The last time I saw Patsy was at my wedding – nearly 13 years ago. She officiated, combining Jewish, Hindu, Native American and British elements into a ceremony that spoke to both of our hearts and sensibilities.
I spoke to her yesterday for the first time in more years that I can count – not quite 13, but far too long.
We talked about Mickey – her mom – who had just died and what that felt like for her. About meeting in Israel on a press trip nearly 20 years ago. And so much of what had happened in the in between. Things we caught in passing, in pithy Facebook posts and the occasional email.
She had no real sense of what had happened between my ex and me. Or even that I had (happily) given up the fight with alcohol nearly seven years ago.
And because she had not been with me for every step, every man, every tear and nuance of the journey – she saw the story, my story, far differently than me. Her reflections were, in a word, a revelation.
She had recently asked me in an email if there was “someone special” in my life.
It was the question I have come to expect. To brace myself for. To both love and despise – as it can feel both hopeful and humiliating, depending on the day, my mood and the current state of my heart.
I told her that I did not. That it hurt my heart to write that.
I told her about the suggestion that I not date for a year after my divorce. How that was pretty easy as no one was really asking. (Which is not exactly true. More to the point would be, no one I was interested in was asking.) And how that year had come and gone.
I told her I had met some extraordinary men, experienced some wonderful emotional intimacy and some wonderful romance. But none had been truly available for one reason or another.
I told her I am online, like every other schlub, although it is not how I imagine meeting someone. And to keep me and my big, juicy, open heart in her thoughts and manifestations.
It was “my story.” The one I tell myself. The one I tell here.
Yesterday, she helped me tell the next chapter. It had a decidedly different feel.
I told her about the “romantic friendship” with my spiritual-traveling twin. About the man nearly 13 years my junior, who has been dancing around me (and me, him) for some months, and our breakfast date that morning. And about a similar dance I have been doing with a man who looks a lot like Daniel Day Lewis – my ex’s doppelganger.
I told her about the friend who continues to tell me, “I’m still interested.” How my feelings remain platonic. And that I have no desire to try to “make them” otherwise.
And I told her about a new man – the chef – who I actually did meet online. We’ve had just a few dates, and my feelings feel “right sized.” He is easy to talk to and I have fun spending time with him. I find him attractive and I like how he kisses.
“I think you are very genuine,” he blurted across the table a few nights ago. I like that too. Because it is kind and observant, but mostly because it is true.
Patsy replied, “You ARE dating a lot of men right now. You are having fun. You just haven’t settled on one.”
It was true. It IS true. It sounds different from “I am still not in a relationship,” even though the actual details are the same. And it feels different.
She added that in the nearly 20 years she has known me, that I have always had men in my orbit. Always. That I have always been attractive to men. Always.
This was news. I had not seen it that way.
Seems I have spent the past 30-plus years mostly noticing the time in between. The times of breakup and/or longing. And believing that everyone else was constantly in relationship – meaningful relationship – and wondering why I was not.
She reminded me of the other chef. The one I dated before my ex-husband.
And I recalled the hotel bartender in Israel who suggested I show him the pictures in my room. When I replied, “I think you’ve seen all the pictures in all of these rooms,” he asked if I was a lesbian. Earlier he had asked if I was “an alcoholist,” as I turned down a drink. Close enough.
I chose an evening with my new press-trip friends (among them, Patsy) over an overseas fling, and a good story to be certain. I chose to be the lesbian alcoholist.
And in that recalling, I saw myself as Patsy saw me. (And likely, many others.) Attractive. Discerning. At choice. I have always been at choice…in relationships. And now, in how tell my story.