Just what I needed.

Last night I did something I haven’t done in a really long time. I went out and met some new friends for drinks. I became online acquainted with a really great couple through a friend awhile back, and the four of us met up. We (the couple and I) are all beer people and the nice thing about that, is beer people can talk about beer for a really long time. We have other things in common as well and I knew it would be a good time. In the last couple of years my social anxiety has increased and I’m hyper aware that I can be spectacularly awkward. My small social circle is used to my bad jokes, my non-stop innuendos and my weird random fact burps. It’s part of my charm, but it’s a charm you have to learn to love.

So back in 1984 (we are taking the wayback machine tonight), when on vacation in Duck, North Carolina, I met a boy named David. David was exactly the type of guy I would never have had the nerve to hang out with in real life. But vacation life is different and he ended up being my vacation boyfriend for about 5 days. In retrospect, David was probably a future sociopath but at the time he was FUN. He was short and blond and muscular in the way 14 year old surfer boys seem to be. I don’t remember how he plucked me up from the hordes of girls at that campground but for a few days he picked me and plunged me head first into a new world of epic make out sessions, second base, my first hickey. Most notably; he dragged this shy, awkward girl by the hand and made her dance and play and lay down an artfully created shell and just be a silly 14 year old girl. There was a little diner down the road and our band of merry vacationers would go down and have milkshakes and burgers and cram the jukebox with coinage. David loved the Cars, and there are two songs that stuck out the most, the two he played for me. You might think. And Just what I needed. He danced me around that diner, giggling and blushing from the attention we were drawing to ourselves but to this day I remember that heady feeling. Somewhere in my house I have a picture of David and I. The night before I left he insisted we take pictures with all of my new friends. I don’t remember all of their names. The pictures are backlit and fuzzy and taken from too far away. But I love them. Melody, and the two brothers from Toronto. The rest have fallen into the background of my memory. David came to our campsite the morning of my departure. He gave me his sunglasses to take home with me, to remember him by.

I cried all the way from North Carolina to Indiana.  We wrote back and forth for a while. Melody took my place as his campground girlfriend after I left. He had a girlfriend back home as well. He hoped I understood. David, you playa you. It’s ok, You were just what I needed.

Fast forward 20 years. I’m post divorce a few years and am raw from the weight of it all. The end of the marriage, the exhaustion of trying to keep it all together, a couple misses in the dating department. And I run across the little brother of a friend of mine on MySpace. Like when I was in high-school he was in kindergarten. He’s all grown up now and he happens to be “in between living arrangements”. I happen to be heading out of town for the weekend and need a house sitter.

At this point I’ve not seen him in person since he was a kid. Because I’m me, I go pick him up at the place he’s been crashing in West Central and we grab some beers at C Street and then we grab some more and we head home. The vagabond is pretty much the opposite of David. He’s tall with long dark wavy hair and these spectacular blue eyes. He’s an artist. Because, of course. I just can’t get past the tall, dark and handsome part. He pulls out my Cars CD and puts it on, and Just What I needed comes on.

He was fun, and he drug me around town for a few months. He danced me around bars and friends apartments and I got to feel a lot younger than I was for a while. Turns out he had a binding legal agreement living in another state. But for awhile, he was just what I needed.

Another decade later, that same cars song would show up in the midst of another heady entanglement. Another set of complex circumstances led to really beautiful cerebral interaction with someone who would go on to be one of those life changing friends. He popped into my life when I was still nursing the wounds of the end of my long term partnership with Chris. He didn’t open the doors to my creativity, but he blew the doors off. He forced me to look at my narrative and to change it. He made me brave. He pushed me mentally, physically, and creatively. Together everything we touched worked. We bounced ideas and theories, concepts and creativity off of each other. Our lives took different directions, but to this day he will call me out of the blue and lay down some crazy “you wont believe this shit’ stuff and I’ll throw some back at him and we will laugh and laugh. He just celebrated his 48th birthday and the birth of his third son with a new wife in a new state with new life. It’s just what he needed.

So last night at karaoke, this kid gets up and sings “Just what I needed”. And all these memories come flooding in. David. The Vagabond. My wonder twin. I have no doubts that at some point, someone new will walk through the door that will make that song relevant in some way. It’s funny how we have these little signs and pointers that pop up around us through the years and say “hey, pay attention to this”.

And I do. Last night, going out with new people for the first time in a really long time, was just what I needed.


I think it was the 4th of July.

For as long as I can remember, the 4th of July has been my favorite holiday.

As a kid, there wasn’t an expectation of what to do. We didn’t have a lake place. We didn’t even know people HAD lake places.

Mom would fill up the old Coleman water jug with lemonade. She’d pack up some snacks. Pull out the big old quilt off the couch and we’d head down to watch the fireworks. Back then, they would shoot them off in Johnny Appleseed park and the best view was behind Concordia HS on the hill along the river. We would watch the police and fire boats go up and down the river. Run down to the fence by the water and back up 1700 times. Have to walk to Atz and wait in line for 7 years to use the bathroom after drinking too much lemonade. My parents would read and comment on the terrible parenting happening around us while kids ran around with sparklers.

When we got home we would take our pre-purchased fireworks up to Zimmermans Parking lot which was on the corner of our block. My best friends lived down the street and we would all gather along the parking curbs and watch the fountains and light sparklers. Sometimes other families pitched in and we had our own little fireworks show. Nothing loud. Nothing that shot up into the sky (those were illegal back then). Just a pretty light show.  Hot summer nights. Pretty lights. Fire. Pretty much my trifecta of happy.

I’ve continued this tradition with my kids. We don’t always go to the FW Fireworks but we did for many years and have only missed a handful here and there. We always buy fireworks. The scope and volume have changed over the years.

Last night the boys and I set off our bounty. For the first time I said “nice one!” more than “oh my god please be careful”. They have actually listened and absorbed things I’ve taught them. Mostly. Chase still wants to hold the bottle when setting off bottle rockets….  But. They pick up the trash as they go along. They confine our mess to our yard. They go track down the bottle rockets as best they can. (and will do more of that today). And at 11:45 we shut it down. No fuss. The are safe and in my opinion, pretty respectful while enjoying our family tradition.

More than anything, my kids know how much I love this holiday and have always made an effort to enjoy it with me. Tonight my sis and pops are coming over for dinner. Then the kids and I  are going to the FW Fireworks for the first time in quite a few years. It will probably be the last time (like so many things this year), that we will all be together for this holiday, at least for awhile. And it’s ok. They are growing up, and doing their own thing and they won’t always be here. And that’s ok. I can do other things too. I have, and will again.

I have so many pictures from the 4th over the years. But this one will probably always be my favorite. Tay has that early teen “dear god why are you taking a picture” face. Harrison is my wiggly little 6 year old, about to turn 7. Chase still has that little boy face that doesn’t have a wariness to it yet.   I’d been a single mom for 5 years, and I was about to change careers for the third time. But I had my babies with me on my favorite holiday, just like I will tonight. And that, is what makes me happy. 23865_358928154293_4185354_n



Hi. I’m Heather. And yes, I’m “still” single.

Being ok while being single isn’t just something single people say while they search feverishly for the next partner. It’s actually a legit state of being, a kind of single person Zen, that you can actually get to. I didn’t think this was possible. But I’m here to tell you, it exists.

Not only does it exist, but it’s not a place where anger and sadness reside either. I mean, there are times I experience both of those feelings when I think about one or two of my ex’s. But generally, a calm has taken over my life, and I’m kind of in love with not being in love.

I’m a serial monogamist. My first serious relationship started when I was 15.  From 15 to 42 I pretty much ping ponged from one person to the next. I’d be in a new relationship without processing all that much about the end of the last one. A lot of people are that way. I was that way.

At 42, my last significant (significant meaning: my kids met this person. In fact, in this case we integrated our children and cohabitated in two houses in two cities for 5 years) relationship, ended. And it was sad as hell. It was damaging to all of the children to varying degrees. But it was necessary and while I didn’t pull the plug, I agreed it was time to move on.

Fast forward 4.5 years now, and I’ve not entered a significant relationship since. That isn’t to say I’ve not played the game of love. I’ve met people. I’ve fallen in love. And that’s fun right? Everyone loves to fall in love. What is NOT to love about falling in love? It’s the most indulgent, delicious, heady feeling in the world. That feeling you have when you meet someone and you know you connect. You finish each other’s sentences. Every song feels like a love song. You want to crawl inside their skin and listen to their heartbeat. You lie in bed and draw maps of the stars in the air and talk and talk and talk. You are consumed. You are engulfed. It eludes all reason and sanity. It’s a free fall.

If you’re lucky you can ride that out awhile, it levels off and you find a nice cruising height.

Or sometimes you crash into a mountain. Really, it can go either way. And so it goes, and so it did.

A little over a year ago, I just kind of opted out. That isn’t to say I didn’t play on dating sites here and there. I even went on a date or two. I have friends out and about in various cities I may have visited now and again. But in general I just needed a break. And that is where it got weird.

Once I got over being lonely as hell, I realized something else. My life had a lot less stress in it. Not having to worry about all of the things that seem to go with being in a relationship was really nice. I started working out, a lot. Because I had the time. I strengthened my female friendships. I traveled. I went to shows. Often with friends, but often I did those things alone. I went out of town. Went to places, ate out, saw bands. Alone.. And it was enjoyable. It was all enjoyable.

I feel like there is this pressure that is hard wired into our collective psyche that we shouldn’t be alone. That if we are alone there is something undesirable about us. I have even found myself, when talking to people online and they divulge “I’ve been single for xx years” I think “well what is wrong with you?”. And here I am, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with me. I could be wrong I suppose.

There are times I really do miss companionship. Sex with someone who knows my brain as well as my body. Someone to share silly inside jokes with. Someone to indulge and buy little gifts for. I’m not going to say I don’t want those things. Sometimes I do.

I vacillate between this desire to connect, and my desire for peace. I question my ability to fall hard, fall deep, and not lose myself. I battle between my desire for autonomy, and my desire to be so tightly wound with another person.

I recently posed the question to my online group of people, “what do you most like about being single?” Overwhelmingly, it was a desire to simply BE. Or eat food in bed, it was kind of a toss up. But my take away was this… we are humans. We are programmed to be partnered up. But everyone feels a little like they are losing SOMETHING. It seems like when you are willing to compromise the things you are losing, and seeing the opportunity to gain from someone else, that the road that is most satisfying. I’ve been there. I’ve been willing to compromise. I’ve done that. And when you really love someone, that seems logical. Until it doesn’t.

There is no shame in being alone. I’m not broken. And neither are any of my other alone people. Taking the time to figure out who you are, and what you are, and what you like, without the distraction and influence of another person is pretty important and fantastic.

When you find the right person, at the right time for you, all of those fun silly single person things, well that person should be ok with your choices. And might even enjoy doing them too.

My knight in shining armor just might like to eat Ramen in their underwear binge watching Netflix and drinking cheap wine. Or any of the other 700 things I’ve learned to enjoy by myself, but maybe could share with another person.

I think my desire to be scooped up in the crook of someone’s arm and listen to their heart beat is probably going to win at some point.

But until that happens, I’ve reached single person Zen. It’s peaceful here. And I’m really glad I have taken the time to find it.