Our Blended Family
Love is a Many Blended Thing
My friends laughed at me. “He’s so wrong. Move on,” they shouted.
“There’s a smoking gun behind his back, count on it,” my sister blurted.
“It’ll never work,” another said, always quick with the naysays. “You’re too different.”
“Don’t forget the religion thing,” a fellow yogini warned rolling her eyes.
It was true: my new heartthrob was all of what I wasn’t: a born again, meat eating jock, and a single father of two divorce-traumatized youngsters, a recipe for disaster for a person like me, they all said. I was a loner-artist, a lifelong yogini, and at times, known to be allergic to nurturing myself much less anyone else.
My meditation friends all agreed, even those espousing embrace-everyone’s-differences unanimously warned: Stay Away from Him.
But what can a girl do when her heart speaks a different language than the heedings of family and friends? Every time I tried breaking it off with him, and believe me, there were many as we seesawed in the Should We/Shouldn’t We dance, weighing feelings versus facts, clearly seeing the risks of following-our-bliss – I always ended up needing to know this man, even before I knew what he looked like.
It was his voice that first pierced the wall I’d neatly built around my heart.
All those years of trying, always trying, and in the end, failing at love, had left me fearful and cynical. I’d just determined that it would take a harem of my own, filled with Speedo-clad yogic adepts, men who meditated as passionately as I and then made ravishingly sweaty, athletic love to me – plus a scholar of botany; and a musician, a harpsichordist, perhaps; and a scuba diving, round-the-world sailor to nicely sum up my multifaceted needs in a partner.
Just when I was working on envisioning my harem – Carter called.
He’d called because a friend of ours dared him.
“teZa has done what you now want to do, if I’m hearing you right,” our mutual friend Elsbeth had told him. “She’s off booze and drugs for years now.”
Turns out, he and I had met Elsbeth at different spots in the Western Hemisphere. I met her when I lived in the West Indies and Elsbeth was a tugboat co-captain with five kids. I’d heard her mention Carter’s name a few times over the years I lived in Dominica, operating an island-trade business from there. Carter, back in the States after his own travels took him to South America, had known Elsbeth when he’d worked on her family’s ocean-going tug.
After each of our southern sojourns, he’d first gone to New York to make movies before ending up in Central Florida. The day of his call I was living in East Hampton, making millionaires’ gardens in between art works, enjoying the life of a finally sober, newly awakened seeker.
I picked up the phone that spring morning in the Hamptons. “Hi, This is Carter,” a deep voice resonated within me.
“Oh, I’ve heard of you from Elsbeth.”
Silence on the other line for a couple beats.
“Carter, you still there?”
“You don’t remember meeting me?”
I could hear my swallow, a loud cartoon balloon: “Gulp.”
Nonplussed, Carter related our first meeting, twenty years before, in the top floor Boston apartment I had, back at the beginning of my yearnings, before I knew that what I really was seeking was the inner glory, not the outer shimmers and gold rings dangling from the next adventure, next relationship, next career move. Change was my only career course back then, and I rapidly climbed its rungs of success.
But wait. I was Now sober. I’d been working on my shit for seven years already. It was the Now that drew me in like a fish on the line.
Something about this voice. This man. I didn’t recall him. How could I? I was obsessed with change back when he says we met, ever so briefly, two ships slinking past like far off shadows in an inky night.
“It happened. I never forgot meeting you because you sSshuned me,” he says.
My ear never heard such a sound! The way he pronounced his S’s, as if he whispered them but the rest of his words, plainly spoken. Every time he hit an “S” my belly throbbed. Something weird was getting activated in there. What the heck is going on? Is this guy a magician or something, I wondered.
We talked that first time, he from suburban Central Florida, where he’d gone to lick his wounds, he said, his tail between shaky legs after a disastrous marriage, bitter divorce, vicious custody battle, his first feature flopping and subsequent financial ruin.
“Oh – you have kids?” I repeated what mattered most to me.
With that spoken aloud, my breath got sucked away.
Never once had I identified myself as a breeder. If anything, as soon as kids came around, I’d make a mad dash for the nearest exit. On the phone, I’m confused for a moment in this Now. Should I listen, ecstatically as I had been, to this faceless, formless voice I don’t know, who’s hypnotizing me with his S’s, or should I quickly get off the phone?
“YesSs, my kidsSs are the lightsSs of my exisSstence,” Carter added.
I was his. With that one spellbinding proclamation, both in its content and mesmerizing effect, my heart double-jabbed, knocking all rationale within me senseless.
What followed was something I never dreamed possible. Instead of a harem, true love came for me: because I was ready. So I threw myself madly into the bowl of cherry-flavored S’s: Spiritual and Sensual fulfillment, and not so eaSy Sacrifice. The last was the hardest, but every sweet has a bitter note in its guarded recipe, otherwise the taste and sensation is dull, ordinary, noncommittal.
Within a few weeks I was on a plane to see Carter’s face for the first time. He remembered what mine looked like, he claimed. I didn’t need a face recognition program, if one had been available at that time, the early nineties, because I instantly remarked the beaming aura of light surrounding a tall man, whose features were blurred by a radiance of happiness as he stood in the back of a throng of greeters at the Tampa Airport.
We did our dance. We learned both our stories’ details, each of us coming together with a mixed bag of pre-existing conditions as every over thirty-something has slung over their shoulders.
After a long career making movies Carter was forced to throw it all over when money ran out and kids came along. Somewhere along the way he’d been born again, dunked in a gator pond, and now, as a full-custodial, single dad, was raising his kids to be committed Christians, like him.
Many phone calls ago, when he first mentioned the Jesus thing, I went quiet.
“Is there a problem?” Carter asked
“You know I’m not into religion, right? I love Jesus’ message of Universal Love, and Buddha’s before him and Mohammed’s after him, and the teachings of all the great illuminated beings, forever, everywhere. But I’m not keen on religion. That’s why meditation is my path. I’m a believer of God-is-Energy and the Oneness-of-All: that’s who I am. To me, religion appears to be as quixotic to modern humankind, as fatal as misused politics. Too much bloodshed over both of these. I’m apolitical and nonreligious – but I’m the biggest lover of Spirit who experiences God as Nature, and the interconnectedness of all. You have a problem with any of this, Carter?”
“Naw, as long as you love the Power beyond all understanding, I don’t care what you call Him.”
“Him, Her, or It.”
“Okay. Agreed. But I call him Jesus. That’s my bag. Agreed.”
Other differences popped up. To each challenge I said,
“Okay, got it. Weird, but, hey! – it’s your bag. You really live in suburbia?”
“That’s where the courts said I have to be, for the kids’ sake. This is where I grew up. Believe me, I hate it. We’ll move as soon as I regroup and replenish the coffers.”
My stomach did a flip when he told me: “I’m a Republican fiscally, but socially a Democrat.”
“Well I’m a nothing-can and a never-crat. Agree to let me be nonpolitical? I’m a spiritual activist, and on my path we do just as much as any campaigner ever has.”
Our many differences couldn’t shut off the steam valve that fed my love mojo. I wanted him. I needed him. His S’s went deep into my heart, soul and spirit. His easy laughter uplifted me, more than anyone or anything had my entire life. He was my harem of a dozen, rolled into one gorgeous, honest-to-God human being, despite his antediluvian political and religious affiliations, the exact opposite of mine.
When I met his kids, aged two and four, I fell triply in love.
The smoking gun?
“Well, you should know, teZ, that my ex-wife is a bit off balanced. She accused me of terrible things trying to win the kids in court. The judge ended up not giving her even joint-custody. In the end, her false charges only backfired.”
Soon after that plane ride to see for myself how a man who spoke a spell of S’s could have captured my restless heart – and discovered for myself that he was, indeed, all my imagined perfect mates, my harem, all rolled into one huge hunk of a sensitive-man package, despite his peculiar bags – I began to wonder if we possibly could make it together, being so different. He was willing to compromise; so was I.
After a lot of pre-marital counseling that preceded and followed our string of breakups in the next two years – we both held our noses and took the dive. None of our family or friends thought we’d make it.
The challenges of our differences is what makes our blended family so similar to so many others in our blended world culture these days. And they are exactly what has led Carter and me, and our now-grown children to become four better, mostly healed, tremendously more balanced individuals.
All our differences, instead of cement roadblocks, have been inspiring boosters, enticers, guiding Lights leading Carter, the kids, and me – our blended family, like humankind’s global blended family, also – to discover what really matters.
That Acceptance is the real power of Love.