The Next Chapter

I’ve been told that I need to close the chapter of my life that included him.  It may not have a sufficient ending, like an unfinished Franz Kafka story, but I must move on regardless.

So,  I turn the page and I stare at a blank piece of paper. What can I say about the protagonist? She’s emotionally beaten and bruised, weary from her struggles (wary as well).  Cynical?  Yes, but there is a little glimmer of hope that sparks within her still.

What does she do next?  The online dating appears to be going nowhere.  She receives emails almost every day but, the men that seem to have fallen for her live on another coast – or even in another country.  The men that seem mutually compatible fizzle out before the first date.  The ones she sees and say, “maybe perhaps,” don’t respond to her emails.

She needs a diversion.  But what?  Her work, right now, is as disheartening as her love life.  And her hobbies bore her. And her friendships are close to nil. What is her next step?  How does she move on?


Birthday cake for one, please

My best friend (and my only friend living here) is having LASIX surgery on my birthday next month, which, she informed me, means that she will not be available to celebrate with me.  She was my lifeline – the solution to my first birthday without him.

I’m turning 45.  That’s considered a “milestone” birthday, isn’t it? It’s on a Friday, a great night to celebrate – if I had something to celebrate, and someone to celebrate it with.

I know this pain will come and go. I’ve actually been doing pretty well these last few days (I deleted all of his photos off my Facebook page today in my continued effort to “move on”), but the realization that I will be celebrating my 45th birthday alone is hitting me hard.

My family doesn’t acknowledge birthdays anymore and my friends have other things to do.  I’ll receive a perfunctory card from my office.  I wonder if he will even realize it’s my birthday when the day comes?  Probably not.

Maybe a new year that begins so pathetically foretells a magnificent ending – in like a worm and out like a viper?

The Experiment

Last weekend, on two separate occasions, friends were chiding me about my “exacting” taste in potentially datable men.  The conversations went something like this:

Early in the Day:

Them:              I don’t think “geographically desirable” needs to be a requirement

Me:                  I’ve dated long distance.  Have you ever dated long distance?  It never works.

Them:              Yeah, it didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drive an hour to date  someone.

Me:                  I’m not saying “an hour”.  I’m talking about someone who lives in Iowa.   Someone you need to get on a plane to see.  Unless they live somewhere like Paris.  I’d date someone who lived in Paris.

Them:              I think you’re being ridiculous.

And later that evening:

Her:     What about him? He’s cute (pointing to the band’s drummer)

Me:      He’s kinda a big guy – like a teddy bear

Her:     He’s not FAT. He just has muscles.

Me:      Maybe, but you know I like the skinny guys.

Her:     Whatever (READ: “just die an old, bitter and sexually unsatisfied spinster – see if I care”)

Dear readers, in my defense, I’m really not THAT picky, but after a few years of dating, I know what I like and I’m fairly set in my ways. Sooo…

I’ve decided once again to try the online dating scene – with a twist. I’m going to let my best friend choose who I contact.  Every week, she can choose between 4 and 6 potential matches who I am REQUIRED to email – even if they’re big teddy bears living in Iowa.  If we begin an email exchange and they want to meet, I am REQUIRED to go out at least once with them – in some well lit, public place (Creepiness Clause:  If their emails are “creepy” – I’m allowed to bow out).

Our first draft picks will be this Sunday, so I think I need to find some recent photos.


Arriving home from the Ranch is a shock to the system.  It might as well be on another planet, the atmosphere is so noticeably different from our daily world. We call the transition from ranch to real world “re-entry”.

For a week, you live in a sage, rosemary and jasmine-scented wonderland where the loudest sound is the crows calling out to each other across the valley.  Food magically arrives in front of you; just picked fresh fruit and vegetables from the six-acre organic garden and fish that was swimming in the ocean just a few hours earlier – fully of healthy things and delicious. There’s not a car, television or iPhone in sight. Everyone is snug in their beds by 10 p.m. and up before 7. Days are spent between yoga, meditation and luxurious massages – in a haven where everything that happens is for your personal well-being.

I made the mistake of hosting a rollicking 4th of July party on Sunday, just one day after I arrived home.  Although I told everyone to come at 4:00, my first guests arrived at noon.  Here, in the real world, no one is concerned for my personal well-being.  It was ten hours of sheer pandemonium – with kids playing hide-and-seek between house and yard, stereo and TV blaring and more carne asada than should be legal.  I spent the entire day cooking, cleaning dishes, cleaning up after other people…and just generally “fetching things” for my guests.  Everyone finally cleared out around 10 pm, leaving me with a sink full of dessert dishes, firework “butts” in the front yard and a house full of dirt, crumbs, spilled drinks and wet towels.

Re-entry was definitely a little bumpy this year.


“Phoren, I’ve got a funny story to tell you.  I saw my ex-wife the other day.  She still looks good, but she’s, you know… a middle-age woman now…”

I’m having dinner with my best friend from the 90’s.  We haven’t seen each other in four or five years and that’s probably the third time he’s used the term “middle-age woman” in the last 45-minutes.  It’s as if he’s describing someone who hasn’t bathed in six months or gained 700 pounds – as if middle age is something to be avoided like crack addiction or an incurable venereal disease. 

I wanted to see him.  I’ve grown weary of my current friends who, as we grow older, pretend like they’re living out their twilight years – “Oh, you don’t understand what goes on with the high-school kids these days.  It’s not like when we were young”, “Yawn….I can’t eat dinner after 8 pm!  I’m in bed by 9!”

I’ve been looking forward to spending time with someone who seems to have straddled the line – staying “current” even as we move into what I would call “serious adulthood”.  This, however, is not what I was expecting.  To him, any woman over 35 is like potato salad that been sitting in the sun too long – ready for the trashcan.

“Of course, not you, Phoren.  You look great (said with less than 100% conviction).”

I stare at him across the table, focusing on his Botoxed brow and hair implants, playing mental connect the dots with the brown spots  on his face from too much tanning bed.  I catch a glimpse of his diamond-studded Rolex (I’ll give him the benefit that’s it’s real) and I realize – no, this isn’t what I’m looking for either. 

Is this where I’ve been relegated – an equal with room temperature mayonnaise, day old bread and yesterday’s news – the only other option to fake it with “cosmeceuticals” and plastic surgery?  Can’t we just “be” as we are now, instead of hurling ourselves toward old age or clawing our way back to years past?    I have no desire to live like I’m still in my 20’s, but I’m also far away from beginning the descent. 

Where are my contemporaries?