Tag Archives: love

The Pursuit of Everlasting Love

“Enough already,” I thought, and just like that I had moved on.  It was as if my mind were a high school gymnasium. The janitor had swept up the last of the paper streamers and confetti from the homecoming dance, had stacked all the chairs, and had decisively switched off all the lights before heading home.  This shit was done.

What was done were the abject relationship failures.  I was over it in the biggest possible way.  And just like that, I made a decision.  It wasn’t so much a decision to embrace my singlehood – though I did – it was a more decision to sit with it.  To understand it.  To become a better version of me.  I needed a break from a ten (or more) year streak of poor choices, attracting the wrong people, being the wrong partner, chasing the wrong things and awkward first dates followed by days and weeks of over analysis.  My poor friends. We all needed to be done with it.

I boldly headed into a new era.  It’s one thing to be single by accident. It’s quite another to be single by conviction.  I knew in my head and in my heart that I had a couple of solid truths:  1)  I sincerely wanted everlasting love, and 2) in my current state, all things being equal to what they were, I wasn’t getting it.  It’s easy to find faults in others, and a more delicate and daunting task to find them and fix them in yourself.  But this I knew for sure:  however challenging and difficult and broken things had been in any of my relationships, there was one common denominator.  That was me.

On the inside, I knew I was doing the hard work, the close examination of myself to recalibrate all my love chakras.  But to the outside world, I needed a name for it.  “I’ve taken a Vow of No Sexual Impropriety,” I declared to my best friend one sleepy Saturday afternoon in a small town Iowa bar.  Yes, it was sassy and cheeky and to someone who didn’t know me better you might think, “A vow?  You needed a vow for that?!”  And while images of a sex swing hanging from my bedroom ceiling and a suitcase with sexual accoutrement spilling out of it might conjure up in your head, I assure you that was not the case.  But I needed a declaration that stood on its own, that was decisive, that said something and meant something. The Vow of No Sexual Impropriety fit the bill.

My best friend looked at me and arched her eyebrow, signaling her wish to know more.  “It’s like this,” I pressed on.  “I know what I want.  I want everlasting love.  And the truth of the matter is, nobody is going to self-actualize if they have some random guy’s dick in their mouth.” I said it strictly for shock value effect – again not because of its relational value to my own life – and knew in an instant it had worked.  My best friend, not missing a beat and as only my best friend can do, lifted a napkin and raised it to wipe an imaginary tear away from her eye.  “It’s just so beautiful the way you say it, Jen,” she said while pretend sobbing.  And then we laughed and laughed and laughed. It’s so freeing to bring out the absurd with one who really gets you.

But truthfully and all sassy kidding aside, I knew that if I were going to find the love I wanted, the love I knew I deserved, I had to make room for it to fit in my life.  To settle for anything less than what I deserved – even for a moment – was to signal the universe that I didn’t believe in what I said I deserved.  I was going to have to be patient.

I stayed the course on this love fast for two full years, believe it or not.  Two years in which I did not go on a single date nor did I entertain the notion of a single love prospect.  Two years in which I deepened my meaningful friendships, worked hard and smart professionally, focused on my writing, traveled, read, cooked great meals, and tried a whole bunch of new things.  Two years in which I ended every day by listing all of my gratitudes for that day, including all the love I already had in my life, even on the really crappy days.  Two years in which I reminded myself over and over again what I want and what I deserve:  everlasting love.

A ways into the exercise, I felt a shift.  I knew I had achieved an almost laser focus on my desires and my belief in what I have to offer in a relationship.  I believed, and still believe, that I had become a better version of myself in the process.  I also felt it coming.  Kind of like when you are waiting for a friend to pick you up, and you see the headlights of their car approach your block. In that moment, they aren’t at your house yet but you just know they are almost there.  I had that kind of almost-there-knowing.  It’s out there I would tell myself.  It’s coming.

This past August, taking me quite by surprise, it did come.  I didn’t just sit back and wait for it, but rather put the new and improved, happier and more focused version of me back on the market.  Almost instantaneously, I met a fantastic person.  We talked for hours and hours and hours on the phone and within days could not stand it any longer and had to meet.  We met at a park for our first meeting where we encountered a whole bunch of human oddities and laughed our fool heads up.  From there and every day since we have forged a relationship that has had all the usual fits and starts and occasional pitfalls of a real relationship, but that is sealed by a common respect and sheer admiration of one another.  This is a man who can handle all that is Jen Wittwer, who gets a kick out of me, who is just the right amount in balanced awe of me but who can also confidently stand up to me when it needs to be done.  This is a man who makes me belly laugh and gives the best hugs in the world and I admire as having one of the kindest, gentlest, most thoughtful hearts I’ve encountered.

Is it everlasting love?  I guess I don’t really know.  I am not sure how anyone can ever say for sure.  But I do know this.  It is the love I deserve right now, and it was definitely worth the wait.



Candy Hearts

candy heartsI love those little candy hearts that come out around Valentine’s Day.  Or, Valentimes, as we like to mockingly call it among my friends and family.  The hearts, though, they are hard enough to crack a tooth, chalky, almost flavorless. There is very little that is redeeming about them.  But they are nostalgia, they are tradition, they are love.

The candy hearts have changed over the years.  I’ve admired the candy-maker’s tenacity to stay contemporary.  The taste (or lack thereof) has stayed the same, but the messages have not.  Back in my day of exchanging classroom valentines, no one would have known what “Text Me” or “LOL” even meant.  I haven’t seen this year’s candy hearts, but I would not be surprised if there are some that  make reference to SnapChat or Amazon Prime.

So another year passes and I’ve yet to find the everlasting love that I think I want, that I know I deserve.  I’m getting closer, though, I can feel it in the depths of my soul.  I’m getting closer, because I’ve made commitments to myself and I have done some hard work and I have steered the arc of my life to bend toward self-actualization, even though I’m quite sure it will never fully get there.  I’ve cleaned out the cobwebs and tidied up the debris and made room for what is yet to come.  I feel good, and I feel sure.  I like who I am and what I have to offer.  I am ready.

So my custom-made box of candy hearts would reflect exactly what I want.  I imagine the hearts would say things like this:  I’m Finally Ready. You’re Amazing. So Am I. Better Together. Order Takeout. Cuddlebug. Stay Up Late. Sleep In. Awaken My Soul. Let’s See The World. I’ll Lift You Up. Laugh Every Day. Make Me Think.  Grow Together.  And last, but not least:  Let’s Do This.


A group of us – cousins, second cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles – were assembled in my sister’s basement for the Milwaukee version of Cousins Weekend.  Somewhere in the course of normal conversation, my cousin’s wife Brenda revealed the impossible:  She was (accidentally, so she claims) growing dozens and dozens of mushrooms in her yard and garden that looked just like a penis. Waves of uncontrollable laughter ensued.  Joke after joke was made about Brenda spending a little too much time out in the yard and asking why she was seen applying lipstick before tending to her flower beds. Each new person entering the basement meant that the the telling of a new and more embellished version of the story was required. It was, as they say, the gift that kept on giving.

I took a break from the nonsense to head upstairs where things were a little less raucous.  There sat my Aunt Lois, quietly visiting with a couple of other family members and looking perfectly content.  I asked how she was doing, and she said that hearing her family’s laughter wafting up the stairs was all she ever hoped for.  And you know what?  It was.  (Never mind that she would have been appalled at how un-ladylike our conversation was.  That is beside the point.)

The kind of togetherness our family has doesn’t just happen by accident. It is nurtured, cultivated, and harvested by skillful hearts – hearts like that of Aunt Lois.  Hearts that love their family so much they remove all the seeds from the cubed watermelon in the fruit salad they have lovingly prepared for that day’s feast. Who does that, you ask?  Aunt Lois – that’s who.  It is a love so precious and so rare that it is truly like no other.

Tonight the news of Aunt Lois’s serious health challenges have the whole family scared to bits, because she is the pillar we all gather around.  My cousin and I keep checking in and riding waves of tears and laughter together.  We are all thinking that we don’t even have to stop and ask ourselves, “What Would Lois Do?”  We already know – she would kneel down and faithfully pray.  And so is just what we are doing.

I Love You Still

People seem to act surprised when someone they love hurts them.  “But I thought they loved me. How could they do this?”  To which I say, “Duh.” Really, it’s no surprise at all, nor should it ever be.  It’s no surprise, because the only people who can hurt you are the ones you truly love. Who else did you rip open a piece of your heart for to allow in for permanent, painful residency?  Who else did you give a front row seat to your most sacred vulnerabilities?  Who else did you show over and over again, even to your own detriment, how much they mattered to you? Then who else, I ask, has the capacity to bludgeon your heart for a moment or two?

No one, I tell you.  No one.

But that is not what really matters.  It doesn’t matter, because every human will eventually fall short of their own standard to never hurt the ones they love.  So putting it aside that it happens – because it will – the only thing that truly matters is what happens immediately after.  If after the knock-down, drag-out conversation of “I-can’t-believe-you-thought/said/did-that-thing-to-me-I-hate” you can look at the other person and think, “I love you still,” things are probably about as right as they can possibly be.