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Balancing on My Heart

When the phone rings I run, anticipating his voice. It’s so good to hear him. But soon his words and habits remind me of pains and disappointments, feelings I shouldn’t be feeling. There’s still love, but the passion-fantasy is gone.

Once again I visit that stumbling, paved, too-crowded, terrain. The air is heavy with my beautiful romance. My heart longs for him, for that connection. Quickly, I shift into reality mode. No, I’m done with criticism.

I didn’t feel this longing after my marriage split apart. Yes, I sought every bit of flesh we could muster together, to tide me over the summer months. A long marriage stocks sex like a bait shop stocks lures–it’s in inventory. Let’s just say it was the last marital commodity to lose its charm.

In those days, my body’s insistent desire came from the fear of alone-ness: am I undesired and undesirable? But longing, no–not longing. All the love and affection seemed dried up and blown away. After all those futile attempts to make the marriage work there was no more fantasy left.

Fantasy is a huge part of romance: a good, growing, expanding part—necessary. But, it can get out hand. Somewhere along the line, that last romance took a breakneck gallop to fantasy land. It was spurred on by the thousand miles of distance between us. When I longed for reassurance I could revisit any one of a dozen favorite emails. When I craved his hands across my body I could relive a favorite encounter. More and more, the fantasy man replaced the real and infrequent lover. Reality could disappoint and fantasy never does; he became his own rival.

And now, months after the end, standing here in his town, my world becomes tumbled with love, lust and longing. I feel it grab hold of me again, pulling me under in breathless distraction. The fantasy life I dreamed with my lover? Gone. Tender anniversaries linger. Off balance like this, I might regret the break-up and give my heart away again. It’s such a bad habit, but so familiar.

I’m old enough to know that love can end. I know that happiness is what I give to myself. I seek ground to stop this restless earth from spilling me on my side. Stepping onto the airplane helps me shake away the dream-shards and drive longing back underground, so I can catch myself and balance on my heart.