I sometimes question where the elusive “Paradise” might be?? Someplace sunny with palm trees, or . . . ?? And if how we’re living now, really is “it,” is this all there is??
I caught up with a couple of old gal pals recently after posting an e-blast advertising one of my Broadway shows and wondered afterwards at the different tracks our lives have taken. Marriages, kids, careers . . . However, they stayed married. “Stuck” imagining what it would be like out from under their Mr. Grumpy(s), they admired me for taking a chance on life, but have no clue what it’s like living without my own Mr. Grumpy’s butt to butt up against in the middle of the night. They perceive my life as exciting and glamorous; I perceive theirs as warm and deliciously stable. We talked about the “maybe next time(s)” and the “we’re still here(s),” none of us unscarred. So how brave am I really, for making the choices I’ve made? Could I have lived any other way?
“Je veux tout connaitre avec toi, Je veux tout decouvirir avec toi
Je veux vivre des aventures avec toi”, he added . . .
[I want to explore with you, I want to discover with you, I want to have adventures with you]
Well if this is Paradise, it’s in transition from summer to winter. And with the chill, I’m replacing thin t-shirts with bulky sweaters . . . and thinking about how our lives have gotten thicker as we’ve added guys to our daily routine.
Paley has been pining for Mr. CEO for months and after too many opinions about mixing business and pleasure – or, more to the point, not mixing business and pleasure, he sold his place in LA and (finally) rented an apartment in NYC. He’s ended his other relationship there, he’s here and asked Paley to research a weekend getaway to consummate their lust after months of her dreaming of exactly that.
Tool Man’s mom lost her final battle with cancer at 86. Karen, who was scheduled to fly out to see her folks and be away on the day of the Memorial Service, once again felt torn between the two. Tool Man insisted she go to her parents, which was what she needed to hear to rationalize leaving him to grieve on his own . . .
“It’s a cop out,” I counseled, “asking him what he wants . . . of course he’s going to tell you to go to your parents.” – It’s so much easier to give (be the good guy) than to graciously receive (say what you want) . . . “Where are you going to plant your feet?” I asked her. “If you really want to be his ‘it’ girl, this is a great opportunity to show it. “
A few days later, Paley and I drove up for the Memorial despite Tool Man’s protests. Karen greeted us tearfully, with open arms . . . she couldn’t thank us enough and neither could Tool Man. We all put our feet where we wanted to be: with each other. That evening, he asked Karen if she’d like to take up residence on other half of his bed and her phone’s been on OFF ever since.
“Je serai ton ami, Je serai moi-meme avec toi, Je serai ton plus fervent admirateur” . . . (he paused) . . .
[I will be your friend, I will be myself with you and I will be your biggest fan]
So as my friends were closing in on their perfect love matches, I sang a toast to the last of Indian Summer and headed down the street determined to shed my last layer of inhibition: I got a Laura Linney/THE BIG C- inspired Brazilian. Laughing at the ridiculousness of it, I can honestly say I prefer pole dancing to waxing despite pole burn and the remnants of lockjaw from grimacing as I grabbed and twirled. But Bond, James, was coming back to town for a couple of weeks and I felt as if I needed to make some sort of statement since he was planting his feet toe-a-toe to mine.
Actually, I wanted to try it. Imagine that. From protectively shy to “oh my” in what seems in hindsight to be less than a New York minute but was actually in the same amount of time as it took JB to realize there’s no place like home and for Emma to be open and receptive to a single guy with a foreign accent willing to sublet his apartment to a troop of African dancers . . . the same amount of time it’s taken Karen to claim a pillow from Tool Man’s bedding and for Mr. CEO to sign a lease.
The awaiting pleasure was worth the momentary pain on the torture table at the day spa: Bond, James, has turned out to be quite the guy. After non-stop everything under the sun and the moon back in August that left us both wondering what the h-e-l-l-o happened, he flew in last month for a long weekend, demanding closet space and a drawer of his own.
Back in Tampa after his visit, he referred to himself as my “boyfriend” in a text message. Delighted with his proclamation, we played with the idea of making a more formal, albeit whimsical “statement,” acknowledging this new phase in our relationship and the Cheshire grins we seem to be sporting. Having long lost his frat pin, we decided on an exchange of verbal vows at the whispering arch in front of the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station, followed by champagne overlooking the grand part and a bit of cuddling at the Campbell Apartment. He surprised even me when he ended the evening by tying a matching leather “peace” bracelet to his, around my wrist while confessing he’d renewed his passport and downloaded apps for learning French along with the location of my proposed Kibbutz in Israel into his iphone.
So here we all are, 10 months into 2010 and a rhythm I’ll be breaking shortly when I take off on my world tour. The air is cooling down and the winter sky is moving in. Reconnecting with old married friends and watching my single friends pair off in couple-dom is about as close to a season’s finale as real life gets.
And when Bond, James spoke these final lines of his vow:
“Jamais je n’essaierai de te faire du mal
J’essaierai toujours d’etre franche et honnete avec toi
J’essaierai toujours d’etre la pour toi.”
[I will try never to hurt you, I will always try to be open and truthful, I will always try to be there for you]
In French, across the arch in front of the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station, I realized that Paradise isn’t just a beach with palm trees where nothing happens. It’s anywhere, where everything happens. It’s about the “stuff” that gets in the way, how we figure it out day after day and get on with it.
NOTE TO SELF: Paradise is wherever you go, because that’s where you are.