I’m glad you came :)

I considered writing this with no spaces — as one, ginormous hashtag. #TheHashtagOfMyLife. The former English teacher in me abhorred this idea, yet the concept of freeing myself of conventions/spaces/rules-following was very tempting. And it would have authentically captured the stream of thoughts that are about to flow unfiltered from the depths of my heart. But it would have been a nightmare for you to read. So, I’ll be nice and add spaces… and probably even punctuation. But I won’t edit too much, or worry about any semblance of order. (And obviously logic and rationality have been thrown out the window.) As it comes to me, I will type it. This will truly be a stream-of-consciousness-open-door-into-my-brain-and-heart. It will be messy, complicated, and sometimes heavy, but hopefully enlightening, possibly delightful, and an altogether good process for me (you?) to go through. Please note the approximate amount of time listed above that it will take to read this. (Holy cow!) Plan accordingly and proceed with care (for yourself, but also for me.) And please don’t proceed if you don’t want to. Just because this is here does not mean that you have to read it. But I have one request: If you do choose to read this, please read the whole thing — in order — without skipping ahead. This might be the perfect moment to read this, but maybe right now is not a good time. No worries… I’m not in a hurry. I’ve waited twenty years to say some of this — what’s another week/month/year? And I’ll insert as many smiley faces as possible to try to lighten it up when it gets heavy :)

For me, writing is much easier than talking. I have always had a hard time communicating with the spoken word — especially with the people closest to me, and most especially if it is something that I think will be hard/hurt someone’s feelings. Instead, I just try to circumvent those types of situations altogether. (Not a healthy strategy, and really not a good idea in the long run. And it sometimes results in not speaking to someone for twenty years.) I am a perennial peacekeeper, and will avoid conflict whenever possible, even if it is detrimental to me. So if things are really hard, I have found that I am more effective if I write things down. It’s a lot more difficult to back down from something once it is written. But I know that things can be misread, subtleties and nuances can be misunderstood, and you will bring your perspective and assumptions to what I write. There is a risk of you reading something into a word/sentence/idea that is not there, or simply not understanding what I am trying to say. Or you might miss something meant as sarcasm or a joke :) I want to be very cautious of this: So please ask questions/pause for clarification, and know that no reaction is wrong, but I just want to make sure that what you’re reacting to is what I meant. I will try to be clear with what I am writing, but, as you know from my recent forays into writing, my mind goes off on huge tangents and creative overdoses. I am really going to try to rein in my thoughts. But I’m not making any promises… I might bust out with a haiku at any moment… Like right now :)

Laying myself bare
To the one who holds my heart
Sii dolce con me

→ I’ll wait while you Google translate that last line :)

Starting is difficult, and I don’t have a strong introduction for this (potentially) 500 paragraph essay. But I’m going to open with the hard stuff b/c I’m in my 40s, and starting with the easy stuff is for 20 year olds. The last time we spoke, you asked about ethics, and, for me, that ship sailed in February. If roles were reversed, I would never tolerate the same scenario in him. (Nor would my scenario be tolerated by him, were he to find out.) That evening was very much outside the realm of my values and the expectations I have for myself. But as much as I can say it was a moment of passion/the drinks/impulsivity — all of which definitely contributed — I was completely in control of what I was doing. Actually… I take that back. It was more like I was fully aware of what I was doing in that moment, but I was not in control. I felt quite out of control, in fact. The pull to you was so strong. I was overwhelmed by it, but I was hyper-aware of every second of that exchange. I rather awkwardly narrated what I was going to do: “And now I am going to kiss you…(?)” It sort of had a question mark at the end, as if I were asking for permission, but mostly it was a declarative statement. And it was received with open arms — and mouth :) so I had fleeting thoughts that: This is ok. This must be alright. I’m really glad I am doing this. How could something that feels so good be wrong? How can fruit that tastes this sweet be forbidden? I think of that initial moment, and I am so grateful for it. It was so good. But in the following moments of that exchange — the processing started. And quite frankly, it hasn’t stopped since then. My brain is pretty scrambled right now.

Why was I doing this? Why were you doing this? The gravity of what we were doing set in then, and it’s what made me stop. It was all very, very unexpected. I had NOT envisioned any version of this — and definitely not an x-rated version as you had toyed with in your mind, the details of which would be fun to hear sometime ;) I generally take people at their word and did so when you originally emailed several years ago. I very much noted the “happily” in front of “married” when you gave me a quick update on yourself. I was glad you had established that fact, (and, btw, I was genuinely happy for you.) And I followed suit with my “happily married” update. Happy happiness happily all around. Why, then, did you ask to come back to my hotel? What if I had let you come back to my hotel? Do happily married people do that kind of thing? Do happily married people even consider that kind of thing? I definitely considered it, and still do consider it. What would have happened, and what would the fallout have been? The fallout for you would have been more immediate (instant?) and I’m guessing quite devastating (?) You mentioned J a few times that evening, the next day, and subsequently, but I told myself then — and I keep telling myself — that I didn’t (and don’t) want to know anything about you two. That it was (and is) not my business. I intentionally did not ask any questions about her, nor have I since. I’m pretending I don’t want to know/understand how you two are/how your sex life is/are you happy etc.? You’ve asked me those questions, (totally catching me off guard with each question — wondering why you were asking the question, and as I wondered, I answered you very distractedly (and lamely) because mostly I was wondering why you were asking those types of questions — and I wasn’t actually focusing on each question but on the reason behind the question), yet I have never reciprocated with any of my own questions b/c I wasn’t sure if I wanted the answers. I also wasn’t ready to expose myself by asking those types of questions. They are very loaded questions :) and possibly reveal as much about the asker as the asked… maybe (?) Regardless of what the answers are to the questions, each answer carries so much weight. And I still don’t know if I want to ask those questions, because either way that you answer any of them, your answers will ripple through my heart and into my life in very real ways. I have not felt comfortable going there…. although… I kind of just went there :) I sort of just asked those questions w/o really asking those questions. I’ll let you decide if you want to answer them. Either way is fine.

→ I’m reading over the last paragraph, and it sounds a little like I’m exasperated, and that is not at all the tone I took in my head as I was just writing that. It was more like: I’m curious/interested and on a fact-finding mission.

→ Super random aside: At some point, you read something I posted here, and it was written very convolutedly, and you thought maybe I was “pissed” — and I just want you to know that I will never be pissed or mad about any of this or anything you do/don’t do. I know that there is no malintent on your end — and I hope you know that there is none on my end. Nor will there ever be a 20 year silent treatment again. I’ve grown up a lot. :)

And I have more questions, which span a very wide range of topics: How is your back after all these years? — It looks amazing ;) but how does it feel? What happened with your plans to become an architect? Are they forever on the back burner? Or still on the table? And what went down with your brother? Any chance of mending that? When I think of Italy, am I only remembering the good stuff and discounting the bad? Was it really as good as I remember? Were there really that many stars in the skies above Lipari? Can that magical time ever be replicated in any way? Or was it a one-shot deal? Are you happy with where life has taken you? If you could do anything over, what would it be? If you could go anywhere in Italy, where would it be? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? What is your favorite moment in time? Your least favorite? How about fantasies? Anything you’ve wanted to try, but it would be really weird bringing it up at this point in your relationship? Do you get as turned on thinking about me as I do when I think of you? Is your brain scrambled at all? How much $ have you contributed to Trump’s campaign??? → The only question that has a wrong answer is that last one, and it is the only one that could re-instate the silent treatment ;)

I feel like there are three distinct things going on with me:

  1. Firstly, there is the undeniable physical/chemical/pheromonal reaction of our bodies being in the same room. I’m thinking that there must be some crazy evolutionary reason for all of the ensuing effects on my vital signs and between my legs when I think of you and that night. And apparently when I write about thinking about it, it starts happening. And it is happening right this minute. It is so hot. And it is powerful. And amazing. I am literally weak in the knees (like a ridculous schoolgirl.) I thought I’d missed the boat on ever feeling “weak in the knees” and yet here I am — and, seriously, has anyone ever told you that you make them weak in the knees?! It’s almost laughable, but it is true. Is it because all of the blood from my legs is flowing to the more sensitive and now tinglingly throbbing area between my legs? And as I squeeze my legs together and move my hips around in my chair, I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not going to be able to not pleasure myself right now. And if I spread my legs, I can feel how wet I am through my underwear as I just barely touch myself, lightly passing my fingers from where I am so wet, then slowly up to apply pressure to my clit. And back down. And ever so s l o w l y back to my clit. And as I slide my hand inside my underwear, I’m realizing how hard it is to type while touching myself… And I can’t impress upon you just how wet I am, as I just barely enter with my middle finger, which becomes naturally lubricated and warm, and perfect for circling my clit — slowly, then bit by bit a little faster. And then back inside me. Wet. And warm. Then back to my clit. And my breathing is quickening. And so is my heartbeat. And then back inside. Deeper. And deeper. And wetter and warmer. And my finger slides faster and faster around my clit. And I am going to have to stop typing for a few moments so I can use my other hand b/c I want a finger inside of me as I continue rubbing my clit — a finger inside me, not just for stimulation, but also so I can feel myself orgasm. And I am going to draw this out slowly and deliberately. Mmmmmm ……………………. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. And I did feel myself come. I felt each pulse of pleasure at first very strong and intense and then slowly fading to the slightest almost imperceptible twitch of satisfaction. And my breathing slowly returns to its normal pace. As does my heartbeat. And now I’m all lightheaded and unfocused — or singularly focused — depending on perspective. Incredible but wholly impractical. Seriously, it borders on ridiculous. I think I have to go all scientific right now to get back on track: Why is this happening? The plasticity of our brains when we originally met probably contributes to this… past/present hormones… lack of closure… blah, blah, blah, and etc. I seriously can’t focus. I just want to rub my body all over yours, which maybe sounds not very hot/sexy, but it’s this crazy inexplicable urge that I have. I want to smell you and taste you, and feel all of you touching all of me. Very badly. In a crazy, visceral, primal, and animalistic way. (#1 is my favorite part of all this. I seriously feel like my body has traveled back in time, and I’m twenty years old again. I am very much enjoying my personal Renaissance ;) and I’ve gotten familiar with a particular toy store that caters to women and encourages “sex positive” behavior. More details on that another time, but only if you want. And, just so you know, there’s an app for that.) → I don’t know quite how to pull out, ahem, of this super fun first topic and move on to the next one, which is more serious, so it’s going to be a little jarring. Sorry. Deep breath.
  2. Secondly, there is the emotional reaction that is happening in my heart. (This is the most confusing part.) And I was hoping to just sort of dabble with #1 and pretend like #2 wasn’t going on. But the processing/and all the ensuing emotions/middle school poetry/adult poetry ;)/overthinking lyrics to songs/generally ridiculous behavior/reading an unopened letter/re-visiting old letters/re-reading old-ish emails/and the deeper questions that percolate in my heart all point to the fact that I need to address this in some way. Which is really what this post is all about. Plus, there’s the fact that you deserve more. I hear and notice the questions you ask, and I have not been very open to answering them, and I kind of shut you down when you ask them. I feel like there are more questions (?) I don’t want to put words into your mouth — just my tongue ;) but, in all seriousness, I want to give you the latitude and permission to ask whatever questions you need to/want to. And I will answer them. Even by phone… maybe. Phone = bleh.
  3. And lastly, there’s what is going on/not going on with M and me. (This is the hardest part, and is not necessarily related to you — and has been going on for years.) I probably won’t go into very much detail in this category b/c he deserves more, but there are a few relevant things I’ll probably share.

I keep trying to keep these three things separate, but this is stupid because they are so obviously interwoven and very much overlap.

And now I am going to put something out there that will make you feel either extremely uncomfortable and freak you out, or it might make you feel amazing (but maybe in a very confusing way.) Either one is fine. Feeling both is also fine. Anywhere in between is perfectly reasonable. Feeling neither would seem weird to me, I’ll admit. But whatever. Seriously. And I won’t boil any rabbits in your house ever, I promise.

Time has a weird way of making itself present. I feel like I spent a lifetime with you in just 3 months. The evening in February was a blur until the final few minutes, in which time seemed to stand still — as each moment lasted for an eternity, and as fast as my heart was beating, it felt like it was pounding in slow motion. And I can almost. Taste. Each. Delicious. Second. Sometimes life feels so short, but sometimes it feels delightfully long. Sometimes I feel like I have all the time in the world, but right now, I’m feeling like I need to do a little bit of carpe diem-ing. And this little interlude on time is mostly just serving as procrastination — because this is hard. Really, really hard. And I’m thinking of how to say it, and I don’t want to screw this up. I am so nervous. Even more nervous than when I walked into the bar in February. And holy shit, this makes me feel really vulnerable. And holier shit, did I not learn my lesson already? But I’ve never been one to do things half-heartedly — or half-assedly — which I know can be overwhelming, but I just can’t seem to bring myself to live life any other way. And isn’t being overwhelmed way better than being underwhelmed? (NOTE: If this ends up being something that you in no way wanted to hear, I have graciously thought of an escape clause. Please, hang in ’til the end.)

I am going to quote myself now — how pretentious :) from a little piece I wrote that you are familiar with called, The Cost Benefit Analysis of Wearing Her Heart on Her Sleeve :) — because this really gets at the essence of why I am writing all of this (and it allows me to keep stalling):

Regretting not risking something 
is infinitely riskier than risking nothing.

It is so much worse for me to regret NOT doing something, than to be so worried I’m going to fail at something that I don’t even attempt it. My recoils of regret are usually: I can’t believe I didn’t _____. (E.g., I can’t believe I didn’t swim in the Blue Grotto. I can’t believe I didn’t let you come back to my hotel room that night. I can’t believe I didn’t let you take the train down the next day.) Rarely do my regrets sound like: I can’t believe I _____, and I failed/the outcome was terrible. (E.g., I can’t believe I pitched my company, and didn’t win. I can’t believe I quit my job without having my next job lined up. I can’t believe I told P I loved him… Oops — terrible example ;) Well, I did regret that. Because I felt like I ruined our last few precious hours together. And I was hurt, and just really, really sad. And I regretted taking that risk for a long time. But I’ve come around, and I don’t regret it at all any more. But for a long time I wondered how things would’ve played out if I hadn’t said what I did. Why couldn’t I just have kept my mouth shut? Would we have kept in better touch over the years? How many years of friendship did we lose b/c I couldn’t deal with the aftermath?) I would like to apologize for the way I handled the situation. You deserved way better than that. I am so sorry for shutting you out so completely and ruthlessly. It probably seemed so heartless — and it was — but please know that it was because my heart was so hurt, and I really didn’t know how else to deal with it. I had taken a huge risk, and I did not know how to recover from it. And even now, I’m wondering why I’m not keeping my mouth shut, but I realize that the perfectionist in me has retired, and now it’s just me going through life the best I can — taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from them. There is a nice confidence that comes with being 40-ish, and with all that I’ve been through in my life, I know that there are not very many things that could devastate me at this point. So… regardless of the consequences, what I would regret most in the world would be to not write this. Whatever/whenever the outcome, it will be as it should be.

So here goes nothing — and everything — all at the same time:

You are my favorite. By far. You are kind. You are good. You are thoughtful. You are fun and funny. You are happy, and you bring joy. You are also uncomfortably good looking. (The good looking part is just gravy — really good and delicious gravy — but still just gravy.) I admit that this was the original draw back in the day. And it was age-appropriate to let your physical appearance dictate my initial attraction to you. At the time, all of your other qualities were just gravy. But then those qualities — the qualities that really matter — gradually became the main course. The evolution went something like this:

He’s a super hot guy. 
He’s a super hot guy, who is kind. 
He’s a super hot guy, who is kind and interesting. 
He’s a super hot guy, who is kind, interesting, and fun.
He’s a super hot guy, who is kind, interesting, fun, smart, etc… all the way to…
 → He’s a kind, interesting (and interested), fun (and funny), smart, thoughtful, honest, adventurous, responsible, non-judgmental, and respectful young man, who also happens to be unbearably handsome.

You had me back in ‘93 with all of those qualities. And then you managed to sneak a little bit back into my heart with a trait you acquired later in life… and I’m trying to come up with the right word for the characteristic, and I don’t have it exactly, but it’s something along the lines of: evolved… or emotionally developed. Something like that, but better-sounding and less clinical. When you originally reached out to me by email, I appreciated and admired your newly found capacity to express advanced emotions in such an intimate way :) Then even more recently — unbeknownst to you, I’m sure — you managed to completely throw open the door to my heart when you asked me how my mom was. Such a small and simple thing, but so very important to who I am and what I value — and such a juxtaposition to what I am used to. I may even have teared up a little bit. (Yes, I’m still super sappy.) And it crushed me (in a good way). → More on this later, if I remember to add it. ← You are so very, very sweet.

After you crushed me (in a bad way) many years ago, I had to step back and re-evaluate a lot of what I thought about relationships, what type of person I wanted to be with, and what I should hold out for/what I shouldn’t bother holding out for. At the time, I thought about how I could possibly have loved somebody who did not love me. Can there be love if it is not reciprocated? Did I really feel love? Was it true love? What was it then, if it wasn’t true love? Is there true love? What is true love? Did/do I need true love?

→ And, for a little comic relief, you can think about the ridiculously fantastic ‘Impressive Clergyman’ in The Princess Bride: “And wuv, twue wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.” :)

DISCLAIMER for the next paragraph: I am not looking for any sympathy. (I hate sympathy.) — I’m just painting a picture as background information that ended up affecting some pretty major choices I made later on in life. And seriously… please no sympathy. I’m fine :)

When I was a kid, my guardian angel was asleep at the wheel. (She has since made up for it by working overtime now.) I endured some pretty horrific things when I was young. I honestly can’t remember if I ever talked with you about any of it. (From your old letters, I can see that I talked with you about WAY more things than I did/do with most — all (?) — people (?!) There is a vague sentence in an old letter from you that makes me think maybe I did tell you about some of the bad stuff from my childhood (?), but maybe not, and it doesn’t really matter. The important part for you to understand is, that it was during this time that the peacekeeper in me developed. My (lack of) worth was beaten into me for years (by a fucked up coach, who also happened to be my dad’s best friend. For the past seven years I’ve been doing a ton of advocacy work for athlete protection with several NGB’s including the USOC. In addition, we got VERY close to getting legislation passed in CA to assist with child-athlete protection (but the Tea Party and the Catholic Church — fuckers — lobbied against it when it reached the appropriations committee, and that’s where it died. It’s surprising in this day and age that people in power who are supposed to protect kids still choose not to. As a result, I’ve gradually gotten more public with my story, which was by no means my plan in life, but maybe it’s been a good thing.) Anyway, as a kid, anything I could do to simmer down tempers and keep people happy became a vital quality to keep myself safe. But all through those rough years, I thankfully lived in a home with a ton of love, amazing brothers, and a mom who begged, borrowed, and stole to make a good life for us. Things were very lean: my dad was either drunk or not present, and we were always on the verge of having the power/water turned off/going into collections/losing the house etc. When I look back on the chaos that was our financial situation, I can really appreciate how amazing my mom was, what a miracle it was that we all made it to adulthood relatively unscathed, but also, now that I have the distance and financial security, I can appreciate the character-building of all of it. And my brothers and I share this awesome bond that maybe wouldn’t be there had everything been rainbows and unicorns. But at the time, it really stressed me out. I took the money worries way more to heart than my brothers. Plus, I was WAY more self-conscious about our socioeconomic status than they were. I was recently reminiscing with one of my brothers about our childhood, and we were talking about how we frequently did not have food in the house. My mom would send us to school, and we would not have a lunch. He saw no shame in having his friends buy him lunch every single day. And his coaches would sometimes hook him up with food to help him bulk up for football. I, on the other hand, did not want anyone to know we didn’t have money, and I would pretend that I was just 10 cents shy of the cheapest item on the lunch menu: a bagel and cream cheese for $1.00, and I would ask 10 different people every day for a dime (and remember whom I had asked, so I could space out my requests), and that’s how I would get food. Also, being of the superior gender ;) I think I was more perceptive than my brothers about the stress that it all caused my mom, and it really weighed on me. I would work every spare minute at myriads of jobs to help out in any way that I could. The city manager of my town called me in at one point and told me I was breaking child labor laws because at the age of 15, I was working 60 hours/week at various jobs with the city, and that he would not pay me overtime, and that he would not allow me to do that any more. I needed the hours, so instead, I worked 40 hours with the city, and 20 hours at a restaurant. Problem solved. I learned to be pretty scrappy at an early age. And throughout all of this, I was convinced that if I got any bad grades, and if I weren’t a stellar athlete, that my school would take away my scholarship, and that we wouldn’t be able to pay, and I would get kicked out. And thus the perfectionist in me was born.

→ Wow… that last paragraph was REALLY wordy, (this is all pretty wordy), but I’m not going to edit it. This train is only moving forward. The key takeaways are: peacekeeper, low self-worth, a childhood with little to no stability — but lots of love and good memories — and perfectionism at its finest. And it all sets the stage for how I got to where I am now.

→ And speaking of trains… This has all been so very serious, that it’s time for a porn break ;) Not really — don’t get excited — I don’t have anything written up. But I’d really like to brainstorm with you for my next adult “poem” :) and I was thinking I’d like to write about another train ride — I believe it was from R to CZ (?) The title could be: Tickets, please. Or perhaps Ticket to Ride, but that might be too cheesy. (Plus, we play a board game with that same name, and I’d never be able to play it again without thinking about this “poem”…) Maybe it could be in the form of a public service announcement: Always Keep Your Money Belt on Your Person. The conductor is the main thing that I remember from the experience. It was a little mortifying, so the pleasure part gets a bit overshadowed in my memories. The rough details that I remember are: me on top, no clothes (on either of us?), and money belt on. Would love to fill in the finer, more explicit details at some point :) if you want. Alright, back to business.

You mentioned a few times that you had a hard time readjusting to life once you got back from R. I, too, had a hard time. My heart was broken — just a fact — not a guilt trip, I swear :) I only had one semester left of school, and I had to write my thesis: Gods, Graves, and Whalers: The Ungraspable Phantom of Life in Moby Dick, or the Whale. (I was going for longest title.) I did not have any idea what kind of job I would take after graduation. And student loan payments would come on quickly and relentlessly. I had been going out with M before my semester abroad, and he had moved to Colorado. So I started on an awful stint of dating. Awful, awful, awful. My mom’s whole real estate office had taken it upon themselves to try to get me married off. The only worth they saw in me was as a trophy wife. (The mid-nineties were not a great time for young women.) So, pretty much any single guy who bought a house in SM between 1994 and 1996, I went on a blind date with. And I was living with a family as a nanny, so it was ridiculous having this string of hapless fellows pick me up from their house, and the family I worked for would watch them walk up to the front door, pass all sorts of judgment on them, and then they would make bets about whether there would be a second date or not. Which there almost never was.

I did end up dating two different guys during this time period — I am sure you want to hear all about this ;) → Skip ahead if you want. ← First, I dated the new owner of our local newspaper, whom I had met at a fundraiser for our library. Seemingly a good catch, he was tall, dark, handsome, and — as it turns out — an arsonist. He had owned two other newspapers, which had both burned down under suspicious circumstances a few years apart. While I was dating him, he had stopped making payments to the former owner of the SM News for the sale of the business, and she hired for her lawyer — get this — the woman that I was nannying for. Our dating had been kept on the down-low because — he told me — he was such a big name in town that he had to be very discreet. So… the mom where I was nannying had no idea that I was dating him, and she would come home from work and talk about the case with her husband: about what a schmuck the guy was, about the arson, about his fiance standing by such a slime-bucket. (Fiance? Wtf?) So that explained the secrecy. And that was the end of that.

The second guy I dated during this time was a trust fund gazillionaire I had met at a bar — who was totally in the closet, but I think he felt obligated to show up at events with a woman on his arm, so he asked me to go to some pretty amazing things with him. (The mid-nineties were not a great time to be gay.) I did some super fun things with him, but started thinking it was weird that he hadn’t made a pass at me after our nineteenth date. Nevertheless, this guy came to the tail-end of our Thanksgiving camp that my family goes to every year. On the drive home, I had planned to meet one of my brothers and his wife with my in-the-closet “boyfriend” near our old college at this Thai food place that we had loved going to when we were in school. But this guy was acting (literally) so gay on the ride home, and it was bugging me so badly that I was tolerating dating a gay guy who obviously wasn’t interested in me in the long run (or at all), that I bailed on meeting my brother and just drove home instead. The nail in the coffin for our “relationship” was when we went out with two of my brothers, and he got super drunk, and couldn’t keep his hands off them. And that was the end of that.

Flash back to the Thai food restaurant: When I didn’t show up to meet my brother and his wife, they decided to eat there anyway. And miracle of miracles, my brother ran into M, who was driving back from Colorado through Vegas, on his return to California. My brother asked (begged) him to call me and save me from my awful dating years. Which he did. And the romantic idealist in me, of course, thought it was fate.

The thrill of the chase — in no uncertain terms — has dictated who I have been attracted to. Very typical/lame/depressing: girl has rough childhood — dates shitty people, and throws herself at guys who keep her at arm’s length. I think the dating shitty people comes from an image that I thought I was projecting: that I didn’t need someone who was really kind and nice to me. To me, it sent the message to the world, that I’m so good inside, that I don’t need to be taken care of. And throwing myself at guys who aren’t by any means chasing after me? Why would I want to settle for things that were too easy? I liked having to work for it. Lame, lame, lame. But that’s how things mostly went down for me. M was no different. He definitely leaned back; I leaned in. He let me (and still lets me) do the heavy lifting in our relationship. I didn’t care. He was smart, driven, competitive, the personification of integrity, a non-arsonist heterosexual, and most importantly he was reliable and stable. And given my crazy life, I was craving stability. I knew that I would have a good life with him. And I do have a good life. But good is the enemy of the great. And I grow weary of the chase. M tends to prioritize his life like this: board of directors stuff, work, his athletic endeavors, the kids’ athletic endeavors, the kids, his friends/me (tied for sixth), everything else, his family, then lastly my family. I realized much of this early on, and I thought some of his priorities would change with time/maturity/evolution. Nope. It used to bother me a lot. I kept waiting for it to change, I begged for it to change, and now I’m growing indifferent to it. And it’s this indifference that makes me the most nervous. I’ve never been indifferent. About anything. I have always been an over-carer. This indifference makes me uncomfortable and uneasy.

The main qualities of his that get us the most off-kilter as a couple are his competitiveness and his pessimism/dissatisfaction with life. These are what motivate him, and I’ve obviously benefitted from how driven he is, but it’s definitely not the way I am, and I feel like a life of not being satisfied is really depressing. Our kids are very different from one another in this regard, also. I always say that one of them will go much farther and be more “successful” in life, but the other one will be way happier. And for me, being happy is the point. Happiness = success. For him, winning is success. And, boy, is he a winner. He wins everything. He is strategic, Type A like there’s no tomorrow, and 100 steps ahead of everybody else. This is fine when you’re on the same team as him. But he is a formidable competitor, and if, at some point, I am not on the same team as him, he will win… and I will lose. Which hopefully sheds some light on/speaks to my paranoia regarding things that will show up on my (shared w/him) phone bill. (And OMFG, the text he sent to your phone from mine resulted from the LEAST probable sequence of events, which was definitely an eye-opener for me, as I have no intention of screwing up things for you — and that made me realize how very easy it is to screw things up — even accidentally by someone else.)

When you emailed several years ago, it was a couple of days before my 10th wedding anniversary. Things were average between M and me — neither great nor terrible. But we ended up having a really, really bad anniversary. Because I’ve known M for so long, and I know how he shows his love, I had very low expectations of anything celebratory surrounding our anniversary. But he always gives me a card for anniversaries. Always, always, always. I show my love by gift-giving, but I know that he prefers experiences. So I showered him with gifts and experiences, and I happily and proudly spent a lot of time/forethought/energy/creativity making fun mementos, and planning all of the right things at all the right places. And I was so excited and happy to celebrate how much we meant to each other, and wow… ten years being married (and over 15 years together) is a significant milestone…

And he didn’t even notice that he forgot to give me a card.

In your email that I had just read in the days before, you wrote, “I hope you’ve had a beautiful life so far and are supremely happy b/c you were one of the most impressive people I’ve known in my life and you deserve great things.”

Your words simmered in the back of my mind on my anniversary (not your intention, but that’s what happened), and heartened me to feel disappointment, rather than to just brush it under the rug, like I usually would have done. And when he found me crying in the shower, I was emboldened to tell him why I was sad. I told him that I had wanted a card. And in my mind, I thought: Nothing more. Just a card. Something that showed that he cared about me. That I was somewhere in his thoughts and his heart. My expectations were low, and it would have been so easy to meet them. Rather than apologize, he turned the situation against me. Didn’t I know how busy he was? Didn’t I know how valuable his time was? And he made it very clear that his time was too valuable for me.

The unraveling started before that anniversary. And things continue to slowly unravel. Sometimes we have good moments. And it’s only occasionally really bad. But I wonder: How can I grow old with someone who is not satisfied even when at the top of his game, when life has been so good to us? My undying optimism has made me wait for his pessimism to run out, but my undying optimism may finally be dying out, and I’m starting to think that life is too short for his pessimism. I want to feel like our life is good enough — that I am enough for him — and that both of us are satisfied. I want someone who wants to chase after me. I want someone who LOVES how much I love him. I believe that the number one reason people were put on this earth is to love, and I want someone whom I have prioritized as my number one priority in life to value and appreciate the way that I prioritize him (and loving him) above everything else. But how do you explain that to someone you’ve been with for twenty years? The person you’ve had kids with and built a life around? (And it has definitely been built around him and not me.) Should I keep making it work for the kids? Sometimes I feel like I should, but I feel like things are getting more heated between him and me, and more frequently unkind. So then I think: Should I try to move on while things aren’t terrible, and there is still some semblance of care for one another? These are obviously not questions for you to answer, but they have been weighing on me a lot.

There’s a famous quote by Julius Caesar: Alea iacta est. It means, “The die has been cast.” (Or translated more loosely, “The dice have been thrown.”) Caesar said it when he was about to cross the Rubicon River with his armies and re-enter Italian soil from the north — breaking Roman law and starting civil war against Pompey and the Senate. It was the point at which there was no going back, and his decision would be irrevocable. At some point, I know that I will have to throw my dice and cross my own personal Rubicon. But it has been nice to sort of dip my toe in to test the waters of that river, and to dabble a little bit in the mental exercise of a life without M — even if only for a brief moment in time.

Alright, if you’ve made it this far, I thank you for that :) I promised you an escape clause, and it’s coming… have no fear. But first I’m going to say something, and I’m going to say it in Italian — which I’m fully willing to admit is copping out a little bit. But this has been a lot for me, putting this all down on virtual paper, and saying the following in Italian will offer my heart a little buffer against the elements as I lay it bare to you:

Ti ho amato allora,
Ti amo ora,
E ti amerò per sempre.

Many years ago when you didn’t say it back to me, it was — at the time — devastating for me, and it really did break my heart. I was twenty (a very young twenty) and very green in a big, wild world. Now with the benefit of perspective, I look back and see it for what it was: the most honest thing that anyone has ever (not) said to me, and it took a lot of integrity to do that. And likewise, it took a lot for you to reach out after so many years to make amends (which are not at all the words I’m looking for — but they’re all I can come up with right now because I’m petering out — and now I’m totally getting distracted looking up the etymology of that verb...)

I want to thank you for: not saying it back then, for saying it later on in life, for envisioning an x-rated situation, and then for hesitating. All of these things speak to me (loudly) and tell the story of a really good person. Thank you for restoring my faith in true love. I had thought that it was real, lost hope for a long time, but now I will keep believing in it. Because it was there. But most importantly I want to thank you for restoring my belief in myself: that I DO deserve great things. That I am pretty impressive ;)

Now for the ESCAPE CLAUSE that I promised you, which will allow for you to proceed in any direction you choose without any obligation to me: If our paths never cross again, you have at least started me back on a good — actually, a great path — a path where I matter and am important and deserve amazingness — and what a gift that is. And if it’s all you can give, then it’s enough. Thank you. I understand.

However, I would love for our paths to cross again — which is a really vague statement — so I’ll give some specific examples of what that could entail: an old friend to talk about hard things in life with, friends w/benefits, friends w/o benefits, someone I can hit up for phone sex (although I’m still unsure of my skills in this area), casual sex, not-so-casual sex, someone to explore a fantasy with (b/c I’ve never really gone there, but feel like I’m at a point in life where maybe I should/could), someone I could just rub my body all over — totally weird, I know — sorry — but the thought just gets me so hot and bothered grrrrrrrrh :) Someone to have perfectly reasonable/missionary-style sex with, if that’s what you crave. Or maybe you want to run as far away and as quickly as possible b/c this is all too much/too overwhelming/too insane/too intense/too unlikely/and maybe life is good for you, and you are happy and satisfied. Or maybe you’d like to try any of the above, and then you or I realize that it does not live up to what we had hoped for — and what a raw deal to risk so much for something that was so built up in our minds, but in actuality it turns out be… meh. Maybe it will be like riding a bike, and we instantly remember how to ride. Maybe it it will take practice, and that will be fun. Maybe there won’t be time for practice, and we might grow impatient. Maybe I tear off your clothes, and you are secretly wearing “I love Trump” underwear?! I like to think that we are both mature (and evolved) enough to be able to acknowledge anything that comes up and handle it like adults. Try it, then end it/move on. Or try it, then try again. Try it, then try it differently. Try it again, and again, and again. Persist as if composing a symphony — life’s magnum opus — and practice it as if learning to play it on a magnificent instrument, and listen for the best combinations of notes while experimenting with all of the variables — trying different tempos, different dynamics, different keys, different instruments — with patience and tenacity and curiosity… So. Many. Options. Maybe it’s too soon/maybe too late. Maybe not for a while/maybe never.

Now I’m going to quote you, because you put it so perfectly: “I hope you’ve had a beautiful life so far and are supremely happy b/c you were one of the most impressive people I’ve known in my life and you deserve great things.”

I believe that the universe conspires to aid true love, and I will be looking for signs and listening to the whispers in the wind to help me find where it is — to grasp the ungraspable phantom of life — because I know that it’s out there. For me. Somewhere. Wherever it is. Because I deserve it. Above and beyond all of this, thank you for reminding me of that.

Mille grazie,