Fishing On Facebook, Chapter Seven: Downtown Ojai

The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.  —Mark Twain

The lesson will repeat until it is learned. —Author Unknown

Note: This is Chapter Seven of a true story.  All of the names except the author’s have been changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent.

Fishing On Facebook, Chapter Seven, Downtown Ojai

After our heavenly nature date on the Happy Valley Land in Upper Ojai, things were humming along.  Life started to feel more “normal,” again, at least for a few days.

On a Saturday before Christmas,  Adam and I explored Ojai like a couple of tourists. We strolled the decorated historic arcade, took in Primavera, HumanArts and other galleries. We checked out Love Heals, a new jewelry store, where I wished he’d buy me some earrings for Christmas.

After hitting the shops we strolled over to Osterio Monte Grappa where I ordered Zuppa Del Giorno “soup of the day,” which that day was a fabulous vegan vegetable soup, and Insalata Del Pra which is  Fresh Spring Mix Field Greens Tossed in House Vinaigrette.

Adam continued “testing” me by ordering Arpaccio All’ Asolana, Thin Slices of Raw Natural Angus Beef, Arugula, Red Onion & Saved Grana Padono.

In spite of my vegetarian sensitivities, in my altered state I viewed this as a manly meal. I reasoned Adam worked hard in his garden. And maybe he was Blood-Type O or B, the kind that thrives on red meat.

I was hoping he’d save a piece for Honey but he ate it all.

There was no need to travel to Italy, India or Indonesia. I was in Ojai, California’s Shangri La, the most romantic small town in the world!

Sitting at a candle lit table, I got a contact high from the other couples sipping wine.

I vowed that if Adam didn’t drink, I wouldn’t either.

I thought it was great that we could enjoy each others company stone sober.

On all our dates Adam would head home by 8 or 9 pm. I was pleasantly tired by then so his  going home early after some delicious good night kissing was fine by me.

There would be a nice email or phone message waiting for me the next day.

adam1@gmail.com writes:

Dear Suza:

I wanted to tell you that the greatest joy I have had in weeks was when you and I strolled through the arcade, stopping at several art galleries.  As we looked, you pointed out things to me and I pointed out things to you.

Such simple acts, yet our stroll and viewing meant so much to me.

Lets stroll again soon,

Love,

Adam

It was getting close to Christmas. I was still unpacking and moving into my new digs. At that point it suited me fine that Adam always came to Ojai to see me and had yet to invite me to his home in Santa Barbara.

When I expressed a desire to see his garden after he posted something particularly beautiful on Facebook, he would simply shrug and come up with a plausible explanation why we would see these snapdragons and calendulas,  fragrant flowering sweet peas climbing up the trellisis,  roses and white birch trees and all the other wonders I saw on Facebook,  another day.

I was already dreaming of Adam making me a dream garden.

One day when I pressed the point of visiting his place, he confided how he’d had trouble in the past with women stalking him. He described how he’d come home from work one day and one of the women he was dating or an ex girlfriend was sitting on the steps by his front door.

I relayed this anecdote to my friend Ann. When I explained that’s why I hadn’t been invited for dinner at his house yet, she said, “I can understand that.”

I felt secure enough to introduce Adam to a few of my friends. Macy, being a bit further down the road of Life then Ann and I, was not nearly as trusting. But I was so giddy that when she took me aside and gave me an earful I did not retain a single word she said.

I figured by Christmas (the four-week anniversary of our Farmer & Cook date), or surely by New Years, he’d trust me enough to invite me over.

Rather than considering his avoidance of showing me his house and garden as a red flag,  in my rose-colored world Adam’s stature actually increased.

Imagine that — I was dating a man so desirable that women stalked him! Sure, I wondered what he had really done to make someone wait for him to come home, but I didn’t dwell on it.

In fact, knowing from Facebook about Adam’s need for solitude, evidently at home as well as in nature, I went the extra mile to demonstrate that I was the trustworthy, independent type.

God forbid, if we ever broke up I’d never stoop to being a pathetic heap on his front stoop!

During this blissful period, Adam also took a loving interest in my health.

To back track just a bit, after our date at Lake Casitas, we exchanged a flurry of emails assuring each other we were in “perfect health.”

Here are a few excepts from our long-winded health emails.

From: adam1@gmail.com
To: sfrancina@aol.com
Subj: I am concerned

My Dear Suza:

I am concerned. One of the many things we talked about were some “medical/health issues.”

You told me that you have never had a mammogram. I have been thinking about that. I feel that it is better to be safe than sorry. We have both known women who survived breast cancer and those who did not.

A woman at your age should have had a mammogram long ago.

This is coming from a man who cares very much about Suza and her well being.

Love,
Adam

I replied:

My Dear Adam,

OK I will go get a check up–there is a medical procedure that might be an alternative to a  mammogram. It’s called a Thermography and I can get one in Ojai at Dr. Robin Bernhoft’s office over by the hospital.

I will make an appointment. No problem.

Thank you for your concern!

Suza

From: adam1@gmail.com
To: sfrancina@aol.com
Subj: Thermography

Dear Suza:

I read the articles on Thermography with great interest. You and I both know about the traditional mammograms and yes, women tell me they do not look forward to these exams. But they feel this is their only option. And it has saved lives.

But the holistic approach, as you know, is best. I like the fact that you have located a doctor in Ojai… Please let me know when your appointment is.

With love,

Adam

I took all this as further evidence of Adam’s good intentions. But just to be safe, I fired back this epistle, so he could see I was equally serious about him:

Dear Adam,

I take my health seriously. When I wrote a book on yoga and menopause  I did extensive research on hormones and breast health. While writing that book I lost a student to cancer – she was certain that doctor prescribed hormones played a part.

I have never taken any hormones or medications of any kind.

While I am concerned about my physical health, I am equally concerned about my emotional health.

It is hard on me to have these intense feelings and then have to sort them out on my own.

I read on Facebook that you are fasting but I wish we were eating together and talking about life.

Just as you are concerned about my health, I am concerned about yours.

You mentioned you had a recent aids test. Can you let me know the status of that?

With love,

Suza

Adam1@gmail.com wrote back:

Dear Suza:

I am  grateful that I am very healthy. I have never had any health problems.

I had a colonoscopy to check my colon for cancer this past spring. No problems. I had a test for aids and other STD’s. back in May of this year. I do not have aids or any std’s.  I have practiced safe sex with past partners.

My birth mother died from cancer and my birth father died of a heart attack.

I try and take the best care of myself. Physically active, eat right (most of the time) and I  believe in holistic medicine and cures. But I do not hesitate to use traditional doctors when I have a physical or other medical checkups.

I have all of my original teeth,  my gums and teeth are healthy. My eyesight is good, though I do use reading glasses to read. My hearing is good.

I feel  lucky to have not had any broken bones. Lord knows I fell off my horse dozens of times, but nothing more than bruises.

I am six foot tall, weigh 190 pounds and wear a size 11 shoe.

Both my birth mother and birth father had great heads of hair right up until they died, so I like the fact that I may not get bald soon.

I have never smoked, drank alcohol or taken drugs. I was taught that my body was given to me in a perfect state and that I should keep it that way.

I do not have any tattoos or body piercings.

I deal with stress mostly by living a peaceful spiritual life, and, as you know, I spend a lot of time out in nature. This is so healing for me, physically and emotionally.

I meditate a lot. Enjoy the feeling I get. Peace is important to me. But as I have said to you before, I do not hesitate to pick up the gun or sword to battle for the ones who cannot defend themselves.

The only exercise I have ever done is gardening, walking and hiking. I am not a runner, and I have never been interested in participating in sports.

I have never been in a car accident or any accident for that matter. Have on occasion cut myself in the garden, or bruised myself, but recover quickly.

Well… talk about baring my soul to you. There you have it. The only health problem I have now is my heart starts beating fast when we are close, so don’t give me a heart attack.

Love,

Adam

OK. I confess. I almost died laughing when I read Adam’s health report. Not the part about his parents, but the rest! The child in me found it hillarious. I showed Ann and we laughed like naughty school girls. But, at the same time, I found his  full disclsure (or so I thought) , and the part about his “heart starts beating fast when we are close,” utterly irresistibly charming.

I fell deeper in love.

Adam promised to accompany me to my Thermography appointment in the New Year.  His plans for future events took my sense of security to a higher level.

A few days later, after another happy  date, Adam wrote:

My Dear Suza, Good Morning

I came home last night emotionally exhausted, in a very good way. Went to bed at 9:30 thinking of you and woke up at 6 thinking of you.

 I feel very blessed to have a woman of your quality in my life.

Suza, you have become very special to me. I am overwhelmed by your beauty, inner strength, your spirit, your emotions, your soul and your female touch.

I feel a wonderful bond both when I am with you and when we are apart. I feel strength from knowing you. I feel love from touching you. I feel sweetness from talking with you and I feel peace from your spirit.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by Suza. You have the qualities of ten women all in the one woman that is you.

When we hung out at your house in the afternoon, I felt a kinship. When we walked around the arcade and had dinner, I felt a peaceful comfort in our seeing, learning and exploring things.

Your kisses, your female fragrance, your tenderness in touching me put me in spiritual heaven.

Namaste,

with love,

Adam

How could I not fall for a man who writes letters like this? (And these are not the best ones. The best  are tucked in the pages of my journal. For my eyes only.)

I tried not to reply too quickly:

My Dear Adam,

I read your beautiful Letter several times. I feel honored by what you have written and love and appreciate you and how you express yourself.

Namaste,

with love,

Suza

I also saved this Letter, sent a few days later:

My Sweet Suza:

I have grown to really appreciate and admire the wonderful woman that you are. Just thinking about you gives my spirit so much joy. You are truly a beautiful, loving, spiritual and passionate woman.

You have come into my life at a time when I was seeking peace, love, caring and communication from a woman. Suza, you have so much strength, so much love, so much beauty, so much gentleness and so much depth of soul.

I feel you, even when we are not with each other.

Love,

Adam

If he was in heaven from being around me, truly I was in heaven reading about it.

Adam came from a wealthy family that owned thousands of acres of land before the government bought it up. He told me the story of how he inherited his house in Ventura, which is how he came to move out of the Ojai Valley.

I had the impression he never had to worry about money a day in his life, whereas I can’t remember ever waking up and not worrying about money.

I was intrigued by the contrast of our lives and thought that maybe we had some lessons to teach other.

[I laugh as I write this Pulitzer Prize winning understatement.]

A few days before Christmas I wrote:

Dear Adam,

You have so many beautiful qualities that I love and appreciate so much.

In some ways I am a bit “further along spiritually” (to use your words) because I’ve been forced to grow up to cope with the hardships in my life.

I know “hardships” are relative –and compared to the untold misery of millions of people on the Planet, my life is golden.

But it strikes me that you were an only child, the focus of your parent’s attention. From what you have told me you have always had material (financial) security.

Whereas I grew up aware that we were very poor. When we emigrated to Ojai from Holland I worked alongside my dad since age 7, began cleaning people’s houses at age 10, worked as a night janitor at Thacher School after I had a baby at age 18, had added responsibility of two step children by age 21, and have rarely known a care-free day in my life.

My sense of you is that you have avoided the kind of Life I’ve led like the plague! You made a choice not to marry or have children.

I have earned my spiritual perspective and sense of humor about it all!

I do wish I had someone to hug me and make love with…but that can only happen in the deepest way if we bare our souls.

So keep the soul baring coming!

With love,

Suza

I really wanted to find out what made Adam tick. So I put on my smartest  PhD – in-Psychology-Hat and asked him to write me an essay on his “Greatest Fear About Women.”

I figured that a 57-year old man who’se never been married must have some fears.

I think I opened Pandora’s Box!

From: Adam Johnson adam1@gmail.com
To: sfrancina
Subject: My Greatest Fear About Women

My Dear Suza:

Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings with me.

You asked me, “What is my greatest fear about women?”

O.K. here goes.

Because of your question, feelings are starting to pour out from deep within me.

Here are my thoughts and feelings in no logical order. Take them as you like. I don’t know what will happen as I express these feelings to you, but I will let the chips fall where they may.

Suza, I truly miss my mother. I was very close to her. I was alone with her for three years after I was created by her affair with my birth dad.

I was with her when she died. I still want her attention. I enjoyed it when she was proud of me. I liked it when she hugged and comforted me.

 I was raised alone out on the ranch. There were no other women in my life on a daily emotional basis.

I did not start dating until I was in my twenties. Then I made up for lost time. I was out of control emotionally and physically.

Stupid macho me, looking back now.

No responsibilities, no marriage, no children.

Yes, you were right. Selfish and hurtful me. Blindly going through life woman after woman.

I am sure that I wrecked lives by my actions.

Were my past relationships with women all a false facade?

I controlled them (or so I thought). What was my anger really directed at? My mom for dying? Leaving me without the one woman I truly loved.

I was cheated out of her in my life by the lies I lived with, by the actions of both my step dad and birth dad. Then the ultimate rejection was her death.

Fast forward to now. Here I meet a wonderful woman named Suza Francina. Inside me are strong feelings of deep love, admiration and physical desire for you.

This whole relationship with you has rocked my soul…

I meet someone nice like you and then I throw you away, because for me to deal with my deep inner feelings towards women is too much for me to bear.

You are not my mother, yet you are a woman…

A second letter followed a few minutes later.

Suza:

I have really grown to enjoy the emotional company and great verbal sharing I have done with women over the past few years.

I don’t know if that means anything at all though.

You are so right in saying that actions speak louder than words.

I have tried to listen to your feelings about me,our relationship and how I have treated you..

I guess I have failed in this also. Too damn busy being Mr. Nature.

I want so much to have a loving, caring relationship with a woman. I shed a tear when I see couples in a store shopping, talking and sharing with each other about things, even holding hands…

I believed then and I still do now that I am not good enough for any woman. I now have come to realize that I am not good enough for you. When I have done this action in my past, women would ask me, “Why did you pull away from me?” and I would reply “To save you from me.”

How stupid and childish.

As I get older now, I feel that my world will never be complete without a loving lasting relationship with a woman I can truly love with all my heart.

And now I am wondering if I will ever even see you again, let alone have a loving relationship with you.

I have bared my soul to you….do with it as you like.

Love,

Adam

I quickly wrote back:

“Adam I understand…”

More Letters followed back and forth, day after day, between Adam and I.

Amidst all of this cyberspace soul-baring, I was aware that we hadn’t made any plans for Christmas.

Still, it gave my nervous system a jolt when just a few days before Christmas Adam announced that he would be gone all of Christmas weekend. He’d be leaving Friday morning and be back Sunday night or late Monday afternoon.

He said he had planned this trip before we started dating.

Adam had told me on several occasions that one of the reasons he never married was because he did not want to be tied down and he also liked to travel places alone. So, while I was disappointed that we would not have the romantic Christmas  at his house that I had envisioned,  I also saw a golden opportunity to show Adam that I was fine by myself, even during the holidays.

I wrote in my journal:

He’s perfect for me.  He hates cars, he hates sports and he wants to take off for three weeks to see the Grand Canyon.

He worries that if he gets married that he won’t be able to take off…does not always want a companion. He likes being alone!

I said I am a writer. I too need to be alone.

I spent Christmas unpacking more stuff and visiting my family. I accepted that Adam did not answer his cell phone when out in Nature.

Sunday night, the day after Christmas, there was this message:

Subject Line: I am Home

adam1@gmail.com  writes:

My Dear Suza:

I am home. Wonderful to visit the high desert. A real adventure to visit Jean and Sam (my cousin and her lifelong boyfriend). No rain up there. Got to see all the snow though in the high country above the Antelope Valley. Took a hike in Saddleback Butte State Park. Played with Jean’s  two cats and they took me out to dinner at Wendy’s (big event for them).

Good to be home. Had one inch of rain in my rain guage. Saw the snow on top of Topa-Topa… beautiful.

Will call you in the AM…plan to come up to Ojai midday on Monday or Tuesday.

Give Honey a hug for me.

Love,

Adam

That all sounded good to me. The little details about his relatives assured me he’d spent Christmas with family and didn’t have some side fling going like my last husband.

And I liked that he wrote, “Good to be home.”

That’s what my feminine soul loves to hear.

I wrote back and typed in the Subject Line: Home Sweet Home

My Dear Adam,

I’m happy to hear you are home and that you had a wonderful visit to the high desert. And a real adventure visiting Jean and Sam!

And now you are at home-sweet-home … with snow on top of Topa Topa.

I had such peace of mind when you left Ojai.

Our good communication and the love and affection that flows between us added to my Christmas joy. I had fun with my family and late afternoon hiked the basin area with Honey and Faccia. Later I took a walk in the rain with my umbrella…feeling carefree without the dogs.

I teach Monday morning but should be home around 1pm. Either Monday or Tuesday is fine to come over –do what is best for you…and see how the weather is.

I send you a kiss,

With love,

Suza (and a hug back from Honey)

Am I the world’s most accommodating woman or what?

To be continued,  Chapter Eight

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5 Responses to “Fishing On Facebook, Chapter Seven: Downtown Ojai”

  1. Nancy Peterson Says:

    Can’t wait for chapter 8! I have a 1-inch stack of emails saved from a previous long-distant relationship with a former Ojai resident (unless I finally got disgusted with my hoarding and threw them out). His secret past came to light after I’d fallen. I found out by casually reading a few of his personal emails to other former Ojai friends. Am I a bad person?

    Like

    • Suza Francina Says:

      Hi Nancy,
      No, you are NOT a bad person.
      Some things we have to do to protect ourselves.
      Thank you for reading along. Chapter Eight is cooking as we speak!
      Happy Spring!
      Suza

      Like

  2. Sarah Says:

    I bet there are tons of women out there who have had these nebulous internet relationships! We should all compare notes and blow these guys out of the water! Xxx

    Like

  3. Candy Says:

    Just WOW~

    Like

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