Sunday, June 29, 2008

Session 12

We poured our way through the outdoor crowd that had amassed at the St. Exspendy Hotel's patio, everyone moving to the Brazilian beats of the band pumping out the rhythm of the evening from the gazebo in the center of the grass, and made our way to the stairs that eased down into the lawn.

This was no event for a wallflower. Everyone was dancing in a mass of movement. My eyes were wide, taking it all in the evening light, and scanning the crowd. I was with two of my most favorite people, looking for another one of my favorite persons -- my rolfer. It was a bit like trying to find Waldo.

The three of us were out on a girls night, and we were fabulous in every way possible. It was an honor to spend the evening with these supportive lovelies, as I have never really busted a move, or found my groove, or whatever happens to the body when feeling the music. But I was posed with a pinky-swear sworn over dinner prior to our arrival at the St. Exspendy Hotel: I was to dance if asked. This was a big step for me, on many fronts. An even bigger step, perhaps, to realize that you don't necessarily need a partner to get down to the seductive rhythm at this scene.

At long last, we found the purpose of our quest. After a warm welcome and an invitation to dance the next one, I honored that pinky swear.

"I've never really danced before," I said, trying to be heard above the crowd.

He looked down at me in disbelief: "You've never danced before?!"

"Only the polka, and I don't think that counts."

"Well, this can be session 12." he smiled. "I'll teach you. This one's easy..."

And it was. Gracias a dios.

Soul Mate or Stalemate?

"Guess who I've been talking to?" my friend Nate asked, somewhat sheepishly.

I looked puzzled for a moment.

"You probably won't be happy about it..." he clued.

"Oh... her." I said trying to hide the cringe in my voice regarding his on / off relationship of the past few years.

"She wants to get back together. I just don't know. Part of me really wants to." he admitted.

"But what about all that crazy stuff that happened?" I asked him wide eyed.

"It's so hard to find people with the same values as you. And, I feel like we're soul mates." he said.

"You probably are," I mused.

I smiled and thought of another passage from Eat, Pray, Love. One that illuminated the meaning of the ephemeral line "soul mates" quite well for me. As the author was conflicted with the thought of ending a relationship with a lover in which she had been involved in an emotionally intense on-again/off-again relationship, she said he felt like her soul mate. Her conversation partner at the ashram replied with this passage:

"He probably was. Your problem is that you don't understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too Painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it."

The question arises: At what point do our soul mates become stalemates?

To thine own self

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

It seems so easy to say "be true to yourself." It's an entirely different thing to actually live it. To be clear enough to listen to the voice in the back of your head, the one that's guiding your highest purpose.

The morning before Kyle proposed (11/05), I had a hunch what he was up to -- only about 99% sure, however, so I didn't ask for details. And I wrote this in a post in my homegrown blog:

"I talked to my dear dear friend last night for 2 hours. We talked about going to weddings and the benefits of leaving our significant others at home for the sake of their own weekend enjoyment--and our own. And we talked about differences and growing apart, about choices and preferences and what we can and cannot live with and with out. We talked about having someone else "get us" (to which she said, "Ali, you are hard to get," which made me feel infinitely better). We talked about asking yourself those hard questions that make you cry because you know the answer but you don't want to live through the outcome, about letting go, about listening to your gut and sorting through the levels of desires to find what it is that is really what you want, about how to find your way back, and about being true, being true, being true, to yourself. "

I had been pondering a metric ton of things, besides my masters thesis proposal, at that point in time. And it made me nervous, almost to the point of nausea.

When Kyle got down on one knee in his snowshoes on that snowy wooded trail by the frozen lake... and showed me the ring I picked out months before, I was in a queasy quandary: Coming from weeks of considering "what the heck am I doing?" and standing with cold toesies facing him, wondering what I was getting myself into or wanting to get out of, all I could muster was a wimpy, half-assed "sure."

I knew then what I know now, but reason was much stronger than feeling. Rationalization trumped the gut.

In a note from the universe emailed to me earlier this spring, the message said:

You can always ask yourself what the "wisest you" would do,
And prepare to be astounded.

The Universe

PS. Just don't answer back out loud, or you may raise a few eyebrows.

Truth & Consequences

Excerpt from April '08:

So, I have this rash. [...]

Remember that Dharma & Greg episode from Season two when Dharma gets fed up with parking meters and decides to run for office? She tries to go about it all democratically and honestly, like a peaceful flower child, but winds up turning to the political dark side as she gets caught up in winning the race, and her physical body is outraged (outbreak, swelling, cold, etc.)?

That's how I feel. It has spread over my arms, unannounced but ever present. Itchy and annoying.

I'm in the car, and I just read the first line of Eat, Pray, Love: "Tell the truth. Tell the truth. Tell the truth."

This has evoked enough tears to start a new lake. The rest of the book, at least by chapter 2, I'm kind of a mess in the passenger side. There's nothing like reading a book and feeling like you're living through an abridged version.

What's a girl to do when she has everything she needs by outside standards -- but still isn't happy? Isn't filling her soul? Isn't giving that inner voice of intuition and gut the volume it it's asking for? You can only silence / shelve the movement of the soul's journey for so long... and then it goes to drastic measures to tell the rest of you what needs to happen. Stat.

Hence, my rash.

At this point, I don't want to be married anymore. Not feelin it. And that's scary to say outloud.

We've embarked on a road trip that's got the mild literal and metaphorical flavor of a homecoming, tracing places and themes from our old story: A cousin's wedding and all the family, a visit with dad and a dear source of deep belly laughs, a visit to the idyllic lake cabin - a place of initiation 6 years ago almost to the date (and perhaps a crucial turning point that leads directly to where I am now, if I track back far enough. In the words of Celine, It's all coming back to me now.), some brotherly love and the other half of the relatives in the uppermost upper Midwest. All totalled: a week plus, of whirlwind stops and connections before we load up and continue on the next scheduled leg of the trip, with the fluffy dog in tow.

...And, an awkward space between us until the long ride home, when seemingly everything -- every raw, honest thought at that moment -- came out. It was liberating. I felt lighter. And my rash was gone.

Ode de toilette

I am a firm believer that the first initial test of the worthiness of any guy in your life begins in the bathroom. Specifically, what he chooses to do with the toilet seat.

I've lived with roommates who I'd classify in the same category as other rectal orifices, and it all showed in the bathroom mess they left behind.

There once was this one beau who I had this HUGE crush on in undergrad. He lived close enough to come over frequently for the hot tub. This always excited me to extreme giddiness, until the day he used the restroom pre-soak. I used the water closet after him, and to my horror - the seat was up. There were drips. I realized then and there that we were not meant to be. But we could still be friends.

When I met Kyle, he put the seat and the lid down. That one perpetuated habit alone granted him years of bonus points. To the extent that when people would ask why we're still together, I'd have to really think about it. 'Why are we together?' I'd ask myself, mildly perplexed. 'Why am I taking so long to answer? This should be an easier question...' Then I'd just smile and come up with: "He's a good guy." Or something equally light and ambiguous. When it really all came down to that one reassuring incident when I walked into the loo as a ray of heavenly light shone down upon a perfectly tended to throne.

The O in my alphabet

"The O in my alphabet is missing," I confessed to the table. "...And, I really doubt that it's female sexual dysfunction."

"Wait," they said in unison. "You've never had an orgasm?"

"I don't think so, at least nothing mind blowing..." she said with a shrug. "Nothing really tingly, either, come to think of it."

Lizzy and Sara looked at each other in disbelief. "Well if you have to think about it, you probably haven't had one," Lizzy offered matter of factly.

I sighed. "This whole between the sheets tussle has really never been that great since day one. But Kyle never seems to have a problem..."

"You need to get a vibrator. I'm telling you -- it changed my life!" Sara pitched.

"What about getting a little drinking buzz on to loosen up before getting it on? Sometimes that's all it takes to really let go," Lizzy asked.

"But I want to be present, to really experience it, to own it, everywhere. I want to feel something expansive, like I've been opened up. I don't think he's ever really done that for me. I don't know if that's something that alternative buzzes can fix."

As the conversation continued, I kept thinking of a passage from Eat, Pray, Love, a book that was lent to me with perfect timing. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, writes:

"One thing I do know about intimacy is that there are certain natural laws which govern the sexual experience of two people, and that these laws cannot be budged any more than gravity can be negotiated with. To feel physically comfortable with someone else's body is not a decision you can make. It has very little to do with how two people think or act or talk or even look. The mysterious magnet is either there, buried somewhere deep beneath the sternum, or it's not. When it isn't there (as I have learned in the past with heartbreaking clarity) you can no more force it to exist than a surgeon can force a patient's body to accept a kidney from the wrong donor. My friend Annie says it comes down to one simple question: "Do you want your belly to be pressed against this person's belly -- or not?""

Friday, June 27, 2008

Out the window

She came home past her normally scheduled bedtime, tossed the keys on the counter, and let the dog out, still in her summer patagucci dress. Thoughts from the evening crashed along the shores of her mind, like the waves on the Na Pali coast on a full moon night in February -- loud and continuous. As she locked the door, she whimsily wished it would keep the thoughts out, too.

As she changed into her most favorite PJ's, she opened the bedroom window to feel the cool night air, and she smiled to her self as she gazed wistfully out into the twilight. As if on cue, she began to hum a few lines from "Come to my window." "When the door is locked, there's always a window..." she said to herself and listened as the crickets sang their night hymns.

She had always wanted a lover to come to her window. A welcome and impromptu visit. Whispers through the screen, warmth, embrace, moonlight... That would be so romantical.

She smiled again at this thought, glanced at her left hand, sighed, and slid the window shut.


While sketching out my love for Kale and filling it in with green and purple colored pencil, enchanted by nature's most fabulous color combination, I glanced over at Ginny as she flipped through the pages of Vogue looking for pieces for her impending collage.

"Oh! this one is a definite possibility," she said as she held up the page she was looking at.

My eyes got big as I cast my gaze at the luscious image facing me. I moaned. "OMG, that's not a possibility," I replied. "That's a definite."

It was the most beautiful image I had seen in a while. Enough to instantly transport me into fantasy land. Depicted was Kate Moss in a fitting and billowing dress held up to her hips, being held by a sultry, sweaty, fit Latin American male. They were enrapt in the mood of whatever Latin dance they grooved to. Hot.

I had to keep peering into Ginny's pile of possible collage candidate images to sneak peeks, and each time I could barely believe my eyes. "I need to stop looking at this!" I laughed as I reached for a mango slice. "This will lock me into fantasy land with no way out."

"There's nothing wrong with fantasy land. It's such a nice respite from real life...." She assumed her role as impromptu relationship counselor for the evening.

"Yes, indeed. But I can't get any work done when I'm trapped there...," I thought out loud.

"Everyone needs a little beauty in their life. Here you, go. This is for you." She handed me the beloved pictograph of ecstasy, with a big smile on her face. With giggles of gratitude, I slipped the image into my biggie notebook of manifestations, next to the Kale.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


In the writer's almanac, just a few days ago, there was this excerpt from Ulysses, by James Joyce, Chapter: Penelope:

"Molly's soliloquy ends, "O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibralter as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Morrish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

Wow -- "my mountain flower," all those yesses, the exasperation, the opening -- it made me breathless. And I remembered a line from my favorite astrologer, Rob Brezsny, a line that I had transferred in passionate handwriting on the cover of my notebook for RLST 405: The Psyche & The Sacred my sophomore year of undergrad:

"yes she said and again yes and his hands and yes she said again she said yes."

I adored that steamy and definitive (she said yes!) ramble. Yes. Yes. Yes.

On some level, I ached for that yes. I wanted to be all breathy and heaving and feel it, to feel the YES in all of its exclamation. (Maybe, in the back of my mind, I wanted it too much -- being as unrequited as I was -- and all that grasping usually hold no manifestation for fulfillment, right?) Lack of willing participants aside, I wanted to be so radically open to receive such an intense moment of desire, to be that badly desired, to be consumed by the fire until there was nothing left.

Some people shoot heroine. I just wanted a lover.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cosmic shifts

I just wrote this in an email to a friend:

"things in my life... are in a (sometimes murky) seemingly state of limbo. Kyle & I are all-out pondering the 'state of our union' and those such matters. It's going well, but like all shifts and transitions -- who knows what will come of it."

We are not alone, however. This is a cosmic shift - of epic proportions. Pluto has moved into Capricorn, feelings are weighing more than rationalizations, and things are heaving and erupting in the wide world of intimate relationships. My tea house girls are in the same space as me. Kyle's friends are sharing their sagas. My mom just nixed her dead weight. Kyle met our realtor last weekend at the grocery store, and she mentioned that there are a lot of homes for sale because of all the divorces lately.

In couples counseling two weeks ago, I brought this up to our therapist. His eyes got big. "It's an epidemic," he said. "And, our knowledge of world history that we memorized in school doesn't give us the tools we need to handle and grow relationships...."

Origins & Oscillations

Back in Senior High, I would meet my friend Alissa at the barn after class. We'd groom our horses until they glistened while we chatted like ... well, girls. In no time, we'd have mounted our most trusted steeds and confidants and ride off through the fields and forests, carrying with us the fervor and excitement of a conversation about... well, boys namely, and other interrelated minutia. Our rides were full of the fresh laughter and innocence of virgins filled with wonder and intrigue about all those would be firsts. Who would it be? What would it be like? Would it be messy? The curiosity of our conversations would be drown out by the rhythm of hoof beats in the soft dirt of the fields as we raced the butterflies through the tall grass.

"We could write a book!" I exclaimed from my saddle.

"We could call it 'Kissing Lessons'" Alissa replied, and our mirth, hopes and curiosities filled the trails through the pines.

Racing 10 years into the late spring of 2008: after years of experiences in the realms of love and relationship, and many stories worth telling, I found myself sitting in a rose garden at a local tea house for happy hour with two other beautiful and intelligent women in the same situation as myself. We were all still in our first relationship of 6 years -- first being the operative word. As we opened up our stories and dished them up to the table, we found similar variations on many themes.

But, more importantly, in light of the lack of comparison to any other relationship, we still were full of questions and uncertainty: Is this really what it's all about? Is this really it? What else is out there? Does everyone go through this? Are most people settling for relationships like this? WTF?!

What DO you do when all you know is a first love?

It all got me thinking -- that table of 3 lovely women who's firsts were really firsts & and the interrelated matter re: relationships that follows-- that these are much needed conversations, for women of all ages. Each story is another chapter of the book, another post on the blog roll.

What I took away from this much needed exchange, besides knowing that I'm not alone in my situation, was that these conversations need to be had for the sake of this awareness, for the sake of the storytelling. I realized that most people (I can only really speak for some women) are stifled in their relationship, but are either afraid to ask questions, or assume that "this must be normal" and in turn, shrink themselves by succumbing to the immensity of self-doubt. This often suppresses our voice, our intuition, the deep wisdom of our soul.

I also realized that not only do these discussions need to be had, but we need to learn the language necessary to be able to articulate what our hearts are trying to tell us, to trust it, and we need the tools to empower and transform our relationships into the healthy gardens that an intimate partnership is intended to be. We need this discussion for our own validation, the validation of our lived experiences, as we trace the movement of desire.

But, as Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night's Dream, "The course of true love never did run smooth."

And, it is here we begin.