Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Madly, Deeply, Truly

While sitting outside the Starbucks this morning, enjoying a warm tall caramel macchiato, I watched a scene unfold at the next table where this guy was in the process of breaking up with his girlfriend, and you could see the pain on his face; hers too.  He kept telling her that though he cared about her deeply, even believed he loved her, it just wasn’t with that mad crazy love, the kind that makes the ground beneath his feet move, and he didn’t think she or he deserved anything less.  I could see the look on her face, she totally didn’t understand what he was trying to tell her, and I have to honestly say, neither did I. 
As a complete stranger, I can’t tell you how this guy really felt about this girl.  Being a writer, a people watcher, having grown up with five brothers, been married for twenty years to a man,  and have raised a son, I’m pretty good at reading the male body language.  This guy’s expressions screamed that he cared deeply about this girl; he constantly reached out to try and comfort her, he looked her directly her when talking, he would gently remove the hair blowing around her face, and he held her hands.  The look in his eyes as he stared down at her was filled with compassion and concern, and even held a small pool of tears.  When he blushed, the pink hue covered the whole side of his cheeks.  Where his face wasn’t pink, it was pale, sick with grief.
“Why are you doing this?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest as if trying to shield out the pain that clearly showed on her face.
He rubs his hands over the outside of her hands.  “What we have is comfortable, easy, and without complication.  We’re best friends, and the sex is great, but…”  He stops and runs his hands through his hair.  “… you don’t drive me crazy, you don’t cause me to get angry, you don’t make me feel obsessive or absurd.  It’s not that mad kind of love they show you in the movies.”
Shaking her head, she answered, “That’s the movies, and it’s not real life.  I mean, you do love me, right?”
“Yes, Baby, I do love you, more than I’ve ever loved anyone.” 
“Then, I don’t see the problem.”
He blew out a long breath.  “I’m afraid I’ll be missing out on this great, mad, crazy love.  I don’t want to miss that, and I don’t want you to miss that, and if we get married, I’m afraid it’s because we’re settling for something less than we can have.”
This girl sat there stunned, hurt and in disbelief at what this guy was telling her, and I have to say, I had a huge urge to stand up and scream at him for being a complete ass.  He’s going to lose someone who he obviously cares about, who he gets along with great, who obviously cares about him, and who he has a great friendship and sex life …for a fantasy, and ideal, an image he created in his mind.
I almost wept at the dissolution of this relationship, dredging up feelings and fears for and from my own failed love story… both past and possible future.  I know what it’s like to have settled, to have chosen stability over romance, to have never pursued that mad love.  However, I’ve learned a few things through all this pain.   What makes someone special in my life and what love means to me.
I want passion, but perhaps it’s because I’m older, but I don’t want a mad love.  I want a deep connection, a sharing of interests and dreams, and a sense of trust and adventure.  I want comfortable, easy and low complications, trust, friendship and great sex.  I hope that guy finds his crazy love, but I hope even more he realizes he’s already got something madly, deeply and truly amazing, yet that doesn’t seem to be enough for him.
Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Woo-Hoo ...20,000 Views

Woo-Hoo... I've made it to 20,000 views!  That's not bad at all for a personal blog.  Thank you to all those faithful readers who tune in everyday.  I don't know who you are, but I really appreciate you.

Right in the Middle of My Life

Picture by T.L. Gray - Olympic National Park 05/30/2013

For my 42nd birthday this past week, a dear friend of mine gave me a book called, “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck.  For those of you who know me, you’re aware I’ve started a company called North Star, so the title of this book fit perfectly.  It isn’t the title alone that grabbed my attention, but the opening paragraph.  In addition to the partial quote above, it goes on to say: “I don’t even want to remember how scary that space was – makes me feel like I’m gonna die or something.  I’m only telling you about it because a lot of good came of it in the long run.  So anyway, I don’t even know how I ended up so far off course.  I felt like I’d been sleepwalking.”  - Dan, age 41.

I've made this statement quite often, especially among some of these blog posts.  According to Beck, the above is a loose rendition of the first twelve lines of The Devine Comedy written in 1307 by Dante Alighieri.  Changing course in the middle of life seems to be a common theme throughout history.  Moses was forty before he began to free the Israelite slaves, Abraham was already married and well-seasoned when he separated from everything he knew to wander into the wilderness, and even Jesus himself was thirty-three before being called into the desert and starting his short-lived ministry. 

Beck goes on to claim that everyone is on a journey, searching for three main things in life – truth, love and joy, and these aspects she calls collectively the “North Star”.  Everyone knows the Stella Polaris is fixed in the heavens and doesn’t move. Everything else moves, but this a fixed central point.

“You may think you’re utterly lost, that you’re going to die a bewildered death in the Dark Wood of Error.  But brush away those leaves, wait for the clouds to clear, and you’ll see your destiny shining as brightly as ever: the fixed point in the constantly changing constellations of your life,” Beck writes.

Wow, that’s exactly how I feel… utterly lost and hopelessly bewildered; like a bit of my soul is dying every day amid the pain, confusion and worry of this mid-life shift.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds and I fear meeting even the basic of my needs, but in the middle of my fear, with shaking hands and wobbly knees, I march forward.  The pain of my heartbreak is so thick and so strong, I can barely breathe at times, but I move onward. 

I pray I can brush away these leaves - the ones tussled in my hair from falling on my face - and look skyward to see the clouds of my despair parting, because I really need to find my “North Star”.  I know it’s there, I’ve seen it before; I’m lost without it.  I don’t want to wander this wilderness anymore.  Beck writes that when we can’t see our North Stars, we have built in compasses to help guide us in our search for our true paths.  The following chapters of this book promises to help us discover and learn how to use and rely on these inner compasses, so that when we find ourselves once again (for there will be many) lost, cloudy or off course, we have to go on faith and trust our inner compass in order to stay close to our right life,  and live the life we were meant to live.

That’s one hell of a tall order, but right now I’m taking a chance on faith and trusting Beck knows what she’s talking about.  What do I have to lose?  Will it be painless?  Not in my experience.  According to Dante, the way back to la verace via, the true path, lay directly through Hell.  THAT I understand, but fighting and surviving Hell was always worth the effort when I knew what I was fighting for or against; knowing  that purpose (North Star – destiny) helped keep me focused no matter the pain.  I need that again, I need to find and be reminded of my North Star.  Perhaps the name of my company means much more than I initially realized? 

Do you know where your North Star lies?

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ruined Lives

I’m no stranger to tragedy or chaos coming in and ruining my life.  It’s happened many times, but like a cat I keep landing on my feet.  I keep getting up and trudging forward.  What else do I have?  What else can I do?  Lay there and die?  Well, yeah… but I suppose I’m too stubborn or too stupid to do that. 
I can’t give a list of things that have come in and uprooted my life; there are just too many.  Also, some of the things that brought me down may not be a problem for others, yet held the power to destroy me.
I can’t tell which hurts the most, because I still wear the scars and feel the pain from time to time.  Scars are reminders of those battles, and I believe they hold within them part of the original pain.
I can’t tell which disasters were my fault or from which I was the victim.  All left residual marks, all bore harsh consequences, and all required their pound of flesh.
All I can tell you is that I’m still here. I’m still alive. I’m still breathing.  Though it’s hard sometimes to inhale and exhale, I am able to fill my lungs. Hope stirs for a better tomorrow.  I can’t say anything about the day after.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Saving the World

Mt. Rainier - 06/09/2013

I’m not Supergirl, though that would be wickedly awesome to be able to fly away anywhere I wanted to go or simply fly away when needed; to have super strength and never show a moment of weakness; to have x-ray vision and see things clearly for what they are, not what they appear to be;  to be able to hear what is too soft, too low or too far away to understand or comprehend; to leap tall obstacles that get in my way; and be faster than bullets that fly and seek to destroy me almost daily.   Alas, I am only human.

I cannot save the world, nor is it my job.  I cannot save anyone else, only one person …me. No one else can save me either; it’s something one must do for themselves.  I’d love for someone to swoop in and sweep me off my feet, make all my dreams come true, dissolve all my worries, fight away all my fears and love me with their whole heart.  Though I write fiction, I don’t believe in fairy tales.   The truth is - I have to do all those things for myself.  

Someday I’ll want to share me with someone, so I need to make sure what I have to share is my best.  I don’t want to give someone I claim to love something that’s broken, weak, timid or frail.  That wouldn’t be me sharing me - they would be them carrying me.  I also don’t want to carry anyone else because I can barely hold myself.  They’d end up resenting me or I would resent them, and that’s not a healthy relationship.  

I’m on the road to saving myself, to loving myself, and fighting to fulfill my dreams.  Someday, I’ll meet someone who will love me completely, and I’ll have something beautiful, whole, and strong to share with them.   That would be a wonderful world in which to live.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Strange Love

I tend to separate my life into three different phases.  There was my childhood where no one ever hugged me or told me they loved me; showing healthy affection just wasn’t something done in my family.  Then there was suburban life filled with family and faith and was hugged and told I was loved almost on a daily basis.  Then there is the phase I’m entering now.  I call this phase the “Me” phase, because it’s the first time in my life I’m able to focus on me, where my wants and desires take center stage.  The biggest part of that focus is love – for me and others around me.
Over the last couple of years I have made a lot of new friends.  This motley crew mainly consists of people who share my greatest passion… writing.  I believe I’ve made these connections because these artistic creatures understand me better than any of those who’ve surrounded me before.  With them, I get to be me – not someone I’m expected to be, and I love them for that reason alone. 
I don’t have to know a whole lot about them to know I love them. They stir my heart, stimulate my mind, and love me just as I am.  Whether I learn anything else from or about them, in my ignorance I know I love them.
Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ghostly Image

French Doors to my new apartment. Photo by T.L. Gray
I don’t know a whole lot about souls.  I can’t see one, can’t prove they exist in a court of law, and can’t give scientific evidence to establish any claims, but I can say this:  who I was a year ago is not the same person I am today, and hold hope to be different tomorrow.  I’m in transition from one reality to the next; one state of being into another; cocoon into butterfly.  However, in this transition, I’m afraid of losing some of the best parts of me with the worst, or losing myself altogether.  But I take comfort in Bukowski’s quote, because he’s right.  The fact I worry about losing parts of me, means I’ve still got those parts left to lose.
I’m going through a marital separation and in the process find the dissolution of the relationship is only one piece of the development.  Pulling our lives apart has many threads, many rungs and affects every section of my life; and the disconnection is very painful and confusing; my soul being divided. One part of me grieves for what was and could have been, yet another part of me is excited and hopeful for what can now be, but the whole thing is terrifying. 
Another thing I notice during this transformation… I can be really solid one minute and completely feeble the next; a ghostly image of my former and future selves. I’d love for everyone to only witness my strong moments, but I can’t – hell, I refuse to - hide my weak ones, because they’re evidence my soul still thrives and fights for life.
Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Friday, July 19, 2013


I love kissing, though it has played a strange role in my life.  I remember my first kiss.  It wasn’t that deep and passionate or soft and sensual kind.  It was the innocent and sweet kind of experience.  I can remember the way his warm, soft lips felt on mine, even now after 38 years.  Time stopped in that moment for me.  Not because it was a kiss, but because I think it was the first healthy expression of affection I ever received.  Under the art table in Mrs. Bonnet’s class, with finger-paint smeared on my smock, James Sylvester kissed me. But more than that, his kiss made me aware there were things such as sweetness and beauty in the world.  Does he remember the kiss?  He says he did when nine years later, at the age of fourteen, he kissed me again behind the bleachers at a dog show.

There’s something quite intimate about kissing, at least for me.  I don’t just kiss anyone, it has to feel right.  I’m one of those people who don’t just do something to do it; it’s got to mean something.  When I was teenager, I watched all my friends around me kissing all the time, but I never quite understood how some of them could be so casual about it; quite often kissing more than one person in a single day.  I felt their free expression cheapened the experience.  At least it did for me when I took a chance and engaged in a few careless kisses. 

I know that was my doing, making the act of kissing something precious, something special.  Don’t get me wrong; in the privacy of my room, I fantasized plenty about kissing, even practicing on my arm, my pillow, and even myself in the mirror.   But when an opportunity came to engage, I often turned my head.  Needless to say, during those awkward teen years, I didn’t keep boyfriends very long because they took my lack of kissing as a sign of disinterest.  When I did find one I enjoyed kissing, who I opened my life and my heart, I discovered they enjoyed kissing many other lips besides my own.

I recently came out of a very long, committed relationship.  Although I deeply care about this person, we were never a couple that kissed.  We have kissed, but it was always awkward and devoid of passion, like kissing a brother or a best friend.  I want passion.  I want fire.  I want chemistry.  I want a kiss that I can feel all the way to my toes.  I want to feel the tingle still on my lips long after the kiss is over.  I want the memory of the kiss to cause my stomach to flutter and take my breath away.  I want lips that are swollen and chapped from the excess and pressure of a good kiss.  I know this exists.  I’ve had a small taste.   I want someone who will want to kiss me when I’m eighty and it mean just as much as it did the first time.  I won’t apologize for wanting these things.  In fact, I think it’s about time I started reaching for the things I want most in this life, including a kiss.

If you have a kiss like that, cherish and appreciate it.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray