Thursday, September 22, 2005

Harsh Illuminations

So, the Girlfriend and I have hit some bumps.

Lately, I've been feeling a little taken for granted. I know that's a wuss thing to say, but it's true. The honeymoon is over. We don't see each other through the blissful filters and soft lighting that in the beginning made each of us look flawless. Now we're under harsh low-end department-store-like fluorescents that enhance even the most subtle blemishes and cause headaches until your eyes can adjust.

In the beginning, the soft focus days, there were e-mails with things like "must do something other than think of you" and "you are always on my mind." Now, I'm lucky if I get complete sentences and a signature.

I've never thought of myself as high maintenance, but maybe I am. Is it wrong to want a bit of the niceties back in our relationship? Am I wrong to want this? Am I wrong to feel shortchanged since I'm not getting it? Am I wrong to write about it publicly? I've always been of the opinion that feelings are never wrong or right, they just are what they are.

As I write this, I'm starting to think of her. See her face, hear her voice, her laugh and I'm smiling. You see, we've not seen a whole lot of each other lately. Work, family visits, conflicting schedules and life in general has gotten in our way, interrupted our flow. The only thing we have now is words to express ourselves. No eye contact, no smiles across the room, no cuddling at night. Nothing but words.

That's the problem. We've agreed that I'm effusive and she's not. It's just not her style. She shows her feelings by doing things. All it takes is a quick glance in her eyes and I know what she's thinking, how she's feeling. That's worth more than a few nice words in an e-mail, but right now, e-mails and words are all we have.

This is the first time in our relationship that we've hit a snag. I guess our eyes are adjusting to reality's harsh lighting. Once we focus, all will be ok.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Naked in the Snow

When I'm bored, I sometimes think of how things come to be defined. Like the word "sweet." Who decided what "sweet" was and who created the word? Does "sweet" taste different to me that it is to others? What is my threshold for "sweet" vs. "sour"?

I was thinking of this as I drove to work this morning. The Girlfriend and I talked about love this morning. Where is the trip-switch for falling in love? At what point in a relationship do you really feel it? Is there a checklist of things a person has to do to be loved by the other? Is it more qualitative than quantitative?

Can you make someone fall in love you? The popular answer is no, but is that really true? When we court and date and caress and compliment, isn't that making someone fall in love with you? Is love simultaneous? After all, you're both experiencing this relationship bliss at the same time, so why wouldn't love develop concurrently?

Love is an emotion that frightens me. It makes me feel exposed and vulnerable and satisfied all at the same time. As if I were naked in the snow yet still safe and warm. That feeling of warmth and safety made me say those dreaded 3 words.

Saying them, even in the quietest, most tender of moments can be deafening. It seemed that the entire world had heard me. I waited patiently for a response, yet none came. There I was, naked in the snow, only this time without that safe, warm feeling.

I may be a bit frostbitten, but I will persevere, you know why, because I'm in love.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Without Condition

I took my dog swimming this weekend. It's strange to get so much pleasure watching him swim and play. He's truly the light of my life and makes my spirit come alive like few others can. I love him, without condition.

I remember when I first got him. Actually, he was a gift from the Ex.
We both agree that he was the best thing to happen to either of us. She was very supportive during the most horrible period of my life. I can't ever thank her enough for standing by me during that time. She gave so much during that time. All of it intangible. Except, of course, for my boy.

Setting the Scene:

I had just come off of a rough year. Cancer diagnosis, treatments, lost weight, lost hope, lost job and frankly, just plain lost. As I sit here writing and reminiscing , I have a hard time recognizing that person with the broken spirit.

Mending my spirit was very difficult for me. At 25, I faced my own mortality and the fear associated with that shook me to my core. According to the doctors, physically, I was fine, well, as close to fine as a person rolling off of cancer can be. My psyche was a different story.

Sparing you all of the details, most which are too painful to recollect, I left my job, or it left me, during the cycle of treatment. I was emotionally frail and my self esteem was at an all time low.

Time passed, and I began to pick myself. Slowly but surely things started to fall into place: the former job had to pay in dollars for their cruelty, I found a new job, and I made a great new friend, K, that would soon become family.

But still something was missing. I was insecure about things. My body, the one vessel humans believe is faithful to them unconditionally, failed me. I needed something that would love me, damaged goods and all, without condition.

"Maybe a plant," I suggested to my ex. Knowing my history with plants, she felt giving me one to tend to was cruel and unusual punishment for our botanical friends.

A dog. That was the ticket.

I wanted a dog for a while, but money was very tight while I was sick and she needed to focus on feeding us with her meager salary. But now things were different. I was raking in the big bucks. $36,000 per year! We had hit the mother load of cash.

So, looking through the Sunday classifieds one day, I saw an ad for "Lab-mix puppies, all shots, $96" with a phone number. She called and we went to check them out. "Not to get one," she made very clear, but to check them out. Like window shopping.

We got there and walked back to a small shed where the kind lady kept all the pups she rescued.

Corrals of small breeds were in the front of the shed. MinPin mixes. Very cute and very small. She led us to the large room in the back where 9 of the cutest black lab mix puppies temporarily resided.

We were hooked. We knew we couldn't leave with out one of these furry little beasts. The Ex told the lady we were interested in adopting a male and she proceeded to take all 8 of them out of their pen. Once out, they roamed around the room. Sniffing, licking and exploring. Tails wagged and "oooo's" and "awe, how cute's" were plentiful.

They were all so cute and sweet, how could we choose? Just then, one sweet little guy came over to us. He looked up at me and the Ex and sat on her foot. "I think we'll take this one," I said to the kind lady as she smiled at me and the Ex.

While we were filling out the paper, I called my friend K to let her know about the lone female left in her pen. "I WANT THAT DOG," she said to the lady. The lady laughed and put a "sold" sign on the cute little girl.

The next morning, brother and sister were reunited. The cool thing is K and I are still good buddies and our beasts still play from time to time.

As I watched my puppy, almost 7 now, play in the lake on Monday, I realized that he loved me, without conditions or restrictions,and he taught me how to do the same, not just back to him, but to others.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Saddness and gratitude

I've been reading CNN.com obsessively to get the latest on the disaster in NOLA, MS, AL and FLA. Seeing the images of the souls that were lost and those that are left behind fighting to survive is traumatizing even though I am lucky enough to not have any friends or family in harms way.

All we can do is watch and support the men and women working to help those suffering in Katrina's wake. Please consider donating to the Red Cross to help in the rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts. Click here to contribute: https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp

When I go home tonight I will hug my Girlfriend and my dog , smile at my neighbors, call my Mother and thank God for the roof over my head and the safety of those I love.

To my loyal readers: Look around you and appreciate what you have and who you have. Hug your family, friends and pets and never forget how fragile life is.