Archive | relationship

A Lifetime of Love.

1997 :: 1996 :: 2014 :: 2017

 

Today we have been married for 21 years. If we had a kid the day we were married, that kid would be able to legally drink today. It’s an entire lifetime. And I want four more with him, this time around. And then I want four other lifetimes with him after this one has ended.

This has been a year of serious growth for me and my beloved and we are reaping all the benefits of our hard work, dedication, and love. I am incredibly happy with me, us, and where we are together. Like, fantastically happy. Contentedly happy.

I’ve been thinking about what it takes to be in a long-term relationship; I often do around this time of year. And I realized this year that there comes a point when you have to decide what kind of relationship you want to be in, long term. Because there are several different options to choose from. You can be in a relationship that never changes and stick with it, if that’s what both people want. He always mows the lawn, she always does the holiday decorating; nothing ever changes. You can be in a relationship with someone for a very long time and not care about them or the relationship. It’s horrible, but plenty of people do it. You can be in a growth-oriented relationship. You can be in a relationship that only grows during hardship or difficulty like a sickness or a family issue. There are many options.

For me, though, there is only one kind of relationship: growth-oriented.

Because I’m deeply interested in my own healing and growth, I am also interested in healing and growth in my most intimate relationships.

All of the times we have decided to make a shift in our relationship have been about growth. Our growths as individuals and our growth as a couple. For growth-oriented couples, the growth is their strength. At least, it has been for us.

It took us probably 5-7 years to figure out that we were growth-oriented. And then it took us another 4-5 years to understand our particular pattern of growth. Exploring this and understanding it is how we’ve been so wildly successful, why we still like and love each other, why we still have great sex (although, that is not the be all-end all of a relationship).

We tell the truth. We made a pact, at one point, to tell the truth, even if it hurt the other person. Because telling the truth leaves no room for doubt. Yes, we need to clarify sometimes, but we always tell the truth. Because how else are we supposed to fully understand another human if we don’t?

We work through the hurt. When one of us feels hurt, we work through it. One of our big issues (that it took years to fully work through) was money. We both grew up in families with weird money issues and what was ‘normal’ to me felt oppressive to him and vice versa. When I felt hurt by some of his actions with money we learned to work through it, even if there was pain. He stopped his behaviors. I looked at why they were so frustrating to me (I had to do my own healing so that we could heal). We both looked at what was our responsibility in this fight. Mine was to heal some old stories about money. His responsibility was to deal with some old patterns from his family of origin. It wasn’t fun. It took years. It bounced around a lot. And we had to deal with a fair amount of personal pain and create new habits. But we always work through the hurt until no one hurts anymore and until each of us feels loved and heard.

We really like the other person and want to be with them. Even when some of our habits annoy the the fuck out of other person. Even when we don’t look as sexy as we did 20 years ago. Even when we didn’t have sex very often (there are times when someone is sick or in pain and you can’t, and that may last for a while). Even when we are both bogged down with work, kids, and the daily grind. We still really dig each other as people and we know we want to be together.

We support each other’s dreams. He wrote two books. I am writing one. He wanted to study in England. I wanted to live in a particular house. He got his PhD and is a full professor. I wanted kids and did my Master’s. I needed more sex. He delivered. We both love to travel. We support each other in big and small dreams. And that draws us together as a team. And inside ‘being a team’ we practice loving each other.

I still think my husband is a really cool person I want to spend time with. And, for us, that happens because we grow as individuals and as a couple.

That’s not how it works for everyone, obviously. There are lots of ways to have long term relationships. And lots of ways to be happy in long term relationships. You just have to make sure you’re in the kind of relationship that suits you best, and so is your partner.

Feels like I’ve written this before; I probably have. Oh, well.

Happy Anniversary to my beloved. May we have many more ahead of us.

Joanna :: xoxo

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[FYI:because I keep getting articles about “letting go” on social media. Letting go of someone we loved or cared for (or still do) is some of the hardest work of being a human. It’s something we have to do, but you can have compassion for yourself as you go through it. It took me a long time to learn that. And I don’t particularly subscribe to the idea of soul mates or twin flames, but there are people who teach our souls things. Some teach us how we don’t want to be treated. Some teach us how we do want to be treated. These are soul lessons. But no one that loves you will treat you like shit. That’s not what love is. That’s not what love does. Love can cause us pain (see above), but real love also takes care of us and helps us heal.]

 

 

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The Lion’s Gate

Today is 8/8 and they call this day ‘The Lion’s Gate’ in astrology. It’s because we are now in Leo (lion) season in the astrological calendar and other than that, I don’t know why they call it that. Ha! But it’s a day that is specially observed each year.

Looking at what various people say online about it, there are a lot of opinions about what today means in light of the fact that we have a solar eclipse on the 11th along with a new moon. I think a theme from all the things I’ve read is that this is the day is a portal. We can make decisions today- perhaps big ones.

In terms of making decisions, many of the planets have been in retrograde these past few weeks- which always shows us something more clearly, more obviously. If you’ve noticed any patterns coming up, or that you’re wanting something, or done with something, that’s probably the energy of the retrograde planets making things clearer to you. You can use today to decide about those things.

Leo is the season of play, having fun, and enjoying life. Leo also teaches us about ourselves- everything from how we express our skills and talents in everyday life right down to who we are in our most deepest self. And everything in between.

I love what Saltwater Stars says:

“You are the life-force you need to be familiar with in order to build trust with yourself and create the conditions, over time, to thrive. 

Stay hydrated, listen to your own body and rhythm, breathe as you can, and if you must use all your energy, focus on getting rid of all the bullshit you don’t want to take with you in this new era.”

That’s a prayer worth memorizing for all time.

I think today is a day for decisions. You decide to be done. You decide to tell them you love them. You decide to never look back. You decide to tell yourself the truth. You decide to feel. It doesn’t have to be something big. It just has to be a step.

Decide. Walk through the portal.
The strength of the lion will help you.

 

Photo by Jenny Marvin on Unsplash

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I’ve made a few decisions in the last few weeks. Some have been small. Some have brought a sense of deep calm (which is weird, considering they are about big things). I’ve been thinking about this site a lot.

I started it as a place to document my journey through through the Sex Surge. Sort of. I had to find a way to make what was happening to me during that time an okay thing. I looked for the spiritual in sex, for the divinity. Now, in some ways, that’s spiritual bypassing- using spirituality to go around the deep work of a difficult phase or emotion. But, if you’ve been reading for a while, you know I don’t shy away from telling the truth- even the dark, dirty ones. There are plenty of posts here that describe my anguish and frustration with desire, sex, and relationships.

But, I think that what I wanted to know was that sex and desire are, ultimately, okay (because I was taught the opposite as a child). And I know that now. Yes, I still get confused about them. Yes, I still want to fulfill things I shouldn’t (not so much lately, thank goodness). Yes, I still have to look back and remember “I know how to do this.” But I really do know that desire and sex and relationships are good things, high callings, and tools to wield skillfully. And a lifelong journey.

I’ve said other things here. Other ideas about politics and spirituality and racism and pop culture. I have a few more things to say still. But I think I’m coming to understand that the purpose of this site has been fulfilled. I know what I wanted to know back then. I’m not sure I have more to say because you’ve already seen the inside of my heart and my brain in these posts. I will always be changing and evolving and healing and living- and it will be different, but it will also be the same. And is that worth documenting? I’m not sure anymore.

There is a book called The INFJ Writer and one of the things the author says is that INFJs, if they can make art out of their difficulty, will stay with that difficulty until the bitter end. And that has been true here. I also know that as an introverted person (that’s the ‘I’ in INFJ) I share my sensuality and sexuality best with just one or two people. I’m not flashy in my sensuality on a day-to-day basis. And I don’t know that I need to talk about it here anymore, either.

Some of the small changes I’ve been working with lately are things like how I wear my hair. Last summer it was all ponytails- I felt energized and younger in them. This summer I have a kind of Victorian mop on my head that makes my neck look pretty with tendrils falling down my cheeks and across my eyes. I look my age. I’m thinking about letting the gray hair come in naturally. Gray, brown, and purple. I think it would be lovely.  I’ve also gotten better at holding boundaries. I am going to bed on time (like an old lady) and feeling so much better for it. I’ve swayed the social media algorithm to my side and now it’s more fun than it’s been in five years (because no yucky people* bother me anymore, of it they do, I don’t see it). I’m getting better and better at taking good care of myself – loving myself. And these small choices and delights and ideas tell me I am changing, too.

Living here, inside these posts, sharing my ideas and perspectives, it’s still very alluring. I will need to think more about whether I am done here. Because this space was always for me. I’m grateful to anyone who reads or finds what I say useful. But it was always a place for me to navel gaze and create and express- and I’m not sure I want to do that here anymore. I still don’t know. But it’s been on my mind, so I wanted to let you know.

I hope you’re all well, fellow travelers. And I hope you take a step into something new today, with the Lion’s Gate as your guide. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be right with your soul.

All my love,
Joanna :: xoxo

* These are folks whose behavior I find distasteful. They’re not yucky, they just get pleasure from bothering me online. They are both men, immature, to whom I offered the world. And when they said ‘no’ and I finally accepted it, they wanted, one way or another, to remain in contact. (What is it about that? When a woman says her final ‘no’ she somehow becomes infinitely alluring. I don’t get it. I know now that immature men get frightened when you offer them the world; they would rather deal with pieces or just the aspects of you they like. Mature men want the whole of a woman/partner. This needn’t be about age, my husband knew, at 24, that he wanted all of me.) So, instead of being the victim of the algorithm, I learned to use it for my own peace of mind.

 

 

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Going the Distance

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that has made my marriage successful for the long run. In this modern age, in Western society, we ask a lot of our spouses (or partners, whatever level of commitment we’re at). We ask them to be best friend, lover, confidante, cheerleader, safety net, and also to split the chores. It’s a lot. And while my partner* and I aren’t all those things for each other, we play each of those roles at certain points in our relationship. Yes, he’s my best friend, but I also don’t have deep discussions about having a menstrual cycle and all the lessons that has taught me with him (that’s for my gal pals). He is sometimes my confidante, but not always; some things I hold inside myself for a while to process first. But we do well together, and I think there are some reasons why.

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We really want to stay together. There are a lot of skills that are necessary for a successful long-term partnership, but a lot of those can be learned if you don’t have them. What you have to have is the desire to stay together and the willingness to (be humble and) learn and do new things when needed. We have talked about getting divorced three times (over communication, values, and affairs), but when we came to the question, “Do I want you out of my life?” the answer was always “no” (and pretty clearly so). So we did whatever work was necessary to stay together.

I think the big thing to keep in mind here is that sometimes we feel like, “Jesus, this is hard work,” or “Fuck, I am so sick of you,” but that doesn’t mean we want to leave. And when someone does want to leave, I think we definitely owe it to the relationship to tell the absolute fucking truth about why it’s not working or what we want that we’re not getting to see if the other partner is willing to learn or change.

 

We do the work. I heard “When Doves Cry” by Prince today and the part where he sings:

Maybe I’m just too demanding/
Maybe I’m just like my father, too bold/
Maybe I’m just like my mother, she’s never satisfied/
Why do we scream at each other?

is so relatable for some of the work you have to do in long-term relationships. There were years when my husband would say something in a particular tone of voice and I would have this instant, visceral reaction and lash out at him. Turns out, his tone of voice was a direct emotional hit on something my mother used to do to me. I had to go to therapy to untangle that so our relationship could be easier. I had healing work to do from old wounds. The same is true for him. Long-term relationship is a path of development and healing. (If it isn’t, then LTR is a path of routine and numbness simply for the sake of safety. Some people dig that kind of routine, but I think it’s boring af. Who wants to be the same, do the same damn things for 40 years straight?) Sometimes that work is from places outside our relationship, and sometimes it is our individual stuff we have to work on. But, again, doing the work keeps what we have working as well as possible.

 

We support each other’s dreams and goals. My husband is a cyclist. Three years ago, he rode 10,000 miles on his bike in one year. The next year it was 11,000. And this past year (2017), he rode 12,000 miles on his bike. How did he do that? With our support. He wanted to reach those goals, so we helped him. (He also managed to destroy a pair of handlebars with his acidic sweat.) My husband has been 110% supportive of my work as a health educator for mid-life women. He sees opportunities to share my work in places I don’t even see them; and he’s proud to talk about my work. He supports my goals and dreams.

 

a set of bicycle handlebars that have been eaten through by acidic sweat

Will he do 13k miles this year? No. He’s learning to race.

 

We communicate until we understand each other. After twenty-two years together we have really grown in our ability to communicate well and also to understand each other. But we still have fights. The other day we were talking about something and I said, “We have always been different than other couples, and I need us to keep being different.”  And a few minutes later, he was telling me what heard me say, and it was, “We aren’t being different.” To which I was kind of stunned, because I was thinking, “that’s pretty much the opposite of what I said!!!!!” But we went back and talked until I knew that he understood what I was saying in the same way that I did. (To be fair, earlier in the same convo, I said to him, “Okay, what I think you are saying, is….” and he replied, “Yes, after two years, you get it.” We are both guilty of misunderstanding, but we both want desperately to be understood. And don’t we all want that in love?)

We also meta communicate, which means we talk about how we talk to each other. It’s not just “Let’s talk about why you hate doing the laundry so much,” it’s also “Let’s talk about why I don’t want you to call me a bitch when we talk about why you hate doing the laundry.” (He doesn’t do that. He would never.) Sometimes it’s what you say and sometimes it’s how you say it, and both are fair game for fixing issues.

 

We share about our growth as individuals. I think a lot of couples get worried when one partner grows and the other doesn’t. And this is a reasonable fear. So, one person shuts down because they are afraid the other partner is growing away from them and the other pretends not to notice until it’s too late and they either don’t like each other any more or they become ‘roommates’ or ‘players on a team’ together. My husband has had tremendous professional growth over the last 17 years and I have had tremendous personal growth in that same time. We’ve also had two kids and weathered some scary shit. It makes us see the world differently, but as long as we keep talking about how we’re changing, we have a much better chance of staying together.

 

We have fun and make great memories. We both love to go to concerts. We go together and we go alone. We love to travel and get the fuck out of small-minded Rhode Island. We travel to Quebec, England, and this year, France. We love to go out for quick dates (our kids are older). We love super quick make-out sessions in the laundry room and on walks around the neighborhood. One of my beloved’s favorite pictures of me is when we went blackberry picking years ago. We watch TV shows together and we laugh about crude jokes we would never tell other people. We make these memories and we relive them when times are tough- or just when we’re laying on the bed together, chillin’. (Which we also love to do.)

 

We try our best not to do the bad stuff. We don’t manipulate each other. We don’t gaslight each other. We don’t yell unless we’re expressing the intensity of our feelings. We don’t hold each other hostage emotionally (which is coercing by saying one partner must prove their love by doing xyz). We don’t lie. A few girlfriends before me (in college), my husband dated a manipulative woman. “If you don’t do all the housework, I can’t finish school, and I’m working hard for us.” She engaged in gaslighting– which is when your partner says things like, “no, that didn’t happen,” or “no, it happened like this…” (which is blatantly untrue), when they deny your experience or perception, or invalidate your feelings, among other things. These are hurtful, immature, and psychologically damaging tactics and they aren’t  part of successful long-term relationships. We keep away from them.

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I’m sure these aren’t all the things that have helped us stay together long-term but they are a good list to start with. Check back, I’m sure the list will get updated, knowing how my brain works. But these are the things that came to mind first, and they are the things that I go back to when I look at why and how we were successful. Now, that doesn’t mean these will be successful for everyone, but I think it’s important to at least talk about whether these measures are important in your own relationships.

Okay, my brain hurts. I love you all and hope you’re well. New moon soon!
Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

* I find that I’m much more secure in sharing about my husband and our relationship now. In years past, I was deeply afraid that my desires would hurt him, would hurt or kill our partnership. But now that he knows everything, everything, I’m not as worried. I think I’m starting to spitball about relationships here so that I can look back, see what insights I have, see if they are applicable to others, see if they’re ready for my other website and work there. (It only took me three years to share this post over there…) You’ll probably be seeing more of this here because he’s the person I’ve learned all the good and bad stuff with.

 

 

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The sensuality of safety

Do you know where you feel most safe?

Try remembering a time or place where you’ve felt safe.

What was it like?
What were the circumstances?
What were the smells, sights, sounds, textures that helped you feel safe?
What was happening around you?

Think about it. Sink yourself into it.
Notice what happens when you feel safe.
How does your body feel?
How does your mind feel?
How does your spirit feel?

Safety is an important part of our psychological and physical health.

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Everyone knows that people who engage in sexual bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism have something called a ‘safe word,’ right? We all know this from porn and Fifty Shades of Gray? Okay, good.

And the reason folks into BDSM use safe words is because why?

It’s because that word allows them to have the power to stop when they feel unsafe.
Because feeling safe allows a person to relax and dive deep (or fly high) into what they most desire.

Safety allows desire to rise and speak its wishes.
Safety is a handmaiden of fulfilling our desire.

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There are three places I feel most safe in the world.

By myself. Just me, doing whatever, alone. Near people, far away from people, either way. As long as I’m alone and simply responsible for myself, I feel quite safe. (Mostly. I still carry my keys like Wolverine in dark places at night.) If I’m at a bookstore or library, I am especially at ease.

At the cabin. I haven’t been there in years, and it is almost done falling into the sea, but it is a place I felt safe for years. If I need to remember what complete safety and relaxation feel like, I remember the cabin. The 1960s purple polyester couch, the wooden stairs, the musty smell, the old books. In a moment I can remember these things and feel safe.

The third is in the arms of my beloved. If I need a place to immediately let down, cry, relax, or feel protected from the world, I will ask him to hold me. This is something that happened fairly quickly after we met, but it has also developed over 22 years together. It is the weight of him against me. The size of him and that I feel protected. It is his emotional and physical strength, something I can feel running through his entire being. (I also return the favor, although it’s slightly awkward because he’s 6’4″ and I’m 5’4″ and it’s hard to spoon a man that large; but we do, because men need to feel safe and protected, too.)

What happens in all of these places is that I feel safe. I am not worried. I am not fixing something for myself or other people. I may have responsibilities, but they don’t weigh on me. My whole body feels calmer- the slight electrical current that seems to live atop my skin goes away. That is the feeling of safety to me.

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This is a tattoo of my children’s birthdates. [Yes, it’s cryptic. It’s meant to be. If you can figure it out, I’ll buy you a beer.]

I placed the tattoo on this spot on my arm because that is where they rested their tiny heads when they were babies and I would hold them to sleep or feed. This is the first place my children were safe.

True internal safety is created when children are very small. Zero to five years old is the developmental time when ‘normal’ is established deep in the psyche of humans. If there is a lack of food or clothing or safety, this will register as part of ‘normal’ for that child. If there is lack of attachment or kindness or care, this will also register as ‘normal’ for the child. (It also creates failure to thrive in children who are severely deprived of touch and care.) If there is fear, cruelty, or abuse, this can also register as ‘normal’ for the child. Because this ‘normal’ is developed at a time when the child can barely speak, it is often very hard to change these patterns and establish a healthier sense of ‘normal.’ (It can be done. It is hard work. It takes years of therapy and personal warriorship. But it is worth it, and it is often deeply healing.) The result of children who do not feel safe is often adults who have attachment and bonding difficulties with other adults (which is why you see the rise in people talking about attachment styles and relationships lately).

A felt sense of ‘safety’ is incredibly important in the psychological life of children.

And when we take children from their parents- whether as a form of punishment for legal immigration activities or due to unfair and racist prison sentencing- we are hurting the formation of their psyches. And this is wrong.

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“Us and Them is the opposite of God.”
– Gregory Boyle.

In Tantra, one of the goals of sex is union- the yin and yang combining and making a whole. And that is achieved through safety and trust.

In BDSM, the ‘safe word’ allows for trust because it establishes safety for the most vulnerable person in the interaction.

In spiritual development, safety allows our hearts to be held in forgiveness and grace. When we rest in the safety of the Divine, we are united with the souls of our fellow humans.

Safety is a necessary ingredient in all of these activities. Safety is necessary to healthy human development. And every human deserves to have some place they feel safe. Most especially children. Keeping families together, keeping children safe, is some of the most sensual and spiritual work we can do.

Creating a world where children are safe is also how we make a better world. We have to be better to be safe. And children who have a deeply-instilled sense of safety and security are healthier all around, across their entire lifespan (read the research). Safety is necessary; all humans have a right to it. And, when it comes down to it, creating safety is one of the most life affirming, sacred (and sexy) things we can create for each other.

 

 

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Beer, Baths, and Bittersweet Memories

Sensuality, connection, and fun don’t have to be a grand, fancy soiree. The daily, easy sensualities are sometimes the most fun. Last week I was remembering a little fun thing my husband did for me back when we were dating, and I decided to re-create it.

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I saw my husband the first day on campus at Western Washington University in 1993. He was walking across Red Square with his then-girlfriend and I was walking in the opposite direction with my roommate as we headed to a training for on-campus work. Now, at that time, I was a ‘good, Christian girl’ and super excited to be living on my own. You can see my senior picture and a comparison of me then/now on this post. (Check out the bangs! And the henley! And the perm!)

That day, my husband was wearing a mohawk, 8 ear piercings, 2 nipple piercings, 10 tattoos, some mid-calf, black leather, steel-toed boots, a menacing black leather jacket, and a Timbuktu bag (very chic for cyclists in those days). My only thought when I saw him was, “College is going to be awesome.” I was ready for change.

In the next six weeks I had dates with 6 guys, and eventually settled on one, EWD. He and I were together for the next 2.5 years. We were good, honestly. For our age and what we knew of relationships, we were a genuinely good and healthy couple.

Looking back now, though, I see that something was happening in those years. I kept seeing my would-be husband at various places on campus. I always felt a thrill when I saw him, even as I was getting deeper with EWD and feeling certain that we would get married some day. (EWD made the one fatal mistake, though: he asked me to not grow anymore. Sorry, no can do.) The thing is, I knew, even as I was with EWD, that if my husband -then just a cute guy- asked me out, I would have said yes with every part of my being. All those years that I saw him and wanted him, I was laying down the energy of ‘long-term’ as my connection with him. At least, that’s how I see it today.

So, I broke up with EWD about four hours after my husband and I had our first date. (Yeah, a little overlap there. My bad. We both knew we were dead at that point, though- one of us had to officially call the death, and it was me.) Dating my husband was like all of the romantic movies I had ever seen. It felt awesome- giddy, joyful, telling the truth, sharing with each other, having fun, figuring out sex together, learning how to care for each other. We definitely started out as lovers and grew into best friends. We built our love with truth and that also gave us trust. We were also at that magical place where each of us was ready to tell the truth and work at building something; to speak the truth, to learn to fight well, to be open and supportive and work through the shit.

Okay! Enough musing on dating and love! The story!

One of our first dates had been at a bar where all the grad students hung out (he was doing his masters, I was still doing my bachelors), and he bought me the first beer I ever really liked. It was a peach (peche) Lambic. (This is a sweet beer, some call it ‘Kool-Aid’ beer – they wouldn’t be wrong. But it’s still one of only two beer types I’ll drink.) And he remembered this.

So, one night I went over to his place after work. We both worked at a nursing home in town and the work was grueling. There’s nothing quite like hefting 200 lb people out of and into beds for 8 hours to give you really great quads and biceps, though. Anyway, I drove over to his place after my shift, 11:30 at night, and he greeted me with a warm tub full of peach-smelling bubbles and a cold peach lambic. He gently undressed me, with a suitable but not naughty amount of kissing, and plopped me in the tub with a cold one. I felt cared for, seen, loved, wanted. His arms around me, having him sit next to me, relaxing in the hot water and enjoying the smell of the bubbles and the taste of the beer. It was exquisite. It cost him all of $6.

Sensuality + care + love can be simple. It can be remembering what someone likes and giving it to them again. It can be helping someone who’s worked hard to relax. It can just be spending time together, showing we care with our presence. He and I had a great conversation while I was in the tub and then we fell asleep on his twin bed (when you are young and in love, you will put up with some crazy shit, like regularly sleeping together on a twin bed). That whole evening is one I will always remember because it was so sensually delightful, but also full of love and care.

 

Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

 

Two weekends ago, my beloved was away with our son. He’d had a long-ass weekend of driving and camping and when he got home Sunday night, he was dead tired. When he got home, I stuck him in the shower and put him to bed. It reminded me of the night with the peach lambic, so I went to the liquor store and got him one the next day. We laughed as we drank it and remembered that night. (Although, there was no peche lambic. Only frambois. Alas…  Also, word to the wise, don’t drink the cherry. It really tastes awful.) We remembered the sensuality and our youth and we looked at the long path to today; it was a joy, honestly.

That night with the peach Lambic happened almost exactly 22 years ago. Truly a lifetime ago. We are different people now, yet we are also the same. I sometimes feel bittersweet that we won’t have that memory again, or that the years continue to roll by. But I am also entirely glad for where we are now- making new sensual memories in our new house (I’ll tell you about the one with vodka later!) and I’m realizing that 22 years from now, we’ll be re-living the memories we make today with a smile, too. Sensuality, care, and love can be really simple and sweet- and I’m reminded of how important those moments are to the building of long-lasting love.

Big love from memory lane,
Joanna :: xoxo

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For a week or so, I got this ad on Facebook for a film called “The Dating Experiment” and it was about people trying to date in the modern era. I haven’t watched it yet, but I found it fascinating that young people (even into their 30s) don’t know how to date. In my day, dating was the only way you got to sex. Even if it was a one-night stand, you had to endure an actual date before you fumbled into somebody’s apartment or car or dark corner and got it on. You had to date to get anywhere, romantically or sexually. Times have changed!

If you want to know what dating in the 1990s was like, catch these three films. They definitely reflect my experience as a middle class, white woman of that time. (Also, one of the things I find really difficult for people in their 20s these days is that pop culture does not have a lot of supportive messages for long-term relationships. Like, I’m glad we’ve exposed the darkness and difficulty of relationships, and having boundaries and stuff, but Dan Fogelberg (Longer), Bread (Baby I’m A Want You), Breathe (Hands to Heaven), Terence Trent D’Arby (Sign Your Name), Depeche Mode (Somebody), Sinead O’Connor (Nothing Compares 2 U- my entire freshman year of high school revolved around a boy I loved and this damn song), and the like- they all taught me what falling in love felt like and how to conceive of and live inside a long-term partnership. I think that’s missing these days- the hope and joy of falling in love and working to make it work.)

Say Anything
People have said that Lloyd Dobler was a stalker, but no. He was a 19 year-old boy in 1989 and he was doing the best he could for the times. I would still pick his enthusiastic, unsure, genuine kind of loving over a lot of other dudes any day of the week and twice on Sundays. He was trying his best and he loved Diane so much. I still listen to the soundtrack. (“Maybe the world is a blur of food and sex and spectacle and we’re all just hurtling towards an acropolis… in which case, it’s not your fault.” He was brilliant, our Lloyd.)

Singles
Set in Seattle, so it’s dope for that reason alone. Also, you’ll see the original grave for Jimi Hendrix in my old hometown (there is an awful, gawdy version there now). But it’s a real look at what we were doing and thinking in 1993 about dating and being in relationships- all kinds of relationships. Also an exquisite soundtrack from the original ‘alternative rock’ years.

Sliding Doors
Gwyneth Paltrow’s life is both drastically changed, but also not, in this film about the difference a few seconds can make in someone’s life. (It’s also one of the reasons I take a long ass time to make some decisions.) It’s great in the way that Groundhog’s Day is great. But also, it’s the dating and falling in love and handling it well thing. Not a great soundtrack, but a damn funny character- the best friend of Gerry (one of the main male characters who cannot decide between his girlfriend and his mistress; the best friend is a true delight).

From the time-traveling machine that is my head and heart- Joanna

 

 

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