Sunday, June 26, 2011

Who to Choose?

I just got home from a week-long bike trip in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Great weather, good people, excellent time. We stayed in motels. I had a roommate I'd never met before, who was good enough to accommodate my anti-TV ways. But one early evening, she had the news on. Some guy was interviewing Michele Obama, traveling in Africa. She had spoken earlier that day with students, who had written questions for her. The interviewer had picked one to be answered on camera.

It was something like, What advice do you give your daughters about choosing a mate? Without even needing to pause and think, our First Lady gave some of the best advice I've ever heard.

"Choose people who lift you up," she said.

I wish somebody had thought to suggest that when I was looking for a husband.

So then we got back on our bikes and I lost track of current events again. I figured by the time I got home, everybody in America would be abuzz with this idea and telling all the young people in their lives. But I haven't seen any evidence of this. So you tell your young people, please. And I'm thinking it's a good standard for choosing our politicians too. Let's go for the folks who want us to be our best, not the ones who tell us everything can be fixed without much effort or attention or sacrifice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

When Mom Comments

I'm kind of jealous of bloggers who get lots of comments from their readers. Probably my mom is my most faithful commenter, and I love that she comments. But at one point, I was wishing she wouldn't sign herself "Mom," so you'd think maybe it was David Brooks or Elizabeth Gilbert saying those things.

But tonight I was thinking, it's so cool that Mom comments. I wonder, if I started reading Huffington Post carefully, if I'd find Ariana's mom commenting. "You're such a good writer, dear, just like I told you when you were in third grade."

Where would we be without our moms?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Yes, I guess it's midnight in Paris for me. Not midnight the way it is for Owen Wilson in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris movie. There, midnight is where the excitement begins. For me, it's maybe more like Cinderella's midnight, where the party's over. But you get to dream it all over again.

I walked to the Guild 45th to see the film two nights ago. I loved it. (Oh, I could quibble. I can always quibble. Like, what would it hurt to have the fiance and family be worthy opponents? Or am I wrong? Do they represent a legitimate demographic that hates walking in the rain in Paris and only wants to shop?)

But I loved Wilson's unselfconscious enthusiasm. I loved the elaboration of the suggestion that time puts a patina on any era. (Even these Twitter-laced days with the globe hotting up?)

I loved the allure of romance. Owen and -- was it Adriana? Owen and the Rodin guide. Owen and the Cole Porter record lady. Possibilities everywhere.

And I loved Paris! all the places I recognize and remember, Notre Dame and the Pont Alexandre III and the Jardin du Luxembourg. (Is that where I sat in the park and sketched the statue?) I love thinking I can visit anytime, just by seeing this movie.

I've been in love in Paris. My ex was so wonderful there I said afterwards we should rent him out to take women to Paris. When he didn't want to go back, I went on my own, and that was differently wonderful. And now I don't need to go again. More of Paris can't be better than the Paris I already own, like Cinderella, in my after-midnight dreams.

Maybe this is the Cinderella story for my age group. No prince shows up later, but you'll always have your glass slipper.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On Not Needing a Man

I had an epiphany two weeks ago Tuesday. For years -- since my marriage ended in 2005 -- I've been saying to myself what women say to themselves here in 21st Century America: "I don't need a man, but I'd like a man."

What we mean is, we're not needy. Our lives are not perfect, but they are filled with pleasure and satisfaction from our work, our families, and our recreation. A companion would add, but not just any companion. The standard set by our single lives is a high bar, and the right man would have to exceed it.

All true. In fact, I feel I'm rather the poster child for being sixty and single in Seattle. I love my life.

And yet, two weeks ago Tuesday, I sat in the office of a therapist I'd seen once before, and he said to me, "At our age, we don't need a partner. You don't need a man."

And something clicked.

I realized that, in my recent three-day-free-trial foray into, for example, I was more concerned with how I present myself than with conveying who I actually am. They sent me an exciting "Match Daily Five" pick, and I realized that if they sent my profile to him, he would have no way of knowing that I was possibly the "post-stuff" woman he was looking for.

Because my profile didn't mention that I like a small house, that my closet is less than a square yard, that when I buy a book, I sell one.

Men who prefer bikes and buses and feet to cars, as I do, wouldn't know that about me from my profile. They wouldn't know I'm passionate about helping kids learn, which I do as a tutor. They wouldn't realize that, sure, I love a glass of good wine with dinner -- Ridge zinfandel, anyone? -- but can't ever think of what to order in a bar.

Sure, it's possible a guy who advertises himself as spending weekends driving around in the MG he restored, and stopping at posh restaurants, and planning his trips to Thailand, it's possible we might find ourselves unexpectedly drawn to each other, but I'm sure not looking for this man on Match.

I only like to eat out a little, so it's a special treat. I love walking to the restaurant. A bike trip to Italy sounds great, but it's also expensive and carbon-intensive, and geez, the San Juan islands are right here. But most of all, I want a man to talk to. I want a man with educated opinions, who believes life has plot and purpose, and likes to mull it all over. Because the truth is, all on my own, I tend to spend a lot of time with smart people. When I eat dinner with a book open or listening to Fresh Air, I'm spending time with smart companions.

So why didn't I say that in my profile?

I guess because I was needy. I guess because I thought if I wrote stuff like that, I probably never would find a man. And maybe I never will, but now I know it will be okay.

Ever since that pivotal Tuesday, I'm more thankful than ever for my wonderful life. I relish the walks and the food and the music I put on. And when I happen to feel a little low, I know now it's not because I'm single. I'm low because I'm human, and nobody is up all the time.

Sunday was a typical day. I woke up and biked to church, where my favorite preacher preached a wonderful sermon that got me thinking about how important it is to say to ourselves and especially our kids, "Let's stop and think about that." I biked home and ate lunch and then over to meet Sue in Green Lake Park for Scrabble outdoors, surrounded by people of various colors and languages, playing pickup basketball and teaching their little kids to ride bikes and walking tightrope. Then I got back on my bike and found my way to Laurelhurst and St Stephen's for choral evensong: Handel! A woman friend happened to be there, sat with me, and then shared the after-service reception -- mmm! a favorite red wine of mine and superb cheeses and wonderful conversation about writing. And men.

And then I biked home, and watched a video of The Ladies #1 Detective Agency. It was a fine day, and is there any way a man could have improved it? Only insofar as he would have been someone I could tell about it.

And I have you, don't I?

All material copyright © 2009 by Mary Davies