Monday, March 14, 2011

Just Be... Or, Trees and Rivers... Or, Part One

This is part one in a two-part series... 

When I was in the first grade, I used to fall down nearly everyday.  I was sort of clumsy (I still am) and I was at that age when my body and my brain weren't quite in sync - my feet were growing and I didn't know how to use them or keep them from getting tangled up in each other.  To make matters worse, there was a lot of asphalt on the playground at the school I went to, so I scraped up my knees pretty badly.  Sister Mary Francis* (yes, I went to Catholic School, go figure), who was the oldest woman alive, would scold me for not being more careful as she put iodine and peroxide on my scrapes and covered them with band-aids.  A lot of times, my scrapes would barely be healing and I would fall down and scrape them again, only it would be worse because the new scrapes ripped off the scabs that had already formed and the pain was so much more intense.  I still have the scars on my knees 25 years later, and I hate falling down for fear of scraping my knees.  

I've had the same problem letting my heart heal.  As I've said, I am a recovering serial dater, but I don't date man after man trying each one out, hoping to find the perfect one.  Most of the men I've dated have been placeholders - someone to occupy my time while waiting for Mr. Right.  Beyond that, I've also dated a lot to distract myself from my own brokenness.  I've had my heart broken plenty of times, and each time it was broken, I never let it fully heal; instead, I hopped from man to man, kept myself distracted for a little while, only to feel the pain later - and it always felt like it was worse.

I started writing this blog in October of last year right after I broke up with someone that I really cared for.  Freddy** and I met years ago at a conference.  He lives in Los Angeles, and we stayed in touch here and there, first by email then on MySpace and eventually on Facebook (ah, the evolution of social networking).  For years, we had very marginal "hi, how are you?" conversations, but then at the beginning of the summer in 2010, everything changed.  I was planning a trip to LA to go to Rock the Bells, which is a hip hop festival.  I was very excited and announced my trip on Facebook.  Freddy took notice and we made plans to have lunch at some point during my trip.  We started talking more, first on Facebook, then we began communicating by phone.  We sent daily text messages and spoke on the phone at least once a week.  Phone conversations were hours long and we sent dozens of messages every day.  

I liked everything about Freddy.  He's smart, handsome, has impeccable taste in music, movies and has a great sense of humor.  We could talk about almost anything and I liked his calm philosophy - he loved to quote teachings from the Tao of Pooh.  We quickly formed a bond and lunch plans evolved into dinner plans which then evolved into plans to spend an entire day together.  The friend I planned on going to the concert with canceled on me, and I was going to cancel my trip.  Instead, Freddy said he would go with me to the concert.  Suddenly, we had plans to spend my entire trip together.  I was so excited to see him that the concert became a small detail - Freddy became the focus of my trip.  

My trip was amazing, and we had so much fun together.  Before I even arrived, it was pretty clear that we had a thing for each other, although we hadn't really spoken about it.   By the end of our first day together, we had kissed and four days later when I was in a cab, headed to the airport to come home, I was falling fast and hard for Freddy.  I cried the whole way to the airport (making the cab driver very uncomfortable).  I cried waiting for my plane.  I cried during my layover and as luck would have it, I ran into a friend at the Phoenix airport and instead of crying on the flight home, I talked to her the entire time about Freddy.  When I got home, I called him and we talked for another few hours.  I hung up with him, cried some more and went to sleep.  I cried because I felt like I was never going to see him again, and I felt like I had been cheated -once again- out of happiness.  It sounds weird, I know, especially because we shared mutual feelings and made plans to see each other again - we just lived two states away from each other.  No big deal, right?

Remember the name of this blog, dear reader.

While I was in LA, Freddy and I grew even closer and I knew I wanted a relationship with him.  I expressed this to him because I felt so open and comfortable with him.  He responded that while he knew he cared for me, he wasn't sure he wanted a relationship.  The very second those words left his mouth, all the bells and whistles started going off in my head - I wanted to run, take it back, tell him never mind.  He didn't give me the answer I wanted, so I felt really stupid for making myself vulnerable.  He sensed that something was wrong (maybe it was the look on my face or the steam coming out of my ears) and he quickly said he wanted to see where things could go, and that a relationship was possible if we just took things slow.  While it all sounded very logical, it felt wrong.  I said that it sounded like a bunch of excuses, and in his infinite patience, he kept talking. 

He explained that we had to "just be."  Just be...friends?  Lovers?  Zombies?  What?  My impatience grew with his Tao of Pooh philosophy and he used my impatience to illustrate his point.  Instead of forcing a relationship, why not just let it flow, let it evolve?  He said we had to flow, like rivers, and just see where we would end up.  That would have been all fine and good, except I don't identify with rivers; I identify with trees.  While trees grow and branch out, they stay rooted and don't survive otherwise.

A couple of years ago, I felt like a piece of space junk, floating around outer space, bouncing off moon rocks and having no direction.  I hated that feeling and a wise person asked me what the opposite of that feeling was - I immediately visualized a big, beautiful tree.  From that moment forward, I saw myself as a tree.  Every time I felt like out of control or like I was floating in orbit, I focused on the tree.  A river felt a lot like being in outer space, but I liked Freddy - a lot, so I agreed to be patient while he "figured it out."  I agreed to go against my nature and flowed like a river... 

Next time: Part Two 

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the old and cranky

** Name has been changed to protect the identity of the River


  1. Oops... just wanted to re-formulate my question, which was: Does Andrea the Poet take questions about dating? I've been waiting my whole life - after an adolescence of reading crappy dating columns in YM, Seventeen, and Latina - for a Chicana dating column that makes sense.

    Gorging on Parasol chicken tacos,

  2. Haha, you're more than welcome to ask a question, although I will be the first to say I'm not a therapist nor do I have any formal training in counseling, I've just been through a whole lot...

    That said, go ahead and ask!

    PS: Parasol in Espanola?

  3. Although I don't know the whole story,rivers carry a lot of waste water and have to journey a long way before they can spill it out. I think I like being a tree myself. Can't wait until part two.

  4. I'm so happy to see someone else that has "placeholders." I usually have someone to occupy my time as I wait for Mr. Right too... you're making me feel more normal! Thanks.

  5. MMM... I wish I were eating El Parasol burritos right now.

  6. Oh, Andrea! How fabulous! I love the telling of this story! I love trees! I had a special tree at Northern, which got taken out without me knowing. I still cry over it! Trees are very special beings! Strong, like I've always said about you. One day that strength WILL be matched! no doubt :D))))

  7. I do want to say about place holders and Parasol burritos - I wish I'd NEVER had ANY, now that I've found my true love and the other - you CAN'T have too many of!

    Honestly, there are some things worth waiting for! Scabs and scars aren't any of those things! Sorry :(

  8. Hi from chica Croata! ;)

    I just can't believe how much we have in common... Rivers and trees?
    I was waiting for years a guy whom me and my friends used to call RIVER. He had no roots and didn't know what he wanted in life but wanted me to be around (just in case).
    So, I guess we all have our "river and tree" story. That is, if we are lucky. Otherwise we would let a river take us in and God kows where we would end up! (ocean? lake? or we would evaporate along the way).
    Now you (and me) know WHAT and WHY we want the things we want (loved the way you said it - decency and respect) - and where we are headed.

    I hope you'll find your special "tree" person.
    There is no greater thing than hugging a person that is here to stay :)

    Thanks for your great blog!