I start a lot of pieces of writing on scraps of paper that I sometimes transfer to a Word document. I save the file as whatever the first typed words are, so the title rarely make sense when I see it days or months later. Every once in awhile, I go through that no-man’s land of strange file names to see if any of them still have relevance. Most of the time I have no idea what inspired me to write a particular sentence or short paragraph, so, like Charlie-in-a-Box and the water pistol that shoots jelly, those files get exiled to the electronic version of the Island of Misfit Toys.
During a recent file purge, I opened a file I’d saved shortly after passing my motorcycle permit test last April. I called it, “I believe.” I remember writing that I believed I could learn how to operate a motorcycle, but the last sentence I wrote completely slipped my mind: “I believe I can love someone.”
Before sending the file to the Island of Misfit Files, I thought about April and where my thoughts were at that time. As many of you know, one of my personal goals in 2013 was to get to the heart of my commitment issues and my fear of letting go and moving on. I wrote about this at the end of December (“The Letting Go Has Taken Place”). For the most part, 2013 was a good year of letting go of what needed to go and letting in that which was best to be let in. This laid the groundwork for the leap of faith I took last week when I moved to a small town 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. I moved because I believe I can love someone, but not in the way it might appear on the surface.
I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but being single and in love at age 50 is way different than being single and in love at age 20. My life no longer centers around raising children. I have the luxury of being selfish with my time. I like sleeping in the middle of the bed. I enjoy the silence of living alone, and I can take out my own garbage. Loving someone at 50 is something I want to do, not something I need or have to do, which was what love felt like at 20 and 30 and even 40.
When I say I believe I can love someone, I mean, specifically, that I believe I can love Jim and allow him to love me, idiosyncrasies and all. Idiosyncrasies that, in part, are filed under the heading of everything weight- and food-related.
Viewing ourselves through someone else’s eyes is a portal through which many of us would rather not look. I mean, we’re accustomed to who we are day by day, moment by moment. Who we are is who we are. Even if it is our desire to change a particular behavior, we still grasp to that understanding of who we are. Filtered through someone else’s lens, our thoughts, actions, and physical appearance is interpreted in a way we cannot control or, for the most part, influence. Makes us feel a little naked, right?
At age 20, our life experiences stack up like helium balloons. At age 50, they look more like phyllo dough. At 50, we’ve spent more time in our bodies, taken in vast amounts of opinions and advice, and have pretty much decided – at least in general – what’s what. Some of us tweak our points of view and are open to new ideas, but – in the words of Edie Brickell – “What I am is what I am…”
And what I am in this new house in this new town is a woman whose demons and joys and life lessons moved here along with dishes and furniture and photos of grandbabies. I’m here because I want to love and be loved, to work in my field, to ride new bike trails, drink coffee in a new coffee shop, and add more layers to that phyllo dough of experiences. (Anyone else in the mood for baklava?)
I’m more willing than ever to see myself through someone else’s eyes and to filter that through my own understanding of who I believe myself to be, physically and psychologically. Makes it even more befitting that I moved to the hometown of Jimmy Stewart. His boyhood home is just up the street from me.
“It’s A Wonderful Life” anyone? I believe it is.