I am not a patient person, no I am not. I bide my time, and busy myself with stuff. I should be writing, and I am. I’m also waiting, which is not good for an over active mind. I’ve begun the sequel to The Vast Landscape, and it’s good. Really, really good. Yet here I am, hurtling forward going nowhere. Jumping ahead to anticipate the future. The past sneaks in, the memories I cannot run from. They stick to me like a parasite drawing blood, all around and everywhere I turn. Can a five-year old understand the meaning of true love? I believed magic lived inside my daddy’s big, round, jovial belly, instead of plain old spaghetti and meatballs. The sparkling lights from the Christmas tree, snowflakes stuck to the window, felt warm and fuzzy. Childlike wonder, tossing and turning the night, excitedly awaiting the dawn and Santa. The yellow kick and go, with the humongous red bow sits under the tree, brought goosebumps of emotion. Spring couldn’t come fast enough, I’d be seven by then. A big girl, big enough to hit the streets. The alarm clock with the FM radio and ice cream cake at thirteen made me feel special. I believed that was love. Seventeen came with an attitude, a fancy pink and white, crepe silk ‘Dynasty’ dress, complete with shoulder pads. A real, honest to God first date. He was hot shit about town, a decade older and he picked me. I had to beg, cry and cajole my parents to give in. They caved, eventually. High school was miserable. I left slivers of happy and the light dimmed. When the date with the man-boy got too steamy; I was a scared, little girl way out of her comfort zone. I panicked, jumped up, smoothed out the wrinkles and called home. My daddy was there in minutes, at 2:00 a.m. to save me. No questions asked. It was easy to leave another piece. By twenty, I was a grownup living on my own. I met a guy, who said all the right things, bought roses and diamonds. He promised to take care of me. I believed him. Until he punched me in the ribs full fist, split my lip and blackened my eye. Yeah, it was easy to let go of love, for good. To give away yet another piece of a damaged soul. So, what did I do? I married him to silence the noise, despising every single thing he was. My father never judged, he walked me down the aisle, squeezed my hand tight and whispered he loved me. I walked away, the wasted decade lost for good. I left love behind, the compromise. The capacity, belief and desire to give away the best parts dies with each passing season. Thirty came, and went. Of course I made feeble attempts to trust, only to get my heartbroken. By forty, I no longer want, need, believe or care for romantic love. I have no time for regret, the false notion drilled in young heads. Fairytales don’t exist. There is no handsome prince riding in on a Harley to whisk you away. There is something else, something better, something bigger, something more. Something tangible to believe in. True love comes in many, many forms. A round belly filled with spaghetti and meatballs, the steadfast friend who calls every day, because she knows you need her, too proud to ask. The mother who put family first, never wanting for anything more. That five-year old was wise. She understood, blind faith, never needing to hear the word spelled out.