Tag Archives: love

On Ownership and the Naming of Things



“He brought us joy, and we loved him well.  He was not ours; He was not mine.”

                                                                                                   –Karen Blixen in Out of Africa

Upon seeing that I had put a borrowed dog in my engagement photos and in my wedding, a friend of mine said something a little too snarky and disapproving  about how the dog wasn’t even mine. Because I’m a good Midwesterner, I did not say what I wanted to say, which was, “Bite me” and instead pretended I didn’t hear. In the legal sense of the word, the dog was not mine so long as his owners—family friends for whom I had been petsitting for for two decades—were alive, though I’d asked them to sign a document addressed To Whom It May Concern stating that should they both be eaten by lions while on safari, their most recent Scottish Terrier would belong to me. I couldn’t stand the thought of this bright-eyed creature being sent off with someone who knew him or loved him less well than I did, like some poor protagonist from a gothic novel.

One of the repeated struggles of my life—and maybe you are the same—is that the labels that we put on relationships never seem to accurately or completely encompass how we experience those relationships. The labels make the person or quality of love seem mundane, like any old parent, husband, pet when we know them to be something larger than that, more unique, special. I move easily between speaking of growing up as an only child but also of my two brothers (half brothers who arrived a state away when I was nearly an adult but to whom I hate referring as “half brothers” because it makes them sound somehow less significant). I have cousins who, in my mind, are siblings or best friends. My mother has always been more than just a mother because she and I kind of grew up together and can talk for hours about whatever we’ve just read, seen, or thought, and I can’t quite categorize that…are we more like siblings? Friends? Or just run-of-the-mill parent-child and I’m delusional? I’ve had friends who in some ways felt like spouses. And I’ve got a spouse who has so transcended my idea of what “spouse” means that there should be some other word that denotes him…a word that shoots sparks and sings.

Mac, never on the right side of a door.

Mac, never on the right side of a door.

And then there is the above-mentioned Scottish Terrier: Mac Harvey, Macadoodledoo, Macaloo, Mackie. My fairy god dog. His humans–people who over the years themselves became indefinable, something closer than friends, a different kind of family–adopted him as a puppy only after I promised to babysit him while they were overseas for several weeks. They invited me over to meet him the day he came home, and like most Scottish Terrier puppies, he was 90% ears and 10% dog. Puppies are not hard to fall in love with, and he was no exception, though within weeks, it was impossible not to believe he was exceptional. He was something more amazing than someone else’s pet that I had to let in and out the door 37 times a day. I’d cared about his owners’ other pets—I’d wept when they died—but when Mac came into my life, I became 100% a dog person, 100% his. He’d get bored and string toilet paper and chewed magazines pieces throughout the house, and I couldn’t get mad. He’d hog the bed. He refused to come in at night after his curfew and I’d worry about the coyotes I was sure were out there waiting to bite into him. He once ate some of the papers I was grading so I had to go to class and confess, “My dog ate your homework.” But he never once felt like an obligation or a job. He was always a delight, even when he made a poor decision like Beth’s new bra = chew toy.

He arrived at a crossroads in my life thirteen years ago. My father had recently died. I’d returned from a transformative summer in Ireland. A few months before his arrival, the nature of the world had gotten scarier and more paranoid because of September 11th. I was a year deep into therapy that had me naming what I wanted out of life for the first time—to say without apology that I wanted a partner and maybe a baby and a writing career. And also, I’d just met a Zimbabwean co-worker who I was sure was meant for me though he didn’t know it yet. I’d toss Mac into my new car—the first car I’d paid for myself—and we’d drive around town, his snout poking out the crack of a window, and he felt like mine and it felt like the life I’d been meant to have, a woman and her dog, looking for an adventure.

Mac with a side order of snow.

Mac with a side order of snow.

My first weekend with Mac, I called my paternal grandfather to see if I could bring the puppy over to meet him. Grandpa loved Julia Roberts movies and dogs unequivocally, and I couldn’t wait to introduce him to Mac, who was still so small that he sometimes tipped over when he hiked his leg. But when the phone was picked up at Grandpa’s house, it was my aunt’s shaky voice instead of Grandpa’s, and she said tearfully, “Oh, Beth! Grandpa died this morning.” That weekend Mac and I hosted my cousins at what was one of many family gatherings at his generous humans’ house for a modified wake. He distracted us from our grief and won our hearts when he took, very gently, tiny bites of a muffin offered to him by one of the toddlers, as if he knew that she was a more delicate creature than the rest of us and her soft flesh could be pierced by his sharp puppy teeth. (He was also very tolerant when later she shut herself into his kennel.) From this first introduction and subsequent family gatherings, more people fell in love with him. One cousin deemed him “cool”, another made him a Christmas present, friends came to stay with me in no small part because they’d get to spend time with him, and those among them who weren’t dog lovers would leave saying, “I’d have a dog if I could have one like Mac.”  Even while Z and I were in Ireland two months ago, my cousins there who’d come to stay at “the dog house” for a week twelve years ago, asked after him and showed me photos of their young son playing with him on the floor. Eoin and Mac were great pals that week. Now Eoin is in college.

Because Mac’s people traveled a lot, I stayed with him multiple times a year. He slept in the middle of the king sized bed I slept in, nudged me awake at ungodly hours to go outside and police his yard, he’d jab at the back of my legs with his strong snout to hurry me along in his supper preparations. We walked on “his” campus at Earlham, where he was well known and strutted around, a sort of stately gentleman about town (when he wasn’t terrorizing squirrels). Though all the experts talk about how headstrong terriers are and how they should never be let off a leash, Mac was sensible, had been well-trained, and almost always came when called unless a particularly delectable rabbit was in the underbrush. His parents gave him freedom and full run of the campus, and so I let him off leash as soon as we were a safe distance from the road, and he would race around the paths and grass like a mad man. He delighted the students who were homesick for their own pets, treed every squirrel who dared step on his grass, scampered in the woods behind the main campus, and would attempt to sneak into the building where his dad taught. He and his three good dog friends—Lilly, Phoebe, and Luther—would occasionally meet there for a ramble, and he’d be so excited at the prospect of being with his little pack that he’d start howling before I’d parked the car and let him out to to tear off with them, happy to be with his own kind. A few years ago, my cousin came down to visit with her new, very teeny and adorable dachshund, and while we walked the campus, everyone oohed and aahed over little Zoe instead of the now greying Mac, who stood patiently while she was in the spotlight, reminding me of how I used to feel as an only child when other children were in my domain. Mac was tolerant of and polite to Zoe all weekend, but when he saw her and her mother drive away on Sunday afternoon, his tail wagged extra hard and he did two victory laps around the driveway, his only-dog status restored.

Favorite spot in the bed.

Favorite spot in the bed.

I’ve written here about his antics, his refined tastes for bottled water, how he’d put himself firmly between me and Z or between me and whatever new baby someone had dragged into his house to establish his ownership of me. He was clever and would play hide and seek with a bone: I would hide it, he would find it, he would hide it—walk me around the house, barking encouragement—until I found it. We’d do this for what felt like hours and he rarely tired of it. He often spent holidays with my family, so there he is in our Christmas photos and Easter photos, on the fringes of baby showers, wakes, reunions.

Ever hopeful.

Ever hopeful.

My friends with children had to regularly grit their teeth when they would tell me a story about their kids and I’d respond with a story about Mac, as if the child and the dog were equal entities. But he did feel like my baby. I was always looking for the toy that would please him and enhance his intellectual development, talking to him as if he were an adult human. I felt his shame the day he had a bout of gastrointestinal distress while on his campus walk and had to be brought home sitting in the backseat in a garbage bag, with just his head poking out, and then had to suffer the further indignity of having his backside scrubbed. I had to take him to the vet more than once because he wasn’t acting like himself, and I felt the anxiety that “real” pet owners and, I’m guessing, parents of human children, must feel whenever their own ones are sick and cannot say, “This is what hurts, you fools, FIX IT!” As he got older, I worried about his aches and his pains, how many more visits I’d have with him. In the five and a half years since I got married and moved across country away from Mac, I flew home multiple times specifically to stay with him because I didn’t want him in a kennel. Fortunately, Mom was often able to stay with him once I left town, so he did not often have many sleepovers with strangers. While in Seattle, if I met dogs on the street and stopped to scratch ears, I’d say to their owners without feeling like a liar, “I have a dog back home in Indiana that I miss so much.” Z and I added a leg to a trip to California specifically to visit him and his parents, who were wintering in Palm Springs, and we were rewarded with a lengthy “talk” from him that seemed to indicate his delight at seeing his extended human pack in a place he’d never encountered them before. On that visit, he proudly walked us from room to room, giving us a tour of his part-time home.

Photo credit: Susanna Tanner Photography

Photo credit: Susanna Tanner Photography

This is Mac with me and Z on our engagement photo shoot at the old train depot in my hometown. Does he look like he is not my dog? Does he look like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world? Is it crazy that I invited a dog that was not mine to share one of the most important days of my life a few months later? Oh never mind. These questions are rhetorical. I really don’t care what anyone thinks—it’s what I wanted and I have no regrets. Maybe it was a selfish thing to have asked his parents to bring him, to insist he be in my wedding without knowing if he wanted to do it. He seemed to like the attention that his red plaid bow-tie commanded and the treats that awaited him at the end of the aisle, but possibly it was overwhelming with too many people in too foreign a place. Yet he felt like part of my family and I couldn’t imagine the day without him.

The Best Dog

The Best Dog

Mac and I happened to be together five months after I got married when I was awaiting the news of whether a crappy diagnosis I’d just received was going to be survivable or would cut short my newly-wedded dreams, and he seemed to instinctively know that I needed him curled up beside me, and after awhile, when he felt I’d wallowed in sadness and anxiety long enough, he’d nudge me towards the door, we’d go for a walk, and I’d be reminded that none of us knows the measure of our days and so we have to enjoy each one as best we can. If dogs teach us anything, surely this is the lesson, over and over and over again.


Louis CK says that when you bring a puppy home to your family, it’s really just a countdown to sadness. Which is kind of what this blog has been. Mac turned thirteen in January, and lived twice as long as any of his owners’ previous Scotties. Because he had a brindle coat, people had been accusing him of being an old dog when he was still young, but he had gotten greyer, deafer, and finally, sick. My mother got to visit with him one last time yesterday, and I am both sad and relieved that I was in Seattle and so didn’t have to say goodbye this morning before he was sent—as Pa Ingall’s tells Laura in By the Shores of Silver Lake about Jack, their brindle bulldog—to the happy hunting ground.

In other things I cannot properly name besides those relationships that mean the most to me, I’ve never been a willing namer or acceptor of death. Maybe it is my Christian upbringing. Maybe it is simply denial. But in my mind, my father is still playing golf somewhere in Dayton, Ohio, and has just refused to get a cell phone thus rendering himself temporarily unreachable. All four of my grandparents and an amazing step-grandmother who lived to be 99 can’t figure out the computer to send emails. Eventually, we’ll be in each other’s company again, I think to myself, as I go about my day after a memory of one of them flashes into my consciousness. This separation is only temporary. It’s unfathomable to me that I won’t see my dearly departed again, so I refuse to attempt to fathom it. On days like today I’m not sure if belief in an afterlife is a matter of faith or stubborn refusal to face facts, but I’m glad for the faith or the stubborness that dwells in me and makes some future meeting a possibility.

As far as I am concerned, Mac is chasing squirrels, awaiting his next treat, anxious to play hide-and-seek, ready to fight me for the dead center of the bed,  and letting out a howl of glee when he sees Lilly, Phoebe, and Luther.   Maybe I can allow for this scenario because I am not the one looking at his empty dog dish or his toy hedgehog, never to be retrieved from his  basket again. Maybe this is the true signifier that he was not mine. My grief is large, but for his parents, it is larger.

Thirteen years ago when his parents asked if I’d be willing to watch the puppy they were considering, would I have answered any differently even if I’d known then how the absence of a little dog with a big bark could wreck me? Of course not. How lucky was I that they let him consistently be  in my life and seemed tolerant of what they must have always known: that in my heart, he belonged to me.

Girls Growing Up

Dear diary.

Dear diary.

If it weren’t a sin to make additions to the Bible, I’d probably implore the folks at Zondervan to include a verse that reads something like: Woe unto the adult woman who happens upon her junior high diaries and reads them, for she will be sorely mortified.


I found the red calico receptacle of my seventh-through-twelfth-grade thoughts on the bookshelves while I was back home in Indiana babysitting Mac the Wonder Scottie. I tucked it into my suitcase before I returned to Seattle, anxious to see what messages I had had for Future Beth. Because I had no such biblical warning and because I was a bookish girl who was overly concerned with grades and my future, I assumed that I would discover raw genius on the pages. I also suspected that early 1980s Beth had a clearer perspective on who her essential self was before she was shaped and twisted by the outside world. I settled in to read these nuggets of teen wisdom with anticipation.


Sadly, what I discovered was that aside from having truly atrocious handwriting, the only thing in my head was apparently boys. Pages and pages about my feelings for and the merits of this boy or that boy. Boys whose names no longer can bring an image to my mind. Boys I barely knew. Boys who likely didn’t know me at all. Sentence after sentence of heartfelt evaluation of the various boys in my school, in my youth group, boys I had known for all of 15 minutes when we were visiting family friends out of town. I had a vivid and completely imaginary romance with a mortician’s son from one of those trips. In one entry, I marveled that I had not gotten depressed when Mom and I went to the wedding of “S”—“S” was the son of a friend of my mothers who was about six years my senior and with whom I had never once had a single conversation. It is a mystery as to why it seemed likely his nuptials would have made me blue.


It was hard not to be retroactively disappointed in myself. Z suggested I should be kinder to the younger Beth because she was just behaving age appropriately, but it took me a good two days to get over the shock of realizing that I hadn’t been some writerly savant. I was no Anne Frank. No junior Virginia Woolf. No teenage girl Pepys. I sure wasn’t writing pages about my career dreams or my hopes (outside of boys) for the future, which disturbs me greatly because I know in 7th and 8th grade I was obsessed with getting a 4.0 GPA, I learned to play string bass because the orchestra had no bass player, I took piano lessons, played a flute, loved art, read, thought regularly about college, and wanted to know everything about the world and the people in it. But none of that is recorded. No one would ever know from the evidence before them in the red calico journal that I had a brain in my head or aspirations beyond convincing the boy I liked to like me back instead of hitting me on the arm so hard I’d have bruises.


(What was that about? Who was I then that I’d let a guy sock me in the arm and not flatten him. I blame his dreamy blue eyes but am thankful that after about three weeks of the daily arm slug, I determined that he “wasn’t really the guy for me.” Ya think?)


The whole time I was reading my journal, I kept texting my oldest friend, Leibovitz, to tell her what 1980something me was concerned about, what she’d been up to, who was annoying us in 7th grade.


“You just danced with J.T!” I’d text, to which she would reply, “Oh, don’t remind me.”


Possibly, my texts were annoying. Her oldest daughter was about to graduate from high school but I was so immersed into the early 1980s–wondering if I’d be more appealing to the boy of the week if I asked for a pair of Bass Weejuns for Christmas—that I couldn’t even fathom a Little Leibovitz existed at all, let alone talk coherently about her high school graduation. It was as if the last thirty odd years never happened (and it may explain why this weekend I bought a pair of Tom Mcan tasseled mocs for $12.99 on a K-mart clearance rack even though, my mother pointed out, I made fun of her for wearing the same in 1998). I did not need a DeLorean to go back to the future; I was wedged in it.


Plus, I admit, I did not like the way Little Leibovitz had recently made me feel ancient. While I’d been home, I took her out to dinner—something I did more regularly when she and her sister were little and I was still living in Indiana. She’s beautiful and seems supremely confident in ways I could not have mustered at her age (or now). Maybe she doesn’t feel like she has the world on a string, but it seems like she does. We chatted about school and her summer and college plans. After we were finished eating, I offered to take her out for dessert or to the mall or something. She shook her head and said no thanks, and then it hit me: Little Leibovitz had been humoring me. She didn’t need me to drive her around town: she has her own car, a rich collection of friends, a busy social life. My offering of taco chips and boring old-people questions about her future plans was not the draw it might have been a decade ago.


The thought of her in a cap and gown made me feel old and I wanted to keep on feeling like I’d just seen Urban Cowboy for the first time. (One advantage to not having children of your own is that you can more easily live with the delusion that you are ageless.)


A few days after reading my journals, I started reframing what I’d read there. Yes, I did talk obsessively about boys, but on a second thought, it was not random, mindless chatter. I was analyzing and evaluating them like I was a detective or a zoologist: what were the subject’s good qualities? Bad qualities? Did those qualities mesh with mine? What was the likelihood of our future contentment? I was picky and dis-inclined to flirt. As my detecting progressed, I moved more quickly reached the “not the guy for me” evaluation and moved on. I seemed to know exactly the sort of person I wanted in my life and I was willing to wait for him. Which is a good thing since it took Z a few plane rides and three decades to arrive on the scene.


If I had the superpower of time travel, I’d put a Post-It in that diary for 12-year-old Beth to read that said something like, “Honey, calm down. It’s going to be a few years before you find the right one. Why not jot down some current events while you wait?”



I'm certain my dog-eared copy of _The Preppy Handbook_ did not allow for shoes from K-mart.

I’m certain my dog-eared copy of _The Preppy Handbook_ did not allow for shoes from K-mart.



Flashback Friday: The Rules of Engagement


Monday, October 16, 2006

[It’s worth noting that when this entry was written my life was about to change in a big, surprising Zimbabwean way in less than ten days. Tune in next Friday for more in the saga of Z and Beth’s Love: The Early Years.]

I’ve been thinking about the rules of attracting a mate lately. You know the ones. Some are probably holdovers from the days of courtly love. I’m talking about the ones no one really teaches us, but we can quote them more quickly and accurately than we can the First Amendment or the Ten Commandments. (Pick your politics.) They are:

1) Love comes when you least expect it.
2) Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
3) You must love yourself before love will find you.
4) Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

There are variations of the above but all fit comfortably in one of the four above groups. For instance, if you’ve read enough self-help books or watched movies like Runaway Bride, you’ll recognize a combination of one and three. That is, you might love someone, but until you quit being devoted to your idea of love of them and learn to make hideous lampshade art on your own like Julia Roberts almost always does in whatever movie she is in, you will not find true love. A variation of four that I prefer because I am mildly lactose intolerant is that you must withhold your love if you expect the object of your affection to return your warm feelings.

I’ve followed most of these rules, off and on, with some regularity, and I can’t say that any of them work. For me. That’s fine. Single is okay, so don’t think this is a blog of self-pity. It is not. For instance, I had a flash last night of all the horrible décor I’d be forced to live with if some of my former loves had come to a point of cohabitation: dogs playing poker, posters of Johnny Cash, farm implements as art, eagle blankets as window treatments….

It annoys me when people explain their newly found love by relying on these platitudes, usually because they are not true. You cannot believe anyone who says they weren’t looking for or expecting love. They were. Okay. They were. We all are. If you are between the ages of 12 and dead and you spend more than 15 minutes a day watching television or listening to non-talk radio, then you are expecting at some time to be “surprised” by love. If you weren’t expecting to be surprised by love, you wouldn’t have the good underwear and you would never shave your legs. Don’t kid yourself and don’t try to kid me. You might not have been expecting it today between 12:00 and 12:15, but you were expecting it eventually.

What annoys me even more than this, though, is when someone willingly breaks one of these rules and finds true love in spite of the rule breakage. For instance, I know a woman who loved a man who did not love her back, even though they had a steamy sex life. By all accounting with Price Waterhouse, this relationship was doomed, she was being used, he would never respect her, and thus she would never win his love, no matter what acrobatics were involved. It’s the cautionary tale every young girl hears from her mother or Sunday school teacher. Yet after a year of this FREE and FLAGRANT milk giving, the guy realized he loved her and couldn’t live without her. They are now married and have matching tattoos celebrating their love.

When you have been a rule follower your whole life, this is one of the jaggedest little pills to have to swallow: rule breakers win; rule breakers do not necessarily go straight to hell. (Though this is a young marriage, and so the verdict is still out on that one. Hell has many manifestations.)
What is the MOST annoying, however, is when someone willfully breaks the rules but presents her story of love as if she were adhering to the above. Recently, my mother befriended the wife of the first boy I loved, grades K thru 3. He was cute, smart, skilled at kickball, and was regularly awarded the title of “Good Citizen.” His wife (an excellent and good person by all accounts) tells the story of how she was not interested in dating anyone and told the friends who set her up with him that she wasn’t. She told him she wasn’t interested in him repeatedly on that first non-date, and three days later she moved in with him and they’ve been blissfully happy ever since. She followed those rules of courtly love and rejected him multiple times, but still, she went on the non-date. Still, she answered the phone after the non-date when he was calling to tell her he wanted to see her again. And when, later that same night, he drove through the country looking for her house so he could kiss her soundly and show her that there was something between them, she told him where to find her driveway.

So, at cocktail parties, she can tell people that she wasn’t looking for love and in fact discouraged love, but even so, she gave it directions.

My luck with absence making the heart grow fonder has been no better. It can make the heart grow fonder, but only in people who weren’t into you enough in the first place to realize they should stay put. Them joining the military and then realizing they really miss you is not really a testament to how lovable you are so much as it is a testament to how miserable it is in a desert. Or Duluth. People have had good, long marriages based on this absent, fond heart mythology, so perhaps I should not judge it so harshly. But I do, primarily because I am the kind of person who feels that the separation by just a two- mile stretch of road is too great. I do not need to go to Duluth to realize I am in love.

Also, statistically speaking, what absence does is make people unfaithful. They’re lonely, Van Morrison gets played on the jukebox, and they bump up against another lonely some body.

Am I too cynical? Bitter? Frustrated? A case could be built for any of these. But I don’t think so. I’m just wondering, that’s all. How is it that other people know when to follow the rules, when to break them, when to break them but pretend they didn’t? How is that whatever I do seems like exactly the wrong thing to do, but then if I switch to the exact opposite tactic, it immediately seems like the inferior one?

These are rhetorical questions, you understand. I’m beginning to suspect the truth is that no one knows anything, and the platitudes we rely on and untruths we tell are simply needed because it is an unbearable thought that our lives and loves are a crapshoot, that it is, at it’s very basest level, just an issue of timing: who was available at 12:15 on a Monday afternoon.

No, this version is even less satisfying than the lies. I find myself once again in the precarious position of needing to quote Fleetwood Mac: Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.



A Sort of Fairy Tale

Zebra wedding cake topper.

December 12, 2009


Today is our fourth anniversary, and as you may have heard, Z and I are in different time zones and on different continents. I fully expected to be in a full-tilt fit of melancholia with a side order of pout as soon as the clock struck December 12th, but it turns out, it’s not happening.


Here’s the thing: we shouldn’t be together.  At all. If I wrote a book about my life (Oh, wait! I am!) and you were introduced to a character called, say, “The Reluctant Girl Scout”, and a character called “Z”, you would say to yourself, Who is this writer kidding? This would never happen. It’s just not believable!

It isn’t believable. It’s a fairy tale. Highly improbable.

1)   There is the improbability of geography. How many Zimbabweans did I meet before Z? Zero. People in Richmond, Indiana, do not meet people from Zimbabwe as a matter of course. Often people in Richmond, Indiana, aren’t even sure where Zimbabwe is or that it is a country. (There is a water slide at Holiday World in Southern Indiana called “Zoombabwe” and that’s about as close as we get.) Statistically, since Z came to college in America and stayed through two graduate degrees, there was a high probability that he might end up married to an American. But me? I haven’t crunched the numbers because I’m not that strong a mathematician, but I think the chances that I– a person who had mostly lived in Richmond and traveled primarily to Ireland and Indianapolis–would marry a Zimbabwean are about .00000000001%.

2)   There is the improbability of time. What are the odds that a visiting professor position in Z’s discipline would open up at the teeny university where I had just been hired full-time six months before? (Sub improbability: what are the odds that at this university, his discipline, which is often considered a social science, would be housed instead with the humanities, where I was, so we could sit next to each other at faculty meetings for the next two years, bonding via the series of disgusted looks we would flash at each other whenever our senior most colleague started clipping his nails in the midst of budget debates?) You’ll have to do the calculations on that one yourself, but I’m telling you, the odds are not high.

3)   There is the improbability of Z finding a cyber café with electricity (there are a lot of Zesa cuts in Zimbabwe) and then finding the ad for the position at my teeny university (not to mention the improbability that he would be hired via a phone interview alone).

4)   There is the improbability of me, an introvert, going to the beginning-of-the- year faculty party where I would have my first conversation with him and make the improbable proclamation to a friend that I was going to marry him. (I didn’t even believe in marriage at this point in my life. I thought marriage is where love went to die.)

5)   There is the probability of Z’s policies working against us. Z did not believe in dating co-workers (he says), so we were never going to happen. I did not know this, nor did I know that when Z has a policy, he sticks with it. (The only policy I’ve ever known him to break was his “I do not go to Starbuck’s” policy, which is hard to do in Seattle.  He let this policy lapse in 2009 when he was out with Z-ma  and she needed the loo.) The whole time we worked together, we never dated. Instead we had “outings”. The closest we ever got physically was when our heads bumped up against each others one night when I was helping him put together his new Kathy Ireland stationary bicycle.

6)   Z just wasn’t into me. We were friends. I was delusional. The end.

7)   I am not a tenacious person. If I have a goal and am met with opposition, I often just change my goal instead of fighting to meet it. Yet when Z left town for Zimbabwe after his job ended, instead of rationally assuming I would never see him again, I became uncharacteristically cunning. I suggested he store his belongings in my attic, thus ensuring at least one more meeting.

8)   The final, most outstanding improbability is that after five years of pining for a man who was only ever going to be my friend I was ready to admit defeat …just as he had an epiphany of his own.



So yes, we aren’t together today. Instead, we are in our respective countries looking at photos on our respective computers of our American-Zimbabwean wedding with the zebra cake topper and the fire in the fire place and the Christmas trees and the kissing ball and the hula hoops and the Scottie dog and my blue suede shoes and his rented tux that was so big it required safety pins and made him look like William Howard Taft.


We could be sad, but in the face of such dire statistics, wouldn’t that just be greedy?