We had to drug my cat today to get her to the veterinarian for a routine check-up. The sedative we put into her food should have taken less than ninety minutes to dope up a small calico cat, but instead it took two hours to make her slightly less combative than usual. She yowled pitifully for most of the car ride, despite the fact that she was in a cozy, spacious dog crate (the cat taxi had proven a bad idea the last time we vetted her, so instead of trying to stuff her suddenly-expansive furry form through the too-small hole of the cat taxi, we opted to use our dog's crate). Upon arrival she glared daggers at my mother and me, and I had to tell my mother to go sit someplace else, because she was stressing out the cat.
Now that we've brought her home again, all appears to be forgiven, but it is yet to be seen if the kitty will ever again trust humans bearing yummy treats.

In other news, my Adobe CS5 is not letting me register. I have already completed every circuitous step of the procedure required to use the blasted software, and now the registration form is asking me to give it a serial number which simply does not exist. I tried to retrieve a serial number by inputting the "coupon code", and the Adobe website informs me that my coupon code is invalid.

So... Adobe, what you are telling me... is that I just spent $324.77 (tax included therein) for three CDs that will cease to be useful in 30 days as anything but drink coasters?!?!

Pray forgive me if I am perhaps a bit miffed.

The last daylog was December 15, 2009, which is far too long ago, and so much in life has changed. Here's an update.

Not that you need one, or care. I'm writing this to whomever identifies with my situation in life.

Here's my situation in life. Double nickle. Not yet old, but I left young a long long time ago. Five years ago I got divorced and have been living in limbo ever since. Some men lead very happy single lives. I do not. Simply put, I need a woman to ground me. I need someone to center my life around. I can't make large life decisions without that one special person. Vacations are prime examples. I don't want to go on a special vacation alone. Why go to the Alps to make memories only I will have? I want to go with someone, so that we can make memories together.

I am happiest with one woman. And I think, I hope, I pray, that I have found her.

As usual, life is not linear, so there is not unalloyed happiness. Our relationship will be tested by three or four major challenges. This daylog is a mile marker in the journey of life. I will read this a year or two hence and I will know how the story has turned out, but right now the future is murky.

Gena came into my life about six months ago. We had met on a dating web site, corresponded briefly, and even talked on the telephone. The vibe I got was that she is pretty and wholesome, but for whatever reason I wasn't ready for that. She ran marathons, for example. Runners do not find me attractive. I'm overweight. I can't run with them, so cannot provide companionship on their long practice runs. Most don't like the smoky smell of pipe or cigar on my clothes. I eat badly. So I thought this was going to be a factor, and rather than go out on a date and have it come up and consider the date a waste of time, I guessed that her reaction would be typical of healthy gym-rat women, and said, effectively, thanks but no thanks. She looks great. She has her choice of men. I have nothing to offer that a woman like this would want.

I dated others. It was no good. Nice women, but nothing stuck. The last few years have been frustrating, because I couldn't connect with anyone. Beyond the superficial, letting someone inside me seemed impossible, as if my heart had been cauterized and felt nothing anymore.

The last breakup was painful and frustrating. I was at my wit's end. I called up Gena - one of those "remember me?" phone calls - and asked to go out for a glass of wine.

The glass of wine turned into a date, which turned into a dinner, which turned into a kiss goodbye, which was followed by roiling emotions when I went to sleep that night. She was unexpected. I was prepared for her good looks, but I wasn't prepared for how unassuming she was. She wore jeans and flip flops, sure turn-offs for a man who loves legs. Yet she looked cute, just as she was.

I was expecting a woman who knew she was a head-turner, and who expected men to look at her. I was not expecting someone who laughed self-deprecatingly. Then there was the matter of her running. I knew she had run marathons - 26.2 miles. I didn't know she ran ultramarathons - 100 miles! When asked, she said she had run one in 28 hours, and you could hear a pin drop as the tables around us stopped eating and listened to her.

"Yes, but that's nothing. There are guys in my ultra group that have run a hundred of these, and some longer. I've only completed one. I'm nothing special."

Ha ha ha. She made it sound so easy. I was skeptical.

"It's not hard. It's not a skill sport. It's not like football or wrestling, where you need hand and arm skills. You start running, and then you don't stop until it's done."

Still skeptical.

"Also, we take frequent breaks to hydrate, to eat, to go to the bathroom. it's not all running."

What? Oh, sorry, I was just admiring the blueness of your eyes. Keep talking.

"We drink beer at the end. We know how to have fun. It's all about fun."

I'm sorry, what did you say your name was? I've lost all cognitive, rational thought.

Fast forward a month, when Gena invites me to a barbecue with the DC ultramarathoners' group. Gena has charmed everyone there - she's obviously a crowd favorite - and she is saying her goodbyes as we're leaving, when a tall, good looking man grabs my arm to stop me. He looks in my eyes and says,

I hope you realize how lucky you are.

The first date was a fluke. It must have been a fluke. I don't like short hair. Gena has short hair. I don't like jeans and flip flops. Gena is an athletic woman who lives in jeans and flip flops. I like a woman who wears makeup and expensive dresses. Gena wears almost no makeup, and her dresses are, by the sounds of it, the kinds made of synthetic fabric she can bunch up and throw into her running bag. God almighty. No no no. This is never going to work.

We plan to see each other next weekend.

Monday drags by.
Tuesday is excruciating.

On Tuesday night I am desperate. I call Gena and practically beg for a midweek date.

She laughs and says,

"I was just about to call you and ask you the same thing. How about tomorrow night?"

YES! (I have never been able to play it cool like most guys, and I'm sure I sounded like an idiot.)

Our second date was amazing. She must have read my mind because on the second date she wore a dress and little bitty black heels and looked OMG GLAMOROUS! We went to a few bars. I remember feeling like I may have to beat the other guys back with baseball bats. Even the women bartenders like her. I fell totally and completely under her spell that night.

The last bar we hit was a place in Shirlington, a very proper looking bar with dark oak and leather stools, and we were kissing and lost contact with the rest of the world. I remember the bartender kept coming over and saying something, and we kept waving her away, like, whatever, just keep hitting us with the same drink if our glasses are empty. Finally, she got annoyed and yelled WE'RE CLOSING.

Oh, right. We knew that. I think I had broken into a sweat by that time, and tried to recover some semblance of togetherness. Couldn't read the check, of course, since I didn't carry my reading glasses. Gena, who's never worn glasses in her life, looked amused, and read the bill and while I was calculating the tip by doing all sorts of higher math in my head, she laughed and said an eight dollar tip should do.

So the second date went well, in the sense of two trains running full speed at each other.

This could end well.
It could be heaven,
Or it could be hell.

She was divorced a few years ago, and her two teenaged daughters live in St. Louis. After living with a man who was the love of her life, but who turned out to have episodes of mania and anger management issues, she flew to DC, where her father lives. She needed one year of sanity before returning. She immediately joined running clubs and an ultramarathon group and spent her time running her way to wholesomeness and stability. She dated widely. Her father is a collegiate wrestler, a boater, and a bon vivant. He's broad shouldered, a Son of Norway, with the same bronzed skin and devastating blue eyes his daughter has. He loves life and he loves Gena, and she felt safe and welcomed here. But home was always, always St. Louis.

With a month to go, we were walking the dog one night and I asked if I could live with her. I heard the words come out of my mouth with a detached sense of disbelief. This was rash and foolhardy, and such affairs of the heart could only end badly. I couldn't believe I was even asking such an imprudent thing. I was ready for rejection - something along the lines of "Are you NUTS?" Any hesitancy on her part would have signified a rejection, no matter how politely she couched the response.

"Yes. When?" Immediate response. I am so in love with this girl.
"This weekend?"

We have lived together for a month.
It was a 30 day date.
It was a 30 day marriage.
We were never separated by more than a workday and a few hours.
We had coffee together almost every morning.
We slept together every night.
We fell asleep, even on the hottest of the summer nights, touching each other.
We never fought.
We fell in love.
There were a few tears.
There was much happiness.

On July 4, Gena and her younger brother Kenny and her friend Pat and I took her father's cruiser out onto the Potomac River and watched DC's glorious national fireworks. On our last evening together in DC we arrived home at 1 a.m., too tired to make love. I wanted to wake up at 3 a.m. and get an early start on the 16 hour drive to St. Louis. She was going home.

At 5 a.m. our backup alarm clocks went off, and I awakened with a start, conscious of the fact that we were already two hours behind schedule. She put a hand on my chest and said, "Shh. We still have time." And then she kissed me and crawled on top.

The long road trip to St. Louis was over in a heartbeat. We listened to her music. We talked about her family, her running, her goals. A few more ultras. When she hits fifty, a few years hence, she wants to compete in the Senior Olympics at mid distances. She will be the best looking fifty year old woman at the starting blocks.

She wants to move to Seattle, or Colorado. She loves mountains. She loves hiking. She loves warming her face in direct sunlight.

The first night in St. Louis we slept on an air mattress at a friend's house. Uncomfortable as hell. She called from work and said, "Let's get a hotel room tonight." We did. Showered, went to dinner at Tony's in the St. Charles area, hit a casino on the way back, wasted ten bucks on slot machines, went back and stayed up way past her bedtime.

She drove me to the airport the next morning. We both had our brave faces on. I kissed her goodbye. We both said something innocuous. Brave face. Brave face. Must go. Can't let her see me cry. Got out of the car, went to leave...

Needed one more kiss. Banged on the car. Ran around to the driver's side. Opened the door. She was gripping the wheel tight. She was sitting there, and she willed herself to stop sobbing. She had dissolved into tears, and then so did I. This time the hugs were needy and the kisses were long and wet.

Life doesn't always guarantee happy endings. She lives in St. Louis now. I live in DC. She has debts. I have debts. Her daughters will require her attention at least five more years. I am planning on moving to St. Louis in a year, but jobs there are scarce, much harder to come by than in DC. I am planning on seeing her about once a month, and calling often. Can we keep this long distance relationship going?

Don't settle. Never settle.
Don't ask yourself, "Can I live with this woman?"
Ask yourself, "Is this the woman I can't live without?"

Keep your fingers crossed, please.

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