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Leaving  is not enough; you must stay gone. train your heart like a dog, change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size, a bathtub full of tea, a heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past…you had to have him, and you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses..Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge, and you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand, heart like a four-poster bed, heart like a canvas, heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street…

– Frida Kahlo 

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I’m slowly navigating the realities of my single life.

Single.

It’s a word that rolls around my tongue like a the sting of lemon juice…bitter, yet familiar. When I first moved out of the home I shared with the Peoducer, I felt strong, proud and a little empowered. Then I didn’t.

Grief is a powerful force that one can run from, but you can’t hide. Grief will always find you in a bizarre game of emotional cat and mouse. You simply have to go through the process. One day at a time.

There have been tears. There has been so much heart break, denial and exhaustion. Above all, there has been deep sadness. I have grieved for a love lost. A man I loved fully and deeply. I have grieved for the life I hoped to build with him and loss of hope.

Damn,  I’ve felt it. I’ve worked  10 hour days and still felt it. I’ve been to gigs, to film festivals, to dinners and black tie events and still felt it. I flew to Sydney thanks to the generosity of an amazing girl friend who lives there and drank cocktails, walked 30 km in two days, and stood before magnificent Frida Kahlo paintings…and still I felt it. Oh, I have cursed my foolish poetic heart for feeling things so damn deeply. For daring to love someone when all indicators pointed to an almighty train wreck.

I have missed him in the oddest of moments and in more obvious times. He was in the building where I work perhaps half way through this ordeal. He told me with teary eyes that he missed my kids, my dog and he really (really) missed my car. My car?! I don’t even have a great car! He missed it all, the pieces of my life, and yet he never said he missed me. Not once.

He didn’t remember my birthday, or my son’s birthday, but in the same week he reached out to discuss cutting off Netflix and money.

These things in isolation didn’t surprise. I’ve known him after all. Was I expecting gentleness?  Not really. Was I thinking he would ever verbalize that I meant something and losing me was tough? No.

Yet it still hurts. No one wants to believe we are just a blip on the radar of another life shared. And share it I did with both feet in. Surely I made a mark on that heart, not just his bedpost? Surely he grieved too and missed me? Perhaps not. He’s already moved on to someone else.  It didn’t take long.

There were sounds in my head, little voices whispering. That I should go and this should end, Oh and I found myself listening

‘Cos I dont know who I am, who I am without you…all I know is that I should 

– Missy Higgans (Where I stood) 

Weeks after I moved to my new life, I was asked out by someone. It was unexpected.   It’s hard to say if I was ready for such a thing to happen. I suspect not, but this quiet American had such a gentleness about him that I felt safe enough to at least join him for coffee.

Who could have known that a superhero might come flying into my life just like that? Captain America, as I have dubbed him, arrived like a bolt from the universe, squarely reminding me of what I felt starved of for the longest time. All the things I had sadly forgotten that I was deserving of, and that most people consider normal behaviours in relationships.

He opens doors -in restaurants and to his car. He insists on paying for dinner. He’s not interested in splitting the bill. He gently held my hand to walk me to my car. He walks beside me…yes, beside me…not 20 paces ahead as if he can’t be seen with me in public, or like I’m not worthy to stand in his space. He placed his hand on the small of my back to gently guide me through a crowd instead of running off to get the best view or the best seat without a second glance back.

He has a quiet disposition and a lovely laugh that puts others at ease.  My name sounds better rolling off his tongue. He is a gentleman in every sense. Respectful, gentle yet a cheeky glimmer in his ice blue eyes. Subtly confident with a healthy self esteem. I knew straight away he was no man-child.

It seemed odd to me that he listened attentively and asked many questions, genuinely interested in my life, my dreams, my hopes, the ebbs and flows of who I am and how I came to be me. I’m intrigued by his life, his passion for both Australia and America.

Captain America is a contradiction in some ways. A suit wearing senior executive who plays ice hockey and holds left wing political views. He talks with sadness at the drastic state of American politics, yet he’s apathetic about voting. He’s a dedicated father, kind, compassionate and generous with his laughter, and yet sadly, extremely time poor.

I navigated time with the Producer even though I lived with him, and I’m simply not able to do it again. It felt as if The producer put everything before me – gaming, reading, the dog, the laptop, iPad, his very secretive conversations on his phone with people I never knew and was never likely to know.

When the good Captain kissed me, it was a bit of a game changer. Something  inside of me relaxed. A toe curling,  hairs on the back of my neck type of kiss that was slow, passionate and lingering. I hadn’t been kissed like that in a very long time.  Given freely like he had all the time in the world, and had no hang ups about what it might mean.  It’s hard to explain it but it felt safe.

And yet, although tempted, I didn’t go there. I never allowed it to get intimate. My integrity and self respect wouldn’t allow it.

The timing isn’t right. I’m a believer in letting my heart heal before I can jump ahead. For his part, the good Captain has his child almost full time and working for a US firm means lots of calls into the wee hours of the Australian night. He has carved out a life that doesn’t have room for another human. I suspect he’s done so to guard himself against getting hurt after his marriage ended. Who can blame him. He had trusted and been betrayed and beneath his superhero costume was a dinted heart. He told me he hadn’t thought he’d meet someone like me, that made him want to date. He certainly hasn’t been prepared to feel for someone,  but I need someone who has room in their life for me.

I like him and I’m grateful I’ve met him. It’s incredible to be reminded of all the things I value in a relationship. So I’ve asked him to remain friends. Should he find a way to make room in his life, I might gladly step in but I doubt he can right now.  I guess time will be the litmus test on that one.

What I know is, I’m not interested in casual. I want and deserve more than that. I’m just in a more evolved phase of my life than when I started dating after my marriage to the Taurus ended.

I hadn’t had sex with the producer for months (a lot of months) prior to leaving. I was more than willing but he simply didn’t hold any desire for me. He rejected my advances so many times…and it was a mind fuck. As a woman that’s the most unholy of emotional rejections.  Casual sex is easy for him. Not so much true emotional intimacy.

Yet I’m in no rush to jump in the sack with just anyone. I’m quite happy to wait for the real deal. And in truth the Producer almost robbed me of my inner goddess and my self esteem. Almost. Not quite. I never dreamed a man could do that to me. So I’m sewing the peices of me back together. No mean feat since I’m so crap at crafting. Let’s be straight. I am not a super model. Nor do I care, since he isn’t either. He has many flaws just as I do.

Yet he once told me sex with me was the best he’d ever had. I actually believe that was true. The sex at first was great. And then it simply disappeared, and left me feeling unwanted and undesirable. To hell with that. I’ll never settle for being treated less than again.

Captain America has reminded me that good men exist in the world. The universe threw him in my path for a reason. I’m ready for something mind bowing. I am deserving of an equal love, where my passions are equally met, where my time is a valued commodity shared with someone not afraid to tell me they love me and they miss me. An optimistic beautiful soul who is generous of spirit and knows my worth.

Stayed tuned. He’s out there somewhere.