Consider this post as background for next week’s Valentine’s Day blog, when I will deliver the rest of the story of ‘The Kiss.”
It will be a PG story, so sons and friends of sons and all my readers in their 20s, do not fear. I promise, no “ick” factor.
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Okay. Where do I start?
Well, as much as I’m mortified to admit this, I require remedial assistance with a certain kind of relationship. Shortform: I’m not all that good at romantic love.
This cannot be news to anyone considering my two divorces. Make the leap. One divorce—could be a bona fide mistake and anyone’s or no one’s fault. Two divorces—someone was behind the eight ball.
In this case, that someone was me.
No one could fault me, then, when following my second divorce, I decided to eschew romance altogether, along with the commonly held online-dating notion that the best way to get over one man, was to get underneath another. It was obvious, even to clueless me, that a new romance was the last thing I needed. I had some things to learn about love, and to give myself time and space for those lessons, I needed to shut ‘er down.
So I did. I turned off my man-o-meter. Ex-husband number two was all the evidence I needed to understand that massive repair, if not a new man-meter altogether, was definitely in order.
I sent a message out to the universe—no romance for Karalee please—and it was heard loud and clear. In the last two and a half years, since saying goodbye to hubby number two, there have been ZERO dates. There have been no fix ups and no interest, either coming or going. Nada. Nothing.
I knew that if I was ever to have love in my life again, I needed to go back to the beginning and figure out what love was, what I wanted, and how or even if I could do it.
Some online research taught me very quickly that, apparently, most learn about healthy relationships through modeling, which customarily begins at home. Let’s just say that like many progeny of the 60s, I was not privy to a Mr. and Mrs. Beaver kind of household. Mine was more like War of the Roses. Happily, though, my parents divorced in the early 70s, well ahead of the trend.
Now, it’s not that I’m fingering either their marriage or divorce as the romance-modelling deal breaker, by any means. I will say, however, that these days, a little follow up work to help make the transition to a single-parent home easier is the dollop of sugar that helps the medicine go down.
But this was the 70s. The best I could hope for in the absence of marital and good divorce role modelling was that my parents might’ve compensated in other ways that may not have made me do all that well at love, but might have made me kinda cool or better prepared when romance did arrive. One of them could have gone on to become a freewheeling groovy parent, teaching me about free love and peace and organic crops, while the other might have ascribed to the suburbanite upwardly middle-class mythology and taught me the socio-economic advantages of a solid marriage.
My parents were Jamaicans, adding an entirely new level of weird to my concept and understanding of relationships.
Neither of my parents married quickly after their divorce. And by the time they each walked down the aisle for that second go at it, both of them in happy and functional relationships, I was 21, out of the house, and taking over my own romance education by swapping relationship notes with equally unskilled friends.
In other words, I was running headlong into divorce #1.
I suppose, though, there was some good to be had from my parents’ divorce in that I learned some important what-not-to-do’s should a split happen to me. These lessons were a kind of twisted twilight zone payback I suppose, though I am reticent to ask my kids yet how I did with the divorces from their perspective. Plenty of time for that, and I promised to front them the money should they required years of counselling for their recovery.
Anyway, after the end of my first marriage, I lurched from 34 to 47 still trying to figure it all out. You would think that remaining single (as in not living with anyone though relationships allowed), that I might have picked up a few smart bits.
Just, no. Instead, my thirteen year mid-life dating period culminated in a solid bull’s-eye hit with divorce #2.
2013 dawned for me with two for two on the divorce front but some valuable wisdom. Not that I wanted to be alone for the rest of my life, but I guessed the odds were in my favour that if I ever did go for a walk down the aisle again, there was a good chance I might end up three for three.
And there was no way I wanted do that. I did know, however, of one sure-fire way to avoid another divorce. Never date and never marry.
That seemed like a good option in those first few months. Soon enough though, my cock-eyed optimist nature kicked back in. Not that I had any intention to marry or live with a man anytime soon or even ever for that matter, neither did I want to slam the door shut on the possibility.
Knowing that, I decided to explore how I might circumvent the probability of divorce #3, other than by not marrying someone. A lofty goal for a twice-married and twice-divorced woman, but nothing I like better than a good challenge. Besides, it’s not like anyone was knocking down my door or as if I had a whole bunch of social options living as a single in suburban coupledom LuluLemon Land.
So for the first time in the history of me living as a single woman, I consciously planned to avoid any chance to fall down the rabbit hole of love before I was ready. I made a vow not to myself that I would not date anyway for one year. Any time under the bed covers, then, would be dedicated to taking a good look in the mirror first, and then falling into my bed, solo, with a hot water bottle and a non-ending pile of self-help books that might help me straighten myself out.
Sensible decision, I think, and I stuck to it for two years.
I probably should have made that vow again when the second year finished. But I forgot, which is likely how something, or should I say someone, managed to slip completely under my radar.
Remember Project Friend? Well, someone read that blog post and sent it to someone else who sent it to someone else, and somehow, it daisy-chained its way to a man named Chaps.
He read that blog and contacted me, mainly because he felt badly for my sorry ass.
I was good with that. Pretty much everyone I coerced into being my friend in the early days did so because they felt sorry for me too and also because they are Haligonians. And Haligonians, as I have learned, just happen to be the nicest people in Canada, if not the world.
Chaps, being from Halifax, made a friendly offer to be company, here and there, while I was getting up and running in the city.
I took him up on this, and every now and again, he’s taken me with him to a social situation, in a trusty side-kick sort of way. As time has passed, he’s evolved beyond being an occasional social buddy to became my go-to for Halifax questions such as: Where can I get my snow tires put on? What’s the best place to get a new car battery? Know any good hiking trails I can get to within 15 minutes of Halifax?
In other words, Chaps slowly became my Halifax guru of all things East Coast, and eventually, a very good friend.
Not all that long ago, Chaps and I went out for an evening adventure, beginning with dinner. From dinner, we went on to check out some of the local bars and entertainment, and at the end of the night, we found ourselves walking, side-by-side, back to his car and my place.
We stopped to say good bye, halfway down the hill by my house. Usually, we finished off our adventures with a customary goodbye hug. But this time, he pulled back for a minute and held my shoulders and stared me squarely in the face. I figured either spinach in my teeth or food on my cheek and waited for him to tell me which one.
But instead, he leaned his head forward and and popped a quick kiss, smack dab on my lips.
“See you,” he said.
“See you,” I said back.
And then I ran down the street to my cave. That night, I spent a full hour before falling asleep, analyzing “The Kiss” and its significance, if any.
You see, it wasn’t as if he was asking for or even saying anything with the kiss, but it was a clear departure from our hug routine. And whether he knew it or not, Chaps had thrown me for a loop.
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In honour of upcoming Valentine’s day and in the spirit of romance, stay tuned for next week and Part 2 of The Kiss!
Musical selection and arrangement and technical stuff: Spencer Clerk