It’s a picturesque fall day – though around me people are complaining that fall was skipped entirely and we’re in the throes of winter.
Me? I’m okay with it. Sitting outside at a coffee shop – one I used to frequent far more than I do now – with a sweater under fleece, a hot cocoa and my trusty yellow tablet (oh, how I’ve missed you). On the sheet prior to the one I’m writing on now, I’m making a list of goals for myself in 2010.
The wind is gusty, sporadic. It holds a definite nip but it’s just teasing the leaves of my tablet. Flipping up the corners of the pages I have yet to fill with scrawl and navel gazing, I’m smiling back like the village idiot at the invisible when it greets me and flushes my cheeks.
The jolts bring me into the present: to feel my skin and pay attention to the nourishment filling my lungs. To revel in the silence broken by passing cars and footsteps of people hustling in and out of the shop as if they’re outrunning a blizzard. It reminds me at 9 knots that too much time has been spent worrying about where I should be and with who and doing what, and that it leaves me empty, even when I fulfill my obligations. Even when I have fun. Noodle that, Freud.
There’s an itch on the back of my brain, it has a face and a name and a little gray body with Gumby arms and it’s clearing its throat repeatedly to get my attention and pointing at a picture of The Mc and I not spending enough time together. Correction: enough quality time. In the picture, we’ve hit our routine stride as we encroach on the 4 year mark (my God! Has it been so long already?). We come home – exhausted – share a meal and collapse. Or, many evenings, I’m out and come home to him already in his second round of dreams. Thank you, Little Mr. Itch. I needed help seeing what was right in front of me.
I imagine that most of the coupled-up, once giddy and swooning population reaches the same space, but I don’t imagine they move through it. I imagine they stay there, forever. I see it in the way their bodies don’t touch in restaurants and in the sparkle missing from their eyes in the grocery store aisle when they hand off the box of pasta to be dropped in the cart beside the Rogaine and tampons.
I don’t want that. Never have. I want romance and love and I want it to ooze out of us like an abscess partnered with a fever you’re not sure if you should be scared of or not.
Luckily, I found a man who doesn’t want it either. Of course we’re moving forward and building our future (honoring our inner adults), but we’re also recommitting ourselves to dating and affection and affirmation and being silly and playful and not taking one another for granted and embracing the good and the bad we both carry with us. There will be tudes copped and eyes rolled and groans at bad jokes but in the end there will be this: mutual respect and adoration.
Contrasting history with reality, contrasting the days I spent at that coffee shop 5 years ago, the nights and weekend afternoons of writing my way through my own rebirth after thinking I’d failed at life against the balance (but with an acknowledgment if a permanently restless soul) I’ve been given today…well, it’s really something to behold.
You actually can start over. If you want it, if you try, if you fight for it and if you stop long enough – once in a while – to visit the old coffee shop, get slapped around by a premature winter wind and listen to Little Mr. Itch.