I confess...2011 has had quite the start. My body completely failed to live up to the resolution that I gave it. I've been in pretty constant pain, often in the 7 or 8 range (a true sign of a frequent doc-goer is thinking of pain on the 1-10 scale they all use these days). I've had some spells where I could pinpoint a culprit....the weekend at dad's with the cats made the immune system go crazy , the current cold bug drains the body and fires everything else up as any illness always does...but mostly it has been a mystery. I'm taking more medicine than I like but I do keep a conscious eye on it and I know I take it for the right reasons.
So, 2011 has not been working for my body. But it has been kinder to my heart and my soul. And it has challenged me in unexpected ways. It may not be legally savvy to say since there's still the matter of wrapping up the legal stuff with X (but, then again, it isn't contested and I know he's also moved on), but I've met someone who truly makes me smile. And we all know that I'm not the most smile-y of gals. I know being talked about will make him blush, but I'm going to try and keep this about my own journey and not truly about him. My general blogging rule is that it is about me, my thoughts, my opinions. The reality is that other people fall into my world but I really want to respect their privacy. It sounds self-centered but I think it is fairer to talk about how other people affect me rather than talk more concretely about those people.
I spent several months really recovering and reaching peace with the end of an eight year journey. Eight years is a long time, especially when the start matches up with the end of my school days and the start of real adult life. It fits me that I didn't have a rebound guy, more like rebound withdrawal. Lots of inner time. When I knew I was ready to move on, I thought a lot about what I'd be looking for this time. There seemed to be a lot of stories going around about "non-negotiables" and I'll admit to thinking about those. After all, they are kinda like bullet-points and we all know my love affair with those...
I had some "requirements" in mind. Nonetheless, I jokingly sent a message to a friend before her New Year's Eve party requesting a boy to kiss at midnight. I said all I needed was a non-smoker with nice arms since I wasn't looking for more than a ten second relationship. I didn't get my New Year's kiss, but I did meet a boy. And he had the arms, but otherwise was way outside the box. I enjoyed hanging out but wasn't sure it would go any further....although I also knew I really hoped to hear from him.
I'd had too much to drink and spent much of New Year's Day on the couch in rest and recover mode. I wasn't really feeling like focusing so I turned on a cheesy movie that wouldn't require anything of me. Okay, okay...I'll be truthful...I watched Hilary Duff in Beauty & The Briefcase. It was what it was meant to be, mind-candy. It did have a message though. Hilary's character had a huge list that made up the hypothetical perfect man but found that her heart really belonged to someone who was a world away from her vision. It took her two hours (well, TV time...) to see what was before her and to realize that the unexpected answer can be the best one. That what works just works. That lists can miss the real truth.
Not long after the movie, I got a message from the boy inviting me to a movie night at our friend's house. I went. And that's the beginning.
I'm not the most emotional of gals so the past weeks have caught me by surprise. I fell fast and hard and it feels unlike anything I've known before. I rambled previously about "just knowing" so I won't venture down that road again here. But it still feels so right and so amazing. Even more so because, like Hilary, it meant throwing my list out the window. I'm a pacifist, he's in the military. I always said I wanted someone with graduate degrees, he worked hard to get his bachelor's later in life. I'm a die-hard liberal, he's counting the days till Obama leaves (and hoping it will be soon). I can't tell one car from the next, he can rattle off car stats and watches auto auctions on TV. I didn't even know that channel existed. I got him a Valentine with a salt and pepper shaker on the front. It fits.
I've always acknowledged emotions. I feel no need to explain why I like one thing better than another. I think the opinion stands on its own. But I do still consider myself driven by my rational mind. I like puzzles with solutions. I loved proofs in geometry. I like checklists. And bullet points.
But I'm learning to free myself from them. To open up in a new way. I know that sustained relationships require more than just a spark. I always thought that meant that I needed my lists for long-term success. But I've changed my mind. Yes, long-term compatibility is complex...much more so than quick chemistry. It isn't, however, something that can be perfectly quantified and wrapped in a bow. It matters more that you can sit next to someone for hours doing nothing at all and still treasure the company than that someone has fancy diplomas on the wall. It is more important that someone will dry your tears when your body is shaking with pain than that they cast the same vote on election day. Being able to be just plain silly matters, not whether you support military intervention (to be clear, I've always supported our troops...but not always the wars themselves).
Sometimes it just works. It doesn't mean abandoning a critical eye but rather opening it wider to accept the unexpected. It means listening to what you know. It means, as much as it pains me to say, following Hillary's lead.