Life at Sea – Part I

YachtWhen Bryan invited me to accompany him on a Barefoot Yacht Charter for ten days in the Caribbean, I had visions of Goldie Hawn in Overboard (pre going overboard). I imagined scenes aboard superyacht White Night in The Bourne Identity (less the gunshot wounds). I envisioned cruising in style with James Bond aboard the luxury M3 in Casino Royale (before Vesper dies).

And so I went out and bought a new bikini. And gold anchor earrings. And ordered two pair of adorable new Sperry’s online. I pre-planned my outfits for each day, complete with matching headbands, figuring that if my hair was going to be windblown, it may as well be windblown in style.

Instead, I discovered that living aboard a catamaran is essentially roughing it. It’s camping at sea, with hand-pumped toilets, no showers and rationed fresh water. Prior to the trip, I’d shaved, waxed and dieted for the perfect, pristine bikini body. But by day three, I’d grown oblivious to my leg stubble and peeling sunburn as I smeared on multiple layers of deodorant. I no longer concerned myself with further sun damage, since the rays surely couldn’t penetrate my skin’s countless layers of dirt and grime.

I will say, all of those color-coordinated headbands turned out to be useful in mildly masking the greasiness of my unwashed hair. Actually that one white headband I threw on every morning at the crack of dawn worked wonders when I went aboveboard to hoist the sails before getting drenched by seawater from gale-force winds.

Despite not having a proper shower for over a week and living in perpetually damp clothing with a sheen of salt on my skin from my “Caribbean baths”, I actually had a great time letting go, letting loose and learning a new skill. Once I got used to leaving my makeup bag untouched and sleeping in a stagnant cabin on salt-encrusted sheets next to a man who almost never kissed me goodnight, I adapted well to the life of a sailor. It was kind of freeing.

But as fun as it was to unplug for a while, I’m grateful to be home. I remember afresh why I used to commit to volunteering abroad at least once a year. Living in a third world country has a way of righting my perspective and making me thankful for my very many blessings. Now I can add to that list of blessings the ability to skipper a keelboat. Life is good.

Authentically Aurora

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Wanted: Date or Apology

flynn_rider_wanted_poster_by_ayameclyne-d37lejeWhen Flynn and I had lunch a few weeks back, I didn’t initially post about it because our conversation was too close to my heart to share publicly. It was too precious a memory to display online for all to see.

But I’m ready now.

After bumping into each other once in the parking garage and twice in the cafeteria, Flynn and I had agreed to meet for lunch the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Going into that lunch, I tried to keep my expectations low. I kept telling myself, “Flynn is a coworker. A friend. Nothing more. He has a girlfriend. Sure, we have ridiculous personality chemistry and forged an immediate bond, but nothing can happen. This is just a friendly lunch between coworkers.”

We rendezvoused in the office cafeteria that Tuesday, and my face lit up the instant I saw Flynn striding toward me. I can’t help but smile when I see him. He has an aura of charisma and playfulness that makes my heart feel light. He hugged me hello, and then we each got our meals – a salad for me and sushi for Flynn. He tends to sit in the same place every day (a fact I’d noticed over the preceding weeks), so we settled into his usual place.

We talked about lots of things – work and church and family and friends – and we were both grinning like fools the entire time. Flynn is hilarious. He makes me laugh out loud constantly. And he makes me happy. But every time I started to drift up toward Cloud Nine, I reminded myself to keep my heart in check. He’s spoken for.

After hearing about yet another one of my hobbies partway through lunch, Flynn said with mock exasperation, “Is there anything you don’t do?!” I laughed and told him I’m a pretty terrible swimmer. “But I do great photography, so if you’re going to be in the need for engagement portraits any time soon…” I raised my eyebrows expectantly.

His mood instantly changed. His roguish grin faded, and his twinkling eyes looked down at the table. “Yeah… I wanted to talk to you about that today…” his voice trailed off. He looked up at me then, searching my eyes as he said, “I’ve been meaning to break up with Patricia for a while. Before I even met you, in fact. The weekend before our camping trip, I was going to end things, but I got into a motorcycle wreck and ended up in the hospital.” So that was the reason for his knee surgery. I hadn’t realized he’d gotten into a wreck.

“She stayed by my side the whole time,” he continued, “And I felt like I couldn’t end it then.  And now it’s getting into the holiday season, and I just… I know it will crush her. I know I need to do it, but the timing never seems to be right.”

I listened quietly, letting him share as much or as little as he wanted. I tried to keep my face neutral, but on the inside I was simultaneously flooded with joy for myself and compassion for Patricia. I’ve had my heart broken so many times. Devastatingly broken. And she’s clearly expecting a ring for Christmas. Instead, she’s going to get heartache.

After he finished telling me about Patricia, the twinkle returned to Flynn’s eye, and he teased me, “And why aren’t you dating anyone? You’re quite the catch!”

It was my turn to be somber. I looked thoughtful for a moment; then said, “I’ve found that I tend to intimidate most guys. Everyone wants to take me on a date to try to solve the mystery, but once they get to know me, they get overwhelmed and – in their own words – don’t feel ‘man enough’ to lead me. I’m supposedly ‘too much’ for most guys.”

Flynn raised one eyebrow at me. “I know what kind of man you need. You need a strong alpha male to lead you.” He paused; then continued, “I could be the kind of man you need.”

Woah. I was completely taken aback at his boldness. So much so that I started giggling nervously and blushing profusely. Then he started blushing! He fanned himself comically. “Whew, did it suddenly get hot in here?” We laughed, both embarrassed; then Flynn chucked and said, “Let’s hit the pause button on that conversation for a week or so until it’s appropriate for us to be talking about such things.” I wholeheartedly agreed.

We ended the lunch, and I fully expected to hear from Flynn the next week. Or the week following. But he has ceased all communication with me, despite having both my phone number and instant messaging capability at work. I know it would be inappropriate for us to talk while he’s still with Patricia, but shouldn’t he have broken up with her by now?

This week I finally reactivated my dormant Facebook account to have a look and discovered they’re still dating. Our lunch was three weeks ago. And he’s been meaning to break up with her for nearly two months. I am disappointed… and know better than to keep waiting.

Authentically Aurora

Finding Flynn – Part III

On Sunday morning, the last day of our camping trip, Flynn and I scrubbed pots and pans together while the rest of the group took down tents, gathered trash bags and generally packed up the campsite.

In making conversation, Flynn asked me where I work. When I named the major oil company where I’ve been employed for the past five years, his hands stilled, and he stared at me.

“What?” I asked, dumbfounded by his intent expression.

“Which campus do you work at?”

There are four locations in our city. “The West campus,” I answered cautiously, wondering why he asked but laughing internally at the irony I figured was about to be revealed.

West campus“I’m in Building E. The ninth floor,” he told me, still looking astonished.

I smiled. “I’m in Building F. The fifth floor.”

We stared at each other for a moment and then started laughing. We went the entire weekend without realizing that we work in office buildings next to each other on the same corporate campus!

When I got home that night, I told myself not to get my hopes up. I told myself not to manipulate the situation. I know Flynn’s last name, and I could easily look him up in our global address book or the office instant messaging system. He actually needs help from my department for a project he’s working on, so I have a legitimate business reason to reach out to him. But I told myself to be good. Flynn already has a girlfriend.

Tuesday was Veteran’s Day, and our office was having a special event to honor the occasion. It involved brunch with a flag ceremony and keynote speaker, and – coming from a military family and having tremendous respect for our veterans – I planned to attend. It might have crossed my mind that a certain former Army Ranger might also be in attendance. But I might also have chided myself for thinking such a thing. And then reminded myself that there are thousands of people on our campus, and surely hundreds would be in attendance. There was no way Flynn and I would run into each other.

Nevertheless, I might possibly perhaps have made a special effort to look extra nice that morning, and I might possibly perhaps have experienced mild or not-so-mild road rage at the mind-blowing amount of traffic on the roads that morning keeping me from getting to the event on time.

When I finally pulled into a parking space, it was already 8:10 a.m., and the event had started at 8:00. It being a military event, I wasn’t sure if I should still bother trying to make it, since punctuality is key in military circles, and lack of punctuality is a sign of disrespect. So I was power walking through the garage toward the elevators, trying to make up my mind about whether or not I should make an appearance, when I heard a deep masculine voice call out, “Aurora!”

Pickup truck2A black pickup truck had just rolled past me with the windows down and an elbow hanging out of the driver side window. The driver stopped suddenly, and a head appeared above the elbow and turned to look back at me. Flynn.

He smiled and waved. I couldn’t help but smile back. I waited for him to park; then we walked toward the main campus together in amiable companionship. “I’m surprised you recognized me with makeup on!” I joked with a wink. When we parted ways, Flynn asked me what time I normally eat lunch and suggested that we look for each other in the cafeteria.

I had been rushing to the event in the hopes of seeing him, but I was running late due to traffic, and it turned out that very traffic I had been cursing resulted in my arriving at the same time as Flynn. On the same floor. Of the same one of our campus’s five parking garages.

Coincidence? I think not.

Authentically Aurora

Finding Flynn – Part II

Campfire 2Sitting around the campfire, I was soon introduced to the young, curly haired girl who was so possessive of Flynn. Her name is Patricia, and she and Flynn have been dating for eight months. I’m not a boyfriend stealer, so I made a conscious decision to keep my distance from him, although that was difficult in a group of just twelve people sharing a common campsite.

As women, when we become jealous of other women, we have a tendency to dehumanize them so that we are better able to focus on their flaws. Beth Moore writes in her book “So Long, Insecurity” (which I highly recommend):

“In order to nurse a rival mentality, we… view our competitor through a one-dimensional lens. She is not a person. She is a contender… It’s easier to despise her that way. If she got the promotion we sought, she’s the embodiment of selfish ambition… If she’s more attractive than we feel, she’s only skin deep. We can’t fathom that she’s ever been betrayed or brokenhearted… When we go against the grain of our human nature and determine to personalize someone instead, rivalry loses its bedding ground.”

So I decided to try to get to know Patricia in order to personalize her and stop viewing her as a rival. After all, she already has the guy. But Patricia didn’t seem very interested in getting to know me. In fact, she acted standoffish toward everyone except Flynn. It would seem that Patricia was only there for her boyfriend; not to make other friends.

SurvivorFlynn had put together a Survivor role playing game where we were divided into three teams and each given different supplies. We had to make judgement calls as a team on whether we were going to stay at our crash site or try to walk to civilization. Flynn had planned for a real-world element as well, in which – for example – we had to shoot a tangible bow and arrow set to determine if we successfully hunted down food for that day.

I am not-so-secretly a sci-fi geek and lover of RPGs and strategy games in general (hello! INTJ = master strategist!), so I got really into the game. In fact, my team won. But 25-year-old Patricia spent the entire game sequence complaining about how boring her boyfriend’s game was and how unrealistic his survival scenarios were.

Later, when Flynn tried to stoke the campfire and stirred up mostly smoke due to the recent rain, Patricia criticized him, “Come on, I thought you were an Army ranger.” Watching them together was painful, not because of my attraction to Flynn, but primarily because of how uncomfortable is it to observe a woman publicly ridicule her man.

Over the next 48 hours of the camping trip, Patricia frequently made comments alluding to her desire for Flynn to propose. In one instance, Flynn joked that she is expensive to date because she is always hungry. Patricia retorted, “Yeah, you buy me lots of food, but what I’d really like is something sparkly.” She wiggled the fingers of her left hand.

Later, Flynn told the group about his family in Louisiana (why am I always attracted to Louisiana boys?!) and how he wished he had family locally. Patricia jumped in, “You could have a great set of in-laws in town any time you wanted to seal the deal.” Everyone around the campfire discretely raised their eyebrows at one another.

Still later, when the group was talking about what each person does for a living, Patricia admitted that she’s unemployed and living with her parents. But she also said unashamedly that she’s not in a hurry to get a job since she probably wouldn’t need it for long anyway. She smiled coyly at Flynn, her 34-year-old mechanical engineer and sugar daddy. Gag me.

How to Lose a Guy in One Week

Day 1: Pick a man 9 years older and far more mature than you are. Display your immaturity at every possible opportunity.

Day 2: Make no effort at all to build relationships with any of his friends. Be clingy and obsessed with him. Have no identity of your own.

Day 3: Complain constantly. The more whining, the better.

Day 4: Make fun of his interests and hobbies. Insist that he stops all of his lame hobbies and picks up yours instead. Don’t compromise.

Day 5: Drain his bank account by making no effort to get a job and insisting that your parents are letting you stay at home, so he needs to cover all the rest of your expenses. State openly that you have no intention of contributing financially to the relationship, either now or in the future; either in tangible dollars or sweat equity.

Day 6: Disrespect him publicly, questioning his masculinity and capability, especially in front of his friends.

Day 7: Make frequent mention of your family, specifically to cite them as his future in-laws. Be sure to couple this with pointed comments about wanting and expecting an engagement ring soon. The pushier, the better.

With this winning combination, you too can Lose a Guy in One Week!

Authentically Aurora

Finding Flynn – Part I

I went on a camping trip this past weekend. The weather was perfect – 60s and 70s – and I went almost exclusively with complete strangers, which was also perfect (strangers have no expectations about who I am or how I should act, so I often – especially of late – feel freer to be myself with strangers than friends).

I ran into an old acquaintance at a ministry banquet last week, and he invited me to his church’s camping trip for their “Singles” Sunday school class. As a part of my self-imposed goal to attend at least one social event per week, I agreed to go. So on Friday I was assigned to a carpool group, showed up at the agreed-upon apartment at the agreed-upon time of 5:30 pm and was still standing in the parking lot at 6:30 pm (a display of the typical lack of punctuality demonstrated by singles of “Generation Me”). Nevertheless, we had an enjoyable drive into the countryside as I exchanged witty banter with the two nerds I found myself wedged between in the back seat of an ancient Toyota Corolla (and I use the term “nerds” affectionately).

Our carpool group eventually made it out to the campsite around 8:30 pm and found the rest of our group already gathered around a roaring campfire. Insight into my brain: I wish I didn’t do this, but if I’m honest with myself, in my singleness I tend to scan new groups of people for their most eligible bachelor. In this instance, he wasn’t hard to find.

Angular features highlighted by the flickering fire, his defined jawline was rimmed with a dark five o’clock shadow. His waterfall haircut grazed his forehead as he spoke with animation, and he radiated an aura of leadership. As conversaion progressed, I discovered that he was the group’s bible study leader and had a playful demeanor with a dry sense of humor.

Flynn RiderHe reminded me a lot of Flynn Rider, the male protagonist in “Tangled” and my favorite Disney prince. Flynn is a dashing, swashbuckling hero with a sense of adventure and flair for the sarcastic. Not everyone agrees with me, but I peg Flynn for an ENFP. For those of you not familiar with Myers Briggs, the ENFP is an extroverted, intuitive personality type who likes flexibility and makes decisions based on gut feelings or emotions. I personally am an INTJ. That means that I recharge by being alone, am intuitive, enjoy structure and am a rational decision maker.

The ENFP/INTJ combination is said to be one of the most perfect personality matches from a romantic standpoint. Some of the most legendary love stories are between an ENFP and INTJ because the playfulness of the ENFP balances the intensity of the INTJ. Think Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice.” Epic.

In addition to being a ridiculously attractive leader of men, my real life Flynn is also a 34-year-old mechanical engineer and former Army Ranger who plays acoustic guitar. At first glance, he’s everything I’ve ever wanted. Unfortunately, just as I asked myself, “Is this guy for real?”, I discovered that yes, he is, but so was the young, curly haired girl who pranced out of her tent, plopped down in his lap and wrapped her arms possessively around his neck.

Figures.

Authentically Aurora