Archive for the ‘Fishing on Facebook’ Category

Fishing On Facebook, Chapter Eight: Yoga Room in Ojai

April 24, 2011

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

People who are only willing to look at or to be aware of one portion of themselves  are essentially living in a delusion—-well-intended though that delusion might be.  –The Shadow Side of Intimate Relationships, by Douglas Moseley and Naomi Moseley

On December 27, 2010, I wrote in my journal: 

The strangest thing happened today when Adam came to see me after he returned  from the trip he took over Christmas weekend.

He suddenly remembered that he “forgot “to tell me he almost died last year!

We were just standing around getting ready to walk the dogs when he turns toward me with an alarmed look on his face and blurts out, “I can’t believe I forgot to tell you this! Everyone else knows this about me but I haven’t told you. I’ve told you everything else — the story about my birth parents –my step father –my biological father — I took you to the land where I was raised. You know my whole history — but I haven’t told you this.”

” I can’t believe I forgot to tell you this! ” He repeated this again.

I’ll try to remember the gist of what he said.

“I can’t believe I forgot to tell you that last spring I almost died. I had open heart surgery. One of my valves collapsed. The doctors said that in another hour I would have been dead.”

When I asked to see the scars he said he did not want to show me.

I suddenly felt exhausted and said, “Let’s lie down while you tell me the whole story.”

I hadn’t seen Adam in almost four days – since the day before Christmas. It felt nice just to relax and be close to him while he talked.

I could not help but notice that  inside the house I did not feel the same sexual pull as out in nature. Even later, when he kissed me after telling his near-death story in great detail for about ten minutes, I felt nothing. In fact, I felt his kissing was impersonal. More like him reacting to the proximity of a woman –not necessarily responding to me personally.

He described how last spring –back in March– he had been feeling increasingly breathless. He had low energy and he noticed when hiking how he was slowing down. But typical macho man , he dismissed the seriousness of his symptoms over and over again, even when all his friends told him he had to go see a doctor. He told himself it was some infection or something in his lungs.

By the time he went to the doctors’ office they said he was “an hour away from being dead.” And rushed him into surgery.

Later, after I assured him that I was like a Yoga Doctor and that I had seen lots of surgery scars on my students and that his scars would not turn me off, he finally pulled up his shirt and showed me.

You can see where they cut his chest open. He said he has seen his heart beating and pumping blood up close on a monitor. I would hope his close brush with death would make him take Life more seriously.

Adam’s health revelation gave me a jolt. This explains why we haven’t done any strenuous hikes and why he stops to catch his breath when we walk uphill. He’s still recovering.

A little later, while we walked the dogs, he  told me about his Christmas visit with his  cousin Jean, and her life long live-in boyfriend Sam. He described how they all ate at Wendy’s for a treat. [Dear Reader, The reason I’m telling you these mundane details will make sense down the road.]

Later, after I absorbed that he almost died, Adam said he has his blood checked regularly to see if the medication dosage is OK .  I think he takes blood thinners, coumadin or cumudin —isn’t that rat poison? Apparently they check his blood regularly, weekly or twice a month.

I find it mighty curious that he did not mention any of this in that email where he described his perfect health. I don’t get it. How could he forget to tell me something like this especially since he’s on medication?

All this time he’s been going to the doctor at least twice a month. But all this time he “forgot” to tell me?

I even wrote in my journal, You can’t help but think, “What else has this goon forgotten to tell me?” 

But just like all the other thoughts that threatened to burst my bubble, I brushed them aside.

As I type my journal notes and write this part of the story it strikes me that finally revealing that he “almost died,” was a very clever move on Adam’s part.

 I can see now that the revelations about his health further softened my heart and helps explain why I cut him so much slack as the truth about his life unfolded in the days ahead.

And, by the same token,  I have to cut myself some slack and keep in mind that while all this dating and soul baring was going on that Adam and I were working on several hot environmental and wildlife issues. He was the shining knight on a white horse mentoring me. I was super charged to hang in there because at the end of the fairy tale we would metamorphis into a committed political “power couple.”

A day later, while resting in the Goddess Pose on my yoga bolster, it hit me how lonely I felt. I realized I needed to Speak My Truth to Adam.

 Soon. Today. Now. Before he was out of reach on another nature adventure.

So two days before he headed out to some cabin on the Kern River, I made a heroic attempt to reconcile his  love-letters with real-life.

On Thursday, December 30, 2010, I wrote in my journal:

Suza, snap out of it.  Practice “Divine indifference.”

At the top of the page I had written “John Muir.” That is how I thought of Adam and why I made excuses for his absence at Christmas. I reminded myself, “You knew he was like this from Facebook. He likes going into Nature alone.’

Then I wrote:

Must not forget to write down the phone conversation I initiated Wednesday that ended up with him saying, “Well, let me jump ahead. Would you like me to come live with you?”

 Suza, the problem is that you are conflicted, split in two.

This week you’ve heard him say several times that the two most significant events of 2010 were in April, when he almost died and doctors saved his life, and meeting you. That was the Friday before Thanksgiving, only seven weeks ago. But because you’ve known him since the 1970’s, it feels much longer.

I also wrote: The other day while he drove through the Arbolada he brought up again about eating meat. He is worried that if he hooks up with me he’ll have to cut back on Wendy’s hamburgers and trips to the steak house!

Part of me is incredulous that he is making meat-eating an issue but it turns out he’s been down this road before. He had another vegan or vegetarian girlfriend and, he said, “In the beginning, it’s not an issue but then reality enters in.”

What an insult. He’d give me up for a hamburger?

Wednesday December 29, 2010

On the phone with Adam I heard myself tell him again, “It’s been like this from the beginning. You act interested. But you are not available.”

I  told him, “Waiting has been good for us. It’s been hard for me, but good. It’s good for both of us to look at our patterns.”

I talk to Adam on the phone while sitting on the yoga room floor in Upavista Konasana, Seated Wide Angle Pose.  My feet wide apart, legs open, anchored to the Earth, my chest lifted, my pubis, navel, heart, third-eye, brain, mind centered.

I say, in my sweetest, calmest, most non threatening voice, “There is something I want to talk about.

 It may take a little while. It is very  sensitive. So it might take me awhile to find the right words.”

“Oh Kaaay…” He drawls.

I said that talking is like writing. If it does not come out right you can wipe the slate clean.  Like tearing up the page or deleting, and starting over. And if it still doesn’t come out right, you can try again.”

There’s a pause and then he says,”That’s very powerful.”

He always knows what to say.

So, then, encouraged by his response, I continue.

 “I want to tell you what I’d like. I know that doesn’t mean I can have it. But I want you to understand how I feel and what I’d like.”

“I’d like to spend New Years eve with you. Either in front of a fire at your house or on a futon in my yoga room with candles all around.

I need warmth. I need to be hugged. I want the evening to be open-ended. Where you don’t have to leave at 8pm and we can see how we feel.

It’s been good to delay sex. But there comes a point where it does not feel right to keep getting all fired up –and then –nothing.”

I said this so much better than I’m writing it.

I warmed up to it.

I said, “I want to give you space. I understand about being alone. ”

 (Earlier he had  tried to bring up that old-worn out point about “What if he wants to take off to the Grand Canyon for three weeks…”)

I said, “This is not about taking off to the Grand Canyon later on in our relationship, after we’ve been together. You going off alone in nature is not a problem. I told you, I’m a writer. I need time alone.

I understood when you left for Christmas to be with your cousin. But I really want to be with you on New Year’s eve.

I do not understand how you can write me those letters about how much you want me and then take off  again so soon.

It makes me feel lonely, rejected and confused.”

Adam’s response was very sweet. He is no dummy!  His voice got ever so tender and serious. So I know he heard me and understood.

But then, instead of staying quiet,  I made it easy for him to have an out.

I said, “ Even if I cannot have what I want at this time, I want to be understood.”

Then he says, “Now I feel torn. I’m glad you can express how you feel. I want to know how you feel. I’m glad you shared this.”

And then the tone of his voice got firmer. ” I’ve planned this trip. I’m going. I don’t go to New Year’s eve parties. And I go to bed early.”

“OK,” I said, “But I want you to know how hard this is for me. All this longing. I want to lie down with you and be close. It does not have to be all or nothing. I don’t know what it will lead to.”

“I guarantee I know what it will lead to.”  Says he.

So then I said, “OK. I respect that. I would not want to talk you into staying and then have you resent me because I talked you out of your trip.”

And then I dug in my heels.

I said, in my firmest feminine voice, “But I still do not understand why you have to be gone New Year’s eve.  Why leave that night? You have plenty of free time. Why not go mid week? Or next weekend.”

I don’t give up easy.

I said, “Adam, we are at the beginning of a relationship. New Years eve is special and I want to be with you.”

I was careful to say all this with dignity and not sound like I was begging to go to bed with him which ofcourse in a way I am.

He’s so smart.  He says, “OK.  Let’s just keep talking.”

I say, “I do love that you want to be alone in nature. But this is something to look at. Just like you say to me, “I want Suza to be Suza, I also want Adam to be Adam.”

So I said, “I’ve told you how I feel. Now the ball is in your court. Maybe you can find a way for us to be together before you leave.”

I need a Zen Master to hit me over the head with a stick.

Instead of staying quiet I dug my own grave. I said,

“If you go I will not be mad. We will see each other in a week. I just want you to know how I feel .

I cannot go on like this. Each time you visit it takes me day or two to recover. I can’t go on being distracted always thinking about sex.”

Then, after a few more minutes of this kind of hopeless exchange Adam suddenly says:

“Let me jump head. “ Pause. “Do you want me to live with you?”

Well, that’s one way to silence me. I wasn’t ready for that.

I told Ann some of this.  She said, “ I’m with your Gemini twin who knows how to practice divine indifference and love what is!  The more freedom you allow him, the more he’ll keep wanting to come back to you — scarred heart and all!”

December 31, 2010, Friday morning, I wrote in my journal,

Now it is Friday and this conversation seems long ago. I prefer that Adam not come to Ojai this morning and disturb me. I want to enjoy my weekend and not be missing him.

Mantra for the day: Suza, see things as they are, not as you wish them to be!

But Adam came to Ojai to say goodbye. I had to go finish emptying out my storage unit so we only had a few minutes.

As I gave him a  hug, he pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket. It was a sketch of a gardening plan for my new place.

It made me feel so hopeful! A tangible sign that Adam did care about me and intended to plant my dream garden after all!

A few hours later I went to Westridge Market. As I walked the aisles they were playing Allison Kraus, one of my favorite songs, You say it best, when you say nothing at all.

A wave of loneliness and sexual longing overcame me. It just about knocked me over into the cat food. Inside I was crying.

I went outside the store and called Adam’s cell. But it was too late. He was off my radar screen –again.

Out of reach.

That night I wrote this note to myself in large print:

It is so confusing. You don’t know if you don’t trust him because of your past, or his past, or both, or his actions in the present. Or the fact that he was lied to by his two fathers, his mothers, all his relatives, so you are apt to wonder if he lies too.

Three days of silence during which I tried to put my Life in order and make a plan for the New Year.

Then this hopeful email blinked on my computer screen.

adam1@gmail.com writes:

My Dearest Suza:

I am home now.

Had a very enriching and rewarding stay at a cabin along the mighty Kern River north of Bakersfield. The Kern was reallly roaring. The conifer forest trees were covered with snow on their branches. Brrrrrrrrr was it cold. Saw several robins and six young weasels out and about in places where there was no snow. I have always thought that the Kern River Canyon was one of the most beautiful spots in all of the Southern Sierras.

And seeing it this winter brought back many memories of my many visits here over the years.

Now home to reality and time to “get my act together” for the New Year. And see you.

Love,

Adam

I replied, right away:

My Dearest Adam

I love you and I am happy you are home. Looking forward to dinner Tuesday evening and hearing more about your adventure in that cabin along the mighty Kern River  — which intrigues me to no end.

Suza

*     *    *     *    *

The first week of the New Year flew by. Things were so busy I didn’t even think about going to visit Adam’s place in Ventura.

I had started teaching a small group Sunday morning class at my house and Adam was coming over after class. We planned to walk Honey together, go check out the new Hip Vegan Cafe for lunch and catch up on things.

There was a new student in the Sunday class, Jill, who I noticed was one of the many women who left Comments on Adam’s Facebook page. She was involved in several wildlife projects. I knew she would enjoy meeting Adam in person so I suggested to Adam that instead of picking me up at 11 am as we had originally planned, that he come at 10:30, right when class was over, so that he and Jill could meet and chat.

My students were still in Savasana, Deep Relaxation Pose, when Adam’s car pulled into the driveway. As he approached the house I put a finger on my lips for him to be quiet and motioned through the window to wait outside.

A minute later I brought the students back up  to a sitting position and ended the class.

I told Jill that Adam was waiting outside. As the door opened and students began leaving, Jill and Adam greeted each other. They stepped off to the side, a few feet away from the front door, where they could talk.

A few seconds after Jill and Adam met, I heard another student, Liz, exclaim, “Oh,” “That’s Adam Johnson, Diane’s  boyfriend!”

Talk about the cosmos pulling my yoga mat out from under me!

The Zen Master with the big stick had arrived. And he was hitting me full force on the head.

The moment I heard Liz say “That’s Diane’s boyfriend,” I knew it was true, even as in the next moment I told myself, “There must be some explanation.”

Well of course there was. Adam is never short on explanations.

As I found my legs and tried to recover from the blow, I glanced toward Adam for any sign that he heard Liz’s spontaeous outburst.

Adam was totally engrossed in his conversation with Jill. I don’t know how he could have missed it. Maybe I imagined it.

I followed Liz to her car. I said, “Who is Diane?”

She said, “I don’t think Adam expected to see me here. All I know is that that he and Diane have been together for at least  two years – -they have been to my house for dinner a couple of times… They live together…as far as I know they were still together at Christmas…. And they live in the same place…”

I know this happens all the time, since the beginning of time, all over the world — but still I had trouble wrapping my head around it.

Who was this man, really?

While  Liz was telling me all this I vaguely realized that if Adam had arrived a few minutes later he and Liz would not have bumped into each other. There was really only about a two-minute window of time for this synchronicity to occur.  Liz  goes straight from the yoga room to her car and zooms home.

In my pre menopause  years when  things like his happened I would have been screaming and yelling and calling Adam a liar and cheater.

But now I did no such thing.

Liz said she would call Diane and find out if Adam and her were still couple.

I said, “Please find out as much as you can. I do not date men involved with someone else.”

That old familiar queasiness I felt was not new. I’d been here before. Hadn’t I learned this lesson years ago? What kind of cosmic prank was this?

I went inside.  Jill was gone and Adam was sitting on the couch petting Honey and acting perfectly normal.

Maybe he hadn’t heard anything. No, he wasn’t deaf. He heard. He was just hoping I hadn’t heard.

I said nothing.

I went into the bathroom to calm myself and think.

I decided if he did not volunteer an explanation, I had no choice but to ask him “Who is Diane?”

I would stay calm and hear him out.

And then I would let him have it.

So I said in my most normal, neutral, natural voice, “Let’s go for a walk…”

Dear Reader, I still had no clue what I was really dealing with.

To be continued,

Chapter Nine, the basin, near Pratt Trail

Chapter Ten,  Meditation Mount, the Garden of Peace

Note: This is a work-in-progress.  When all the Chapters are complete the manuscript will go through a rigorous editing process.

The book version of these chapters will have side bars on yoga and writing. Keeping a journal, writing daily, is part of the author’s yoga  practice.

In the immotal words of  the Greek philosopher Socrates (469-469 BC) ,  Know thy self.

Fishing On Facebook, Chapter Seven: Downtown Ojai

April 23, 2011

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

Fishing On Facebook, Chapter Six: Upper Ojai, the Happy Valley Land

April 18, 2011

This is Chapter Six  of a true story. All of the names except the author’s have been changed. The protagonist is rooted in Ojai and does not have a big fat book advance to escape to Italy, India and Indonesia, a la Eat, Pray, Love.

From my journal, Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday night as I walked the basin with Honey, I stopped every few steps to write down incidents that I wanted to include in this Chapter.  As I scribbled quickly, I realized I was now becoming the Witness to the story.

*******

Today while typing my notes, I’m thinking to myself, “This story would be even more interesting if Adam had also kept a journal.”

What would it say? “Going to Ojai today to see Suza. Hope she doesn’t find out I am …”

Would journaling make Adam more conscious? 

 Is Adam capable of introspection? 

 Sure he is. I told him several times, “You are smart when you want to be and play dumb when it suits you…” Adam can go behind the podium cold and give a two-hour speech without notes. But when I asked him if he remembered that the first thing I said to him on our first date was, “The one thing I require is complete honesty, “ he shrugged and said , “It went in one ear and out the other.”

Now back to where we left off in Chapter Five

Monday, December 6, 2010, I wrote in my jounal:
 Adam finally called me back.

When Adam found out his not calling for three days had actually made me cry, he vowed to turn over a new leaf. He took me out for lunch at Garden Terrace. He began calling religiously, every day, sometimes twice a day. I told him, “Even if we don’t talk, it’s just so nice to come home and hear your voice on my answering machine.”

I think it finally hit him that this was something easy that he could do with little effort, no cost, no extra trips to Ojai and it reaped great dividends.

His daily calls gave me sense of security.

I also liked that Adam did not smoke, drink or do drugs. No liquor touched his lips. Ever.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010, I wrote:

Well, he’s not boring! I am giving him a chance. For the life of me the hormonal surge is so powerful I cannot sort out what this attraction is about. I do know I like him more and not less.

I am still in utter disbelief that this has hit me out of the blue. I am not used to sitting down for two and a half hours and enjoying someone’s company [referring to lunch that day at  Garden Terrace.]

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I keep thinking back to our lunch date Tuesday. Am getting better at being present and not feeling nervous or embarrassed.

Like all human beings, Adam is a bundle of contradictions. I’m sure he ordered a hamburger to test my reaction. He joked that if we ever live together,  I won’t let him eat meat. I pointed out that my dogs and cats are not vegetarians and we get along fine.  [And in the back of my mind I wonder if  I think of him moving in as kind of like adding a pet to the family]

I’ve stopped trying to tell him that we environmentalists should “walk the talk,” and not eat meat from factory farms or from beef that is destroying the rain forest. He knows all that.

He says he feels a “sense of responsibility.” That I am “more vulnerable than him.” [Referring to our relationship, not food.]

The whole lunch was filled with provocative flirtatious statements designed to get me going—in which he succeeded.  As Beato used to say, “He could have knocked me over with a feather and I would have fallen in his lap…”

My motto is, “Be yourself because they’re gonna find out…sooner or later… anyway…”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Nature date with Adam to Upper Ojai, the Happy Valley/ Beatrice Wood land.

It is impossible for me to separate Sex, Nature and Adam, the persona. Why don’t I just surrender and fall into the abyss ?

No, honestly, I think we are doing good.

He always arrives a little early, I like that!

I gave him a copy of my last yoga book. Tried to get him to practice a few poses before we left. When I encouraged him to sit cross-legged on a big bolster he crashed into the wall. “That’s one way to extend the house,” he joked.

As I write this my mind is all a whirl. Here is a man who does bare his soul—more naked than I think he realizes. We covered so much ground —on all levels—walking the Happy Valley land.

When he came to pick me up this morning saw him plain and simple. Just an older, aging, geeky man. But the moment we were climbing up Dennison Grade I was transported.
 
I know we are in that magic grace period that usually only lasts a little while.

I like that he wanted to stop at the view point where you can see the whole valley below. I did not even have to ask. It is so amazing to be in Nature with him. He right away spotted a Turkey Vulture on the distant phone line…a hawk flew overhead… such a gorgeous day!

Went to Beato’s Studio. Closed weekdays which was perfect as we had total peace, quiet, and privacy. We stood on the hill watching the horses below. I was so happy. The energy flowed stronger than ever between us. It was not just a dream at Lake Casitas.

He told me how he used to ride alone all day with only his wolf-dog for companion. We talked about going horseback riding –something I’ve wanted to do all my life.

He told me more about all his trips around the world with his dad. About Rwanda. How he thought he saw groups of boys carrying backpacks but when they got closer his dad pointed out they were guns. Child soldiers… He saw dead bodies…    

He knows the whole history of Ojai even better than I do. Told me about the Upper Ojai environmental battles in the 1980’s –they wanted to put a race car track on the land there.

 We talked about politics. He’s thought about running for office again. I joked he reminded me of Abraham Lincoln. “Honest Abe.” He said, “You know what? A reporter who interviewed me back in the 80’s called me that.”

He understands the need for women’s empowerment!

But the best news is that he was part of a men’s group. He mentioned again seeing Greg Churchill for therapy after he found out he had a sister and the truth about his biological father. And he also went on a retreat with Robert Bly, I think at the Ojai Foundation or somewhere else. He is familiar with Joseph Campbell.

He mentioned other retreats he’s gone on. That was a surprise to me.

I am such an inhibited journal writer. My parents are ninety now and hardly ever come over but I still live in fear they will discover my journals.

They will snoop and peek and find out that after so many years I am out in Nature enjoying the kiss of Male Energy.

While we were looking out at the views I could not resist nuzzling his delicious sun drenched neck. …with the vast view of green fields and the Topas behind him.

I had to calm myself down. But I am still over the edge. There is not going to be any quick too soon sex in a field somewhere.  Ann reminds me, “The longer you wait, the better it will be. – Within limits, of course.”

But of course I am too inhibited to write down the most delicious parts.

 It got pretty intense in a sweet way and we discussed sex in a good way–like grown ups.
 

It was just the right degree of passion and restraint.
 
I also saw how his mind works. When things got too intense he pulled himself together and put on his Nature Hat and started talking about plants—too delicious for words!

We talked about romance. Whoa! He understands romance! He indicated I ought to wear something beside “yoga clothes.” I said I would love to wear dresses and necklaces.

We are both trying to see the “real person” –not just what the other symbolizes.

We talked about expectations. What it means to be a boyfriend or girlfriend. I blurted out, “If you have a sexual relationship that means you are that person’s boyfriend or girlfriend, “ or some such idiotic thing. As soon as I said it I realized that was false. Old illusions die hard!

When we got back he always walks me inside…as he was leaving he smiled and said, “Looks like I have a yoga teacher.”   I love that!
 
And whoa! He put this on his Facebook page.  

We are so ahead of ourselves!

Next week is very busy for both of us. Good we have these “cooling off” days in between these Nature dates.

I told Ann, “He really likes me!”  She said, “ Duh!  Of course he does! Not every man in the world is like your dad, dissing you in favor of your born-again sisters!”

My therapists always told me my imagination belongs in a book and not real life.

Continued Chapter Seven 

Sex is a trickster. It can feel good no matter how unfulfilling or troubled the relationship… Because sex leads to bonding, problems with sex in a relationship may increase with fear of intimacy. Anyone who fears commitment will run when he senses the growing bond that forms automatically as sex matures. 

–David Richo, How to Be an Adult in Relationships.

Fishing on Facebook, Chapter Five: Lake Casitas

April 15, 2011

This is Chapter Five of a true story. All of the names (except mine) have been changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent, depending on your perspective

On Thursday, April 14, 2011, I wrote in my journal:
Fell asleep very early. Woke up 2 am and started working on Chapter Five. It was very painful. Sometimes reading my journals feels like getting kicked in the stomach. One sentence keeps jumping out at me, “For my mental, emotional and spiritual health I must write down everything.” I can see that I was trying to stay conscious. I still remember the drug-like intensity that day we went to Lake Casitas…

On Monday, November 29, 2010, I wrote:
Adam called at 8:45 am, just as I was leaving to go teach. He sounds so relaxed and confident, it kind of intimidates me. His voice is really powerful. Have to really work to keep my center. I have to work today–so it won’t work out to see him. Thankfully, he is very busy with meetings. He asked if I like picnics. Heck, of course I do! Thursday is the first mutually free day  so we will go explore and picnic at Casitas that day.. He has to go back to Santa Barbara  for a meeting by 4pm so we’ll head out early morning.

I could see from the photos and comments on Adam’s Facebook page that he was both spiritual and political. He wrote how he went to Meditation Mount to meditate and find peace. I told Ann to check out the photos of his amazing garden and also his house that showed how he decorated for the holidays. Not many men have that kind of feminine streak. I was impressed when he wrote that he bought a new cookbook and was going to try a new chocolate cake recipe. Plus, he wasn’t shy about expressing his feelings. Adam’s Facebook persona was your all-around sensitive, successful male. There were no photographs of Mrs. Johnson or any hint he shared his house with anyone.

Adam’s  image was firmly etched in my mind.

The main shadow on the horizon was this business of “social dating, “ that he had brought up on our date at Krotona. Our date at Lake Casitas would give me a chance to ask all my burning questions. I decided to run what I planned to say by Ann:

Sent: 12/1/2010  Subj: Questions re “Social Dating,” and Life

Here are the questions I want to ask…the things I want to say…my challenge is to ask the questions in a friendly way, at the most appropriate time…without sounding suspicious  or like I’m accusing him of something…

Some of his behavior reminds me of my last husband, who was a pathological liar. Maybe I’m just projecting stuff from the past.
 
Yesterday on the phone we talked about self-esteem….how no matter how it looks on the outside if you are not right in your core you will “act out.” We talked about guys like Tiger Woods…etc.. Some of this I tried to say last time but can’t remember what he said. How does this sound?

You said that these “social dates” you go on are not romantic…not sexual…that these are women who ask you out …but how do you think these women see these dates? 
 
This leads to the question of why would he ask if “I’m not comfortable with that,” unless there is something going on that I might not be comfortable with.
 
I want to know why he calls in the morning and tells me how much he loves me and wishes he were holding me.  Is this is just one of his lines he uses to get women thinking about him in a sexual way? It worked the first few times but now it just leaves me cold.
 
I suspect he likes having a bunch of women interested in him.
 
I already told him that my feelings are as much about my history with men as they are about him.
 
But most of all I want to find out what he is looking for.
 
I do feel comfortable talking about anything with him…but I have to keep my emotions in check… .I need to gather information to figure out if this is a man is available for a real relationship.
 
And I want to know when he had these six month live-in relationships did he carry on, on the side…Is it OK to ask all this…in the right tone…???

I can’t feel romantic toward him if I know after our date at Casitas he has a “social date.”
 
So I think the best course for me is just be myself and put a lid on romantic hopes!
 
OK enough of this… I really do need to protect my heart!
 
Ann wrote back:

Your questions–if asked in a loving way–all sound appropriate to me. These are things you need to know because you’re taking care of yourself! 

But I do want to add a thought, in response to “I really do need to protect my heart!” –that the heart needs no protection. Only the ego wants protection!

Also, try as you might, you’re not going to be able (I don’t think) to put a lid on your romantic hopes. You’re a human and a woman and you’re attracted to him. What you can do is keep acting as your own wise parent and do (and accept) only what feels right for yourself.

Good luck tomorrow.

I was worried that Adam had me on a pedestal. I wanted to be upfront about where I was in Life so I decide to have him pick me up in the river bottom at my humble writing hut. I wanted him to know that I didn’t have any assets, other than myself.

Early Thursday morning Adam picked me up. I wore my most feminine outdoorsy top and pants and he complimented me on how nice I looked. I tried to act perfectly natural and relaxed like it hadn’t been aeons since I spent the day out in the boonies with a man.

I was still on my juice feast/raw food cleanse and brought along a bottle of fresh carrot and celery juice. I also loaded up a basket with ripe organic bananas, apples, oranges, almonds, walnuts, dates, carrots, cucumbers and a container of humus. And, since this was a romantic picnic, I’d made a special trip to Rainbow Bridge for three kinds of organic Fair-Trade chocolate, including my favorite: Sunburst Farm chocolate covered ginger pieces.

Being a woman, I also remembered to bring water, cups, utensils, a table cloth from Africa and a yoga blanket.

I figured we could stop at the Farmer & the Cook and pick up a sandwich for Adam but he said that the food I packed would be just fine. As we drove to the Lake he told me that he fasts one day a week. It was something he an his dad started doing while they worked in Africa to show solidarity for all the people that go hungry every day.

I thought to myself, “What great global consciousness he has.”

We talked about all the environmental issues near and dear to my heart.

My opinion of him went up ten notches.

The effect of a free day out in nature was electric. It had been ages since I’d taken a whole day off and I felt happy and carefree.

True to his word, Adam took me to the hill on the land where he grew up. There were no other people in sight and as we sat on the grass looking down at the sparkling lake we could have been anywhere.

As they say in romance novels, “Time stood still.”

We took a little walk. I had stuffed the bag of chocolate covered ginger in my pocket. After awhile we sat on a log. As if in a fairy tale, a deer appeared in the distance. Adam saw it first and put a finger on his lips, signaling me to be quiet.

We were so still, Adam and I and the enchanting deer…

When the deer disappeared I hand-fed Adam the chocolate…my fingers touched his lips…we started kissing…

Every plant, every leaf, sparkled… When an eagle flew over our heads, I took it as an auspicious omen…

From my journal, Thursday night, December 2, 2010
.
I felt he really revealed himself at a soul level today.
  
The energy between us was pretty intense. Good thing we had our picnic out in the open. I had to move away from him a few times just to keep my feet on the ground.
 
Asked him lots of questions…felt I got honest answers…I was projecting past fears.
 
I’m still a bit confused about his past relationships. Talked some more about why he’s never been married.
 
He said he feared that I would realize he was not as far along as I was spiritually.
.
I love how he notices everything in nature …details I miss…I am afraid I am smitten when he starts describing all the plants and birds… I feel his soul connection to nature.
 
He is very different having never gone to public school…just grew up in nature and traveling the world with his dad.
  
Rode horses all his life…wants to go horse back riding again.
 
We saw deer…hawks… such a romantic setting, hard not to get swept away.
 
There is something  mystical about us reconnecting forty years after we first met.
 
Whatever the future holds, this is a great learning experience for both of us.

Adam sent a sweet email that evening. I saved it in my journal:

From: adam1@gmail.com
To: sfrancina@aol.com
Sent: 12/2/2010 Subj: A Special Day

My Dear Suza,

WOW…what can I say? I spent a very special day in a most wonderful place, feeling the soul of my parents and sharing it with a very special woman, YOU…who I have special feelings of love for.

  I felt so much inner peace after I left you.
Suza, you are very precious, very special, very loving, very caring, very pretty and  a very interesting woman.  Please don’t stop being who you are….this is the Suza I am attracted to.

Good Night…I am off to bed now, with sweet thoughts of you.

Love,

Adam
I smiled and reread those blessed words several times. The eternal young innocent girl in me quickly wrote back:

My Dear Adam,
 
It was pure delight to be in Nature with you, and to feel the forces of Nature all around, inside and out.
 
You shared many things about yourself today at a soul level … I feel our connection,  our friendship, deepening.
 
I hope you are in heavenly peaceful sleep as I write this.

With love from my heart to yours,
 
Suza

I called Ann and gushed that we had another amazing day…

Later that evening I remembered more things that happened and wrote this in an email:

Ann, I forgot to tell you how he blurts things out totally uncensored. He says things that most people think but don’t usually say. Here’s an example:

As we were headed back from Casitas we passed a  slender, very fit, woman jogger with quite noticeable breasts in her tank top. She looked like she works very hard for her “hard body.” He made a comment about her breasts, questioning if they real.
Well, the anthropologist in me is always curious to hear what men think but still it startled me. 
 And then he turns toward me and asks, “Are your breasts natural?”
I wasn’t really prepared to bare my bosom about my bosom. But, instead of keeping quiet and smiling sweetly I plunged into a swamp.

I said, “They are mostly natural…”
And in the next breath I added, “You really should not be asking sensitive questions like this.”
Then I gave him this whole spiel about having a baby at eighteen that I breast fed for three years. And how fourteen years later I had a daughter who I nursed for over two years. Then I told him how my third husband was crazy about me but after a few years he started clipping ads for breast augmentation or whatever the euphemism is.

I even felt it necessary to explain that I have quite a large rib cage and having had a baby so young and nursing two kids for almost six years left me looking …not as nice… I told him how the surgeons always want to do what he saw on the jogger we had just passed but that I had insisted on a smaller  natural looking enhancement.

I even told him how back in the 1980’s I wrote a humorous story entitled, “It’s Not My Fault the World Wants To Be Fooled.” Some people thought I made it up!

I was feeling defensive. So I said that this was twenty year ago and I never think about. I assured him my breasts look and feel natural and that it was no big deal…

Ann wrote back:

oh…these admissions…these bare-rings of our soul…and bosoms…

I am smiling and chuckling as I read . . . And I must say that I had no idea about your enhancement; your bosom looks completely natural.

I slept well that night, confident the day had gone well, except for Adam’s rude question.

*********************************
Three days after our date at Lake Casitas I emailed Ann again:

Something about this does not make sense. We’ve had three dates, each time we hit it off…and then SILENCE…

I won’t call him although I’m sorely tempted.

I think, “What if he’s depressed…” “What if he’s thinking if she likes me she’ll call…” but I realize that does not make sense…
 
So…he’s either terribly immature…afraid…has “social dates” … what?
 
I try not to think about it…but I do wonder WHY he doesn’t call…

I last saw him Thursday at 3pm. FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY. That seems awfully long not to call and I am pathetic thinking about it…just like I did in my teens…

I assured Ann I would do as she said. I would not call Adam. “Whenever I have the urge to call him,  unless it’s a return call, I will call you instead. If you’re busy just allow me to leave a message on your answer  machine and that will quell the urge.”

I googled “Rules of Dating.”

The Rule for sex: Wait as long as possible.

************************************”
On December 5, 2010, I wrote:

Ann,  I am going to write a story about this.
 
I am going to write exactly what we said and did on Thursday at Casitas. I am going to describe my state of mind, and, I am going to find out his state of mind and describe it.
 
I feel like I have been duped and lied to.

But I won’t say any of this when I talk to him again.
 
My heart hurts so bad…

I let myself feel the pain I’ve been trying to keep a lid on…

I sat in my bed with my head in my hands.

I just sat there and prayed for guidance.

Ann, if what you say is true, that he is clueless that after our very intimate time together (I did not have sex with him, thank god , but it feels as if I have on an etheric or is it astral level ) after the kissing and deep sharing at a soul level…if he is really clueless what three days of not talking means to a woman…then I need to know this for myself and hear it from him.

I just wanted to scream.

Then as if in  a dream I dialed his number…he never answers…it is some remote voice mail system…not even his voice… I left a very calm message…my voice was detached..I said,
 
“Hello Adam, this is Suza, calling about 9:15 Sunday evening… I wanted to ask you something,” in a tone that was friendly yet business-like so he would never suspect what is boiling beneath the surface.
 
And I added, “It’s OK to call even if it’s late.”
 
After all, he did say in his early emails to please feel free to call him anytime.
 
Well, I just did!

So now it’s 11:10 pm and he still has not called.
 

I’ll bet he’ll have some excuse. Well, I can’t wait to hear it. Maybe he went to bed early.  Sleeping peacefully while I ‘m crying!
 
So I am writing all this because when he does call I am going to try with every ounce of compassion and strength and unconditional love  that I can muster– to give him the benefit of a doubt and hear him out without interrupting.
 
 I want him to feel safe to reveal himself. I want to understand his state of mind. I want to know what I’m dealing with. A three year old? Thirteen? Emotionally how old is this man-child?
 
Because I cannot keep going through this. I want to tell him “Three strikes and you’re out…”
 
He contacted me first and he initiated this relationship.  He is very experienced with women and by now he knows what he is doing.  I gave him a nice easy out that first week (and I have the letter to prove it).
 
So if after all this he still wants to keep seeing me I am going to set up some rules because I’ll be damned if I’m going to play this game by his rules! Clearly I need to be the one setting the rules!

**********************

Ann wrote back:

God–I so feel for you! It’s exactly what I (and maybe every other woman in the world) go through. One thing I’m pretty sure of:  He has no idea that his three days of silence are a problem for you. Men are just unconscious that way! 

You’ll find out, probably tomorrow, what he’s been up to.

*************************

And what was Adam doing while I was torturing myself?

I found this entry on his Facebook page.

Adam Johnson
Peace on Earth… What are you wishing for this Christmas?

I called Ann. She yelled, “Oh, for Christ’s sake! Does he have multiple personalities?”

If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drives us crazy, can be our teacher. – Pema Chodron, author, When Things Fall Apart

To be Continued, Chapter Six

Adam is fishing on Facebook but women want to reel him in real life….

Fishing On Facebook, Chapter Four: Krotona, “The White Feather of Peace.”

April 13, 2011

Chapter Four, Krotona, “The White Feather of Peace.”

From my journal, Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just got back from Krotona Hill where I spent the afternoon with Adam. Will write everything after I feed cats, dogs, finish laundry, make salad…eat salad. Still on juice cleanse and eating mainly raw food.

I need to write down everything to bring this into reality.

Meeting at Krotona in nature with privacy was a good idea.

We sat in the sun on a stone bench overlooking the valley.

He wants to meet again tomorrow –but don’t know if I have time.

Better do my chores.

Next page:

Oh boy!

Is he ever interesting!

I swear he hardly stopped talking. But he did ask me almost as many personal questions as I asked him.

I parked my car in the Krotona parking lot, near the Rose Garden that is in front of the library. I had told him to meet me in back where the fish ponds are so we could see the hawks that I saw there the other day but I heard him call my name and saw that he was sitting on a bench in the sun, in front of the library.

It was freezing cold except for that sunny spot where he sat.  The spot he picked was the very best warmest spot with great views and privacy.

The whole vibe was different from last Friday (only nine days ago!) when we met at the Farmer & Cook.

Here is what happened off the top of my head — not necessarily in chronological order.

When I first saw him he walked toward me and gave me a white feather he had found. He said it was the “white feather of peace.”

I guess I was kind of hard on him about not calling all week.

We sat close together on the stone bench and he told me the real names of every mountain in sight. With a story. And the names of every plant we could see. Plus their history and how they got here. Such great views of the valley. 

Oh, before that, when we first started talking I said something about why we had to be careful. Because I genuinely like him and we could do good work together. So we have to be conscious, I told him.

He said he fell in love with me and had to get a handle on it.

He thanked me multiple times for putting up with what he did during the week.

Said what he did with me (not call or email) is what he periodically does when he is on overload. When he feels overwhelmed he turns off his phone and email till he finds his balance.

Now I understand why he said he needed to be “off my radar screen” for a few days.

In the course of two hours he pretty much  revealed his whole sexual past.

He says he is trying to reign himself in, so to speak. No sexual encounters for eight months, some sort of record, I gather.

Later told me that about 80% of the women on his Facebook page are old lovers/girlfriends. I think he’s exaggerating.  Hope that’s not true!

He said the longest he’s ever lived with a woman is six months.

Women move in with him but he mentioned they keep their old place. I said well maybe they intuitively they know they may need their old place back again.

I asked him again if he’d ever been married. Still find it hard to believe a 57-year old man like him has never been married! He stretched his arms out and said something about “not going through that door….” (the long-term relationship/ marriage door).

Later he said sometimes he feels sad about this. He said he notices couples in stores, like when he’s at Home Depot, buying things together. He said he notices the way they talk to each other like when they are deciding on the color of paint.

I asked him why do these women that move in with him move out? He claims the separation is mutual. He says old girlfriends occasionally stay with him to get back on their feet. He says he just sees them in the hallway or kitchen, like a sister. Sounds like he has a big house with separate wings.

I felt very relaxed this time. We both asked each other tons of snoopy questions like does he have any diseases. No, healthy as a horse.

He’s kind of like a wild animal that has managed to participate in the world. Found out more about the different organizations he helped start.

We sat close together and then walked around Krotona arm in arm, in part because it was so windy and freezing cold.

He said he is aware of his patterns. How he sleeps with women too quickly, and I gather in his youth very indiscriminately.

He was raised on goats milk. Maybe he’s like a goat…

 This time I felt very comfortable around him… Felt attracted to him.. Felt safe in Nature at Krotona.

He was four years old (or maybe younger?) when his biological father introduced his mom to his best friend, who then married his mom and raised him as his son.

He is very close to his dad. Said again that he plans to take me to the land where he grew up. Said his dad will be watching and that I would feel his spirit. That his dad would be happy he was with me.

Says he feels he has two men, two fathers in him. He’s pretty sure his biological dad had multiple affairs –not just with his mom. And because he and his dad were sometimes gone a month to Africa or India (his dad worked for some World Wildlife organization) he’ pretty sure his mom and biological dad continued their affair.

He also thinks this because the biological dad came over to ride the horses his parents kept on the property. So his biological dad was always around and his mom was often alone.

His mom did not drive. She was a full-time homemaker.

He said he and his sister (who found him thirteen years ago) compared notes. They realize their parents (all four parents, biological and adopted) made sure he and his sister did not meet each other. Their biological  dad never took Adam’s sister to the “Ranch” where he boarded his horses (and where he saw Adam grow up but never acknowledged that Adam was his biological son) .

It’s not clear to me if his biological father’s wife –the woman who raised his sister and who his sister thought was her real mother– knew that her husband was the father of the daughter they adopted. They already had three sons and I guess the father told his wife that he knew about a baby girl that was up for adoption .

Back in those days people didn’t talk about stuff like this. His sister found out that the woman who raised her was not her biological mother at her mother’s funeral. Some relative told her.

Also, Adam was home-schooled in an era where parents had to get the courts permission. It was highly unusual. He said it was because his mom did not want him getting exposed to bad influences (or something like that) plus his dad wanted to take him along on all his trips for the World Wildlife Organization.

Plus he and his sister suspect the parents were worried they might meet each other at school.

He said he has had some therapy about all this. Said he saw Gregg Churchill and other therapists. Said he went to a men’s gathering at the Ojai Foundation or something to do with Robert Bly. Something about 12-steps. Oh, he does not drink, smoke or do drugs. Not even any social drinking.

He thanked me several times for my letters (emails). Said again that I am a strong woman…something about “you know how to pull the sword…”

He repeated the three words I used in one of my emails to describe him. What did I say? Rude or selfish…hurtful…immature?

This man has had amazing life experiences!

He’s very spiritual. Believes in past lives. He’s not Jewish but attracted to the Kabala and Judaism.

Even though it was cold we walked in the shady area by the side garden, the meditation garden. Everywhere we walked he told me names of every plant and  tree. So romantic. He rubbed some leaves to release the scent and held it under my nose.

Now  I am more used to his looks…very tall…kind of looks like a farmer or a very well self-educated outdoors man type. Very earthy/masculine.

His dad (the adopted dad) was a successful landscaper. He said he plans to ask Krotona who does their gardening. Said he’d like to move back to Ojai.

I told him a little bit about my pattern of moving in with men too quickly.

Amidst all this I heard him make plans for the future. He wants to meet tomorrow. He’s planning  a day to explore the Casitas area and also Upper Ojai –the Happy Valley Land. I’ve been wanting to do that for ages. He likes going to Meditation Mount–all the Ojai power spots.

 He had to leave at 3:30 pm so we only had about two and a half hours. Said he had to get ready go to  the ballet but he added that he wished he didn’t have to go. Said he likes ballet but this is the Nutcracker and he’s seen it many times before. A woman friend’s daughter is in the show and she had an extra ticket.

I told him to feel free to call me anytime – after he said the same thing to me.

We gave each other a long heart to heart good bye hug. And I gave him a quick kiss on the lips.

Oh, one thing that I did not like. I did ask him if he was dating other women. I know he lives alone but I had to ask. He says he does a lot of “social dating.” I don’t really know what that is but next time I see him I’m gonna ask if these women he’s “social dating,” know it’s just a “social date,” or do they think it’s a real date…

Well, dear reader, as you can see, that was a big day in my early days with Adam. I was high as a kite when I came home from Krotona and completely forgot that first dates are like a hallucination.

In the back of my mind I was still a bit worried about this ballet he was going to with some mystery woman, but, that evening, I received an email that helped put my fears to rest.

From: adam1@gmail.com
To: sfrancina@aol.com
Sent: 11/28/2010 Subj: Thank you

My Dear Suza:

  Thank you so much for sharing your beauty and the beauty of Krotona Hill with me today. I left fully inspired. 

I know I have said this to you before, but I really admire the woman that Suza is. Your personal strength, your spirituality, your closeness to nature,your physical beauty, your laughter, your ability to share your feelings — all of this makes me feel humble in your presence.

  Nothing will remove these feelings  and the memories of time we spend together from me.

I enjoy your company. And Krotona Hill was the perfect place to reconnect our spirits. You couldn’t have picked a more beautiful spot in The Ojai.

Stay warm tonight and know that you are inside my loving spirit.

Thank you for accepting my “feather of peace”.

with love,

Adam

I hesitated to share something so personal with Ann but finally the young girl in me just had to tell someone my delicious secret. Before forwarding Adam’s letter, I called and told her about my amazing time at Krotona.

Ann is a bit older and wiser than me.

Well, “ she said after I told her everything, “It seems there’s hope again. Fascinating!”

Then I said, Ann, he sent me another Letter. I’m afraid to show it to you.You might throw a bucket of cold water on me!

Oh come on,” she said, “Send it.”

So I did. A few seconds later she wrote back:

 Wow–that’s beautiful. I wouldn’t throw a single drop of cold water on that message. And, as your longtime friend, I feel that he sees you truly and truly appreciates you.

x o x/a

Afrer all that I sent a reply to Adam1@gmail.com


From: SFrancina@aol.com
To:adam1@gmail.com
Sent: 11/28/2010 Subj: Thank you too Re: Thank you

   Dear Adam,

  Thank you for your beautiful letter and being so loving and open with me.  It was so sweet to sit with you in the warm sun, on the bench at Krotona Hill, overlooking our beautiful Ojai Valley.

  You are one of the most unique, amazing, interesting men I have ever met — it is a pleasure and kind of a cosmic adventure getting to know you!

  I enjoy your company immensely, and wholeheartedly  agree that Krotona Hill was the perfect place for our spirits to reconnect.

Today I felt very relaxed and happy around you…I love you and appreciate how you are revealing who you are on all levels…physical…psychological…spiritual…

  Your white feather of peace sits here on my desk…

  With love,

  Suza

  I emailed Ann and said I was a bit worried that we were moving too quickly but maybe it was OK because I’d known him back in the 1970’s and we had this whole Ojai history together. It was not like he was some stranger I picked up in a bar. I said I was afraid I was getting too attached.

 

 

Fishing on Facebook, Chapter Three: The River Bottom

April 11, 2011

Early morning walk in the river bottom, Ojai, California 

As I read Adam’s latest letter, my feminine spirit soared. HE was thinking about the “powerful things” I’d said. He wanted to move back to Ojai! All his feelings had been pouring out since he connected with me.  Feelings!  I was miles ahead of the pack because I “understood his connection to Ojai.”

But the part that my feminine mind really zeroed in on was when he said “I would like to take you to the hill my home sat on….”

Adam was taking me home to meet his parents, albeit they were ghosts…

At our Farmer & Cook lunch date,  Adam had confided  how he often goes to the hill where he grew up to commune with the spirit of his  father (the man who raised him, not his biological father).

 Adam had told me how he feels his father’s presence on the land. He also confided how much he missed his mother, who died thirteen yeas ago, just a few weeks before he found out that he had an older sister. (He found out that he had a sister with the same biological parents  because she was searching for her biological mother.)

All of this tugged at my heart.

I had difficulty following the saga of his birth parents, but my heart went out to him.

It was the full moon and that letter put me over the top. Adam’s words were like a powerful aphrodisiac. The hormonal floodgates opened. That evening, as I walked the river bottom with Honey and Nubio, the pendulum of my celibate psyche swung the other way. I hadn’t thought about sex for ages and suddenly it was all I could think about.

 I could feel all my juices flowing. Juicier than I ever felt in my younger years.

I wrote in my journal:

Full Moon Sunday November 21, 2010

All day I hoped Adam would call. Took a walk at sunset and watched the moon rise. I am no longer content to be a nun. I want to be with a man in the worst possible way. Hadn’t he joked about us going for a walk in the full moon at midnight? I can’t stop wishing Adam would call. All my yoga and Krishnamurti philosophy has gone out the window. My nervous system has a mind of its own. I remember how for years when I had my period on the full moon how emotional I’d get. I would cry and cry. And here I am post menopause and nothing has really changed. I feel like crying and crying.

Sex is energy. And now out of the blue, two days prior to the full moon and today on the full moon I can feel the sex centers (mind/heart/sexual organs) reawakening to as yet unfulfilled possibilities.

My juices are flowing. Do not believe those stupid ads for “Female Enhancement” formulas. Real sexual enhancement is self-understanding, self-love, attracting a partner who understands, loves and appreciates your essence and who is madly attracted to you…

Sex is the great illusion, the great trickster and what an illusion it is. I have felt this primal longing many times before. I need to write about this to keep me in reality…

It took all my will power not to call Adam. I could feel the full moon beaming down on me. If he’d called and invited me over I would have hopped in his bed in a heart beat.  I was ready to flee the monastery, run into the bushes and answer the call of the wild.

Twice I called Ann. I reminded myself that I had promised her that if I had an overpowering urge to call Adam I would call her instead. At 9 pm I called again. I told her voice mail “Ann, he still hasn’t called. I can’t take it. I’m going to cry….“

********************************

Monday… Tuesday….Wednesday went by. Not a peep from Adam. True to his word in the Friday email after our lunch “meeting,” Adam was “off  [my] radar screen for a few days.

I called Ed, a divorced man in his sixties (that seems so young now), who is “in a relationship” with Christine, a Gemini like me. “Ed,” I asked, “When you started dating Christine, how often did you call her? ”

Suza,” he said, “things have changed. Nobody calls anymore. I hardly ever call her. She’s out of town a lot. We mostly email.”

I told Ed about Adam and that I was hurting because he hadn’t called.

Don’t take it so seriously. Lighten up. Don’t worry. He’ll call or email when he wants to get together again. Just go about your business “

Right.

The giddy excitement I felt on the full moon metamorphosed into a knot of anxiety. I went though the day with pain in my solar plexus. The Goddess Pose gave temporary relief but then the pain came back.

Thursday was Thanksgiving. I told myself Adam was probably having dinner with his long lost sister and her family. Early Thursday morning I checked my email once more. Adam1@gmail.com  lit up the screen. I tried not to get too excited.

Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2010 Subject: Happy Thanksgiving
From: Adam1@gmail.com
To: sfrancina@aol.com

Suza:

    I want to wish you a joyful and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday.

  Adam Johnson

That’s all it said.

But the part that hit me in the gut was that he signed it “Adam Johnson.” That sounded so formal after that last friendly letter on Saturday night. Why the hell did he suddenly sign his last name?

I forwarded Ann his email

Subject: Fwd: Happy Thanksgiving

This is all I’ve heard since 11/20–comment to follow 

Then I wrote:

I don’t feel like writing him back. On our lunch he acted like he was crazy about me–just like in his letters…he gave me so many compliments it began to make me uncomfortable…I question his motives… Something is not right with him. And I would not go anywhere alone with him. If he wants to talk…fine…but he would have to initiate it and be prepared to answer some serious questions…

  Ann replied:

Yeah . . . an odd duck. I don’t like that he signed his full name. I hope you get a chance to ask those serious questions.   x o x x“

I wrote in my journal:

The whole thing is bizarre… I’ll write about it for my therapy. I am still so hopelessly naive and trusting!

I decided to give Adam a taste of his own medicine. I did not respond.

Thursday morning as I was scrubbing yams in my daughter’s kitchen I got really mad. His stupid email was ruining my Thanksgiving. What a jerk.

I went back to my laptop, took off my yoga teacher hat and blasted him:

Adam,  you may want to wish me a joyful and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday but your modus operandi toward women is hurtful, selfish and immature.

And before I could change my mind I hit Send Now.

There! I hope it ruins his day!

  I forwarded Ann a copy.

Not realizing that I’d already sent it she wrote back:

The only thing I would change is the word “women.” Because you don’t really know if he treats all women like this. All you know for sure is his attitude toward you.

You could say ” Adam, you may want to wish me a joyful and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday but  but your modus operandi toward me has been hurtful, selfish, and immature.”

Anyway, he’ll get the point, I hope.

Good! So long as he got my point. I wasn’t about to send him a corrected copy.

************************************

Friday morning when I got back from my walk with Honey and Nubio the phone message light was blinking.

  Good morning Suza, this is Adam Johnson speaking .I just opened your email. OUCH!” Pause. “I’d like to talk to you about it, if you want to… I’m coming to Ojai this weekend if you’d like to meet somewhere…”

At the sound of his masculine voice I felt a flicker of weakness but I decided I really didn’t want to waste my time if he was conflicted about seeing me. So I wrote:

   Adam, I would like to clear the air.  I would like to continue consulting with you about environmental issues. I appreciate and admire your good qualities. But before we can work together I want to clear up the confusing and hurtful mixed messages I’ve gotten from you. 

  Going back to last Friday, I enjoyed our lunch and from your response I thought you did too.  Your e-mails prior to our meeting were warm and friendly and gave me the impression that you were attracted to the kind of person I am.

  Your e-mail immediately after our “meeting” left me feeling like I had done something wrong –so I called to clear up any misunderstanding. I also sent you a letter Saturday to help clear the air and to convey my feelings and observations. 

I received your letter describing your emotions about Ojai and me.  However, my intuition tells me there is more to this then what you are telling me.

  The tone of your Thanksgiving note signed with your first and last name does not make sense.

   If you have decided you are headed in the wrong directions with any feelings toward me I completely respect that. I would rather you are honest so I am not left wondering.

  Or maybe you already have a girl friend or several girlfriends and you realize that I have no interest in dating a man who is already involved with someone else. 

  Or you might have a lifelong pattern in your encounters/relationships with women and you realized that was not going to work with me.

  Or maybe none of the above. No reason is needed. There need be no further personal involvement or at least not at this time. We can have a nice friendship and working relationship made easy by the fact that you live in Santa Barbara.

  I  just want to be clear that if you do want to meet again where we can talk about all this it needs to be in a conscious way with mutual consideration, honesty and respect. 

   Suza

I showed Ann my letter. She said, “ I think it’s a good letter, Suza. Let’s see how he responds. “

Adam called again. “Thank you very much for your email and sharing your feelings… I want to know if we can get together for a visit…”

 I called him back. I said, “Good morning,” in my most cheerful voice. We talked about the weather and how cold it was. I said the soonest I could meet was Sunday afternoon. We agreed to meet 1pm at Krotona.

  I wrote in my journal:

I’m relieved he is communicating and hopefully we will continue to clear the air. The whole thing makes me nervous…that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’ve had a long break from….

On Saturday night there was this in my mailbox.

From:Adam1@gmail.com
To: sfrancina@aol.com
Sent: 11/27/2010 Subj: How was your day

 Dear Suza:

    I hope that you stay warm tonight…it is going to be cold again in the valley the news said.  I will think warm thoughts for you as I climb into bed.  Wish I was able to hold you and keep you warm.

    I have been able this past week to get a hold on my feelings…a big thank you for putting up with me and my actions.. You are a strong woman. And I have not been easy on you.

  I do miss you and look forward to visit with you tomorrow (Sunday).

  Hugs,

  Adam

 I had to do another reality check. I showed Ann his latest letter.

Dear Lord, what do we make of this man? ”

I replied, “If I just keep a lid on sex, all will be well…”

To be continued, Chapter Four

Fishing On Facebook, Chapter Two: Farmer and the Cook

April 11, 2011

“Forget about sex,” my eighty-year-old friend Ruth told me. “You’ll feel so free.” Well, I did forget about it… but still sex found me. — from my journal.

From my Journal, Friday, November 19th, 2010, I woke up at 4 am. My lunch “visit” at Farmer and the Cook with Adam was at 11:30 am. Five and a half hours to go.

Made my morning carrot and ginger root cocktail. I decided I better clean my writing hut in case Adam ended up stopping by. I made my bed, cleaned the toilet and sink…swept the patio…My daughter made fun of me. “Mom, are you trying to give the impression you are some sort of domestic goddess? ” Took Honey for a hike out back so I wouldn’t feel guilty about leaving her…fed my cats…10 am, took a shower…shaved my legs and arm pits..dried off… lavished the coconut skin trip all over my body, including neck and face….put on my make up… waited till 11 am to put on my crisp white shirt so Honey wouldn’t get it dirty…took off my glasses… put on my new contact lenses… reapplied my black eye liner… tweezed a few tiny hairs …reapplied my new berry lipstick…a few more dabs of make up… if you were spying on me you would think I was Cinderella getting ready for the ball to meet her prince. Locked Honey up in the hut…11:15 put on my helmet, hopped on my E bike and pedaled up hill…the weather was perfect …not too hot…I would arrive at Farmer and the Cook right on time.

Riding my bicycle put me at ease. I was 61—not 16. There was nothing to be nervous about. I’ve been married three times — first time when pregnant at age 18. I’ve basically been living on my own for eighteen years. This is just a bit of background so you get a glimpse of my psyche as I optimistically pedaled over to my fate at the Farmer.

I hopped off my bicycle a block away from the Farmer to remove my helmet, blow my nose and fluff up my hair. I straightened out my white shirt and black yoga pants. I checked my earings to make sure I hadn’t lost one. As I confidently walked my bike over to the bike rack in front of the Farmer I saw the door open and Adam headed in my direction. I liked that he was already here and that he came out to meet me. I was prepared for the reality of him having aged since I last saw him in the 70’s but, I told myself, what really mattered was his personality and character. Plus, as was clear from his Facebook messages and emails, he already really liked and appreciated me.

Adam had a big smile on his face as he looked me up and down. The first words out of his mouth were music to my feminine ears. “You look great. You look like I remember you…..” I smiled back at him and noticed how tall he was. Not overweight. He looked rugged — outdoorsy–and had a nice full head of hair.

“Heck, “ He said, “I’m five years younger than you but you look much younger than me. People will think I’m robbing the cradle!”

“Man, “ I thought, “What a charming fellow.”

I gave him a little hug by way of greeting and felt totally open and relaxed. After all that e-mailing back and forth, Adam already felt like an old friend.

Adam steadied my bike as I locked it and took the giant bag I’m in the habit of carrying. He held open the door and acted every bit the perfect gentleman. He right away made it clear that he was treating me to lunch which made me feel like maybe this was a real date.  This was a self-serve restaurant and,  fter he placed his order, he followed me to the salad and soup bar. When I was done he took my tray to the cashier and paid.

Before he sat down he made sure we had water, condiments  and utensils. Totally attentive and considerate. All the while smiling at me appreciatively. Already it felt great to finally have some male attention.

We made some light prattle and then I cut to the chase. I heard myself say, “ I want to tell you up front that there is one thing I require. And that is, complete honesty.”

(I thought to myself, “If you are married or in a relationship with another woman, do me a favor and tell me now so that I can bolt out the door soon as I finish my salad, before I fall in love with you…”)

Just to be sure I made myself clear I laughingly added, “Look, I haven’t seen you in thirty years. For all I know you’re married and have three kids.”

“Nope,” he assured me, “Never been married. No kids. How about you?”

“Married three times, “ I replied, “Two children. A son and a daughter…”

I quickly picked up that Adam was a talker. Not one of those stone faced guys where you have to dig in and try to extract a few words out of them. Just the opposite. Adam was unedited. He proceeded to tell me one of the most riveting childhood stories I’ve ever heard. He was raised in Ojai. Home schooled. His family owned hundreds of acres. He grew up riding horses and exploring nature. As he talked nonstop I felt like he was letting me in on all his family secrets. He explained how a few years ago he found out he had a sister….and, to make a long story short, after he met this sister who had the same biological mother and father  he had, he found out that many things he had been told, or rather not told while growing up, were  lies.

All the while that Adam was describing the saga of his birth parents,  the father who adopted him, his unusual childhood and all the adventures he’d had traveling the world, I was finding the sound of his male voice increasingly pleasant. I liked the way his eyes danced when he looked at me. I was dazzled to have the full attention of a man sitting two feet across from me.

When it came time to leave I suggested we go for a walk. We headed up the street and every few steps Adam paused to tell me the names of trees, flowers and birds…I was impressed and enchanted. And all the while he kept complimenting me. Telling me how pretty I was. I soaked it up.

Late afternoon we said good bye. It was clear that we hit it off and we parted with the implicit understanding we would see each other again soon. Or so I thought.

On the ride back to the riverbottom I stopped by to check on  my ninety year old parents. When I arrived home an hour later I checked my email and saw that Adam had already sent me a message. I scrolled down and clicked Adam1@gmail.com, smiling inwardly with anticipation. We’d had such a great time. He was obviously smitten with me. I imagined this would be an invitation to go out for dinner on Saturday night or maybe brunch or a hike on Sunday…

The subject line said, “Thanks for the meeting.”

Meeting? What meeting? I thought we’d been on a date. It seemed like a date… I opened the email:

Dear Suza:

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with me this afternoon. You have a wonderful spirit…you are a sensitive caring person and a beautiful woman. What a great combination.

I will be off of your radar screen for a few days. I need time to sort out my feelings about you. I am afraid the feelings I have developed towards you may be headed in the wrong direction.   — Adam

My heart sank.

Oh my God. What the hell did I do or say to make him think “the feelings I have developed towards you may be headed in the wrong direction.” My mind went into a spin.

I hit Reply. I typed fast:

From: sfrancina@aol.com

To: Adam1@gmail.com

Sent: Fri, Nov 19, 2010 5:54 pm

Subject: Re: Thanks for meeting

Adam, I will call you soon as find your number

I hit Send Now.

When I called his cell I got a recording. It wasn’t even his voice. Just an automated system. I hoped I had the right number and left a message for him to call. No one called back. A few minutes later I went through the phone book. A zillion Johnsons. I emailed again:

Dear Adam,

I called your cell phone twice and also called some other A. Johnson but got a wrong number. Please call me, even if it’s late.  — Suza

*******************

I called Adam’s cell once more and, to my great relief, he answered.
His voice sounded casual and relaxed. I could hear water running in the back ground.

Suddenly I felt self conscious. Maybe I shouldn’t have called. Maybe I was overreacting.

“Uh,” I said, “It’s me, Suza.”

“ Hi, what’s up?”

” I got your email. I just want to be sure I didn’t do anything…uh…or say anything…wrong…”

“Oh no. I had a great time.”

“What’s all that water running in the background?”

“Oh, I’m cleaning the fountain.”

I imagined him all alone in his garden, scooping leaves out of the water.  I gathered my wits. If I didn’t clear things up now I might not get another chance. So I blurted, “What did you mean by what you wrote in that email you sent me –about how you’re afraid your feelings are running in the wrong direction?”

There was static on his cell. The sound of water got louder. I could hear him doing something while he was talking. I was wishing he’d turn off the water, move away from the fountain and give me his full attention.

“Oh … You know…”

I can’t remember exactly what all Adam said plus he kept walking while talking and was hard to understand. But I remember feeling frantic to clear up any misunderstanding.

And here he was – totally nonchalant.

I felt confused. I doubted myself. I switched gears and kept the conversation light as I waited for him to say something about getting together on the weekend.

Nothing.

“We’ll talk soon, “ he said. “Bye…”

He sounded far away. Click.

I showed Ann his latest email. “Good Lord – what’s his problem? Is he a monk?” she asked. “And did you feel attracted to him? What an odd duck!”

*************

That night I had a hard time sleeping. It was raining. The kind of night where it would be cozy to have someone snuggle under the covers with you.

In the back of my mind was a vague awareness that my image of Adam was mostly based on what I’d seen on Facebook. I liked that image and grasped for things in real life to support it. Him not asking me for a second date after all that email anticipation and the buzz at our lunch didn’t compute.

Already I was obsessing.

Ann had given me strict orders not to call him again. “Do NOT call him. Let him call you. “

So after a restless night I turned on my laptop. I opened his last email and hit Reply. In my most cheerful, least desperate voice I wrote:

Good morning, Adam,  The rain is pounding on the roof. I woke up thinking about you and all the things you shared about yourself yesterday.

As I typed the lights started flickering. I clicked Save in case the power went out.   I don’t think you’re headed in the wrong direction . The way you reacted to me is great! It’s how a woman wants a man she likes to feel.

I thought to myself, all this time he’s been saying all this nice stuff about me. Maybe I better make sure that he knows I like him too. So I wrote:  I love how you are so deeply connected to nature and that you are also a force of nature, with strong feelings and currents running through you. I love that you are a passionate person, about the environment, the earth, and also passionate in your response to someone you are attracted to.

I paused.  Thank you for reassuring me last night when we spoke that I did nothing wrong.

Already I was groveling. Why didn’t I quit while I was ahead?  I enjoyed my time with you and want to see you again.

I thought it might be good to build his confidence. So I added:

You are a wonderfully intelligent person very knowledgeable about the outer world so I hope you can apply that beautiful intelligence that you have to yourself.

And then I really went out on a limb.  From my perspective…even though it was not your intention, you went from hot to cold with no middle ground.

I softened this by adding:  There is one thing I have learned in Life and that is that the unconscious is much more powerful than the conscious mind. And the unconscious is like this sponge of childhood impressions.

Big mistake. Already I was letting him off the hook due to his childhood. But I did not know that then and I continued full speed ahead:

Within the first few minutes of our meeting you revealed some deep things about yourself. You told me the story of your family — about how your mother married your father’s best friend and how they never told you that you had an older sister.

I believe that at some level we are all psychic, especially children…at some level growing up you must have sensed that the grown ups around you were not telling the truth. That they were hiding things from you. You grew up not knowing the truth. From what you told me I gather you had loving, caring parents but you were denied your birthright to know the truth.

You even mentioned that your mother probably continued her affair with your father after she married his friend.

I try to imagine your mother’s life. All the secrets she kept from you. How did she feel giving up her daughter to your father and his wife?

You told me the story of how you met your sister fifteen years ago, after your mother died. How she looked at you for the first time and said that you looked just like her/your father.

And how you looked at her and told her that she looked just like your/her mother.

And then I put on my therapist hat. I wrote:

My sense is that on a deep level this cover up is playing out over and over again in your relationships with women. The fact that all those years your biological father never acknowledged you when he visited your mom and the man who raised you is huge!

Next time we meet, if you are willing, I hope we can talk about all this some more.

And then I took off my therapist hat but I just didn’t know when to quit. I added.

I’ve have been to hell and back in my relationships. I was so unconscious and reckless! I had no self-love, no self-esteem. In my last marriage I put up with years of being lied to.

I wanted to make sure he got how wise and understanding I was. So I threw in: It has taken many years of reflection and digging deep to come to the place where I am now.

The human condition is complex and most people go to the grave never understanding what makes them tick.

Finally I was done with Round One of trying to save him:

That’s all I have to say, for now. The rain is so wonderful…I have all the doors and windows open. This morning Honey, Nubio (her black wolf husband who lives next door) and I will go to the river.  — Suza

I waited till 7 am to hit Send Now.

*************

Twelve hours later Adam sent the following reply:

My Dear Suza,  Yes, you are so right. This rain has been wonderful…cleansing, refreshing and renewing.

Suza, thank you so much for your helpful and thoughtful words in this mornings email. You said some powerful things for me to think about (as if i don’t have enough already).

To me you are “Ojai” and so many feelings and memories pour into me now that I have reconnected with you. I would like to take you to the hill my home sat on because you care and relate to the natural world and all my memories of growing up in Ojai.

I want to return to Ojai… I want to restart the business I had for so many years in the valley. I want to walk around the streets where people I knew once lived. I want to relive (or at least visualize) my 40 years of living in the valley.

All of my feelings about the Ojai Valley have been pouring out of me since I reconnected with you. Others tell me they understand my “Ojai” connection and feelings..but you have the depth and passion that we both share about the Ojai.  —Adam

Now that sounded more like the man I met on Facebook.

From my journal on April 10, 2011:  The more I write, the more the story loosens its grip on me… I can feel how writing, like yoga, frees me up. Someone asked me the other day, “Don’t you believe in moving forward?” There is no such thing as moving forward if the past has a death grip on our psyche…

In case you are wondering, “Was there a second date?” Yes, and many more. Without giving away the plot, dating Adam forced me to face what’s going on behind the scenes, in order to survive. The beginning stages of dating are a hallucination… but no one wants to believe it, least of all die-hard romantics like me!”
*************

A synchronous universe recruits just the person to make us fall hook, line and sinker if that is the only way we will go on the journey.

— David Richo, How to Be an Adult in Relationships.

To read  the next chapter, click the title of Chapter Three at top of the page, above the title of Chapter Two.

Fishing on Facebook: A Writing Yoga Memoir, Introduction and Chapter One: Rainbow Bridge

April 11, 2011

Author Note – Disclaimer This is a true story, lifted from the pages of my journals, e-mails and memory. All of the names except the author’s have been changed to protect the innocent, or not so innocent, depending on your perspective. A few details were changed in order to respect the privacy of the people in the story.

Writing Yoga:

Fishing on Facebook

Chapter One: Rainbow Bridge

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth. — Buddha

On April 3, 2011, I wrote in my journal: Yesterday I got so mad that I ran into Rainbow Bridge, and bought two slices of Raw Vegan Cheesecake, the only real treat on the Planet with no calories. And a bottle of Pacific Redwood Organic Red Mendocino Wine, the least expensive bottle on the shelf. While unlocking my bicycle, I overheard two women talking about how men in their age range (fifty to one-hundred) are now looking for women to support them. One said that the last man who left her hooked up with a woman who owns a lot of property in Northern California and she got him to marry her by putting his name on the deed.

I zoomed home on my bike, sat under a tree and slowly devoured the first piece of cake, labeled “Find your thrill on blueberry hill.” Right away I felt better. I decided to save the wine for a future emergency and fortified myself with a few more bites of the second piece, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Then I went back inside my little apartment, laid down on my yoga bolster with the soles of my feet together in the Goddess Pose, and waited for my emotions to calm down.

I keep a journal by my yoga mat. As writing teacher Bruce Black points out in his book, Writing Yoga, a journal is another yoga prop—like a block, belt, bolster or blanket—to use in your yoga practice. In my yoga journal I scribble notes about everything, not just my yoga practice on the mat.

The first four letters of the word “journal,” are the same as the first four letters of the word “journey.” They spell jour, the French word for “day” or “daily.” Keeping a daily journal can help us in our internal journey and reminds us that all of life is our spiritual practice. And then, when things fall apart and the rug gets pulled out from under us, we can go back to our journals and gain new insights into our illusions.

Writing and yoga are tools for “peeling the onion.” The onion metaphor is often used to describe an enlightened approach to solving a problem or learning about our selves. By methodically peeling each layer of the onion, one eventually reaches the core.

The yogic journey guides us from the periphery–the body, to the center of our being–the soul. In yoga “peeling the onion, “ also refers to the various layers, the different levels or “sheaths” of a human being. The art of practicing yoga allows us to penetrate, or peel, the layers of our being– from our physical form– our known flesh-and-blood-food-fed body– to the more hidden and unknown subtle layers of our selves.

When I write, I can feel freedom coming. The circumstances of my life have not changed, but the doors of perception open. In that way, the practice of yoga and writing are intimately connected.

The great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining light but by making the darkness conscious.”

May we live like the lotus, at home in muddy water.

— Buddha

On November 19, 2010, I wrote: Today I dipped my toe into the muddy waters of relationships. I hardly know this man and already he is causing trouble and disturbing my tranquility. The only way I’m going survive seeing him and not drown in a pool of unconsciousness and all my primal sexual longing, hopes and projections, is to write about it everyday.

So here goes! It all began innocently with a Facebook email notification. The message said, “Adam Johnson wants to be friends with you on Facebook.”

Since the name was familiar, someone I knew back in the 1970’s, I clicked, “Confirm Friend Request.”

A few weeks later Adam sent me a Facebook message asking if I was the same Suza that wrote a column for Yoga Journalback in the 1970’s.

I was tempted to play a prank and say I wasn’t but I wrote back and said, “Yes, that was me.“

A few days went by. Late one night Adam sent me one of those annoying pop up messages. I hate those and almost “Unfriended” him. Just when you think the coast is clear, the whole world is asleep and finally you can write undisturbed, some night owl has the gall to try to engage you in conversation.

I typed back, “I don’t do pop up messages.”

Adam disappeared into cyberspace.

The next day Adam began clicking “Like,” and leaving comments on my “Status.”

Figuring he was a kindred spirit, I in turn clicked “Like” and started posting Comments on his Status.

I began to see that we had a lot in common. We were both community activists and protectors and lovers of nature and wildlife. I read his Comments on my News Feed.

We were getting quite cozy in cyberspace.

A few weeks later he sent a private Facebook message asking did I have time to meet for tea sometime. I said I honestly was too busy at the moment—but maybe next month.

At some point I got curious and checked Adam’s “Wall.” I clicked “Info.” From Ojai. Lives in Santa Barbara. Interested in women. It didn’t specify his “Relationship Status,” but I got the impression he was single. A note in the upper right margin claimed “You and Adam – 72 Mutual Friends.”

I checked his photo gallery. Saw that he had a beautiful home and fabulous garden. You could tell from the photographs and Comments about cooking, decorating for the holidays, gardening, books, movies, that here was a sensitive guy with a highly developed feminine side.

I routinely put links to my book excerpts, articles and editorials on my Facebook page. Adam began leaving helpful Comments supporting my views, asking lively questions and cheering me on. I could feel myself warming up to him. It felt like I had this great male mentor in the sky.

One day he wrote, “Lets keep in touch, in fact if you would like to email me directly my personal email address is: adam1@gmail.com. And then he added, “It would also be very enjoyable to meet up sometime, say over lunch at Farmer and the Cook to visit and catch up on things…”

This time I told him I was still very busy but might be free on a Friday in a few weeks.

*******************************

I did have a lot of meetings and workshops to attend but that was only half the reason for saying “ free in a few weeks.” Truth was, I needed time to get ready. From the looks of his Facebook page I figured he had coffee with a different woman every day but for me this was a big deal. I have many wonderful, supportive male friends but to the best of my recollection I’d not had a real date in over five years.

I was in the midst of a 21-day raw juice feast and had managed to shed about twenty of the forty pounds I gained in the five years post menopause. So I was already feeling pretty good about myself.

I joked with my daughter that I was gonna give myself a make-over. I called my optometrist and made a long over due appointment for an eye exam so I could order new contact lenses. I made an appointment for a hair cut and color conditioner. I made an appointment for a manicure and pedicure. I bought some apricot face scrub, a bottle of yummy smelling Coconut Skin Trip and some Tom’s peppermint mouthwash. A new tube of Aveda mineral tinted moisture creme. A redder berry shade of lipstick. I even bought a new pair of silver hoop earrings. All the things I should do for myself anyway but had let fall by the wayside.

I was living in a one-room guest house (I called it my “writing hut”) next door to my daughter in the river bottom (a rural area out in the boondocks) with my young Aussie rescue dog, “Honey,” and three old cats. My new book proposal had been rejected three times –not unusual but tough on cash flow. I’d sold over 100,000 copies of the last three yoga titles so I had my foot in the publishing door. But at the moment I was flat broke and on a downward spiral. My new book proposal sat abandoned in a storage unit while I scrambled to survive teaching yoga, writing for magazines and doing home health care for my elderly parents. Dating was a distant dream.

It had been so long since I’d had a date that I actually read one of the hundreds of articles on “what to wear on a first date after age 50.” Be yourself. Be comfortable. If you don’t plan to go to bed with him right away, don’t dress like a tart… So I planned what I would wear and took my favorite most flattering white blouse to the cleaners. I rummaged through my underwear drawer and found a black lace body suit thing that I had not worn in five years. I wanted to look somewhat professional with just a hint of flirty. I put aside my best black yoga pants. If I wore yoga pants I would feel like myself.

All the while Adam and I emailed back and forth almost daily. The line between Adam the environmental and wildlife activist and Adam, the man, (who I did not really know) became completely blurred. Anticipation was building. The personal and the political became one.

The e-mails that initially dealt with political issues and various causes became more personal. Adam mentioned many of the people we both knew. We had many mutual friends, all of which put me at ease. He shared light things about his past, like how he had taken a weekend Men’s Workshop with Robert Bly. We joked. I began to feel more and more at ease and looked forward to his messages. I missed them if I didn’t hear from him for a few days.

One day he wrote: ” I feel a very, very strong passion about protecting the earth and her creatures. My motto, “Show no mercy and take no prisoners” when it comes to fighting for wildlife before powerful bodies and big corporations. They don’t.”

When I read those last words I think I was a goner. He sounded so…passionate and manly!

So after about two months of emailing when Adam wrote, “You had mentioned that you are sometimes free on Fridays. Would you be available this Friday to meet for lunch at Farmer and the Cook?,” I was ready!

This time I told him without hesitation, “Yes, I am available this Friday.”

He emailed back, “If you ever want to contact me by phone, please feel free to do so at any time.” He gave me his cell number but I felt too gun-shy to call. Besides, I knew “The Rules.” Don’t call Him. Wait for Him to call you.

He also wrote: “Suza, I really admire you. You have such a deep emotional and spiritual strength about you. I like your passion for protection of our earth and her creatures. You have a depth to your soul that is hard to find in people in today’s crazy world. I am happy that you are Suza, a woman with great inner beauty and strength.”

But the best part was yet to come. He remembered how we had briefly met many years ago while working for the same newspaper. I loved it when he wrote, “ When we knew each other thirty years ago we were just kids. I am so happy now that we are older and that our spirits have reconnected.”

Wow,” I thought to myself, “He sounds so wise and mature!”

I got way too excited about this casual Friday date and had to remind myself, “Relax, Suza, This is not a real date. Just a light lunch with someone you got acquainted with on Facebook.”

Knowing what a vivid imagination I have, I decided that I better do a reality check before I met Adam in person. I showed his recent emails to Ann, my close friend and confidant, who is like a sister to me.

Wow!” she said as she read them, “What a good man.“

Two days before the lunch date, in the last paragraph of a long email about land use, wildlife corridors and other causes near and dear to my heart, Adam wrote:

Seriously Suza…I have really enjoyed our “chatting” since I found you on Facebook. Since we had some connection in the past, I have always admired you as a writer, a yoga teacher, a lifelong protector of the Ojai Valley, a former Mayor and all you have done for the community, as well as your spirituality…I feel a deep attraction to you, because of who you are as a human being. I am really looking forward to our meeting on Friday and many more visits in the future.”

Wow! I thought to myself. “He really likes me!”

I especially liked that he wrote, “many more visits in the future.”

I wrote back, “I really look forward to lunch with you on Friday…”

Wow!” said Ann when I showed her Adam’s latest letters. “He so sees you and gets you! How nice is that? “

And,” she added, “Those pictures of him on Facebook look so nice. If you don’t fall in love with him I’d like to meet him myself. But sounds like he’s already in love with you.”

To read  the next Chapter, go to the top of the page and click the link to Chapter Two that appears above the title  for Chapter One.

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