Monday, February 12, 2018

#metoo part one

Why did he have to ruin it all?   Why did he have to turn out to be exactly like all the other old men that have come into my life over the years? I have always been attractive to older men, even as a child and it caused many awful situations in my life.   But I thought he was different.  I thought we had a good thing going.  I thought we worked together well and enjoyed each other's company.   I work for him.   I come to him because it's my job to help him live independently and we really hit it off and I was happy to be his worker.  Maybe there were some red flags that I should have paid attention to instead of brushing them off as TMI moments that are so common to the elderly.   He either lacks the filters or likes to shock.   I brushed those incidents off.   Maybe I was wrong, stupid, or in denial.  He came out of the bathroom once and told me how he wasn't properly circumcised and sometimes had to unravel things in order to pee.   While it took me aback a bit and I  had a moment of "is this okay?"  I laughed it off.  He said he was happy to be seen out in public in his old neighbourhood with an attractive woman on his arm.   Again I kind of laughed it off.   What could I say?  There was nothing really wrong with that.   But maybe these incidents were signs. I took his request for help fitting his hernia belt as a joke...  Maybe my lack of reaction was implicit permission.   But I chose not to make an issue.  I didn't want to be one of "those" women.  You know, the kind that takes exception to everything that could be interpreted as an "inappropriate advance" even if it is accidental or consent was implied.  I didn't want to be like that.  My attitude to this job is to be caring, compassionate and yet maintain that professional distance.   And I thought I had done that!  I can't think of anything I could have said or done that would make him think I was open to his advance.   Was I too friendly?   Was saying I enjoy his company and we work well together seen as encouragement from me?   I am so saddened and yet angry that this has happened.   And when I told my close friends about it, they didn't seem overly concerned.   One said I might be overreacting a bit, a couple said they would have reacted the same way, and my therapist said, in view of my personal history that it's perfectly understandable that I would react this way.

Was it on purpose that he stood in the doorway of his bedroom so that I would have to go around him to leave?   Should I not have been in his room in the first place folding and putting away laundry?   But there is no place else to do it.  Even if I had folded it in the laundry room I still would have had to go in there and put it away.  Or carry the basket in there and leave it on his bed for him to put away.  But I never thought anything of going in there and doing what I did.  I do it every time I am there.   I will never forget that moment.  I knew something was up, but I wasn't sure what it was.  He never comes into the room to help fold.  And then the look on his face as he walked towards me.   Bashful, like a boy asking a girl to the prom.  He put his arms out...and placed them on my side at my ribcage as he said "I just realized that I didn't give you a New Year's kiss"  I was stunned.  I shut down.  I always shut down when I am in those types of situations.   Years ago I used to dissociate into someone else...someone who would go along with whatever happened.   Now I just freeze.   And I hugged him...I didn't think about it, I just did.  And then I left.   And I felt my spirits crash slowly to the ground.   And I was so profoundly disappointed.   He is such a nice man, so gentle, so kind and now he had gone and ruined everything.  Why?   I don't know what to do now.   I feel as though I can't go back.   And yet my therapist says to go one more time and if it happens again, and then talk to him.   But the thought of going makes me feel sick and anxious.  I want to quit my job and just hide at home.  It's too bad.   It's too sad.   You have shattered my ability to trust my own instincts.  I just know that I don't want to do this job anymore and I don't want to ever go alone into someone's home.

Epilogue:

I talked to my boss about this incident.  I felt bad doing it, but I had to.   I took a few weeks off work to decide what to do.  He talked to my boss and was extremely upset and apologetic and took full responsibility for what happened.  To him, it's just that he made a pass and offended me.   Now he wants to talk to me and apologize.   I am not ready for that.   I feel like I am making a big deal out of nothing, but the anxiety and the sadness are not going away.  Because of past traumas, this is larger than it would be for another person without my history. 

Anyway I have decided to just do driving seniors to appointments and grocery shopping from now on.  No more going in to apartments or rooms alone. 

#BellLetsTalk

I posted this on Facebook on BellLetsTalk day but decided it might be a good idea to put it on here too.

Anyone who has ever been late for an appointment, lost their keys, had a job interview or started school, or experienced any number of life's little disasters, knows what anxiety feels like. But imagine if you felt that way all of the time, day in and day out. Even when things are going great. Even when you have everything you ever wanted in your life. That's what General Anxiety Disorder feels like. That's what it feels like in my head without medication and counseling. It's a heart-pounding, thought racing, gut-wrenching way of existence that I have dealt with all of my life. It's worry to the nth degree.
It makes going anywhere outside my house difficult because my brain will happily show me scenarios of every single disaster that could happen to me...a tire flying off a truck, a bridge collapse, a car accident, a sinkhole, a plane crash, a terrorist attack, a car plowing into the window of the restaurant I am eating in, freak accidents too numerous to mention....it goes on and on.
It makes being social difficult because afterward, I analyze every single thing that was said to me or by me, looking for something I did wrong...did I talk too much, was I too bossy, obnoxious, depressing, annoying, was I showing off...and on and on.
It makes every single ache, pain, heart palpitation, headache, skin blemish, stomach cramp into something catastrophic...rare, aggressive forms of cancer are a huge fear of mine as is suddenly dropping dead from a misdiagnosed illness.
It makes me rehash mistakes from my past over and over and over again wishing I had done things differently, blaming myself for everything that went wrong. It's relentless. And because it is a General Anxiety Disorder it doesn't have a specific focus...it's like my anxiety is a mosquito flying around looking for a place to land and feed...sometimes it's my health, sometimes, it's my finances, sometimes it's my relationships. But it's always something...because if I am not feeling anxious...I am anxious about that. Anxiety also often comes with its best friend Depression and the three of us can have quite a party.
Luckily, however, with the help of medication and counseling a very supportive circle of friends and a good sense of humour, I am able to function in my life. I have learned techniques to keep the anxieties at bay most days....thought stopping, distraction, meditation to name a few. I know I am not alone in this, almost everyone I know has some form of anxiety. I don't present as an anxious person as frequently as I have in the past, although I have my days. . I am in a good place right now. But I wanted to post this on this day to raise awareness. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Introspective Retrospective

 I like to tell myself that New Year's Day is nothing special; that it's just another day except we change the year when writing the date.   Nothing really changes after all...all the shit from 2017 doesn't automatically disappear.  There is no "clean slate" or "new beginning" that people rave about and celebrate.  We don't become magically transformed overnight into that person who is finally going to "get it right".  Get healthy, get motivated, get nicer, get kinder, and so on ad nauseum.

Still, there is a small part of me that is drawn to all the hoopla.  A part of me that wants to believe it all.   The optimist that keeps my cynic in check and keeps me from becoming bitter and dreadful to be around.  Maybe we, as humans, are hard-wired to examine our lives at this time of year.  After the debauchery and excess of the Christmas season, when our bank accounts are empty and we are surrounded by a sea of gifts we don't need, when the "family" has finished being on their best Christmas behaviour and stopped the charade of closeness and gone back to their selfish ways, when the decorations are put away and the once vibrant tree is a sad pile of missing needles and broken branches lying in a heap at the curbside.   Ahead of us lies the cold stark gray winter when the most exciting thing that might happen is a snowstorm or "polar vortex" that we can talk about endlessly for weeks afterward.  Maybe that's why we buy into the fantasy of new beginnings.  We need it.  

So with all of that in mind, I have decided to do a retrospective of the past year.  I have not made resolutions because I believe they are just setups for disappointment and self-recrimination.  I have made commitments instead.  Is that the same thing?  Maybe, but commitment seems a less fraught word than resolutions.   Commitment is in regular type, while RESOLUTIONS looms large like a billboard in my psyche.  So, here are my commitments for 2018.

Health

Last August I began a healthier way of eating.   I started the Ketogenic lifestyle and I have had great success with it so far having lost 21 lbs. I haven't found it terribly difficult although the sugar demons got the best of me over the holidays.   Way too much temptation for my weak resolve.   So, for 2018 I am committed to continuing on this path and walking ...well trudging really... towards better health.   The energy is not where I need it to be so I will make a few changes to enable that to happen.   My schedule is much lighter than it was during the fall and I am committed to spending more time doing things that feed my spirit, as well as my body.  More art, more music, more activity. 

Relationships

At this time of year, I tend to hibernate and let things slide with friends. I don't want to leave my house unless I have to, which, to be honest, is true for me year round, but much worse in winter.   When I am not working, I am recovering and need time to be alone and at home.   But for me, this can become disconnecting.   My commitment in this area is to nurture those friendships that feed me, spend time with people I enjoy.   Spend time with my "want to sees" and less time with my "should sees".  I have a few friends that drain me and I need to seriously reconsider how those people fit into my life and if they should be there at all...I know it sounds harsh, but co-dependent relationships benefit no one.  

I am 100% committed to nurturing and strengthening the love relationship I have found.   I have never felt so committed, never wanted something so much.   This woman is exactly what I need and want in my life.   We are friends, and we are partners in life.   The total acceptance and love I feel from her, and for her, are a new and joyous thing.  It is not without its challenges, to say it was would be denying the richness of the relationship, because it's those challenges that strengthen us as we learn to understand and accept each other warts and all.  All relationship have those things, it's how the couple deals with them that makes or breaks the union.   We are always honest with each other, there is no game playing, no passive aggressive jabs, no sulking (well hardly any).  It's a good, positive thing in my life and I cherish it deeply.

My middle son has effectively removed himself and his family from my life.  The reasons will be the subject of another blog post that I will write when the pain lessens and I can have some perspective.  I am committed that letting go of that relationship.   There is no other choice at this time, the door is shut and barred.   There is a window cracked open where I can communicate with my oldest granddaughter but that window will slam shut if I make a wrong move.  All I can do is hope that someday she will wonder why I don't see her, she will wonder who this loving person is who texts her messages of love and support and she will seek me out.  And that hope burns blindingly bright.   My heart aches at times with the loss, and at other times there is anger so strong I want to drive to his place and take him over my knee and give him a good spanking because he is being such a child.  Anyway, as I said, another post.

The remaining two children will be in my life although not as constantly as I would like.  But I will take it, and I will accept that they have their own lives now and are busy with that.  That is as it should be.   I am committed to strengthening and healing my relationship with them.  If all my daughter wants from me is free babysitting then so be it.  That means a connection with the two girls.  If I have to swallow the bitter pill that is my daughter in law, then I will do that too because that means a connection with my granddaughter and my son.   It's all about compromise and accepting what is.   

Finances

The debt is slowly dwindling.   And I have come to accept that I cannot work as much as my spirit would like me to.  That two short shifts/ week is about it.   It's not about the work itself so much as it is the drive to get into the city.   It's half an hour each way in traffic and it exhausts me.  So I am committed to listening to my body and learning to say no when things get out of hand and I take on too much.  I would rather have a light schedule that I can be reliable with and have time on my hands than take on too much and end up having to disappoint people.  It means less money coming in, but that is the way it is.  I have enough for the life I have.

The beading is not going to pan out as a business and I have to accept that.  I don't have the energy or drive to make it work.  I will continue to create pieces, but for my own enjoyment and if someone wants something made, I will do that.    I have many areas of creativity that I enjoy and I am committed to making them more a part of my life than they have been.  I want to get back to writing, to painting, to photography and to making a journal.   All fun things!  

So, this ended up being a lot longer than I intended it to be  But that's okay.  I am trying to look forward to 2018 in spite of all of the scary news I am hearing.  I am trying to look forward to our trip to Florida in February and not dwell on the fact that I will be in the US at a time when it's on the brink of disaster.   

I wish for all of you reading this a safe and meaningful continuation of your life's journey.   

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Grace on Growing Old





Three middle aged women sat at a table in a small cafe enjoying their monthly 'ladies who lunch' occasion.  They had been doing this for ten years and they were a close knit group.  

" You  know, Rachel still goes and visits her mom every day.  Can you believe that?"  said Debbie.

"Her mom???  Rachel is 80!  You mean she goes to the cemetery?"  Edith said

"No, she visits her mom.  Her mom is 102!"  Debbie said

"Oh isn't that wonderful!   She must be so happy to still have her mother."  Edith said sadly.  She had lost her mother  5 years ago and the pain of missing her was with her every day.

"Ugh!  I can't imagine living that long.  No thanks"  thought Grace.  But when the table fell silent she realized she had said it out loud.  That had been happening a lot lately. 

"What?"  she said

"Grace, are you okay?? "  Debbie , a self proclaimed nurturer, looked at Grace with her best "I'm here for you" face.   She put her hand on Grace's.

"Of course I'm okay!"  said Grace feeling uncomfortable at being the focus of the attention at the table.  "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Well you just basically said you don't want to live that long...."  said Edith who was more focused on her lunch than on what was going on.

"I don't!  Do you all want to live to be that old?"   she was incredulous every time she heard someone talk like this.  

"Are you suicidal Grace, do you need to talk?"  Debbie was starting to irritate Grace. 
"Oh for heaven's sake, Debbie.  I am not suicidal.  I love my life.  I just don't want to live to be a decrepit old woman waiting to die.  Who wants that?  I don't understand people who want to add years to their life when those added years will be as a very old person.   No thanks. I want to go out while I am still fully functional.  In fact, I could go anytime now, and that would be fine with me."  Grace took a sip of her wine and hoped they would let it drop now.


"So, you're saying if you got hit by a bus on your way home today, we could know that you died happy?"  asked Edith between bits of her lasagna.

Grace thought about it and wondered how she could make her friends understand her point of view.

"Okay look.  I have done everything I am supposed to in my life.  Got an education, then a career and then got married, had kids and now I have grand kids.  What more is there for me to do? I don't want to travel, I don't have a husband anymore to grow old with.  My health isn't great and I can't imagine how i will be ten or twenty years from now.  I guess what I am saying is 'quit while you're ahead'.  Wouldn't it be nice to be able to check out of this life whenever you choose? Avoid all of the decline that comes with aging?"  

Edith, who was 10 years older than Grace, stopped eating and looked at her. 

"I'm 68 years old, Grace, and I have so much I still want to do.   I feel like I have only begun my life now that I am retired.   I've never felt better than I do now." 

Grace found it hard to believe that Edith had never felt better.  What about when she was young?  But she didn't say anything.

"Well Edith, that's good for you then.  You are very lucky.  I'm not saying everyone should feel like I do, I am just saying how I feel. "  she looked at Debbie "How is Rachel's mother?   Does she still live alone, does she have all her faculties?  Does she enjoy her life? "
Debbie was thoughtful for a minute or so.

"Well.....she is in a home.   And she's blind and in a wheelchair.  But Rachel says she is always cheerful when she come to visit her.  She seems to know who Rachel is and they have good visits."  
Grace thought about that.   How could she be happy living like that?    Being blind would be especially hard.  Not being able to read or play on her computer, or paint or any of the things she liked to do.   And since she was diabetic she knew that blindness was a very real possibility for her down the road.

"What about your family?  Your grandkids?  Wouldn't they miss you?"  asked Edith.

"My children are busy with their own lives.   They don't have time for me...."  she put her hand up to stop Debbie from interrupting "...it's okay Debbie, I am not feeling sorry myself.  It's a fact of life, that when your kids grow up they don't need you anymore. It's as it should be.  I didn't need my mother after I got married.  It was nice to have her, don't get me wrong, but she wasn't a big part of my life."

Grace's mother had died in her sleep two years ago.  She had been healthy and active.  It had been a terrible blow to her.  Her mother had been 75 years old.  Never sick a day in her life.  But what a blessed way to go.
 
"Think of it this way.   Do you really want to become a burden on your family?  Do you want them to watch you decline year after year?   Do you really want to rot away in a nursing home and have people come visit you as a duty or as a volunteer job? Do you want to drain the health care system for years with all of the various illness the elderly are prone to?  I don't.  I want to live each day to the fullest.  I want to wake up every day grateful for the gift of a new day.  I want to have fun.  And....I  am ready to die.  I want it to be quick.   And I want it to be either in my sleep or doing something crazy like bungee jumping or skydiving.  That's how I feel.  "   Grace knew she would never bungee jump or skydive but she thought that throwing that in would dispel any ideas of her being suicidal.

"I can't believe you are being so negative and so selfish, Grace."   said Debbie, her eyes filling with tears.

"I don't see it that way Deb. "  She grabbed her hand.  "I am not going to die any minute, silly.  I am taking good care of myself so that the time I am here is good.   But I mean it when I say I am done.  Not sad, not depressed, just done."    And with that she stood up, hugged her friends , left some money for her share of the bill and said "I have to go now.  I have to go to my salsa dancing class.  It's been a slice."    

There was no salsa dancing class.  She was going home to curl up on the couch and read.  But her friends didn't know that.

Edith and Debbie silently watched her leave.  
"Poor Grace, " said Debbie, sadly "we really need to be there for her, Edith and help her through this suicidal depression."

Edith was thoughtful for a moment.

"Maybe I am as crazy as Grace, because I think she makes a lot of sense".   

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Florence Finnegan



Florence Finnegan

Her name was Florence Finnegan.   Her mother was a nurse, passionate about her calling, who wanted to name her daughter after her idol, Florence Nightingale. All of the bedtime stories Florence heard growing up were about the brave nurse.  And she was expected to demonstrate the same traits.  Florence was never given a nickname.  "Florence Nightingale didn't use a nickname"  her mother scolded whenever Florence asked to be called something else, usually Mary.  Florence knew this was not true, she knew Florence Nightingale was known as the Lady with the Lamp, but she didn't mention this to her mother because her mother hated know- it-alls.   So she was just Florence. Not Flo or Florry. 

Florence Finnegan was chubby, freckled, redheaded, and cursed with a farsightedness that required thick glasses that magnified her mud brown eyes enormously.  She was not active or social, preferring to spend her time curled up on her bed, alone in her room with a book and her ginger cat, Spot.   Florence Finnegan 's red hair wasn't the pretty red like Anne of Green Gables.  It was carrot red and wiry curly.   Her mother kept it plaited tightly to keep it under control.   She stayed out of the sun as much as possible to avoid more freckles than she actually had or worse, a bright red sunburn that would clash with her hair.   Florence Finnegan was eight years old and in Grade Three..


You would think that someone like Florence would be the object of bullying for all sorts of reasons.  Her shyness, her weight, her hair colour, her freckles, even her name.   But Florence was invisible. She had a force field around her that seemed to repel the bullies.   A deep seated self possession, a strength that even at such a young age protected Florence by sending out a message that she would not be messed with.  She had never had to prove herself to anyone.   Because no one really noticed her.   Hard as that is to believe.   She was quiet and preferred her own company.  It didn't bother her to be this way although sometimes she really longed to be liked.
 
Sometimes she wished she was like Kathy Hawkins.  Florence was in love with Kathy Hawkins as was just about every other kid in her class.  Kathy had long silky blond hair, clear ivory skin and sparkling blue eyes.  She was everything Florence was not.   Florence sometimes longed to be a person like that.  She would imagine, alone at night in her bed, that if she died she would come back as Kathy Hawkins.   It was silly she knew, as Kathy was already Kathy, not a lost soul waiting for a dead Florence to inhabit her body.   At any rate, Florence never made her feelings known to Kathy.  She was not the type of girl to curry favour from other people.   Unlike her classmates,   Florence didn't clamour for Kathy's attention at recess, bringing her flowers, offering her key positions in games.  Florence preferred to worship her from afar.   Her invisibility made  it possible to be near Kathy  without being noticed by her.

When I say Florence was invisible, obviously I am speaking metaphorically.   She was visible of course.  But people never thought of Florence.    Valentine's were few in her little construction paper heart.  She got Valentine's from classmates who's mothers insisted their children send one to everyone in the class. Her name took too long to write and didn't fit on Valentine's cards and birthday invitations.   Because she was silent and self sufficient she didn't draw attention to herself.   If Florence was in school in this day and age she might have been singled out as 'exceptional'  or she might have drawn the attention of her teacher because she was too quiet and withdrawn.   But back in those days, the quiet and meek flew under the radar.

 Florence's life changed the day the teacher announced that the class would be forming a choir and would be performing at a music festival later in the year.   Every child in the class would be required to be in this choir.  Florence's heart leaped into her chest.   A choir!   Florence loved to sing.  She sang every chance she got...when she was alone.   Her mother had heard her once and told Florence not to show off.  She was to be humble and modest.   It was not right to be proud of her gifts.  It was not right for her to be going around  singing all the time.  So she kept it quiet.    But now, the teacher said they all had to sing.   Surely her mother wouldn't mind her singing with a bunch of others.   She decided to keep it to herself for as long as she could just in case her mother found a reason to have her removed from the choir.

The class was put into two sections.   Soprano and Alto.  All the high voices were sopranos and the low voices were altos.   That was all the harmony the grade three classes  were capable of.     Florence watched as the teacher tested each student to see where they would fit.   Typically, at their age, most of the children would be sopranos, but there were a few altos, mostly boys.   Everyone had been chosen and placed when the teacher noticed Florence standing there. 

"Florence!  Come over here and let me hear you...."   she said, distractedly arranging herself on the piano bench.

Florence walked slowly over.  The rest of the class was talking amongst themselves and acting unruly they way children will when the teacher is occupied. 
 
The teacher played the scale and  Florence sang along.   As the teacher played each note Florence's courage grew and she began to sing with more confidence.  The teacher stopped playing and looked at Florence as if seeing her for the first time.   Her classmates had grown quiet as Florence sang the notes of the scale, and then the next scale, and the next showing a range unheard of in a child so young.

"Florence, you are lucky enough to have a choice of soprano or alto.  Which would you like to sing?"  the teacher asked .

Florence was not used to being asked anything.   No one had ever asked her preference for anything.  She was at a loss.   And then she looked at Kathy Hawkins sitting there in the soprano section.
"I would like to be a soprano"  she said quietly.   And she went over and stood beside Kathy who moved over to make room.

They began to sing the first song they would be learning.   As the group sang  in the cacophonous way of young children, one voice stood out.    One voice sang the melody in a voice clear and sweet.   She knew the song, she loved the song, she owned the song in her heart.  

"Florence Finnegan! " the teacher exclaimed   "You sing like a Nightingale!!"
  
Florence did not know what to do with this information.  Florence the Nightingale??   Even at eight  years old Florence could appreciate the irony of her situation. 
   
From that day forward her classmates seemed to notice her a bit more.   They seemed puzzled at first.  Where had this child come from?   How could such a beautiful sound come from....well, from Florence?  But it did.   Florence didn't become popular by any means.  It wasn't something she wanted and she didn't encourage the attentions of her classmates and teachers.   But for those moments when Florence sang,  she imagined that she could be a Kathy, or a Susan, or a Karen.  





Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Elaine's Escapade




Elaine's Escapade

Elaine drove in to the parking lot of the restaurant and her heart started beating a little faster.   She had no idea what the evening ahead would be like, but she was excited.   She had only known Brenda for a short time and their contact so far had been by email or online chat.  And it had been positive, much to her surprise.   No stranger to online dating, Elaine's expectations had been fairly low.   So far, Brenda had seemed to be different from anyone she had talked to in the past.  She wanted to let herself hope, but in spite of the excitement at meeting her, Elaine's reservations were high.   Too many times she had been bitterly disappointed, and a few times even downright terrified with her online dating experiences.

As Elaine neared the restaurant she saw a woman standing alone outside the building.  Brenda had said she would be waiting outside as she didn't like going in to restaurants alone.   That must be her, Elaine thought.   There wasn't time to get a good look at her, but Elaine was relieved to see that she looked like her profile picture.  That was a good sign.   As she looked for a parking spot she recalled one woman she met on line who admitted to being a "woman of size" but assured Elaine she was healthy and mobile.  Her profile picture had shown a beautiful full figured blue eyed blond.  When they met in person however, it was clear that the picture had been at least 10 years old and the woman was at least 100 lbs heavier than she was at that time. 

Elaine found a parking spot, took a deep breath and got out of the car.   This was it.  Time to see if two weeks of exciting emails and the forging of a definite connection were in fact reality or the lead up to yet another disappointment.   Without thinking , Elaine bent down and picked up a discarded coffee cup that was lying on the ground behind her car.   Elaine hated litter and picked it up whenever she could.  But now she realized that she was about to meet Brenda and she was carrying garbage!!! What an idiot she was!  Doing what she does best in any awkward situation Elaine used humour to alleviate the tension.  As she approached the woman standing there she made some flip comment about being her dream date showing up carrying garbage.   Brenda didn't laugh.  In fact, as they hugged each other hello, Elaine noted that Brenda looked like she was about to throw up.  Elaine's nervousness, previously at an acceptable level given the situation, ramped up in to high gear.   This could be awkward.

They went inside and Elaine stole quick glances at Brenda as they made small talk while  waiting in line to order. She was happy to notice that Brenda seemed to be doing the same thing. She was very cute.  Lovely eyes, a shy smile.  And just the right height!  The hug had been nice. 

The coffee shop was known for its decadent waffles.  Elaine, who was a hard core sugar addict, had been looking forward all day to the Chunky Monkey;  an evil concoction of two scoops of ice cream, chocolate syrup and bananas  on top of one of the best waffles Elaine had ever tasted.  She had skipped lunch in order to alleviate some of the guilt.  

"What are you having?"  she asked Brenda

"I'm going to order a cappucino" she said.

" Are you going to eat anything?"  asked Elaine

"I'm feeling really nauseous, I don't think I can eat anything."  Brenda blushed and gave a small laugh.  "I'm really nervous."

Elaine's heart sank.  She couldn't eat???  That meant Elaine would not be having that delectable waffle after all.   While outwardly she seemed calm and outgoing, inside she had her own anxieties, one of which was not being able to eat in front of anyone she didn't know well, unless they were also eating.  So she ordered a cup of tea and shrugged off her disappointment, telling herself she didn't need the calories anyway.

They found a table near the window and sat down.   Finally she was able to get a good look at Brenda and she definitely liked what she saw.   It was really hard to tell if Brenda felt the same.   She had told Elaine that she was a really shy and quiet person and didn't talk much.    But in her emails she had come across as funny, and chatty and very open.   So, Elaine had figured she was like most of the people she knew who said they were quiet introverts when in reality you couldn't get a word in edgewise with them.  But Brenda was true to her word.   She was quiet.   And reserved.  And Elaine knew she was trying not to run to the bathroom to be sick.   But Elaine liked her vibe.  She felt comfortable with Brenda and wished there was some way she could make her feel comfortable.  


Elaine had a brainstorm when she remembered seeing a set of questions on Facebook that were supposed to help you get to know people.  She grabbed her phone and looked them up.  


"So there are 36 questions here that are supposed to bring us closer by answering them.  Do you want to  try some?"

"Sure! "  Brenda said, looking a bit relieved at being off the hook for small talk.

And there began a totally enjoyable evening of sharing and laughing and getting to know each other better.   Elaine realized Brenda had a wonderful sense of humour and sweetness about her she had not seen in other women she had dated.   Brenda was genuine and honest.   They sat in the coffee shop for hours.  Brenda even managed to eat a croissant and Elaine was happy with a muffin, all thoughts of the Chunky Monkey gone from her mind in the happiness of the evening.

The evening was getting late when they reluctantly decided it was time to go.  They walked out to the parking lot and hugged again.  A longer hug this time.  But no kiss, even though Elaine wanted to, it didn't seem the right time.   This was not a relationship she wanted to rush.   This was not a woman she wanted to hurry in to her bed.   Elaine felt that this was someone worth getting to know, and she wanted this to be different from every other relationship she had ever had. Even if it never became anything more than friendship, Elaine felt her life would be richer for it.  She got in to her car that night feeling happy and she couldn't wait to get home and see if there was an email from her new friend Brenda.