It was July Fourth and early enough that most people were still sleeping in their beds unless they’d decided to get up to stake out a spot at a local picnic ground for their family’s festivities, spreading out the blanket or assembling the portable barbecue. It was quiet. Even the cats that usually jump into my bed were nowhere to be seen and I didn’t go looking because that would’ve meant I’d have to fill their bowls and change their water, which I wasn’t ready to do, still drinking my coffee with its sweet taste of Half & Half and watching hummingbirds buzz the feeder on my patio. Tonight my daughter was leaving for Latin America. My condo would once again revert to single occupancy, not that I was broke up about it; we’d already said our good-byes following a European trip that brought us to Spain, Italy, and Hungary, spending if there is such a thing, too much quality time together. A few weeks back I realized that she reminded myself of someone I knew, and that someone was myself as a young person: obstinate and opinionated. But there was something else about this July Fourth: something about a confession that bubbled to the surface. Maybe it wasn’t a confession, more like a question that I needed to answer, clear the way for a new energy path or some such woo-woo that I was willing to allow in a world that needed help from wherever it came. I’d already responded to an online astrologer who’d predicted that I was embarking upon a “transit period” where many miraculous things were about to happen. I had walked seven miles a day with my daughter to righteously earn the role of tourist. Several days ago I scrubbed my couch cushions clean and allowed them to dry on the patio, full-sun. In Europe, people hung their clothes out on the line, the way my mother did back in the days growing up in the Bronx, pinning each shirt and moving the line forward with a screech of the pulley’s rusted wheels. I wanted to return to a more primordial, essential time. And what was that question? It had to do with love.
For the past several years I’d been online dating. I can chart that time through certain phases, like Picasso’s “Blue Period” or Joan Miró’s “surrealism,” except mine had more to do with data collection, not art. I met each date in a café, restaurant, or bowling alley; my initial impressions gathered from a “profile,” the online calling card offered to anyone who cared to look. I provided a fair summary of my likes and dislikes and what I was seeking, and pressed Send. What followed were several responses. But you see, I was healing a broken heart, and during those first several years, I was seeking a replacement—his replacement and I sought out a certain kind of man, and each time I met with someone, sized him up hoping in my fretful way, that he would “be the one.” He never was. How fair was I being to all those lovely men? Hopefully, I’ve changed. I have moved on in life and still continue to date. But I am puzzled. What is love and how will I ever be able to recognize it? I thought I had. Is it just about “chemistry” that sine qua non that we can’t spell out until we feel the heat? Should I be looking for fireworks?
My daughter calls from her room. She needs help packing.