The person who woke up in my bed that morning after was not me. This person got up, started laundry, cleaned the apartment, and fixed a healthy lunch. All while she danced around with music playing. She stepped into the bathroom and saw herself in the mirror. Fuck, it is me. My mind fell back to the previous night and to her. The face in the mirror said out loud the words that I’m thinking, “What the hell are you doing to me woman?”
Ding. There is the sound I’m learning to love. She has responded to my first message of the day that filled her in on my morning and my light-hearted, happy mood. BG woke feeling peaceful and very naked. Sleeping naked is something she has avoided most of her adult life, and it was one of those topics that we talked about so easily. Our conversations ricocheted in all directions and I was energized by her.
Few people in my life have fully engaged me in conversation. I’m most often a passive observer, taking in all bits of the scene. The words, the nuances in body language entrap me in a quiet and content space. With her, I find myself in a rare state of being fully present and with more to say than I realize. There is no hesitation, no filtering in my mind of what I should say or how I should word it. The thoughts, ideas, and jokes tumble out and are received with precise understanding. We can bounce back and forth with multiple topics intermingled with each other and we keep up with it all.
I talk of a favorite day trip of mine and she responds, “We are so doing that when I visit!” Now five days into this online relationship and I do not flinch at her words. I remember this for when she does visit, a visit I am already craving. We talk of food and imagine ourselves spending a lazy afternoon cooking together, laughing, with music playing in the background.
And I want it, I want it all from a woman I have never met. A woman that I am slowly getting to know , but is still a relative stranger. A woman. I giggle to myself as it hits me for the first time. I am getting to know, flirting with, and beginning to imagine a life with a woman, as my partner. A friend, a lover, a woman. I step out onto my balcony and stare out at the mountains in the distance, absorbed in the comfort of how right it feels. I let the thoughts come and go in my mind. “I want her. I really like her. She gets me. I adore her.” Her, she, the pronouns fit perfectly into my desires.
I have questioned my sexuality for most of my adult life, but there is no defining moment when I knew. I found women attractive and as I passed through my 30s, into my 40s, I became more open to the idea of a relationship with a woman. My first time with a woman was a moment so out of character for me that I sometimes still don’t believe it happened. What I do know for sure is that being with her felt so natural, so perfect. At one point, with my head between her legs, I actually laughed, I was overwhelmed with the perfection of it all. I wasn’t ready to date at that point, so I retreated back into my safe and solitary life until I began to feel the pangs of loneliness.
A message brings me present again.
“Can I just say that yesterday was unfuckingbelievable!” Yes, yes you can and it was. We joked briefly about the state of her mind at dinner, which was distracted at best. She had to leave for the airport, so we were left to our own dreamy devices.
An hour or so later I get a message, starting with a phrase that will begin to shape the relationship we both crave, “In the spirit of honesty…” She, like so many women in our Facebook group, is separated from her husband, but still in the process of divorce. The next six months will be a circus of paperwork, lawyers, negotiating living arrangement, and supporting grieving children. She gives me an out – if it’s too much for me to handle, she completely understands. But she continues to open her heart, “I think you are wonderful and we have the beginnings of something amazing. If it is meant to be, it will be.”
I tell her I am here for her and my wish is that we were closer so I could support her fully. In a couple months, I will learn this impacted her in ways she did not reveal that morning. My marriage taught me that it was safer to stay relatively silent, to not open up with full honesty. I had retreated into myself, forming a hard shell, learned to behave like those around me, and kept my emotions and thoughts protected from my ex’s ridicule and negativity. BG was beginning to chip away at that shell, and I let her.
We were giving space, time, freedom to each other- neither of us used to the feelings that brought with it. I told her to go sow her oats, she told me to pursue any opportunities that came my way. We established a friendship, right then and there. Perhaps travel companions. Way down the road, after we’ve traveled our own paths for a while, perhaps something more will evolve. Perfect. We settled into sharing our love of travel and most importantly, how we liked to travel.
Travel chemistry for me is right up there with the rest of the personal atoms and molecules that make up the chemistry between two people. Emotional, sexual, intellectual connection are the cornerstones of chemistry, and individuals bring in their own needs and desires. If those unique bits don’t mesh, the relationship is likely to fizzle. Get beyond the basics and those unique bits that mesh can fling a person into the flustered and unfamiliar state that I find myself in today.
I briefly share my travel philosophy–loose agenda with sights to see and things to do, but also with ample downtime to absorb the world around me. I want to feel as if I am living in a place as I remove myself from the role of tourist, leave the tourist-heavy areas, dine in cafes with mostly locals, and learn to cook local foods in a local’s kitchen. As I type these thoughts into messenger, my chest tightens at the thought that she will wholeheartedly disagree and oppose my travel philosophy. She responds after landing. She loves my way of traveling. Rigidity, for her, is a way of the past. On the road, at home, a schedule to keep, a need to spend 12 hours in a museum in order to absorb it all. What else is happening on the streets, in the cafes, and in the homes of people while one hides away in the darkness of the past?
“…lots of spontaneous exploring…” with those words, I continued to fall for this woman. I wanted this to be my new life. Spontaneous exploring of life, with her.
The first significant difference between us is revealed through a story of her flight home, sitting next to a trainee Catholic priest. She decided to “…throw the cat among the pigeons…” and asked him about gay marriage. Two hours of the flight was consumed on the topic, including her asking about girl on girl sex and the validity of an orgasm based on how it is achieved. A new image of this woman is formed in my head.
We are so similar, yet different is such beautiful ways. Her bravery is sexy as hell, I cannot deny. She reveals to me that she is Catholic, and I, in turn, reveal that I am an atheist. My heart sinks. I say nothing, only worry that religion will divide us. My brain is a bit of a fatalist, ready to jump off a high bridge to avoid any small pebbles life throws at me. I push the thoughts out of my head and allow the conversation to go its own way. Meanwhile, the priest is praying she will go back to her marriage, and I am asking the universe to bring her all the women. Me included.
The Catholic v. atheist concern begins to weigh on me. What am I worried about? Would religion have not already played a part in getting to know each other if it was strong enough to be a deal breaker? I fumbled with the thoughts in my head as I baked brownies. Baking cures all. Chocolate and caramel quiet the fatalistic mind. Or at least puts it on hold for a while. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I feed the bastard with sugar.
My phone dings and BG asks about my brownies. Out of the oven, but still cooling. I tell her I tasted the salted caramel topping, and that sent things down a familiar path. Caramel dripping and drizzling. Our self-diagnosed pathetic ways of turning to the sexual within minutes are confirmed and noted. This time, we tip-toe around it gently. Acknowledge and then move on. Sexuality is a crucial aspect of a relationship. And it’s fun, but I had to get to know this woman on all levels. She was now all I could think about, the person I wanted to share everything with. The silly, mundane everyday stuff that I have, for 47 years, amused myself with.
Memes come across, making me laugh and make me question her sincerity of wanting to get to know me, that it’s not, in fact, all sexual. Humor and sexuality, two well-practiced vices for a shy person. BG shy? I could not have listed that as a quality of hers. She is active in our Facebook group, is clearly adored by many, and if it wasn’t for her sending the message, and continuing to chat with me, we wouldn’t have gotten past a few days of conversation. She admitted to the fact and how she hides behind humor. Our masks start to peel away. She says it first- she is letting her guard drop, her vulnerability show. I am suddenly aware of how naked I’ve become with her.
I tell her, “You are safe with me”, and thus is hatched another phrase that shapes our relationship. We are safe, vulnerable, naked, and alive.
“I feel alive finally.” Her words increase my heart rate and make me look into myself and how I am feeling. I revisit my happy mood this morning, then admit to now feeling tired and quiet. It is nearly midnight my time. We both comment on how we wish to be quietly snuggling together, in the presence of each other in which the feeling of what that feels like, is left to our own imaginations.