30 year crisis

Dear Nora,

I have been thinking about you and Mr. Toby as you travel and move this summer. Any and all updates are welcome! Even when I am the worst, and neglecting you horribly. Know that even when I don’t write, I still am thinking of you and needing to write. I’ve discovered when I’m in uncertain times I get a writing block in my brain of how to sort it.

How long were you in NYC for? Are you in Philly now? Also what day was your birthday?? Tell me about your new digs! Give me a Toby update–I have been so worried about him. I miss you Nora! I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write. I hope you forgive me when that happens.

Also, how was it being in the same city as Cory for a bit?? Also, Abby?

I’m so excited for you and your new adventure. New friends! New poly scene! New things to learn about. All the possibilities!

Hey guess what? I made it to 3 months of celibacy! It was down to the goddamn day, but I made it. More on that in a bit, but I just wanted to pat myself on the back because it was an accomplishment for me.

I had a hardy laugh at myself after reading your letter. “You want to know why you find yourself in this situation? Because you put yourself in this situation.” So thank you for that, and calling me out on my nonsense. I fed the wolf, and that is the wolf that won. No surprise to anyone, I am sure.

Hannah and I began casually dating over a month ago. It has not been an explosion or a tidal wave or anything all-consuming, but a pleasant warmth like the steady heating of coals. She is consistent, attentive, kind and thoughtful. I like not being lost in the sauce. I like just continuing my life as the days get longer and warmer, and gradually getting to know her. Trying to win over each other’s cats, and hanging out for game nights, and sometimes talking about serious things and other times being silly, and sometimes not talking at all and just cuddling so good or laying in bed reading side by side. I think I am falling…but it’s a slow-motion sort of fall–so it is different from what I’ve become accustomed to. And it is too soon to tell anything for certain, so I am working to be patient and take my time. And she is patient, too.

If I learned anything from Lily, it’s that there is no substitute for time passing. And that when I jump to conclusions, it is unfair to all parties involved.

I still feel hesitant for anything very “official”, whatever that really means. But I feel safe and un-judged by her, and in a good place. And very much myself. I want to wait to commit to a “relationship” again until I feel no hesitation, but I also recognize labels are just labels, and the truth is in the thing itself. Neither of us are looking to “get to know” anyone else at the present. We have been calling it “Smart Casual Dating”.

Hannah is a stinker in the guise of a sweet midwestern girl. But deep-down she’s a total shit-starter… but also a compassionate and caring/responsible eldest of four. She reminds me of home. Maybe it’s the midwest, or the family, or the hard-working frugal sensibilities that you gain from a heritage of farmers. I tease her that she is actually a curmudgeonly old man trapped in a 30-year-old cute lesbian. She says things like “swell” and “quite” and “indeed” and “pish posh” and calls dinner “supper”. She lives so much more of her life on the inside that I am used to. I am an introvert as well, but probably an unusually expressive one. And I’ve spent so many years dating extroverts who say the first thing that pops into their head and spill anything they’re feeling. I suspect Hannah is a “still waters run deep” type of person, but I am still discovering what is under the surface. The other day we had brunch with a group of people, many of whom we didn’t know. And when we left, she apologized to me that she was so quiet in the group, and that she isn’t the “life of the party” person. “You know what, Hannah? I really don’t care about that. I used to more, because I wanted to be with someone who did all the talking for me. But now, I like to talk for myself, and so however you are is just fine by me–as long as you accept yourself.”

I have been searching myself and asking some of the questions you put to me last letter. What in me is resisting aloneness? And also, why am I striving for aloneness? And what role does sex play? Why do I want to date, or not date?

I fear settling. I fear selling myself short on something bigger I am meant for. I am mistrustful of my own feelings. I am still drawing comparisons to what I had with Kay–idealizing it in inaccurate ways and worrying I’ll never reach that again.  I am afraid of thinking with my body instead of my brain. I am afraid of hurting anyone else.

I am constructing  wall after wall, thinking it will protect me from all of those things..but perhaps it is only keeping the best possibilities out.

I am afraid of waking up someday, and having it all have passed me by.

Beautiful trip to the Grand Canyon, and hiking trips around OR

And then I ask myself, what is “it all”? What do I want these years to be filled with? What will make me feel like I didn’t settle and that I reached my best potential and found my best “fit” and made good decisions? 30 year crisis, Nora! I’m telling you…

Here is the biggest difference between 20 year old me falling in love for the first time, and 30 year old me now. I used to be “playing to win”, but I feel like now I am just playing not to lose. And that’s really a horrible way to go about life, especially when it comes to love. It’s also time for me to let go of all of my assumptions that just because once upon a time I fell in love in a specific way, that it’s going to look just like that again… so many years later. It cannot look the same because I am not the same.

There are so many ways to be in love.

–Yrsa Daley-Ward

I feel I am making everything into a big jumbled mess but it’s not as complicated as all of that. I want really simple, good things out of life. The things that make me happiest are life’s basic pleasures… making good food, having a cold beer, finding a really lovely flower or lush display of green or taking in a scenic view. A chat with a good friend. A head butt from Magpie or a warm cuddling up under the covers. Weather. Hot baths. Gardens growing. Swimming in the ocean. A handwritten note in the mail. Exploring a new place. Making out and having sex with someone I can snort laugh with. Knowing and loving myself, and feeling like I am adding some good into the lives of others. Getting swept up in a consuming book. Writing thoughts into words. Falling in love… not in a dramatic, flash of lighter fluid burst of flame, but in a slow and steady build of warmth–lit for a longterm burn.  Having a deep friendship and partnership with someone I love and respect, who I am crazy about and who is crazy about me. Those are the things I want these years filled with.

Simple pleasures: cat paws, flowers & chocolate from Hannah, singing with my choir at Pride

Ruth, calm the fuck down and trust your gut.

That is my advice to myself today.

Having a compulsive need to know instantly if the person I’m dating is “the one” is stupid and unrealistic. Holding myself to the expectation that I should know that right away is setting myself up for anxiety and failure. I don’t even believe in the one! I believe in really great fits, and even better fits, and feeling at peace and at home with someone and falling in love and walking through life together, while encouraging and inspiring each other to be your best selves.

Ok, all of my ramblings are done for today. It is late. It is cooling down outside and the breeze is blowing in and Magpie is sitting in the window, looking into the quiet night. Today was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. But the days are still warming up and I am grateful for the arrival of a new season.

Rambling,

Ruth

P.S. Can you please do a tarot card reading for me? Unless it’s something really bad, and then I’d rather not know…

P.P.S. How do you feel about turning 30?! I suppose your 30-year-crisis was considering monogamy again for a bit 🙂

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