“Baja Love”. You may have heard the Prez and I utter this phrase more than once before. It got me to wonderin’, what does it mean? Is it the desert, the sea, the people, the birds, the fish, the tacos (hmm, that could be it) or a combination of all the real and intangible things that draw us back to this little piece of sand year after year?
And the more I thunk on it, the more I started to wonder about love in general; what an odd and indefinable thing it is. I love Baja and I love British Columbia but the feelings I have for each of those places is completely different. Yes I would probably rather be in the sun, OK I’d definitely rather be in the sun and dry than the cold and wet but I don’t love one place more than the other.
From there my thoughts drifted to my love for the Prez. I’d say, on the scale of love from Pitiful (think Anna Nicole Smith and the rich geezer she leeched onto) to Perfect (existing only in movies) we rank pretty high up there. Why? What is it that we have now that was lacking in our previous relationships?
Back in another desert, chatting with the wise and all-knowing Miz Liz, we discussed the idea that once you find real, true love, love of the best friend/soul mate variety, you wonder why anyone would settle for anything less. But until you experience it, well, you can’t possibly know what it is…so it’s kind of a conundrum. Still with me here? We spoke of people in our lives who were in relationships that were either horribly one-sided or lacking in genuine affection altogether. How sad that is, and yet, I’ve been there. I reckon most folks have. (I’m feeling a little country-ish today, by the way). With each new ‘love’ I thought I had it all figured out. And when that ‘love’ went sideways or dried up completely, well I would just find someone else eventually and move on. It took me a good while to figure out what the problem was…me.
The bottom line is: I was looking for a man to make me happy but the only person who could make me happy was me. The root of all problems in relationships is unhappiness – sometimes only one person is unhappy and sometimes both. Now I don’t mean unhappy like the feeling you get when the store is out of the 80% cocoa Swiss dark chocolate that you love (can you feel the pain?), no, I’m referring to the empty, unsatisfied feeling that lingers deep in your soul.
The irony is, you might meet the man or woman of your dreams, but if your timing is wrong, if you’re not at a point where you are happy with yourself then it doesn’t matter. Prez and I recognized years ago that had we met even a couple years earlier it’s very likely things would not have worked out for us. But things have worked out. Why? I mean it isn’t like we haven’t had our moments when wringing the other person’s neck seemed like a worthwhile idea. What went right?
For starters, when we met, we were both over the age of twenty-five. It is rare (I’ve seen it happen, but not often) that two people know enough about life, the universe, and themselves to make a good decision about a life-long partner before the age of twenty-five. Just my opinion but I’ve asked around and lots of folks agree with me…so it’s practically fact, or at least it would be on CNN.
The next factor is critical – we had stuff in common. Now you don’t have to have everything in common but one or two things is a big help. In our case, we loved being on, in, around, under and near the water, we loved fishing (even though I am much better at it), we had the same job, we loved to travel, didn’t want kids, didn’t believe in any religion, and lastly, and most importantly, had a profound (almost spiritual) love of cats.
Conversely – we had our own lives. Fred plays squash, I don’t; I think it’s a frantic game that requires way too much effort for very little fun (aka, I suck at it). I run, Fred doesn’t; he thinks it’s boring (aka, he sucks at it). I would never dream of stopping him from playing squash and he would only dream of asking me to stop running if he wanted a little nookie and even then it would be a temporary stoppage. It’s nice to spend time together and do things together but time alone, time doing “your” thing is important, it gives you things to talk about and a feeling of independence.
Honesty (ouch). OK, by this I mean, laying things on the line right at the start. I know people who get into relationships where one person wants kids and the other doesn’t, each one hoping that the other will change their mind. Sometimes one person does change their mind and it all works out but when they don’t? Ten years into a marriage, how terrible would it feel to suddenly realize you partner has no interest in raising a house full of ankle-biters when you want nothing more than the sound of little footsteps around you? Right from the get go Prez and I spelled out for each other what we did and did not want in our relationship.
The “X” factor – attraction, physical and otherwise. Don’t underestimate this one. If you aren’t sexually and romantically attracted to your mate, time is not going to change that. The fire may burn down to an ember but it can always be re-lit. If there was no heat to begin with, things will get cold real fast.
And that’s just the beginning ladies and gentlemen. Once you actually manage to find real, true love the work has just begun. Love is a constantly evolving entity. Don’t think that, just because things are good, you can coast along love’s highway on cruise control. As my karate sensei told me – “If you don’t do your homework, another student moves to the head of the class”! Women, this means making your man feel like he’s still a tiger in the sack, men this means wooing (and chocolate) lots and lots of wooing (and neck rubs), the wooing never ends (and showering her cat with affection), don’t ever slack in the wooing department.
There are a few couples I know who fall into the “true love” category – those whose relationships are not only fabulous but have stood the test of time. Miz Liz and Big Wave Dave were, of course, a primo example of this. Martha and Pat, despite the fact that they like to refer to themselves as the ‘bickering Bickersons’, rank right up there. Ruth-Ann and HQ, Dan and Anne, and I’m going to put Deb and Ron Mac in too because even if they haven’t crossed the twenty year line yet they have a love that is truly inspirational.
And may I make one final recommendation? Come to Baja. Rise to a desert sunrise and the calls of the seabirds. Take a boat or kayak out on the Sea of Cortez and stare into the eyes of a dolphin while Frigates perform acrobatic feats above you. Stand beside a Cardon cactus stretching fifty feet in the air and smell its cinnamon and sugar blossoms. Share a roadside fish taco, talk to the locals even if you don’t speak Spanish, drink margaritas at Los Equipales and dance cheek to cheek. Buy a tacky t-shirt. Drive to the beach, lie on a blanket; see the falling stars that trail forever against the sky. Leave behind all the “things” that really don’t matter. Fall in love all over again. That’s Baja Love baby!
P.S. – Hey, much to my surprise and great pleasure, I have been featured on the “Best of MSN Spaces” this week. Wow! If you click on the link (look for the little blue ribbon at the top of the page) you will see me listed on the top right side. Who’d of thought? And me without a formal gown and acceptance speech.
Also, I’ve added a couple new photo albums – one from Baja 2004 and one from our drive down here – check them out if you have a mo’ to kill.