All posts by Dianea Kohl

NOURISHMENT of the Heart

My first thought is a good night’s sleep. With a comforter over me; self-made from T-shirts bought at forty-some American National Parks. I am reminded of hiking to waterfalls in Yosemite, or Yellowstone, or the Grand Tetons, or King’s Canyon, or Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument where a flash thunderstorm graces me with an on-the-spot waterfall where none had been that day. I was on a natural high for the rest of that day in 2017. As I was with my French boyfriend, Antoine, under a waterfall with him while in Guadaloupe just after New Year’s 2019.

Presently, Antoine is recovering from a mental breakdown just after Valentine’s Day 2019. When he acts out his anger at me while on the phone, I must shut my phone off until he is able to express his anger at his fear of feeling inferior and insecure. Not at me. Until then, I need the nourishment from writing my feelings of helplessness in my journal. From weeding my flower gardens where I plant new Petunias, Pansies, Marigolds, around the perennials of Shasta Daisies, Datura Moon Flowers, Irises and Peonies. Tulips and Daffodils. And of course, Forget-Me-Nots that roam further every year sharing their happy blues. (What a paradox) As do the Bleeding Hearts.

When I discovered a video this morning (June 6th, D-Day), created by my iPhone, of this past year’s trips with Antoine to Paris, Lyon, Versailles, Brussels, Acadia National Park, and Guadalupe, a fountain of tears washes my cheeks, missing the real and reappearing Antoine.

When will we be standing on the top of the Eiffel Tower, and Ferris Wheel of Paris, kissing again?

 

 

Surprising INTERRUPTION

My Friday night routine is to eat dinner at the Americana winery’s cafe, where live music can either settle your stomach or flare one’s ears. I hope to dance, which depends on the type of musical group playing.

On the second Friday of the month, I leave the Americana during the band’s break and drive to Endicott, New York one hour away, to dance for two or more hours to DJ music. It’s called a California mix: ballroom (waltz, rumba, cha-cha, swing) Latin (salsa, meringue, bacchante), country two-step, along with many west coast songs, to which I prefer to dance the hustle.

While at the Americana, May 10th, 2019, I dance in my street shoes. On my return drive to Ithaca, New York, where I live, my memory interrupts my gazing at the bright yellow Forsythia, opened groups of daffodils and budding tulips.

“Hey, I forgot my dance shoe bag!” I think to myself. “And what made think of that right now?”

As luck would have it, the drive to Endicott passes directly past my home – in fact is a short cut, rather than my usual route of smoother pavement, where I can drive above the speed limit. I happily retrieve my dance shoe bag that holds a fan to cool me off. I add a dark chocolate hazelnut candy-bar treat.

 

Can I say I hate the Mall?

 

Ugh! I hate the mall, even after transforming its uptown name to the Ithaca Mall, no longer Pyramid Mall-corporation owned. Well, maybe I just dislike how I feel while walking its glossy floors, with tall windows reflecting stuff, stuff, stuff. And my consumer image.

I exclusively shop the downtown Ithaca Commons with its local small businesses until I cannot find a TV store. I wait until after christmas, hoping for sales in order to save money on a big screen.  And why do I need a big screen? I’m older and can see details better? I can place it between the tall windows where natural light will not be blocked like how my 23″ TV did? Or,  can I rationalize “I’m worth it,” as my mind reveals a screen of mal-nourished children?

Yes, half of my wardrobe comes from second-hand stores, and I no longer own a home, and I have owned second hand cars for three decades. Still, my mind mauls me with guilt.

Still, I show up at Best Buy at the Ithaca Mall and select the 43″ TV screen with the added comforting thoughts that I don’t want the 54″. (or the unbelievable 70″)

I especially like the 43″ because in numerology 143 means I love you. So, 43″ will do.

WORship self-love and babies as the divine

 

worship -  root is old English 1300: “weorpscipe”…”worthiness or worth-ship” which is to give worth to something.

 

Last week, while I was piling wet clothes into a dryer at the laundromat, a black woman interrupts me: “Can I talk to you?”

I look up from the laundry basket, knowing I am going to be preached to, a track held in her hand. I don’t want to listen but give her one of my ears. She points the track in my direction which I do not take.

I tell her I’ve been raised in christianity and am happy now I no longer believe. She tells me what the bible says. I say: “I don’t believe the bible. Other religions say they have the truth too.” I make my sermon short and sweet; something like I’m free of guilt and fear of hell and feel I am more loving now. I lean over the laundry basket, spontaneously, and hug her.

I am white. And now think to myself how innocent and pure we all are as babies.

How I grew up learning to play the piano; one of the few songs I memorized was I am Not Worthy. (of love, according to the bible, being taught we are born in ‘original’ sin.)

This senior black woman, close to my age, says, “thank you for letting me talk to you.” I think to myself what does worship mean? I look up its entomology: “to give worth to something.” LOVE of myself. Then compassion for others.

NATURE is my CATHEDRAL. Babies are my divine example.

Loves ENDURANCE

 

When I was crazier than I am now, in the mid 1980s, I decided to run 36 marathons in 36 months as the ‘average runner.’  A T-shirt, imprinted with those epic words. Why, you and I both ask, especially when I am walk-jogging the last 6 miles of the 26.2: “You like the recognition” pops into my brain. That enduring need for attention – for LOVE – which I now (more importantly) recognize.

And why I have married four times; my present love is with French man, Antoine, who is being the love of my life. L’amour de ma vie! My spirit drove me through my first marriage, bearing two beautiful daughters, to the coming out of gayness by my husband. I sped through the two years of my second marriage, leaving my family of origin’s addiction to religion: fear of hell and guilt up the wazoo. (He died of cancer several years after our divorce at the young age of 44.) I cruised for six years with my third husband, changing gears from caretaker of him to caregiver of myself. I changed into high gear, racing through rivers of tears to finally trusting myself to be vulnerably loving during my fourth marriage. By then, 1998, I am fifty-two.

I live alone until 2018, (with the exception of one year 2004-5), as if I am on a Sunday afternoon drive – content to be alone, yet desiring a partner with whom I can grow into a purer LOVE. Freer to be open and honest. Without fear. No hiding. No secrets. Bare-naked.

The first day of spring 2018, I am dancing at The Range, a classy bar in Ithaca, NY. I unconsciously  step in the way of the dart board where a twenty-something 6’3″, wavy-brown-haired, big brown-eyed-cute guy asks, “Want to play darts?” I giggle over my surprise to try it out. Soon, I ask: “You want to dance?” Antoine answers, “Yes, but I have never danced before.” By then, I had learned that he was a Cornell graduate student, and was stunned that he readily agreed to dance with me, four decades older. He catches onto east coast swing easily and enjoys. So, I invite him to the weekly Wednesday night swing dances where his smile shows up, happy to see each other. I learn that he likes to hike in nature, so I naturally invite him. While sitting next to a three-cascade-waterfall, I learn that he’s tried to kiss a girl he liked but was rebuffed. Spontaneously,  I ask, “Can I kiss you?” He replies, “I don’t know.” I lean into him with a quick kiss on his soft full lips. “How was it?” I whisper. “I like it.”

What we do know, is that we are beginning to fall in love. As surprising as that is to both of us.

As is surprising that he gladly gave up his virginity with me on May 11th (one plus one) to truly make love! To say “I love you” to one another. As blue eyes meet brown. As surprising as his ability to take leisurely pleasure in touching, kissing, and holding – holding off on his ready orgasm, during our oneness.

We lived together for two summer months before he returned to his home in France, just outside of Paris.

We fly back and forth, close to once a month, and talk daily on Whats App. For free:) Antoine had been struggling with despair before we met and was seeing a psychologist. Being a Marriage and Family Therapist with a primal-feeling foundation, he feels safe to courageously feel his childhood fear and anger – reaching for his sadness.

It’s been very difficult at times, yet more so beautifully loving, a deeper love than I have ever known. He’s the best lover ever. We’ve passed the 11th month anniversary and wear rings of engagement (halos of love.)

The power of CHILDHOOD

       It still amazes me how much power our childhood has over us as adults. But even more so the mystery in saying to my French boyfriend this morning: “I wouldn’t change anything about my life.” (Now in my seventh decade.)

I love that I grew up in Ithaca, NY, left for ten years, and returned to live here. That I live in an 1840s house divided into four apartments, mine with a huge picture window viewing a long field, a large pond, and a wide forest behind where coyotes howl near midnight. (I have owned two homes previously.)

That I am a dancer still dancing 4-5 nights per week. That I work part-time and control my schedule so I can dash to Paris/Nogent once per month to be with my French boyfriend, Antoine. (In his third decade.)

Yet, one decision I made as I raised two beautiful daughters mostly as a single mom, I regret. Erin is 15 and Megan is 12 when we return from a month of traveling cross-country  – in a rusty 150,000 odometer van – to camp and hike in many National Parks with which I have a love affair.

A new boyfriend had been kicked out of his ex-girlfriend’s trailer with no viable living situation available. I wasn’t really wanting him to move in but felt sorry for him and also unconsciously probably was afraid to say no and lose him. When I told Erin; she cried and said NO! I called her dad who lived 30 miles away and he came to our home to talk with us. I can still visualize the red sofa in our living room, and hear her father say, “Your mom has a right to her happiness.” I am sad as I write that I couldn’t be there, empathetic enough for my daughter’s feelings and needs.

Even though I was a green (one year graduate) Marriage and Family Therapist at the time; I hadn’t grieved enough of my own childhood pain to put my child’s emotional needs first. Erin and I have been to therapy together (in the late 80s) and apologized; but it wasn’t until one of my primal therapy sessions (in the late 90s) that I connected with a past life where I saw myself kill Erin (my daughter then too), during the Crusades. As unbelievable as this sounds to many, it was that session that helped me accept Erin’s distrust of me; her present friendly distant relationship with me.

SMOKING kills feelings but not my tears

 

I was not aware that my dad was smoking in the basement while growing up, until I saw cigarette butts resting in the cellar wall as a late teenager. But it was smoking at his work desk when I was a freshman at Cornell that I felt both of our embarrassments – I think he apologized and I stood sadly silent.

He didn’t want to be a poor example to his three beloved children. My dad took good enough care of his diabetes by following his diet and injecting daily insulin. Still, he died of a sudden heart attack at age 60, so I could never say goodbye or tell him ‘I love you.’

I became angry at smoking. I wouldn’t let my third husband smoke in our house or around me and my two daughters. I separated from him because he wouldn’t quit when he said he would. (Others aspects of our relationship factored into our divorce.)

And, my fourth husband couldn’t quit either. When I returned from Omega, a personal growth weekend, I found an ashtray full of butts on the deck; Gregory not respecting my loving request (limit) which he had been respecting since we had started dating. Since he had promised to quit. I felt rage pounding in my chest. I ran downstairs to the garage, found the sledgehammer and began smashing the ashtray and its insane reminder of how cigarettes kill. I screamed and yelled: “I hate cigarettes! I hate that you killed my dear daddy!!”

Soon, Gregory appeared, to hold me in his arms while I sobbed.

MAKING LOVE with every age

 

Regretfully, I was a virgin when I married the first time, due to a strict religious upbringing. I don’t remember our first intercourse and yet loved giving birth to our two beautiful daughters.

Although still religious, I was rebellious and part of me was glad that he left us in order to be himself as gay. Then I could enjoy my sexual freedom, despite being a hypocrite to my church rule to make love only when married.

It was my fourth marriage that broke me open, like a coconut spilling out its milk. I cried and sobbed and raged until I could walk away with the gift of trusting myself, truly, for the first time! (This was 1998, and I had let go of my religious addiction in 1984, how apropos:)

It’s now 2018, having lived alone for 13 years, quite happily so, while enjoying making love with a few boyfriends. It was the first day of spring that chased my aloneness away by falling in love with Antoine, a Cornell graduate student, four decades younger than me.  He’d never kissed or made love until May 11th. With me. What a gift! “Amazing,” I still say often to myself and to him, after having lived together for two summer months, now having come full term to nine months of being boyfriend-girlfriend.

More amazing is the last day we spent together before he returned to his homeland in France on July 18th. Because we love hiking, especially to waterfalls, we’d planned to make love to the music of Moonshine Falls. As we placed our yellow blanket on the ground in a bed of Wild Geraniums, Antoine says: “Are you going to tell me your secret?” I’d said weeks previous that I didn’t want to keep any secrets from him, and wanted to tell him before he left, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that day. Tears became a fountain as I revealed my shame of having mercy-killed my so-loved pet kitty, Radiance. He could barely walk; was thin as pasta. Close to death as one can be, I believed.

Most amazing is that Antoine holds me close with eyes of love, of understanding, of acceptance. That we fly to one another monthly. That in my seventh decade I am not dried up. That my vagina and clitoris sing the praises of our bodies becoming passionately one, naturally, saying out loud, I AM IN LOVE with you!

being IN LOVE at any age

 

Like most couples who marry I wanted my first marriage to last “’til death do us part.”  It was not meant to be. Soon after giving birth to our two beautiful daughters, my husband claimed his gayness.

At first it was difficult to believe, yet unconsciously I’d been aware of some effeminate signals, and his admittance to experimenting once while in college. Harder to believe was my church’s advisement not to let our daughters have access to their homosexual dad.

Rebelliously, I did not go along with their unloving ‘christian’ beliefs; and went on to marry three more times.  Many acquaintances have questioned me as to whether I’d want to marry a fifth time.

Since 2005, I’ve lived alone; experienced a few short-lived boyfriends, and knew I couldn’t settle unless I fell IN love. Again. I was content to be alone, although I was open  and desirous to share my life with a man I could love deeply. Purely.

The first day of spring 2018, I met Antoine at a bar where he was playing darts and I was dancing swing. I got in his way! Then, I missed the bull’s eye due to dart ignorance.

Then, I invited him to dance, despite he obviously being much younger than me. He was a graduate student in chemical engineering at Cornell University and had never danced in his life. I was delighted that he picked up partner dancing quickly, and that we progressed to conversations of our other interests such as hiking to waterfalls.

Near a waterfall is where I initiated our first kiss, maybe a month later, while being in disbelief that he’d never been kissed before. We’re now in our seventh month of being boyfriend and girlfriend, having lived together easily for two months before Antoine left for his home in France in mid-July. I flew to visit him for two weeks in late August; celebrating our birthdays: his on the 28th, mine on the 30th.

Our families and friends are shocked that we are IN Love since I am four decades older. What is more unbelievable is that we now call each other husband and wife.

IS LOVE EVER EQUAL?

 

I love it when my boyfriend calls me “baby” and have wondered for years why we use that word especially while “making love.”  Remember the given “respect your elders” no matter what; yet they haven’t respected children with the often said, “children are to be seen and not heard?”

Presently, minorities are demanding equality whether they are people of color disenfranchised from the right to vote, or women getting equal pay for equal work that men do, or children not to be bullied by parents, teachers and therefore by other children.

For many years, it’s been acceptable for men to marry women much younger than themselves like my first husband’s grandma marrying a man 25 years younger than her, he 43 and she 18. I remember her telling me, “He was the love of my life!” She never remarried after he died in his 80s.

My boyfriend is forty plus years younger than me and its caused an incomprehension and fear with his understandably concerned parents: “Aren’t you blocking your future?”

Antoine and I met in a bar where he was playing darts and I was dancing east coast swing. I got in his way which prompted him to ask me if I wanted to play.

“I’ve never really played, but I’ll give it a whirl.”

After never hitting the bull’s eye, I ask if he’d like to dance.

“I’ve never danced in my life,” Antoine replies.

“Want to give it a try?”

Surprisingly, without any persuasion, he walks to the dance floor and learns to lead me with ease. I am amazed…as we both are, that we’ve fallen in love. Even more amazing is that he is 25, and I’ve been privileged to celebrate his virginity. Be the first girl he has kissed. ( He’d tried once with another girl but she didn’t let him.)

Whose to say we should be equal in age? We’ve talked openly about the inevitable leaving of me to find a younger partner.

But for now, nothing equals the IN LOVE relationship we’ve enjoyed for 6 months, which continues to become closer to a bull’s eye of truer and deeper love. After four marriages, he’s the best love I have ever known.