I was driving down a highway one morning a few years ago and a car came up behind me and started running lights and sounds like a chopper. I kept telling myself to keep my eyes on the road, not to worry, and I did…but I was happy to see him.
We were on the phone, and he had just taken me on a ride-along for a ride-share company. We had met at a conference center and stayed a little while, and I’d seen him again at a coffee shop a few weeks later, on his way to meeting a woman for a drive-in movie.
He was just a few years younger than I was, a career criminal’s dream, and we were just too different for any relationship. Sometimes, you have to do things that are too shocking not to disclose.
At the time, I was struggling with the hardest question of my life: What do I do?
I had done everything one could think of: working trips together, exchanging sweet not-so-sweet messages on dating sites, getting arrested, in some ways, paying the penalty for being too young.
I had exceeded my expectations.
But I had not exceeded the spirit of things, the intention, the purpose of being a mother.
I knew that leaving before the children arrived would set a horrible tone, would crush what little respect there was left between us, and would leave me feeling worse than I had before, with a woman who I also loved deeply but had long ago forgone having kids with.
There was nothing I could do.
I held myself together with whiskey and weed and alcohol until my anxiety and depression took over and I did the only thing I could: I got online.
I would log on from my computer with my cell phone, scrolling through photos and stories and blogs and news sites and chat rooms full of people who were dying.
I would visit countries where the people were just as beautiful as the photos. I would see the same brilliant colors. I would walk around in small towns in the Midwest. I would be inspired by the lives people were living because they had hope.
I would come home and remember why I fell in love with the idea of traveling in the first place.
We are taught that our bodies are beautiful. The women on my planet at-the-time homepage were so self-revealing with their desires. I never understood why men didn’t feel the same way — I had never given it much thought.
I wanted to see the world, so I began traveling. I visited more countries — you certainly don’t need a visa to travel to many of them. You can just buy a plane ticket.
I learned that there were multiple ways to have an intimate experience. You could go as a tourist, which is how I saw myself. You could go as a Christian, or a Jew, or a Muslim. You could see the culture, and how it was growing or had changed through the centuries. You could go as a single or with a partner, or alone. You could see the diversity of the human family and who you can truly connect with.
I fell in love with everything about the human spirit, and myself.
I began to understand the power of an intrepid willingness to share. I realized that I had never been afraid of showing my naked self, because I had always believed that I could connect with anyone if I let myself.
It was just a matter of time before I met someone who seemed to like me for who I was.
What would it be like to experience everything this new relationship presented? To embrace flesh and blood, instead of a screen?
Would it feel as amazing as I thought it would?
It sure did, sometimes.
One time, though, I was in a relationship that went beyond even I could have possibly imagined.
When I call today, I don’t feel afraid. I feel happy, open, and free.
You may not have the answers you need, but you should feel free to find them yourself, with or without me.