McKenzie Free

One woman's quest for greater understanding through freedom of self expression.

Archive for the tag “love”

Renewal

It all began with a good-bye kiss.

It still lingers on my lips.

He loved me, he said.

But it was not the ‘big’ love.

Thus began my journey of renewal.

To love myself regardless.

To respect that I am worthy.

To find joy in each day.

The world is my ‘big’ love

and he is but a memory.

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Chocolate no longer works for me…..

Content

There was a time when a bite of deep, dark chocolate could ease the tension of a really bad day.  That’s back when bad days were about the wrong shade of hair color, a broken heel, a long wait for the subway, a husband coming home late from work in a bad mood, or a well-deserved speeding ticket.  As I get older, life seems to throw me more curves.  Hell with curves — it has  thrown me fast, hard balls that hit me point-blank going 65 miles an hour.  Bad days now consist of divorce and lover’s lost, death of beloved family members and  friends, disease and ill-health for myself and others I love.  I now require alcohol with my chocolate.   Sometimes I think if I wasn’t completely allergic to cigarettes I might even consider smoking. Others look so relaxed and thoughtful while drawing in that dark, smoldering vapor.
 

I’m scheduled for surgery on Friday.  I will spend hours in pre-op getting wired for sound by the radiologists and shot full of dye by technicians so that my lump and lymph nodes will light up like an airport runway to guide my surgeon’s hand.  After that, lying naked on a table with my breasts exposed to total strangers,  the anesthesiologist will put an IV in my arm and ask me to count backward.  These skilled strangers won’t see me, the person who lives this life, but only my disease which they will attempt to slice out of me taking along with that tiny piece of flesh an enormous part of the person I am today.

 

One of my good friends wrote, “I know you will get through the operation for your cancer and move on with the good grace and courage that is your hallmark.” If only I could be as certain as she is of my finesse and bravery. I will get through it. That I will do. With the emotional support, and sometimes financial support, of family, friends and loved ones. I will get through it and I hope I will continue to find at least some comfort in chocolate.

The Universe at Play

I’ve met a man.  I know, that’s how all my stories begin, but this time it’s different.  I met a man online, as I’ve done many, many times before.  He lives on four acres on the other side of the pass, 300 miles away, 12 miles outside of a town with a population of 9,000.  I live in the valley in Weird Town with a metropolitan area population of approximately 220,000, which after life in DC, London and NYC often seems far too small.

There was nothing about this man’s pictures or profile that told me he had much potential to be the life partner I was looking for.  In fact, we began talking only because when he flirted with me I critiqued some of his pictures of dead fish and told him if he wanted to attract women…pictures of dead animals weren’t the best way.  I never expected to hear from him again but, rather than taking offense, he thanked me for giving him a woman’s perspective.  Self- assured enough to withstand a little criticism was my only thought.

We began corresponding regularly, and we talked on the phone a few times, and then one day he said he would like to stop by and meet me for dinner on his way back from a clamming trip up north.  (I didn’t realize until much later that this wasn’t “on his way” but actually 3 hours out of his way!)  When I drove to the restaurant to meet him that Monday afternoon I went to meet a friend with no sense that this could ever turn into anything more.  After all, what would our options be, perhaps a remake of Green Acres?

I felt I already knew him somewhat from our email and phone conversations and thought him to be a decent human being with strong character and values.  I also love meeting all kinds of people and the more different their lives are from mine, the more intriguing I find them.  So off I went in the hope we would strike up a lasting friendship and I’d have a pen pal for life.

We met in the lobby of a restaurant, him in his sweats from his clamming trip, and me in my heels and make-up and from the moment we sat down our eyes were magnets for each other.  He not only listened to what I said, but he actually “heard” everything I said.  Not only that, but he heard everything I didn’t say.  Later he would write me when he returned home, I could see in your face and the way you moved you are strong person but yet I could feel the wanting to be fragile on the inside, the wanting to be held close, to be pampered like a lady should be, to share your heart and your feelings with another”.  When I read that line was the moment that I knew I had finally met a man capable of understanding me.

It’s remarkable to me that just a couple of months ago I said to a different man “I want to be with a man that thinks I’m amazing.  I do not want to be the woman you sleep with until you meet the one you think is amazing.”  Only a short time later I find myself lucky enough to be with a man who knows exactly what he wants, owns his emotions and shares them freely.  A man who is capable of looking me square in the eye and saying, “You’re an amazing woman!”

Last month I was asking myself “Who are these women men obsess over and write poetry about”.  This month I am a woman a man writes poetry to.  Once again, my theory regarding living life to the fullest, not pre-judging people, never turning down an opportunity to meet a new person or learn something new, has proven itself.

None of us know what the future will bring. I certainly never imagined as I got out of the car to meet this man that a short time later I would have someone to share my every thought with; someone who I enjoy talking to, someone who I enjoy sitting quietly with.  Every day truly is a new beginning and there is hope around every corner.  I don’t know exactly what the future holds for us….but I am certain it will find us facing each new day together.

The other thing I’m certain of is that our new age way of meeting, all of these dating sites (which I’m not knocking because without them I would never have found this man who lives 300 miles away from me) are meant to be only the conduit…not an end to themselves.  You can’t order up a life partner off a menu.  You can look at pictures and read profiles all day long, but if you don’t actually go out and meet people in person, nothing will come of it.  So, yes, I have spent seven years, met more men and drank more tea at Starbucks than the average woman, but I believe the willingness to give those men a chance has finally paid off.

My Love’s First Poem to Me

I will give you love when you shed a tear.
I will give you kindness to show my love.
I will give you warmth when you are cold.
I will give you strength when you are weak.
I will give you happiness each day of your life.
I will give you understanding when you’re blue.
I will give you my shoulder to cry on when sadness comes.
I will give you my arm to walk beside me as we travel this life.
I will give you my hand to hold to give you hope.
I will give you comfort when bad news arrives.
I will give you me for the rest of your life.

Crazy in Love by McKenzie James

I’m ready to fall in love;

head over heals

crazy in love with you.

 

I’m teetering right on the edge of the precipice

but I’m afraid to make the leap.

I’m waiting impatiently for you to catch up.

 

It’s a long way down if my timing is wrong

and you’re not there to catch me.

I’ve traveled there alone once before.

 

It’s a painful landing

and a long, treacherous climb  back

out of the abyss when no one’s there to greet you.

 

But I’m ready.

The sound of your voice,

the touch of your hand,

the smile on your face

have me bursting my seams with joy.

 

I want to stop holding back and leap

free-falling into your arms.

 

I’m ready.

I’m waiting.

Let’s dive in over our heads together.

What’s Missing?

She’s missing some essential human element. She doesn’t know what it is; it’s something ethereal. It is that “thing” that makes a man fall in love with you. It is that “thing” that makes another person feel connected to you. Whatever it is that makes a man want to be with you, to protect and take care of you, to miss you when you’re gone, to put you first and think of your needs. She can’t figure out what it is that’s missing in her. What other women have that she does not.
She feels things deeply, she finds joy in others, she has wants and needs and desires like everyone else. She is smart, she is funny, she is even wise upon occasion. What is missing? What is the crucial component of humanity that she lacks?
Even if she were to figure it out, it is most likely too late now. Half her life is gone before her. Surely she should have experienced this love by now. But over and over she attempts the connection; she gives herself freely and they feel nothing in return.
Men crave her body. They want to lie naked with her and feel her soft caresses. They will say whatever it is they think she wants to hear to spend time in her bed until they meet another woman, a woman they can fall in love with, and then they are gone.
What is it that makes her, not unlikable but, so unlovable? Do you know? Do you have the answer? Can you share it please?

The Dance

It began one night with a simple dance. His movements were slow, lingering, and sensual. He was not leading, she was not following, yet they heard the same beat and moved together as one swaying to the gentle rhythm.

Later that evening he sent her a text: “You can come sit on my face any time.”

“What kind of text is that for a poet to send to a woman?” she responded.

And then the real dance began…he said…she said…he said…she said.

They met again and she told him stories of those who had loved her and those who had brought her pain: the rapes of her past, her mother’s laughter, her brother’s insanity, her beautiful and strong women friends. He shared stories of past lovers, his relationship with God and belief in the reality of the Holy Spirit, his drive to create music and poetry, and how his muse visited him. They shared thoughts and they shared meals and she felt there was beauty in their dance each step bringing them closer to knowledge of each other.

For days he ran his fingers slowly down her body stopping here and there to take pleasure in the firm mounds of flesh and soft valleys making her shiver with contentment. She gave herself to him freely and gloried in his touch. When he was hard she climbed on top and rode the waves of sensation without fear or shame until all of her orifices exploded in delight. When he was soft she fondled his body kissing the curve of his neck and stroking his long, thin legs that led to that beautiful ass that she couldn’t keep her hands off in bed or on the dance floor.

At times she was completely filled with lust for him and at others joyful in his gentleness. He fed her strawberries in bed and she tenderly licked their sticky juice off his fingers in the same way she had licked her own sweet juices from them earlier at his request. And, finally, she fulfilled his original entreaty and sat on his face as he licked and sucked until she came, filling his mouth with the sweet taste he craved, offering up a bit of her soul to him believing it could never diminish her.

And they danced. Oh how they danced. Onlookers awed by their chemistry and jealous of the connection they perceived between them.

Then one night, as quickly as their dance began, he no longer heard the music and he turned and abruptly walked away.

McKenzie James

June 17, 2011

A Few Good Men

by McKenzie James

The Marines and I have both been looking for a few good men for some time now.  (Well, actually, they need a few while I honestly only need one.)  When I first began online dating I assumed I would meet a lot of good men and that, among all those good men, there would be one who wasn’t perfect but who suited me perfectly.  What I found instead were droves of men who had attained middle-age with little knowledge of themselves.  Among them were those who seemed completely unaware of their needs, their neurosis, their selfishness, their general lack of social skills, and any part they themselves had played in creating their current circumstances.  Then there were those who I’m sure were not necessarily bad men but who were simply, as my sister would say, “odd”.

You can only go on so many failed coffee dates and then most of us, men and women alike, have to take a break from online dating and focus our energy in other ways in order to maintain our optimism about love, life and the pursuit of happiness.  I took just such a break in the last few months.  Then over the holidays, having a lot of time off work and feeling ready to dance again, I updated my profile and threw it out to the universe with a hopeful sigh.

To my great surprise and joy the outcome was emails and subsequent meetings with several good men.  They are each and every one of them, intelligent, respectful, interesting and self-aware and I am completely enjoying my time getting to know them better.  We’ve shared drinks, meals, movies, and conversations about our life’s journey and our hopes for the future and I imagine we will remain friends regardless of the outcome.  It’s been like a breath of fresh air to someone who’s been dating for way too long.

I suspect that part of the reason it’s working out better for me this time is because I’ve been determined to widen my own horizons.  I tend to be attracted to and to fall for the tall, dark and handsome types.  The problem with this is that judging a book by its cover has gotten me into repeatedly bad relationships over the years.  This time I promised myself I would place more credence on what each match had to say, how he presented himself, and how he approached me, than in his looks.  Not that any of these men are unattractive, they are simply not my usual 6’2” tall charmers.  So, just as the Marines have adjusted their definition of what it means to be “one of the few” over the years in order to enhance recruitment I’ve found that adjusting my perspective has worked as well.

Since I’ve written enough pieces about my bad dating experiences that they have their own category in the archives (http://freethetwins.wordpress.com/category/mckenzie-james/bad-dates/) I thought it only fair that I report here that I’ve found there are still good, single men out there who are looking for relationships with strong, confident, intelligent women.  It’s way too early to tell if one of these men is the match I’ve been looking for but, whether or not one of these new friends turns out to be perfect for me, they have already renewed my faith in men.  What a wonderful way to begin a new year!

Touchstone [tuhch-stohn] – Noun

  1.  A test or criterion for the qualities of a thing.
  2.   A black siliceous stone formerly used to test the purity of gold and silver by the color of the streak produced on it by rubbing it with either metal.

(Source: Dictionary.com Unabridged, Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.)

My mother died a year and a half ago and this weekend my sister and I thought it was time to go through the personal items that my sister had boxed up from her dresser when she died.  My sister brought the box in from the garage and gave it to me to open. The very first item I pulled out of the box was a simple, tiny, plastic stamp dispenser.  Like myself my mother was an avid writer but her writing took the form of letters.  Living over 2,000 miles away from her most of my adult life I’d gotten hundreds of letters from Mom.  Her letters were always engaging, entertaining and filled with humorous stories and vivid descriptions.

She probably wrote a letter to each person in her address book once a month.  So for years she had bought stamps in rolls of a hundred and used her stamp dispenser daily.  That stamp dispenser was such a tiny thing, yet such an enormous part of who my mother was that simply touching it brought tears to my eyes immediately.

I began crying, my sister began crying, and my sister’s little two year old granddaughter began slapping her grandmother on the leg because she thought Grandma had made Aunt McKenzie cry.  It was quite a scene which ended with us laughing at the baby girl and explaining to her that we were crying about our Mommy and that Grandma hadn’t hurt Aunt McKenzie.  We then put the box away to try again another time.

My mother was my touchstone.  She was my mirror to my place in the world. Being Lois’ youngest daughter — the attractive, successful happily married one who lived on the East Coast — was an enormous part of my identity.  She not only took pride in who I had become but reminded me always of where I came from.  With my mother’s passing I felt not only her loss, but without my tether to the past and my touchstone to reflect the purity of my beliefs, I lost a bit of my identity for a while as well.

Mom was a strong and independent woman who rarely asked anyone for help.  She survived a fractured skull in her twenties when she was hit by a car while on her bike.  Until the day she died she had slight hearing loss in one ear and dizziness when she turned her head to a certain angle from that accident.  She survived the loss of an infant child, WWII, the great depression, poverty, the loss of a spouse, raising six children alone, the death of her youngest child before his fortieth birthday, a dog attack, and at eighty was hit by a truck while out walking.  The doctors and physical therapists told us that no one else her age and in her condition would have walked again.  It was her sheer stubbornness that brought on her recovery and ability to walk again six months later.  She did all of these things, and others too numerous to mention, and carried on with a joy that brought tears to your eyes.

The one strong belief that my mother had that she passed on to me was that every day is a fresh start and a chance for renewed hope.  No matter how bad things get I realize that the very next morning I could wake up to a day that brings me infinite joy.  So it was with this belief that I put one foot in front of the other each day after my Mom’s death until the pain subsided and I was able to tether myself to my place in the world again.

I hope that one day very soon my sister and I can attempt to sort through Mom’s personal belongings once again.  Next time we’ll better prepare ourselves for the bittersweet memories we’re sure to experience and perhaps, without a toddler there, we’ll allow ourselves as many tears as we need to get through it and finish the job.

Reprinted below is the speech that I wrote for my mother’s 80th birthday celebration and gave again at her funeral.

My Mom was born on November 10th and shared her birthday with the United States Marine Corps.  These two events may seem to be unrelated to some, but not to those of us who know both the Marine Corps and Mom well.  Let me enumerate just a few of the characteristics they have in common.

 Courage – Whether attacked by the poverty of her early youth, distance between loved ones, government red tape, or the common hardships of everyday life, Mom always faced her enemies with courage and taught her children to do the same.

 Loyalty – Lord knows, each of us children tested the limits of our Mother’s loyalty and love and found it remained limitless and unwavering.

Honor – Mom’s honesty and integrity were beyond questions.  In fact, I’m sure there are those of us who wished at times that she had been a little less “honest’ since she tended to  “call ‘em as she saw ‘em”.  Her straight forward approach and homegrown advice usually hit the mark.

 Endurance – No matter how many times circumstances conspired to knock her down, she pulled herself up and never lost hope that things would get better.  In fact, it was because of her singular determination that many things in our lives WERE changed for the better.  Even getting hit by a truck couldn’t keep that woman down.  After her recovery, she continued to volunteer at St. Alice Parish and McKenzie Willamette Nursing Home.

 Strength – You can’t tell me that raising the flag at Iwo Jima was more difficult than raising six children to maturity (especially these particular children!).  As far as we’re concerned Mom deserves a monument in her honor as well.

 Through her 88 years she maintained a nobility of character that made us proud to call her Mom.  We’re proud today to celebrate her life.  She was a great mother, a great grandmother (in both senses of the term) and a friend to many.

Everyone Loves Me

I have been told I have a charming personality.  I suspect it’s partly just the personality I was born with and partly from being a middle child in a large family.  I’m basically a happy person. I get a kick out of life and find my fellow inmates on this planet fascinating.  I have made friends easily through my adult life.  I also tend to be very loyal so a lot of my closest friends I’ve known for over twenty years, some since childhood.

I remember sharing my angst over moving to New York City for a job a few years ago with my sister.  “What am I doing? I don’t know a soul in New York?  How will I meet people?”  My sister laughed and said, “You’ll make friends everywhere you go the way you always have.”

And, of course, she was right.  If I go to a new hairdresser, within a few visits we’re best of friends and meeting for drinks and dinner.  When I change jobs my new staff is usually happy I’m there and I make friends among my colleagues without difficulty.  In fact, at a recent job, my boss actually told me one of my fellow directors was jealous because staff liked me so well so quickly.  I just seem to be able to sense the type of support that each person needs to flourish and am somehow able to bring out their best.  I can prompt people to try and succeed at things they didn’t think they could do previously.

I put others at ease.  I laugh at all the everyday occurrences that make some people angry and frustrated and I get others to laugh along with me.  I’m the one that gets the party going.  I coax those who wouldn’t normally dance out on to the dance floor.  I laugh at myself. I use humor as an ice breaker and I’m often the one who helps others to relax and begin to enjoy each other’s company.

I’ve been told I’m adorable, fun, funny, charming, even enchanting.  (Okay, that last one may have been my Mom!)   Everybody loves me: my neighbors love me, the plumber loves me, babies love me, the cable guy loves me, my friends’ husbands and boyfriends love me, my friends’ kids love me, my nieces and nephews love me.

So what I don’t understand is this:  How is it that if everyone I meet loves me I can’t find just one, single man who loves me too?  I only need one man to find me enchanting — not an entire world.  Just one, single, stable, honest man who thinks I’m as special as everyone else does.  I only need one man to share my everyday life, my joys and sorrows, my laughter and tears.

Even at my ripe old age I’m still hopeful that this man exists somewhere and one day we’ll meet.  We’ll connect and he’ll see in me all the good that others do and eventually he’ll look across the room at me the way my girlfriend’s husband still looks at her after 35 years of marriage and say, “I’m a damn lucky man.”  And I’ll be across the room smiling back knowing I’m the one who’s truly lucky.

Life Goes On

I get up

Do my hair

Dress for success and put my make-up on

Go to work

Smile and converse

And then I come home and cry about you

I grocery shop

I pay the bills

Run the everyday errands that we all do

Smile at the clerks

Exchange pleasantries

And then I come home and cry about you

I meet my friends

Share some laughs

Smiles and hugs

Let’s do it again

And then I come home and cry about you

I visit the kids

We run and play

We laugh and jest

And at the end of the day

I come home and cry about you

I cry about you

I still cry about you

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