Let It All Out

•August 2, 2017 • 2 Comments

When did all this crying start?

Was I like this in my 20s and 30s? I  don’t think so. And I definitely don’t remember it during my 40s, not like this anyway, when I was mostly happily married. Of course, being a sap, I’ve always shed a few tears over some pretty silly things, like overly sentimental or manipulative ads and movies designed to tug at the ol’ heartstrings (see this post from December 2010 on that). And there have been plenty of times when my emotional (irrational?) attachment to “my” sports teams has led me to unleash tears of joy with hard-fought (in something of a Freudian slip, I first wrote “heart-fought”) victories or wail with grief at painful losses (1986 World Series, anyone?).

Well, at least it wasn’t raining…

But the real and often unexpected crying jags started in 2010, with the news of the IMD. Jags that left me curled up on the floor, soaked and breathless, after the initial onslaught of tears and tightness in my stomach and certainty of thought that I would never overcome the emptiness that engulfed me. All compounded by the grief for my father’s death four years previously, which I had—obviously, in retrospect—never really processed.

So, all that explains the bawling bouts then. But what about since then? What has spurred those moments of late when I sit on my bed and feel a wave of sadness—and yes, often self-pity—rise unexpectedly from somewhere deep within? Within my brain, of course, because thoughts of some kind are usually a trigger; thoughts of loneliness, of unworthiness, of feeling like a fumbling, bumbling fool as I try to navigate what’s left of my life. But at some point, the thoughts touch something outside my head, something in my heart or soul or call it what you will. And the tears come.

Like they did about ten minutes before I sat down to write this.

The pause came as I sought to discover, what positive comes out of all this wet wailing? And I quickly found several answers in an old Psychology Today article.

(An aside: I love PT. I discovered it in 8th grade or so, and used to read it in the public library before briefly having my own subscription. I’m not a regular reader today, but often when I have questions about emotional or relationship issues, my Google searches seem to take me to the PT site. It even helped me find a therapist when I tried to navigate, unsuccessfully as it turned out, my last relationship.)

So what I found, courtesy of Dr. Judith Orloff, is that we cry for different reasons. My suddenly arising bouts are, not surprisingly, called emotional tears. As with the other two forms of tears, letting out emotional ones has some physical benefits: “Typically after crying, our breathing, and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.”

But emotional tears can do so much more. When we cry these tears, we purge stress hormones and toxins from our body. At the same time, we are ramping up the production of endorphins. Orloff says, “Crying makes us feel better, even when a problem persists. In addition to physical detoxification, emotional tears heal the heart.”

Yes, I have felt the benefits of a “good cry.” And maybe when they come unexpectedly, I should truly welcome them, since they indicate that whatever emotional distress I might be feeling on the surface has entrenched itself even deeper within me than I realized. It’s a signal to take stock and take action—and hopefully something more productive than drowning the tears in drink or seeking some other addictive outlet. I guess it’s good that I’ve never been hung up on the idea that “real” men don’t cry. Or not been too concerned about whether people think I fit their or society’s image of masculinity (hey, when you’ve had one of your nuts yanked out of its sack, you don’t get so wrapped up in the external things).

So, my advice to myself and others: cry away, baby. And if you’re with me and you start to cry, I will hold you and comfort you and wipe away the tears. And be happy, too, since you’re doing something so healthy. Do the same for me sometime, OK?

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The Anti-Poet

•July 27, 2017 • Leave a Comment

poetry-274x300God knows I am not a poet. I have never taken a class in writing poetry, cannot tell iambic pentameter from trochaic tetrameter, and probably have not read a poem since taking an English lit class more than 30 years ago. OK, there was the silliness a friend and I called speed haiku, with the emphasis more on the speed than the poetry. And once, eons ago, when I was dabbling–badly–in free verse, I did manage to get one poem published in the Christian Science Monitor, of all places. But since then, my stabs at poetry have been sporadic and confined to my notebooks, something for which I’m sure the world is grateful.

And yet…at odd times, usually when I’m in the midst of emotional angst (all right you wags out there, enough with the comments like “When aren’t you?”), I attempt to put down some strings of words that might be considered, in a certain light by a generous observer, something akin to poetry. Very mediocre poetry, but there you have it. And an event of last night moved me to write something today.

There are elements of the real-life situation that sits behind these words that, if you knew them, might give you a better sense of the meaning. Or maybe not. But in the end, they stand or fall on their own, eh? So, if you’re still with me and the slightest bit curious, here goes.

The Weekly Marathon Call

“I didn’t trust her”
was the last thing I expected her to say
about her mother.
“I don’t trust her now.”
A vehement distrust planted and nurtured in childhood,
with only brief, almost begrudging bouts of love
to bring down her guard.

“She was not a motherly mom,”
she went on,
her voice starting to deepen and shake
as she inhaled the soft sobs ready to rupture,
saying what had already become so clear.

Then she said she trusted me;
whatever our past misunderstandings,
whatever anger I had pulled from deep within her,
we could talk.
We did not deceive.
Our love was a stepping stone for understanding.

I listened, nodded, a nod unseen in her bedroom
half a continent away.
As unseen as the tears that unexpectedly pooled
in the corner of my eyes.

Searching

•June 12, 2017 • 1 Comment

I went to church yesterday.

I’ll wait for the peals of laughter to subside before continuing.

springtree2012

But it doesn’t look like a church…

I had been thinking about going to the local Unitarian Universalist church for a while, and yesterday I finally had the time on a Sunday to do it. Of course, one uses the term church loosely when referring to a UU congregation; it’s certainly not like any church most people with Catholic or Protestant backgrounds would identify with. It’s safe to say, I think, that the words God and Jesus were not uttered once during the hour I was in the chu—ah, sanctuary, as the UUers call it.

And not hearing those two words is one reason why I went.

I haven’t talked about religion too much here at C?WC?, except for the occasional mention of my interest in Buddhism. And I’m not going to launch into a screed now about my disdain for the Abrahamic religions in general and the mostly negative impact I think certain strains of Christianity have had on our country over the last few decades (yes, yes, I know that that faith comes in many stripes, there are good Christians, etc., etc. But I stand by my opinion, at least as far as Christianity’s impact has played out in the political realm). All I know is, when I’ve sought some sort of public show of spirituality and ritual in a social setting, I have turned to UU services.

Of course, the spiritual nature of a particular congregration and its services is sometimes not apparent. From my experiences, a community that came out of the Unitarian side of the denomination’s background is more apt to offer a service that feels like a college lecture with music, not the groundwork for a spiritual awakening. And that’s ok, though I think my Catholic background predisposes me to like the Universalist side of the equation, which seems a little more comfortable with emotion and ritual.

I have to confess, though, that yesterday’s visit was not really about looking to deepen my spirituality. It was more about searching for community, something I’m still struggling to achieve here. And about singing—I do like to sing with others, even if I don’t know the song (I’m pretty good at faking it).

And, if I’m going to be really honest—that is, after all, why the Crisis was conceived and endures, even if only sporadically—social connection also means relationship connection. Yes, I was taking the advice of several people who, over the years, have said joining a religious community was one other possible way of meeting women. So yes, I scanned the room looking for possible candidates, wondered what one woman looked like from the front, since I only could see her from behind, and knew that if I went into a Christian church with the same self-serving thoughts, I probably would have been struck with a lightning bolt from above.

(Which made me think about the last time I was in Catholic Church, serving as the godfather—ha!—to my niece, and we all commented on how amazing it was that the holy water had not turned to acid and I had not spontaneously combusted as signs of the Big Guy’s wrath.)

Did I meet this mystery woman when the service was over? No. Was I disappointed? No. As the time since the marital dissolution goes on—more than six years!—and the dating process becomes more frustrating and the paucity of any meaningful bond-building with men and women I meet remains, I’m not disappointed about too much in that realm. And if I didn’t meet any potential dates, I did have a nice conversation with a guy who sits on the board of trustees.

Perhaps appropriately, the theme of the day’s sermon was about stepping out of our own little social circles or bubbles and trying to reach out to others. That’s not always easy for me; I’m realizing that as I get older, I’m a little more of an introvert than I used to think. Going into a church (or sanctuary), I can be around people, escape my isolation at home, yet still remain anonymous. Even as I fantasize about meeting there the woman of my dreams—spiritual and carnal. But as the sermon suggested, there is a lot to be said about making the effort to expand the circle, especially to include people definitely not like ourselves. On that score, Sunday’s visit fell short, as I was amidst decidedly like-minded folks. The odds of breaking bread with, say, a Trump supporter in a UU congregation in Santa Fe? Pretty slim, indeed. But that’s not to say I couldn’t meet people with different backgrounds and experiences and who have a lot to share. And maybe know a single lady friend they might like to introduce me to…

From my admittedly limited experience, I can get a sense of a UU community pretty quickly. I don’t know if this church is a fit for me, though my first impression was—no. Still, I’ll go back a few more times. Let the humanist messages sink in. Sing a little, if quietly. And try to make some connections, even if I don’t find Ms. Right.

Listening and Hearing

•May 22, 2017 • 2 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about listening–really paying attention to what people are saying to you, or to music you choose to play or audio programming you go out of your way for, either on the radio or through the Internet. And I thought that was going to be the subject of this post, the first in way too long. But work and travel and life in general have kept me either too busy or semi-depressed to find the time, so I’m cheating for now, just to keep C?WC? somewhat active.

Capehart radio

I have this radio!

Instead, I’m posting a short story I wrote in a class I took at the local community college this spring (a topic perhaps worthy  of its own post, given the slightly crazy nature of the experience…). I am the first to admit that I’m not a fiction writer, aside from my plays. And I doubt I’ll pursue fiction in a serious way in the near future (though there is that nebulous novel in my head I keep yakking about).  But I thought this story was a decent effort, for something that was mostly written in a 20-minute burst in class, with some revisions. And while it’s not about listening per se, it is about hearing–hearing stray music, and the thoughts and associations that can go with it. And it certainly ties in to the theme of this blog, since it directly relates to so many posts I wrote during the peak Crisis time–the dissolution of my marriage and the aftermath. Take a gander if you’re interested. Or don’t if you’re not.

Traveling

italy squareHe heard the sax first, an alto solo bouncing off the stone walls of the centuries-old buildings that crowded the narrow street. He followed the music as the solo returned to the melody—something by Charlie Parker? He couldn’t place it, but it was familiar. Maybe from a record Andy had played for him so many years ago.

Andy—thoughts of him always lessened Paul’s bouts of self-pity, like the one that had hit him just before the music had drifted his way. And the ones that had seized Paul throughout this trip. This adventure.

Well, this is what you said you craved, he thought to himself. A trip to Europe, alone. A trip to revive your soul and begin chipping away at the memories of her.

Andy would have wanted to come, if Paul had asked, but he knew it was pointless. Before, Andy had always been up for any adventure, a new path to knowledge, a chance to grow. But now, the vagabond days they once shared were over, as Andy’s broken brain chemistry left him stiff and walking like a stumbling drunk. Play a trumpet solo? Not likely, not now, not like the one Andy blew outside St. Paul’s Cathedral on their backpacking trip across Europe decades before.

Walking down the street, Paul could hear another musician now—a guitarist strumming chords under the sax’s melody. Then a voice rose above the two instruments, a soulful contralto. A woman’s voice, pure and clear. Nothing like hers.

Entering the square, he saw the three musicians playing for too small a crowd, given how many people were nearby enjoying the sunny Sunday afternoon. For Chrissakes, Paul wanted to scream, they’re pouring out their hearts for you. Pay attention! Listen! And maybe throw a few Euros their way.

The song ended. Paul joined in the meager applause, trying to draw out more by clapping harder. It didn’t work. After a moment’s huddled consultation, the trio began its next number. A ballad. The sax played softly beneath the singer as she crooned a Gershwin tune: “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

He loved that tune—usually. But now the melancholy returned. Sarah should have been there next to him, holding his hand, leaning in close, as the two of them shared this simple serene moment. A travel moment, the chance encounter on the street when beautifully played music scaled the old stone walls, reverberated through the square, and settled back down on them like a comforting cloud. A memory they would always have together. Perhaps when the song ended, he would motion her over to the band so he could take her picture with them, the tall, skinny saxophonist dangling his alto, the guitarist smiling behind his hollow-body, the singer striking a flirty pose. Perhaps he would have done that. But Sarah wasn’t beside him, and she wouldn’t be when he returned from this solitary sojourn. Or ever again.

She had been clear: No, there wasn’t anyone else. She just needed to be alone. She felt, perhaps not in an instant, Paul assumed, but in a slowly accumulating realization, that for 11 years she had never been comfortable living with him. Had never truly been herself. That tidbit stunned him, and he tried to imagine the weight of that emotional burden on her. And of course he hadn’t helped. He knew at times he had been insensitive to her needs, but she knew he could say the same thing. And he did, for what it was worth then. Because as soon as she said she wanted out, he knew it was over. No amount of pleading or bargaining or especially arguing was going to change that.

So, she moved out. After smoking one last cigarette on the porch steps, as the mosquitoes began to emerge and the moths darted around the floodlight and he watched her, as he usually did—their after-dinner ritual. She savored her one smoke of the day, he sat with her, and they talked. Except for that last time. When there was nothing to say.

From Gershwin, the trio moved to something more upbeat, almost poppy. He couldn’t place it. And despite the sadness swirling in him, he couldn’t shut off his automatic response to something with a happy bounce. His right foot began to tap, his head rocked in time to the music.

The moment brought him back to the canals of Venice many years before. He and Andy were drinking grappa with some girls they had met at the youth hostel. As they talked and laughed, Paul was in the scene but not part of it. He felt isolated and unloved. It was Andy the girls were drawn to, not him. Andy and his fucking trumpet. As Paul sat there, only the strains of an accordion coming from a nearby café kept him grounded, kept him from hurling himself into the fetid, dense waters of the canal. Well, all right, and a massive fear of death. He was not then and would never be suicidal. He would just wallow in his insecurity, his growing sense that he would never find true love. Three decades later, that sorry sentiment still clung to his heart.

Andy, he thought now, remember Andy. Who was Paul to moan about anything when Andy approached his diminishing physical capabilities with such grace, such wisdom. He said that to Andy, right after Sarah left and his grief spilled out in beer-fueled tears. Even in that moment of despair, he knew he had so much to be thankful for. And look at how well Andy bore his burden.

“Ah,” Andy had said. “You only see what I want you to see.” Paul recalled how Andy had struggled to get out the words, as he waited for the latest round of Parkinson meds to kick in. “I am no saint. And I have plenty of fears. Plenty of anger. We all deal with some shit in our lives, you know?”

The singer put down her mic and watched the guitarist stretch out with a solo. There was nothing flashy about it, which Paul liked. No speed for the sake of speed, no painful grimaces accompanying a bent note held too long. No, he went for honest emotion over histrionics, and Paul appreciated that. There was no effort to impress. It was just clean and simple.

Paul closed his eyes and listened to the notes roll out. Then, with just the slightest flourish at the end, the solo ended. The three musicians went back to the head, repeated it,  and then out. After a slightly more appreciative round of applause, the musicians signaled that they were done. The crowd began to wander off in different directions. Paul watched the band members pack up their instruments and the small sound system they used. He stared at the singer. She looked up and caught his gaze.

“You like it, yes?” she asked him as she wrapped the cord of her mic around her hand.

“Yes, very much,” he said, and he dug into his pocket to fetch some Euros, which he threw into the hat that still sat on the ground.

“Grazie,” she said. He knew he was still staring at her, though all he really saw was Sarah, an image of her from so many years before.

“You’re ok?” she asked.

“Yes, yes. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to stare. You look like someone I used to know,” he lied.

“You miss her,” she said.

“Yes. And all our travel moments. Shared memories”

“Ah, yes, very important. Making memories together.”

Paul smiled again and turned from her and her bandmates. Shadows were starting to streak the square. Almost dinner time, he thought, and he walked back the way he had come, hoping he could find a good restaurant.

What? No Angst?

•March 1, 2017 • Leave a Comment

While Crisis? What Crisis? started out nine years ago (jeez, I can’t believe that…) as a place to bitch about—ah, make that reflect on my personal experiences as I confronted the challenges of aging, I tried to return to my journalistic roots from time to time and report on various events I attended in Chicago, the city of this blog’s birth. (Yes, although not a working journalist now, I did enter college planning to be one and have practiced the craft from time to time over the years. So, I guess that makes me one of the enemies of the American people. The ridiculousness of our current leader’s attack on the media deserves much closer scrutiny, but I’ll save that for another day).

These days, though, C?WC? seems to be reserved more than ever before for personal whining of an often-unseemly sort than for any reportage. I’ll try to rectify that a bit with two brief write-ups on some recent experiences. Not hard news, to be sure, just a look back at a talk I attended and a recent excursion into southern Colorado.

The talk was by Chad Alligood, the curator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, and recently a fellow at the Women’s International Study Center here in Santa Fe. Alligood came to work on a monograph about artist Judy Chicago, and she was the subject of the talk I attended—and was also in attendance for a brief Q&A (she is a New Mexico resident).

I went knowing only that Chicago was and is a key figure in feminist art, best known for her installation The Dinner Party. Alligood focused on her earlier stint as a minimalist artist, describing the sexism and misogyny she faced as she tried to make her mark in that male-dominated field during the 1960s. Although often dismissed by critics, Chicago set herself apart from her male contemporaries by exploring many different media and learning the skills needed to make her pieces. While the men sculptors turned to foundries and others to fabricate their art, Chicago studied with boat builders and learned how to air brush cars so she could turn her artistic ideas into reality. And unlike some of the massive and geometric examples of the minimalist aesthetic created by men, Chicago turned toward more ephemeral projects, such as one that used the colored smoke of fireworks to create images that shaped both time and space (she apprenticed with a fireworks expert for that one).

img_7843-2By the end of the decade, Alligood said, Chicago had reached her breaking point with minimalism and its dismissal of work that evoked feminine and feminist themes. 3 Star Cunts (1969) he said, marked the “moment where she has had it.” The piece shows three objects that look like donuts, with the large holes in the middle taking the shape of 8-sided stars. After that, Chicago committed herself to depicting women’s experiences and historical impact in her art using a variety of media.

In the Q&A that followed, Chicago lamented the commercialization of the art world and noted how the economics have changed since the 1960s. Back then, she said, she could get a 5,000 square-foot loft for $75 a month. She counseled young artists today to “stay out of the market until you find your own voice.” She also described her childhood, how she started to draw when she was three and then began taking art classes at the Art Institute of Chicago just two years later.  (Chicago took the name of her hometown as her own in 1970.) Her interest in challenging social and political norms, she said, stems in part from her upbringing; her father was a Marxist and victim of the McCarthyist Red Scare. During that period, Chicago said, she came to see that what most people accept as fact is not necessarily true.

Moving from woman-made art, I also had the chance recently to explore natural beauty on a drive though part of southern Colorado (which I documented in photos as I stopped every 25 miles and took a picture of what was around me; you can see some of the results here). It was a cold, clear January day, and I put on some 300 miles before reaching my destination for the night, Taos (a weekend trip there for a writers’ conference is coming up soon; hope to have something to say about that here at C?WC?)

What started out as a more-or-less random drive turned into a trek to see something I didn’t even knew existed: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Imagine my surprise to learn that the tallest sand dunes in North America are just three hours away from Santa Fe.

The dunes were formed when sand from the nearby mountains washed and blew into an ancient lake, now long gone. The wind then blew the lake sand against the mountains, and winds still shape the dunes. The park has seven life zones, reflecting changes in elevation and climate, among other factors. Seeing the dunes when the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains were covered with snow was beautiful, and I enjoyed watching intrepid sledders  raced down the snow on the dunes. I think, though, I’d like to go back in the spring and explore the area some more.

I realized while writing this that these two experiences highlight some of the things I love about Santa Fe. World-class artists of all stripes make the region their home and you can find more culture than you could rightly expect in most small cities that lack a major university. Then, head out in every direction and there is amazing natural diversity. The Land of Enchantment, indeed. I hope in the months to come to spend more time documenting both the culture and the nature around me—a welcome break from the usual recounting of emotional travails, I’m sure.

All You Need Is…

•February 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

WARNING: This will be about as self-pitying as anything you’ve ever read in the almost nine years of C?WC?’s existence (assuming you been a faithful reader that whole time—all six of you). So, here’s your chance to bail now.

Ah, Valentine’s Day, when we send our loved one a card or sweets, or treat him or her to dinner, or perhaps a bedroom layered with red paper hearts (one of my more romantic partners did that once and as you can see, I still remember it fondly).

cupid

Get that arrow outta my face,  you little…

Of course, we only do those things if we have a loved one, a spouse or partner who makes our lives brighter each day (when she’s not driving us crazy. And vice versa.) For those of us who are single—and especially ones who are unhappily so—Valentine’s Day can suck. It’s not that I have an urge to take part in the commercial aspects of the holiday—though buying a love one vegan chocolates that I can then dip into ain’t so bad. No, it’s because the day is another reminder of my current loveless state, and it brings up memories of the past loves who are no longer part of my life. Not that I would want all of them to be here visiting or anything, and having them all together at once could get dicey.

The memories, though, remind me of the women I have hurt, who have hurt me, the loves that have gone unrequited, the pain of the divorces. Six years on, I can’t pretend the last one still does not leave a mark (and that’s all that needs to be said here). And while good has come of it—setting off to Santa Fe, meeting great new people, discovering a greater sense of self-reliance—I spend too much time alone and longing for another special someone to share my life, assuming she can tolerate my neuroses and having aspects of our relationship blasted across the Internet from time to time.

It’s not like I haven’t tried to find that next partner (perhaps not another wife at this stage, and I’m reluctant to say soul mate, as if there is only one person that might be right). I mean, I could tell stories about my almost-incessant online dating experiences over the last six years (and don’t let anyone convince you that this process and the attendant feelings of being a lovelorn teenager flailing about isn’t loads of fun when you’re pushing 57). Of course, they’re mostly stories of being ignored and rejected, but stories nonetheless.

Online dating has not been a total bust. I’ve had two relationships going that route, though obviously the women had drawbacks, or I had issues from the past, or there was a combination of the two. In any event, I’ve been single for almost a year, and during that time I’ve tried out just about every dating site imaginable. Some general observations (in case you are also middle-aged, single, male, and thinking of giving Match or OK Cupid a spin. And I write knowing that women can have totally different experiences online, with nightmare scenarios more hellish than any I have endured).

So, first, there’s this: I can’t tell you how many women do not even acknowledge an introductory email. I understand, some are probably inundated with notes from eager men, but I know that mine are not inappropriate in any way. And I’m not expecting back a tome, especially if you’re not interested. Now, granted, I don’t get many introductory messages from women, but I answer everything I get. It just seems polite, you know?

Next: a lot of women, in their profiles, are quite detailed about what they want and don’t want. Very detailed. In at least one case, psychotically so. Now, I understand that being specific can help, but reading a list of “don’ts” and “nos” right off the bat sort of get things off on a down note. It’s more the negatives that jump out at me, since I think everyone lists what he or she does want. And I admit, I have some things I don’t want to see in someone’s profile—like that picture of the fish you just caught or deer you just killed. Not gonna work with this vegan.

Speaking of pictures (and I know that women have some of the same gripes about men): Really think about that profile pic. If you are a dot on a distant rocky horizon, it doesn’t help me much. Wearing sunglasses—also not helpful. Having other women in the pic so that I can’t tell which is you—maybe reconsider that. Really blurry or dark—try another selfie. I don’t expect a professional head shot, but you can do some amazing things with cell phones these days.

More on pics—and I know these reflect my own biases. You love your kids, I’m sure, but maybe I don’t need to see them right away. And same goes for multiple shots of your dog (this I know is my hang up, because Santa Fe dog owners have made me even more of a cat person than I was before).

OK, enough about what goes into a profile, you’re probably thinking. What about the first dates?! The horror stories that find their way into books, TV shows, and movies. Actually, I haven’t had any. You meet, you chat, you go your separate ways. (Well, sometimes you meet; I’ve had several women express an interest, sometimes after contacting me first, and then they just disappear into the ether.) On those first-and-only dates, there usually seems to be an unstated mutual understanding that you’re not clicking, and that’s that. There have been a few cases where I was interested in a number two, and the woman said the same, but then for some reason she never acted on it. I keep reminding myself, thank god I’m a playwright and so have all sorts of experience with rejection.

While I don’t have any first-date fiascos, one of the few second dates led to an incident that makes me smile, because I have a warped sense of humor and that writer’s knack for handling rejection. Our correspondence began while she was back east visiting a sick relative. We emailed pretty regularly, and I was certainly interested and assumed she was too, or she wouldn’t have kept writing, no? So, she finally comes back to NM, we go to dinner, things seem to go well. She contacts me about getting together again for a hike in a nearby national forest. Sure!

santa-fe-national-forest

Just a nice hike in the woods, she says…

We set out, and dark clouds in the distance become more threatening, with thunder getting closer, but we plunge on. So, maybe 45 minutes into the forest, we stop to rest, and she informs me (paraphrasing here), “Yeah, this isn’t gonna work. I thought maybe I just needed to see you in a different setting, outdoors, and maybe I’d feel something, but nah, I’m just not attracted to you. And I think I’d rather go for a woman anyway (I knew she was bi).” So, how does one respond to that and the other nuanced reasons why I was not for her? Well, out there in the woods, knowing we were going to hike back together, I simply said: OK. I get it. Thanks for being honest.

The rest of the story—we get lost on the walk back and only the miraculous appearance on the forest road of someone she sort of knows saves us. This guy and his wife drive us all over until we finally find her car. And we go back to her house and I go home, and I only see her again when she returns the cordless drill I let her borrow before the hike.

And that’s why I love online dating.

And why I wish I had not screwed up so many previous relationships.

But I persist, because, as the saying goes, I need the eggs.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there. Some day I will once again be in your ranks. If I can avoid getting lost in the forest.