Two

Orgasms. Are they better shared? And if so, why?

Whenever two or more are gathered…

Certainly, re-creation and pro-creation are holy ground.

God’s recreation of the new day…

Wine. Good food. Laughter. Conversation.

My troubles are halved. My joy doubled…

Is it the same for introverts?

It’s Monday morning, so my attention should be drawn to practical matters, but I’ve been leading three different women’s groups through the second chakra this month so I find myself drawn deeper and deeper into its womb-like center.

How might your life have been different if, deep within you, you carried an image of the Great Mother? And, when things seemed very, very bad, you could imagine that you were sitting in the lap of the Goddess, held tightly… embraced, at last.

These words by Judith Duerk, in her seminal work, Circle of Stones, arrived in my lap as a new mother, seeking the feminine without knowing it, and they return now to remind me to let if flow.

I’ve soaked, I’ve skated, I’ve skied, I’ve played under the covers with the man I first brought home 33 summers ago at the shore.

When that summer ended, I left for the Rockies, a homecoming of sorts, as I had lived there as a kid and had longed to return. Casey came along.

I taught skiing by day and waited tables by night. We made love between jobs.

To say I love you right out loud…

Over a Thanksgiving return to the shore, an elder relative asked, “Are you going to blog about us?”

I paused to consider her concern. Blogging wasn’t on my mind, I assured her.

“If you do want to write something about us one day,” she began, and then she motioned for me to come closer.

As she spoke, I was struck by her tender tone, so in contrast to her natural boisterousness.

What she said could only be spoken by someone who has loved and hated and fought and devoted and drenched 50+ years with the same lover.

Whenever two or more are gathered…

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To Risk Love

I watched as twenty-year old waiter spun a tray on his forefinger beside the coffee station while he chatted with the bartender who blended drinks for the 8-top beside the water.

It was the year 1986, and somehow in that moment, beyond the fine qualities that I’d already appreciated (as a manager and as a woman), my soul recognized in my future husband someone who had the capacity to live outside the box, stretching the limits of happiness and realization and love.

I wasn’t wrong.

But first, my heart would need to be broken by another.

And still, there was no happy ending.

Love is not only an ever-unfolding adventure but an invitation, again and again, to deepen, to risk, to transcend.

Separate, we may have selected different paths.

I would have returned abroad.

He may have stayed put.

7 years after we found Love in a Crab House beside the intercoastal waterway, an every-day tragedy extracted us from the comfort of our familiar.

We arrived in the Green Mountains about the time other souls conspired to arrive here at the center of their soul’s longing.

Healers. Teachers. Counselors. Organizers. Artists. Visionaries. All simultaneously playing out the day-to-day of paying the bills, and repainting the house, raising kids, losing a spouse, divorces, affairs, house raisings, house fires, betrayals, relocations.

25 years later and we have arrived at the beginning again, the nest we built emptied, me restless for a new horizon.

“What we call the beginning is often the end,” said the poet T.S. Eliot, “And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

Our souls are called to climb, and Casey and I take turns challenging the ascent and alternately insisting, as needed, on the spiraling descent, in the dance of presence and possibility.

Once upon a time (and sometimes still), I feared such a coupling for so many reasons:

1. Infidelity (not just his)
2. Boredom (see #1)
3. Loss of self/power/identity/expression/choice (see #1 & #2)
4. Loss of love

“For a marriage to be vital, divorce must stay on the table.”

I read that line some years back and it’s echoed what’s been true for me, and what enabled me, almost 30 years ago, to say, “Yes,” to Casey’s desire for convention, even while I refused to claim a name other than the one to which I, like Casey, had been born.

We were walking the 2 blocks between his mother’s house and my mother’s house on a busy road 2 blocks from the bay, when he finally understood that what he was asking of me was not only a charming construct but a longstanding form of gender oppression that would, in fact, annihilate me (and everything I had to offer Love.)

By the time our boys came, there was no question.

A weaker man, a man with less capacity, a man who was too afraid to breathe beyond the confines of culture, and thus refused the call to greater love, would not recognize the gift in my refusals.

Some time ago, soon after we built the house and mortgaged it, Casey went two years without his teaching salary. At the center of this crisis, like the loss that brought us to the Green Mountains, we stood at the precipice of realizing something true. But it was not to be.

Casey found a good job locally; one he still holds to this day.

Have you seen the film: Revolutionary Road? It explores the tragic cost of stability on “one” woman’s psyche. But both of us may have been too afraid, each in our own ways.

“There is no such thing as a faithless person,” writes Marianne Williamson, “We either have faith in the power of love or faith in the power of fear.”

Saying, “Yes,” to our coupling is a daily act of creativity, just as saying, “Yes,” to love (instead of fear) makes you a Creator.

November 6th will reveal our nation’s faith in love.

“Faith is an aspect of consciousness,” says Williamson; and consciousness, say I, isn’t a happy ending, but a day to day invitation to love, to risk, to transcend.

the turning


When your life is suddenly emptied of children, you discover things you once knew, like quiet and simplicity and space, or that you never knew, like the way you and your husband, brought to tears in the kitchen while listening to a story, turn away instead of toward the arms of the person with whom you chose to share a life.

How had we never come upon this before, this mutual turning away? Shouldn’t it have been revealed over the course of thirty-something years, or at least in the decade before children?

I certainly knew that he turned away from me–think of the year my mother died during which I wrote the poem about the wallpaper and my wrist and the color red while the new baby nursed in the crook of my arm, and he went ahead and enrolled in that Masters Program after I’d asked him to wait. `

We have slept apart since the late August afternoon when we took that same baby to college. Most every night for more than a month now (after never before). Mainly because I’ve been sick. And Menopause. And the string of unusually sticky September nights. And the way he sometimes wakes to pee, not once, but twice, the floors creaking, me waking, at 4 or 3 or 2, up for the day no matter how much night remained.

Today was a bad day, a new regimen of treatment making me feel worse to feel better, and the heavy cloud cover with no promise of redemption of sun in the forecast; and when he arrived home late from work, he fixed himself some dinner and brought it to the couch where I had given up trying to write into that year with the wallpaper and was instead watching a documentary about Joan Didion who wrote into just about everything.

Her words brought us to tears from time to time and there it was again!—this turning away—this hiding our grief?—and yet didn’t we cry at the same places, and weren’t our hearts moved in the same way, and isn’t it unbearable to think that one day, he may be slumped in my arms, or I, in his, like her husband (and then daughter), forever. gone.

Little by little, in the empty spaces, we are finding what we once knew. Our two-ness.

It’s sprouting up like spring seedlings, promising something that is almost too painful to receive. This turning toward one another again, like this turning toward self again. In love.

Where we belong


Marriages end. Marriages begin. Love blossoms. Love fades.

“How did we get here from there?” we ask.
Or: “How do we get there from here?”

Some say there is no there. Only here.
Is that true?

Doesn’t every beginning embody its ending?

Don’t love and hate, union and dissolution, copulate?

Maybe our job is not to arrive or transcend but to…
What…
Realize?
That it is all here.
Beneath us.
Within us.

And to understand that right here is where we decide:

How to coincide.

33 birthdays

53

This whole marriage & a house was your thing, and now with the kids both gone, I resent you like I resented falling in love so many summers ago.

But just like your first birthday as a father, I feel a tenderness well up in me on this first birthday from the other side.

It’s taken me by surprise, like the way I look at this photo that I zoomed in to take last weekend at the pond while you were deep in conversation with another guy.

Living with 3 guys is a lot of work. I mean it provides huge swaths of independence, and I’ve relied upon that, but it’s also lonely in the realms that women invisibly tend and upon which society depends even while it infinitely dismisses our humanity.

Which is to say, I’m tired. It could be the president. His party. It could be menopause. It could be the caretaking that began when I was a girl like it does for so many born female, especially older sisters. It could be the weight of my mother’s and grandmothers despair, dismissed as an inferiority of gender instead of the societal tragedy it was. it  is.

This untethering from our boys leaves me wanting to lighten more, like a hot air balloon lifting into the sky, while you seem to have the opposite inclination–to dig deeper, to enlarge, to ground.

What will come of us in this next chapter? This new book?

I fell in love with a 20-year-old guy who had an easiness about him; who was kind; who always pitched in; who was comfortable around women; who was capable of celebrating them and sharing the lead; who was gutsy enough to persist in asking his boss out on a date.

What is it that I love about you at 53?

…the way your chest still beckons to my head I suppose. The solace of your arms around me…
I delight in the ways you rediscover yourself… Your sudden capacity for self-care and deepening interest in self-knowing… Your courage to be vulnerable in this regard. Your decision to chaperone a trip to Italy. (Italy!) Your growing certainty of all that you have to offer, just as you are.

For now, I can barely love you because so much bandwidth is taken up by loving and letting go of our boys; but I can sense a seed of return on the horizon, and your steady presence is promising, as is the mutual deepening of our personal paths.

To another shared circle around the sun!

What I wrote to you on your 21st birthday still rings true:

I. am. so. lucky.

From Mint to Tulsi Rose

My mothers cup.

Just after my mother died (about the age I am now), my husband began placing a mug of tea beside the bed while I nursed our second son. Mint. A herb that’s been with me since before my First Bleed.

This waking ritual went on for some time. From the single bedroom we all crowded into on Ames Hill to the sprawling house atop Cow Path to the cozy post & beam raised by friends on MacArthur road where we’ve lived ever since, and where Motherhood gave way to Menopause and Mint to Tulsi Rose.

Every morning for an unfathomable… 18 years.

Until yesterday.

With Aidan off to college by week’s end, I’m ready to find what comes from fixing my own morning tea and curious to see what arises in the space for Casey; though I did have to remind him this morning, so comforted is he by the well-worn routine of tending others.

Cleaving

Where we began…

“Mama, give your love back to your husband.”

Such an obnoxious line from a son/song. First heard when my boys were babes, and now their birthdays make me sad, 23 & 18, the youngest leaving in ten days, the other long gone, home for a short stay to celebrate his special day.

But don’t I find myself cuddling up toward Casey more, like that guy in Maine with the old coon dog that he had around the place on a bitter three-dog winter’s night.

And perhaps the most telling: This morning I recombined our laundry after separating mine from his (and theirs), almost twenty years ago, when we lived atop Cow Path, a radical act of a new mother’s individuation then, an unexpected act of cleaving now.

Return

We met and fell in love (and later celebrated our marriage) on this narrow strip of land between the ocean and the bay, long before our hairs were gray and gravity & weight had its way.

Moved by a song, we stopped the car and danced there beside the marsh, undisturbed for a precious few moments, before the hoots & hollers & honks interrupted our flow.

“GET A ROOM!” someone yelled from the line of traffic inching toward the drawbridge or was it from the steady stream of cars heading toward the island?

“WE HAVE A HOUSE!” I wish I responded.

“You made a lot of people happy,” said the guy behind the camera, as the song ended and we got back into the car. “So many people were smiling.”

At 18, our youngest was surprisingly unembarrassed by the new waiter who would become his father and the manager who would become his mother–as they danced across from the sea-shelled driveway that led to the Crab House where they became—us—in 1986—as the sun set over the intercoastal waterway–on the way to Cape May.
~
SUMMER BREEZE LOVE-TOUR DATA ROLL:


3 states, 6 siblings, 5 siblings-in-law, 6 nieces, 4 nephews, 2 cousins, 1 aunt, 1 parent, 1 stepparent, 1 sister of my grandmother, 1 second cousin and 3 cousins once-removed, one circle of lifetime friends from highschool (celebrating the life of one passed), 2 four-legged friends (only one who bites)…

lots of storms, 1 beach afternoon, 1 beach morning, 1 solo sunrise walk in my pj’s (because I’m 54 and men go topless), several sunsets, one timeless Cape May – Lewes Ferry crossing with my sister’s family (who made a round trip just to ride with us)…

2 different pies from 2 different sides of the Delaware Bay (Grotto Pizza & Sam’s Pizza Palace), Dolle’s popcorn, Laura’s fudge, Dogfish Head (shout out to Flesh & Blood!), West Side Market (for the best cheesesteaks!), Kohler’s Bakery–3 minutes after opening (with a line already dozens deep), one blissed-out hour at H&H Seafood picking crabs and swallowing steamers, mussels, shrimp & scallops…

1 Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grille happy hour, 2 breakfasts with sisters including eggs benedict at Congress Hall, Cape May with a side of several winks from our late mother…

One 6-seated bike ride in fierce conditions (thanks for the off-roading & laughter D R Bradley’s Bikes Rentals), one niece on guitar & vocals, one starring at Cape May Stage, one dancing at the YMCA…

one rescue pause of chardonnay with my Aunt Ann on her porch in West Cape May…

4 different beds, too many steamy nights, too many latte rebounds…

lots of ocean breezes & soft conversations, 3 attempts at a sandcastle, 2 surf immersions on the beaches of my childhood (Wildwood Crest Beach!!), 1 getting too old to jump in the waves neck injury, 1 parting moment along the awesome Angelsea Seawall…

1 dance beside the marshland where we met & fell in love & married

1 more attempt at reframing these micro-visits as heroic acts of LOVE & DEVOTION instead of never enough or too much. 

Road Trip, Part II.

(Part I. Oldies R Us?)

Singing along to songs on the Oldies station, my hands go to my throat, noticing the glands are still swollen from the cold I came down with last week.

“It’s a good thing I’m not a famous singer with a concert tonight,” I say to my  husband as he pulls off the highway. “I have no range.”

Casey approaches the traffic light, without any response.

“What would I do if I was a famous singer with a concert tonight?” I prod him.

“You’d cancel,” he says, as he navigates the left turn onto the coastal route.

“But I would have had to cancel the entire past week,” I say, as we come to another stop.

“Yep,” he says, not a bit concerned.

“That would be really stressful,” I say, “I’m relieved that I don’t have a string of concerts scheduled this week.”

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