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This adjective catches my attention this morning because there is a group at shewrites.com by that name, that I have signed up for. What an elegant and resonant word.

Unpaired, I have just lugged the dark green camping bag-full of my comfortable clothes to the laundry a few doors down; at this moment they are freshly tumbling in the dryer.

Unpaired I rose this morning and made dark rich coffee, plenty of sugar and canned milk. O luxury, after months of the ascetic cups of Folger’s Instant with my companion.

Recently unpaired, I scrape through the gelatinous stock I made for a bone for Tess, who turns ten in a week. I luxuriate in the temporary spotlessness of my kitchen floor, mopped a few days ago. I boil a votive holder until the old candle lets go and melts, and pour the hot wax into the trash. Now a fresh strawberry scented candle burns, against the backdrop of the window, the grey haze of impending storm.

I have made a nest for myself in a retro brick apartment, hanging my paintings, the many blazing still-lives of fruit and flowers I collect from thrift stores, creating tableaus of old family photographs, various objets d’arte.

The bird in the nest must now will herself to sing, and sing something beside the sorrowful warbling of failures and good-byes. This is truly a hello to my Self: a reclamation of who and what I am and who I was meant to be.

Time and again fear and longing have sent me in a freefall from my nest into the Other’s arms; time and again, I have extricated myself from the sweetness of being comforted, of the rituals two people can share, curled up together, talking for hours on end, face to face, joining forces against the land and the needs of grey mares, Golden dogs, low to the ground and perpetually pregnant cats.

The pain of separation when I have chased intimacy has been worse than any single day of living unpaired. When I let go of someone I am trailing bloody tendons of attachment, hope, dreams, my investments. I have been so driven by my dream of communion with the Other that time and again I have set up a card house and furnished it and moved in, forgetting that there isn’t a foundation and that it wasn’t built brick by brick, but out of need, desire, hunger, longing, and delusion.

In the great Zeffarelli film of the opera Otello, Placido Domingo as The Moor is driven mad by the need to claim and possess Desdemona, in this case the soprano I saw debut years ago in Verona, Katia Ricarelli.

He ravishes her and in the ravishing she is under his spell and then rather than being claimed by love he is claimed by obsession and mistrust: we know what happens.

Writing, unpaired, I am faced with my sins of attempted possessions of others. The reason for me to live unpaired is to strengthen, continue to become my own person, comprehend at the deepest level that I am strong and worthy, that I can take care of myself and perhaps then, if someone else comes along, I won’t need to possess or be taken care of, either one.

Yes, it is delicious to cook for a lover, and to lie in a lover’s arms. We can still do that, even unpaired. No one has written in stone that we must stoically bear up and keep on without companionship. We can and should, perhaps, cultivating more self-love and keeping all moving parts oiled, so to speak, even be lovers unto ourselves…

Unpaired, I write to the beautiful “Great Mass” of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You could say that my sitting here at my desk, waiting to take my t-shirts and shorts out of the dryer and bring them in and put them away, and continue to rehabilitate myself of my dependencies in caring for myself, learning to appreciate and savor my solitude, finding out that all of the “I Can’ts ” plaguing me across the years are lies, is nothing short of miraculous.

Jenne’ Andrews

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