Sea of Love


What games am I playing when I date someone? With the one who becomes a mate, usually none.

Years ago I met a man on a blind date in a café in Portland, Oregon. The Bread and Ink Café was crowded that morning with many couples sitting face-to-face in the misty morning light, ordering omelets or lox and bagels.

I sipped hot water with lemon and flipped the pages of my journal, waiting for Mark to arrive. I saw other writers, sporting a variety of notebooks and pens, thoughtfully scribbling between bites of strawberry jam and scones.

When Mark arrived, we began the careful volley of romantic prospects. We explored common ground – our mutual friend, Mark’s counseling training, my medical studies.

Then we got the meat of the discussion – the litany of past lovers. Why, in our thirties, were we unmated, like mismatched socks at the bottom of the laundry basket? We slowly launched the oar-less boat into the waters – he said, she said, and then  . . . and they said, etc. Water lapped against the edges of the skiff. During that lull in the conversation, I overhead another pair, younger by a decade, playing the same slow tennis match – this lover did THIS (whack), and then she said THAT (whack) – the ball slowly arcing from one side of the court to the other. In this leisurely game, their stories slowly unfolded.

I looked at Mark and knew from his expression he recognized our conversation mirrored in the younger couple’s.

I wish now I’d laughed and called off our own tennis match. Instead, I thoughtfully bounced the ball, tossed it into the air, and served it into his court.

Not surprisingly, I never heard from Mark again. I wonder if the younger couple made it to set point, game point, match – OR did they abandon the game in favor of some more meaningful connection?

Later, the mate in my life slipped into place almost without effort. We had no long rally, no vigorous competition about past lives, past lovers, past perfect or past subjunctive.

Instead, we entered a stream as if the water had always been flowing there, and we quite naturally stepped into its current. The skiff left the banks and began eddying down the stream with an aimless sense of purpose and direction – casually and yet completely planned.

No, this is not the hothouse love of heart-shaped chocolates and red tin foil. This is no stiletto heel with rhinestone straps. These are practical loafers, sensible running shoes, worn Birkenstocks – the everyday fare that wears well and grows more comfortable over time.

I sense familiarity here, a prescient knowing that requires no history, no strategic rally to explain our past or justify our present. I’m stepping into a stream that was, that is, that will always be.

Sea of Love

How many times have I stood

with open arms

on the shore of my life

to welcome you?

How many times have I died

the little death

under the ecstasy of

            your tongue

            your body

            your soul?

How many times

have the jewels of our love

slipped hot and bloody

from between my legs

or into my waiting hands?

How many times have I stood

with open palms

and felt you slip,

a dry, fluttering leaf

into the boat

of the silent, hooded oarsmen

and watched as you

eddied in the current

away from me

into another adventure?

How many times has my heart been rent

with the ecstasy of welcome,

with the sorrow of release

opening opening

until all the gates have been shattered

and my heart is a free port,

to sail in and out of,

the sea of love

the only constant.

Dr. Judith Boice, ND, LAc, FABNO has a concierge medical practice, working with people locally (in Fairbanks, Alaska) and at a distance. For a free discovery session (via phone or Skype) to clarify your personal vision of health and your next steps, contact Dr. Boice.

This article was originally published at Dr. Judith Boice. Reprinted with permission from the author.