Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Real Tears

I cried for the next two days.

The night The Bartender left I cried myself to sleep. When I woke up the next morning I cried because I could still smell him on the pillow next to me. I couldn’t seem to get dressed so I thought a bubble bath would make me feel better. I surprised myself by the sound of my own sobs as they echoed against the bathroom tile – the same bathroom where he had lovingly washed my hair as we showered together. My cries came from a place so deep inside that I cannot even describe it. My sorrow is physical and I am consumed by it.

I finally got myself out the door and into my office. The phone rang and it was The Bartender. He called to see how I was doing. I had asked him not to call. He said he wouldn’t call, but there he was on the phone saying he missed me and talking about how his day was going. I barely got through the rest of the day. My tears would spring forth for no reason at all and I didn’t know what to do with them.

I reached out to girlfriends and I think they felt almost as helpless as I did. Was it possible that it had taken me this long to actually fall in love? I have never told my friends I loved him. I never told him I loved him. I never even told myself I was in love with him. Was I really in love? I hadn’t been compelled to say it. Neither had he. But, it had been years since I cried over a man. In fact, it had been so long that none of my girlfriends had ever witnessed it. In all the years I have been around to live and love, to the best of my recollection I have only cried such bitter tears twice before.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More Hot Flashes

Between the next rounds of dating was a little more down time than usual. It wasn’t just me; everyone was spending less time on personal matters and turning all attention to politics and the war. It seemed as though my hot flashes were running as hot as the political debates. The hot flashes were never ending. I was not sleeping as well as usual. I wake myself up in the middle of the night because I am wildly ripping the clothes off my body. I am alone. I am just hotter than hell. It’s unbelievable. I am finally comfortable and drift back off to sleep only to awaken because I am so cold that I must get up to retrieve the duvet from the floor. Months of practice have enabled me to strip and merely throw the duvet to the side for easy recovery. My sleep is interrupted a bit less.

Friends are considering hormone replacement therapy to subside their hot flashes. Others are talking about herbal teas and tincture of sage. I am not ready to go there yet. While I am occasionally uncomfortable, I remain unconcerned by the changes happening in my body. In spite of all that is going on, my libido is higher than ever. As a result, my gynecologist suggests that unless I am too uncomfortable or having trouble coping with the changes that are happening why should I screw with a good thing. I applaud his turn of a phrase and happen to agree with him. I may change my mind in the next six months, but for the moment, I prefer to focus on the thing that makes my hot flashes disappear.

Sex.

Even just thinking about sex makes my hot flashes subside. The real problem is where to find sex. In spite of the fact that I have had a couple of encounters over the last few months, what I really want is something on a more regular basis. I have not yet met a man that I think is worthy of relationship status.

My hot flashes now dictate how I dress. I have to rethink how I dress for everyday life. After much discussion with girlfriends over issues relating to fashion, we decide that none of it matters. Damn fashion. Layers are the only answer. All that matters is that we can dress in layers. Layers enable us to change clothes throughout the day as often as our temperature dictates. Even the changing season and temperature drops offer no relief. I have discovered that I can be hot and cold at the same time.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Three Plus One

Round Three has been very disappointing, but all is not lost. Faux 60 Year Old Man resurfaces and joins the roster. I am incredibly happy to hear from him. During this period of time he makes contact on several occasions and I am delighted. When he is with me he is kind, smart, thoughtful and vulnerable about personal issues that are impacting his life. I don’t want to be, but I believe I am smitten. I truly enjoy his company even when we aren’t having earth-moving aerobic sex. He couldn’t be more inappropriate or unrealistic or wrong for me. Even worse, each time he resurfaces I realize that I have actually missed him. I cannot deny that it is true. The encounter is more than fun, but his youth is beginning to annoy me, especially how he communicates – only via e-mail. The menopausal synapses finally connect and I realize that he has all of my contact information but I have none of his. Not everyone spends their life on the web. I am sure other women are receiving yellow roses, but he needs lessons in common communication courtesy. In spite of that I am eager to have him entertain me.

I try to explore why I feel the way I do. I convince myself and my friends that it is his physical power and beauty and nothing more. I begin to resent that he is charming and smart and am angry that he is not more available to me. Once again we get to what has defined my relationships – what I want; doing things my way. What do I want?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Date with Benjamin

It is date day. He calls me and I explain that I find myself in his home town. He offers to drive me home and to take me out in the city. Without hesitation I agree. So much for the mad planning of menopausal women.

Frantically, I shower and dress while having a hot flash. It is August, and while my friend is also having hot flashes, her husband is very thin, never hot and has no understanding of why I am sweating, swelling, yelling, crying and gasping for breath. I have fifteen minutes to be ready. The solution? Teething rings left in the freezer from years gone by placed between and under each breast. I am just beginning to breathe normally and the doorbell rings. My friend and I are paralyzed. Her husband befuddled. Insisting that my friend stay in the kitchen – I know her nose was pressed up against the window as I left – I go to answer the door for my mystery date. He is exactly what he represented. He is young, cute and smart. Stepping out with my most vivacious self, I hopped into his car and nervously talked the entire thirty minute drive to the city and my apartment. What we say is that we are going out for a drink. I am pretty sure that won’t happen. He is looking for Mrs. Robinson and I am looking for a bit of a tune up. It has been so long since I have had sex that I wonder if it really is like riding a bike. We get to my neighborhood and he parks the car so he can carry my overnight bag up for me. While it’s true I live in an elevator doorman building I do not protest. I invited him in for a drink. We sat on opposite ends of the sofa and sipped scotch. This was the first time in years that I had been alone in a room with a man where business was not the issue before us. I had no idea what to say and somehow I thought the thing to do was to dazzle him with my big brain. I may have dazzled him with my big brain that night but I believe he was more dazzled by my big breasts. We talked for a while but soon, I’m sure in an effort to shut me up, he leaned in to kiss me. I was thrilled that my lips remembered what to do. We fumbled for a while in the living room. He was kissing me and climbing on top of me. I couldn’t remember the last time I was in that position. He asked if we could move to the bedroom and I obliged. He was lovely. He was a bit nervous and admitted that being with an older woman – Mrs. Robinson – was a fantasy. He may have been just as nervous as I was. My world was not rocked but if he ever reads this he should know he was responsible for giving me back a little freedom. It’s too bad we didn’t have another go at it. Now I would be able to oblige with a little supporting foundation – emotional and otherwise.

My appeal to the other sex had become reestablished in my own mind. I was ready and confident enough to continue.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Mrs. Robinson Fantasy

Then there were a few freaks thrown in. Thank God most of the on-line dating services allow you to initially communicate anonymously and to block unwanted attempts at communication. Then they come pouring in. There are a couple of flirtations that seem as though they might go somewhere. It was still too soon to tell.

Then along came an entirely different kind of flirtation. He was cute, fair and younger than springtime. He began with what seemed like a sincere question about my on-line profile. He wondered if I truly loved dinosaur bones. Many e-mails were anonymously exchanged. We only have the information we have chosen to share about each other and what is supposed to be a recent photo. I wonder why he likes me and I ask him why he has chosen to flirt with a woman so much older – he is only 36. Is he typically attracted to older women?

He says I am beautiful.

And so the instant messaging conversations begin. The first one is more than flirtatious but does not cross the line. He is funny and charming and sexy. The following night we have another instant messaging encounter. This time the tone is a bit beyond flirtation but still does not cross the line. We agreed to meet for a drink. I gave him my phone number and we made plans to meet just after my birthday.

Monday, October 16, 2006

My First Date

Within 48 hours the first viable flirtation came in. He was about my age, attractive, similar career path but, having a penis of his own, still gainfully employed in the business world. It seemed right. I was optimistic. After the exchange of several e-mails we agreed to meet for a date. I was nervous. It had been so long since I had been on an actual dinner date that I wasn’t sure how to act. I’m a 48 year old woman and it was necessary for a girlfriend to come over to help me pick out what to wear. A couple of hours passed modeling possible outfits and working on hair and makeup. I was beside myself. My girlfriend suggested a drink but I decided it would be wrong to be drunk at the beginning of my date. I considered taking a valium but decided that could end badly as the evening progressed.

I decided that a smart cocktail upon arrival at the restaurant would ease my nerves enough and if it was really that bad, I would just skip dinner and come home. My makeup was perfect; my hair looked good. I waited for Mr. Handsome to pick me up for dinner.

So now comes my first lesson learned. Men do not always represent themselves in an honest fashion, even when it’s done anonymously. While I did sort of recognized him when he arrived, the picture was old, very old. An entirely different person came to pick me up. He was older, grayer and heavier. Amazingly he seemed completely unaware of it. He chatted easily about the wonders of himself and even made reference – although I still can’t figure out how he worked it into the conversation – to his small ass. His ass, by the way, was roughly the size of Iowa. As if that weren’t enough, he was rude to the wait staff. It was the longest dinner on record. I somehow think the feeling was mutual. I never heard from him again.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Menopause

I am in menopause.

I am at my beginning. Again, I have come of age.

We all do it. We all do it differently – hormone replacement therapy; hot flashes; loss of sex drive; increased sex drive; the tragedy of new facial hair; fear of bone loss; antidepressants – and none of us know what will come next. Very few of us share our secrets. I have spent the last few years discussing these issues with girlfriends. We have shocked and surprised each other as well as found comfort in some of our common stories.

After years of being single and keeping my eyes on nothing but my career, it was clearly time to take control of myself and my body. I had just gone through a record emotional dry spell. I felt very alone, but imagined that I was not in a place so different than other women. Women in the workplace spend years losing themselves in order to gain advancement that, even if it does come, won’t be as satisfying as they thought. It is that time in your late thirties, often through your forties, that men take second place to career and either don’t notice you or assume that you must be a lesbian because you haven’t noticed them. It is the time that women gain reputations in the workplace for being a bitch.

Don’t get me wrong, we can be bitches during this time. However, it is really that we are misunderstood. In spite of the fact that our bodies and minds are going through a change no man can ever comprehend, we remain relatively level-headed and make incredibly sound decisions. We simply will not do it with the same compassionate and loving smile we had in our twenties. We can no longer tolerate the expectation that we will relinquish credit for a job well done.

Every woman should know that the dry spell is over when you release yourself and allow yourself to say the M word. With or without the big job; with or without a loving partner in your life; with or without personal wealth, it happens – menopause.