Do you read Part I? You really should. Click here.
So yes, the Handyman reminds me of an Ex, who was also a brooding blue collar Hottie who liked Budweiser, smoked Marlboros, and had trouble sticking to one woman. Mmmm, mmm.
I met him while working on the Mississippi Queen steamboat, cruising the length of the great river, living on the boat for six weeks at a time. I felt in love with everyone and everything – the roiling muddy waters we plowed through, and the small towns where we docked: Greenville, Natchez, Paducah, St. Francisville. I loved the Ex, who worked in the storeroom and wore a blue jumpsuit every day, and my friend Em, who was having an affair with the ship band’s trumpeter. Most of all, I loved the FREEDOM that comes with youth and immaturity. I had no decisions to make, no bills to pay – in my off time, I lived with my parents – and really, no reason to worry. About anything.
The Ex is one of those former flames you recognize as a really good guy who never would have worked out. I loved him, but mostly I loved the way he made me feel – wild, sexy, funny, and fringed by a touch of the crazies. I was 23 years old – and I guess I was all those things.
Damn. I was all those things. But not anymore. Or at least I don’t always feel like that anymore.
It has nothing to do with Hot Firefighter Husband, and yet everything to do with him.
Back up 22 years, to when Husband and I first became a couple. The day after we…..coupled, I wore a purple dress to work. I remember that dress – a purple drop waist cotton knit shift that was t-shirt comfortable. I had a green one just like it.
Husband couldn’t keep his eyes off of me. I felt certain the night before had been a mistake, and yet Holy Skinny-Dipping, did I feel exquisite. Like Ecstasy-good. (Ecstasy really is fantastic, peeps. But just take my word for it, okay?)
For years afterwards, Husband remembered that purple dress. He only had to mention it for me to blush. It was symbolic of our union, but also represented what I like to think as my true spirit – me, unencumbered, achieving, reaching my goals simply by grabbing them. Me and my bike and a backpack, riding the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard one weekend just because I could. Me, living.
I can’t remember when I threw away the purple dress, nor can I remember when I packaged up my freedom and stored it on a shelf. Grown-up responsibilities can be so sobering and anti-climactic, right? Money and chores and the sheer weight of grounding a family…it’s time-consuming and exhausting.
A lot of it has to do with the children, of course, particularly my son, whose Attachment Disorder makes him a full-time job. We often don’t even have the option of going to the pool or beach on a hot sunny day, because the boy’s anxieties can turn him apoplectic at the idea of it. Just recently he spent 20 minutes running away from home by walking around our neighborhood cul-de-sac. Because I wanted him to bathe. I am fundamentally tethered to him, and though I’m grateful for the durability of the invisible leash that links us, I’d like to unhook it sometimes.
Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I pull into our driveway, and as I open the garage door, I think, Who put me in charge of all this? Who thought I could handle it? I own a big house! I’m responsible for three live little humans! Just yesterday, it seems, I was dancing on a pool table, and today I’m cutting the crusts off peanut butter sandwiches and wiping pee off the toilet seat! Again and again and again!
Tuck those thoughts away for a moment.
So a confluence of events – me reading Fifty Shades of Grey, the appearance of the (Hot) Handyman, Husband working a long stretch of days – had conspired to induce in me a kind of despair. I sunk into a strange, otherworldly melancholy marked by a deep and omnipresent longing that I did not understand. I craved sex, but not with Husband and not with anyone else.
For whatever reason, probably simply because he was there, the Handyman – the idea of him – became the cure for what ailed me. He made me smile. He was so utterly capable; he could fix anything, and I guess I surmised that he could fix me, too. He appeared regularly to help right the wrongs in my home – replace the weather-stripping in the front door or change out the leaky faucet on the deck – and hope swelled within me.
(It’s important to note here that the Handyman did not return my attention. He thinks I’m weird.)
This dismal state of affairs depressed me endlessly, and cast me into inner turmoil. I love my husband! I love my family, my choices, and (most of) my life! Why was I so fixated on the Handyman?
But then came that cathartic, A-HA moment of clarity, like the proverbial parting of the seas and the commandments etched in stone and the sun breaking through the clouds, all happening at once. It was so…metaphoric, so predictable. The Handyman reminded me of the Ex. Thinking of the Ex summoned up the familiar taste of sexy, wanton freedom. Savoring that old freedom made me feel trapped. And gazing at the Handyman, traveling back in time – it temporarily untied those trappings, and lightened my burden for a precious few minutes. And boy, did it feel good. Like, awesomely good. Like, wow, I’m blushing good. And that’s where the sexual urges came in. I wanted to be in that ecstatic moment all the time, to escape what I perceived to be the restraints of my suburban life.
So I wrote Part I to get this all straight in my head, and proudly showed it to Hot Firefighter Husband in hopes that he would understand why my Cold-Hearted Bitch quotient had been so high – and he FLIPPED OUT. But after a really hard therapy session and some old-fashioned affection, he gets it now.
I’m over the Handyman. Who still likes Budweiser, anyway? I solved my own little midlife crisis using my vast introspective abilities and a heavy dose of patience from the real Hot guy in my world, the one and only Hot Firefighter Husband, who once again fills me with lust and longing and love, and the greatest of these, of course, is the love. (Thank you, Corinthians.)
I see now that the wild, high-spirited, slightly crazy me has not been lost at all, but rather has shapeshifted into a more useful form. I’m Dorothy, clicking her heels. You always had the power to go back home, Dorothy. I don’t need a purple dress or a pool table or a steamy affair. I just need me and my life and my man.
Or, to bring this series full circle, consider Ana, naive heroine of Fifty Shades of Grey, waiting for Christian to dominate her yet again. She silently utters one of the more insipid lines of the entire book. “My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils,” she says.
Yeah for her. So dumb. But actually, I guess mine is, too.