Ride of a Lifetime

One minute we were laughing. Young, hungover, late to the Superbowl party, totally free. Driving down a country road on New Year’s Day, we were heading towards our lives.

Must have hit a patch of black ice. Time stretched itself out like a taffy-pull. The car air filled with heartbeats and breath.

None us made a sound. Even the car, as it spun 360 degrees, was silent, seeming almost to hover above the ground.

I was in the back seat, on the hump between the seats. It felt like I was on the Teacups ride, facing the slow-whirling, hard-packed, icy snowland and barbed-wire fence as we spun. Katie’s red hair seemed to defy gravity, and you seemed set in plaster, both hands on the wheel.

It was surreal, those decades we turned together. Something transpired between us, unspoken, that would forever connect us.

When the car stopped, no one moved. The stillness seemed even more surreal than the spinning world, then, and I wasn’t sure if we’d died and this was heaven, or if somehow, miraculously, we had escaped what would surely have been a horrific and fatal crash.

More eons passed, until finally, as if on cue, we started laughing. Unbelievably, the car was even facing the right direction. We had literally completed a full two circles, and had stayed on the road.

We were whole. We were spared by the Angels.

We went on to the party, but didn’t tell anyone what had happened. Didn’t make into yet another college drinking story.

In fact, we never spoke of it again.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: surreal

Sweet Agony

I await you in my room, in the dark

No lights, don’t want others’ stopping by

This is to be our night, finally

No more guessing, no more holding back

My passion for you is huge and deep

An encompassing wave of anticipation

Imagining you arriving washes over me

The earth literally moves under my feet

I listen to my heart pound louder and louder

I feel the tickle of butterfly wings dancing in my belly

I am giddy, I am ready, I am going crazy

I hear footsteps and they stop at my door

I hold my breath as I watch the doorknob start to turn


Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: anticipate


Invisible Shield

For as long as I can remember, I have not been a “huggable” person.

This used to confound me, and I actually experienced a lot of pain around it.

Huggable people are people who others want to hug freely. Hug, as in express affection for.

I remember first noticing this in college. As a freshman at a women’s college in Virginia, my friends and I would travel to the surrounding men’s colleges for parties. I would literally be standing with my other two best friends, Katie and Laura Lee, and people would come up and they would hug Laura, then grab Katie. And when they got to me, they would suddenly adopt a more subdued or formal manner and greet me verbally.

Now, Laura Lee was a beauty pageant winner who was stunning and had a perfect figure and a winning smile. I knew she was the first to attract others’ attention anywhere we were. That was just natural. Katie was a fun, fiery redhead and short; she fit right into the curve of your body, so being draw to her also made total sense to me. Who wouldn’t want to hug that?

And I was, well, me.

And I was just so confused. What was wrong with me? Why would they want to be so distant from me? To literally not touch me?

Of course, having little to no self-esteem, I immediately went to the idea that I just wasn’t pretty or interesting enough to deserve their attention. I was less than and so did not deserve a hug. This was a painful interpretation of the situation. I had no facts to support the theory, but it seemed to make sense to me.

I remember sharing about this with my high school friend Mary when we were home at Christmas break. What was wrong me? Why did no one want to hug me?

She thought it was great. She thought it gave me a sense of mystery. That people weren’t quite sure about me. And she thought this was a really big plus.

I did not think this was a plus. It felt like further evidence of my less-than-ness, my separateness. I wanted to be someone who people wanted to hug!

Later, as I got older and began to mature emotionally (aka got into therapy,) I started on a study of what in my presence could be creating this distant response of other people to me.

I began to connect dots. I looked back on the fact that over the years, I had tried to adopt a nickname or two. My name was a three syllable mouthful and was also fairly old-fashioned. It seemed like everyone had an aunt or a mother or grandmother named Margaret. So I’d attempt Maggie, or Meg, or even Mac (my initials.) But whichever version I’d try, it never stuck.

As a matter of fact, I did get nicknames, but it was usually an even more formal version of my name, such as Miss Margaret.

What I began to realize is that for whatever reason, there is a kind of formal quality to me. There is something about me that leads people to feel that they need to keep a distance physically.

What this because I was raised in a Protestant, somewhat physically non-demonstrative family? Possibly. I come from a family who believed in keeping up appearances above all else. Keep a stiff upper lip. Never let them see you sweat. And so forth. Yes, I learned to be very cautious of others, outside of the family. To hold my cards close to my chest. To watch what I said and did.

I had also developed a protectiveness in my system when very traumatic things happened to me at an early age. Anyone who has had trauma in their life knows how PTSD exists in your body.

OK, so I figured out some possible alternative theories to decry the original “I am just not lovable or worthy” theory of my youth.

What now? Well, I had to look at who I really am underneath all of that, and help myself allow that essence more space inside.

I know that at my core, my essence is warm and loving. That I am kind, and that I really want to connect.

I no longer hate or judge myself for my invisible protective shield. I have compassion and amazement at my ability to have survived as well as I did. I am patient and kind with my self and my body as I allow my essence to grow and flow.

And I have adapted the old adage if you want to be loved, love well into: I want to be hugged, so hug. I initiate the connection.

That invisible protective shield that I found so painful and frustrating before, today I claim as mine, and therefore worthy of my own love, just like any other part of me. Plus, I have it when I need it, like Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. I have a choice of whether to have the shield up or down.

Do I sometimes still wish I were more like Katie naturally and did not have to work at it? Sure. But I am me, so I do.

And so I do.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: distant


Night Moves

This was it.

The night of graduation. Four years complete. The party had long since started.

I’d taken ecstasy and was well into hours of drinking, running from party to party offering intensely felt goodbyes and impassioned promises of staying in touch forever to pretty much everyone I ran into.

Emotions were high, and so was I.

It was at the fountain, as Deborah and I danced around the falling waters, that he passed by. I realized in that moment that I had been looking for him all night, or perhaps just my body had.

We both yelled out “Heeeeey!!!!” as he passed by, and then I impulsively said, “I’ve been looking for you!”

“So have I!” he stopped and said.

“Let’s meet up!” I said.

“Yeah! Let’s meet up! Your room, midnight,” he suggested.

“OK!” I gleefully yelled at his back as he ran on with his fraggle (gaggle of frat brothers.)

My high ratcheted to interstellar levels.

I’d been in love with him all semester, since the choir ski trip. He finally noticed me one day on the bus when I made everyone laugh by reading a cheap romance novel aloud in a sexy voice.

After that he started leaving me hand drawn cartoons and notes, and then we started meeting up and hanging out here and there.

We never went on dates, exactly. My sorority and his fraternity did not mix, so it was a bit like the Capulet – Montague situation going on. I guess you could say we kept in on the DL, though that phrase was yet to be coined. I was so bedazzled by him that I didn’t even notice that it was happening.

He was just the most amazing guy. I had a huge physical attraction to him and he made me laugh so hard. He was creative and smart and I just got weak in the knees around him.

Though we’d fooled around, we’d never taken to the next level. Not that I hadn’t wanted to.

But I was not super comfortable with my sexuality then. I still felt conflicted about really owning it (all that inherited and social conditioning that a “good girl” didn’t admit to liking and wanting or even having sex.) So I tended to sort of deny my own sexuality while at the same time pursuing it.

But I knew one thing in that moment that night when I ran into him at the fountain. I wanted that boy.

And now here it was, the last night of school. My last chance.

After the fountain, the goodbye tour continued, as did my drinking and drugging. I had no purse, no watch, as I had long ago learned that I would lose anything not on my person. I remember riding on the back of somebody’s green moped through the night to hit all the spots, laughing. I was giddy with anticipation, and hazy with inebriation. In the back of my mind, all I could think about was meeting up with him.

At a certain point I suddenly snapped to attention. What time was it?! It felt late.

I grabbed the nearest wrist and strained to read the time. The big hand was on the 6, and the little hand…fuck! It was 1:30 AM! Noooooo! My last chance! And I missed it?!

I starting running at full speed across campus. Maybe he got caught up too. Maybe he’d be there, sketching funny drawings of me dancing around the fountain,

When I finally reached my dorm room, my heart sank into my gut: it was dark. I fumbled for the key under the mat and entered the room, tears welling in my eyes. I blew it.

Why had I played it safe all semester? Why had I passively let him call the shots? I really liked him. I really wanted him. I may never meet another guy like him again. Damn my stupid Protestant good girl upbringing. I’d missed yet another opportunity to really live.

I closed the door, and as I turned, my body became aware of another body in the room.

My eyes, adjusting to the darkness, began to discern a shape in my bed.

“Cal? Is that you?” I asked, my heart doing flip flops in my chest and my mind, reaching for possibilities. Maybe my roommate had gotten into the wrong bed…was that Kim? No, she was already gone. Maybe…hope against hope….

“Yeah. What took you so long?” That voice. He was there. In my bed. Thank you Jesus.

In what felt like the most bodacious move of my life, I slipped my dress off and stood there, in my naked desire.

I whispered out into the darkness, “I want to make love to you. I know we’ll never see each other again, but I just really want to. I just want this one night. OK?”

I risked humiliation in his rejection or total disappointment in his gentlemanly restraint.

I risked my imagined-but-until-that-moment-still-crucial-to-my-self-delusional-upbringing-repressed-sense-of-my reputation.

I risked my own potentially life-long regret in the light of day.

I took a deep breath, and I think in that very moment, I changed in some very crucial way. I already knew on some level that no matter his answer, it was my asking that would always matter.

I waited through seconds of heart-aching agony and anticipation for him to reply.

“Yeah, sure, me too,” he whispered back.

My entire body sighed in relief, and then vibrated in pure desire.

I walked the few steps over to the bed where he lay, looked down at his face in the moonlight, and began to descend.


Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: descend