended to visit (and stay) on my google maps before I left. You can also download areas of google maps for offline use but this takes up a lot of phone storage. But as loong as you pre-plot your points and dont have to go searching for them, once your gps is set, you can put your phone in “airplane mode” and still use your turn-by-turn gps via google maps. This helps to not drain your international data plan (although I still busted mine). And it helps if you are hiking out in the boonies with no signal: yes, in airplane mode, the gps still works.

I had only one stop in Glasgow and that was Saint Andrews and it’s co-located Necropolis. I love cathedrals and old graves. I opted to travel light with only my phone for pictures but then, my phone has just as many megapixels as my full camera set up and I even invested for snap-on lenses from Moment. They were rather pricey at $100/lens and after the trip, I cant say I saw a big diference between using them and not. I also bought a gorilla tripod and remote shutter, which are necessary if you are traveling solo without ANYONE around and want proof to say “I was there”. The Tripod may have been more beneficial for wrapping around trees with low branches but I lost it in the woods around halfway through the trip and didnt miss it. The tiny bluetooth remote shutter though is a MUST. It allows you to back up and get into position and take multiple shots without haveing to run back to the phone and reset the timer after every shot.

Also, a note for anyone staying in the major cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh with a car, download the “PayGo” app to your phone. This linked to my paypal account and I could pay for parking (and renew without walking back) anywhere without having to feed coins into the meter. Just delete it when you leave.

After Glasgow, I drove through and stopped for short hikes in Loch Lomond and stopped by (and peed in the woods behind) Rob Roy’s grave. Doune castle smells like cow patties mixed chicken poop. There were areas along the trails where I had to cover my nose with my shirt. I realized crossing a field that it was neither cows nor chicken but sheep that caused that stink. Again, I skipped going into the Castle because another blogger had posted pictures of the interior and jokingly refered to it as the Disney Castle. I only stopped here because it felt mandatory for not only Outlander but Game of Thrones fans.

Here I picked up my first hitchhiker, a Belgian named Jolene (pronounced “Yolene”), two women bravely hiking (with sporadic drives in between) across Scotland solo. Moving on to Stirling (where  I was staying in a private spare bedroom thanks to the AirBnB app), neither the Castle nor Wallace Monument impressed me so again, I walked around the surrounding gravesites, followed trails around the Castle (there are some good views of the city from up there), and eventually popped into a coffee bar for a shot of caffiene and free wifi. Because of the time change, this was still Day 1 but I had been awake for over 24 hours and buzzing off 5 Hour Energy shots packed for the trip (because I wanted to ensure my chronic fatigue didnt prevent me from accomplishing what I had set out to do).  I had also packed a lot of Kind bars thank g-d, because instead of snacks in the woods, those ended up sustaining me through my entire trip because ALL the food sucked. I mean, “Just send it back to the kitchen and just bring me a double shot of whiskey”, sucked. In fact, the headlines for my Tripadvisor reviews of a handful of restaurants was “Starving in Scotland”. Yes, I tried the haggis the first night; had to, right? I got one bite down. The server figured “Well, that counts”.

My host that evening was an early 60’s divorcee named Malcom. We hit it off fantastically and stayed up most of the night drinking and talking, despite my tight plans to spend the following day hiking in GlenCoe. During our chats about life, dancing, recreational nudity and lost love, I complained (knowing full well that he was turning 62 the same day  was turning 40) that men MY age were only intersted in women in women 20 years younger whereas my only prospects were men 20 years my senior. Malcom laughed “Then I’m one of them because I find you attractive”. To be fair, the only reason I rule out men significantly older than me at this point is because I’m pretty sure none want to become fathers (again) at that age. And I’m still clinging to this distant possibility that I might still have children. But for 62, he wasnt bad looking at all…

Day 2: the sun is up at 4am (17 hour “days” this time of year) and I was up at 8, still tired, having only slept a few hours. But Malcom hugged me goodbye and good luck and I set off. A few hours drive to Glencoe from Stirling, the drive was beautifully scenic but behind the wheel on perilously thin roads, I really couldnt “look up” and out to enjoy it. By this time, it was raining non-stop and coming through the mountains, I glimpsed only silouettes of ridges of green through the misty haze. But I was here. And I was doing this. I parked at the visitor’s center and grabbed my gear. After staring at the trail map for a bit, I asked for advice. They first sent me down a path away from the mountains. Boring. So I traveled back up higher and higher until I disappeared into the trees and couldnt see anything at all. Eventually, I circled back around to the visitors center and said “What else have you got?” In this weather, they eyed me critically, “Try Signal Rock”. It took me a minute but realize as a hiker in Scotland, a closed gate doesnt equate to “no trespassing”. It’s simply to hold in the rabid sheep and feral goats. SPeaking of, there are signs along the road in some areas. Apparently, Scotland has a feral goat infestation. Closing the gate behind me, I head back into the woods and up, up, up…I only had a thin plastic poncho over me and my pack but it worked well enough. But rocks were slippery, dry or wet, and I found myself hugging trees and asking them “Dont drop me”. Signal Rock was so anti-climactic that I doubted for a few minutes that I had reached it. A 5×5 slab of rock on the mountainside promised “spectacular views” but was overgrown. Not that I would have seen much through the mist anyway but disappointed, I returned the way I came, trying to capture a sense of awe that I was certain would stem from being in this land where “the veil is thin”. I looked around and breathed deep and told myself “This is Scotland” while my inner voice answered back “And it looks like Washington State”.

How could I be so uninspired amidst such landscape? Is it the depression? Or is it the foul weather, fences around everything, subdivisions encroaching on history, inescapable traffic and power lines marring every photo?

Day 3:  After feeling like I had all but entirely missed out on something special in GlenCoe, I drove on to Dornie just outside of the Isle of Skye where I was again staying in a spare bedroom I found on AirBnB. The room was lovely but the bed uncomfortable. Still, I could see Eilene Donan Castle through my window. The rain continued while my new host cursed the weather for me and offered me a rain jacket. Rain or no, I was hiking. I drove into Skye, past Portree and came upon The Storr. The rain was hammering down and visibility was such that I couldnt see “The Old Man” which was supposedly visible from 5 miles away. And I was just beneath him. So I drove on along the coast where the Atlantic stretched out like hazy black glass, hoping the rain might clear a bit by the time I reached the Quirang. Today, I was 40. The rain abated briefly en-route and I pulled over at a point which looked like a trail to the Atlantic. Was I supposed to be there? A man pulling out of the cottage that I was approaching only waved so I took it for permission. Closing the gate behind me, I was surrounded by hundreds of acres of green cliffs, dotted by sheep and overlooking the ocean.The rain came down in spurts but I pressed on. A few sheep followed me curiously as I picked my way down the slope to the water. Here, standing on shiny black rocks on the edge of Atlantic did not feel like Washington State. It didnt even feel like standing on the edge of the Atlantic on the Eastern coast of the United States. Here, the ocean was vast, a gaping mouth and I, standing on the tongue. If there was ever a brief moment that the veil felt thin, it was here.

I took my time despite the rain and chill, working my way back up the hillside. I filled my water bottles from falls (I had a “lifewater” straw but the water was so clear and cold, I didnt use it) and continued North toward the Quirang.

The rain thickened once again and although my GPS told me I had reached my destination, I saw no trails, no hikers, no room to even pull over and park. I crawled slowly up and up into the Quirang on a single lane road meant for a donkey, the rental car growling on the incline. I dont know how long or how far I drove but eventually I found a small culvert to pull off. I stood there looking up, down, around. I’m here. This is it. But where could I hike? Im not a professional or even an enthusiast in the greatest shape and I hesitated to launch myself off the side of a mountian. I raised my camera but the view was so obscured by fog that the moutains were invisible through the lens. Looking at the photo, I might not even know a mountain was there if I didn’t know better. Through the thick mist, I couldnt make out any of the views that I had been pinning to my “vacay” board on Pinterest for the last 8 months. Defeated, I got back into the car, executed a 20-point turn, and backtracked. I stopped for coffee and wifi again in Portree, consulting the weather forecast and debating options. What to do now? Drink would be the “obvious” answer but I don’t enjoy it, frankly, especially not alone. Mood considered, I was almost afraid that any booze at the moment would tip the scale in the wrong direction, leaving me in a sad puddle of self pity and loneliness. So I should not drink, I decided.

Of all days and sites on this trip, I planned for my birthday the most carefully. I wanted to be imersed in breathtaking, ancient natural beauty. I wanted the pain of exertion to mark satisfaction of personal accomplishment. Eventually, I gave up, left the cafe and headed back to the room at Dornie. Stopped along the way to slog through a few short woodland trails to put a few more miles on my legs but my birthday bucketlist was a bust. I had a lackluster dinner at a pub, no cake, more whiskey. A few bikers came in and I considered chatting them up until a group of ladies also walked in. I wandered to take photos of Eilene Donan, and wandered back to bed.

Day 4: ONE day of sunshine according to the forecast. ONE day before nonstop rain all day and night. So I decided to veer off schedule in order to take advantage. Instead of heading directly across country, I drove back into Skye with a French hitchhiker named “Hillin”. I decided I had only enough time to hike the Storr because I was staying the night in Inverness. Hillin was on no such timeline and decided to take advantage of the break in the weather and carry on to the Quirang. I wish I could have.

Now, in the sun, I could see the Old Man of Storr clearly. The initial path was crowded with tourists and well hewn so I didn’t think twice about leaving the hiking poles in the car. However, halfway up was a clearing where most of the sightseers stopped because from there, the path leading up to the Old Man became quite steep and rocky. Now I kicked myself for leaving the poles behind it . I went at a snails pace and eventually made it without sliding off a rock and dying but I didn’t feel any great sense of accomplishment nor awe taking in my surroundings, which now I could see. Oh yes, the view was stunning and by definition awe-inspiring but I still felt like I had flat-lined.

I was driving like a native now. No more hitting the curb although I continued to climb into the passenger seat initially.

As I drove cross-country to Inverness, I wondered what it would be like to live in Scotland. What would I do? Return to radio? The radio, like the food I determined, sucked. Too much unentertaining prattle interuppted by techo-pop garbage. I like techo-pop, when it’s good. And I always thought BBC was held to such a high standard. Although it was amusing listening to Scotsman debate American politics, as if our next President affected them. One caller insisted that anyone “..with a conscience cannot trust Clinton, and if you are afraid of Trump, you must appreciate the transparency and remember that the government is not one person…Besides, it doesnt really doesn’t matter who is president because nothing happens without congressional approval. Nothing changes. It’s the same thing with a different face.” All of this debated with a thick Scottish drawl.

I learned a bit more about “Brexit” too. I had read that Scotland was in favor of remaining in the European Union but to be on the ground amongst them, they are quite upset about it. They voted just last year to remain part of the UK largely in part because they wanted to remain part of the EU so they feel mis-led. “We are our own country, we have our own economy, are own government, and yet we are still represented by a Tory!” they lamented.

In the valleys where the radio signal faded out, I felt most alone. So much for solo travel being a time for introspection because I found that I hate my own company. As kind as I am to everyone, I am not kind to myself. Courses on meditation, self-love, positive thinking to manifest your dreams… but here I was, negative self-talk non-stop in my head. I wasnt just hard on myself, I hated myself. I rehashed recent and past rejection. Disgusted by every photo of me in the last year. My body disproportionate. “You’re ugly now”. The crazy thing is, I know that’s not true. I’m not ugly, not even naked! But I couldnt stop telling myself that I was. Walking past other hikers, I thought “Here goes the fat asthmatic American heaving her way up and down the mountains…” In the absence of any company other than my own, I turned inward and devoured myself.

Periodically, I would find a place to pull over, enjoy the sunny views for a few minutes and stretch. Folding myself in half, palms to the ground, I enjoyed the soft pops of my vertebrae. Until my inner voice said “Yeah, fat girl is still flexible”. My body is holding up alright I suppose. The weight slows me down though. My footing is unsure, as I am going up and down slippery, rocky mountains lugging a near 200 pound ruck sack, aka, my body.

By the way, Falls of Foyers, skip it.

Day 5: As promised the rain returns. I’m really starting to feel lonely now as my new host is an elderly woman who runs a bed and breakfast in the country. Why couldnt they all be “Malcoms”? I park in along the River Ness and pick up the bicycle I had already paid rental fees for. Admiring my perserverence to ride in this weather, the shop lent me a rain jacket and the best route out of the city to Culloden battlefield and Clava Cairns. It wasnt terribly far, maybe 20 miles roundtrip but much of it was uphill and in the rain, being additionally hosed down by muddy water with every passing car, this was no longer a vacation but a personal challenge. Mine was the solo bike in the rack at Culloden but I was visiting at the same time of year that the Jacobite loss at Culloden took place nearly 300 years earlier so the rain and mist so thick on the field that one might not have seen but only heard their enemy a few hundred yards away, I could imagine it. I opted for the audio tour which was so cheesey that I turned it off and walked the field in silence. I was walking on a mass grave and silence seemed most appropriate.

After Culloden, I peddled on to Clava Cairns. It looks nothing like the standing stones in the Outlander series. Interesting to consider the age of these piles of mossy rock but still, I felt nothing here.

Peddling back into town by 7p, I dropped the bike off and stopped for food at a Turkish restaurant. Maybe the only food I enjoyed in Scotland. An aquaintance had recommended the live local music at a small pub called Hootananny but bloggers recommended getting there early. Like, by 7p although the music didnt start unti 9:30. Sit there for more than 2 hours and drink before the music even starts? THere’s no uber in Scotland so pace yourself. But as I dried out over the first real meal in days, I noticed a smell. It was me. Not body odor but the exterior of my clothes which were stiff with drying mud smelled like a gutter. Probably from all the passing traffic that day. I know many more self-assured folks would have said “Who cares?” and gone to the pub smelling like a hobo but I grew too self-conscious and as I was staying outside the city, I didnt have the time to get back to the room, shower, change and get back to the pub in time to get in.

I was in bed by 9 with a shirt over my eyes because it was still light out. But by now, my loneliness had gotten the best of me and I sent him, my former roommate-for-a-minute, an email with a few pictures from my trip so far. He replied almost immediately and I felt a giddy sense of relief and happiness.

And by now, I was convinced that UK taste in music was as bland as their cuisine. But then, what could I expect from the country that gave us Spice Girls? What will it be today kids? Robbie Williams or Ariana Grande?  Or Robbie Williams? Or Ariana Grande?

As far as Wildlife I only see goats, sheep, birds and bunnies.

It seems everyone here has a dog and they take them everywhere they go. Restaurants allow the dogs to come inside instead of relegating them and  their owners to outside patio tables and inclement weather. Dogs in all sizes and breeds however I note the absence of pitbulls. UK’s banned breed list dates back 200 years. Floors me that these seemingly educated dog loving people still hold prejudice against certain breeds. Do they really believe there is some flaw in the genetic make-up a certain breeds of dogs? An inborn trigger that makes them uncontrollably aggressive?

With exception of those who I board with in evenings, I haven’t met any locals, which is a bit disappointing. I suppose it’s partly my fault for being an introvert and not striking up a conversation as often as I could although my excuse is I’m quite tired and foggy headed at this point. But I had hoped the locals would be more engaging. The trails I take are usually empty in this weather and I find myself too exhausted to go hang it a pub after 8 hours of hiking or biking. Plus I smell offensive.

Again, hikers: Presence of a gate does not mean ‘stop go back’, you can go through just shut the gate behind you. And don’t worry about trespassing; if its private it will be marked. The ground was really quite mushy. Waterproof hiking boots are useless if the water gets in through your ankles. Additionally, it holds the moisture in so eventually I opted for open toed hiking sandals because it’s inevitable that you’re feet will get wet but at least in this case they might also eventually dry out. Galoshes would probably be the most appropriate footwear for this bog but who has room for that in their luggage?

Day 6:  Can you believe it’s been 6 days and Scotland and I’m just now hearing bagpipes? Its coming from the town of KingGUSSIE but I’m hearing it all the way up in the glen. I would have clapped for him if I thought he might hear me. I recall my friend Patrick playing his pipes out by the generators in Saudi Arabia. He was the Clan Bard so he had to stay on top of his game.

How do I know that my health is not as it should be? Because anyone else would have dropped 10 pounds on a trip like this. Covering so many miles, on two feet or two wheels and sustained on 2 kind bars and 5 Hour energy shots, both which I have been forced to ration at this point.

One of my acquaintances remarked on a picture I posted on social media saying “You look like you were having a blast!” Do I?

Walking or driving through Scotland require the same precautions: You have to stop before you look up. I tripped and slipped a lot for someone who fancies herself a dancer. Speaking of, there is a brief swing dance this evening on the outskirts of Edinburg. I’m hoping I can muster up enough energy to go. I might finally meet some locals.

I occasionally see locals out walking their dogs through the woods while wearing headphones and I am tempted to ask them if they are listening to Robbie Williams.

The violent crime rate here it is quite low. Why do you suppose that is? Did they get it out of their blood centuries ago and have nothing left to fight about?

Day 7 of my personal challenge. I was no longer calling it a vacation or a holiday and nearing the end of it, it meant nothing more to me than a series of checks in the boxes. I wanted this to be over. I felt trapped in Edinburgh which was the NYC equivalent for Scotland. I was staying in the hood in a shared slummy flat with an uncomfortable young french couple. The only good thing about slumming it was being surrounded by thrift shops and Middle Eastern food. But then, I was too fat to shop or eat, or so says hateful company. The swing dance the night before was pleasant but not unlike a swing dance back home: Still more women and men and older men preoccupied on picking up young women. I liked that they all danced Lindy and they even thought I was ‘pretty good’, although I was quite exhausted and knew I wouldn’t last more than 2 hours. One of my partners remarked “You sound a bit American”.

“I am a bit American.”

“Oh that’s alright,” he replied as if to console me of my unfortunate circumstances, “We welcome everyone here except the English.”

But after the dance, it was all downhill. If you dislike the city, get in the car and go somewhere else, I told myself. You can go anywhere. Except home. If I were in a proper hotel room I might go back and have a bath and a nap to see if that improved my mood but that wasn’t an option. So what to do with myself on the staircase in the shadow of Edinburgh castle with a dying phone?

I took 2 bites of my food and tossed it. Ate my pills. I was choking up at the sight of every passing family.  Malcolm, the youthful 60 – something invited me back to Stirling for wine and nudity if Edinburg was not to my liking. Meanwhile, I asked my beautiful server if drinking and entire carafe of wine by myself made me a lush, he responded quickly, “No, it makes you a hero”.

I was now busting my data plan in order to text him, my former roommate-for-a-minute? Why him? He volunteered “You feel sorry for me?” No, I was feeling sorry for myself. No doubt we were both lonely, strangers in new cities but still, I have other friends, better friends that I could be sharing this experience with. “Im not alone cuz my cell phones on yeah…” I think as Jimmy Eat World plays in my head.

In another attempt to meet locals, I log into couchsurfer where a single dad from Edinburgh invites me to meet his group later for drinks. But I’m already drinking and people watching. I pick out a man in a group of suits at a nearby table. I take measure of his hands before I ever reach his face. Manicured, resting on his thigh…Large but large enough to cover my breast? I rip my gaze away. Self conscious, but I drink more than one person should, because the beautiful server who leaned too close said I was a “hero”, not a lush. It’s been 17 months now since anyone touched me. I fiddle with my wine glass, fiddle with my phone, as if I was just killing time til I had somewhere to be, someone to meet. As if I had someone.

Eventually I start walking again. The bar with the single dad is 2 miles away. I pass the Hard Rock Edinburgh where tuxedo’ed bouncers guarded the front and ushered in ladies struggling to stay upright in stillettos. Thank goodness he didn’t want to meet there. But turned out the bar he did want to meet in was nearby and equally “bougie”. The bouncers still let me in despite me looking like I had just crawled out of a loch, which wasn’t far from the truth. I had showered and put on lipstick but I was still in an Old Navy jacket and hiking sandals. After several failed attempts to locate the single dad and his group amidst this crowd (but more importantly, failed attempts on my part to get close enough to the bar to order), I wandered back outside and started walking again. I found myself in Greyfriars Cemetery at a quarter til midnight. The sun had finally set in it’s entiretly and I could see nothing but it was a refuge from the growing clamor of the nightlife beyond so I sat. A passing ghost tour was spooked by me but soon I was alone with the dead again. I think I may have even nodded off for a minute before my phone buzzed. Somehow I made it back to the slummy flat although I may have been sleepwalking.

Day 8. I slept in and woke up bleeding. Not that I was truly expecting or even looking to get laid by some burly Scotsman on this trip but this just ensured I wouldn’t. My fun-meter is pegged. I went for coffee then got my nails done. Still feeling dissatisfied, I set out for the last check in the box: Arthurs Arse. Thats what I call “Arthurs Seat”, if I had anyone to talk to. Barely beyond the road, the trail steepened and became quite slippery. I trudged a short bit then sat on a rock, feeling lightheaded as other climbers slipped around and past me. All I could think about was returning to the slummy flat, inform the uncomfortable french couple that I was leaving early, throw my bag into the car and head straight for the Holiday Inn at Glasgow airport. I turned and gave Arthur’s Arse my middle finger “Fuck you, I’m done.”

By 5p, Edinburgh was in my rear view. Glasgow traffic was no longer daunting after 8 days on the road. I even found Kimchi Cult in a last ditch attempt to find flavor in Scotland. Fermented food is not shy on flavor so I may not leave Scotland starving after all.

There was a wedding reception underway as I checked in at the hotel. Does it sound catty of me to note that the men were all hot kilted Scots while their ladies looked like an episode of my Big Fat Gypsy Wedding? If the boys liked em that size, maybe I’d have a shot here after all. Well, too late for that. Besides, I’m bleeding. I grabbed a big glass of red from the bar and headed straight to the room to run a hot bath.

Day 9. Going home. I admitted to him that I was ready to come home because I was lonely but the truth is, I’m lonely at home too; not coming home TO anyone. The only difference is being home provides distractions like work and dance. And my dog. I miss my dog. He said he was lonely too, and scared. My initial thought was that he didn’t understand having only been single off and on for a few months tops but on second thought, he was with someone for so long, it must be alien for him to be alone in bed, to come home to no one. So to each his/her own brand of lonely.

I was still puzzled why I spent nearly the entire trip staying in touch with him? We have no history. We never were nor ever will be anything to each other but I cling to him like I clung to “C”, a man who tried to shake my grip from the arm of his coat. Let go, girl!

Reality check time, I returned to The List: Among all the ways he doesn’t measure up is his apparent lack of passion. Do I know for a fact he lacks passion and is not up to par in the sack? No, but it’s the impression I get.. Oh I could make him feel better than he’s ever felt before, but that would be gratifying for only so long. Eventually I would want it to be my turn, someone to push me to my knees and tell me I’m a good girl while playing with my hair as I serve him with my mouth… I can’t even imagine that being something he would even think to do. Missionary Man, this one. Maybe sleeping with him would cure me of wanting him, I wondered. But I’m home. It’s raining here too except it’s warm and smells like salt so I don’t mind. The fact that it took me more than two weeks to even finish this ‘entry’ is further evidence that this “bucketlist trip” was a chore. Maybe I’ll have fonder memories of it later. But to anyone who criticises me for my seeming ungratefulness at this “opportunity”, it was an opportunity because I created it. I tapped into my savings to pay for it, worked overtime to get enough time off. It was a milestone birthday and I had expectations that were not realized. No one “gave” me anything. I worked hard to make this happen. My trip. My birthday. My let-down.

“It’s a lonely road where the forgotten go…” ~Elle King

There’s a song for that. A lyric to compliment every thought, feeling. They come to me the way my brother quotes movies in place of conversation. But right now, I can only thing of two lines: This is the world’s slowest suicide & happiness is my writers block. I can lay claim to neither. They come from writers, bloggers such as myself, with a much larger following than I have. And rightfully so because of lines like that. I think “That’s it! That’s EXACTLY what I was trying to say but you found the words first”. Tipping my hat to “MyRedAbyss” here. Yes, this feels like a slow suicide. And yes, happiness, or really just apathy leave me too uninspired or tired to write. I also challenged myself not to write anything until I could spit out something lighthearted for a change. So I waited.
And still wait.
Depression sucks the life out of me slowly and yet…
I wonder if I’m getting better? Either the medication adjustment is working or I’m getting over him. Or maybe the medication is the reason I’m getting over him. The doctor tweaked the dose. Instead of the archaic formulary that the VA prefers, she wrote me a prescription to take to a drugstore. Because at least for the moment, I have health insurance and can afford ‘the good stuff’. I’m almost afraid to admit I’m regaining a sense of balance and control. Like if I acknowledge it, it will disappear. G-d is such a prankster. Ha!
But I’m also starting to hate him. Or so I tell myself. As pain ages, it turns bitter and black. Love gone rancid.
But I continue to get out of bed (most days), go to work, dance if I can muster the energy, go through the motions of living. Watch the days fall off the calendar and teeter somewhere between ambivalence and panic: three months since I saw him. I’ll never see him again. Four months until my birthday. I’m never going to have children now.
It’s always worst when I first wake and as I’m trying to fall asleep. That is when I feel my loneliness most acutely. During the day, I stay busy. Surrounded by living, breathing people. I am the walking dead among them. Then Im in bed, alone and the truth settles like mud around me.
I reactivated an online dating profile a week ago. Is it unreasonable that I ignore every message of “What up, gurl?” What. Not What’s. I could even accept ‘whats’ because I think punctuation is overrated. Maybe those gawdawful talk-to-text programs dropped the ‘s’. But even those programs do not spell “girl” with a ‘u’ so then I know it’s intentional. First impressions are important. Would you walk into a job interview and open with “What up, gurl?”  There are two men I have established some regular contact with…ugh, that sounds so alien and cold to put it that way: I shall establish communications with these humans and begin the vetting process to determine whether or not romantic relations should be pursued. Live long and prosper. I have a bad attitude going in though. Dating is a chore and I’m still unable to shake that feeling that there is no one else on the whole planet that I want or will ever want more than him. My Lightning Strike.
Even though he lacks integrity, used and abandoned me like I was less than nothing. I know this. I remind myself. I even wrote it down in case I ever ‘forgot’.
But back to feeling better.
I also caved and agreed to try therapy again. Cognative therapy is not the bloodletting like my past experience with counseling. Funny, we dont even really talk about him. Maybe she doesnt feel like we need to. What she is trying to do is train me to think differently. WHen I feel that trigger and the thoughts, which lead to feelings, begin the downward spiral, I hit ‘pause’, step outside myself and begin to dissect each thought by asking “Is this logical? Is it based on fact or assumption? …” I dont know if this is truly re-wiring my head or just putting it in ‘time out’.  This out-of-mind experience, if I keep it up long enough, is almost like counting to calm down. Re-direction, like making a loud noise to distract a dog whose hackles begin to raise and ears flatten.
Oh but it’s so poetic to suffer! I am a martyr! Am I no longer ‘legit’ if I put my demons to bed rather than dance with them?
I got my American Legion membership card in the mail today. Yay! Now I can karaoke in the middle of the day and get shit-faced for $10 alongside toothless Vietnam vets and my brethren spawned of this last decade’s fucked-upedness.
And I didnt go dancing tonight. I was half compelled to go. No, really less than a quarter compelled. I think I could have benefited from catching up with some friends there. I was even dressed for it. As if dressing the part would be enough to motivate me. But here it is, the time I would be leaving the dancefloor to come home and get to bed and Im alraedy there: in bed, wearing a teal swing dress and hair pinned up with a large flower. And typing. Exhausted but envious of the snoring dog beside me.
I anticipate a few restless nights as the moon fills up. Tomorrow is Passover. My mother said “Maybe next year…” when I asked if we would have a seder. Saturday is a blood moon and I’ll email him and ask him to think of me, of us, and the full moon illuminating the hills of Konar Province, Afghanistan. And I’ll burn stuff. And Sunday, Easter sunrise, I’ll join my family at my father’s graveside.
But here. Watch this. Like Taylor Swift’s Twerking Tunnel, this lifts my spirits:

Blood! And froggies! And lice all over their bodies!

“Your mess is mine…” ~Vance Joy

I woke to a heavy heart. Dreamt of him. Not a good dream. I wish I didn’t remember my dreams so vividly because they play out in my head all day like a memory of something real.

I compare my moods to a game of shuffle board: I’m hung up on a feeling until something else–good or bad– comes along to knock that original feeling out of the way or push it deeper into my psyche.

I hate December.

My thoughts are racing so much these days!

I’m up!

I’m enjoying the sight of my Hooker Tree ( a hot pink tinsel Christmas Tree loaded down with sci-fi geekery) with a kitschy blue electric menorah burning beside it in the window.

Then I plunge: He goes home in a week and a half. I have one weekend left with him. And I panic. My stomach lurches and my heart feels like its trying to break my ribs.

Happy thoughts! I tell myself. I brew decaf coffee (with my anxiety, I can’t have caffeine anymore) and the smell soothes me. I light candles and open the back patio door to let the fresh chilly air purge the funk that I am releasing into my environment. I buy a few gifts online for my family.

Then I look at my phone. Nothing from him today. So attentive when we are together but when we are not…Last weekend as I got in my car, he leans in through the window to kiss me and says “Love you, drive safe.” I started because Im the one with the bleeding heart, always dropping the “L” bomb on him. He hasnt said it to me. But this was a slip of habit, I know. Like him hugging a family member (or his clinically insane wife) and the automatic, obligatory “love you, drive safe” comes out. He probably didnt even realize he let it slip out and if he did, he probably thought “Crap, hope she didnt catch that”. But what I wouldnt give for him to say those words on purpose.

I’m up! We’re drinking cheap wine, eating pizza and laughing. He’s such a lightweight! Two glasses of wine and he’s giggling like a girl. We’re in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do but hang out and watch movies. And it’s wonderful! Until the crazy starts pouring in again on his phone.

He has more baggage than anyone I’ve ever met. I try to be strong, I want him to lean on me, but he hates that I internalize his problems. But that’s what happens when you care about someone. You want to help and when they hurt, you hurt.

Because of this, he makes no promises. He doesnt talk about a future of ‘we’. He focuses on the now. He has to: Custody battle first, then divorce, then the next career move then…what? It’s not that he doesnt consider the future, he doesnt consider the future with me as a factor, as a Major Player in his life. Or if he does, the doesnt tell me. He just doesnt want to let me down. Or get my hopes up.
I told him, “Remember when I said I had no expectations and would be content if we came out of this as friends? I lied. I cant be your friend. I still have no expectations but I DO have hope.”

And I’m down. He’s not even gone yet but if this is a precursor–a taste– of the despair that is to follow when he leaves soon…G-d help me.

We both need something good to happen in our lives. Just give us ONE solid “win” on the board.

Aint no sunshine when hes gone

He came to visit me for the weekend. To wrap my arms around someone I was convinced I would never see again, it was the first time in my life that ive ever cried with happiness. It was more than wonderful.  I slept soundly and through the night wrapped in his arms. Like the boogeyman dare not enter with him beside me. It was the happiest I had been in years,  maybe ever. The morning he had to leave, I lay there breathing in his scent and thinking “I love you, I love you…please G-d dont tAke him from me…”  That’s not to say that I’ve never been in love or cried over a man before him, Im saying I have never felt THIS. His spirit speaks to mine. His nature is perfectly complimentary to mine. In one another, we could find rest at last. Not perfection and all-roses, not without challenges,  but a peace and satisfaction that few have ever enjoyed. Certainly neither of us. Not with anyone else.
His only fault may be communication. He sucks at it.  And he has more baggage than any man Ive ever met. But I told him I was not afraid of that weight. The only reason I would walk away is because unless he takes care of…things…there will come a time that I will want more than he give. I already want more.
I dont know if hes in love with me yet. Hes not vocal about his feelings, unlike me (there’s that communication issue again) but he is working to get his life in order and he says he wants me to be part of it. And I love him beyond words so I wait. For now. I hope to see him again a few times over the next three weeks but after that, when he goes home, a couple thousand miles between us, will he forget me? When he wrapped me up and said “I forgot how good you feel” I replied “I didn’t forget you. Not any part of you.” 

“Whiskey and wine, night after night, you haunt me” ~Sir Sly

(Rated R- for sexual content and adult language)

I awoke with the taste of him between my teeth. My lips resting against the bare skin of his back. Breathing him in, his warmth. Was it really only three months ago? I ache for him more than I ever thought possible. I beg for strength, for release, for G-d to bring us back together: If it could be then let it be! I beg and pray and they are one and the same.

He communicates in spurts. I was a normal functioning human being last week because I heard from him daily. Several times a day. So often that it was almost like having a real conversation. He said he was helping his son with a report on ISIS. I said “I refer to that organization as the Prom Queen: So popular this year and everyone wants a piece of their ass.” He told his son, who thought it was the funniest thing ever. I said “I’ll give him $10 to put it in his report”. He came back “Make it $20 and he will say it in front of the class”.

Later when his son went to bed, we continued to ‘chat’ while he drank whiskey out of a coffee mug. He admittedly had been drinking every night since he got back home from overseas. Still, we don’t talk about her although I hint and jab. When he told me his son broke up with a “moody, manipulative bitch” of a girlfriend and got himself a sweet, cute, normal girl, I said “You could take a lesson from your son.” No comment. Our ‘conversation’ turned erotic. I was never much for ‘sexting’ or cyber sex until him. I fantasize about him constantly and like to give him the details. It’s no exaggeration when I say I can go from zero to orgasm in less than a minute thinking of him. I tell him to think of me on my knees, his hands in my hair while I worship him with my mouth. I tell him to think of how wet and hot I am as he’s deep inside me and I ride him hard. Later as he’s cleaning himself up, I think: How sad is this? That this man is masturbating to me alone in his living room while his wife is..where? Sleeping upstairs? Where the hell is she? Does he get rid of her somehow while he’s got the kids around? I said “Things must be okay between you and the wife since the kids are staying with you at the house this weekend rather than a hotel.” No comment.

Later, I get him worked up again and when he explodes, I tell him “Good boy…” He laughs “Now should I get my ass to the kitchen and do the dishes?” I said “No, baby, your job is to fuck me from behind while I do the dishes”. I like to remind him that I am truly domestic and old fashioned, like a sex crazed June Cleaver meets a Kat Von D-looking Rachel Ray. He jokes “Wait, so I don’t have to do all the cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry…and I still get sex? What movie is this??” I replied quickly and firmly “It’s called ‘Fourth Times a Charm’”. I like to remind him of all the ways I am not like her or anyone else he has ever met before.

I am considered a ‘switch’ in certain circles but the truth is, no one has ever truly dominated me. Until him. He is an Alpha-male through and through and we compliment and satisfy each other perfectly, not only sexually but it creates a balanced relationship overall. We could be great together. We could be exactly what each other needs, not just wants. For the first time in my life, I have met my match. And he’s not available.
And I don’t know if he ever will be. I don’t know how he feels about me. I always tell him. But I don’t ask. I figure, when he’s ready…

But that was last Sunday. That’s what I get for feeling good for a moment. A few days goes by and I’m not only living out of a suitcase all week for work but I have a string of nightmares about him. I finally send a desperate message “Please just tell me you are okay”. He responded with “Im here, Im okay. I have just been extremely preoccupied these last few days. I’m so sorry. I’ll try to fill you in soon. In the meantime, get some sleep, no more nightmares!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Another few days has gone by since then. The nightmares have ceased for the moment but my mood has plummeted. It’s Halloween night –my favorite holiday—and I’m alone in a hotel room, wondering what he’s doing, who he’s with. Is he dressed up with his wife at some costume party? What is he ‘preoccupied’ with to the extent that he cant ‘talk to text’ into his phone and tell me what is going on? Was his wife out of town and now she’s not and he doesn’t have the privacy he did last week? Shit, then go sit on the toilet in the bathroom and write me then!

I’m worried. I’m anxious. I’m jealous. I’m lonely. And depressed.

Months ago, I applied for a few jobs on a whim that I figured I didn’t hae a shot in hell at. Ive been musing for years about needing a ‘do over’, about having been in one place too long, worn out my welcome with my old friends…but I’m not making an effort to leave. I apply for jobs I know I wont get. Then I got a phone call. Then they flew me out to one of my favorite spots—Savannah—to interview. They flew me in, got me a nice rental car, put me up in a suite and encouraged me to hang out all weekend and get the feel of the place. I have another commitment this weekend that prevents me from doing that but I AM impressed at the treatment. Ive never had a company court me before. My experience over the years is I am like a mortgage, passed off from one company to the next and rolling with the punches to the gut of pay cuts and a parade of shitty bosses. This job would mean stability. It would mean a pay cut, at least initially, but it would also mean swift promotion potential. The cost of living here is comparable to where I already live too. So what’s the hold up? I’m scared.

There are other things I must also consider for my own mental health, like the dancing and dating scene. The dance scene doesn’t seem to have as much to offer as I first thought, considering this is a town that is the home of an enormous fine arts university. And I did a little surfing on the dating sites and while the pool of single men is significantly smaller here, I remind myself that being in a large pond hasn’t done shit for me in the last decade. It’s about ratio of men to women. It hasn’t been in my favor and it only gets tougher as I get older. So I sent a message to 3 or 4 Savannah-based fellahs, introducing myself, saying that I was in the area and contemplating a move here and wanted to know if they might be interested in meeting for a drink or at least giving me some ideas of where to go to experience it like a Native; ie: get me off touristy River Street. None replied. I know that is a small sampling and I probably shouldn’t read TOO much into it but I didn’t take it as a good sign.

My interview went well this morning and I’m absolutely certain that theyw ill offer me the job so afterwards, I spent the rest of the day and night, driving and walking around, trying to figure out if I could live here. Being 10 minutes away from a beautiful beach at home, I made it a point to drive out to Tybee Ilsand here. But a beach is not a beach. The shore was limited and unimpressive. The sand coarse and gray rather than soft and white. The water deep, tumultuous and threatening, unlike the peaceful lapping at my beach. Such are the differences between the Atlantic and the Gulf. Then I drove back into downtown Savannah but found that the charm and awe I always felt on previous trips to this beautiful old city were lost in my loneliness. If I moved here, I would be leaving my entire support system. My family and a handful of friends who I (hope I) can rely on to rescue me from myself if things get ‘that bad’. Then I found out about the travel this job would require. A few weeks each month traveling to Boston, Texas, England, Hong Kong…part of me still longs to travel but that is quite a LOT of travel. Doesn’t leave time to cultivate relationships. And then I wouldn’t have anyone to watch my pets while I was away. If this job were local to where I live now, I have family who can care for my beloved Zoo but if I took this job here, I couldn’t bring them with me. So then I would be TRULY alone: no friends, no family, and no cuddly adoring critters to remind me daily that I am loved and needed. Oh but you’ll make new friends, you say. Not necessarily. Savannah is full of tourists and college kids. My potential future co-workers were all married with children. Moving here, I would be alone, alone, alone…Not a single soul, unless you count the one haunting wherever I’d live.

“I will not always love what I can never have. I will not always live in regret.” ~Jimmy Eat World

My fever broke today. It only took 7 weeks.

A half a tab of Xanax and a glass of water by my bed, just waiting for the alarm to go off and my anxious heart to start thudding.

But today, I got out of bed without it.

And I made it to work without it.

And I made it through work without it.

Day 1.

For all my prayer and meditation and hinting and begging and writing and crying… all I got in return was Silence.

So I wrote to you, perhaps the last handwritten letter.

You never gave any indication that you read any of them and it hurts me to think that you might have let them stack up, like an obligation or a homework assignment that you kept putting off.

I hoped to never regret you. I had hoped I meant as much to you as you did to me.

And I told you I love you. I didnt say it to make a play for you. It doesn’t matter that you’re married and live 1,000 miles away. It doesn’t matter if you’ve changed your mind, or forgotten what you loved about me, or that I was just a crutch to lean on, a means to an end, to be used and be discarded as soon as I was out of sight. It doesnt matter that/if you found a new crutch as soon as I was gone. I fell in love and I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t think it is ever a bad thing to love someone or to tell that person that they are loved.

I also re-joined online dating sites; I didnt tell you that in some sad attempt to make you jealous. I told you that to alleviate any concerns you may have that I could potentially turn into a ‘stalker’ and cause problems for you. Even I have a little more pride than to chase a man who doesn’t want me. I know even if you do slay your dragons, you have no intention of ever coming for me. So I’m just trying to press on, pray for you, pray for me, pray that we both find what we need, not just what we want.

I want you. I expect I always will. Because you were a lightning strike and that hasn’t happened to me in many years. But I won’t wait for the Never.

I hope that I still cross your mind sometimes and you think to drop me an email to let me know you’re alive and well. You said you would. But that was weeks—an eternity ago, when you promised that.

I’ll never look at a full moon the same.

I love you.