Tag Archives: opposites

A Year of Hope – Part 2

(Continued from Part 1.)

Mr. Flawless opened the passenger door of his seasoned German convertible coupe. It impressed me that he drove this little vehicle instead of some gas guzzling monster of conspicuous luxury. He dressed casually, again in cashmere but this time no collared shirt. Remembering our first date’s wardrobe mismatch, I had dressed up and donned a silver mink stole my mother bought at a yard sale and a black silk John Varvatos dress from a secondhand shop. He liked it.

We headed toward the middle of Brooklyn reaching a neighborhood densely populated with occupied storefronts, more than half of which were gated shut for the weekend. Neither of us knew where to go.

While I looked for restaurants on Yelp with a rating of at least 4 stars, he checked Zagat’s guide and came across an establishment saying, “Oh, this one has a 27.” I put my phone away. Even with 4 stars, places reviewed on Yelp can still be hit or miss depending on who you want to please. Settling on this dimly lit enclave in the middle of Park Slope, we parked and headed inside.

Blue Ribbon looked like a Saturday night. Fitting for a New Year’s Day evening. In spite of the crowd, James secured a table in a cozy corner with a long view of the rest of the dining room. One thing is certain. We both enjoy the energy of a crowded room.

 

The day before, my motorcycle wouldn’t start. Missing the beautiful unusually warm weekend before, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to take a winter ride. Subways on the weekend are to be avoided. Taxi cabs on New Year’s Eve few. Instead my motorless bicycle got me around town. Perhaps the bicycle was a better ride after all, since riding a motorcycle requires 100% attention on the road.

On a bicycle, it’s okay for your mind to wander while riding on paths with no cars. It’s a great way to reflect, think about life, maybe even grow a little wiser.

I thought about James and his confession. According to some psychologists, about two out of 5 men have a tendency to get emotional about romance. Two out of 5 women are less emotional. I’m one of those two. Was I insensitive to ignore “I thought about you all day”? I stopped my bike and texted back. “I thought about you too.” A day later isn’t too late. Or is it?

The rest of my ride that night consisted of thinking about the guy at the New Year’s Eve dinner who asked me out, wondering why my motorcycle wouldn’t start, avoiding stumbling drunks, and feeling happy and sad at the same time. Happy because I can do the quirky silly things I like whenever I want.

Coming across an abandoned and stripped bicycle frame on the sidewalk, I wondered if James would have fun re-purposing forgotten objects with me. This thought made me feel lonely. I tried not to hope too much.


“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”

-Proverbs 13:12, English Standard Version

At the table, James and I talked and laughed through three courses of dishes paired with a full-bodied Super Tuscan. We had Malpec oysters and Cherrystone clams, roasted endive salad, and lamb shank with sautéed white beans. The wine worked well with all three plates.

Doubts I had about the potential of our relationship melted with every smile and touch. Though not completely.

We got so comfortable in our corner that our legs intertwined under the table.

We spent the rest of the evening at my place, impassioned.

Completely at ease with our spent bodies, we slumped back on the couch. “I want to go someplace warm next weekend. Will you come?” He was leaving for the west coast later that week he said for business. He would be gone for two weeks.

I looked at him wondering how long his infatuation would last. “Sure.” The thought of going someplace warm while New York temperatures dropped below freezing was enough of a lure to not care what happened to our potential.

This wasn’t the first time he mentioned taking me away. During the first date, he alluded to it telling me about his racked up frequent flier miles and “if things work out…”

Whether or not things work out, I try not to hope. Besides, I don’t know what expectations are.

To Be Continued.

A Year of Hope

My last boyfriend and I split up during the holidays of 2010. This past holiday season – and I’m not the only one who felt this – didn’t feel like the holidays at all. I bought 3 gifts for my 3 best girlfriends. No boyfriend, no gifts for family, not even for my dog.

I rode my bicycle after a party in the freezing air on Christmas early morning across the Brooklyn Bridge. There were a handful of pedestrians on the bridge at 3 a.m. and no other bicycles. No tourists! I stopped and took pictures of I-don’t-even-remember, but I do remember feeling happy. I’m single, 40, and happy.

A week later, similar circumstance. New Year’s early morning, just before 3. Several more walkers – or should I say, stumblers – and no other bicycles. One thing was different. I had met someone.

Actually, we met the Friday before Christmas at a party in the home of a warmly hospitable host. Only two degrees of separation. He and I talked about exploring areas of the city, namely Brooklyn, my home. I wasn’t even interested in him during that conversation. But he wanted me to show him Brooklyn, so I decided I would introduce him to my friends’ restaurant. How could I not bring them new business?

I forgot about him by the next day, Christmas Eve.

A few days later, he texted. Darn it, what was his name? Mike? He lol’ed and corrected me in jest. All I could remember was his perfectly formed hair, flawless skin, and clean manicure. Totally not my type. Not for a girl with grease under her fingernails, a six-month old haircut, and unkempt cuticles, not to mention skin blemishes. Still, business for my friends.

When our “date” was about to begin, I hadn’t changed my clothes from work. In fact, I got off my bicycle after a 5-mile commute, and greeted him with a “Hey”. My makeup had not been touched up. My hair was windblown. My clothes were damp with sweat. He looked like he just stepped out of a limo at a Newport, RI mansion. What did he see in me?

First, a drink at a local hangout. Superfine is run by the coolest women who keep the 20th century alive with weekend DJs, bluegrass bands, and occasional burlesque extravaganzas. The food is locally-sourced, except for the California citrus and Hatch, New Mexico green chilies. I ordered a margarita. Better to bear with this man wearing cashmere and an oxford shirt. Certainly is not the guitar slinger nor the geek I usually date.

The drink was followed by dinner at my friends’ place, AlMar, at the bar. Surprisingly, he was okay with sitting at the bar. Personally, it’s a preference when the only seating options are across from each other. Why, when the food is to be savored and enjoyed, should one be distracted by a dining partner’s presence when familiarity and comfort is at a minimum? How self-conscious can a person get with a new date at dinner? No wonder so many people prefer just drinks for a first date. But this wasn’t a date with a prospect in my eyes. Dinner was devoured.

The third place we went to, Jack the Horse Tavern, in my opinion has the best traditionally-mixed cocktails in Brooklyn. By this point, after he disdainfully refused my inquisitive financial contribution, it was with pleasure to bring him here. Not because he was paying, but because showing him great places was the least I could do to as a courtesy.

Fortunately, on this last Thursday of 2011, he surprised me once again.

Granted, by this time we each had had a cocktail and a half bottle of wine. In spite of the reduced judgment ability, his conversation locked my attention to the point where words flowed from my mouth without the need to edit. I can’t remember the last time I sat with someone with this conversation ease. We talked about our post-9-11 experiences, our families’ highlights (or dysfunctions), travel destinations, and things our fanciful drinks reminded us of. The more we talked, the easier it became to see our similarities and reconcile our differences.

He walked me home. I didn’t need to be drunk to kiss him.

The next day he sent a text. “Last night exceeded my expectations.” Expectations? What are those? I tried not to think about a possible future with this atypical date. It’s pretty easy to do that when you can think of all the reasons why it would not work out.

Early New Year’s morning I rode my bike with hope. The memory of this man would not go away. If anything, he gave me a glimpse into a different life. Fifteen hours later, I answered the phone to, “When should I pick you up?”

To Be Continued.

Opposites don’t attract

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people say “opposites attract.” They use this to explain any number of romantic occurances: the hot young girl with the homely older man, the clean cut guy with the rocker girlfriend, or the church-going girl with the alcoholic guy. Looking over the list, does it really seem likely that the attractive young girl is drawn to the homely older man because of his looks? Or that the clean cut guy is drawn to the rocker girl because she’s so different? Of course not. They how did these people end up together? That’s part of the mystery of attraction but it has nothing to do with being opposites. Opposites don’t attract, complements do.

Complements are often mistaken for opposites, perhaps a sign that we don’t have the proper phrasing to accurately distinguish the two. Opposites are black and white, completely opposing forces; complements are two sides to the same coin, two forces that flow together more harmoniously than each could were it separate. Many people mistakenly view the Taoist yin-yang symbol as a representation of opposites when, in fact, it is a representation of complements. Yin and yang circle around one another, each representing different parts of a greater whole, each completing the other to form a perfect whole.

Attraction is the recognition of complementary aspects in another person. We’ve all had the experience of being drawn to someone that, logically, we should not be attracted to. They’re too young or too cocky, they’re not pretty enough or in good enough shape…yet we find ourselves attracted to them. This type of attraction goes on at a deep, subconscious level that some would call the soul. Our soul, some believe, is always deficient in some way and always seeking to complete itself. In a way, it is a yang seeking its yin, or a yin seeking it yang. It’s not an opposite that we yearn for, it’s our other half, the part that will make our soul complete.

Most of the people we’re attracted to are quite similar to us in some way. Most of the ways people meet seem to indicate this as a truth. A friend of mine who is a wedding photographer found some patterns: most of the couples met either at work, through a shared activity (class, sports, etc.), or through church. Each of these three indicate similarity between the two people in their chosen profession, in their hobbies, and in their spiritual beliefs, respectively. But if your partner were exactly the same as you, they would not be nearly as attractive. If you ever travel so far as to run into yourself, you will surely wish to take your exit as soon as possible. You don’t need another you because another you doesn’t bring anything new into your life. That’s why you’re attracted to someone who is similar, but not the same, someone who is a complement and not an opposite.
If attraction is the recognition of your complement, then love is the realization of that complement. Falling in love has been referred to throughout history as two people becoming one, and there’s nothing that could be more accurate. Being in love with someone means that some major parts of you have found their complement in the other person; you feel whole having this connection. There are numerous stories of people rising to greater challenges and achieving higher goals after being in love. This makes perfect sense, of course, as a complete person is incredibly powerful.

This also makes sense in the context of one of the most powerful experiences people can have: a break up. The only other life event that causes such a drastic and sudden emotional response is the death of a loved one. In a way, a break up is a sort of death. The complements that you had found in that other person are suddenly and ferociously ripped from your being. Even if the break up was logical, as in the case of abuse, the pain you feel goes far beyond emotion…it literally tears at your soul. You feel like nothing will ever be right again, your entire being shakes knowing that the other person is gone. Why the big deal? You had survived for numerous years in your life before meeting this person and did just fine, yet now, the thought of not having him or her there is unbearable. The pain you feel is the loss of your complement, the process of once again becoming incomplete after spending so much time as a whole person. It’s brutal and it can take some time to recover. But you do.

After recoving from the loss of your beloved, often times you’ll find that you are, in fact, more complete than before you met your ex. Even though that other person is gone, some of the complements you found in them actually became a part of you. You may find that you’re more confident or have a different view of life. In effect, you have absorbed the complements that were present in your ex, making yourself closer to being whole. The next attraction will continue the trend, identifying more complements that are necessary for your own growth.

So try looking back at your past relationships with gratitude. At some level, they all helped you grow and become a more complete person. And remember, it’s not because they were your opposite, it’s because they were your complement.