two_hearts.gif I am not a social butterfly.  I can dress, dazzle, chat, and spin with the best of them, but by nature, I am a loner; it’s who I am and I embrace that label.  I relish my solo evenings.

I work, I write, I visit E-bay checking in on the gold and white pottery auctions, tearing pages from magazines, cataloguing the furniture I will buy in my next life. I eat pasta doused with weird combinations of toppings I dig out of the pantry and eat it in front of the TV watching back-to-back episodes of any Law and Orders I have tivoed. I like to hang alone, finding peace in the quiet, finding my voice in the empty air of my house. Even after J-date, after tapas and wine and a dance that never slowed and still hasn’t with the man I now love, I still longed for time away. Even when everything became more entertaining with him there, and the funny things I saw and did had weight because I finally had someone to share them with, I needed my time alone. While the kisses on the Ferris wheel, the late night phone calls from LA to Idaho, the electricity when we touched excited me and made me happy, I still needed to lack, to be without. 

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fall-leaves.jpgI remember it like it was yesterday – laying in bed, completely entranced in the fiery excitement of it all. It was nothing I had ever experienced. My senses were heightened, an obsession had begun.

I was experiencing my first real autumn. 

Growing up in New Orleans, fall was something that just … happened. The days went from excessively hot, to a little less hot, to bearably warm with the occasional jolt of cold (Cold, of course, being temperatures in the 50s. Brrrr). The leaves bypassed that whole color-change thing everyone always talks about. It was green to dead and that was that.

That is, until I began my freshman year in Maryland at Goucher College. As I plucked away at my snooze button, cursing the existence of a 9:30 am class, I rolled over and froze. There they were – red, orange, yellow and every combination between the three.

Once I was able to tear myself away from the window, I sprinted down the hall. “Have you seen them? They’re beautiful!”

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weddingrings.jpgAn age-old motto employed by wise women everywhere when their 60-something husbands return from the work wars to create projects from their home office.

My best friend's grandmother used that ironclad rule for the whole of her fifty-year marriage. Most especially after her adored husband retired from the illustrious law firm that bore his name, took to writing legal thrillers in the den and padding around her kitchen five times a day.

"My darling, let me miss you," she'd purr, as he asked yet again what they were having for lunch." I want to see you at the beginning and end of my day and all weekend long. To renew our otherness and share the excitement of two separate lives made one."

"But I'm hungry, " he said, yanking last night's tuna casserole out of the fridge, "And I don't want to eat alone."

"Then my darling," she implored lovingly, "go out to your club or a cafe or a friends home -- ANYWHERE but here, so that we can keep our love alive!"

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crunch.jpg Candy has been a bond between me and my pal Joy since we first became best friends in sixth grade at Beverly Vista Elementary School in Beverly Hills, California.   Sure, there’s been humor, loyalty, shared heart-throbs, and tears…but from the get-go, there were shared Nestle Crunch candy bars filled with crinkly chocolate that we bought every day as we walked home from school together.  It became a ritual, peeling off the blue and white wrapper, then the foil, and eating the crunchy bar while hysterically laughing over some inside joke that was funny only to ourselves.  But it was better that way.

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mantilini.jpgThat night, we met over Kate Mantilini’s meatloaf, a generous slab of mixed roast beasts—beef, pork, and veal, seasoned with onions and garlic and the perfect soupcon of pepper and salt, and the conversation was delicious, too.  It was mid winter 1987, and in terms of warming, filling, non-carb comfort food that goes down easily, meatloaf is probably the best darn thing one can ingest.  Intellectual rapport is always an ideal accompaniment.

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