Monday, August 24, 2009

out of one circuit and right into another

I have a new love coach. His name is Jerry.
All he did was this:
He walked into my store and smiled.

I was hooked before he even said a word.

"I'm looking for something to wear to my wedding next weekend," he said.
"I need something long and flowing, like what people wear when they get married on the beach. A long white shirt and linen pants."
I asked if he was getting married on the beach but he said no.
He is getting married in Greeley. If you know Greeley, you know it is the farthest thing from the beach setting I was imagining there is.
Also, not exactly the profound location I would have expected my love coach to be from.

Jerry is 67. His wife to be is a 73-year-old psychic.
I was not fazed by this information in the least; it was the most usual of all things I could have heard that day.

Jerry did not want to get married, necessarily, but he is giving the gift of marriage to his wife-to-be because that is what she wants and he is willing to give it to her. He said that he had already decided he had wanted to be with her forever more and that was that, but she wanted his hand. And so, somewhere in Greeley, the happy couple will join in holy matrimony very soon, in long, flowing linen clothing.

Jerry and his new wife will not, if you were wondering, be living in the same home.
“No,” he said, he would not be living in the same home as his wife because he did not want to. They will maintain their lives just as they are, in separate homes.
“That is one of the first secrets to happiness,” he said.

I'm not sure if he means the first secret to happiness is not living with one's partner or simply something else, but I am sure that Jerry is happy - he said so. Content at the very least, obviously content. Happiness is another topic entirely, but Jerry…Jerry is content in his choices and therefore I am happy to have him as my new love coach.

I would love to ask him more about this secret to happiness, but you see, a good love coach comes into a person’s life exactly when they are needed and only for the most appropriate reason. It's not like I can just call him at any given moment and ask him what he means. Part of the lesson is that I have to figure out exactly what it means without him or I just won’t get it.

Jerry had a couple of lessons for me that day. He spoke of love, mostly, but also reincarnation and meditation. Very important lessons indeed. I took it all in – took notes, even. But, his wisdom in matters of love struck me and has returned to me each day since our encounter.

“If you go on dates during the day,” he insisted, “you will not end up in bed together.” And ending up in bed together is one of the hardest things to cope with. He reminded me that once a man is invited into a woman’s home after a lovely dinner, that the man is most likely going to sleep with the woman, at least if he is anything like Jerry. Then, after they have slept together, the woman will say to the man something like, “I hope you aren’t one of those people who sleeps with a woman once and never calls again.” At this point, the man will likely think to himself, “I am not one of those people – I am a decent human being who cares about people.”

And so it is. He calls her again and next thing he knows, he is sleeping over at her house every other night and saying, “I love you,” and two years go by before he realizes what has just happened to his life.

“And so,” Jerry says, “it is logical that you must only go on dates during the daytime and ask a lot of questions to be sure that you really are interested in a person before spending two years or more of your time with them.”

However, if you do decide that the daytime date has gone well and you are interested in that person, Jerry says, “Sleep around.”

“What?” I exclaimed.
This is not what I was expecting to hear from a gentle 67-year-old man.

“Well, why not?” he says.
“As long as you are safe about it and respectful, who cares?”
Sounds pretty simple.
I think I am starting to understand a little more about love according to Jerry.

Then he brings up the whole concept of loneliness.
“Don’t get lonely,” he says, a little more sternly than anything else he has said.
“Once you are lonely, you want to get together with someone and that’s not what you need. You need to put a lot of energy into yourself and fulfill yourself. You can’t find fulfillment in another person.”
“And beside that,” he adds, “If you get too lonely, you only want to sleep with people to cure your loneliness but you are not really curing your loneliness when you do that.”

“If I had it all to do over again,” he begins…

[Note: this is the part where a 29 year-old woman has to stop everything and really pay attention. It is not everyday that a content, maybe even happy, 67 year-old man stops everything in his day he to give life lessons to a young woman trying to figure it all out.]

“I would have put more energy into myself, my identity, my friends. I would have taken up more hobbies and had more fun. I would have really concentrated on my own career,” he says, trailing off a little at the end of his sentence as if recalling his entire life in that moment.

“You’ve got to unplug your energy from relationships and put it into your own life.”
He uses the analogy of a telephone operator; “It’s like taking the plug out of one circuit and putting it right into another.”

Hmm…this guy is really making a lot of sense to me now.
Don’t live with your partner, go on daytime dates, sleep around and rely on yourself.
Is it really this simple?

One of my favorite people just happens to be someone whom I never lived with, I did go on daytime dates with, and slept with in a non-exclusive relationship…all while staying true to myself. We are not living happily ever after in the way fairy tale endings would like, but we are living happily ever after as wonderful friends and as long as we both shall live we are absolutely not allowed to live without one another. We love each other. We live in separate towns on separate sides of the country and maintain a loving and intimate [now non-sexual] relationship to this day. We will probably never end up together in the way society would have it, but we are happy to be in each other’s lives. I feel enrichment, fulfillment and enjoyment in that relationship every day.

Maybe there will be a day that I feel that same connection with a person and it will turn into ‘happily ever after,’ but I am not attached to that idea. I love the notion that I could potentially have several good matches and that they will come into my life just at the right time. I don’t mean that I want several relationships at once, but that in each instance we will both know it’s the right choice for us at that moment. That we will have an agreement that matches both of our desires and allows us both to be free in ourselves.

My very wise, and very expensive, therapist says, “You can’t be committed to another person all your life. You just can’t. No one can.”
What you can be committed to is yourself, your convictions, your values.
I didn’t quite understand what she meant by this until I met my new love coach, Coach Jerry.

The day after I met Jerry I opened a newly purchased book called, “Like There’s No Tomorrow,” by Carolyn Cage. I was flipping through the pages and ended on the page called “Loneliness.”

“Let’s really drive this point into her,” the universe must be saying of me.

On loneliness, Carolyn proclaims, “If she does not learn to conform, and if she does not cave in emotionally, she will become strong in her aloneness. She will lean on the strength of her convictions; she will defend her vision; she will not be tempted to abandon herself for the approval of others.”

Aha. Now I get it, Jerry. You just spoke to me in such a simple statement that it was hard to get. It was too simple for my carousel mind. But, I get it.

The rules and arrangements and agreements between two people are so flexible,
but the ‘being true to yourself’ part is not. People can choose to not live together and still be married. They can date whenever they want and still fall in love. They can sleep around, even, and still be fulfilled with one another. All of these things are possible as long as people are true to themselves and fulfilling themselves, first and foremost, while enjoying each other’s company and providing support to one another.

I do have Jerry’s number saved into my phone, but I think I got the message I was supposed to receive at this moment in my life.

No need for a 2 a.m. phone-call to the love coach, yet…



  1. This is excellent, Lindsay. Glad you recognized your angel, Jerry. Back in 1980, I took a Human Development class and the professor had us read, "The Missing Piece Meets the Big O," by Shel Silverstein. That book really stuck with me, and I've since given many copies away to adults and children for its simple lesson - you cannot look to someone else to complete you. Looking forward to your next post. Mara

  2. I really enjoyed reading about the love coach. Some great advice in there. Looking forward to reading more.