Snow days are perfect for doing what we don’t normally get to do, and for me that’s lounging around. It seems that even though my to-do list for the day doesn’t shrink, a blanket of ice crystals is the perfect excuse to give myself permission to step out of the routine of a non-stop, back-to-back schedule, and let life unfold as it may.
I spent most of the morning in bed, sipping coffee, grading student papers, and tending to an occasional marketing task while watching the deer meander into the yard to eat the bird seed that was served to the ravens, magpies, and Stellar’s Jays––and yes, the squirrels too. In between, I slipped off to fly fishing blogs and magazine articles to envision all the places I wanted to travel and lure multiple species of fish to flies in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes (both the flies and the fish). At one time, fly fishing was something I did to spend time with my then husband. After we divorced, I disowned the sport (but luckily didn’t ditch my equipment like I did the man). Then, two years ago, during a trip to the Yucatan, I made the sport my own. I had missed it more than I wanted to admit. And now, I’m slightly obsessed. But I digress.
Fly Fishing, Wounds of the Heart & Grit
What I’m exploring here is probably to some a bunch of random thoughts loosely woven together over the mention of Matthew Hussey. He came into my awareness a couple of weeks ago as my friend and I sipped beer at an event for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing at Bristol Brewery. And to be absolutely correct, it was for the 2019 Give! Campaign, and I was there representing our organization along with my media wingman, Mike. (And here I’m mixing metaphors. I’m a Navy Mom and Mike is retired Army Special Forces.) My friend Nancy and a few other non-fly fishing friends stopped by to cast their vote with a Black Lager purchase, and most had left, save for Nancy. She and I found a table where we could eat the meal that I had ordered “to-go” earlier while the Give! festivities were still in full swing, but ended long before my meal had been delivered. And I was starved.
I found a table where Nancy and I could chat. The brewery was packed, and there were no tables inside for at least an hour, and I wasn’t about to wait. There we were, two women, tucked in the corner of the hallway outside the brewery, eating sweet potato fries, and no dates in sight. Lately, I had been joking that I spend much of my “free” time hanging out with married, wounded warriors chasing fish. Not that that is a bad thing. I love my fishing buddies. More than I can ever express here. However, when I ruminated on that thought, I realized I too was wounded, perhaps not in war, at least not the wars fought with guns, but there were wounds of the heart that had obviously not been healed or else I’d be a little more confident about letting a man in my life. It has been nine years since my divorce, and while there have been a handful of men who crossed the just friends line, most were painful reminders of my faulty filtering device. Flying solo seems so much safer. In reflection, however, my fly fishing buddies and I have another thing in common besides our wounded-ness. We possess grit––what Angela Duckworth attributes to our ability to keep going even when life hits us sideways. Nancy has grit, too.
Nancy led the conversation over her more recent affairs of the heart. And I give her credit. She is at least saying, “Man, this sucks!” My warrior spirit trudges on. I refuse to wallow in what just wasn’t meant to be. Yet, it was difficult not to “cry in our beer.” Her stories lanced the wound of a recent disappointing near miss. Oh, Mr. Nashville, we came about as close as we ever had to spending more than a few hours together after our forty years of living in two different worlds. Fate dashed our hopes once again. And maybe that’s just the way it needs to stay. Yes, another digression.
As Nancy and I polished off the fries, and I ate the entire hamburger after intending to save half for the next day’s lunch, I had an insight: What if in the not too distant future, Nancy and I were sitting at a table with two men? But only after we fine-tuned our picker to accept nothing but the best. The near tears turned to laughter. We picture-painted our ideal man. Hers: Matthew Hussey. Mine: Darius Rucker. The laughter mixed with joy-filled tears as we imagined what an evening with them that might be like! After I returned home, I downloaded their photos and fused them together in a meme and texted it to Nancy. Digital vision boarding.
For the record, I know Darius Rucker is married. And if I spoke to his wife, he probably has some really annoying habits, and he probably doesn’t fly fish. However, that man is super handsome, has a great voice, and possesses a very big heart. (He recently raised $2 million for St. Jude’s Hospital.) That’s a good start to put on the list of desirables.
Back to the cold snowy evening: I dove into one of Hussey’s videos and realized that I need to go back into my novel, The Whispered Teachings of Grandmother Trout, and have my protagonist, Ali, watch his video on He Left? This Reaction Makes Him Fight For You, as she’s obsessing over Jack, and then throws her phone across the room. (Curious? Find out more here!)
No Turning Back!
Now mind you, there is no ex that I’m longing to retrieve. Nancy is “over” turning back as well. We have our hearts set on new horizons. Right now, self-dating is my path of choice. As I shared in my blog, “The Taming of the Anxiety Monster,” I’ve learned there is no going back. And yes, I know we all do, at least once, perhaps twice, just to make sure that our “gut feeling” to run like hell is spot on. Why do we do this? There’s not even anyone on the horizon that I want to lure in with a fine presentation (fly fishing speak here). Although, I must say, Hussey’s message is so convincing, I found myself flitting through my mental list of ex’s or near ex’s and wondering if I might just try out his tricks of romance to see if it works.The only one that even came close to consideration is Nourredine. Yes, he left me––several times. And he kept coming back until he brought his wife home from Algeria. His desire to have an Algerian wife with whom to have Algerian babies overrode any heartfelt connection we had. Yes, we still miss one another, and we still occasionally touch base. I even send his kids gifts. We just weren’t meant to be.
Back to Hussey: His marketing is spot on––urgency, a good dose of pathos, a mention or two of research (oh yes, the logos), and his credibility (the millions of women he’s helped overcome the pain of failed relationships). Can you tell I’ve been teaching freshman college students the art of rhetoric for the last fifteen weeks?
And for the record, I’m not experiencing pain. Not in the way that I need to spend days in bed. Occasionally, I miss Nourredine and Mr. Nashville, and I allow myself a moment of acknowledging my aching heart. But that doesn’t send me out looking for a replacement. I rather like having the freedom to plan my days according to my desires, needs, and whims. I also like not having to ask for permission to fly to San Diego to see my kids, spend a day on the water with a group of people (mostly my guy buddies) obsessed with casting to and landing fish, or even not having to speak to anyone when I come home after a full day of teaching. Yet, there are days when it would just be nice to not have to “do it alone.” Like, when I’m hanging curtains and need a drill or a man with a drill. And yet, I’m also perfectly content with doing it alone. I can go buy a damn drill! I’m in a place of acceptance that I really don’t need a man in my life, and this is a new experience for me. For most of my life, I felt that Mr. Right was the missing piece.
But really what was missing was acknowledging that my life is pretty damn good. I”m blessed in so many ways, with family, friends, my health, making my living as a writer, and so much more. I’m living A Writable Life.
And, there is no rigid fence built around my heart.
Matthew and Darius will be placeholders for the evolved men Nancy and I are intending to attract into our lives at the right place and time. For now, I’m happy with my obsessions of luring fish to my fly, finding places to explore, and writing my books. Nancy is perfectly content creating her screenplays, planning her next adventures, and writing her book about her trek on the El Camino.
And we know that one day, there will be a table for four, likely in the not-too-distant future (Isn’t that the way this happens?). Nancy and I will be laughing and crying in our beer over that time oh so long ago…when we didn’t think he would show up.