I’ve decided that in life it’s good to have moments that are expected and that are unexpected. I don’t particularly want to live a life where I see everything coming. Additionally, I don’t want to be a person who lives a life of predictability, where people see me coming either. I like mystery and surprises, ya know, when they are good.
PTSD and hypervigilance sort of rob you of that kind of magical spontaneity in life. Those conditions govern that you must always know or be seeking what’s around the next corner so you don’t get blindsided, steamrolled, devastated.
Yet we know this is all illusion anyway. Life will blindside you and crash and burn all over you. When you least expect it. And if you crush or expend your energy in futility trying to avoid/be prepared the negative forces, you also crush all the delightful surprises and possibilities life is always waiting to offer in your direction. It’s about the opening of eyes and the opening of hands. When you’ve lived a life on a roller coaster squeezing your eyes shut and grasping the bar with all your might, you just miss a lot of stuff.
And it’s never too late to change.
I arrived in Rochester Saturday Jan. 3 through a storm. In fact, Rob and his husband Sean had come down from Sedona the night before as our flight was so early–7:32 to be exact. We had a night of fun and laughter and went to bed early in order to wake at 5am to make it to the airport on time. Consumed with excitement, I awoke at 4 and hopped in a warm bath to leisurely shave my legs. Just moments later Rob was knocking on the door asking if I was decent “um, no I’m in the bathtub” which is the first thing you see when you enter my bedroom. “Our flight is canceled, it’s not leaving until 1pm”. Damn!
Well I finished my bath and crawled back in to bed after calling John giving him the news. Instead of arriving at 2:30 pm, it would be more like 9:30. No worries he said, I need the time to get some stuff done.
We finally got on the plane after a huge mess at the airport and were on our way, finally. It was fun traveling with Rob and our first time doing air travel together! We didn’t have exact seats together so Rob managed it by moving his seat next to mine, in the same row with an empty one between us–SCORE! That plane was about half empty. Weird!
We had a short layover in Chicago and finally landed in Rochester around 10:30pm. Rob had arranged for John and I to have a hotel room (part of his negotiating with me to even do this) so John was waiting there at the Doubletree. It was late and the weather bad so he stayed put and Rob, renting a car anyway, dropped me off.
blurry but happy
My love was waiting outside in the cold and I saw him immediately when we pulled up. I can’t exactly describe the feeling–surreal I guess? I mean here we had fallen in love via all these avenues of communication–from Facebook to Messenger to the phone to Whatsapp (good app by the way to send voice notes and photos) and finally Facetime took us over the edge. We had been seeing each other in real time video for days so now it was just taking it to the next level–in person.
He was taller than I thought (he’s shorter than me) and other than that, exactly as I’d imagined. Bright shining face and we just hugged and hugged laughing on the sidewalk. We grabbed my suitcases and ran inside the hotel rushing toward the elevator. He stopped and grabbed my face, held it, and started kissing me right there in the lobby near the elevator doors. I was breathless. It was a lot to digest.
The room was high on the seventh floor with a view and soft lightning. I sat my stuff down and, I’ll just say it, we were almost instantly making out. ha It’s true. The chemistry between John and I is off the chain. We kind of already knew this but there’s a knowing what you know, right?
I’d say he was more comfortable than me. It had been a long trip, stressful and it was just so much to digest! We finally sat side by side on the bed holding hands and looking out at the expansive view in to the night saying over and over things like “this is surreal isn’t it?”. But it was all good. All good.
The night was fantastic, I’ll just leave it at that. In the morning it looked like the bed had become a centrifuge and clothes had flown all over the room. Flotsam and jetsam. Yes, it was that kind of night. I’ll just say we are completely, over the top, compatible in that department. And neither of us snores! Oh hell yes!
John couldn’t figure out what that bed scarf was for so wrapped it around his head
We had plans to meet Rob and his Mom for brunch the next day so we leisurely got up and as I showered, he organized everything (gotta love that and we found the charming restaurant Rob had picked out. Brunch was good, John was for the first time shy and Rob’s Mom said we were “vibrant”. I’m sure we were glowing. John helped me with my coat, pulled my chair out for me. I’m saying…this is all so new and a long time coming. A gentleman.
After brunch we stopped at Wegman’s grocery store and got groceries for the week. I decided to make a big pot of my homemade Nicaraguan chicken soup which could kind of carry us through. Something that should feel awkward, like being in a grocery store together , was as all things have been, like something we’ve done together for years. Our natural compatibility is truly amazing.
We arrived at his cozy home in rural Pennsylvania in the dark. He immediately started up the wood stove, we had a snack then curled up in his cozy bed. I felt instantly comfortable there.
darling little Lillian I easily bonded with
The next day John had his daughter, Lillian so he went to go get her and I waited at the house. Before leaving he covered me with an extra blanket, left me a voice note saying he had left his robe at the foot of the bed for me to use and had set up the coffee maker for me. When i got up he’d left me a poem on my ipad on the kitchen counter. This MAN! This amazingly nurturing romantic MAN!
I won’t write in detail about the whole week as I’m super super busy right now getting ready to hit the road for Seattle in two days but everything just was wonderful and easy and fun and lots and lots of laughter.
He did work on Tues, Wed and Thurs so I hung out at the house, writing some, listening to a podcast, cooking, just enjoying the simplicity and quiet of his home. At night we would curl up downstairs on his reclining love seat by the woodstove and watch movies in his little home theatre with a big screen TV. We even like all the same movies. Quirky indie films. As his son said, “you are like the female version of my Dad”. It’s uncanny.
homemade popcorn and chocolate for dinner
So, to the big event. He returned home from working on Thursday and I was downstairs listening to the Podcast Serial on my ipad. He still had some reports to finish so went back upstairs and when I finished a half hour later or so, I went up. He turned with a little grin and said “I thought your powers of observation were better than that”. Huh?
He asked me to look around. By the Christmas tree was a large 4 foot white box with a big red bow–the old school kind for bringing long stemmed roses. I opened it and inside were, no surprise, a dozen long stemmed roses of all colors. “I didn’t know what was your favorite so I got them all”. That is so John. His card was equally romantic.
I arranged them in a vase after lots of hugs and kisses and we then set about making our second video in our “Coolness” performance art series. It’s so fun! He has camera equipment as he’s been making crazy videos himself and is interested in film making so I got to see him in action with lighting etc. Impressive! He just uploaded it yesterday so here it is. It was our third “take” so we seem a little stiff but fun anyway. I think you can see the love between us so clearly.
(who knew I’d be getting engaged moments after this?)
After we finished this video, he said “now I need you to go find your other present”. I had no idea where it was or anything so he said “go look where you found the last one”. Embedded in the Christmas tree was a little silver box.
He asked me to sit on the sofa in front of the flowers and the candle we’d lit and open it. Inside was a very fine gold chain. Now this man does nothing without a meaning or sentimentality so I knew a story was coming. He started talking about a locket and I was thinking a locket would be forthcoming to put on the chain and this was the first step.
But no, he slid off the sofa, on two knees in front of me, reached in to his back pocket and pulled out a gold ring.
What he said was something like this:
“This is my father’s wedding band. When he died (John was 9), my mother wore it around her neck on a gold chain until she died (John was 15). My father came to me in a dream and told me he was happy with you for me so I want to give you his ring and ask you to wear it around your neck as my mother did. I want to renew this symbol in our lives and I want to ask you if you will marry me”.
looks silver here but it’s yellow gold–both the chain and ring
Just like that. I’m sure I gasped and covered my mouth and said something that sounded like yes. He took the chain from my hand, put his father’s ring on it and clasped it back on my neck. We hugged and kissed and he cried but I was so in shock I didn’t even cry but just kept saying “oh my God” over and over.
We sat on the sofa staring at each other saying “we’re engaged!” repeatedly.
I’d brought a small bottle of red wine that I’d brought home from my last trip to Rancho La Puerta that was sitting on his counter all week (John doesn’t really drink alcohol much at all). He said “let’s make a toast and open your wine”. So we did, sitting there on the sofa sipping red wine and repeating over and over “we just got engaged!”. “We’re getting married!”.
I’m telling you it’s the most natural thing in the world. No fear. No drama. No waiting for the other shoe to drop. All those things in my life are over. This is my man, the one I’ve waited for for a very very long time. I feel utterly secure with him and myself and my more expanded self and nothing but excited for our future.
Just to backtrack, before I headed out there, he had casually said to me in a conversation once “just so you know I have a plan and a formal proposal will be coming”. It didn’t surprise me he said that as we both knew where this was heading very early on. We just knew. I didn’t think it would come on this trip but I knew it was coming. Heck, we didn’t even know this trip was happening!
I then told him that receiving a traditional diamond ring was really not important to me and actually not my preference. I have beautiful diamond rings from my grandma I can’t even wear (at once anyway) and at 55, that ritual isn’t important to me. I told him my preference was to have matching, unique bands on both our fingers so that when you look at our hands they match exactly. So this ring around my neck is the most perfect symbol I could ever imagine. It’s just absolutely perfect for me/us.
John and I are crafting an unusual and unique way to move in the world as well. Neither of us is relocating now and it’s just as we want it. It was so liberating to say to him that I would prefer a life with more space and fluidity. I said “between us, we have three homes. How about a life where we move between them, sometimes together, sometimes apart?”. He gasped and asked a question he’s now asked dozens of times “where did you come from?”.
We are two loners, two introverts finding each other. Being in each other’s space 24/7 is not our preference. We both need lots of alone time. This arrangement fits our personalities perfectly and I couldn’t be more relieved we’re on the same page.
Neither of us ever thought we’d need to get married again. But once we found each other, it’s all we could think about. Something about being married creates an anchor for us to have this open and free unconventional lifestyle (don’t get me wrong, it includes 100% monogamy and commitment). We have one rule: we don’t separate without a clear plan for when we are together again.
This time it’s Feb 11–one day after his 55th birthday and just before Valentine’s Day. We will be together in Edmonds (where I arrive in just 6 short days), then Seattle, then on the road, then Tempe then Sedona for the film festival. My family will meet him then. I can’t wait.
I miss him but it’s so amazing to have someone to miss. I’m still pinching myself that I found this man who is my dream–the ultimate of friendship with the ultimate of passion. Crazy passion on so many levels it’s off the chart! Yet fun and friendship. I’ve never laughed so hard with a man in my life.
I’ll end quoting Billy Crystal from When Harry Met Sally “when you finally realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start, as soon as possible”.
this is my man!
That’s it! Thanks for all the love. I finally got my amazing love story.
This man responded to my poem, my heart and soul in black and white and off we went.
I’m positively shimmering with gratitude and excitement.
bloodshot eyes as I left for the airport our last morning and he snapped this