Archive for the ‘truth’ Category

I will always hold faith to balance your doubt.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I have recently found myself, and on more than one occasion, counseling friends on the wisdom of being still, of doing nothing in an effort to be doing the right thing. I love having these conversations online and physically seeing some of the words that come out of my mouth. It gives me an opportunity to further ponder the discussions and offer a sort of hindsight; if not to the person I was speaking with, then to myself.

Quite often I read what I have said in the moment and find it very surreal. How is it I knew what to say? For the most part, I work at being a good listener. This is crucial to lightening the load of a friend. How easy it is to just be still and listen and what a treat when it’s a gift I receive. I find this is an important skill for my own path in many ways as it opens my world view to experiences I might otherwise miss. It also adds a layer of perception to experiences I might have previously had and maybe might unknowingly still be healing.

One common thread I have seen recently is the idea that life’s lessons abound and are constantly presenting themselves all around us. The key is being ready to recognize a lesson when it is directly in our path. Sometimes, all that is required for this is being still, *not* multitasking every (or any) minute of every day. How many people do you know who manage this ever? I’d have to answer not many. It’s sad, really, to think of everything being missed simply because everyone thinks they have no time.

We have plenty of time. We simply need to make different choices. Slow down and be ready for life!

Another common thread I have repeatedly seen revolves around living with intention. I imagine this means different things to different people, but for me, whether at the end of the day or the end of my life, I want to know that I lived my life with honorable intention and that I did my absolute best to mirror this desire with my actions. This isn’t always easy, and I certainly have messed up my share along the way. Part of maintaining integrity surrounding intention is owning the miss-steps.

If I can manage to live with an open heart and try to always act with intention, I know that I am using my power for good. It’s a nice sense of accomplishment during my journey. When acting consciously toward the greater good, integrity and concerns toward maintaining it sort of take care of themselves. All sorts of beauty fall into place as a result. When actions are for good, and not for self, self is magically taken care of and it becomes effortless.

Slow down. Open your heart. Welcome the lessons.

The roller coaster of missing…

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Driving home from work yesterday, early, I had a pang of missing my best friend Kim. At least I think it was Kim. I was thinking about her and then I had this sharp emotional pang wash over me. The past week or so, I have been crying at the drop of a hat over nothing.I left work early because as I was working, tears were welling up in my eyes and blurring my vision and I ‘m just not into work enough to sit at my desk with tears rolling down my cheeks. That tears came over thinking about missing Kim was really no surprise. Of course then I started thinking about other people I was or might be missing.

My dad was next on my list and that did nothing to slow my tears. It’s a few weeks until the first anniversary of his death and I have yet to really cry for him. I know he had a long and full life, and I certainly miss him, but I just haven’t shed those tears. Yet. Maybe that is what this emotional movie I am surfing through is all about.

I then went to missing Connor. He didn’t visit this past year for xmas because we had just been together in June (for my dad’s funeral) and he wanted to come instead for spring break. Then he got into some trouble at school and couldn’t come for spring break, but that wasn’t too much an issue because I thought I would be seeing him in June for his graduation.Do I need to tell you he might not be graduating and he has been out of touch about it? His absence on the phone leads me to believe he isn’t graduation, but now too much time has gone by and I won’t be able to get an affordable ticket, so I have had to make the decision that whether he is graduating or not, I won’t be going. I hate that this has to be a lesson for him in consequences (if he does graduate and his Mamaa isn’t there it’s no-one’s fault but his own), but there it is. Even though it would be next to impossible to live with him again, I still miss him.

I decided to go to knit night at Knitting in the Loop as a therapy of sorts. While I was sitting there it occurred to me that it is the 14th anniversary of my miscarriage. It’s been several years since this has received more than a passing thought, but there was a time when the grief of it was debilitating. I don’t want to ever go there again, but it occured to me while I was sitting with the knitters that I miss the daughter I never knew.

There is a flock of friends old and new I miss, and I won’t list them out for fear of not including someone, but I think you all know who you are. It has to be enough that we have the internet to maintain some modicum of contact that is indeed sustaining, but not enough. I miss the joy of the purely physical contact of a long warm embrace. I want a year off work, paid of course, in which to visit each and every one of you all around the world.

I have to get my ass in gear and write a proposal for an artist’s grant of studio space with a local gallery. It’s due next Friday and I have seriously been procrastinating. I have been ruminating, deeply stuck in thought about this, so not really procrastinating at all. I think my focus is almost clear. I want to do something with my dad’s pics from the 50s, that much I know for sure. I think a variety of things might be the only way to conceptualize it. One of my working theories is that all the women in these photographs, and there are a lot of them, are all lesbians. Who’s to dispute this? I might theme it somehow around missng my dad and getting to know this part of him, his life before he met and married my mom. My dad, the ladies man, friend to lesbians far and wide. That just broke through the threatening tears and cracked me up. I might be on to something.

Life is good and the emotional ride is somehow a reminder of that. That my teary sadness comes and goes at will and isn’t attached to something of consequence is a little piece of this grace I want to be cultivating. I can go on in the missing knowing it’s because my heart is so full.

The Journey

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

As I write this, I am looking out into the back yard, and as much as our plantings are a mess from the neglect of winter, there is beauty all around. The first thing I see is the bold red flowers of the poinsettia tree. I think it definitely needs to go into the ground this spring or maybe it just needs repotting. To the right of the poinsettia is a thriving snake plant. My love of snake plants with their long slithering tongues goes way back as they were successful for my mom. The tulip magnolia is awash in pinkish-lavenderish-whitish blossoms. It has maybe a week or so more before all the petals drop and it has already begun to leaf out into lush greenness. It is hiding a hanging angel wing begonia, also full of blooms.

Quan Yin’s bed is overflowing in the lush greenery of bougainvillea, soon to be removed for its dangerous pointy thorns. Perhaps relocated, perhaps just trashed, its fate is still uncertain beyond it’s removal from where it currently resides. To the right of Quan Yin is a lovely patch of pentas covered in mauvish red blooms. It started out last year as a six inch pot and the patch is currently two to three feet across. To the right of that a red blooming rose bush, its thorns much less pervasive than those of the bougainvillea.

The far left edge of my window view contains the bold pink flowers of our hibiscus tree. Darling, indeed. There is plenty of other greenery to report on, but I don’t know the names of most of it. That we have cultivated such an oasis with so little deliberate work, is amazing. Sure there is a lot of work when we go on a little garden center shopping spree, but beyond that, the maintenance we do is minimal. I guess we need to be a little more conscious of the need for watering, but we have a few plants that totally let us know when a drink is in order by their pitifully droopy foliage.

When we go on a garden center spree, I always have the best of intention for repotting some of the more prolific plants. I get into the bag of planting mix, and something skitters away. I am halted in my tracks and quite often scream like a girl. This cracks Elizabeth up every time, but for me, halted really captures the moment. I am frozen not from fear so much as anxiety. I will dream about those creepy crawly things for days much like when a trip to the dentist results in dreams of teeth crumbling out of my mouth.

Regardless of the dreams, the lushness of the patio has a poetic spirituality all its own. Add a fire crackling in the chiminea and the aesthetic is beyond soothing.

I find this same serene peace in knitting. There is a pulse coming through the needles, whether from me to the yarn or the yarn to me, I am uncertain, and sometimes, I am certain both are true. I think it is somehow a reciprocal balance. There are times when I pick up yarn and needles and have no preconceived plan. The yarn was too pretty to not buy, and a skein here and there eventually come together at the right time to be crafted into something unique and soothing. I am currently working on a blanket of Patagonia cotton for the bed that is like this. My original intent for it has already been morphed once, but the resulting patchwork is both intensely bright and colorful, as well as soothing to knit. I am considering it a sort of palate cleansing project. I can work on it here and there to refocus my brain from something gloriously finished on to whatever is to come next.

My current next might be a sweater kit I have in my stash. There are two to choose from and like repotting plants, there are things along the way that might be halting. I could just plainly be bored by something so grand. Though I know I will adore both as finished sweaters, getting there might just make me crazy.

Tedious repetition isn’t the real problem though, because I tend to take a meditative view of this dilemma and consider it part of the therapy. The real problem skittering away in the knitting is the potential for mistakes, flaws in the fabric that might be more visible than they are in something more, well, small. Like a scarf. Or mitts.

Of mistakes, Susan Gordon Lydon says in The Knitting Sutra
“Sometimes I would rip out enough rows to correct the problem, sometimes not, but I began to appreciate these mistakes as small lessons in mindfulness or humility and as expressions of the spirit or soul of the knitting, which seemed to exist apart from me, the knitter. My experience of knitting was enriched the more I knew of spiritual matters, and vice versa. And I found that once I could accept my lack of perfection in both areas with humor and grace, the whole business of knitting, as well as of living, became far more pleasurable to me.”

My own policy on this is similar, I most often consider them the charm of the hand knit, and rarely do I rip back my knitting to correct them. It really does depend on how glaring they are, as well as how far back, if it is a gift, or for personal use, that sort of thing. That said, however, these two sweater kits are a bit more elaborate than a scarf. There are proportions to be considered. It can be terribly daunting if I let it. It can be as halting as the crawlie things in a bag of planting mix.

In some ways, the idea of halting is extended to posting on this blog. There can be a paralyzing quality to the words I let out onto the page. I want them to be just so. More effort is required to craft them to such a degree. There is a writing, stewing, editing, and finally publishing process that is very different than other blogging endeavors. It isn’t that I care about the other blogs less, but they are much more of the moment, more casual perhaps. I want this blog to say something more deliberate. More intentional.

In my first post on this blog, I loosely defined Cultivating Grace as a :…catch all for all those moments when I have a sense of understanding. when I get it. Whatever ‘it’ is.” This is how i feel about the yard and gardens today, about the knitting of sweaters or the knitting in general. The essence of pure beauty that result from the endeavors is something I “get” right away, something I have always known. The journey to this arrival I also “get” but is so many ways, it is still a charming mystery.

Again, I quote The Knitting Sutra, “After all, the important thing is not so much what you knit as what happens to you while you knit it. Where the interior journey takes you. What you find there. How you are transformed and when you come back home.” Thought of thusly, I can knit either sweater, or another scarf, and arrive at the same destination because the “interior journey” is about more than the finished product. The resultant blooms of the gardening efforts (mostly eb’s gardening efforts) are much the same and the thinking greenery is just as amazing and beautiful.

Let all of life’s journeys be remarkable.

Forgiveness

Friday, January 18th, 2008

When I woke up this morning, I had Jeff Volmrich’s name pounding inside my head. He was in my high school class and I haven’t given him a second thought since . 25 years is a long time. I found it quite disturbing that I was thinking of him so strongly. As I sat doing my morning knitting meditation, I kept him in the forefront of my thoughts. When I rise thinking so strongly of a particular person, there is usually a readily apparent reason with which I can easily connect. Not so today. Here it is about eight hours later, and I have yet to shake him from the tree, but I decided this morning to let him linger as long as he likes, but that I would lose the disturbing nature of his presence. Deciding to not be disturbed was one thing. Accomplishing not being disturbed could be quite another. How would I make this happen?I decided to forgive him.Jeff wasn’t the meanest of my high school tormenters. That was Lori Staats. I’ll forgive her, too, while I am at it. Jeff, even though more of a leader, when it came to tormenting me, he was definitely more of a follower. The only brilliance he can claim as his own is taking “Maxine the beauty queen,” always said full of taunting malice, and giving it a French spin. “La beauty reine” didn’t have quite the same sting, and the whole thing sort of lost its mojo in the process. Beyond this, the details of his relentless teasing really don’t matter. I offer up a blanket of forgiveness to Jeff.

The high school girls are another matter entirely. Their collective teasing verged toward cruelty. Lori, MaryJane, Brooke, Lisa, Louise, I forgive you all. Yes, Louise Panzer, even you. What the others might have had in quantity, you bore forth consistently meaner on each consecutive day of four years of high school. I forgive you.

I forgive Duffer for not believing me when his best friend David said he had had me (he most assuredly did not have me, eww gross), though that was actually a good thing because it actually pushed me into getting out of a relationship that was going nowhere. It sort of forced a little backbone on me. I hadn’t realized I needed to forgive him until I started this post and I left him nearly 23 years ago. That’s a long time to be holding back forgiveness, albeit unintentionally.

Let me back up while I am at it and forgive Michael and Marc for their casual treatment of me. They were young men not knowing any better how to treat an equally young woman, and I wish them well. I hope they are as happy with their lives as I am with mine.

Who else…let’s go to my 20s, post Duffer. Kathy, I forgive you for picking Sheila over me, or feeling you had to choose at all. Your choice makes a certain sense given that I picked up and moved away. And Sheila, I forgive you for never even asking me if I slept with your husband. I didn’t. And Val, of that grouped scenario, you are the hardest to forgive. I have an entire page from our senior yearbook that I just wanted to fax to you to remind you where you came from. I forgive you all and remove my veil of mourning our lost friendships all around.

I guess that brings me to Virginia. I have been putting off finishing this post because I haven’t yet felt ready to forgive you, Steven. Your crime? When I pushed you away so hard because I had miscarried my (our) third child at six months and was pseudo psycho, in need of medication if not hospitalization, you went. I never in my consciousness surrounding pushing dreamed you would go. Ever. You were devoted. And then you weren’t. You adored me.  And then you didn’t. I forgive you.

Maybe this conclusion is why I woke with Jeff Volmrich pounding in my head.

Grace incognito

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Quite often, moments of grace arrive veiled in such a way that we don’t take them for more than face value for quite a while. The following piece was written about 5 years ago and it addresses a woman I met online before I met Elizabeth.

The story unfolds over a period of about 4 months, and as she was retreating, Elizabeth was coming forward. It was very much a one door closes, another door opens sort of time.

Brigit

In January 1998, I had to move back into the home I shared with my husband after having been separated for some time, and living separately for 6 months. He had gotten military orders to Iceland for 1 year and his household was set up, and there was no way there was room for the kids in my tiny apartment. I totally resented him for this being necessary, but there really was no way around it. The benefit of me moving back in was that the kids would not be uprooted and would be able to continue for the school year with no disruption to their routine.

I had Steven get us a WebTV unit, as it was much cheaper than getting a computer, and it would be cheaper than phone calls back and forth for him to be able to talk to the kids. We went looking and learned more about it and finally bought one. Only then would I agree to moving back in and we all packed up my stuff and it was a done deal. He left a day or so after that and although I was no longer comfortable in what used to be our happy home, he was not there and I was soon settled in.

I set up all the accounts on the WebTV and was soon surfing the internet and searching for this and that. At this point I had known I am a lesbian for about 4 years. I began searching for lesbian this and lesbian that to see what was out there. I found out about message boards and chat rooms and through that I learned about email lists.

One evening I did a search for lesbian email lists and came across a list of lesbian lists. It was truly a comfort to see there were so many options to choose from. I went from one to the next reading their descriptions until finally I came across one named MarBLes. It stood for MARried But LESbian. I was amazed that there were other women in my same situation and signed up right away. I was a little nervous initially, but soon discovered a great deal of
support and tremendous diversity among the group. When I joined, the group was 40 members and it was like finding my real family, as corny as that sounds.

MarBLes had its own chat room on an irc channel that with a little help, I was able to get into. Chatting was a good supplement to getting to know this group a little better, though I did not say much initially because I could hardly keep up just reading the screen.

Pretty soon I had a clear mental image of who I had common ground with and who I was comfortable talking to. The person I was most comfortable with was Brigit. She was close enough to my age, had kids, and was able to still be happily married, having an open agreement with her husband. This opened my mind to the same possibility with my husband, though deep down I think I knew he would never go for it and that it would not work for us.

Brigit and I fast became a couple and I learned an entirely different kind of relationship. I remembered with a laugh having seen a show on Sally Jesse Raphael about this very topic and thinking how ludicrous it was, people meeting online and thinking they had found love, but here I was getting a thorough understanding of it because it was happening to me. We would agree to meet at a certain time, our dates, and we would chat with the MarBLes group at weekly sessions, and email each other several times daily. There seemed to be no limit to what we could share this way even though there was more than 1000 miles between us. Soon enough I lost my cyber cherry and it only escalated further from there.

We decided we should meet in real life to see if what was happening online was something that was sustainable. Brigit thought it better if she came to Virginia rather than me coming to Kansas since her kids were grown and her husband was there to watch over them, and mine were not. A plane ticket was purchased for the last week in March and it was actually going to happen. There was a lot of nervous anticipation as the day of Brigit’s arrival grew near.
We thoroughly discussed all the possible scenarios we could conceive and agreed there would be no pressure and no expectations. At the very least we would be friends, but the possibilities beyond that remained open for negotiating depending on how we actually felt.

I am a rather touchy feely person, and when Brigit walked down the ramp, I first made sure it was her, and then I gave her a big hug and a quick kiss. We went to pick up her luggage and then we were on our way to my house. While I was driving I placed my hand on her thigh as this is my habit, and after a while, I realized how quiet we were. It suddenly occurred to me to ask her if it was ok that I was touching her. She said it was fine and that she liked the ease I had in finding an immediate comfort with her. I think she also mentioned that it might take her some time to adjust. I told her there was no rush, friendship was a given.

We developed into a rhythm of comfort, companionship I suppose. Our comfort level with each other was evident and continued to deepen. At one point, Brigit asked if she could stay longer. I had no problem with her staying as long as she liked because I really liked her. At some point I was concerned that the incredible sex we had had online was not incredible sex we were having together in the flesh, but I also thought it was something that just needed more time. I soon saw this to be true as on day nine, the tide turned and intimacy together was found. We had crossed some sort of threshold and our relationship was fortified. We began to make plans for when we might be able to see each other again.

While Brigit was visiting, a local radio station was giving away concert tickets and a bus trip to the show. You had to bring a bag of food to a location and this got you an entry in the drawing for one of 12 pair of tickets to go on this trip to see Sarah McLachlan. It was a kismet as far as I was concerned. Her music is something we shared and discussed at great length when we chatted and emailed.

It was a lovely morning and we went to the food drop off point set up at some store in Virginia Beach. We got there when it started at 10 and got our ticket. It did not occur to either of us to bring more than one bag of food to have multiple chances to win. Before too long there were about 100 people there, some bringing even 20 bags of food. The food bank was collecting a bundle, and we were getting a little less excited with each new person showing up with their donation.

At Noon, the radio DJ began to draw names, and he drew one name every 5 minutes for the next hour. Brigit’s ticket number was the ninth one to be called. She screamed so loudly that everyone around us jumped. This was the first thing she had ever won in her life. We were going to be on a bus trip to Baltimore to see Sarah in a few days.

Of course the concert was fabulous. Though the bus ride was 5 hours, it really was a perfect trip. On the way to the show, we watched “A League of Their Own” on the video monitor system of the tour bus. I had seen it before, but Brigit had not and it was a pleasant distraction. There was a toilet on the bus, but about half way to the show, the driver stopped at a rest area so he and everyone else could stretch and take a short break. We had noticed another set of lesbians, maybe a couple, maybe not. They sat in the front seat of the bus behind the driver and were so very proper and dignified. All the quiet people were in the front of the bus. There was almost an us/them feel of delineation from the front of the bus to the back with the radio station dj pretty much in the middle. Brigit and I were not the ringleaders of the rowdy set, but we were sitting in the back seat, polar opposites of those “other” lesbians.

We got to the show about half an hour before it began and saw that our seats, row 107 I think, were actually 7 rows from the stage. It was simply amazing. The opening act for Sarah was Lisa Loeb. I had not really heard much of her music but a song or two played on the radio. I really enjoyed her performance, especially her song called “Pulling Taffy”. It just cracked me up. She played her set and we were all revved up for Sarah to take the stage. The intermission was not too long, and then the lights went down low. She was a goddess. I was so very in awe of her presence, and we were so very comfortably enjoying this together. We thoroughly enjoyed each other on this trip and we were a couple. There was somewhere along the way a transformation that seemed to cement us together a little more tightly.

Another thing we did on this extended first date was to go get tattooed. I had already taken the plunge about a year prior and gotten a sun on my ankle. I am not sure if it was more to assert independence from my husband, or to spite him as he thinks tattoos are nasty, especially on women. Brigit had wanted to get a tattoo for some time and never actually done it. I told her I would get a second one and she could watch and then decide if she wanted to go through with it or not. I added a moon on the inside of the same ankle, and Brigit decided she would go for it. In preparation, she had my older son sketch a design for
a double-headed axe. They worked together refining it and had an excellent design for the tattoo artist to work with and once he added color, it really came out lovely.

During the tattoo experience with Brigit, I learned a new appreciation for the potential of eroticism that might accompany the process. To me, it was not as unpleasant as I expected. It was more like being stung repeatedly by annoying insects. For Brigit it was that pleasurable pain making her squirm in the seat. She was so flushed that the artist thought she might need a break. She told him to proceed because she was thoroughly enjoying herself. I was enjoying the show just as much. I wish I had taken a picture of her tattoo for my son to have in his portfolio. It really was that good.

A week prior to Brigit’s visit there had been a few wicked storms. I learned that these storms had sort of churned up the ocean and bay and sort of spit out a lot of shells up on the beaches. We went one day to the beach for the afternoon. Every few yards there was what looked to be a pile of gravel. Upon closer examination, I saw each was a pile of shells. They were whole miniature seashells, like you might buy a basket of at a décor store. I was content to just sit there and pore through them.

At one point, the boys were playing down at the water’s edge and Brigit was off walking near the surf, and I was still sitting there, running my hands through this seashell gravel. A woman came seemingly from nowhere dressed in flowing gauzy layers. She had long blond hair that can only be described as unkempt. She came within about 5 ft of me where I was sitting and put her bare heel into the sand and proceeded to enclose me in the center of a near perfect circle. It was very bizarre. She was softly chanting something unrecognizable and never took her gaze from me. Then she left as suddenly as she appeared. I was telling Brigit about this and that she had circled me 3 times and seemed to be chanting. Brigit told me she had celebrated my energy and it was like a ceremony to honor me or some such thing. I have not thought about that again until now.

After about 2 weeks, Brigit felt she had to go home. I think it was a sort of test to see how we would fare separately now that we had become a part of each other. It was a test we failed miserably. When our agreed upon meeting online came around, Brigit did not show up. When I posted a message asking her to contact me on a message board we went to, she did not respond. When I went to the group chat, she was not there. When I mentioned on the email list that I needed to hear from her, there was again, no response. I was beginning to feel that when Brigit physically left from visiting me, that all the intimacy left with her.

A few weeks later I saw her in the chatroom on group chat night and she was very distant. I knew somehow it was different, that we were no longer a couple. I did not understand it and I did not get any explanation from Brigit other than it is just her way of dealing with all the different pieces. I was hurt and felt rather discarded. Not something I was equipped to deal with because it had been wonderful and now it was just over.

I still tried to email and get further explanation, but heard little back from her. I soon realized that it was not a lot different than someone in real life not returning phone calls. No matter where a relationship takes place, a brush off is still a brush off. A mutual net friend had told me that it was her way, that all I would ever get would be a little piece of her, and that I would have to accept this. He told me she would show up when it suited her or when she was able. It was difficult, but I soon enough moved on.

A few months later I came to realize that my time with Brigit was a spiritual awakening or discovery of sorts. That was the purpose of our paths crossing, I suppose.

I learned from her a lot about myself in a short time that I still am digesting some 4 years later. Every once in a while I would send an email to addresses I knew were hers or were maintained by her, but if I got any reply back it was a short few words. My interest was one of friendship, not love pining away. I had already played that game once before and knew it has no happy ending.

Are you a real lesbian?

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

When I first asked myself this question, I was 29 years old. I had not had the luxury of growing up with the personal knowledge that I was “different,” or lesbian, or anything other than a normal suburban misfit. Hindsight, of course, is the greatest illustrator. Looking back on my life as I remember it, I see all sorts of instances that pointed toward the homo end of the normal scale. At the time, however, I had no clue…no idea at all, that I was anything other than a “normal” hetero chick.

I was not in denial for 29 years. At the oh-so-mature age of twenty, I thought I was in love. I had been dating this guy for about two and a half years and we lived in apartments in adjacent buildings on the main street of a quaint little worldly village. My roommate at the time was my still best friend and omigod…she was a lesbian. It is not like being from a small town left me with no known lesbian role models.

During this time, one of my jobs was as a supermarket cashier. My roommate worked there and she helped me get hired on. The Bookkeeper was another good friend of hers, and over time, we fell in together much like the three musketeers. Eventually, I realized I had fallen in love with this woman. I never considered that this might mean I was a lesbian, and though I believe she loved me too, our relationship was never real. We often went on group dates, my roommate, her girlfriend, The Bookkeeper, and me, but The Bookkeeper was such a good Catholic girl. (Sigh…)

Our unofficial dating and non-lesbianness was not a whim or a fling. This went on over a period of three to four years. Did I forget to mention that The Bookkeeper was engaged? She was. For part of this time, I was still with that guy I thought I loved so much. That dalliance produced my first child. Once I smelled the roses about my relationship with him, I left him, and still had no thought that I might be attracted to women. I was attracted to one
woman…there was just something about “her.” After leaving him, I dated guys and carried on as heterosexual, something I never even questioned I was or wasn’t, and still continued also dating The Bookkeeper.

Of course, over time, the non-consumation of my desires for The Bookkeeper led me to a state of discontent. Please remember, too, that at no time when all this was actually happening was I so fully aware of all the things that contributed to life actually happening as it did as I am now so many years removed from it. When I was 22.5, I had the opportunity to move away from it all because a friend of mine extended me an invitation to stay with her until I could get settled on my own. Thank the Goddess she had the insight to realize I needed a fresh start to get mylife turned around and headed in a more productive direction.

I often wonder why I did not take that opportunity to reevaluate exactly what it was I wanted from life. I suppose the simple truth of the matter is that I was just not mature enough to sit down and be still with my authentic self. At 38, this is something I am just now coming into. I did, however, take the time to acknowledge to myself that I was worth more than a casual relationship. A week after moving, I got a job in a busy hair salon, which is what I actually went to school for a few years before, and I concentrated my efforts toward making a successful career transition and found a career I could be passionate about.

Coincidentally, I also took on a second job as a cocktail waitress and subsequently met the second major love of my life (the first being The Bookkeeper), my exhusband. He and I were together happily seven years before I had my grand awakening. For a while, I had even convinced myself that we could stay happily married, *and* I could be/become a real lesbian. A lot of drama later, I realized that life like that could only happen for me if all the people involved were on the same page, and certainly my ex was not on that page, and likely not even in the same book.

At a point when I still carried a small semblance of hope that my marriage might survive, I found an email list called MarBLes. It was for women who were MARried But LESbian. I could not believe that I was not the only one, and quite frankly, the idea that this might be an entire segment of the lesbian community had never entered my mind. I was still trying to rationalize the fact that I was not really a “babydyke” (at 29) even though in so many ways I felt that I was, I was discovering that I was a MarBLes dyke, and I was liking it. It made a lot of sense to me at first and at the base of it all it just felt good to feel validated for a while.

I soon found that within that small faction of the lesbian community, there were yet more differences dividing us. There were women who had crossed over and left their marriages to live a lesbian life, women who knew they could never compromise their hetero family, women who had successfully brought a girlfriend into their marriage, and many other variations on the theme. I even met a woman I considered myself to be dating online. That in itself was a bizarre concept to me, but it taught me that there was indeed something missing in my life, and that once again, I had to acknowledge to myself that I was worth more.

After the first MarBLes relationship disintegrated, I met my current partner. All I can really say about it without spinning off in a totally different direction is the old cliche, “Third time’s a Charm.” She is the other half that totally completes me. Though I do not consider living and sharing my life with her, and loving her completely to be the defining aspect of me being a real lesbian, it is deeply ingrained into my soul as an integral part of the whole picture.

As I ask myself this question today, am I a real lesbian, in answer I can only quote Melissa Etheridge and say “Yes, I am.”