Sarah Rosemary at Sunny Side Up and I are hosting our own Reverb11, a series of prompts to look back on 2011 and manifest the new year. Please check our Reverb11 pages for details, and join in!
Prompt for December 16: Give: When and to what did you give your all this year? How do you define “giving”? Describe what it means to give, and how you plan to give over this coming year.
I am notorious for “phoning it in” in my romantic relationships. Being a passionate person, and with tens of thousands of dollars of therapy under my belt, I think I’m finally ready to give this whole “engaging other humans” a genuine shot.
This proclamation of mine has piqued the interest of my family, and made for some uncomfortable conversations.
First, there was the Post-Mt Whitney Father-Daughter Showdown, during which my father revealed that he wanted me to find someone — man or woman — and my family would be okay with whatever my choices were. Thanks, Dad.
Then there was Thanksgiving, where we talked about dating.
I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to be a spinster, I lamented.
If it makes you feel better, my Auntie Carol said, technically can’t be a spinster since you were married. You’re always going to be a divorcee.
I mulled that for a moment. That did make me feel quite a bit better.
So what do you go for? Mums asked, What’s your type? Who do you think is really sexy?
Hmmmm. Eric Ripert? I think he’s gorgeous.
At which point, my mother choked on her drink. (It was 10am…)
WHAT?! I demanded, He’s great looking. He’s right in my target age range — between 40 and…dead. And he’s got that silver fox thing, which I just love.
What is it with you and married men? my mother snorted.
OH MY GOD what was she talking about? Was she talking about my maudlin tweets about Frederic, shortly after he married? The ones addressed “Dear Now-Married Man…”?
MOTHER! What do you mean by that?! I huffed.
Eric Ripert is married. Paul McCartney, isn’t he married now, too, she laughed?
Oh. Paul McCartney, for his part, had a demonstrated history of chasing American divorcees from New York — except for that Heather Mills aberration. I could’ve been his perfect synergy — American, New Yorker, divorced, AND much younger (handily covering all of his known preferences). And he could’ve been mine — older; strong-willed; left-handed.
(Sir Paul — we can still make this happen. We could make beautiful music together.)
I left Thanksgiving having learned the following: 1) My father still thinks I might be a lesbian; 2) My mother thinks I am out chasing married celebrities; 3) My entire family is now well aware of my preference for older men.
(As used on the coat-of-arms of Prince Edward Island. On the crest, parva sub ingenti – the small under the protection of the great. No wonder I like them tall, too.)
All that said, I’ve given a lot of thought to what I’ve given, and what I’d like to give. I’ve written about “giving my all” to running, volunteering; giving money to charity. All of that is important to me. However, when I write about that, I fear sounding like a sanctimonious asshole. I can’t help but recall a line from the Sermon on the Mount (which, you should read, regardless of your religious or philosophical persuasion. Lots of thought-provoking stuff). The line that strikes me: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)
(Jesus, for his part, even manages to cover “chasing married celebrities” in his Sermon on the Mount…wise man. Probably a silver fox himself.)
Volunteering and donating have made a difference in my life. I hope you try them too. That aside, I’d like to now change my life by opening it up to others; by giving in a way I’ve been too scared to give of myself before.
So I understand that “giving” also means not knowing everything or having all of the answers. I understand that this means I will occasionally be or look less than perfect. I realise that this may, at times, be incredibly uncomfortable for me. I get that I will — at some point — have to look someone in the eye and say I can’t. Which is something I rarely say seriously.
All of this in mind, last night I found myself in a hotel bar (predictable) with an Dublin-raised English banker with a Scottish last name (incredibly predictable). (This, opposed to a hotel bar with the Scotland-raised English lawyer with the Irish last name. There were others — bars and men. The bars with fireplaces. The bars where the bartender knew our drinks before we sat. The bars from the days when I drank sherry and spilled it all over him. I know a lot about hotels. I still know nothing about men, British or otherwise.)
I’ll be half an hour late, he’d said, Passport control at JFK.
As I waited in the bar, it struck me that I was finally open to possibility. That I was finally getting out, and not mining the past for the potential future. That, gentle readers, is half the battle — the first step I was never before willing to take.
Not that any of this means any more than simply getting me out of the house, and the Upper East Side. The night wore on and the Banker went to sign the credit card slip. I watched him sign with his left-hand. Not Paul McCartney, but it’ll do for now.
I become increasingly aware that studying politics and law as an undergraduate served me well, but I’d have been much better off majoring in international affairs.