Embracing the Reluctant Cougar
It appears I abandoned my blog for another year in a row. My last entry was in Sept 2012. Oops. What can I say? Life…
I’ve spent the last 6 months living in Bali. I promise to write a blog about that later on… but for now, I wanted to share a recent experience I had, while living here on the island of paradise. Yep. The kind that turned me into an unwitting, but eventually not unwilling ‘cougar’.
I’m posting this exactly 4 weeks to the day he left…
I know it sounds cliched…
…but he came out of nowhere and I wasn’t expecting it.
I’d already been single for 3 years. My last relationship ended in a slow burning combustion edging towards insanity.
The betrayal was fierce. I never wore the engagement ring. The ex’s infidelity stung like a fresh razor cut, so I was in no rush to get involved again anytime soon.
At 30+, I’d resigned myself to being a spinster. It was either that, or being the next Black Dahlia. You think I’m joking…
I’ve met some amazing guys since then – conscious, spiritual, intelligent and often good looking!! But… I kept them as friends. I much preferred them in that capacity… a safe arm’s distance away… in case I needed a hug, but never close enough to cross that line. The ‘friends with benefits’ thing always seemed a little incestuous to me. They were far too much like soul brothers to me.
I told myself the next guy I get involved with will have his shit together or be willing to look at his own stuff and I would only go there if the vibrations were at a similar level of energetic integrity.
Our paths intersected in the mystical land of Bali. Two weeks before we met, a ‘psychic’ friend told me someone totally unexpected would come into my life and that he would want to take care of me. The remote thought of having a sugar daddy was a novel idea. Surely not. I usually see them coming a mile away. Nothing gets through this bulletproof stained glass soul without a measured squint and twice-over frequency scan.
As it so happened, he slipped in under the radar – in an unassuming and non-threatening way.
He was here to surf. I was embarking on my own adventures. We both found ourselves care taking a charming retreat for an eccentric 83 year old character – that’s another story in itself.
Let’s be clear. I had never entertained the idea of seeing myself as a cougar – accidental, intentional or otherwise. I once had a whirlwind encounter with a French guy when I was 29 – he was 21 – but this encounter was something else. My Spanish ‘amigo’ happened to be 14 years younger than me.
Yah, I’ve heard it before – age matters not, so they say.
We became good friends in the weeks that followed. We looked out for each other. For me, there was no initial attraction in the beginning. Sure, he was cute in his own way, but not my usual type nor age range. And I was neither in the head or heart space for any romantic interludes.
But our friendship grew. I honestly thought of him as a younger brother… but one day, I noticed a look in his eyes. A fleeting glance that made me squint on the inside. Was he.. looking at me in a certain way.. or was I deluding myself? I found myself looking at him in an equally quizzical manner and wondering…
Let me backtrack a bit. Last year, I had shaved my hair as part of the World’s Greatest Shave in Oz to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation, so I was hardly looking or feeling ‘hot to trot’. On top of that, I was managing intense episodes of OCD (sometimes more than 3 showers a day – another blog piece I’m sure), so not only was I feel daggy, sporting a short hair-do with white streaks and geeky glasses, I was also becoming quite averse to physical intimacy.
As it so happened, everywhere we went, people began asking me what was going on between us. How was I supposed to answer that when I didn’t know myself? We were friends. But, that was it. Of course, other people pick up on things we don’t necessarily see or want to admit to ourselves. This was no exception and it played itself out for some weeks.
I kept him at an emotional distance, but was totally open and engaging as a friend. I wasn’t about to fuck up the friendship. I liked him as a person and didn’t want things to get weird between us.
At some point, we crossed the threshold. Uh-oh. A few days at the beach changed our platonic levels. I managed to keep my composure, but his earnest ways began to grow on me, day by day. He would always check in with me – almost every second day, and I found myself looking forward to seeing him.
Incidentally, I started reading a book called ” The Perfume Lover”; about one woman’s night under an orange blossom tree in Seville in Spain, where my ‘friend’ is from and her journey capturing the essence of the moment into a perfume. As the story unfolded, so did the story line – hers and mine. Such inspiration I drew from that poignancy alone, to follow another alchemical passion of mine.
Two months went by and it was time for him to leave. He had things – his life – to get back to in Spain. Maybe he’d come back. Maybe he wouldn’t.
We all know how these holiday encounters go.
Live in the moment, be thankful for the experience, cherish the memories and move on.
I get it.
Except, I didn’t fully live in the moment. I didn’t allow myself to completely go there. I didn’t fully let him in. Maybe I should have relaxed my ice maiden exterior a bit. Maybe I should’ve let him in. Too many maybe’s…
A few friends had to coax me into it… to get off the bench and back on to the field.
“Open your heart, open your mind and open your legs”, they said.
“It’s not like you’re going to marry him. He’s sweet on you. Give yourself permission to go there.”
Nothing I don’t already know or haven’t already posted on Facebook before. Another friend had said it was pre-destined. On some level, I knew there was a familiarity there that was perhaps maternal. Yikes! I could have possibly reminded him of his mother, given our respective similar occupations. Fuck knows I didn’t want to go there and psycho analyse him. But, I did.
He didn’t consider himself to be spiritually inclined. Hardly. He was more of a self-professed atheist. We had our passionate exchanges on existentialism, spirituality, the meaning of life and disagreed.. often, but I loved his earnest ways. His frankness and ‘anything goes’ nature. He was cheeky sweet.
And for whatever reason, he didn’t seem to care that I was dishevelled looking and lustre lacked, during one of the most unflattering periods in my life. Such irony.
I wasn’t able to say goodbye the first time he left. He was going to spend his last week surfing and asked if I wanted to join him. I couldn’t give him a direct answer. When he did leave, I found myself lying on the bed, listening to The Rolling Stones’ ‘Wild Horses’ on repeat and fell asleep with a wide gaping heart and a deep swollen soul. How did this happen? He crept up on me slowly, but surely. Fuck.
A few days later, I did go and spend the last few days with him. I found myself alternating between being a wild gypsy at heart and a very reluctant, unwitting cougar. If I could go back and change anything, I would have let my guard down sooner. I would have let him in.
I thought there was time.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about living in Bali, it’s that things change within 24 hours without notice. If you want to throw caution to the wind, live on the frail edges of your wispy heart, this is the place to do it. I’ve seen connections created and dissolve within weeks, sometimes days here. Bali giveth and Bali taketh away. Oh well. You live, lust and learn.
He was a gift from the universe… and he’ll probably never really know the extent to which our connection was a blessing in disguise for me. I’m no longer as OCD as I was before – just a little – but something happens when two energies merge together and slowly combust. We are never left the same as we were before. You’ll see by the poem I penned below. And yet, I smile deep inside.
A final goodbye hug at the airport and before we both knew it, my young Spanish amigo was no more. Next time, I will allow myself to get more raw, more tender and more naked – emotionally… and…
I will let love have me, break me open and ravage me deeply. I promise.
~ ~ ~
It’s been 2 weeks since you’ve been gone.
I’m not about to break out into a Sinead O’Conner song.
But I haven’t changed the sheets.
Your essence can linger just a little bit longer.
Tomorrow I will change them.
I miss riding on the back of your bike.
I cautioned you not to go so fast,
But holding on to you was such an adrenalin rush.
Like sex, without a condom…
Thrilling, but so damn dangerous…
The times I caught you staring,
I stole my sneaky glances too.
You pried my prune-dried heart open…
Exposed me to the barren wilderness of your touch.
I should’ve hugged you more.
Was it love? Who can say…
I know I had a soft spot for you.
I know I miss you.
I miss that crease around your smile.
I miss the moments you hugged me tight, and didn’t want to let go.
I didn’t want to either.
I know I want you to be happy.
To surf and travel all over the world.
To do all the things you want to do.
I would never take that from you.
But if our paths were to ever cross again,
I’d trace that crease around your smile
Surf a wave or two,
and get deep inside the barrel with you.
No labels. No rules.