Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wrapped in Red.

I have a date for Valentine’s Day.

If you’ve been following along, you know that this is big news. Huge.

For six years, Cupid has done his best to rub salt in the wound that is my single status. I’ve gritted my teeth against the onslaught of digital emoticons and flowers and chocolates and balloons that has left me seeing red. I’ve negotiated internally. I’ve gone from jealousy to acceptance to celebration of the outpouring of love and affection my friends and family have been given and received. I’ve stopped dreaming that the online system for 1-800-FLOWERS would be taken down with the virus to end all computer viruses.  

It’s not that Valentine’s Day was monumental before I was single. In all honesty, it was almost non-existent. My husband didn’t see any value in the day.

“Flowers die. And the more you ask, the longer it takes them to arrive.”

It became a joke between us. In all the time I knew him, I received flowers on our wedding day, my first day on two new jobs and my first real Mother’s Day. Four times. There were no chocolates and no jewelry. No dinner dates or movies. He simply didn’t think the day mattered and, in all fairness, I don’t even think he knew what flowers I liked. I was okay with that, but I couldn’t help but wish once in a while he would have opted for an unscripted gesture that deviated from the patterns of our daily lives. But it wasn’t until he disappeared that Valentine’s Day truly became a day of significance, significant because I no longer had any significance of my own.

I’ve spent six Valentine’s Days since wondering where the hell Cupid is.

The first arrived mere months after he was gone, my Valentine a macabre reminder of love grown cold in the form of a letter from the medical examiner. The second was spent angry and wine soaked, and I found a way to ignore the third until just before midnight when I fell apart in my glass of Merlot. The fourth I managed to fall asleep early and the fifth my heart wept anew that my future was out there somewhere without me. And now here we are.

I’ve met someone.

In six years, I’ve had ample time to mull over what I hope my forever-after Valentine will be. I can’t help but want to be swept away by someone who takes my breath away in laughter and passion, someone who will be strong when I am weak and who’s strength will shield a love that only I will feel. Someone dark and fierce and loyal and tender.

My heart has designs on a future that isn’t yet mine, but tonight I have plans. A glass of red. A red envelope. A Game of Thones.

And my new boyfriend Khal Drogo.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


“Mom … do you ever get sad and worry that you’ll never find the right one and that you’ll be alone forever?”

Watching the golden brand strands fall down her tiny back, I feel my heart twist at the not-so-gentle question. I often wonder what the world looks like from her view and how different or similar it might have been to my own view at that age. Is it empty? Have I filled it with what she needs and what I can? We’ve been here many times before, quiet questions about what is gone. But she has never before so directly confronted what looms uncomfortably.

Alone. Alone. Alone. Forever.

My siblings have offered awkward, cutting and, I hope, well-meaning commentary on my social status and that the odds are increasingly not in my favor. My mother has suggested a subscription to eHarmony as a Christmas gift. Years ago it was my husband’s friends and colleagues who were the first to suggest it was time. There was my children’s announcement – in front of my fellow hockey-loving parents – that is just what I need. Well-meaning friends have given up and my husband’s family can’t help but be curious.

My daughter’s wistful question it isn’t just that she is worried that the fact that she is dad-less will be glaringly obvious at the Daddy/Daughter dance she is so carefully preparing for. She’s begun to worry about me.

“Well, do you?”

Someday, when she is older, we will laugh together when I will tell her about the misadventures and misfortune of widowed dating. It’s not like divorced dating. You can’t bond over “I hate my ex” stories, and you don’t have free days and nights when your previous other-half has your joint offspring. There are the awkward “what happened?” and “I’m so sorry” and even the occasional “did you have a big insurance policy?” conversation starters. Try to dodge those and avoid the whole “I’m widowed” thing, and you end up with “sorry your ex is a deadbeat” conclusions. You’re the odd wheel, so even if you do get invited to the party, you’re often the fifth, seventh, ninth or eleventh seat. And in case you’re wondering, that whole internet thing isn’t just awkward.

It’s downright terrifying.

The reformed parolee. The middle eastern doctor looking for a woman to take care of his physical and domestic needs through residency. The man who suggested my height is ideal for “spinning.” The twenty-somethings looking for a “sexy, mature woman.” The professional colleague now divorced. The “looking for interested third.” The still-marrieds. The profiles that say 42 when the photo clearly says 62. Or 72. The women who think that I might want to try something new. The “waste management” professionals who share my husband’s uniform. The widowers. The one my husband trained. The long-distance lotharios. The ones who search me out on Facebook. The pictures in front of disheveled living room tables. And bathrooms. And bedrooms. The as-far-down-as-I-can-get-without-being-flagged-for-indecency pictures.

Hell, YES, I’m worried.

“Sometimes. Why?”

“Because it’s not fun to be alone. And you need to be happy.”

“Sweetheart, it’s not that easy. But I promise you when it happens, he will be the perfect one for me.”

“Make sure he’s tall. ‘Cause you shouldn’t be climbing on the counters.”

Single, widowed female: Seeking love, laughter and someone who can reach the dishes, apparently.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Running Scared.

“Come on! Two more! You can do THIS!!”

Right now, the only thing saving my “team” from the kettle bell gloating at my misery is the undeniable fact that the arms that were screaming only moments ago have now stopped working altogether and I am candidly assessing whether I will make it home or if I will be spending the night nose to nose with the black rubberized flooring that is filled with the sweat of hapless souls like me in search of new beginnings and a new arse.

Even if I could get back up, I am not sure I want to.

There is a very high probability that my burpees are eerily reminiscent of the form displayed by little brown spider that just scuttled by. My self-esteem might be better off perpetually prone and below the radar.

For years, my body has ridden a roller coaster of extremes. Five days before my husband went to sleep and never woke up I ran my first 13.1, a feat only possible with two children under the age of four because he made it so. That day, for the first time in my life, I felt confident in the strength of my body.

Lacing up my Nikes was the only thing that wasn’t theirs or his or ours. It was mine. For those brief moments, the hectic and harried world and the demands of each day melted away in the dark night and the sound of my footsteps.

13 days later, 20 pounds had vanished and the weight of a lifetime was firmly settled deep in between my shoulders. I wasn’t just weak. I was physically and emotionally decimated. I ran on the fumes of my own fog and when the fog lifted I ran on the anger it left behind. I didn’t eat and when I did it was an item snatched in between all of the things that I and I alone had to get done. Wine to sleep, coffee to wake and no water in between. And with a talent only children possess, their constant demands for my attention eroded what little attention I gave to myself.

Our little world found a new calm and I found myself lacing up again. But what was once mine was now an exercise in physical, emotional and financial ROI.

Time – errands – work – housework – quality time with children – cost for childcare = run time

It wasn’t just the looseness of my jeans that I missed. It was freedom and confidence and the belief that I would someday be loved not for my BMI and the relative elasticity of my breasts that I had lost. I had lost faith in myself and my experiences with the opposite sex are running alarming close to proving that it really is my BMI and the relatively elasticity of my breasts that matters. And the net sum is that I no longer feel pretty or wanted or confident or trusting. Which brings me back to the here and now.

Just two more and I can sink into a steaming hot bath and do my own WOD.

Pop. Pour. Repeat.