soul mate

Soulmate #7: If you want more, be more


So. Tananarive was the relationship columnist for the Miami Herald. I lived in Washington state. And we sensed, after only three days, that we were supposed to be together. I admired her mind, her spirit, and her waistline. Yeah, I checked it out. If I hadn’t liked it, I would have backed off. Is that honest enough for you? After all, I needed someone as energetic as I, someone with similar values and beliefs and behaviors. You think its easy to stay in shape? That you don’t need all the support you can get? Hah! Ever have a husband or wife sabotage your efforts to train, or EAT healthfully? It’s notoriously common. So I needed a partner. Period.


And so did she. Talking to her for many many expensive hours over the next months, I learned that she had, quite brilliantly, positioned herself in that relationship column partially to learn, to speak with countless happy and unhappy lovers, seeking to learn what made a decent relationship tick. She was unhappy wth her relationship history (a red flag!) so she went into therapy to try to get to the bottom of it. It’s not my place to discuss the issues she was digging into, but let’s just say the work was hard, and serious, and honest. She was also unhappy with the way she had been sharing her sexual energy, and had made a commitment to not have sex again unless it was with someone who loved her. Wow. Are we seeing a pattern here?


I am, fourteen years older than Tananarive, and took that VERY carefully into consideration. She is a powerhouse with her own destiny and drive, and I wanted to be fair with her. Would I be able to help her? Stand with her? Support her? She wanted a family. Was I prepared to accept that responsibility whole-heartedly? Fourteen years her senior, physical fitness was going to be crucial to ensuring that I kept my energy at the highest possible levels–emotionally, intellectually, sexually, and physically. She is a lioness. She deserves a lion, not a broken-down old man by the time she is sixty and I am seventy-four. Was I prepared to do EVERYTHING in my power to give that to her? If not, I had no right ot court her. She had the right, the responsibility to want a man who would be an active, vigorous father to her children, a protector, someone with enough sexual energy to balance hers , to make her feel desired, needed, wanted, appreciated. Was I prepared to place my PERSONALhistory, my fears and disappointments behind me?


And another issue. Quite possibly, T is a better writer than I am. At least, for a variety of factors, there is a VERY good chance that her career will exceed my own. One reason is that black female readers are FAR better organized, and greater in numbers than black male readers. And that women tend to read other women’s work across color lines far more than men do. Was I prepared to put my ego away, to support her in every possible way, even if her career soared and mine crashed and burned? Well, I thought…if she made a ton of money, and I didn’t, I guess I could handle being a kept man…heh heh heh.


When she came to Washington to visit me for the first time, I took her to Toni’s house (my ex. We lived on opposite sides of a duplex, so that Nicki would have a home. She came to my house after school, and her mother’s house for dinner.) I introduced T to Toni and Nicki. Nicki immediately hugged her. The kid was what? Twelve at the time? It was perfect. Love that little girl. Then I put the three of them together in a room, said, “talk about whatever you want to” and left them for a couple of hours. I figured that if I really loved T, if I really wanted what was best for her, I wanted her to be as informed as possible about the decision she was making. Who better to tell her the kind of man I was than my ex? I mean, if your ex trash-talks you, doesn’t that say volumes about who you are, whether or not it’s the truth?

So THAT was one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. And one of the smartest. I had worked very hard to clean up my relationship with Toni, who I love dearly, and is one of the kindest, sweetest people I have ever known. I may get into that question, because that was part of my emotional foundation, and there is no doubt that we collaborated in screwing up our relationship, big time.


Another story. At any rate, T saw more deeply into who I was, and who I’ve been, and who I hope to be, big time. Yeah, like Steve Perry says, I had something of a reputation in the Sf community. I had a lot of shallow fun, and even some deep fun. And of all my old lovers, I think only maybe two of them dislike me now, and…hmmm…how can I say this without bragging? Maybe I can’t.

I got WAY into triple digits. But like Harlan Ellison said once, all that means is that I was searching for love. Desperately trying to complete myself, understand my self, heal myself. At the core of it all, I think each and every one of us is searching for Ourselves, looking to peer more deeply into the mystery of life and love. That sexual dance is the most delightful mirror I know. Nothing says more about you than your sexuality: at one moment you have touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight engaged. When else is that true? The Baud (Bawd?) rate of communication is through the ROOF.

You learn about inhibition, pride, creativity, intelligence (sex with low-normal folks isn’t much fun. Don’t ask.) physical energy and tone, maturity, balance, and a host of other factors. All at the same time. So I was searching. Faaaaar and wide. Ahem.


When I met Tananarive, I grasped instantly that she was a hot-house flower, raised in a loving, traditional, conservative black family, and the sheltering shadow of the church. There was no way in hell that she would feel nurtured with anything less than a monogamous relationship. Unless I was willing to offer that to her, I knew not even to start.

And further, because of my reputation, I had to offer it to her, NOT WAIT FOR HER TO DEMAND IT. AND I HAD TO MEAN IT, AND STICK TO IT. Wow. I had never been monogamous in my life. I’d always been honest, except perhaps to myself. Was I ready to step into a completely different level of maturity and focus? To be with one phenomenal woman for the rest of my life? The answer was yes. So I promised her. I told her the truth. I didn’t even know I had it in me. that’s not just love. I loved Toni. This…was something else, for which I have no good name.

Do any of you?

The closest I can come is what I’ve already said:

I’d found, wooed and won, my soulmate.

Soulmate #3: A Lioness Wants A Lion

By the way–some of ya’ll ain’t gonna like what I say today. Others are thinking I’m giving some formula for picking up girls. Think deeper, people, please.


So. Where were we? Yes, I remember. I had used the Beauty/Power axis idea to help me define my own pathway–that is, I defined the girl of my dreams, with the assumption that whatever I most deeply aspired to have in my life as a female companion was a mirror to my own idealized self. A theory worth testing! I found a lady. Call her Hazel. Hazel was the most devastatingly sexy woman I had ever known, and also smart and sweet and spiritual and financially stable.

1) She said she wanted a man who had lower BODY FAT than I had at the time. That’s fine–there is probably nothing that says more about you IMMEDIATELY than your body. It speaks of discipline, health, value hierarchies, the way you spend your time and energy, etc. It speaks of self-love, and emotional health. Let alone basic connection to our animal selves: could we hunt, gather, and either evade or defeat predators? It is also immediately a turn on or off to the hind brain.

2) She also wanted someone with deeper spiritual commitments. During the last months trying to work things out with my wife, I had tried to hard to please her (or so I thought) that I had lost sight of myself. Always a mistake. I’d stopped meditating, connecting myself to the divine.

So I started running again, watched my DIET a bit more (a sign of self-respect) and meditated more. Hazel and I started seeing each other–I’d fly out to Arizona to see her. But there was a problem: the sweeter to her I was,the faster she backed away, until finally she broke things off. (more…)

Soulmate #2: It’s not about someone else

So. When last we met, I was an emotional wreck after the dissolution of my first marriage. I realized my marriage was doomed. I’d decided to make a list of everything I wanted in a woman, then to find the woman who came the closest to what I had on that list–whether she was married or not, sit her down, and ask her what she wanted in a man.

Fortunately, I knew a woman who fit the bill. She was sexy, smart, spiritual, kind, sweet, incredibly beautiful, financially successful, and…did I say sexy? Truth be told, she was arguably the purely sexiest woman I had ever met. She lived in Arizona, and I was heading out that way to do some research on my upcoming novel “Charisma.” So, on New Years Day, 1996, I sat her down in a restaurant and said: “I think you are spectacular, and I would really like to know what kind of man you want in your life.” As it happened, my timing was GREAT–she was just coming to the end of a relationship. So over the next few months we saw each other, and I was able to extract from her the list of what she was looking for. To my shock, there wasn’t a huge gap between what she was looking for, and what I was. Two things stuck out:

1) She wanted a man with more of a spiritual base. I thought about that…then realized that life had been so stressful I had stopped meditating.

2) She wanted a man with a harder, more defined body. Believe me, her own body was (and is to this day) spectacular. She had every right to demand quality. I realized that I had stopped running since moving to the Northwest.


What this meant is that I had defined a direction for re-claiming myself.

Remember: the point of the exercise was NOT to get a woman. And certainly not to fall in love with miss X (although I did love her, and had great fun while we were dating–but more on that later).

The point was to get clear on where I had failed myself, stepped off my path. The theory is that if I got back on my path, everything else would clear up.


Well, weirdness ensued. I noticed that the more open and honest and caring and sharing with her I was, the more distant she got. It was bizarre: I had never dealt with anything quite like it before. Finally, during a trip to Los Angeles in March to celebrate my birthday, she broke things off with me. I was devastated. Where had I gone wrong? I brooded about that, and a few weeks later had another break-through…

More later.

Article Series

The Soulmate Process Part One

 NOTE: THIS IS AN EXPERIMENT.  I am in the process of creating my life story, and the first step is porting over articles I’ve created in the last 15 years on various blogs.   I will be cross-posting to Facebook from the new blog.  Please excuse!


This is an intensely PERSONAL story–it could hardly get more personal, actually. Because of that, I am going to take the liberty to change some names and obscure some information: while I feel perfectly comfortable telling stories on myself, I have no right to broach the privacy of others.


In about 1998, my marriage to my first wife, Toni, Nicki’s mom, hit a wall. We’d both made mistakes, we each paid for them in different ways. They added up to an untenable situation. For almost two years I tried to make things work, and finally ran out of gas. I mean, I completely crashed and burned.For the first time in memory, I didn’t even know who I was any more. Or what I wanted. Or what to do. I was utterly numb.


The wall had been hit between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the anniversary of my mother’s death, and always a tough period for me. This just made things a lot worse. But I decided to give myself a week to come up with an answer, to decide what direction to move in. Many of you might have noticed how much easier it is to solve other people’s problems, so I used that approach: What would I say if one of my students came to me with this problem?


A theory   called “The Beauty-Power Axis” clearly states that our relationships are mirrors. Hmmm. I had said for years that our relationships say a lot about us. Hmmm. So I thought one of the smartest things, perhaps THE single smartest thing I ever thought: “I don’t know who I am right now. But I know what I am attracted to. So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to make a list of everything I’m attracted to. I am going to describe the perfect woman, without any compromises. Her beauty, intelligence, sensuality, warmth, emotional health, spiritual centeredness…everything. EVERYTHING my deepest heart desires. Then, I am going to go out and find the woman who comes the closest to what I’ve described–whether she’s married or not (!), sit her down, and ask her what she wants in a man. If I’ve made my description carefully enough, and chosen carefully enough, whatever she describes is what I want to be–because, in my heart of hearts, what I want is to be a man who  can have a woman like THAT. And we can have anything that we mirror.”


Needless to say, one of the most frightening things I’ve ever done, as well. What if she just wanted a billionaire? Well, then, she doesn’t really match what I had on the list, now would she? A woman attracted to a man with ambition, intelligence and success is onething. But to put a dollar amount on it was another. So I quieted my fears and put my plan into action…


More later.

Article Series