“Abandonment issues never leave you.”
                                               The Envelope Lady

I sat alone, recently, in the dark of a movie theater.

It was my second sit through the Woody Allen movie, and I found it better than the first. Still, the endless previews —with neither popcorn nor comrade—caused thoughts to wander.

Just maybe, years ago, Tom was right. Just maybe, flying solo has less to do with finances or fat and more to do with what’s going on in me. “Abandonment issues,” he called them.

The problem, I’ve surmised, is that life is good—bountiful in so many ways. Rarely is there pause to think of what I’m missing—if anything. Between family, friends, recovery, work, play, plays, nonsense…it’s only in periodic instances (1.5 per week based on Eastern Daylight Time), that I sense “Gee, I shouldn’t be doing this alone.”) That night, in that theatre, was one of those moments.

“You systematically set yourself up to fail,” Tom said. “It’s your defense mechanism.”

The interaction with Rolo was a perfect example. Founded on timing and trust, it was sustained by friendship and more. Even still, I knew –in my heart of hearts– there was a glass ceiling.

I remember that first kiss (in her garage). Heading home, standing by the door, ten minutes to Seinfeld…it just sort of happened….and she cried. God, that was so long ago.

“This can never go anywhere,” the lady said, ‘though neither of us listened. Then, for two-plus years we integrated our lives until, as others expected, the clock struck twelve. With the coach again a pumpkin, lives went on.

I was hurt, of course; who wouldn’t be? There was a pureness to it, though—an honesty. It just WAS what it was. No one lied and no, no one died. To this day we remain the best of friends. She shared in Stacy’s day; I stared at Chase’s bris.

In the dark of the theater, however, I had my shrink pal’s sight. (There’d been safety with Rochelle…even in the inevitability of the fall).

Couples filtered into the auditorium and my thoughts turned next to Jodi. Was she not but another self-fulfilling prophesy? In a tour of duty oddly commensurate in length to that with Rolo (it only seemed to be longer), I proved again the precision of Tom’s call.

Had I not set myself up for yet another acceptable failure?

At any given moment, what in the world could the two of us have shared? Separated by sixteen years, education, emotion, finance…in retrospect, what were EITHER of us thinking? Clearly, had that dynamic somehow survived it would today be recognized as the eighth wonder of the world. For two-plus years, though, I had no idea. (A lot of money could been made on that run, just wagering on the “over”).

I stood alone back then. I had no clue what an epic achievement each day had been.

My friends knew. The kids did too. Michael and Rooney have since chided me, noting that even during the short engagement (No, that’s not a misprint), they never once thought the marriage would happen.

“But Michael,” I asked last year, “Remember when I called you to clear wedding dates…didn’t you think, then?”
“Please, Dad,” he uttered, rolling his eyes.

(From the mouths of babes).

What then, does this all mean? What good is my introspection if, again, it’s swept under the rug by more good, bountiful times?

Do I really look for fatally flawed relationships? Do I, subliminally seek an “exit strategy”? One that won’t hurt when it fails? What do I fear…really?

As much as I like to think I’ve grown, as much as perhaps I’ve conquered fears…still…I lie to myself. Flying solo has less to do with extrinsics than it does with what’s inside me.

Why am I insecure at 60? Yet only in certain arenas?

I’m trying out for a show today. In Painesville. A room full of strangers and I’ll work without a net, never once fearing failure. The director will either like me or she won’t, and lives will go on. Why, when it comes to women, do I insist upon a net? What failure, really, do I fear?

I’m a work-in-progress, and I get that. Perhaps some day I’ll figure this whole thing out…and truly leave my darkened theater.

Wouldn’t that be a Hollywood ending!

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