Chapter 53. Thanks for hanging in there

My name is Rachel. I am the middle child of three siblings, the only girl.

I never really had to fight for attention. My older brother was so problematic that I didn’t have to do much to look good.

I was a happy child. Extrovert and artsy. I liked dancing, theater but most of all I enjoyed singing and listening to the music that my older brother would introduce me to. I enjoyed clothes as well and from my early teens, I had the biggest crushes on boys from my school. Like this boy that rode on my school bus, I would stop breathing each time the bus reached his stop and would remained quiet all the way whenever he sat next to me… I also fell hard for a counselor at camp.

I grew up in Seattle and therefore, I enjoy the rain and the mild temperatures. I am a seafood lover and I have developed a taste for wine and fine living.

My father is from a small town in Wisconsin and I spent many summers in the Midwest with my grandma, enjoying swimming in the lake and going to some state fairs. My time in WI prepared me for life because as much as I get to hang out at fancy places now, I never forget where I am from. I know how to tell a good potato from a bad one by just looking at it, and I mean that literally and figuratively speaking.

I started to travel at a very early age. My mom bought an RV and we woukd drive around the country quite a lot. Sometimes I think “if I ever ran for president, I would know exactly where to make my stops and what to say” That is something. Thanks mom.

At thirteen I enjoyed reading and creating quite a lot. I would spend many hours in my room learning a famous singer’s song, a video choreography, reading books or writing in my diary. When I read that stuff back, I surprise myself and laugh at some of my ideas. Bold, honest and very innocent.

The first book that I remember reading was Dracula, Bram Stoker. I have no idea of how that book fell in my hands, certainly not the most appropriate reading for a young girl, but I remember being absolutely fascinated by the story and getting anxious as the pages left to be read became scarce between my fingers. I just never wanted to leave that world in which I had found myself immerse and trapped for, I would say, life.

The story introduced me to the power or love and lust, to human women’s nature, to the garden of good and evil (that I also got to visit in Savannah) and for me, an otherwise angelical perfect girl, it would be of much importance in the years to come. Little one young girl knows about human condition and love at the early teen years but curiously enough, the way I have experienced love as a woman up until now, with my two divorces and children made with love, is very much in line with the story’s main female character, Mina Murray, who is loving and passionate at the same time and who like me, appears to be too advanced for her time, will do anything for love and possesses the courage to think and act as only a man of her time should if need be.

So making an art out of love, novels and writing have always had an important presence in my life.

Keep reading.

Chapter 52. So he sends pictures of his penis while you are at work?

“Yes, he did, and I was so happy with what I saw, he sent pictures from every angle and let me tell you that I had never seen anything that big before” Eva said.

I was driving my Jeep down to Baja to meet some old friends and put some distance between my day to day life and where I want to take it, that is, perspective. The long drive was giving me the perfect opportunity to make those touch base calls that you never get to make. I have a few important people in my life who don’t live  near me but whose souls are always with me because they have met mine along the way. Eva is one of them.

– What did you think about his emails? Don’t they put Fifty Shades of Grey to shame?

– Yes, indeed, but watch out Eva, I think this guy is a sociopath, didn’t you say that he is about to get married? I mean, I looked him up on Facebook, they seem like a respectable family but when I read the stuff he sends you…it just doesn’t add up. Something is off. I know that you need the rush and the excitement in your life and that you are not getting it from Luke right now, so as long as this remains virtual fine. I would not dare to take it to the real arena.

Eva is a bit younger than me, she and I come a long way and have done a lot of the same things. I remember the exact day that I met her, she had come late to class and she was wearing a white sweater with the American flag on it. I thought “She must be European” not that many college kids wear the printed flag on their clothes in the States, Europeans do.

She was from Córdoba, on exchange program to the US. It was 1997. We hit it off right away and I was immediately amazed by her ability to get the hottest guy in the club. She was very attractive but there were other girls more attractive that were unable to operate the way she did.

So a few years later she had married an incredibly hot Dutch guy, I mean really hot. Had the big wedding in downtown Córdoba and moved abroad to Shangai.

Now she was feeling like her husband was traveling too much and there was nothing left to conquer so she started flirting with a client via email…

– He has suggested that I fly to Hong Kong for a hot date. It would be a clean deal, back the same day, should I go?

– Whatever Eva, if that is what makes you happy do it. Nothing that I say would make you stop.

– You did it! You went to Milan for that guy!!!

– Yes, and how did it end? Me at his apartment with the flu, covered in a flowery duvet and watching his washing machine do the last cicle while holding a cup of hot tea. Reality strikes hard. Life is a lot more interesting in our heads at times Eva.

– I am going! Since I got those pictures I am on fire. Seriously, his penis is so big and it was not even totally hard. I am just worried that Luke will find those pictures of his huge penis on my phone. By the way, what were you saying about your August plans before?

– I forgot…

Chapter 51. Men want to be the crocodile

Catering to a woman’s needs and falling for a woman leads to having in laws, screaming children, reduced budgets and less time to play in the pond with other male crocodiles. As a result, men admire the crocodile and want his lifestyle.

Those who find themselves already in the rat race, meaning, those who are already married with children and with a used up relationship that only leads to sexual encounters once a week (if they are lucky) but don’t have the guts or the financial means to go “solo”, find hobbies or excuses to get a taste of the crocodile’s lifestyle when in fact, they would want to be like him. They would prefer to be him and say “screw this, tell me how much you want for child support, I’m outta here bitch” and leave running straight back to their pond.

Why? Because being the crocodile rules. He gets to decide when and where to play paddle with his friends, he goes out during the week, plays soccer, plays cards, he owes no explanations to no one and he has cash to spend on whatever the fuck he wants; building a racing car, sports equipment, new expensive clothes…it is his money so why would he need to feel bad about spending more on himself than his wife, right? He is in his forties and has this urgent need to feel young while he can and burn life. As long as he is diligent with child support no woman will ever nag at him about something he does. Ever.

My friend thinks is ok to be unfaithful as long as he doesn’t get caught. “I like being married, in fact, I need to be married, it gives me stability. I love my wife and children, but I won’t stop doing what I do” Crocodile.

He is not the only man that admires other crocodiles that are more alpha than him, like that single American guy that landed recently in Ibiza with a plane full of models to pack his boat party and demonstrate his ubber crocodile lifestyle.

“That guy really knows how to do it” My friend says. And you know what? Most men secretly agree.

“Women are inferior to men, the only difference is that I have the guts and the means to say it out loud and to live by it”. My crocodile would say.

Familywise many crocodiles are well off too because as a result of being more or less married to a woman, they gain small children to call their own. My crocodile’s mom will always make sure to do all the “dirty work” the weekend that her son keeps the children so that her baby does not have to get up early or cook the kids’lunch or make the kids’ beds or do the kids laundry or all those “women’s duties”. Being the mamas boy that he is, he still gets his socks and underwear from mom because his head would probably explode if he had to figure out his own size…Like the one time he bought me expensive lingerie and when I opened the box I found an older ladies kind of ensemble and a bra that was for my giant sister. Wishful thinking I suppose…

Mom will also be available to mind the kids on Friday and Saturday night so her baby can go out and have fun as a man should. In short, she will make sure to diminish the work that you, as a mother, do all the other days of the month and therefore, ensure that crocodile does not value it.

Great job lady, great job.

Chapter 50. Virtually nothing

Virtual love is on, from sexting to Instagram to video Skype, it appears that going out on a real date and having a real conversation to get to know one another is a thing of the past.

Many men and women are becoming socially ackward as a result. They feel more protected behind their social networks than they do across a dinner table so they choose to avoid being phisically present.

So what happens when you devirtualize your crush? Most of the time nothing.

You have this hunger for love, you want to be liked and get the attention and you want the chemical reaction that having a crush releases. But you don’t want to actually get involved. So you fantasize about someone, you like their status updates, pictures and even dare to send flirtatious messages that become instantly sexual at night. You open up to your crush about your “feelings” and call each other pet names surrounded with love and kisses emoticons.

But one day, as you are having drinks with your friends who know everything about your crush by now, you decide that enough is enough. You are not willing to delay a personal encounter one more second, you decide that tonight is the night, the moment is now. So you grab the courage to pick up your stuff, grab your friends, put them in the car, drive 80 miles to meet your crush in person for once and for all and what do you find?

Virtually nothing.

Chapter 49. Staying together for the kids

Is what many adult couples do when they discover that they no longer feel anything for each other, to put it nicely.

Something that would seem unthinkable in your twenties becomes a reasonable option in your mid thirties when you find yourself out of love, with a huge house that is proportionate to your mortgage, and a good school that your kids are attending after applying for two years to get admitted and to which they are fully adjusted.

Pragmatically speaking, staying under the same roof and sharing expenses is a good option, provided that you are ok seeing your ex totally naked in the nursing room when he casually asks you to warm up some milk and bring the baby bottle to the nursing room upstairs. I could not stand that kind of stuff or to feel like I was cheating if somebody asked me out on a date. So I moved out to Santa Barbara and took my kids with me.

Breaking that perfect setting for my kids was perhaps the toughest part of my second divorce. Not so much the emotional strings to my ex, those were long gone but rather, telling my 7 year old that it was time to move….again, man that was hard.

Now that they are older and spending a few months with their respective fathers, things seem a lot easier. I have the chance to move to London for a few months to complete a Phd. I can have a crush again and most importantly I don’t have to see my ex naked around the house.

I often wonder about my married friends who went with the staying together for the kids option and wonder how they are doing…

Chapter 48. I have a crush on my professor

Big time. I look up videos on the Internet on his dissertations and lectures. I fantasize about he and I going on a real date and I can’t stop wondering about his marital status.

That is what happens when you come out of a long relationship or failed marriage, you risk falling for anyone that can make you forget about the bitter aftertaste of failure. Who wants to admit the consequences or take responsibility for a break up? No one.

Better to pack your things and move to a foreign country, become a PhD and have a ridiculously intense crush on your thesis director.

I know as much as the Internet can spit out about him while he, on the other hand, doesn’t know what he is up against yet. A 37 year old woman determined to seduce him, move in together, have his child and then come to Northen Spain in the summertime for a family vacation.

I have not even gone on a date with him yet and I already wonder if getting romantically involved with a Brit is a good idea because lets admit it, US girls and British girls are very different. Not to mention the teeth issue. Will he have good dental hygiene? European teeth freak me out for the most part. Uneven, small, yellowish teeth that are supposed to instill personality? No thanks.

I am used to American men that shower three times a day and have perfect teeth but I supposed that I can get used to my professor’s flaws assuming he has them, and just fall in love with his accent. So hot.

I arrive in London in September. My friend Sarah, who is the most efficient flirt on earth, advises me to play it cool until mid November and limit out conversations to work related topics, his past projects, his fabulous accomplishments in the sustainable architecture field and urban planning, men like to be adored. Then, phase two will involve sharing some personal details about adjusting to life in London and relying on his advice for this or that. Phase three would start in early December. By that point we will already have a more or less established rapport and the unexpected visit of a friend who is in town introducing the most sought after varietal of Spanish white (godello) according to wine guru Robert Parker , will be the perfect excuse for an anticipated Xmas present to him that he, of course, will want to share with me.

First date under my belt. Stay tunned.

Chapter 47. Your booty call is not answering your text messages and you just feel kind of unwanted.

Men no longer fall in love with a woman the way they used to in Oscar Wilde´s novels. These days men are just warm. Room temperature, that means, not too involved,  not too cold either, simply detached, self centered, boyish is you want,…call it whatever.

This is the new concept that I have acquired as of late. My single ladies say it, I came to understand it and they might very well be right.

The guys they like are warm, not cold, not hot. They won´t ignore you completely, but they won´t fall for you either. So how do you handle that kind of socially accepted apathy if  in the end all we all want is to have a man to fall head over hills for us? Do you text the guy and ask him if he cares about you? No way! That is so old school. Better to play the room temperature game for…well…ever.

It does not matter if you are looking for a serious relationship or just a booty call. In either case, women want to be the center of their men´s attention. But far from that, guys remain silent these days, they do not open their mouth to say how pretty you look or send a message asking how you are doing. Many of them master and play the “room temperature game” that is: You now I like you enough, right? We have been together and I proved it because I came so you must be reassured. But girl, I love my life as is and  I will not go out of my way to show you how much I care and bring you into it the way that you think you deserve. Rather, I will keep you hanging, I will keep you around like an unleashed dog that knows its way home when I call, when I think is a good time to show that I miss you a bit and that I care, in case I care, which by the way, I am not sure….

Are you a girl just wanting to have casual sex? Well, think again. Because room temperature guys might not even respond to your casual sex call. What? Yes, that is right, something that seemed unthinkable in the past. Something that should be any guy´s dream, no longer is. You put it out there, simple, no strings attached, just the fun, and they pass on it all the same. So warm.

Are they gay? No, they are not. They are simply warm, don´t have to sweat for it so why should they? Girls no longer get seduced, they seduce, they do all the work, they are the ones chasing after boys while the boys show little interested and prefer to spend the night hanging out or watching their favorite TV series.

It is Saturday, your booty call is not answering your text messages and you just feel kind of unwanted.

You are not alone.

46. Seven single ladies in distress plus one married one

Saturday night. We meet at 9 pm around a table, one hour before the concert, we have wine, eat some Spanish tapas at a cheap place and we each pay for what we ordered. That is what independent single ladies (struggling to make ends meet in a slow economy) do these days.

“I can´t understand people and relationships anymore as we grow older. You meet someone, you hit it off and then one of them (often the man) draws back, scared, protective of his or her own space and life. Two days have gone by since I heard from him last. This leaves me wondering and waiting anxiously and I hate that”.

“You can´t feel married to your lover or at least you shouldn’t”. Crushes are supposed to be fun! I said. “Can’t  you just love yourself and embrace what life has to offer without obsessing about another man so soon? You might meet someone else tonight”.

But women in this state don´t want to hear that. They want to run into their crush and if they don´t, they become a real pain in the butt for their friends. All night, all week. Period.

It was obvious that we were just her “in between” plan until her real plan unfolded. She kept looking at her phone over and over to see if anything came up. Meanwhile, she took advantage of every minute that she had on a one on one basis to bring up her topic: him and the hypothetical reasons for this silence.

“But why? Why can´t I have a crazy crush and obsess about someone if that is what I am feeling right now? Isn´t a crush supposed to be a crazy obsessive thing? Why can´t I have sex with my ex boyfriend? Why can’t I think about a second chance with him? What are all those rules about second parts not being good and crushes never evolving into love? What is it about people needing time to feel and reconnect with themselves after a break up? Really, who the hell wrote those rules and why do we have to obey them?” I must say she had a point. There is no reason to follow rules when it comes to human emotions so I shut up and finished my Chardonnay.

Aggie was also there, she is about to get a divorce but she does not find the guts to hand out the memo to the recipient. She can’t stand her life next to her husband anymore and it is painful to witness the situation from up close. It is sad to have to testify and confirm that everything is so done between two people that once decided to get married and build a family. This reality reminds me that everything comes to an end, us included. She says that his lack of drive is driving her mad and that she now needs a man that takes control and has more initiative… whatever. In the end, when you are out of love, any excuse will do.

Crocodile used to ignore me altogether. He would not value any of my qualities but could go for hours taking about my shortcomings. That is all we see when we don´t love someone: shortcomings, imperfections, perhaps our own.

The same thing happened to Anne. We met briefly at the Bahamas when she and her husband were trying to save their marriage. I would spend hours arguing with crocodile on the phone while in Paradise (how fun) but while I walked up and down the white sand beach, I was able to observe Anne and her now ex husband. They were a picture of Prince Charming and I a few years back in Mexico. A young couple away from their first baby trying to reinstate the spark in their relationship. They looked so done.

Last Thursday she posted a picture of her civil wedding. She got married in Paris to a famous interior designer. Congrats.

When we do love, shortcomings don´t bother us, we accept them with open arms.  But here we were, another case of two people getting passed each other and another case of two people not daring to get to that point. Another broken promise and another proof that happily ever after is not what we need these days but what is it that we need exactly?

When Saturday night comes, expectations rise that is for sure.

I was feeling quite disgusted myself because being the extremely sensitive person that I am, I could feel for all of us. Seven single ladies (myself included) in their late thirties out on a Saturday night while their cats waited for them at home knowing that they would be back that same night.

Anna was looking pretty tonight, really pretty and I had spent hours getting ready for something that never happened. At least not the way I had envisioned.

But we were alive. And free.

Chapter 45. That feeling that you get when you see a picture of your ex with another woman for the first time

Nausea. Jealousy. Distress.

Those feelings came thorugh my veins as I unveiled the truth: my ex looked happy in the arms of another woman. And what is worse, another woman was bragging about my ex and was calling my ex husband “her baby”.

Let me start by saying that this was not meant to happen.

For years, you may know your ex new girlfriend’s first name and be ok with it. As long as her last name is not your former last name everything is good. But one day you find out what her last name really is, by chance, it appears on a random update that you run into as you are about to put your phone on airplane mode and call it a day. One minute later, you are googling this woman like a maniac and finding things that you wish you had not ever found about her (i.e: she seems like a nice person, she has style, she likes a lot of the same things that you like, she is thinner and more athletic than you, gramma loves her…I mean, all painful stuff).

That is the risk that we take these days as we link accounts, sync devices and upload personal information on social networks that we believe to be private. Surprise! They are not, your boyfriends´ex wife will find it.

I am the ex.

I became obsessed looking and searching for pictures and information about her, comparing myself to her and feeling absolutely disgusted to see her posing on the same spot during her trip to San Fran. I spent literally over two hours clicking on links and looking at pictures of the two of them in complete disbelief. Despite having had a messy ending, my marriage and my relationship with Prince Charming was very strong. We had spent many years growing together.

For many years I was convinced that my ex was still madly in love with me. I thought that it would take him a long time to find someone that could even come close to replacing me. That is why, when I found out that they had met only a few days after he and I had split up I was in shock.

A few years have gone by already, I have been married to another man (crocodile) and I have had a baby with him. Five years is a longtime, naturally people evolve but that much? And that quickly?

Our life partners are mirrors of who we are or who we were and therefore so are the new partners that they choose to spend their life with after us.

I can see a lot of similarities between this woman and I. I can also see my ex’s expression in the pictures that she posts of the two of them together and let me tell you, I have my doubts. That is the problem when you look at the man whose soul you unveiled for many years, you know when they are faking it.

But as you grow older many people understand that faking is part of the deal to get what we want, right?

Just saying…



Chapter 44. Hungry for more

How are you crazy? That is the first question that we should ask when we meet someone. Why? Because we are all crazy somehow, hungry for more, I am no exception.

Now that I am almost middle age, I realize that most people are a lost case trying to live fulfilling lives with with the same elements. Society values endurance, durability, long run. The difference is that most people feel unsatisfied that way, leading a life that sometimes is not what they want anymore, but forced to repress their desire to tear everything off and start something new from scratch.

Changing patterns, rhythms, songs, habitats should be considered a good thing. It would be like exfoliating, right? If our skin can do it why can´t we?

It would be like living several lives within one life and that would bring us more learning experiences. But doing that seems wrong, you would have to be unfaithful (better to cheat yourself?), you would have to say to your childhood friend, “Bye, nice meeting you”.  You would have to leave your comfort zone and start over or date someone radically different from you, someone that your old friends would disapprove of, someone older, shorter, richer or poorer. It would be like creating, destroying to create again. Could an artist say that an artistic period was better than other? Or would it simply assume that the art of a period speaks for some feelings and circumstances that were replaced by other feelings and circumstances that resulted in another style or proliferation? Is there such a thing as our perfect match? Or are there several people that are perfect for each stage of your life?

Personally, I only feel alive when I see that a new cycle is emerging, it is that inner feeling that you get when you switch from period to period, it is that rush that you get when you are a surfer and after a long wait you see the perfect wave forming in the horizon. You get a new skin, it is a new era. Oxygen. Where do you find your food? Your career? Your expat package? Your trips? Your long stays abroad? The perfect wave?

I find it in human beings. Every so often someone crosses my path that brings hope and joy back into my life. That person becomes the center of my attention, my soul, my mate, my smile, my joy. I feel interested and I find that person interesting. It is not simple attraction,  it is the certainty that a supreme force has put that person (men or female) into my life for a reason. It could be a rediscovered old friend or a new one that I am yet to discover and with whom conversation simply flows from a suddenly open heart. It could be a complete stranger. I only feel gratitude and excitement to get to know that person and find out where that person is meant to take me next.

For a beautiful period of time that hunger disappears.