For One Moment, Life Seemed… Normal

How’s your libido, Dear Reader? For me… well for over a year and nine months, my libido has been turned off (and for all I know, its damn toggle switch might even be busted). The same holds true for any interest in romance, intimacy, or desire.

As they say, at least in English, I’ve been enduring the longest “dry spell” of my life, one mostly self-imposed, yet quite feasibly a dry spell simply due to my hauling too much baggage around, and one that surely is the result of what’s happened to me this past year-and-three-quarters-plus. Finally, a small percentage of the overall reason for the aforementioned drought has to be that I am simply exhausted, on a daily basis, for I’ve devoted myself to other pursuits: Keeping my kids in my life. Yet the reasons which explain all that are for another blog, entirely. This persistent dry spell my focus is now on.

Henceforth, I don’t actually believe I can remotely refer to this phase as a dry spell, for the term “dry” doesn’t really do it justice. Arid is perhaps more appropriate. I’d even be willing to label it as an perfectly parched period in my life. A camel would have dropped to its knees long ago, begging and pleading for an end to such prolonged misery.

Whatever nomenclature is apt for this stretch of my life, post-separation and divorce, it is notable that I am mostly okay with it. In my twenties or even my thirties, I would have been pulling my hair out over the lack of activity. However, for some reason, at age 46, I am dealing well with it.

My energies are focused elsewhere; my focus entirely different nowadays. However, for one moment last week, life seemed normal, whatever that implies, yet it was truly an ephemeral feeling, for within 24 hours, she, herself, quelched whatever flame burned within, fleetingly.

Before any explanation of last week’s cursory event occurs, an exchange that actually allowed me to feel human again (instead of like a listless asexual fungi), my background story must be established fully. Surely, a decent exposition must be utilized for any story, a foundation built upon, leading up to the climatic moment, so one’s audience isn’t utterly lost as to why that moment was even noteworthy.

Let me assure you, however, that there is no climax to describe. Don’t get your hopes up. I got my hopes up, but I was wrong. Completely.

(Lest you libidinous folks out there feel I intended to employ “climax” as a double entendre, I wasn’t. Surely, I referred only to the term in a literary sense.)

Back to my point: The now solid understructure that lies hidden beneath this ongoing barren, arid lifestyle consists of a few factors.

First, if a woman looks at me, she, most likely, immediately sees the adjective, in caps locks, DIVORCED, written across my forehead. Perhaps women have some sort of internal radar for such things, but such intrinsic, sophisticated gender-based technology isn’t required in this case. It is obvious. Without a doubt, I’ve allowed all that has transpired to drain me. It has gotten the best of me, and I wear it on my face, on my sleeve. All internal emotions aside, I probably send off signals to women that I am not back on the market, even when many (or most) men would have eagerly raised a billboard advertising such proclamations many moons ago. Instead of “available”, I carry the placard “No Thanks” on most days.

In addition to the visual clues of the emotions within that I emit, I also allow myself to crash and burn after a few words in any given dialogue, with men and women alike (though I am not referring to both sexes in any way other than just normal conversation), for my conversations quickly turn to how much I miss my kids, how hard I am praying to see them, and how much energy I am devoting to being a part of their lives. Again, that’s another blog for another day.

Yet even when the divorce was finalized last summer, a phase that oft commences and prompts a lifestyle that sociologists even throw statistics around for, my libido stayed dormant. Did I want to meet people? Sure. But the reasons for wanting to meet anyone were not based on what one oft assumes. I simply wanted people to talk to, to commiserate with, but as far as being physically attracted to someone, it just wasn’t happening for me. Oddly, I felt practically asexual for the longest time. Numb. Indifferent.

Being that I was starting over in many ways, and that included socially to some degree, I didn’t mind meeting new people. There’s never a fault with that. Yet that toggle switch was not tinkered with, and it continues to remain in the off position.

Except last week, for the briefest of spells…

Overall, however, with my focus elsewhere, my lack of interest from the onset was just the start of this rainless season.

Additionally, I’ve admittedly been gun shy. For fear of being accused of any sort of personal defamation or of jingoism on a broader scale, I won’t detail why I am gun shy, but when you live overseas, a divorcee might feel as I do for a few reasons. That, too, is another blog for another day.

Suffice it to say that, humans have weird tendencies to be turned off to things that upset us somehow. For example, back in university, I once got sick because of Jägermeister (who doesn’t have a story connected to the damn stuff). 25-plus years later, I shutter if I get a whiff of it. Well, that’s all I have to say about it.

Moreover, the typically traditional, if you will, associated-with-divorce emotional concerns are also partially to blame for my “aridness”. I’m now in my mid-40’s, and the majority of single women in this country are not. That makes the prospect of dating downright daunting, for the last thing I want is an emotionally or numerically immature partner. Someone more my age, at least for me, is a requisite aspect of starting over after a divorce, but that is not the only variable at play, either.

As well, I am not young any more. More than 10 or 11 years ago, the last time I was single, I admittedly felt more physically attractive. I was more fit, more muscular, in better cardiovascular shape, with less white hair, less wear and tear. I didn’t have crow’s feet nor a pouch. Naturally, those are just surface factors, and I know there is much more to my worth, anyone’s worth, besides what one sees. Yet physical factors are, for many, oft what that first attraction is based on, and I admittedly used to think that first impression aspect of being physically attracted to someone was relatively important. Nowadays, I am more aware of the plain truth that we’re all going to sag and wrinkle, fade and ferment–but what we’ve got in our hearts and spirits is key.

Nowadays, I get winded while playing tag or step-on-my-shadow with my elementary school students on the playground. So with a different framework of self-confidence and all that that entails, it is challenging to feel ready to step out into the limelight again, even though I haven’t felt fully ready for that new endeavor in the first place.

Moreover, various other variables exist that deserve mention here, but I again remain reticent lest I get blamed for some absurd accusations. Suffice it to say that I simply shy away from putting myself out there because of a few other ‘intangibles’.

Thus, with all of that working against me, per se, I experienced a moment last week that flicked the furnace on.

My stress high, my free time incredibly limited, I found myself stopping for dinner at a local food joint on my way home from work, on my way to more countless hours doing preparations for ongoing events in my life that I’m not mentioning here either. So I stopped for dinner, not in the best mindset, but I was at least focused on food for the moment, i.e., I wasn’t totally enveloped in the tasks of documentation and preparations.

Immediately in front of me on line was a woman with a dog. Her mannerisms, her dress and style, and her physical beauty were noticeable instantly.

Without any doubt in my mind, that was the first time I’d felt such an instant attraction to someone in a long damn time. We’re talking over a decade, folks. I am not going to venture as far as saying “Love at first sight,” but the feeling was really strong. She looked like someone I would/could simply melt for.

Sure, I’ve felt someone was attractive in the last nine months since divorce. I am not dead (I’m just libido challenged). And I’ve thought someone was sexy, too, for I am a people watcher, and always have been–and I can notice someone’s sexiness without being overtly gross about it.

But that moment at the restaurant triggered the kind of feeling that is entirely different.

It was her presence, her persona. Should I dare say “aura”?

Well, it was the complete package.

She turned and our eyes met, yet her focus, at first, was on consoling her dog, who’d gotten anxious at the sight of a passing pulchritudinous poodle.

Her dog at arm’s reach, she then stationed herself at the second of three outside, sidewalk tables, where I always sit when I eat at that joint.

After ordering, I took up the last unoccupied table, conveniently nearby.

We chatted about her dog, which was lying in between our tables. It was an easy conversation to start up.

She was pleasant and polite. Well-spoken and articulate in English. Physically appealing. Sexy. Elegant in dress.

And she was somewhere around my age, a definite positive.

She talked of her business, of having learned English here. She asked about me, too, so it wasn’t a lopsided Q&A session.

Intermittently, her dog barked and nuzzled her leg, getting in between us, interrupting our chat. She claimed he was jealous.

Her labeling his actions as jealousy, itself, had my curiosity piqued and my hopes high. Did she really mean “jealous“? Indeed, it was favorable highlight of the conversation for me.

Someone was emotionally toggling my toggle.

After eating our meals, respectively, she stood to go, but then stopped to explain that her business was just down the street and that I should stop by sometime. I welcomed the idea, but instead of having to then be thrown into that akward uncertainty of not knowing when it was best or feeling hesitant about going in the front door, perhaps walking in in front of her employees or their clients, I thought I’d just ask for her number.

Well, asking for someone’s number is actually obsolete, really. Here, there are free-text/free-call phone-based social apps like WeChat or WhatsApp, so I asked to exchange our information that way. Heck, the last time I was single, I may have had to have asked for someone’s number on the inside of a matchbook cover.

Having been removed from such a lifestyle for over a decade, I was, admittedly, a little nervous about making sure it all worked right, pardon the pun, for scanning someone’s QR code (and vice-versa) is ‘new’ to me.

Yet the prospect of making someone’s acquaintance after so long was more enticing than intimidating.

She departed.

I smiled. She didn’t see. I smiled again.

For the first time in 20-plus months, a slight sprinkle of precipitation had been released from the heaven’s above. Seeds just under the surface of the scorched ground cracked their seed coats.

Were the rains waiting on the periphery, off stage, just waiting for a cue for all those months? I felt like I was going to have an Andy Dufrene moment when he comes out of a tunnel of crap a mile long and stands erect (pardon the pun) to let torrential showers cleanse his spirit. Manumission. Its a glorious moment, indeed, after such suffering.

Later that evening, I simply texted her (Can I use the term ‘texted’ any longer if I was on WeChat? Do I have to say “WeChatted”?) to say, “Thanks for the chat at dinner. It was nice meeting you.”

She wrote back, “It was great chatting with you, too. Nice to meet you!”

For the first time in eons, I went to bed with a smirk on my face… an indication that I’d met someone potentially special. Admittedly, my first impression was strong. I won’t go so far as to say I was giddy, and I didn’t leap into the air to click my heels together. There were no fist pumps into the air.

I simply felt fine (as compared to exhausted and downtrodden after my average hours upon hours per day of preparations of a specific nature).

Later in the evening the next day, I sent another text, querying if she’d like to meet up for a meal or a coffee sometime, asking when she might be free.

That’s where the climax, the turning of events and not anything lascivious, falls short of any hopeful outcome.

She wrote back, “I made a mistake yesterday in acting the way I did and inviting you to chat or stop by my job. I have a boyfriend. But you are awesome! Take care!”

Uggh.

My sails slackened.

I should stop here, y’all. There really isn’t any need to partake in going through the plot’s falling action, and any sort of resolution won’t feel complete.

Not only has it been over a decade since I last had a chance to meet someone but it has also been that long since I was rejected. A Saturday Night Live skit from the early 90’s springs to mind here: Two guys standing on the sidewalk getting passed left and right by countless women, with one of the dudes repeating, lamenting, “My forehead must be just too big.” My sentiments exactly.

Regardless of the outcome, utter rejection, I learned something from the encounter: I am still alive! Plenty will have to happen to truly find out if the toggle switch on my energies is permanently broken, and as far as matters of the heart, I don’t know. Gun shy I still am.

Those seed coats closed again, waiting for the rains to come once more.

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