Pieces of Gold

12 May

Learning the delicate balance of solo experience versus a shared one has been part of my path for a while now as my gal pals are starting to wander some with me. After hitting the road every weekend, there’s always something new to tell them when I come back and they’ve been incredibly supportive. Their worlds  seem much different from mine. While I am wandering in museums and attending film festivals, restaurants, and concerts, they engage in family building and loving mated connections alongside their own personal journeys. One can’t deny that there’s a bit of envy on both sides, I for their warm nests and they for my unencumbered gypsy-ish rambling. I’ve been graced by being able to slide into their family life, enjoying their children, homes and nurturing strength. However, during May’s first weekend, it was my turn to take them into a tiny taste of Wayfarinlassland.

First Friday belonged to one of my best friends, Karen, as we attended the Victorian Fusion Bellydance Beledi at Riverviews Art Space during Lynchburg’s monthly art and culture celebration. Karen was my friend long before teaching me in bellydance last year, her spirit and gypsy leanings endearing her to me in fae sister fashion. Also a Joe aficionado, she is always ready to listen, advise and encourage. The balance and camaraderie of her family clan has been a safe haven in some rougher spots along the journey’s path, so to speak. Karen is a quite accomplished dancer and the event’s Steampunk theme derived from the sponsorship of WarmStreets Gallery made the adventure extra enticing. Friday afternoon, we were like teenagers in my bedroom, sifting through clothes after a Goodwill trip, putting together the best sci-fi high Victorian looks we could muster. Doing the girly getting-ready-for-the-show injected a high energy anticipation in us both, but walking around downtown Lynchburg in bare midriffs, jingling coins off our fannies was enough to unnerve anyone. The solo wayfaring has taught me a lot about confidence and personal freedom, though. At one point before Karen’s solo performance, I could tell she felt a tiny bit apprehensive about the structure of the show and perhaps the attitudes of some of the other dancers. We stopped outside the gallery, shared some breaths and some positive energy.

“You got this.” I said. “Shoulders back…breathe. If there’s any judgment that energy needs to stay with the judgers. Right?”

Needless to say, her performance was spot on. Afterwards, still dolled in our costumes, Rivermont Pizza became the destination for a celebratory dinner. As we stood in the bar area of this trendy hipster-ish Lynchburg restaurant, I shared with her something I’ve learned about wayfarin alone as a woman.

“When you walk into a place, know that you have a full right to be there, occupy the space, and enjoy yourself no matter what because if you believe it, it shows. Everyone else will believe it too.”

And I began to think about how fearing judgment, which ultimately comes from others’ ignorance or misunderstanding, shapes women’s actions to the point that we begin to assume what others think before we act. We limit our desires in response to imagined scenarios rather than do what we want and let others take the responsibility for their own emotions. That’s something both of us are working on recognizing more in our lives, just in different areas. Friday gave me the opportunity to show her an arena that I have somewhat mastered. Karen has walked a unique path spiritually for quite awhile and she teaches me daily what it is to be calm and connected without really even trying. We are each able to mirror opposite sides of a piece of gold, that’s the beauty of our connection. Together we can see the whole.

Sporadic arcs of sun chased a chilly Sunday afternoon as my gal pal Laura and I motored up Rte. 151 to Cardinal Point and Afton Mountain wineries for tasting and talk. It’s been a winter full of changes for us both; her children, once students of mine, graduated from college this month. As I caught her up on funny or more personal moments from my ramblings, she shared with me tales and video of her daughter’s graduation celebration the day before. Many of my more personal wayfarin moments obviously don’t make it into this space, but my friends are gracious enough to put up with the catalog of tales when we are finally able to chat at length. And in listening to their stories, I reconnect to the daily details of a “normal” home life. Sometimes I see my way of living through a narrow lens. While I try to use the space of solitude to pause in the moment, attempting to wring out some wisdom in any particular experience, I often envy simple coupledom…grocery shopping, coordinating a dinner out, the random kid text. “Mom, will you pick up…Mom, where is my…?” Even the absent energy of a physical body sharing home space is noticeable.

During our first tasting at Cardinal Point, the weight of my accumulated experience over the last few months really hit home. Laura’s presence prompted a mindfulness of how many places I really have explored solo. A co-partner in the experience refocuses the introspection; contrasts often give a greater gift of insight. In wines, she tends to prefer those with more residual sugars and without oak. I’m directly opposite. But her opinion helped me see the value of the whole line. Cardinal Point whites are quite good, especially their Quattro, an off dry blend, and The Green which is reminiscent of a Portuguese Vinho Verde. Laura preferred the Quattro and I, the crisper Green. We traveled on to discover Afton Mountain’s incredible wine offerings; literally, I liked every one I tasted. Their tasting room and grounds are almost resort like as well. We were both quite impressed. However, while both of us thought the place was beautiful, she naturally saw an amazing spot for a future wedding celebration. I saw an American winery wedding Pinterest style: white designer dress, trendy hand-tied flowers, giggling bridesmaids having manis and pedis all around. A great deep thoughtfulness seemed to well up in me that needed un-bottling.

So, we reclined on a couch out in the sun with glasses in hand viewing the growing vines and spoke of our own growth as women. Laura is so incredibly strong. It permeates her energy. She has backbone. Its flexibility and resiliency has held her family together for over 25 years. The flowering of full womanhood is so powerful and beautiful. In my experience though, men tend not to value it, preferring instead the feminine flowering of the physical rather than the soul. Marriage in modern social terms seems about stages of life rather than evolving life. The relationship focuses around the task of family building and income securing so much that a mutual supporting connection which encourages individual growth, in which child rearing becomes a part rather than the point of the endeavor, seems to be a fantasy. The construct is …a white dress and giggling bridesmaids. Then, the first apartment. Then, jobs. Then, pets and children and then…. Are social benchmarks taking precedence over the evolution of self? And then, when the steps stop, especially for women, they look around and wonder…now where did I put that self of mine? I let my eyes graze the lush green lawn, the vines trailing the training wires over to the twinkling white lights hanging in the marquee and honestly, I felt slightly bitter.

I will never wear a white dress again, I thought…and moreover, was it even real to begin with?

This thought and our conversation lead me back to thinking about mated relationships over all. I’ve gone back to question whether a person’s important needs truly can be met by just one other after a certain point in life. That reshapes the meaning of what intimacy really is from my perspective. End of the romantic ideal? Maybe. As I talk with more and more women and I observe their relationships and attitudes toward their partners…yes, perhaps. The idea that at this stage in life one’s needs may not be met in only one person is pushing me into a new way of thinking about love and connection. To be honest, I’m beginning to tacklea profound disappointment in the social fabric, for that is where I think a great unfairness in romantic relationships lies. But I live in culture, more free than in the past yet not free enough. And as Laura and I talked about needs and desires, responsibilities and freedoms, I began to see more clearly the two sides of the same piece of gold. But its so valuable, this feminine life…and in reflection, the vision of our worth becomes more whole .

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