A Test of Faith(fulness)

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Words are heavy. In the last column, I wrote “life will continue to put obstacles or tests in our path to make sure we want to continue in the direction we are heading.” I imagine it was a way of establishing strength on the subject. A type of insurance for the future. Boy, did I need it.

“How’s the weather at your house?” my friend asks. I take a picture of blue skies and sunshine over my private wood-fenced yard and text her the photo. It’s Saturday and we have plans to tan our bums on the beach – but in Summerland, where my friend lives, the marine layer takes over and diverts our plans a bit. We decide instead on a beach stroll from Summerland to Carpinteria, so I layer up, grab my gear, and make the five-minute drive to her home.

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Once I arrive, we make sure to bring the necessities: sunscreen, snacks, a joint, and plenty of water. Locked and loaded, we wind down the hill, make our way to the sand, and head south. The beach is deserted, except for one family picnic and a few locals on horseback. The waves crash onto shore, the water creeps toward our converse, and sea glass keeps our eyes focused on each step. We pause to admire the solidarity in nature and stretch our limbs to embody the cool, damp breeze. We walk for about mile then stop for a smoke break and a few nibbles.

I admit how hard it’s been now that my partner has left for work on a boat – for three months with unreliable cell service – and how random encounters with good-looking men have become more apparent. Not that I bed-hopped or had many in my bed when I was single, but the fact that I am a woman with needsis more apparent than ever, and there’s only so much I can do for myself. I confess my eye has wandered just a little bit. She assures me it’s only natural. I’m in the prime of my life, after all.

We walk, talk, finish the joint, and round the bluffs onto Padaro Beach. A wedding takes place just beyond, and to avoid the ceremony and we reroute our walk to Santa Claus Lane.

That’s when I see him. The lover from my past. The one I wrote about in the “How to Keep a Lover” column (Vol. 4, Issue 18). The same column I was in the process of writing when the now-love-of-my-life walked into my office and changed my world forever.

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It’s surreal to lay eyes on this man again. With the combination of rolling fog and strong marijuana, it feels like a mirage. I glance out of the corner of my trucker hat to be sure it’s him. It is, of course, and he looks good. Real good. A handful of thoughts come up, more than half fueled by libido.

He doesn’t see me, thank God. He is too pre-occupied tucking in his shirt in to notice. I barely allow myself a second glance. I don’t want to engage anymore than I already have. In truth, it’s my fault. I manifested this situation that morning. Over breakfast, I wrote a journal entry on sexuality and how challenging it is not be completely satisfied while my true love is away.

At this moment, it seems the Universe (or the Devil?) is testing me: “You sure you can resist? Look over here, I’ve got a shiny object to entertain you! And you’ll like this one. Guaranteed.” The thought of “what if” lingers for a handful of minutes, just enough time for a mental step-back to examine single versus relationship. It would be easy to take a bite of the single life. After all, the apple is right in front of me.

To give up true love in return for a little “somethin’ somethin’” makes me laugh. Hell to the no. This experience makes me feel even more embodied in my woman-ness and strong in my decision to disengage with the men of the past. My true love, no matter how far, has my heart.

We cross the street and are safe out of sight. We scoot out of the way of an oncoming car, and I recognize a voice on the radio. It’s James Brown singing “Stoned to the Bone”:

“I got a good thing, I ain’t gonna give it up”.

I smile and nod. He took the words right out of my mouth.

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