There are so many ways I can begin this story: with the image of me opening the tea cupboard in my kitchen and glancing to the top shelf as I do once in a while to look at the bottle of Adam beer, the label of which has words in memory of him and the dates of his life; with image of me, in 1984, leaving the note on the dresser, picking up my mauve nylon overnight tote, and walking out of the relationship with my high school sweetheart, the one that brought me to Portland; I could begin by telling of my decision to leave one of my true loves and his addictions behind. I could tell of the pre-dawn morning when I got the call from the trauma center at Emmanuel…
I could begin by describing the hopeful scene on a date about a month ago, or the guy’s smiling, really happy, face when we raised a toast at my favorite bar just days later.
I’ll begin with what I think today…and in so doing, in no way mean to offend persons un-named who might see themselves in this piece. I am writing from my experience and in my voice.
I think I never should have walked out on my high school sweetheart that day. I was young, dumb, and in pain. Leaving hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Instead of having almost 30 years to count together, I have mishaps to enumerate. I’ve had this thought several times over the years, yet when I do happen to even discuss it, which is rare, all I can say is bad. He left me alone—a lot. He went out with his friends, and I wasn’t 21. God only knows what he was really doing half the time. He was the same way with friends—elusive. And like one of our high school friends said, with Neva was the only place he wanted to be until that’s where he was supposed to be. I had my part in it, too, I’m sure. Again, I was young, dumb, and in pain.
That’s one of my two thoughts on this topic for the day.
My other one is this: something is really wrong when there are all these dating rules, but no communication. Too often casual dating is confused with love or budding relationships with casual dating, and then there is a mess. This latest guy should have asked me what I was thinking, what I wanted, how I felt. He should have responded when I asked him what was up. Instead, I got some side-stepping words and the smile of guilty apology. The one before him did the same thing…came on strong. I mean strong. Then, somewhere in the middle of a camping trip changed his mind. Both of these guys acted like and sent up all the signs indicating game on for a relationship. I was following their leads.
And then there’s that one, the work one, the first guy I dated after Adam—it ended when another woman showed up to meet him at a function I was already at. At one point, he tried to set things right by giving me a chocolate fish that said “you’re a keeper.” I ate the tail, wrapped up the rest, and returned it to him with a note that read, “re-packaged for reuse, since only half of what you say it ever true.” Enough said. That one is too much of a mess to write about.
In and amongst all of this drama in my dating since Adam died, I have read book upon book about how to do it right. That’s what I’m always worried about—doing IT right. I’ve never had to work at this before; I’ve easily fallen into relationships with guys I liked. I’m not crazy, or all of those other stereotypical dating nightmare things. I’m one of the good ones, a catch, I’ve been told, yet I keep questioning myself. Don’t get me wrong—at 40-something it’s sheer flattery to have them all so attracted; I just want them to consider the person attached to the ass, or whatever is that struck their fancy.
From all this I’ve learned that what Hitch says in the moving is true—the rule is, there are no rules. There is no rule of common courtesy or of honesty. There is no rule of carrying the acts of being a gentleman to the end. There is no rule that says I have a say. I wanted the flirting and the fun date nights. I wanted to have male companionship without the entanglements and heaviness so fast. I had no pretense, only hope, about where it could or would go. I was having fun. I was following their leads, and was lead astray.
I say there ought to be one rule—play it straight. Casual is casual; love is love. Enough said.