If It’s Not Love, Why Bother? 

Photo by Florian Pérennès on Unsplash

Our first date seemed as if we were off to a whirlwind beginning. We were kissing outside in the parking lot before we even walked into the Japanese restaurant. Even as I was kissing her, though, I knew we were doomed. I always notice that if I am talking to someone of the opposite sex and they’re approximately the right age, not married and breathing — I’m going to broach the subject of going out on a date. Inevitably, I will begin to contemplate the level of excitement I feel about the prospective match, and before long, it all just falls apart.

Sapiosexuality is a real thing, but it’s not as cut and dry or black and white as some would have you believe. It’s not at all as if I can not get sexually excited by someone who is as boring as a dentist’s brochure, it’s just that I can’t get myself to put any real effort into it. People pick up on these things, you know. In fact, in the case of the parking lot kisser, she called off the second date with me. I was convinced that she was able to read my mind. Or my poetry on Instagram.

No matter. A few months back, I followed the thread of one of these ill-advised relationships to its unpleasant conclusion and all it netted me was a few unmemorable nights of sex and another person walking around this planet who thinks I suck as a human being. So, I should look at this recent turn of events as a godsend of sorts. It saved me from a repeat performance and another person with a convoluted opinion of me. (Although, how convoluted it is, is definitely up for discussion.)

I mean, as far as I’m concerned, I am just a human being. I long for physical connection; for touch; for affection. Once that primary need is fulfilled, it’s only natural that I start asking myself the deeper questions. Ones like, “Do you really think you can make a go of it with someone who likes pink fedoras and owns every Nickelback album?”

These are valid concerns. There’s the question of optics, though.

A gentleman asks himself these questions before any clothes come off. I feel as though I lucked out in this last turn of events because something unexpected happened that put the brakes on it before I did. I’m not necessarily saying that it was a forgone conclusion that we would’ve slept together, but it wasn’t entirely unlikely, either. My karma and my reputation really needed this lucky break.

I woke up this morning with a mantra rolling around my noggin: if it’s not love, why bother?

If the thought of spending time with a particular person doesn’t send waves of dopamine running around my bloodstream; if the thought of touching my lips to theirs doesn’t send me into a state of giddy ecstasy; if I’m not at the point where I can’t stop thinking about them all day long, then I don’t think I’m going to be whipping out the ol’ Discover card at any Japanese restaurants any time soon. Or whipping out anything else for that matter.

Pariahs In The World Of Internet Dating 

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

A few months back, I gained enough amnesia from my last Match.com experience to try it again. It had been months since I had been out on a date. Not that I was lamenting this fact — it had been a busy summer with a lot of winery gigs and writing and hustling to get my book proposal up to snuff for my agent — but I was missing the excitement of first kisses and frivolous texting.

I decided to make my profile description as snarky and sapiosexual as I possibly could. My hope was to attract someone who was on the same page intellectually. The first woman I wrote to was a little bit older than me, but beautiful in a way that I found very interesting. Maybe it was a combination of her brief essay on her profile and her photograph. I could tell immediately that she was intelligent, thoughtful and, seemingly, a lot of fun.

We met at a coffee place one exit up from where I lived. The whole situation was very different than anything I had experienced in the past. I had to be at work by 11 am, so we met for breakfast. Not the typical Match.com date, but a fun change of pace. We embraced warmly outside on the sidewalk and proceeded to head for the counter.

After we placed our orders and sat down, the typical getting to know you conversation began. I’m not entirely opposed to that sort of thing, but I do find it, shall we say, a necessary evil. It’s the part of a date that feels too much like a job interview.

“Here’s why you should pick me to mate with…”

I’ve become a positive guy as I’ve gotten older, but that Long Island cynicism is holding on for dear life. I’ve always felt vastly opposed to the process of omitting certain biographical facts for the purpose of scoring a second date — only to reveal these things later and have to witness the slow destruction of a structure built on the quicksand of half-truths. So, when she asked me what I’ve been doing, I mentioned the biggest thing in my life right now: my book.

I could see her face shrivel inward as I explained that it was a recovery self-help book. She returned my volley by telling me about the two-year relationship she just ended with the pizza shop owner who had a few years in A.A.

“His friends would come over and they’d sit around and talk about the other guys they knew that were in and out of jail. It just wasn’t a lifestyle I felt comfortable being involved in.”

Now, initially, I shook my head in an affirmative motion. It sounded like a lifestyle I wouldn’t feel comfortable being involved in, either. What I didn’t realize until she texted me later was that she was relegating me to that bin in the existential flea market and she saw herself as a wholly different entity. She didn’t even shop in flea markets. She was in Bloomingdale’s looking at Coach bags.

As we were getting ready to part ways, she confessed to me that she didn’t really reside in the working-class town that was listed on her profile — she lived in Rhinebeck — the posh town where many celebrities try unsuccessfully to blend in and the average house is half a million dollars.

“I’m one of two black women that live there,” she joked. “So, it is imperative that I maintain some anonymity.”

Fair enough.

As I mentioned, I learned that most of what she was telling me was not at all for the sake of face value conversation. It was for the express purpose of explaining why I went from the guy with “the greatest profile she ever read,” to something stuck on the bottom of her shoe.

The stigma of being in recovery, to some people, transcends educational level, socio-economic status, and ethnicity; and it is socially acceptable. There is nothing politically incorrect about sneering at this population. Nobody is going to fault anyone for saying out loud, “It may be okay for some people, but not for me.”

I get it. People relapse all the time. Some people do even after 10 or 15 years of sobriety. This is obviously why the second “A” in A.A. exists. Nobody is going to want to hire you with that scarlet letter attached to your chest, so there’s no reason why one should have to reveal their ties to such a society. Intimate relationships, on the other hand, are a whole other matter. It’s not advisable to keep this a secret when trying to date someone.

Truthfully, it was not the first time I got tagged out at first base because of it. Last Spring, I got to the point with a local doula where our texts were beginning to get pretty spicy until I inadvertently mentioned that I didn’t drink.

“In the interest of full disclosure,” her last text read, “I don’t know what a relationship with someone like that would look like.”

Let’s be honest about this: for all the lip service that is paid to calling addiction a disease, many people, in their heart of hearts, still see it as a moral failure. It would be considered reprehensible to tell someone that you didn’t want to date them because they once had cancer and it could come back at any time. And yet, to say it to someone in recovery is fine.

Either way, it left me without a date for Saturday night; but what it leaves for the rest of society is something way more poignant to consider.

Pariahs In The World Of Internet Dating was originally published in P.S. I Love You on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Why It Took So Long To Leave 

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Tonight, I am going out on a date for the first time in months. I gave up entirely on OK Cupid after the last round of dates I netted from that effort were all duds. This date happened pretty organically, so I am hoping that that’s a good sign. The phone calls that have occurred leading up to that inevitable plate of sashimi have been the garden variety “so what brings you here so late in the game, looking for love and hoping for the best?” This sort of conversation always seems to lead to my having to hear myself explain why I stayed in a relationship for five years that included, instead of affection, a chaperone.

Yes, we lived with her mother. This could work in certain situations — especially if the two parties were dedicated to making each other feel loved — but we never had that. This, of course, always leads to that one unavoidable question: two little girls? I can see having one child with someone and then it not working out. Why would you go ahead and plan a second child if things obviously weren’t good? It’s a valid question.

When I got into substance abuse recovery in 2010 — after a long career of using — I dove in with both feet. I was convinced (and rightly so) that I just spent two decades dedicated to the pursuit of my own needs. This is a common thread among those of us who are out there trying to survive in the very shady and difficult world of drug addiction. It is impossible, when you are anchored to that issue, to think of anyone or anything else. And so, when you get yourself cleaned up, you begin to realize how badly you treated everyone who ever loved you and the process of amends begins to take place.

Amends, we learn, does not mean saying sorry to everyone. The definition of the word means to “improve upon” something. In other words, 12-step programs indoctrinate a person to live in a wholly different way as a means of making an amends to the greater good — not just the people you have individually harmed with your behavior. And so, there I was in a new relationship, living a new way of life and dedicated to the prospect of doing everything right.

Unfortunately, and I think this happens more often than not, we crawl into those church basements with so much guilt when we put the drugs down, that a lot of us swing way too far in the other direction and start to live like doormats. This is very easy to do. Nobody is really there to guide you in your relationships and dealings with others and observe how over the top you wind up going. As a matter of fact, the more meetings you attend, the more you tend to hear the same message over and over: it is now time to serve others!

I don’t necessarily think this is a bad message. If you find yourself in the right situation, with the right lover, it can be a very beautiful thing. If you find yourself with someone who mistakes your amends for an open invitation to walk all over you, you’re screwed.

With my situation, there were inherent difficulties. I don’t necessarily think that my ex was out to ruin my life. I believe, more accurately, that the whole dynamic was set up to fail. We really did not have the luxury of discussing anything out of earshot of her mother. I remember bragging to my friends that we never once had an argument, but in retrospect, that probably hastened the end. We never argued because who the hell would get angry at someone in front of their mother?

I remember when my daughter Gloria was about to turn two-years-old and my ex asked if we could have another child. You can bet I had reservations. We hadn’t had sex for over a year after Gloria was born and then maybe once a month after that. I was not rushing toward a repeat performance. During her plea, she explained that my living as a truckdriver out on the road and coming home once a week was responsible for our emotional distance and now that I found a job where I’d be home every night, this would all change. I bought it. And, so we had our second child.

I sit here now writing this because, of course, that’s not how things went.

The take-away? I love my daughter, River, with a deep intense love that made the ridiculous nature of how she came to be worth every minute. I do not have a single regret. Life, I am coming to realize, is a journey where we can either come away with the treasure of our experiences or spend our time grumbling about every tree stump we trip on and every sticker bush we get tangled in.

This is not some flowery meditation on blind positivity. This is my experience. One of the most beautiful things about being alive on this planet is that we, alone, decide what it all means. This is why there are just as many miserable, rich people as there are happy, poor people.

So, the answer to the question of why it took so long to leave?

That’s how long it took to create two beautiful little girls.

Why It Took So Long To Leave was originally published in P.S. I Love You on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Maybe It’s Never Anyone’s Fault 

Photo by Trym Nilsen on Unsplash

I don’t usually have a lot of time for quiet thought — my life has become a maelstrom of coffee swilling, bill paying, pitching articles, child visitation, truck driving, winery gigs, pep talks with my agent and grocery shopping. It’s kind of a nutty life, but someone’s got to live it. Yesterday was Thanksgiving , and because of that, there was quiet time. I found myself cleaning my toaster oven — not because I’m the kind of guy that would do something like that — but because the last time I tried to make a French bread pizza, the kitchen filled with smoke and the alarm went off. It’s the sort of thing that would usually cause me to just forego eating anything — but I had the time, so I did it.

As I scrubbed the burnt, processed Mozzarella cheese from the thin aluminum bottom tray, my thoughts drifted back seven years to when I was in Target and my girlfriend, at that time, was asking me via voice call, to buy that very toaster oven. The significance of that one particular phone call hadn’t dawned on me once before that very moment. Playing the mind tape of that call, it became clear that her original intentions — when we decided to move in with her mom and split the mortgage — was to have our own way to prepare food. The initial plan was to have autonomy. We had our first child on the way and she was envisioning a separate life for us upstairs from her mom’s that took place primarily downstairs.

That’s not at all how things ended up, though. The only thing that took place upstairs was extraordinarily sporadic vanilla sex and potty training. Her mother was so ubiquitous in our day to day that we never had a single argument — right up to the moment I was leaving. What we had were emails with ultimatums and rebuttals. Months turned to years where I felt neglected both sexually and even in terms of just general affection and it caused me to become angrier and angrier. I would lay in bed at night and try to reconcile the fact that her mother was always in the same room or at least within earshot of 95% of our interactions. I would think about how there never seemed to be any time for sex — with the very notable exception of when she wanted to have a second child. Normally we’d sometimes go months without it, but the week she was ovulating — somehow, we managed to have sex four times. Which was more than we did for all of 2014. I felt duped. I felt used. I felt unimportant.

The last winter we lived together, all of this began to manifest as physical ailments — and not little ones, either. There were emergency room visits and appointments with specialists and lots of missed days of work. What’s funny — or not funny, depending how you look at it — was that these illnesses were all localized or directly linked to my reproductive parts. I never had issues like this in the past, and ironically, I’ve never had any of these problems since I left. We’ll save the article on psychosomatic illnesses for another time, though.

The take-away was that I really just had to leave. We discussed counseling on numerous occasions, but it never came to fruition. By the time she finally agreed to it, I was looking at apartments. It was a terribly sad time. We had two very little girls and I had no idea, at that point, what my role in their life was going to look like after I left.

The big epiphany that I had when I was getting ready to make lunch yesterday was that my ex-girlfriend had originally planned for things to go very differently. I am imagining that it was typical inertia that brought us to a pre-mature conclusion. I loved being a breadwinner but earning enough money to support all of us required me to work 12-hour days with only one day off every week. For her to stay separate from her mom when I was gone all the time was just not practical. And so, the result was the result.

Obviously, things could’ve been done differently. I doubt anyone who has ever suffered through a break-up — especially with children involved — has ever failed to play a good game of Monday morning quarterback after the dust settles. It’s only human.

It’s funny to think that the next time I find myself as a new dad living with my girlfriend in a house with her mother, and having to work 70 hours a week, I’ll know exactly how to handle the situation — but isn’t that the way it is with life sometimes? So much gray area.

There are a few things I can make sure to do, however. I can keep working hard to make it so that she gets enough support money every week. I can show up on schedule every time and I can still be a very present and kind dad. Which, by the way, I have been doing all along since the day I left. If I could add anything to all of that, it would be to stop resenting my ex. I don’t know what her situation with the physical stuff was, but I am pretty sure it was not done to torture me. It’s just the way things went, unfortunately.

And, as long as we are meditating on gray area, I am going to honor the most glaring one of all: maybe it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It is so common for us to experience a break-up with a clear-cut definition of who should take the blame, but I hate commonality. Sometimes things happen and there’s no one to blame. Maybe it just “is.”

Maybe It’s Never Anyone’s Fault was originally published in P.S. I Love You on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

A Street Brawl With My Monkey Mind 

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It was a tough night of tossing and turning and strange dreams. My literary agent has been working diligently to find me a publisher for my book and we are getting close. There is going to be a meeting later this morning at one publisher where they are going to decide one way or the other. That is what is making it so difficult for me to concentrate on virtually anything at all. Usually I wake up at 6:30 and do something productive, to get my day off to a good start. Today, however, I have gotten up a half an hour earlier than that without any alarm and the thought of trying to do anything at all besides, perhaps stare at an old episode of “Monk”, seems completely out of the question.

It’s pretty frustrating, too. I have a lot of projects I could be working on if I wasn’t in a street brawl with my monkey mind. “What if they pass on it? They’re not going to pass on it. Visualize them green lighting it. Visualize the email of congratulations from your agent. Picture it coming over your iPhone while you are at work. Will you shut up please? You’re making me nervous.” On and on it goes without a stop in sight.

What is the alternative, though? I suppose I could quite possibly save myself from a lot of this chaos if I just decided to buckle down as a union truck driver and be satisfied with doing that until retirement age.

I’m lying when I say that. I couldn’t possibly do that.

Yesterday, I posted a request on Facebook that all my dear friends who love me, please say a prayer on my behalf. This worked once before when I was trying to land an agent. The post from yesterday garnered 75 different loves, likes and wows; 25 comments from well-wishers and one grumpy comment from a ne’er do well who probably came up to Woodstock when Dylan lived here and never left. He wrote:

“If there was a God, he’d have a lot more important things to do than to help you get your book published.”

I deleted his sunshiny contribution and unfriended the guy — not only because I have no room in my life for grouchy and curmudgeonous granolas — but because, frankly, he’s wrong. My book is telling the story of how I — one of the most disenfranchised former substance users on the planet — raised myself from being a $300 per week rural cab driver to a $75,000 a year cat with a future and a good credit rating. Then I go on to give real exercises and methods for anyone in the same boat to do the same thing for themselves.

The idea for the book came from when I used to bring 12 step meetings into my local jail on a weekly basis. I’d always bring a guest speaker with me and the guest would tell their story of how they got clean and it’d generally be met with a satisfactory and lukewarm reception. When I told my story about how I learned to drive a tractor trailer and started taking home $1000 a week and fell in love and started a family — well, there was a palpable electricity in the room. Inmates would get excited and as we packed up and got ready to leave, they’d ask me a million questions about how they could follow in my footsteps.

So yes, Grizzly Adams, God would be all for that.

I would never pretend to have a direct line to ecclesiastic matters, but I suspect God (or the universe or source energy) loves and supports anyone who feels compelled or downright driven to bring good into as many people’s lives as they possibly can. So, there is a part of me that believes that I am destined to see this thing to fruition, no matter how long it takes me.

The part of me that was flipping around the bed last night and having dreams of guns being pointed in my face — well, that is the part of me that wants everything to happen “right now.” I’m fairly certain that God (or the universe or source energy) is not down with that sort of thinking. A cursory glance at the story of Job would prove that out.

Whatever the case may be, this will be decided by lunchtime today and if it doesn’t go the way I am hoping it will go, I will allow myself to lean into the disappointment and then accept that God has a better plan in store for me.

He’s never let me down before, Grizzly Adams.

Anatomy Of A Faulty Lover 

Photo by Warren Wong

Whatever the opposite of the word gregarious is — which I am having a hard time thinking of at this moment — that’s what my oldest brother was when we were growing up. He was dull and anti-social, but being the oldest and my father’s namesake, my parents would generally give him the spotlight at the dinner table as he tried to relate an anecdote from his day. I’m telling you, it was painful. The guy had no sense of comic timing and no command of language, so it might’ve looked to an outsider like a mangled game of charades. My parents there trying charitably and desperately to help him pull details out of, what was for the most part, a banal and uninteresting story to begin with.

I had a middle brother, too. His way of dealing with this strange inequity was to commit the most outrageous and senseless acts of destruction and mayhem in our household. If there was broken glass, expensive furniture inexplicably pillaged or some family drama where the neighbors called the police, he was generally the architect. At the time, I resented him deeply for all of the unwanted attention he brought to the house, but so many years later, I now understand his motives and have a certain empathy. It was a common reaction. If your parents are giving all of their positive reinforcement to one child, the natural thing to do is go for all the negative reinforcement that’s left.

Being the youngest and possessing no glaring behavioral or academic issues, my parents saw me as a sort of respite in their parenting responsibilities. They kind of had the attitude that they struck gold the last time around the maternity ward and thought, “Thank God! That one seems to be okay.” I had no choice but to be very self-reliant as I was growing up and that self-reliance, in addition to the natural narcissism of young adulthood, made me self-centered.

My earliest romantic relationships were always disastrous. Courtship for me was generally the act of jumping through whatever emotional hoops were needed to win love. To most unsuspecting young women, I appeared sensitive and emotionally intelligent because I knew exactly how to appear that way. These relationships always crashed and burned in a matter of months when I lost the incentive and the energy to act as though anything was as important to me as having my needs met.

This seemed to go on all through my twenties and thirties and the various lengths of my relationships were in direct correlation to how much my partner was willing to stand for. My longest relationship lasted for eight years because we were also “running partners” with substance abuse issues who relied on each other in a wholly different way. That relationship could’ve given any Sociology or Psychology PhD candidate plenty to work with.

One of the more interesting aspects of my relationship “style” was the confusion I always had when my selfishness was pointed out to me at various times. I would understand the person’s point of view, but I never saw things from their perspective before it was explained to me. I was just doing what I needed to do to survive. It was what I had always done and always knew to do.

There’d always be that rhetorical question, “Do you ever think about anyone but yourself?” and the honest answer would probably have been, “No. Never.” There was no malice involved in my behavior. It was programmed in me from childhood and it would inevitably take a lot more than good intentions to rewire the circuit board.

It took several years of sobriety and therapy to understand the time bombs that I brought with me into every romantic relationship I began, and that was a good thing. I forgave myself for being who I was because I understood that many of my traits were less about poor choices I was cognitively making and more about survival skills I needed as I was growing up. What it also did was to help me stop being so judgmental about the character flaws in others. With time, I stopped being so angry about every perceived slight I experienced and more curious about why these things happened. Was the girl who cheated on me just doing what she knew to do to survive? What about my ex-girlfriend who used to stalk me when I broke up with her? Is this something she learned along the way?

Of course, I am not suggesting that we give everybody a pass. None of my affairs ever crossed the line into physical abuse on either side, but you can rest assure when there are substances and/or alcohol involved, emotional abuse is never too far away — and that’s just as damaging.

Regardless, there are times when I hate that I am single and much of the time I convince myself that my work schedule, my kids and my various creative projects are what is getting in the way of that changing any time soon; but for all I know, there could be a little more to it than that. Perhaps I am in a growth process right now. Maybe I’m in the existential penalty box until I can come out and learn to play well with others. Maybe there will be a next chapter for me where I will look another person in the eye and ask them how they are doing and honestly care about their response. Not because of the rewards I might obtain from caring, but because I really want to know about the welfare of that person.

It’s a thought.

Anatomy Of A Faulty Lover was originally published in P.S. I Love You on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

10 Compelling Reasons Why Our Next President Should Be A Single Mom 

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Now that the midterm elections have come and gone, radio, TV and social media will undoubtedly start to light up with talk of Presidential hopefuls for 2020. Hilary? Nah. Bernie? I don’t know. When I start to think about the great Presidents throughout history, I think about Lincoln, FDR and Kennedy — these were guys with a set of talents and characteristics that made them perfect for, what is likely, the most challenging job in the world. These are exactly the same talents that you will find in single moms. See if this sounds right:

1-Stress Management-If you’ve ever seen a single mom in a diner successfully dealing with a couple of toddlers, you’ve seen stellar stress management skills. Buttering and cutting up two sets of pancakes, cleaning up spilled apple juice, ridiculous demands for ice cream at 8 am — I mean seriously, who else would you want in the situation room when it all starts to go down?

2-Balancing The Budget- I have the great pleasure of knowing some single moms that run Fortune 500 companies and some that are relegated to figuring out how to get $400 worth of groceries for $125 — and one thing is the same in both cases: their fiscal sixth sense eclipses anything I’ve ever seen from any of my male friends. If we want to balance our disaster deficit, send in a single mom!

3-Perseverence- Many of my single mom friends deal with a variety of challenging issues that require sheer perseverance sometimes just to make it from one day to the next. Late child support payments, family court, visitation — it seems like it never ends. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes for a great leader.

4-Creativity- Being faced with bored little children, a short budget and a whole lot of work to do, there is an enormous amount of creativity involved in making it happen. I look with amazed deference sometimes at my ex and her ability to brainstorm multi-faceted plans to cover all these bases simultaneously. This, of course, is another great attribute of leadership.

5-Wisdom- If you’ve ever tried to deal with a 3-year old and a 5-year old fighting about sitting in the one rolling desk chair that you own, you know that it requires the wisdom of King Solomon to get them to agree on taking turns and sharing the privilege. This is not for the meek. It requires skills that sometimes leave single dads perplexed.

6-Crisis Management Skills- When my first daughter was three years old, she fell down while playing and busted her lip. Blood everywhere. I will admit this to you: I stood there paralyzed. The scene of my little beautiful child with blood gushing from her face was so horrific to me, I basically went into shock. Her mom, with a look of determination and calmness, attended to the injury as if she had been doing this for years. It, too, was her first child. Let’s be honest — bloody noses, broken arms, throwing up — single moms handle it with aplomb. Who else would you want fielding foreign affairs issues?

7-Courage To Make Unpopular Decisions- I don’t know about other dads, but for me, saying no to candy, ice cream, dolls, toys, Chuck E. Cheese — not my area of expertise. I have noticed in my travels that many of my single mom friends can stop in the middle of a conversation, deal out some quick and firm parental decision, field loud protestations and go right back to the conversation without a single pang of guilt or even a second thought. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a leader that hasn’t capitulated to their base, but it’d be nice to have one in the oval office at some point.

8-Resilience- Most of the single moms I know, while they are generally locked into a very stringent routine of readying children, working all day and caring for little ones at night, still know how to indulge in a bit of self-care when the opportunity avails itself. They accept their limitations and move past them easily. They are flexible when the situation requires it. These are all attributes that illustrate resiliency — a talent that has always been associated with great leadership.

9-Patience- I won’t beat this one to death, but if you’ve ever buckled everyone in their car seat and then heard, “I have to poop;” if you’ve ever had to go ten miles back to a friend’s house because your daughter left her doll/sweatshirt/fingerling behind; if you’ve ever watched a three year old try to tie a shoe, you know what patience is in its most organic form. Another superior quality of a President.

10-Influence- I don’t know about you, but my daughters have adopted almost every quirk and idiosyncrasy of their mom’s. Whether it’s a disdain for anything with coconut, a love for all of her favorite musician’s or even the way she swoops the hair out of her eyes, my girls are like miniature versions of their mom. If you go back in history, every great President has tried to be influential — but would’ve given their eye teeth to have the kind of influence most single moms naturally have with their kids. Another win!

My hope is, as you read over my little list, you will come to the same conclusion I have. If we want to set this country back on the track to being the great place we dream of living, we need a single mom in the White House A.S.A.P. It seems so obvious, I’m not sure why it hasn’t been thought of before!

When We Walk Away From Those We Love 

Photo by Patryk Sobczak on Unsplash

On this day six years ago, I was an inexperienced and apprehensive commercial truck driver delivering freight near Syracuse, NY when my phone rang. It was my girlfriend very calmly but with a noticeably nervous inflection in her tone, telling me that our daughter — who we had already decided to call Gloria — was ready to show her face to the world. It was, like many delivery stories, exciting and stressful.

The first hurdle that needed to be overcome was that I was four hours from where all the action was taking place, and according to the stringent laws of the Department of Transportation, I had to wait ten hours before I could start driving back. I remember laying in the bunk of my truck’s sleeping compartment distraught that I was going to miss the birth of this child.

The labor lasted for twenty-eight hours — which was no fun for my girlfriend — but it did make it possible for me to get there for the blessed event. She was a beautiful child and I felt so content to be a breadwinner and a family man after so many years floating around the planet with no direction and no roots.

Five years later, I was giving my new landlord a deposit for a studio apartment and beginning my life as a single person again. I had just celebrated my 47th birthday. The truth is, I struggled with whether or not to stay in that relationship for years. There were so many aspects of it that rubbed me the wrong way and when I called friends for advice, they all suggested that if I was unhappy in a sexless relationship; if I did not like sharing a house with my girlfriend’s mother; if I thought it was unfair to work 70 hours a week, preparing all my own meals and paying all the bills — I should get out. And so I did.

But I never got around to falling out of love.

Perhaps I should re-phrase that. I have been on so many Match.com and OK Cupid dates that left me feeling like I would never find someone that was right for me again. I tried ignoring when I wasn’t physically attracted to someone and that always turned out horribly. I made the attempt to overlook when someone was not right intellectually and that led to a sort of underlying contempt that would grow as we became more familiar. I tried to make it work with so many different prospective mates that it was difficult to not feel dispirited when I was still single a year and a half later.

And then the strangest thing occurred to me as I was driving to pick up Gloria and take her out for her 6th birthday: if, in some parallel universe, my ex-girlfriend showed up at the coffeehouse on one of these dating site liaisons, I would’ve been so excited. The way she looks, the things she cares about, the stuff that interests her — she would be perfect for me!

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Just get back with her! Do whatever you have to do — buy roses, write poems, beg — to win back her heart!

But this is where the awful truth about life comes in to play. Things are rarely as cut and dry or black and white as all that. Running back and begging for her forgiveness and trying anything to sell her on the idea of a reconciliation is the stuff that kids in high school would reason out as the inevitable remedy to this situation. Those of us who have gone a few decades past high school have realized that there exists a large gap between what looks good on paper and what actually works in real life. It’s not as if you can Frankenstein your way into finding the perfect mate.

“You’d be perfect for me if you had this woman’s sex drive and that woman’s independence.”

None of this was lost on me when we were still together. Whenever my vacillation would swing back in the opposite direction from leaving, it was always based on the knowledge that there were so many things about the relationship that I loved, perhaps I could just accept the things that didn’t work for me as part and parcel of what journalist and author, Dan Savage, famously referred to as “the price of admission.” But being a creative man with a need for space forced to live with someone’s mother was a heavy cost. Having to take an involuntary vow of celibacy, in addition to this, went way beyond my budget. And so, I stopped buying the ticket.

I remember once hearing a strangely beautiful and obscure song from a well-known singer/songwriter that employed a chord structure where there was no resolution in certain phrases and it actually made you feel slightly uncomfortable to have to listen to. As I find myself about to wrap up this article, I am reminded of that song — which like my relationship with my daughter’s mother — had no resolution and makes me uncomfortable. And even more than that, it too, was and still is, strangely beautiful.

When We Walk Away From Those We Love was originally published in P.S. I Love You on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.