I met Jake Kingston after being told he was a Ferrari-driving doctor with a hundred-acre ranch in the wine country. Not your typical blind date; and a good Valentine prospect? He was recently out of a failed relationship. One of many, as it turns out. In that regard, we were compatible.
Well-suited in other ways, too. We both liked opera, symphony, and theater; fine dining and fine wine. My wish-list for a mate included smart, successful, sensual—which Jake definitely was. And he wasn’t intimidated by a strong, self-assured woman. Unlike with wimpy business colleagues and whiny ex-lovers, with Jake I never had to defend my brass balls.
You bet, baby! As much brass as a university marching band. Because fluffy girly women get mowed down like tender spring grass in the path of a weed-whacker.
“No way was I going to do that shrink-y tell me about your childhood thing. I was all for keeping the past where it belonged: far back in the rear view mirror…”
The first month we saw each other regularly. Within three, it was exclusive. Commitment on his part? Or the default of convenience?
In the delirium of lust and potential new love, I wanted to know if he was the one. So I asked Allie B, an astrologer/psychic I had known for a couple of years, to crystal-ball our future.
Not long before I met Jake, Allie B had done her California woo-woo thing and said I was destined for the kind of love about which stories are written. “But,” she added, “not until you’re ready.” Which she defined as cleaning out the life-long accumulation of emo-crap she said I hauled into every relationship.
Emotional garbage? Me? Puh. She was wrong about that. But even if she might possibly be right—and she wasn’t—no way was I going to do that shrink-y tell me about your childhood thing. I was all for keeping the past where it belonged: far back in the rear view mirror, visible only with a halogen spotlight and telescope.
I was sure Allie B would confirm that Jake was my long-awaited storybook lover.
Wrong. “Heartache in an Armani suit,” she said. “His houses of love and relationships are as barren as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. You’ll have some laughs, see and be seen, catch up on doing-the-dirty … but don’t invest in rice futures because nobody’s ever going to stand outside a chapel pelting the two of you. However.” She paused dramatically. “You have come together to work out a sh*t-heavy karmic pact.”
Jake and I tooled around in his red Ferraris (he had two), went Tahitian island hopping and cured my coitus hiatus. If I squinted at our relationship sideways it was as mystical and magical as Bali Ha’i. And just as mythical. Because in truth we rarely planned things together; mostly he just told me what he was going to do and invited me to tag along. We never had mushy, late-night conversations; there were no whispered, romantic endearments—although he did tell me often that he really liked me.
In truth, the only Valentine intimacy we shared was the naked-between-the-sheets kind. That leaves a soul empty and aching for something more.
Fourteen months into it Jake broke my heart at about the same time my devoted four-legged companion of thirteen years departed for the Big Doghouse in the Sky. Add to that a big-oh birthday charging over the horizon like Tyrannosaurus Rex and the country in the throes of corporate downsizing. I was about to be set adrift in a sea of unemployment. “Young and cute” were far behind me—and I had just blown my last chance to find the love for which I yearned.
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For the first time in my life my brass balls imploded. I was an emotional, girly mess, staring down two emotions I could not remember ever feeling: terror … and grief.
Allie B was compassionate but firm: “Demons from the past have come to be soothed, chickie-poo. Time to take a look at what you’re hiding behind that armadillo-hide heart of yours. All your “don’t eff with me” toughness? It’s not strength; it’s fear of how vulnerable you really are—we all are. Time to peel back the layers of self-deception.”
So I went back to Julia, a therapist whose counsel I had previously sought. Over the next months on her couch I did the shrink-y tell me about your childhood thing. Because that’s where it all starts, isn’t it? Where the attitudes are congealed and an unseen path set before us? I discovered mine was paved with some fatal-to-relationships patterns:
- When it came to affections I was like an amateur poker player, arms protectively encircling my table stakes, all six senses weighing every imagined “tell” before I would risk a few chips.
- Always kept Mercury’s winged track shoes handy near the door so I could bail on my lover before he had a chance to bail on me;
- Instead of dealing with my emotions honestly I stuffed the painful ones in a vault where I believed they could not escape. Ha!
At the end of my work with Julia, I made two vows to myself:
- I would strive to love and respect myself; because if I did not, why should anyone else?
- I would never again deny my emotions, no matter how much they might hurt or how vulnerable they might make me feel.
Not long after I made those commitments Allie B called. “Jake is coming back into your life.”
Goosebumps prickled my scalp. I had felt, even as we said our last farewell, that we were not done.
“Not because he’s your storybook lover,” she continued. “Because he needs something from you—something to do with the karmic pact.”
I sat at Jake’s bedside for the last twenty days of his life. For the first time, but not the last, I loved with the most pure and powerful of loves. The kind I so yearned to receive. That’s what I did for Jake. What I did for myself.
Two years after his death Allie B called and said she’d been channeling Jake, who said he was sending someone to love me for the rest of my life. Love me the way I deserved to be loved.
That Saturday Jake’s daughter called from Vermont. Her best friend’s father, a British investment banker, was moving to San Francisco. She asked if she could give him my number.
Fourteen blissful Valentine’s Days later coitus hiatus is as forgotten as a Neil Diamond love song; and an empty soul that longed for something more belongs to a woman I no longer am.
Elaine Taylor is the author of Karma, Deception, and a Pair of Red Ferraris: A Memoir, as well as Final Betrayal and Final Punishment. A former IT headhunter and Contingent Workforce Management consultant, she served on the Board of Raphael House in San Francisco. Find her at her website, Karma Deception.
Photo by Gregory Jordan, CC