Someone wise and very dear to me told me around this time last year that I would fall in love with myself. That it would be hot and it would be gentle and it would be easy and it would be delicious and it would come. This love.
Tonight after work I took Bobo for a short run in the precipitous mix that has so far constituted winter. Quick, hot, hot shower after. Showed up with five minutes to spare for a belated birthday gift from a massage-therapist friend I’ve known for nearly as long as I’ve lived in Burlington. I removed my rings, necklace, boots, and socks while we chatted and caught up, then everything else when he stepped out of the room for a moment. Candles, dark, music, hands–I told him to go deep, and the wall of muscles in my upper back, neck, and shoulders both repelled and devoured the pressure. Towards the beginning, while I was still coherent, I said, “This is really generous of you.” He responded, “Generous would be buying you a plane ticket to Arizona. This is easy.”
I keep bumping into and hearing from people I’ve attempted to connect or reconnect with via email or for coffee. They appear just when I’ve forgotten about or let go of the effort. An email from an old college friend with whom I shared a tender dance as masked characters in a theater class; an old acquaintance who reached out to me a while back about her relationship and was sitting at the counter here with her iPad and drink when I arrived. “Choose you,” I told her, then quickly backed up and said I didn’t mean to offer anything that would even remotely resemble advice. But she said, “No, I need to hear it.” Saying yes to change, walking away from hurt, risking more change and more hurt, and especially venturing into the unknown, fears for children–our conversation flowed, as easily as the second Cosmo I just decided to order, something I rarely do but what the hell. The guy who rented a room from me and Greg back in our first house–a decade ago–is waiting tables, and we had the sweetest exchange. “Will it be just one?” my server asked. I nodded, content as she removed the second place setting from the small, round table. The Universe seems to be orchestrating.
From my horoscope this week: “For both your own sake and the sake of the people you love, you must find a way to shrink your urge to make them responsible for your well-being.” Oh, this. The urge to report my every move–made so easy through Facebook and texting–and the subtle power in choosing to stay with myself, to take myself on a date, to walk or write or think or experience things I may never share with another person, to find that fullness inside that magically translates to being more available to connecting with others. This is a practice.
No, I am not lying to myself and sugar-coating what’s hard, what’s aching, what’s missing–bedtime with my girls tonight, a voice, a body. But I am learning how to surf the waves, balance the intense highs and lows, and stay with myself when it would be easier to “deliberately plant my whole life in the hands of some other person,” according to British writer Quentin Crisp in my horoscope. And the more I stay, the more I fall in love with myself, the more I fall in love with my kids, my friends, my family, my loves, my colleagues, poetry, food, sleep, availability, risk, faith, beauty. It is an equation without numbers or words or logic or sequence, because it is simple–especially when I stop trying to be so smart. When I stop trying to figure it out, understand it, crack its code, negotiate, wrestle it into submission, and get the right goddamn answer, the problem solves itself. And it all starts right here. Right now.