Captain Blue Steel
I met Captain Blue Steel in New Brunswick last Sunday. If I were to tell you that he wasn't what I expected when I met him, that would be a grave understatement.
Let me back-up the bus here. I was in New Brunswick for work. We were putting on an event and Captain Blue Steel was my point of contact in the planning process.
I pictured him to be a bearded version of the Pillsbury dough-boy in army-fatigues. A pudgy, hairy, elderly man with a cozy desk job.
We had spoken over the phone every week for about a month and half leading up to the event. He had a warm booming voice, and he was chatty and informative. Sometimes he expanded on his points so much that I thought "Man, this guy must be old." Older people seem to enjoy over-informing and going off on anecdotal tangents. (I realize now that - unbeknownst to me - he may have been trying to keep me on the phone longer since he later told me he liked the sound of my voice.)
We had arranged to meet in the lobby of the hotel the day before the event to check out the venue. My managers were late, as they always seemed to be, so I waited.
As I wandered around, I saw a man sitting in the lobby. I'd noticed him earlier for two reasons:
1 - He did not fit the surroundings at all. The lobby was done all in cream, and earthy tones. Everything was muted, even the people who were there somehow blended in. But this man stood out. He had on a really sharp outfit; black dress pants, black dress shirt with the top button undone, maroon blazer, and stylish black leather shoes. He had a very Lucifer Morningstar look about him, both in his style, and his engulfing energy that drew me in.
2 - The man was attractive in a striking way. He was a Silver Fox. Salt and pepper hair, with piercing blue eyes and ridiculously long and thick lashes. (Maybe it's Maybeline? Nope, born with it.)
I would say that he stopped me in my tracks but I made a point not to stop because I didn't want to stare. I was pretty sure he was doing the same thing. I can usually tell when a man is looking at me but trying not to look at me, and he was trying really hard to look while not looking.
As I wandered around the lobby, I went up to a pudgy-bearded man who looked somewhat like the Pillsbury dough-boy I had been imagining. He didn't have on the army fatigues, but I was certain that he must be who I was looking for.
"Excuse me, are you Captain Blue Steel?"
He looked really confused. "Nooo...."
My managers finally came down, and at that point, the Silver Fox got off the phone and approached us.
Sweet mother of God - the Silver Fox was Captain Blue Steel.
He introduced himself and there were handshakes all around. He was driving us to the venue, but he'd left his car keys in his room so excused himself to get them.
As he stepped into the elevator, I heard a voice in my head yell (and I mean LOUD) "Go in there after him!" (I really don't know where that came from.)
The air was electric. But it was obviously too early to call attention to the ahem, naked elephant in the room.
My brain barked a command at me in that moment: "Find a swift and creative manner of informing him that you have no dinner plans because you have - at most - five minutes before you need to re-join Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber in the lobby, at which point all hope may be lost."
So I said: "I have a dinner date with a lobster." (Smooth Jasmin, very smooth.)
I continued "I figured while I'm in the Maritimes, I better get my fill of seafood. There's a place across the street from the hotel that's supposed to be good."
He answered "Oh yeah? I've never been there."
"But I'm flying solo, don't want to eat with the bosses, you know?"
Oh mama, there is a God, and he has blue eyes and ridiculously long lashes for a man.
"Yeah I understand. Well then let me join you."
Don't worry, unlike my lobster comment, I managed not to say that out loud, and instead responded "Sure."
When there's a REASON: They are there for a moment in time; to give us something specific - an insight, an experience, a feeling, an awareness or all of the above. Usually when people are in our lives for a reason, it comes quick and goes out just as fast. Perhaps we're going through something, and we need temporary help or support, and that person facilitates the experience for us. Or we've asked the Universe a question (either directly or indirectly) and this person shows up to provide the answer. But once we've crossed the chasm to the other side of whatever we're going through, they're gone.
When it's a SEASON: They're with us for a period of time. As we're learning and growing in some way, or while we're at a certain point in our lives: at a particular job, or in a particular relationship. It usually lasts a while and then somehow, when it's run its course, it's very done. It often feels a bit jarring when they leave because often they were an integral part of a certain experience, and it's likely that we saw them often; that they were very much a part of our lives. But once it's over, it's over and we're left off-kilter because of the empty space they've left behind.
And finally...LIFETIME: And these are rare, and few and far between. People who are there with us, from beginning to end. Wow, that doesn't happen often. Because the truth is that everyone has their own path to walk, and the idea that there is someone else who will walk the exact same road as us for our entire lives is...well...not impossible, but definitely unlikely. Because life is change, but growth is optional. The chances that people will grow in the same way at the same rate is incredibly unlikely. Again, it can happen, and relationships can weather the growth and change storms, but it takes committed people to go through that together, and a lot of people just aren't that committed. It is what it is.
The thing is, you can never tell when you meet someone if they are reason, season, or lifetime people.
There were so many times I was SURE - beyond any doubt - that a particular friend would be my friend forever only to have it turn out not to be the case. I was engaged at one point in my life for goodness sakes - I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with this man, who (thank God) it turns out I wasn't meant to.
And there are other people I never thought would stay, never would have thought would become as significant as they did.
We don't know what any experience is going to be at the outset. Anyone who says otherwise is at best, delusional, and at worst, full of shit.
The only thing which tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about what people are meant to be to us is TIME. If we're unsure, we just need to let a little time go by.
Time always has answers for us. Always.
TANGENT: I would like to state for the record that I want to bring the army to all my events. Usually I'm lifting, carrying, and pushing something from the time the event starts until the time it's over. And, by the time it's over, I'm a hot mess and my hair is definitely ruined. This time, all I had to do was say the word and a strapping young lad in fatigues was lifting, carrying, and pushing for me. My hair was totally intact all through the event; I could get used to this.
Captain Blue Steel drove us back to the hotel and before I got out he said "Do you need to pick anything up?" (Code for "Please find a reason not to leave my side.")
"Oh yeah...I do, can you give me 5 minutes?" (Code for "There is no way I'm leaving your side. But let's make it look as though I'm leaving you for the sake of the Tweedles.")
And then we went for a long drive in the rain, and talked about our lives; the laundry list of where we'd been and what we'd done. At least I did. After I finished my list, he was somehow reluctant to share his and I got less than the Coles notes. I wish I had let him talk first.
At one point we finally found a Starbucks and sat down for coffee.
If I can be honest? When we first started talking, I thought he was nice, but perhaps lacking depth. There was a lot of bravado. Everything was big. The hand gestures, the voice, the way he sat in his chair. He was trying very hard to take up space. I was trying to make up my mind about him and felt as though perhaps my initial positive impression had been wrong. At one point I even thought "Gah...what did I do agreeing to have dinner with this man?! It's going to be a whole night of pointless stories and small talk and that's going to be sooo exhausting."
TANGENT: This is why getting me to leave the house is often quite a challenge - because if it involves fake smiling and small talk, then I'm probably going to say no. I would rather stay home in my pajamas, with snacks and a book. And since the world has an unfortunate abundance of fake smiling and small talk, I'm somewhat of a hermit. (Alright, alright. I'm also an introvert; I know you don't believe me right now, but I am. I like being by myself in my cozy, clean - read OCD sparkling because I vacuum every time the carpet has footprints on it - home. Fake smiling and small talk aside, I'm always looking for a good excuse not to go out because frankly, people are exhausting and the world is too messy.)
But little by little, the real Captain Blue Steel started to emerge, because it turns out that the show I had been privy to was exactly that - just a show.
May I have your attention, please?
Will the real Captain Blue Steel please stand up
I repeat, will the real Captain Blue Steel please stand up?
There was an undeniable attraction and chemistry floating around us like a cloud of fairy dust that had engulfed us in it's shimmering and heady embrace.
(I know, right?)
Somewhere, in this glowing haze of bliss and excitement, a tiny voice in my head did manage to pop through and say "Umm, hi. Sorry to intrude but, uh, you should probably ask him if he's with someone. Because let's be honest, he's pretty fly for a white guy in any city - but in a podunk like this, he's definitely the best thing for miles and there's no way that the local girls haven't been talking about him around the water cooler, trying to see which one of them could snatch him up."
Sometimes, I want to stab my inner Jiminy Cricket. In the eye. With a fork.
So I asked the question.
And I got the answer I thought I was going to get.
Girlfriend. Two years.
Not living together (though in hindsight, I'm uncertain whether or not this was true), and at a (strange/perplexing?) crossroads of "Do we move in together or break-up?"
WTF?! I totally don't get this. I mean not even a little bit.
TANGENT: A good friend of mine was at the same point a few years ago. He met a girl, and for the first year, they were in an open relationship. Listen ladies - if a man who starts dating you doesn't think you're all that and a bag of chips from day one, and he isn't working his ass off to lock you down, then he's not that into you. MOVE ON. And gentlemen, if you're not inspired to work your ass off to lock her down, then you're not that into her. LET HER GO.
The second year, he finally committed to her.
Then the third year, he said "If we don't move in together, then we need to break-up. And I mean she's a good person. And I'm not ready to break-up with her. So I don't know, I don't know, I don't know."
TRUTH BOMB: We never "don't know" we're just avoiding facing the truth. No other way to slice it folks.
So...that third year, he moved in with her. And then I spent years three and four listening to him complaining about all the things she wasn't and was unlikely to ever be, rationalizing all the reasons that he probably should stay with her (none of which included the phrase: "She's an amazing woman and I cannot imagine my life without her").
The fourth year he was miserable. He constantly complained of feeling lonely. I saw him a lot that year. (I can always tell how his relationship with the girlfriend-du-jours is going based on how much I see him.)
Finally, somewhere towards the end of the fourth year, before the beginning of the fifth, he finally broke up with her.
In hindsight, he regretted the whole thing.
He more or less admitted that he moved in with her because he didn't have the balls to break-up with her. Holy cow! What??! He spent a total of four years with a person he knew from day one wasn't the woman who set his heart on fire. FOUR YEARS. Baffling. Completely baffling.
My relationships are short because I do not suffer fools. Because I can usually tell within three months if there is true potential for longevity with someone. And if there isn't, why on earth would I stay? I truly enjoy my own company - I LIKE MY SPACE AND I LIKE BEING ALONE - and if someone is going to be a part of my life, they have to be equal to or better than the time I spend with myself.
Let us never, EVER settle.Life is too short not to take chances. But it's far too long to spend it with the wrong person.
Why would we ever share ourselves and our lives with someone who doesn't set our hearts on fire?
If we can't have that special someone walking the path with us, who, when we look across the room and our eyes meet, we just know that we're in it together...well then what's the point?
I've tried to fool myself many times in moments of loneliness into being with someone that I don't feel that fire with. Saying to myself"This is good enough," telling myself that striving for more is futile because it seems so unattainable.
But then when I'm with that person, and I look across the room at him...our eyes don't meet. Somehow that mutual eye contact is based on an energy that is unnameable, an energy that causes both of us to look up and at each other at the same time. So when I look up at him, and he's not looking at me because we don't have that between us, well it's like a pebble rattling around in a tin cup - a hollow clanging, serving only to emphasize the emptiness.
I have felt lonelier when I was with the wrong man then when I was on my own.
It is better to be on our own than to be badly accompanied.
And if I can add an asterisk to that statement - it's not necessarily badly accompanied, because sometimes, it isn't actually BAD - but it's just not enough.
How about: better to be on our own than inadequately accompanied?
TANGENT: I will not mess with another woman's man. I made that mistake once in my young and foolish twenties and vowed never to do it again for five reasons:
- Girl Code
- It's totally bad juju yo.
- If there's a piece of cake in the fridge at work with someone's name on it, we don't touch the cake. I know there are people who would ignore the name tag, and eat the cake anyway, but I am not that person. My name's not on the cake? Then no cake for me. And it doesn't matter how long it's been since I've eaten cake, or how blue the cake's eyes are.
- I don't do halvesies. I deserve a man who will be all in with me, and only me - I give 100%, I expect the same in return. It's only fair.
|What I wanted to do but didn't.|
So I said to him "You know what, it's all good. We've admitted that there's an attraction, so let's just let it be that, and have a fun and flirty evening, and nothing more."
He was totally game. (Isn't it wonderful how simply calling attention to the truth of a situation can be so freeing? When we don't need to pretend anymore, we then have the space and the energy to be authentic. And real is always more fun than fake.)
Before we'd even ordered dinner, he asked me an interesting question.
"What was your last genuinely happy moment?"
That was unexpected. (See? The bravado was just a show.) But it didn't take me long to come up with an answer.
"The day I realized my worthiness. That I deserved to be loved, and cared for and treated with respect. My dad was physically and verbally abusive until I was 23, and it's taken me a lifetime to realize that I didn't deserve any of that."
A few tears rolled down my cheeks. And that's when he came to sit beside me on the bench (we were in a booth) and used the maroon napkin to dab at my face.
The conversation continued but what I realize in hindsight is that I never got to ask him the same question.
If I could, I would go back to that exact moment and ask him "What was your last genuinely happy moment, Captain Blue Steel?"
The truth is that we ask others the questions which are buzzing in our own minds. I think he asked me that question because he was asking himself that question. And I wish I had asked, wish I had heard his answer and possibly been able to offer some of the same comfort he gave me. Because no one who asks themselves when the last time was that they were happy, is actually happy. Happy people don't question their happiness.
Here's the truth about what happened between us:
Physically, nothing. Emotionally, everything.
When I looked into those blue eyes of his, he let me in.
More often than not, when we look at people and try to make eye contact, they look away quickly, if they're even able to meet our gaze at all. People can't maintain eye contact because it makes them uncomfortable to be seen, and this is usually the case with people who have something to hide, or people who are deeply uncomfortable with some part of themselve. Because we cannot make that kind of eye contact with another person if we aren't comfortable with ourselves.
Some people will make eye contact, briefly, but there's nothing there. There's a kind of blankness, and when we look into their eyes it's almost like slamming into a wall. I don't know if it's a disconnection from depth (the hamster has fallen asleep at the wheel, but there is hope that he might awaken) or a complete lack of depth (there is no hamster, just a wheel surrounded by wood shavings).
Rare is the person who will make and maintain that kind of eye contact. Captain Blue Steel wasn't your average bird though.
I looked in his eyes and dove into the depths of his soul, and he dove right into mine. That's really what it felt like, a deep dive, like we were swimming together in a soulful pool of beingness and connection. There was so much there to see, in those blue eyes of his.
The biggest surprise to me has been discovering that a lot of men want those things. (Fine, some men who behave like douchebags are actually douchebags - no hamster, just the wheel and wood shavings.)
But for a lot of men, the bravado, the showmanship, the peacocking, it's all a desperate albeit confused way of trying to get what they're looking for but don't know how to ask because society doesn't teach them how to. They're supposed to be tough manly men, but they're humans, not machines, and all humans need to be seen, to be heard, to know that they matter. Men need love and tenderness as much as women do.
Captain Blue Steel had someone in his life. But there he was looking at me from a place of such deep longing, almost like a soul craving, that I started to wonder: Does she know him, does she see him?
I saw so much in the less than 24-hours that we were in each other's company, and I wanted to know, when she looks at him, does she see what I saw? The real him? No bullshit, no bravado. Just him.
Maybe more importantly: does he feel safe letting her see that? And if not, why not? And does she feel safe with him, letting him see the real her, and if not why not?
It is the responsibility of each person to work out their stuff and not carry it forward into another relationship. And if we're carrying our shit forward and making someone else suffer for it, then we have no business being in a relationship because we've got nothing to give.
Relationships are about reciprocity: he cannot give if she is unable to receive, she cannot receive if she is unable to give. Everything has to flow both ways. When the reciprocity is there then the relationship is magic because it's symbiotic. Without reciprocity, a relationship becomes parasitic, with one person giving too much and eventually dying emotionally because the other person has literally sucked the life out of them. It's like the relationship equivalent of a Death Eater.
Relationships require the active participation of both parties. We each need to create the safe space for the other person to be fully themselves, so that we can get to know one another, and build a relationship whose foundation is authenticity, trust, open communication, friendship and sharing. Without those things, what's the damn point?
Without all of the above, it's Groundhog Day: mechanical, meaningless, same, same. Is that really what we want for ourselves? Mediocrity?
TRUTH BOMB: We get whatever we're willing to put up with.
We get what we put up with, and we either live the life we create or the one we settle for. Each of those things are as easy or as difficult as we want them to be.
We must be the conscious creators of our own reality. We do have the ability to create the life of our dreams, if only we are willing to believe that we deserve it.
Ah, and so we come to the center of the shrubbery maze: SELF-WORTH.
(Uh-oh. Have you been caught with your pants down on this one? Yep, probably. But no worries, me too.)
When we believe we are deserving, we can make space in our lives for our wildest dreams, including our greatest loves. And when we don't believe we are - as long as we don't believe we are - there will never be enough space for the things or the love.
And then the problem isn't about anything that's happening on the outside, but what's happening or not happening on the inside.
We don't attract what we want, we attract who we are. The outside is the inside.
- Aaron Doughty
After a lifetime of trying to convince the men in my life that I have value, I've given up. Because of my upbringing and my father's abuse, I didn't think I was worth anything. Here's the truth: I wasn't trying to convince men, or the world around me of my value, I was trying to convince myself. So that's how every relationship I had played out. Me putting on this dog and pony show and TRY-ING really hard because I didn't think I was worthy.
I've stopped that now.
I've let go of the past.
I've forgiven my father, my mother, my brother.
If you run after your destiny, you won't have time to fight with your history.
- Reverend TD JakesThis year, I finally I fell in love with myself.
I saw myself, maybe for the first time ever.
I was made to feel as though I was broken in every possible area of my life for as long as I can remember: my appearance (you're fat, your butt sticks out, your hips are too big, your hair is ugly, your eyes are too small), my personality (if you can't get along with people, the problem is you, not them, because all those people can't be wrong), my intelligence and ability to accomplish my goals (you're smart but you're very lazy and you never stick to anything), my state of mind (you're crazy, you're not normal, there's something wrong with you), my creativity and self-expression (you don't know anything, keep your mouth shut).
Nothing was off limits because according to those around me, there was nothing about me that was worthy of being acknowledged, let alone loved.
That was the verbal abuse. The physical abuse was something else. And let's face it, neither of those things were conducive to having me feel like "Oh gee, I do deserve to be treated with love, care, trust, and respect."
I'm going to say something right now that's going to sound crazy: the abuse was a gift because it allowed me to become the woman I am today. I truly love and accept myself, and I wouldn't have become who I am without having gone through everything I've been through.
It was because of Captain Blue Steel that I realized something incredibly important. At one point during our 24-hours together, he asked "Is there anything you're not good at, anything you haven't done?"
Because I was told I was deficient in every area of my life, I've spent my life studying how to 'Life Hack' EVERYTHING.
I started when I was twelve; that's when I read my first self help book. I bought it for a quarter at the Salvation Army because I thought "Maybe in here I will find the answer to fixing all the ways in which I am broken."
Hahaha. So naive. But hey, I was twelve alright? (SPOILER ALERT - I did not. What I really needed was a book called "How to KNOW what you want" because GETTING what you want once you know WHAT you want is easy. It's figuring out the WHAT part that's often challenging.)
|The first self-help book I ever read.|
Oh I know what you're thinking right now, you're thinking "Gee, I bet she was really popular at recess." You would be wrong in that assumption. It turns out that people don't really like to be told how to live their lives at any age, least of all kids playing marbles in the school yard.
The kids used to snatch the books out of my hands (because although that book was the first, it was not the last; I have read many books in my life in an attempt to find THE answer) and they would rip-off the grocery store paper which I had used to cover them in the hopes that nobody would see what I was reading. (Seriously, I was as secretive about my self-help reading as the boys were about their perusals of nudie magazines.)
I've spent my life working really hard to be the best I can be in every single area of my life. Health (to understand the fuel my body needs), Fitness (to understand the movement my body requires), Spirituality (to understand both what sets my soul on fire and what brings it peace), Human Psychology (to understand my own humanity), Interpersonal Relationships (to understand the humanity of others).
(Please tell me how many other 15-year-olds you know who skipped school dances so that they could stay in the library and read "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie? Exactly.)
I kind of felt like Rocky Balboa. (Cue Gonna Fly Now by Bill Conti.) I was working so hard, but kept saying "Still not good enough, still not good enough, harder Jasmin, keep going Jasmin. More, more, more, not enough Jasmin, not enough." (Ok, so it wasn't entirely healthy. I may or may not have ended up on a balcony ledge at some point because I grew so hopeless about ever fixing myself enough to be considered worthy of love that I wasn't sure there was any reason to keep on living.)
But then at some point in the past six months, I finally stopped, and looked up at myself. I got a really good look at the woman I had become after a lifetime of trying to "fix" myself.
It was like...Wow.
"The work has paid off. Look at me. LOOK AT ME. Look at who I've become. Look at everything I've accomplished, spurned on by the haters."
The work always pays off my lovelies.
Only when we do the work to chisel away the layers covering our true selves, will we ever reveal who we really are. The work is worth it, because at our core, we are beauty, we are love, we are divinity itself. We all are.
You know what's funny? When we fall in love with ourselves, nothing else matters very much. My life isn't perfect and neither am I; there are still things I want to do, and ways in which I want to learn and grow. But I'm happy with my life just as it is, because I'm happy with myself just as I am.
RECENT SIGNS OF HAPPINESS: I was at the grocery store yesterday morning and as I walked down the aisles picking out my produce, a song by U2 came on and I started singing. Yep, just walking down the aisles of the grocery store, singing along and smiling beatifically at the people I passed.
I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls, these city walls
Only to be with you, only to be with you
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for...
While it's true that I haven't, I know that I will.
He caught my attention in a way that it hasn't been caught in a very long time. In a vanilla world, finding someone who really stands out is rare. But all of me noticed all of him the moment our eyes met in that hotel lobby.
He gave me butterflies in my stomach and the hot sweats just by looking at me. And I wanted to keep looking at him; his eyes, his smile. I wanted to be near him, to smell him, to take in his energy, even with nothing happening.
Ok, I will admit that I wanted him rather desperately. I'm not a paragon of virtue; I had many feelings I would have liked to have acted on. Feelings are feelings, we cannot argue with them, they're just there. And what I felt was that I would have liked very much for us to lock ourselves away and forget that the world existed for at least three days...and then see what happens after that, once we surfaced for air.
At some point before we parted ways, he said to me: "You're the best I never had."
It is possible to have intimacy without sex. That's true intimacy, because it can be easy to sleep with someone and mistake that for intimacy. But physical closeness can never replace closeness of the heart. Physical closeness can be the cherry on the Sunday of heart closeness, but it can't be the Sunday.
We went to a diner that served lobster rolls. I know because I Googled since I was very set on eating as much lobster as possible while in the Maritimes. (Pretty much the only things I ate during my time in New Brunswick were lobster and french fries. Very well-balanced.)
While we waited for the food to arrive, I leaned across the table, took his face in my hands and looked into his eyes.
"I want you to listen to me and really take this in because I don't know if anyone has told you this before, and I don't know if anyone is going to tell you any of these things after I go.
You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be seen. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to have connection and intimacy in your life. You deserve all the good things. Always remember that. No matter what happens. You deserve everything that your heart desires."
He drank it in. His walls were all gone in that moment, and there was a man in front of me who was open, vulnerable, and more naked than he would have been had we taken our clothes off. I felt in that moment as though my words and my touch were drops of water being soaked into the parched earth of his heart.
Sometimes we meet people to show us what's possible. Even if those people aren't meant to stay in our lives, it doesn't mean that there was no value in the experience.
I hadn't felt butterflies in so long. Captain Blue Steel made me realize what wasn't there with the man from the plane; namely the sparks. Now don't get me wrong, the man from the plane and I definitely had chemistry, but that instant attraction wasn't there, and neither was the soul-diving or the heart-racing.
I needed to remember that this is out there. I needed to know that there's a man out there who will see all that I am, be able to recognize it, and cherish it.
It takes a lot to turn my head - and that goes beyond appearance - yes that's part of it, but it's more than that - it's charisma and magnetism. Electricity. Something that is so lovely, and special, and rare that words fail to accurately describe it. Captain Blue Steel had it. (The real him did anyhow, not the showman version of him.)
Perhaps the only way to do justice to the experience between him and I is to say: this is the reason we seek love, for these moments of unison. It wasn't a unison of bodies, but for that small moment in time, it was a unison of hearts. And that was - is - a beautiful thing. It's an inspiring and hopeful thing. I have certainly been changed for the better, and uplifted for it, and I hope he has too.
And isn't that experience - that of being seen and feeling connected and unified with another - the very reason we are alive? The reason we look for love, and hope for it, and write songs about it, and all the rest of it? Hallmark and De Beers have built their business models on selling us the hope of that kind of connection.
That connection is the stuff that human dreams are made of. And we had it. I got a slice of that magic. And from what I gather, so did he. And that's a beautiful thing.
When the Universe gives us a gift, sometime we need to just take it, enjoy it, revel in it for that moment, and then let it go. And letting go is the hardest thing to do, especially of something that feels so good. But when we know that ultimately it's not right for some reason, that's what we have to do.
And that's one of the hardest lessons: not to make more of something than it is - good and bad.
More than anything, I want to tell him that I would welcome with elation, the opportunity to spend time with him, to get to know him, to do things with him. I know it sounds silly, but it's the little things like doing groceries that I imagine, when I imagine having a man in my life. Because the ordinary becomes extraordinary with the right person. When I dream about the man I'm going to share my life with, it's the little things I think about, and the ways in which we will navigate the mundane day-to-day together.
But I have no right to mess with his life or anyone else's. He has to make his own decisions, come to his own conclusions, because at the end of the day, he has to live with the life that he chooses. We all do. We are all responsible for ourselves, and the decisions we make about the course of our lives. So we better be sure as hell that our decisions are about us - what we want for ourselves - and not what others want or expect from us because we are the ones who will need to live with those choices. No one else can ever be held responsible for our choices.
Which is why we cannot attempt to influence other people's decisions - because we can't and shouldn't be responsible for anyone else's life. We decide about us, they decide about them. That's the only way it can be.
The time we spent together was a reminder of the possibilities that are out there. And that was a beautiful gift.
Captain Blue Steel had said to me "You're the most stunningly beautiful woman I've ever seen, and I would be proud to walk into any room with you on my arm." Now that's a lovely fantasy, but likely just that, a fantasy because it seems unlikely that we will ever be walking into any rooms together.
However, having gotten a taste of the magic, all I wanted was to get it back. The magic is rare. But it is out there.
Captain Blue Steel gave me advice on sifting through profiles online (listen, you know a man isn't going to come after you when he's giving you advice on how to find another man right?) He said "No shirtless pics, no car pics." I already had both of those filters in place, but I appreciated the kind intention with which the advice was given.
My second day online I got a message from a guy I'd gone out with four years ago. We went out a few times, and although he was really nice, there had been no chemistry on my end. (Probably because he was nice AND available which is not usually my type. Ha!)
He said hello. I said hello back. And then he sent me this message:
Just so you know, you're still the most intriguing, intelligent, kind, sweet and beautiful woman I've ever met. Whatever gentleman catches your eye is a lucky man and I hope he understands what he has.
I told him that he had made my night, and then I wished him well and signed off.
And then...I paused. And then I signed on again and I suggested we have coffee or dinner, no expectations, just to see.
My inner Jiminy Cricket had redeemed himself.
Because a man who takes the time to wish me well, even when, especially when, he thinks he won't benefit from it in any way, well that man deserved a second chance. And if I can be honest, I'm ready for things to be easy. I'm done with complicated. Why should I have to fight so damn hard to get a few crumbs of time and validation from a man? I'm so tired of it, so over it. All my life, I've worked really, really hard to extract crumbs from the men I've dated. But I'm now at the point where, if you make me feel as though I'm going to have to work hard for your time and attention...then thank you, next.
TANGENT: What exactly is it about a woman like me that suggests I need to settle? Listen, if I looked like Quasimodo's twin sister and had the intellectual capacity of a bag of rocks, then maybe. (And let's be honest, we've all seen at least one woman like that who still somehow ended up with a fabulous guy because she wouldn't settle for anything less. Yes, we get whatever we settle for.) But a woman like me, settle? Nah.
Here was his response:
I'm over the moon to get to see you again. On a side note, I love getting messages from you because not only am I hearing from you, but I also get to see your picture come up. My God...I don't know anyone who combines beauty, elegance, and raw sex appeal like you do. Not being crass, just telling it like it is.
I was talking to my friend about you and he asked me to describe what you look like. I said these exact words "She's so classically beautiful she stops traffic. You know those old 1940's movies where the starlet comes down the stairs in an incredible gown that makes all the men wearing tuxedos look up at her and gasp? That's her." That's how I see you. You're my lady at the top of the stairs.
And you'll have to tell me when I see you how in the world the men you give chances to mess things up all the time. I don't understand. Like, what is wrong with them? Your looks alone should attract every man on the planet, gay or straight, even though your looks aren't even in your top five things that make you amazing. And that's saying something because you make my heart skip a beat.
Also, prepare for me to try harder not to let you escape my life this time, regardless of the role you play in it.
Yeah. That guy? He definitely deserved a second chance. Because I need that kind of man in my life. Men are usually so scared to reveal themselves; to be open, honest, and vulnerable, to show how interested they are, to come after what they want. I'm ready to be with someone who can give all of those things easily and freely because I give all of those things easily and freely.
I told him I wanted to make sure there were no expectations. I hate to disappoint anyone, and expectations can do that if they're not checked. One of my favourite Tony Robbins quotes is based around the idea that the biggest cause of breakdowns in relationships is from a failure to manage expectations. (Although that was a naive comment on my part because a man who tells a woman that she's his fantasy, well that man doesn't want to be her buddy.)
I don't want any promises. I want to spend time talking to you. I want to solidify a friendship with someone I already know is amazing. If nothing happens, I still want your friendship and I want you in my life. That's real.
So we went out.
The moment I laid eyes on him, it was like almost like a punch in the gut because I was surprised at the complete and utter lack of attraction I felt. So underwhelming it was almost overwhelming.
Don't get me wrong, he's obviously a very nice guy with a good heart. He seemed a lot happier, and at a better place in his life than he had been four years ago. (Lord knows I was.)
But every single thing he did that evening ensured that he was going to stay in the friend zone. Despite the lack of chemistry, I was still willing to give him a chance. I've spent time with guys where, after a certain period of time, because they treated me so well, I suddenly looked up at them and saw them in a different light. That's how I ended up with my college boyfriend.
This guy though?
He didn’t open doors, didn't help me on with my coat, didn’t compliment me. The antithesis to Captain Blue Steel, who did all of those things.
(And I reciprocated like a lady where I could, i.e. when Captain Blue Steel opened the car door for me, I did the "lean" - I leaned across the front seat and opened his door from the inside. If a gentleman is going to be a gentleman, then a lady needs to be a lady.)
Guys - if you want a woman to look at you as a MAN (not as a FRIEND), and you want her to think about making you her man, then you need to act like a gentleman. You need to make her understand with your actions that you are noticing her as a woman. All of these cumulative little gestures plant the seeds of attraction, and even if she doesn't initially feel attracted to you, these little gestures that repeatedly say to her "I'm a male who is noticing you as a female," well those seeds are going to sprout something. If you don't make these little gestures, you're not going to be planting anything anywhere. (I promise I'm talking about gardening here.)
If you give me friend treatment, then I will think of you as a friend. And once you're in the friend zone, you're not getting out pal.
The most awkward and deciding factor of the evening came when the bill arrived. He had asked for one bill, but I pulled out my wallet anyhow. Now a real gentleman would never even give a lady that he's trying hard to impress (let alone his fantasy woman) the opportunity to get her wallet out, especially on a first date. A lady should always offer to pay for herself, because she never wants the man to feel taken for granted - that's just ugly. But if you're a gentleman, then you don't even let the wallet come out. (My friend - Mr. New York - and I have discussed this and we both agree on it. So this isn't simply coming from a woman's perspective, but from that of a gentleman as well. Because Mr. New York is definitely a gentleman.)
The waiter arrived at the table and handed the bill to this guy. The guy looked at me expectantly. I tried to hide my surprise, but then I pulled out my credit card.
The guy said "Oh I thought you had cash. If you want I could pay for it now and you can pay me back later."
Trying very hard to hide my inner cringe, I said "No that's fine."
He turned to the waiter "Can you split the bill?"
The waiter raised his eyebrows slightly and paused. (The waiter had been trying hard not to stare at me since we arrived, so I could almost hear what he was thinking "YOU are out with HER and you're going to let HER pay for her dinner? You unbelievable schmuck.")
He asked "In half?"
Guy said "Uh-huh."
Waiter glanced at me, then glanced back at the guy, then did the math and handed us each our bill.
(So much for "Lady at the top of the stairs, blah, blah, blah."
You talked a good game son, but...
Baby shut up
Stop talk talk talkin' that blah blah blah
Think you'll be gettin' this?
Nah nah nah...)
Alright, I can hear some of you "But Jasmin, you said no expectations. Why would you then turn around and expect him to pay for dinner?"
- I said "No expectations." I did not say I wasn't open to dating the guy when he first reached out to me. Because at that point, I was.
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. You want to be my man? Then you better act like it from day one.
You flew too close to the sun Icarus, and your wings fell off.flame out; verb - (figuratively) To fail, usually spectacularly.
The hilarious thing is that he had the nerve to say in one of his message to me "You'll have to tell me when I see you how in the world the men you give chances to, mess things up all the time."
Well my friend, there's your answer. (People in glass houses, you moron.)
And this is why I don't believe in second chances: if you weren't smart enough to get it right the first time, the odds are not in your favour the second.
I had given him a second chance because he had made me feel special with his words, but then when push came to shove, he made me feel rather ordinary with his actions, kind of like those busted-up panties I no longer own.
When I got home, I felt regret for the wasted time. If I hadn't gone out, I could have ordered a pizza, cracked open a bottle of wine, and spent the evening on my laptop writing, bra optional. #introvert
Stop talk talk talkin' that blah blah blah...
I had signed up for a cooking class with an Italian Chef, and I guess the day I went wasn't a busy one because I was the only one in the class.
We hit it off, so when the cooking lesson was over, he invited me to join him and some of his friends at a restaurant opening. It was my last night in San Diego and I thought "I can sleep when I get home" so I went.
We ended up talking late into the night. (No, nothing happened, although he would have liked it to.)
Of course it was a deep conversation. Small talk is NFJ (Not For Jasmin), so if you’re hanging around me, shit's gonna get real. And if it doesn’t, trust me when I say this, it’s not me, it’s you.
At one point, he said "I don't understand why a woman like you is single. What's wrong with the men in your city? Are they blind? Stupid? What?" (I appreciated that perspective since often, when men ask me why I'm single it's from the perspective of "There's gotta be something wrong with you.")
I shrugged my shoulders and said "I don't know what it is. I do know that in Ottawa, I feel invisible."
At that point, he took my face in his hands, looked deep into my eyes and said "You are not invisible. YOU. ARE. NOT. INVISIBLE. You could never be invisible."
It would be unfair to say that as of that moment, I suddenly saw myself in a new light. But I can say that that moment opened the doorway to the shift in perspective which is solidifying as we speak.
Other people open the doorway to seeing ourselves in a different light.
Other people also act as mirrors for who we are. The problem is, people can only reflect back to us what is within them. If it's not in them, they cannot reflect that particular thing.
Let's say I go into the world with an open heart. The people who also have open hearts can see my open heart (what is in them, they see in me). The people who do not see my open heart, do not have open hearts (it is not in them, so they cannot see it in me).
Let me break that down a little less esoterically; think of it like speaking a language.
Let's say I go into the world and speak pig-latin. The people who also speak pig-latin will understand me and answer back (what is in them, they see in me). The people who do not speak pig-latin won't understand, and therefore can't respond (it is not in them, so they cannot see it in me).
And this is why the people we surround ourselves with are important.
What if we speak speak pig-latin, but everyone around us speaks gibberish? What would that feel like? What would we think about ourselves then?
What if we open our hearts, but everyone around us had closed hearts? What would that feel like? What would we think about ourselves then?
I spent my life thinking I was broken, because I was surrounded by broken people. When I stepped away from those broken, people, I realized that I was whole, and that I had in fact never been broken. I had just been using the wrong people to act as mirrors for myself.
We cannot see who we truly are if we are looking in a funhouse mirror.
I would like to think that my brief cameo in Captain Blue Steel's life provided him with a new mirror through which to see himself. The same way that the Italian Chef opened the doorway for me, I would like to think I paid it forward with Captain Blue Steel by opening the doorway for him.
As I said, small talk is NFJ, so if I show up in your life, shit's gonna get real. If you're not ready to get real, the EXIT is located in the same place as the ENTRANCE. No judgment if you decide to walk out, it can get pretty intense up in here.
A year ago, at this time, I felt invisible because I couldn't see myself, or my worth.
Now, a year later, I see myself, and the world is starting to see me. Funny that.
Which just goes to show: it's never too late to become the promise of ourselves.
We kept taking pictures during those 24-hours, him and I. Not real ones, mental ones. We would look at each other, smile, and say "click." I have a lot of great pictures of him saved in the photo album of my heart.
By the time I got to my gate, he called me.
"Yeah, can you send me this work thing?"
My heart sank.
And then he proceeded to tell me this absolutely pointless story. (I think there was a pickle involved?)
What the hell...?
Oh. Someone who isn't used to having a safe space within which to share their feelings has a hard time doing so.
So I interrupted him. "Captain Blue Steel?"
"If you want to tell me that you're thinking about me, and that you miss me, you could just say that instead of telling me a story about pickles."
"Ok. I'm thinking about you and I miss you already."
"Well I'm thinking about you too, and I miss you already too."
And it was true - is true. I am still thinking about him. And I do miss him.
That feels almost crazy - ridiculous - for me to say. It was less than 24-hours. How is it even possible?
But then I remembered what one of my friends told me once, how it's not the amount of time we spend with someone that matters, it's the depth of the connection. And him and I...well it was kind of magical.
I know that I will never forget Captain Blue Steel. Sometimes years of sleepy sameness can go by and then something like this jolts us awake. And that kind of jolt - that kind of magic - well it marks us, so it's not going to disappear overnight, or ever for that matter.
The time we spent together was a gift from the Universe, if for no other reason than that this blog post exists. This piece of writing represents 22-hours of my life, and it has solidified in me the knowledge that this is what I must dedicate my life to. To writing, to communicating, to giving of myself authentically and sharing my heart fully and fearlessly.
And now I do have to let go though, of him and of this experience. It is not my business to fight for a place in anyone's life or heart if the place isn't there to be had. Anything which is truly ours will find its way back to us. And if it doesn't, it wasn't ours to begin with.