Dating Across Party Lines

In the spring of 2017, I went on a date with someone I met online. It was Bumble, the supposedly feminist dating app, which is different because men can’t message a woman unless she messages him first, so basically women are stuck with more of the work. I have been on many online dates since my divorce four years ago, and this one didn’t necessarily start out any different, but we had chemistry, and I was fairly confident we would see each other again. I wasn’t sure what would happen beyond that because we were somewhat different. We didn’t talk about it, but there were signs. I had recently marched in Washington, D.C. in protest of the inauguration of Donald Trump, and he drove a big white truck with a YETI sticker on the bumper.

If we met a few years ago, I may not have gone out with him again. I might have crafted a T-chart, with things like “wears cowboy boots” on one side and “makes me happy” on the other, as if those were equivalent in importance. Luckily, I had experience dating post-divorce and after many break ups and some good therapy sessions I learned that I should not plan my entire future with, or without, someone on the first date. Maybe instead I should just have fun and see what happens, which feels like driving down a dark, canopy road with no headlights. As someone who prefers to plan ahead, I want my dating endeavors to be like doing taxes with Turbotax, “You are now 75% done!”

With this particular person, I climbed up into his front seat and just went along for the ride. During the first several weeks, I was having too much fun to perform any kind of assessment, and I never felt insecure enough to freak out because he was different than most of the other guys I had dated, meaning that he was not a jerk, married, or dead inside. We did not discuss our political opinions at the beginning, and sometimes that was a bit of a cloud, leaving me wondering if it would eventually rain on our love parade.

As a writer, who writes about my personal life and opinions, it is difficult to keep my ideologies out of the public sphere. I am one quick Google search away from being an open book. One night leaned up against a railing staring at the Gulf of Mexico, we bridged the subject. He said he did not want to be with someone who was his mirror image. I agreed. I work with a radical feminist group in Tallahassee, and when I first mentioned that I was going to a meeting, I called it “a women’s group” as if we were gathering to talk about the new edition of our local cookbook and not working to topple the patriarchy. He was not fooled and told me he was proud that I fight for what I believe. With that moment, I metaphorically inched a little closer to him in the cab of his truck.

Now, I have space in a closet he cleared out for me at his house. He moved some suits that he never wears and a few jackets to make room, but left a half-dozen shotguns. Every time I slide open the closet door, I see them lined up between my row of strappy sandals and the ruffled hems of my sundresses. They are a reminder that life is most interesting when it offers up the unexpected. We do not often talk about politics when we are together. That is why I have a Twitter account. When an issue does come up, I am usually able to at least understand why he would feel that way, unless he mentions something about emails. What I have realized is that I love him more than I love being right, and I am not sure I could have felt that way in a relationship before my 40th decade. We probably won’t ever celebrate 50 years together, unless both of us make some serious lifestyle changes, like cryogenics, but I am thankful every day that I did not meet him a moment sooner.



Martha and Me

I could never have a blog without writing about Martha Stewart. First, it is important to say that I am a huge fan. I used to watch Martha Stewart Living in the 1990’s when I was in my early twenties, back when my kitchen was used more for mixing drinks and cleaning out ashtrays than it was for making chicken fricassee. Now, I have a house of my own, a couple of kids, a crafting closet, and a kitchen full of gourmet gadgets, but I watch the show more for entertainment than for anything remotely useful.  I just love watching her. Martha cooking with, or doing crafts side by side with, celebrities is first rate entertainment. Who doesn’t want to see Jessica Alba one-upped? When the celebrity says, as they always do, “yours looks so much better, Martha,” the average person would probably respond, “Oh, yours looks good, too.” But not Martha. She says things like “well, I have been doing this for a long time,” or “well, you need to be more careful.”

She is fucking Martha Stewart. Why the hell not? In all honesty, I have a lot of respect for her. It is impressive how she is able to continually reinvent herself while maintaining a consistent image. I mean, she has more than two-and-a-half million Twitter followers. The lady has been to federal prison and she still has the balls to look down on people for using Cool Whip. (Great moment of television when a baker topped a dessert with “whipped topping” and Martha reacted. The producers had to know that shit was going to happen, and they let it happen. Genius.)

Whenever I get my new issue of Martha Stewart Living, I am usually most excited about Martha’s calendar, which highlights programming events like her Today Show appearances and notes the days she will be doing yoga or meeting with her trainer. But the best parts of the calendar are the “gentle reminders” of things that need to be done around her homes/estates,  for example that Martha needs to “service the greenhouse boilers” on October 4th and “apply enzymatic cleaner to all drains for a healthy septic tank and sewer system” on October 5th (busy week!)

This month, however, although I was inspired by picturing Martha servicing the sewers, I was more intrigued by the four page spread about granddaughter Jude’s first birthday party. The best part, for me, is that the event seemed entirely inappropriate for children. The party was held at one of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants and featured beautiful white décor, clear balloons (maybe so nobody would notice them), and a menu that included, as its second course, asparagus with mesculum, enoki mushrooms, avocado, and black truffle vinaigrette. Surely, baby Jude’s favorite cooked vegetable salad.

I held the magazine spread up to my husband and asked him to “name this event.” He said, “wedding,” and then asked who the hot chick was. He was referring to Alexis, Jude’s mommy, who I agreed looked smoking in her beige satin dress. The article that accompanied the beautiful photographs was written by Martha and is part of her “Life and Wisdom: From Martha” feature in Living.  According to Martha, the guest list was compiled of “all the adults who had something to do with baby Jude in her first year” and included a group of artists and photographers. As for the overall atmosphere of the party, Martha says, “because the event was a lunch for grown-ups, we kept the celebratory aspects minimal but whimsical.”

Martha Stewart is a bad-ass.