It was August of 1989. I had just ended a relationship...or rather...I was informed by the man I had been seeing for over 3 years had decided that we should see other people. I was laying in bed at his house...staring up at the slanted wooden ceiling in the loft bedroom.
Normally I would have been upset. Scared, pleading, wanting to know what was 'wrong' with me. He had been seeing other women off and on during our relationship while wanting me to maintain a monogamous position. Looking back on it now it seems that he probably wanted something like a Continental European arrangement where the thinking was: 'Of course I have a Mistress! Every man does!'
But now he was telling me that that should be our arrangement, never thinking that I might also want to explore the options of other men while he continued his dalliances. So at least it was out in the open.
I did not protest. I lay there looking at patterns in the wood while I thought calmly, "Ok. Well, that is that. You know what? I have my children and my family and my friends. What do I need with a relationship with a man anyway? Highly over-rated." Each relationship I had been in, in the 14 years since my divorce, seemed fraught with battles to remain true to myself in the presence of men who thought I should be doing things differently. Everything from how I folded laundry to how I raised my children and spent my free time. So...fine! So be it.
That night I visited The Court (is it still fair to say a 'haunt'?) a restaurant and bar that featured a 'cell' in the dark dining room and separate bar room complete with a large glass 'Justice of the Peace' sign hanging over the raised stage. The entire place was fashioned to cater to a university town famed for turning out lawyers and to be honest you could throw a shoe and hit one nearly anywhere in the downtown and even the uptown area. In fact...the newly ex-boyfriend was also of that persuasion. Not only was it the one reliable place to get a good burger and a decent drink in the area, it was the only venue with live music six nights out of seven.
The music was basically folk and talented, semi-famous musicians traversing the country often performed, as well as many from the Chicago Folk Scene. Then there were....ones like me. Homegrown talents who filled in the nights when no one of note was coming through. I had been hosting the regular Tuesday night open mics for about six years at that point and taking the occasional solo gig nights, including the coveted weekend spots. The Court was my home away from home where my friends were and where I still gigged even though I had begun my career as a Dental Hygienist.
I walked through the door and there were my friends and the usual array of students and business men. Everything looked strange to me though. It was as if everyone was wearing a mask and I could see right through them. There was Jerry, a smile on his face but somehow a waft of underlying sadness was all I could see. John looked happy as he chatted with someone, but I could feel the seething anger that lay beneath that surface. Nothing was as it seemed to be. Something in me had shifted perspective. I was calm...and fascinated by it all. I felt a little dizzy and as though I had walked into something surreal....I suppose I thought it had something to do with the way I was handling the 'break up'. I just know I was seeing things differently.
A few weeks went by and I showed up to gig one night....hugging people as I came in.....setting up...rolling through my three hour performance on a Thursday night. At the end of the evening, all my equipment packed up, I walked up to the bar to wait for Vickie to give me my check. My friend John was there with a tall, attractive younger man, younger than me. "Hey Patti! This is my friend Dave. You oughta let him play bass for you sometime."
I off handedly and disinterestedly handed him one of my business cards, muttering something about sure...call me sometime. I thought nothing more of it.
The following week on a Wednesday I was separating my teenage sons from fighting when my phone rang.
I don't recall the exact conversation but it was that bass player guy John had introduced me to, saying he hadn't seen me back at the Court and wondering when I would be coming in again. I told him I didn't know but maybe the next night.
I went that next night with curiosity. He was there, waiting for me I guess. We sat in a booth and I asked him pointedly why he was interested in me.
"I don't know. That's what I'm trying to find out."
He went on to tell me that we play the same chords. I thought it an odd comment. I found out that he had only been divorced a year and was going to nursing school and hoping to be closer to his kids. I also found out that he was almost eight years younger than me.
"I'm 38!" I said as though that was reason enough not to spend any more time with this guy.
"My last girlfriend was 40!" he offered, as though that was all I would need to hear.
"I don't want to know about your mother fixations." I blurted.
I had had younger men interested in me and it always felt like some fantasy game about being with the Singer. I found it flattering, but at the same time off-putting.
Strangely, Vickie stopped me on my way back from the bathroom that night to tell me that this guy was seriously interested in me and that he wasn't gay, she had checked.
We agreed to a dinner date. I'm not even sure why. Especially because I had decided that I didn't need or want a relationship.
I arrived at the restaurant, a traditional Spanish place and met him in front. When the hostess saw us to our table I found a perfect red rose across one of the plates. This became a 'thing' later...... those perfect red roses.
It's been too long for me to recall what we talked about.... his divorce, his kids, poetry (he wrote and so did I), my kids, my music, his music, good food and wine.....probably. After dinner we walk around town....and walked and talked and walked and talked. I told him what I wanted in a relationship....that which I had told myself that didn't want or need...remember? I told him I saw myself with a partner practicing Tai Chi in the living room and playing music together and being honest and intimate and creative. I wanted laughter and joy and surprises and tears that two people shed together. I told him everything I had been envisioning for a loooong time....only to find myself in relationships with men who only wanted to change what they saw as wrong with me. I told him that if two people who love each other are going to fight...it should be about something damned important...that the little shit just didn't matter to me anymore. I told him all this because I didn't want to waste time with someone who didn't want the same things that I did.
We ended up standing on the sidewalk in front of the Court....and me looking up at him...He was 6'2" and wearing wooden soled clogs that gave him another 2 inches....and I'm 5' 4". I later teased him that that is when my neck problems started....staring up at him.
The local cop circled the block again and again. Each time we were still there....talking...staring...sizing each other up. We stayed well into the night until I finally pulled myself away and drove home......buzzing slightly with possibility and cautious of jumping too quickly into another disastrous entanglement...and this one came with kids.
Perhaps I was listening to something deeper in myself this time...but over the next few months we grew closer and more intimate. One night he stayed over when my kids were gone to my mom's house. I fell asleep in his arms as he now told me all of what he wanted....his vision of what loving someone looked like...and though I told him the next morning that I had fallen asleep, he told me that he knew that I heard all that he wanted me to hear....and that he had continued to speak his dreams to me for a long time after I nodded off.
I suppose now.....looking back on it....
That is likely how we cemented the spells we each had cast. Speaking words that carried intention and weight and living into them day by day...speaking aloud what magic we each had been carrying from all those romantic notions we'd been raised with.
I remember now....standing on the beach several years before...drawing 'signs' into the sand and lifting my face and heart to the sky and asking for a partner who embodied all the things that this man seemed to be.
There is a fine line between vulnerability and availability. Yet nothing real can come into your life if you don't hold both in your bones...if you don't aren't open to the creative power you possess.
That is how it began...
That is how I met my Soulmate
Surrendering into the unknown
I'm surrendering still
Only now it is into the Life without him