My Funny Valentine

I want to start with a disclaimer: If you’re anti-Valentine’s Day or just totally over all the mushy-gushy stuff, you might want to stop reading. No, really. This was, hands down, the best Valentine’s Day I ever had, all thanks to my wonderful, silly, romantic man. I’ve never truly had a valentine before. Yeah, I was married, and I’ve had boyfriends on Valentine’s Day in the past, but it was never the romantic holiday I always hoped it would be… Until now.

We had the whole weekend planned out. Rico would come up Friday after work and we’d go to a birthday dinner for a close family friend of his. Then Saturday, we’d cook dinner together at my place rather than deal with the madness of trying to get a table at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Then, on Sunday, we planned to go for Mongolian bbq {one of our favorite spots} for lunch before he had to head home. Simple enough, right?

I was very distracted and flustered in the week leading up to our big weekend. I had decided to make him a scrapbook {something he really likes and appreciates} filled with pictures, movie and song quotes, and text boxes I created telling him how I felt about him. I had things like, “The first time you kissed me, I felt_______________.” I also had my daughter take a couple of really cool pics of me in my hat and claw hand from my Halloween costume {Freddy Krueger}, so I could put them in there.
I was really excited to give it to him and worked on it feverishly every night after work to make sure it was done before he got there. I had taken that Friday off and planned to get all the last-minute stuff done that day — cleaning, washing my linens, getting my nails done, wrapping his gifts, etc. Little did I know…

On Thursday after work, I headed home as usual and got comfy in my room. I had the scrapbook in front of me and my bed was covered with scraps of paper and pictures. I had a page and a half left to go before it was done. I was on the phone with him as I worked, and he said he was out doing some running around and that when he reached his final destination, he was staying in for the night. Maybe an hour later, he said he had reached his final destination and playfully said, “Why don’t you come open up the door for me?” I thought he had arrived at his house, and playfully said, “Ok, hehe, be right there…” and kept working on the scrapbook. He made a few similar comments, then finally said, “Are you gonna come open the door?” I froze, scissors in my hand, and said, “What are you talking about?” He hadn’t arrived at his own house but at MINE. I panicked, looking around the room at the mess, the unwrapped gifts, the clothes everywhere…I wasn’t ready! I quickly threw on a pair of jeans and ran downstairs where he was waiting. I threw open the door and jumped into his arms while he laughed at me for not realizing what he had been up to. I couldn’t believe he was here a whole day early and I’d had no clue! I made him wait a minute while I hid everything as fast as I could. We went out and grabbed some Chinese food, then I locked myself in my room for a few minutes to finish the last page of the scrapbook. He had made me a big heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie and used frosting to write my name on it. He had also burned a CD of romantic music for us to slow dance to.

The next morning, after allowing ourselves to be lazy getting up, we exchanged presents. In addition to the scrapbook, I had also bought him a red bundt cake pan and a basting set {his ex had taken his when they’d split up and he was really wanting new ones}, which he was really excited about. He gave me an amazing card that he had made and written himself, a box of candy, a beautiful bible with a case for it, and an Android tablet, which blew me away. He was so cute about all of it, smiling and chuckling as I oohed and aahed over everything. Instead of all my planned cleaning etc, we had a great day together. I took him to lunch at one of my favorite spots, then we went for ice cream at a little place where we had gone when we first started dating. That night, we got all dressed up {I had found an amazing dress to wear} and went to the birthday dinner, which was a lot of fun. I felt sexy and was proud to walk in on his arm. His godsister {the birthday girl} was really cool, and we promised to get together soon.

Saturday {Valentine’s Day} was also my niece’s birthday, so we decided to stop by my parents’ house before going on with the rest of our day. Rico went downstairs to warm up my car, then shoveled my driveway while I finished getting ready. When we got to my parents’ house, he and I shoveled their driveway as well {his idea}. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that he did that. Just always thinking of other people and helping out when he can. But I digress… The weather was terrible — white-out conditions all the way there, so we ended up staying for a few hours til it cleared up. Rico finally got to meet my brother and sister-in-law, and we had a really good time hanging out with my family, having lunch and birthday cake, before heading on our way.

Rico cooked an amazing dinner of tarragon chicken and vegetables while I made a brown sugar pound cake. I decided to treat it like a date and put on my little black dress for dinner. We ate and drank and laughed and kissed and fooled around and had a great time. It was a wonderful night, staying warm inside while winter raged outside.

Sunday, we did go to Mongolian bbq as planned and had a great lunch before he left to head home. The weekend ended waaaaay too soon, but it was wonderful, and it was the best Valentine’s Day
I ever had. I’m truly in love with this man and still can’t believe how blessed I am to have him in
my life.

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This Man

Miles away,
he sleeps.
My mind can’t rest.
Each smile and laugh,
each touch of his hand.
Can it be?
He calls me beautiful
and I’m blushing,
falling.
Arms tight around me,
espresso eyes on me.
He took my smile
and filled it
with laughter.
Each kiss,
each moment —
I am his.

This Christmas

It’s crazy how much can change in the space of one year.

This time last year, I was involved with Michael, looking forward to him flying up on the 26th and ringing in the new year together. One bout of pneumonia, two bouts of bronchitis, two attempted breakups, one successful breakup, a bit more personal and emotional growth, one fateful Halloween party, and one amazing man later, and here I am — MUCH happier, much more at peace, and much more content, plain and simple.

I learned to truly listen to my gut, which I had kind of tuned out for a year and a half. I regained my self-respect, and I decided, once and for all, to stop putting up with shit from people. When I was finally able to step out of my situation and see that it wasn’t working, that I was being played, and that I deserved much better, it was liberating. I became my own hero, rescuing myself from yet another dead-end relationship, and having the wisdom and nerve to walk away from a toxic situation. Initially, Michael tried to get in touch with me a few times. He left a couple of long voicemails saying he didn’t like where we were {sorry, sweetheart, there is no we anymore} and that he hoped there was some chance that we could get back to the way we used to be. I’m sorry, what way is that? The way I blindly accepted your bullshit? Or the way I let things slide even though I knew you weren’t being honest with me? Or maybe it was the way I kept taking you back, even though my gut was screaming at me to cut my losses and run in the opposite direction. His last voicemail was the day after Thanksgiving. He had texted me a random Thanksgiving meme, and apparently I was supposed to go weak in the knees and come running back. His message said he had hoped I would have called him on Thanksgiving. Honestly, I was thankful not to still be dealing with that clown.

I haven’t spoken to him in more than a month. I blocked his number on my phone so that his calls {there have been a few, but not in the past couple of weeks} would go straight to voicemail. I’m hopeful that he has finally gotten the message through his thick head and will leave me alone. It’s a blessing, actually, that he lives so far away because the chances of him showing up on my doorstep are slim to none, especially since he now has custody of his kids.

I’m looking forward to this Christmas with childlike anticipation, not because of presents, but because I’ve found someone who makes me happy in such a simple, good way. It’s not about money spent, but rather the time spent together, the joy of seeing each other, and the happiness of just being with someone I fit with so well. A couple of weeks ago, Rico came up for the weekend and we had so much fun. He actually met my parents, who both really liked him {I wasn’t surprised}. This feels more real every day. We spent the weekend cooking together, watching movies, introducing him to my favorite pizza place, people watching, looking at Christmas lights and displays, holding hands, and just enjoying each other.  I think, that’s what it really boils down to. We’re living out loud, in the moment, happy with each other and excited to see where this goes.

Finding Him

Last year, I wrote a post describing my perfect man. Since then, I’d have to say I’ve added a few more items to the wish list.

For instance, he’d have no problem telling people he’s involved with me. He’d be honest and not give me cause to question things he says. And he’d actually keep his word, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.

Ironically, one year and one day after writing that post, I think I’ve actually met him. Rico, whom I met at a Halloween party last month, has exceeded any expecations I’ve allowed myself to have of late. We’ve talked every day {multiple times a day} since meeting a little over a month ago. I’ve gone down to see him once, and he’s coming up this weekend for his second visit. We’ve already made plans to spend New Year’s Eve together, and we seem to grow closer every day.

His kisses curl my toes and I smile every time his name appears on my phone. His deep voice is enticing, and it feels just right when I rest my head against his chest. He’s funny and sweet and so much like my carefully thought-out description from a year ago that it’s almost like I conjured him out of my blog and into existence. He’s kind of the anti-Michael, and such a refreshing change from what I’ve tolerated for the last year and a half. And from what he’s said about his last couple of relationships, I’m a much-welcome change from what he’s tolerated as well. My friend Ace apparently had it right with this one. We get along so well and laugh all the time. Rico is the perfect combination of sexy, sweet, sensitive, and silly. He very willingly posts pictures of us together on Facebook, has told his close friends and family members about me {and I’ve met some of them}, and keeps his word. I genuinely trust him, which doesn’t come easily for me. We fit.

I know the relationship is ridiculously new, but he has already made me happier than I’ve been in quite a while where romance is concerned. I think we’re off to a very promising start!

A Halloween to Remember

It’s been quite some time since I wrote anything, partly because things were very up and down with Michael {yes, I was still in a long-distance relationship with him}. But things have been kind of coming to a head for a while, and Halloween weekend was one for the books. I’ll have to write a whole separate post on the official {no, really} end of that affair. But for now, I have to tell the tale of the Halloween party.

Stacy and I go to it every year, and it’s always a good time. Usually, I have a hard time picking a costume, but this time I decided to go as sexy Freddy Krueger. Odd, I know. But I really liked the costume, complete with hat and claw hand. The party started out like any other, drinking a little, catching up with friends, etc. A guy dressed as a clown wandered over and started talking to us. He was very sweet and could actually hold a conversation {a rarity at many of these gatherings}. We talked to him off and on, and also walked around mingling with other people. Stacy noticed that one guy {who’s not even worth nicknaming} kept following us around. He’s given her trouble at parties before, following her and even grabbing her boob once {after which she kicked him square in the grapes, which he seemed to like}. Anyway, after he very obviously shadowed us for a half hour or so, I walked over to him and pointed at him with my Freddy claw and told him to leave Stacy alone. He played dumb, but I told him again to leave her alone, waving my claw hand for emphasis. I walked back over to Stacy, who found it quite hilarious that I was suddenly a badass when I was dressed like Freddy Krueger. Wouldn’t you know, within minutes of me telling him off, I think he left the party entirely, never to appear again for the rest of the night! I didn’t know I could be so intimidating with a plastic claw hand and some hard cider in my belly.

I'm a bit curvier than the girl in this pic, but you get the idea.

I’m a bit curvier than the girl in this pic, but you get the idea.

A little while later, I noticed a very good-looking guy in a cowboy hat. I didn’t remember ever seeing him before, and then I saw him talking to my friend Ace. I casually walked over and Ace introduced me to his friend Rico. As soon as I heard the name, I remembered a conversation from months before where I had asked Ace, if he was going to pick a guy for me, what kind of guy would he pick, and he had said that if his friend Rico was single, he’d be perfect for me. Hmmmm… I continued on my way, and a little while later Ace said he questioned whether Rico was still attached because he had only mentioned his kids, not his girlfriend. I asked him to find out if this gorgeous guy was single, and as it turns out, indeed he was {happy dance}. I asked him to put in a good word for me. Shortly after, who comes walking over but Rico, looking right at me and smiling. He asked if I wanted to go for a walk so we could talk. My feet were killing me from my high-heeled boots, so we ended up sitting on a couch in the lobby near the door to the party. We talked for a little while and he seemed like a really cool, down-to-earth guy. This was promising! He asked for my number, and I got his, and he left soon after, saying maybe we could talk the next day. I was on cloud 9!

I went back into the party and hung out talking to the clown {whose name turned out to be Jonah} for a while. A girl dressed like a devil wandered over and asked if I’d been to many of these parties. I said yes, I come every year. She said this was her first time, so we all chatted for a few minutes. She was telling us how she and her boyfriend had gone to a couple of other clubs before coming to this party, and she pointed him out across the room. She said he thought I was cute, and wanted to know if I was interested in joining them. Ummmmm….no! I politely declined, saying that really wasn’t my thing. She was very embarrassed and walked away. That was a new one!

I actually got a lot of compliments on that costume. Some people thought I had made it myself. One very drunk girl came over to me at one point saying she had been looking for me because she wanted to show her friend that “Freddy got a booty!!!” {She yelled that across the bar. Too funny.}

Anyway, fast forward to the following morning. I texted Rico to let him know we were getting on the road to head home, and asked if I could call him later that day. He replied back and said definitely. Later that afternoon, when I finally got home, unpacked, and cleaned up, I called him. We talked for an hour, and he said he was glad I called instead of texting because it seems like all people want to do these days is text. Later that evening, we talked for another hour. I was really digging him, and could see why Ace had thought we’d hit it off. The next morning, I texted just to say good morning, and we ended up talking and texting every day. As it turns out, my daughter was to be with her dad that following weekend, so Rico and I made plans to meet. I was really excited to see him, and he planned a whole day of things for us to do on that Saturday. No guy had ever done that for me before!

I drove down and spent an awesome weekend with him, getting to know each other, talking, laughing… It was amazing. We went apple picking, to a wine tasting, and out to dinner, plus splashed around in the hot tub and pool. He introduced me {as his girl — swoon} to his brother, his cousin, his sister, and his mom, and he even posted pics on Facebook of the various things we did. After one week, he was putting me out there, calling me his girl…a very welcome change from Michael and his self-declared privacy issues, who refused to do the same after nearly a year and a half! We talk every day, multiple times a day. This weekend he’s coming up to spend the weekend with me, and I can’t wait. Needless to say, I’m all smiles these days. Stay tuned…

Worth Fighting For

Back in January, I ended things with Michael. I felt strong and empowered and sure of what I wanted and needed. I ended things, or so I thought.

His initial response was about what I expected. He was angry and hurt and didn’t understand where all of this was coming from. I blocked his number on my phone and removed myself from his Facebook. As far as I was concerned, this chapter was closed. What happened next, I did not see coming. After a few days of me barely responding to his e-mails, except to reiterate and justify my feelings, his tone changed. He began telling me how much he loved me and that he didn’t want to lose me. He went back to the beginning of our relationship and mentioned reasons why he had fallen in love with me in the first place.

At first, I was prickly. I stood my ground and wouldn’t let his sweet words break me down. I couldn’t figure out why he was so persistent and why he was wasting his time on what I thought was a lost cause. After a week or two, I read one of his e-mails, and something suddenly occurred to me. Michael was fighting for me. This man, who wasn’t getting much hope from my responses, wasn’t giving up on me, or on us. In my life, I’ve never had a man fight for me before. I was married for close to 20 years, and the only time my ex-husband did anything even remotely like fighting for me was when it was way past the point of no return. When he suddenly realized how much our marriage had deteriorated, it was too late. I had nothing left to give. I felt nothing anymore. Yet, here was Michael, a man I’ve known less than a year, texting me and e-mailing me every day. He was still calling and leaving voicemails, even though I still had his number blocked. This man loved me enough to fight for me. The walls began to crumble.

I unblocked his number and we started talking. We hashed out much of what had been bothering me and began to reconnect. Things haven’t been perfect, but I feel like we gained some kind of understanding through it all. We’re still not on each other’s Facebook, and that is still a sticking point, but we’re a work in progress.

He’s been amazingly sweet in the past few months. One night shortly after we started talking again, he surprised me by having 4 orders of chocolate lava cakes delivered to my house from the local Domino’s. He eventually did send a box full of Christmas gifts for my daughter and me. In February, he was told by flowers.com that there was no way to guarantee that anything could be delivered to me on Valentine’s Day, so he called directly to a flower shop near my house and made sure I would get flowers that day. And earlier this month, he knew money was tight for me and surprised me by wiring money to help get my daughter’s glasses, which I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford for a few paychecks. But it’s not all material things that have melted my heart. When I doubt myself, he shows me all the ways that he sees me as an amazing mom and a beautiful woman. He’s quick to list all the things I do, showing me that maybe I need to give myself more credit sometimes. Above all, he makes me feel loved every single day. No man has ever done that for me before.

You might think I’m an idiot for giving him another chance, and who knows if things will ultimately work out between us. But I think there’s something to be said for his actions. He could have easily said, “Screw it, there are other fish in the sea,” and deleted my number. He didn’t give up on me, and that means something to me. For the first time, I see myself as someone worth the trouble and I don’t feel so alone. He knows I’ve been through some things relationship-wise, and he’s understanding and patient. The distance is still an issue, but he’s coming back to visit in a couple of weeks, so hopefully we can make up for lost time, since his last visit was kind of a bust. He saw me at my absolute worst when I was sick, but he’s still here. That means something. For now, we’re taking baby steps, and I guess all we can do is see where it goes…

Falling for Him

It’s my favorite time of year, when the air is crisp, the leaves are gorgeous, my sweaters seem snugglier, and hot cocoa is never more than a whistling tea kettle away.

It’s also the time of year when I feel myself yearning more than usual. Wishing for someone to snuggle on the couch and watch football with, someone whose hand fits perfectly with mine.

Some women have a very specific list of what their ideal man must be: salary in six figures {or at least high five figures}, nice car, certain height, certain hair color, etc. I admit, I do have a list, but who he is to me is much more than what he earns or drives.

He’s taller than me and likes to laugh. He works hard for his money and wouldn’t mind that I’m a goof. He’d like my cooking and wouldn’t mind fixing things for me — hammering a nail, changing a lightbulb, working with his hands…

He’d hold the door for me and his kisses would make my knees weak. He’d slow dance with me and hold my hand when we’d go walking. My birthday could be as simple as a list of reasons why he loves me, or as romantic as a room full of candles and soft jazz.

He’d look at me like I’m the only woman in the room and his arms would feel just right around me {hugging me from behind would be a bonus}. He’d call me baby and want to know how my day went. He’d like snuggling on the couch together watching movies and he’d playfully pull me back into bed if I got up too early.

He’s the one I’d grow old with, sit on a porch swing with, and laugh over the same old stories with.

I’ve seen glimpses of him in some of the guys I’ve known and dated, and many times I’ve wished I could take all of their best features and make the perfect guy. I’d combine Eric’s gorgeous body, Winston’s bedroom skills, Charles’ tenderness and amazing kisses, the intelligence and sense of humor of Ace {a very good friend of mine}, Ben’s strong arms that felt so right wrapped around me, and of course Sonny’s sweetness and beautiful heart.

Who knows, maybe I’ve already met him or seen him. Or maybe he knows someone I know. The romantic in me will keep looking.

The Catch

I recently read He’s Just Not That Into You at the suggestion of one of my friends. Before I was even halfway through it, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the book and some of my unsuccessful relationships/dates. What resonated with me most was that if a guy really wants to get in touch with me, he will. How many times have I accepted the excuses of how busy he was, or he was out of town, or he lost his phone, or he had poor reception? I pretty much stopped chasing people around when I saw the movie version of this book a couple of years ago, but reading the words in black and white really clinched it.

My friends have told me over and over that I’m a catch, that I’m just meeting the wrong guys {who clearly don’t deserve me}, and to have faith that there’s someone out there for me. It’s discouraging to get my hopes up over and over, only to realize I’ve been kidding myself. I’ve met guys who just didn’t find me worth their time, and I’ve met guys who just wanted a piece of ass. I’ve tried to give my heart to guys who tossed it aside like a crumpled piece of paper.

I think my problem is that I’m too much of a romantic. I listen to love songs and imagine that maybe someone might think of me when he hears them. I’ve read so many romance novels and watched so many romantic movies, where the guy realizes he loves the girl and comes through in the end, defying whatever odds — crowded airport, boat leaving the dock, impending wedding, etc — to get his girl. I WANT TO BE THAT GIRL!!! I want to be the girl the guy can’t be without, the one he will go through hell trying to win, the girl worth fighting for.

Am I being unrealistic? Do I need to lower my expectations? Or do I stand my ground and say that I do deserve that and that I am worth fighting for? I have to hold out hope {such a dangerous little word} that my other half is out there, looking for me, feeling like he’d be the luckiest guy in the world if he had me.

One can only hope...

One can only hope…