01.07.2011

Sharing Lives

A relationship needs constant caretaking to last the distance
Why register with the state?
Why enlist in the legions of the respectable?
Why risk the whole apparatus of rolesand rules, of laws and liabilities?
"Why Marry At All?" Marge Piercy

I'd been married before. It wasn't as if it was that great an experience that I wished to repeat it.

Kinda sucked, really, once the romance was done and the hard stoneworks of living began. I wasn't ready for marriage. Too young, too insular, big yearnings for the world. But, I did it anyway, had the kids, divorced, did the sole parent thing, the unsuccessful relationship thing, washed up on the shores of Divorced White Woman Seeks Someone, Maybe, when the Moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars.

After creeping up to many men and plaintively asking, "Are you my partner?" I gave it all away as a rum deal. Don't get me started on Internet dating, blind dates, or dating at all. I'm not good at it. I wear the wrong thing at the wrong time, eat everyone's dessert, don't call for wine, and wear ear plugs to night clubs. I read New Scientist, NOVA and Spellcraft, not Vogue, Cosmo, and Good Housekeeping. I cast spells, not flirty looks. My daughter will tell you how daggy my shoes are.

Yet, like most people, I wanted that special someone. But, if it wasn't to be, then I would set about living my life to the full, and have interesting conversations with the cats. I went overseas to San Francisco, had a ball, and then went to a science fiction convention. In no way would you picture it as a hotbed of love, sex, and pick ups. I'd given it all up for Lent, provided Lent lasted 365 days per year.

I was having a conversation with a woman about chocolate, on day three of the convention. I mentioned that I managed to get chocolate down my cleavage, even when I wasn't eating chocolate, when I was wearing a high-necked T shirt, and how could this happen when I was busy volunteering the first day of the convention, and was not sure what the little squitty aliens had against me that they had to beam chocolate onto me, just for fun, to annoy. The woman was listening agog, and my words caught the attention of a passing male SF fan. Tall, geeky, on his way to somewhere else. "Chocolate" and "cleavage" grabbed his ears and pulled him into the conversation. We got chatting and I thought, "Tall, geeky, but not my type at all. Where, oh where, is the lovely man I met yesterday?" Not that I was planning to do much with either of them. How wrong I was.

By the end of the convention, I was infatuated with the nice man, and kinda impatient with Geeky. Why couldn't he see I wasn't that interested? Why did he seek me out, follow me around, invite me to ascend Pike's Peak with him? Well, yes, I went. I wasn't about to knock back a free sightseeing trip. We got along okay, but that was it. He drove me to the airport and said he wanted to see me again. Wait - wasn't that one of the classic lines men used, that I'd read about? They say that, then leave the country so as not to follow up, just to mess with women's heads. Just like He's Just Not That Into You showed me on the plane over from Australia.

Not that it mattered. I was about to leave the country back to Oz. He was about to leave the country back to Canada. He could want to see me again all he liked, but it was pretty far-fetched, mate. I couldn't see myself affording to go overseas again any time soon. See ya round like a rissole, son.

I went home, and pined for Nice Man, and thought about him, and fantasised and stifled the urge to do love spells to draw him to me. Geek Man kept in touch via email and my blog, and then Facebook. There was no getting away from him.
Then he asked me to go to Hawaii. It took me about two seconds to say yes, once he'd explained that I would be his guest. Hell, yes. I could be a kept woman, flown thousands of miles to keep a Geek company. I'm not so self sacrificing and noble that I'll knock back a free trip, just so I can keep my so-called reputation intact. Not that it was anyway. Proudly scandalous, that's me.

Hawaii flowed into a trip to Peru, flowed into him visiting me here, and me visiting him there. Meanwhile, I continued to hedge my bets with Nice Man, and then, bewilderingly, added a third bloke - Canada, Nebraska, Rhode Island. We refer to this time as my Experimental Period. There are other names, but this is a polite magazine. Two years, with to-ing and fro-ing, and bizarre Facebook chats with Nebraska and Rhode Island, while I talked to Canada on Skype.

2010, Samhain. I thought long and hard and decided that by Midsummer 2010, either someone would have stepped forward, or all three were getting kicked to the curb. This lifestyle was for the birds, even if it meant that no one else ever came along, and I was destined to be a mad old cat lady, a nun, or a hermit. I had four cats, the first seemed likely. I put the magic out there, that the right man start his journey to me. I kept names out of it, and strongly thought it would be someone I had not met yet. Certainly, the tarot cards said so, that He was journeying, but not here yet.

Waiting, waiting - bored now.
I knew that Rhode Island was not in the running. He was more in love with his boyish lifestyle than anything else, with possibly his own reflection second on the list. Then Mr Nice Man Nebraska came to stay and after a week, I felt a future was impossible with someone who only lived and thought in the now. Eckhart Tolle be damned, I wanted someone I could plan and dream with. We both cried a lot, and Nebraska went home. We both cried some more, and licked our wounds.

Then Canada came to visit. We talked, joked, lay around reading books, and suddenly we realised we liked this, we felt comfy and okay. All my fears were laying down like feathers, all his were floating away on the wind. He brushed my hair while we watched TV. I stuck my nose into his back in bed. It all felt good and right.

He asked, having journeyed far physically and emotionally to this point. I said yes, having done some journeying of my own.

Union does not happen overnight and, while a wedding is nice, the marriage is made up of grains of sand, tossed onto the pile, or carefully placed, over time. We'd been 33 months in the making, and we caretake what we have every day. He, because it's all new and the first time for him. Me, because I know all too well what can go wrong.

We may have grown up through the cracks in the concrete, like a dandelion, but we're flourishing. So mote it be.

This is a public saying to all our friends
that we want to stay together. We want
to share our lives. We mean to pledge
ourselves through times of broken stone
and seasons of rose and ripe plum;
we have found out, we know, we want to continue

Why Marry At All? Marge Piercy

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