Archive for July, 2016

At Derek’s House

July 30, 2016

While Derek had been to my house a number of times, I had yet to spend time at his. That fact was commented on during the dinner party with friends, but whether that inspired an invitation or he was just ready to have me over, I was not sure. The plan was for me to come the following Friday afternoon, around 3:00 p.m. He would work from home that day and break off when I arrived.

I didn’t really know what he had in mind. I had told him I wanted to hike the trail he’d cut. Would we do that? Did he mean for me to stay for dinner? The evening? The night? Because I had no real idea, I planned for any eventuality but kept what I brought with me to a minimum.

I was looking forward to seeing his home. When he had arrived at my house for that first dinner together, he’d said, “I don’t believe you live here.” I was a bit taken aback and asked why. He said that my house was covered with south-facing windows like his. He later sent a photo, and I could see that there was a certain similarity between our two houses. Natural light was as important to him as it was to me.

But the visit was more important than the house itself. I wanted to see how he lived. I wanted to meet his dog, Harley, and his three cats, especially Rubicund, the cat who had assumed my position on Derek’s lap in the photo he’d texted me. I wanted to hike Derek’s trail with him. I wanted to experience him on his home turf.

It was not a short drive to Derek’s house, but it was a beautiful one. He lived in the foothills, a ways up a canyon followed by a steep ascent to his perch at the top of a hill. The stream adjacent to the road was high and running fast. It looked like good kayaking for him.

When I arrived at the agreed upon hour, I rang the doorbell and got no response. I rang it again. Still no response. Based on the vehicles in the driveway, it appeared that he was home. I had a fleeting thought that he might have changed his mind about my coming to his house, might not have wanted me there. I knew him well enough to know that he would not simply avoid answering the door if that was the case, so the thought seemed just a little paranoid and irrational. Still, I knew that I was able to pick up on Derek’s feelings empathically, so I put my feelings aside without dismissing them.

I finally tried the doorknob, found the door unlocked, and stepped in to the sound of barking dog, quickly followed by the man himself. “Harley lets me know when someone is at the door,” he explained when I told him I had only walked right in after getting no response to the doorbell.

He was not quite finished with work, so I entertained myself by checking out the books in his bookcases. As a writer, what people read is always of interest to me. Books that had clearly been his late wife’s choices were among the titles. I called out author names and asked who had been a fan of that particular author, and I was mildly surprised by some of his choices. I knew he was a fan of one particular mystery writer, but he also read some pretty potent literary fiction. I reminded myself that the man interested me for reasons beyond chemistry.

When he put the work aside and we went upstairs, I presented him with a small gift I’d brought: soap I had made and infused with love, packed in a tin of French origin. He said he had a gift for me too, left for a moment to get it, and hid it behind his back, making me reach around him–a wholly appealing requirement–to feel the package and guess at what it was. Long and thin, I had no idea and made a joking guess. What he pulled out from behind his back and handed me was a surprise: trekking poles. I didn’t tell him I already had an expensive pair of Leki trekking poles. I hadn’t brought them because it hadn’t occurred to me that I would need them to hike his trail. But even switchbacked, the trail was steep and rugged in places. Trekking poles were a good idea. I found it the most thoughtful gift I’d been given in a long time and told him so.

Fortunately, I had brought my hiking boots. I like being surefooted when hiking, and they were definitely an advantage. After a quick tour of the house, I changed into them, adjusted the poles to my height with his help, and took off with him, Harley, and Rubicund on the trail. People take their dogs on hikes all the time, but a cat? This was the first trail-hiking cat in my experience. The cat lover in me liked the idea of it, and I liked the cat. As for Harley, he was irresistible. It was pretty much love at first sight with Harley, just as it had been with his master.

The trail was more extensive and more impressive than I could have imagined. I was stunned by the raw work and love that had gone into it, stopped on the trail at one point, and put my arms around him when he turned to me. “You’re my hero,” I said, and meant it. He lit up with the praise.

He had seemed a bit nervous and edgy up to that point, as if he didn’t quite know what to do with a woman on the turf that had been occupied solely by men–human, canine, and feline–since his wife’s death. Perhaps this little shift in response to my heartfelt praise would settle into a sense of relaxation and comfort in my being at his home with him.

Unfortunately, that was not to be the case.


Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of request for the man involved. Likewise, the names Harley and Rubicund are fictitious, and I sincerely hope that the dog and cat given these pseudonyms will forgive me for taking that liberty.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall




The Roller-Coaster Ride

July 26, 2016

I found myself on the kind of emotional roller coaster I hadn’t experienced in over thirty years. Most of the time, I had a smile on my face and felt like I had been given a therapeutic dose of oxygen. I was smitten; Derek was smitten. Together we could probably light up the Denver metropolitan area just from the raw energy of it. During what at first appeared to be random moments, my heart would well up with affection for Derek, and it was as if I could feel his affection for me too. Not infrequently, he texted or called soon after one of those moments. But at other times, my confidence about his feelings for me plummeted, for no apparent reason. At those times, I almost felt panicked. Surely I was deluding myself. This couldn’t last.

It took a while before it began to dawn on me that I was empathically picking up on what Derek was feeling. When I felt that surge of heart energy, he was having loving thoughts about me. When I felt panicked, he was questioning whether he should be in relationship with me or anyone else, for that matter.

My empathic abilities were well known to me, and I had developed an empath’s survival skill of being able to limit them. At times, though, they slipped through the internal screening mechanism, usually when something tragic was about to happen or in the process of happening somewhere in the world. Fortunately, I did not pick up on every tragedy empathically, but it had taken years to develop the facility to sort out my own feelings from my empathic ones.

What was new was that I was having such unfiltered empathic sensations in relation to a love interest. It wasn’t unprecedented, but I had good boundaries, so it did not happen all that often. Considering how otherwise unfiltered I was with him, I might have realized it sooner, but once I did realize what was going on, it helped to explain the roller-coaster ride I was on.

I did not want to inadvertently trigger unnecessary concern in Derek about being with me, so I was careful to show interest in his kids and step-kids without pushing to meet any of them or become known by them. It seemed to me that it might be too soon for any of them to embrace the idea of Derek moving forward and being in relationship with a woman other than his late wife, Jacqueline. I cared about him and I cared about his children’s and step-children’s feelings. I would eventually meet them if the relationship continued. I could be patient, and I did not want to give him reason to be concerned that I would push for any kind of interaction with them before he and they were ready for it.

I knew that I was not the first woman Derek had dated since his wife’s death. In fact, that I was not the first woman he had dated gave me a bit of false confidence about his readiness to move forward with his life. I honored his feelings about Jacqueline, did not discourage talking about her, and even asked a fair number of questions about her. He felt that the woman he’d dated six months after Jacqueline’s death was somehow jealous of Jacqueline, in part because she had not been happy about his working on a book about his and Jacqueline’s experience with cancer. But I had lost a spouse too. I had a perspective that would not have been possible if I had not also traveled with a partner on the road to death. I felt no jealousy, just curiosity.

I also knew about his push-pull experience with another woman he had dated, the woman he had felt good about when he was with her and bad about seeing when he was alone. Derek was so present with me when we were together that it took some time for me to suspect he was equivocal. I wondered if he was having feelings about me similar to those he’d had with that woman and was just not expressing them.

To make the roller-coaster ride even wilder, I had been in communication with his dead wife. It had begun sometime after I had called him on his cell phone and heard his late wife’s voice in the recording that asked the caller to leave a message. She had a lovely voice, and somehow, just hearing it made me feel a connection with her. I checked in to see if she was able and willing to talk to me from the other side, and she was. Jacqueline was supportive of my connection with Derek, and when I finally began to tap in to his equivocality, she gave him some subtle nudges in my direction.

It didn’t occur to me that the very fact she was still engaging with him might be a problem, but it eventually would. For the time being, there was something comforting about having her with me on the roller-coaster ride.


Note: The names Derek and Jacqueline are fictitious and have been used out of respect for the people involved.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

Sex and the Shaman, Part 3

July 22, 2016

There is a scene in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun that every lover of that movie remembers well. It has been a very long dry spell for Frances since her divorce. Now living in Italy, Frances has just returned from a tryst with Marcello, an Italian man she has just met. She is in her bedroom, on her knees on her bed, kissing the picture of the Virgin Mary on her headboard, doing a little hip-gyrating dance on the bed and exclaiming, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” With confidence, she later tells herself that she knew she still had it in her.

That was precisely how I felt after my assignation with Derek. Frances could not have imagined just how long a dry spell can be. It had been years for me.

While it is rarely spoken of even in hushed tones, I knew that a postmenopausal woman’s vaginal tissues could atrophy thanks to the loss of estrogen and lack of use. To say that the result is unpleasant is like saying that losing a leg to leprosy is merely unfortunate. Because of vaginal dryness, thinning and shortening of the vaginal walls, bleeding caused by tiny tears to the vaginal walls, inflammation and burning, and the sex act becoming a painful experience (any or all of these), some women just abandon sex instead of managing the problem or seeking treatment. Regular sexual activity is said to be helpful because it improves blood circulation to the area and helps keep the tissues healthier. But my only sexual partner had been me for a very long time. I had been concerned about atrophy.

And that didn’t even address the issue of the condom: insist on it or forego it. I knew that the occurrence of sexually transmitted diseases had increased sharply among those over the age of fifty, probably in part due to the rise of online dating among those over fifty and the availability of drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. But was anyone talking about the choice a woman has to make about them if she has or fears she has vaginal atrophy? I certainly hadn’t heard it addressed. Could even a lubricated condom be a problem?

Until the post-fifty woman who has been in the Sahara Desert of sexual activity has actually found an oasis, she really has no way to know if she might have her own Under the Tuscan Sun experience or, instead, an experience right out of a horror movie.

I was happy to report to anyone interested that my equipment still worked. Thank all the gods in all the heavens esteemed by all the religions on Earth! It needed a bit of gentle treatment and a little ramp up time, like a vintage engine that hasn’t been started in a long while, but once engaged, my body’s cellular memory took over.

My guess is that a young, nervous virgin rarely has the ecstatic first time experience that a reclaimed virgin has once the long dry spell has been broken. I enjoyed coupling as a young woman. I loved it even. But I was now reminded that it is a miracle of orchestration between mind, body, spirit, and emotions that has the ability to catapult the participant into an experience of the sacred and numinous unifying with the earthy and earthly creature in us. I was in awe of it.

The next opportunity for awe came the following Tuesday when Derek came to the house for lunch. It was unplanned, spontaneous, and somewhat time-limited, making it all the more salacious but no less transcendent. Fortunately, I even managed to feed him a little food other than me in the encounter.

I did not want our lunch meetings to spiral down into nothing more than the kind of lascivious liaisons lacking in real heart connection that are commonly known as hookups. But I could not deny that the occasional noontime tryst might be a welcome injection of heat to fuel all of our other activities, both as a couple and individually.

I wondered if we would metamorphose into a couple comprised of two independent, fully self-sufficient people who were even more potent together than as individuals. Would we develop into a couple at all, or would the period of mutual fixation and developing affection languish and eventually disintegrate? It was too soon to tell. My vote was for the former. And the next time I had the opportunity to make love with the man, I wanted it to be a long, leisurely, sensual session during which I had plenty of time to revel in his body and maybe even merge with his soul.

And the opportunity was likely to present itself in just a few days.


Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall


What I Liked

July 19, 2016

While the chemistry between us could not be ignored, I knew that chemistry alone would not sustain a relationship. It was too early to know if the budding relationship was going to be sustainable, but one thing I knew was that I liked this man, liked who I was getting to know.

For one thing, he was smart enough to connect with me intellectually without stumbling into some dark, cerebral woods and getting lost, never to find his way out and maybe falling asleep after wandering around a while. He would not get lost in conversation. Of this I was sure. We didn’t necessarily have the same knowledge base, but that actually had its advantages. We could learn from one another. I was definitely willing to learn from him. It remained to be seen how willing he was to learn from me.

I was only beginning to develop a sense of whether there was intellectual and spiritual depth to him, and I was looking forward to conversations that would give me a better sense of that. But a couple of text exchanges were telling. In response to a comment I made about the power of Mother Nature, he texted back that he just wanted to go paddling on a huge flooding river, feel insignificant compared to the force of the water, and find a bit of satisfaction in not trying to fight that force but instead, make it work for him. Another time, we traded texts on a Rumi poem I had e-mailed him. He liked the poem and made reference to his own human longing. I replied that the most fundamental human longing is for connection with the divine and the return to Oneness, to which he replied that it was hard to find that without death. That, I thought, could be the beginnings of a very interesting conversation.

I liked the fact that I could not get much past him. He picked up on everything, even simple things. During one text exchange, he asked what I was reading, and I told him I was reading mediocre fiction that I had nearly finished. He texted back that he was guessing it was a romance novel since I hadn’t named it. He was right, and vey few people I knew would have been astute enough to catch it.

The fact that he was a reader was appealing. Books are important to me, and I could not imagine having a meaningful relationship with someone who didn’t read. When Derek was not working, blazing trail or hiking it, kayaking, playing pool, riding his Harley, or otherwise engaged in something active, he was often reading. He didn’t watch television. Instead, he read.

That he was into double entendres also delighted me. They slipped back and forth between us easily and usually without comment. But we each knew that the other was on to them. The subtlety was delicious.

Hugely appealing to me was his level of activity. Apart from the weight room, which we had in common, we were active in different ways, but he was definitely active enough to keep up with me physically. Could I keep up with him? The very fact that I had that question made me take notice because I rarely had that question about a man.

I found myself smiling when I looked at any photo of him, smiling before I met up with him, smiling when I was with him, and smiling after our time together. I was smiling a lot. Just thinking about him made me smile. In my mind, a man you smiled about so often was a man you might want to keep around. It has been said that a woman should find a man who doesn’t ruin her mascara but instead ruins her lipstick. Derek was that kind of guy.

I loved that his family was important to him. He practiced kayaking rolls with his daughter and danced wildly with her to loud rock and roll in his living room. He needed a regular dose of contact with his stepchildren and grandchildren, and the photos he sent while he was visiting them enchanted me. One featured him on a yard swing with a granddaughter being pushed by the other granddaughter. Grinning grandfather in ball cap, tattoos visible on a luscious bicep, with a sweet, beautiful little gril in a flower headband right next to him and another with a grin much like her grandfather’s pushing the swing. Another photo featured the girls playing a board game. It seemed to me that a grandfather like him was every little girl’s dream. It certainly would have been mine as a child.

Of course, I also liked how open he was with lovely comments. Even though I am grounded in self-love, I am not immune to a man’s appreciation. He told me I was a hard body. It was hyperbole, but I was more than happy to accept it. He said that I was gorgeous, commented on how small my waist was, and marveled at my soft skin. During one conversation, when I pointed out that I had the body of a woman in her sixties, his immediate reply, in a tone of voice that suggested awe, was, “If that is the case, I wish I could have seen you when you were thirty.” That he found my body anything but the body of a woman in her sixties made him my hero.

During one text exchange, as we were planning to get together for lunch, I asked if he wanted to meet at a restaurant somewhere or come to the house. His reply was, “I want to come to your beautiful house and see you, beautiful.” And after one such lunch at the house that included a bit of nuzzling, he texted me that he could smell me on him once he was back at the office. He liked that, and I liked that he bothered to tell me about it.

He didn’t cook and had dangerously little knowledge about nutrition. That was not ideal, but then, I didn’t know that many men who could cook. That he didn’t even seem all that into food might have been more of a concern, but he did seem to appreciate my cooking. And the fact that he was careful to maintain a healthy weight was very good. Could he be enticed into the kitchen to cook with me? Both of the women he had been married to had been housewives. Did he want a woman who would be a housewife and just take care of him and the mundane things in life so he was free to play in his off-work hours? Did he simply want a woman to adapt to his world without him having to adapt to hers? I didn’t yet know.

In fact, it remained to be seen whether he would want to participate in any of the things that were an ongoing part of my life. I wanted to participate in things of interest to him: hiking the trail he had cut, shooting at the range he had created on his property, riding behind him on his Harley, and even playing pool if he was willing to teach me. Would he want me to participate in those things with him? I wasn’t sure. Would he join me in some of my pursuits? I wasn’t sure about that either.

What I was sure of that Saturday night after the dinner guests had left and after the reading of my shamanic journey and telling of his vulnerability were done was that I wanted to invite him into my bed.

And I did.


Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall



Playing Nice and Playing Small

July 13, 2016

I knew it would be risky to share my shamanic journey with Derek, but I was committed to be open in this budding relationship, so I offered to read it to him if he was interested. He was. Further, he wanted to have it read to him in my journey room, which amused me. He knew very little about shamanism, but he was open to and interested in knowing more. I texted him that I was feeling vulnerable about sharing the journey with him, and he texted back that he had a little vulnerability of his own, which he proposed sharing with me after I read him my journey. I wondered what that vulnerability was about and sensed that it was important, but the fact that he was willing to share personal vulnerability with me was significant in and of itself.

I had spent enough time with Derek to know that we were good one-on-one. Now I wanted to see how he was with other people. I had felt him out about having dinner with a couple of my friends, and he was open to the idea, so I scheduled it for the weekend following his trip out of town to see his stepdaughter and grandchildren. I invited a longtime friend, Patty Wheeler, and her boyfriend, Bob Stone. That Bob had once been a kayaker would be a point of connection between the two men.

The dinner was animated and fun. If I’d had any concerns about Derek’s ability to interact with my friends, they were jettisoned as I watched him converse with Patty and Bob. Derek held his own well.

Once Patty and Bob left, Derek and I retreated to the journey room for my reading of the journey and his confession about his vulnerability. He closed his eyes, appearing to be listening intently, as I read the journey. For him it was like the reading of a good story. He had not quite sorted out what he thought about my shamanic work, but when I had first told him I was going to journey and that it had to do with him, at least in part, his unfiltered from-brain-to-mouth reply had been that if he did a journey, his question would be about why he felt like such a teenager when he was around me. I had even offered to facilitate a journey for him so he could understand what it was all about, and he had not only been open, he had conjectured that he might need do have me do that to understand what it meant to journey.

But this was my journey, and he had played a part in it. He had nothing specific to say about it once I finished reading the journey to him, and I suspected he was trying to wrap his brain around it. He liked to figure things out, but shamanic journeys often defy left-brained attempts at figuring them out, even one like this, which was fairly straightforward.

As we snuggled on the journey room couch, I asked about the vulnerability he had referred to. What he told me spoke to whether or not he was through enough of the grieving process related to his wife’s death to actually be in a relationship with a woman. He had already told me about one woman he had dated since his wife’s death, and now he talked about another. They had date a couple of months During that time, he felt great about her and the relationship when he was with her, but when he was alone, he found himself struggling with the idea of dating at all. He had felt he should not be in relationship, that he should be alone, and agonized over it. He finally ended it with a note to her, presumably an e-mail, though I didn’t ask.

He still felt vulnerable to the possibility that this would happen again, but he was quick to say that he did not feel that way with me.

I muttered something about the lameness of his having sent her a note instead of talking to her, and he did not disagree, but it seemed he had only been able to do it at arm’s length at that time.

When I had first learned that he was only a year and a half past his wife’s death, I had been concerned that it was too soon for him to be in a serious relationship again, even though his stated desire on the dating site had been for a serious relationship. I knew that a person’s readiness for relationship after the death of a spouse was a highly individual thing, but I also knew that when a man had loved his wife as much as Derek seemed to have loved his, it might take quite a while before he was ready to move on. He had been a bit vague about the timing of the relationship he had ended by note, but it had been some months before he and I met.

I was happy that we were close enough for him to open up about this, but I also wondered if he was really ready for a relationship with any woman . . . let alone me.


Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

The Shamanic Journey

July 10, 2016

There is nothing like a shamanic journey for answers. Over the years, I have taken many journeys, both with the shaman to whom I was once apprenticed and on my own. The shamanic work I do with others routinely includes journey work, too, because I know that it is an efficient and effective way to get reliable answers to important questions about life. In my experience, those answers are sometimes quite literal, but they are often embedded in symbolism. One shamanic journey can have a profound effect on a person’s life. It can also unfold in that person’s consciousness over weeks, months, and even years.

I was hoping for some answers of the literal variety, but I knew that whatever came through in journey would be what I needed to experience. I specifically wanted to know what had caused that switch to flip right before my birthday, that internal understanding that it was time for me to go to an online dating site and begin engaging with men again. I also wanted to understand what was going on with me internally where Derek was concerned because I felt I’d been completely thrown off-balance by our interactions.

Once settled in the journey room, I felt the presence of Rolling Thunder, even before I left my body. He was chuckling. When I left my body, I felt it dissolving, leaving nothing but my heart–the heart that had been formed from a piece of the heart of my dragon power animal many years earlier. And I heard my dragon laughing too. Both Rolling Thunder and my dragon chuckling? I knew I was in for it.

A phoenix burst through my heart and shot up out of the room. I followed it and came to a stop at the portal. It had been many years since I had first stood before that portal. I paused to contemplate that before passing through it. Once I stepped through, I was immediately met by Rolling Thunder, and we were quickly joined by Black Elk and the guide I knew as Grandfather. The three took turns embracing me, and with those embraces, I felt both safe and protected. That sense of being protected by powerful men seemed to be important to the journey, and it was in stark contrast to the lack of feeling protected I had often experienced in my relationships with the men in my life. Was one of the messages that a different kind of man was showing up in my life?

Rolling Thunder laughed and stopped me as I began to explain why I had journeyed to them. They knew why I was there.

During the course of the journey, I was shown how soft, willing, and vulnerable my heart had been in early childhood, how often my heart had been broken, and how I had placed a protective covering over it only to have that covering dissolve when I had been in love with the important men in my life and then reconfigure itself with the next broken heart. My heart softened when I married my late husband, Howard, but the protective covering had not completely dissolved until the work of my apprenticeship had dissipated it for all times. And with Howard’s illness and death, my heart had cracked wide open.

I was shown that my heart was big enough to embrace the entire world, but that it was now to be blasted open further, allowing it to embrace the universe. And it was the liaison with Derek that would generate this further blasting open of my heart.

Black Elk told me that my energy had been very connected with God and the spiritual realm for quite some time. That had been good and appropriate, but it was now time for that energy to come back into my body. I had amassed great power through this connection with the divine, but for my personal power–my life force energy–to develop further, it was vital that it be brought back down to Earth and into the four components of my being (mind, body, spirit, and emotions). Black Elk referred to me as a nuclear power plant and said that Derek was my source of ignition. The image he gave for Derek’s role was a stick of dynamite. I had no trouble believing that. My pairing with Derek had the effect of generation, according to Black Elk. He did not use the word regeneration or regenerative but generation. There was, he said, great vitality to it, great synchrony.

My understanding of what I was being told was that what I needed to develop further was the human-to-human element with a man who was in resonance with me, who activated the juicy human connection I had been lacking, and who also had the ability to activate and trigger the further integration of mind, body, spirit, and emotions. This was not a small thing.

I was shown that the “source of ignition” was, himself, a worthy consort, and he had the ability to handle the power in me that he was igniting. But I also had the sense that at least some of his work in serving as the source of ignition had already been completed.

I had picked up on past life connections with Derek in fleeting images, but I could not get a real fix on them. It was made clear to me that while there were indeed past life connections with Derek and the other men I had recently dated, it was unimportant at this time for me to remember any of them. The men and I had collaborated to effect the activation that was now happening. That was the important thing to understand.

As the journey progressed, I was not only given several other understandings, I was also given gifts to help me as I made my way through the process I was currently undergoing, including a jolt of lightning that knocked me on my butt, much to Rolling Thunder’s delight. It was not the first time I’d had that experience during journey, and the previous jolt had been nothing less than a quickening. This one had a similar effect.

The theme of generation infused everything in the meeting with my powerful guides, and it was clear that Derek was a critical component in what was transpiring. In fact, I was told that the generative effect was not just for me, but for him too.

When I passed back through the portal and reentered my body in the journey room, I felt enlivened and better prepared for whatever lay ahead. Besides, I had done shamanic work long enough to know that when the divine was involved and I was living out agreements made before I entered my body in this lifetime, I might as well surrender to it because what was unfolding would have its way with me.

And whatever this process of generation was about, it had already begun.


Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

After the Bell Has Been Rung

July 8, 2016

Once you have rung a bell, there is no unringing it. Derek and I had jumped to a level of intimacy it might have been wiser to achieve over a bit more time, but neither of us really had any regrets about it. As much as I disliked the word amazing because it had become ubiquitous, I embraced the word like a long lost child when he described me with it the next day.

I need not have been concerned about intimacy careening down the road at breakneck speed because a rockslide and a snowstorm created some problems when it came to seeing one another. I was concerned about the rockslide blocking his ability to get down from his foothills home, but he assured me that if I needed him, he could get to my house. It had never occurred to me that I might need him to get to me for some reason, but I found the fact that he would find a way to do so strangely comforting. And he liked the fact that I found it strangely comforting . . . a lot. Was he a man who wanted to look after his woman? If so, I liked that a lot. The fact that I am independent and can take pretty good care of myself has never meant that I don’t love a man who wants to look out for me, providing that control is not part of the bargain.

We did manage to get together twice that week and once the following week, two of those times at my house and one time at a restaurant. Getting together was going to take a little maneuvering because many of his weekends for the rest of the spring and into the summer were already committed. And he had a dog to get home to, so getting together after work was not much of an option. I quickly snagged at least one day on weekends that were not completely committed, and we made a point of getting together during his lunch hour when we could. He telecommuted as much as half of the time, but he was also on flextime, so when he was at the office, he could take a long lunch. We took advantage of that.

Lunch at my house meant trying to get some food into him, chatting, and sitting on his lap or using one of the many stairs in the house for a little necking. I liked lunches at my house, but I also liked lunch out. For one thing, I liked being with him among other people. I liked being the woman on his arm. But I also liked the fact that physical closeness was not sacrificed when we were out because he made a point of sitting right next to me until our food was served. He just wanted to be in basic physical contact, and there was no argument from me on that. Another advantage of eating out was that it gave me an excuse to up the game with my attire a bit. After our lunch out, he texted me that my outfit had been dangerously cute. That was exactly what I’d had in mind with it.

In between those lunches, we texted and talked on the phone. One of his texts included a photo of him with one of his cats on his lap. I texted back that they were both adorable, but that I would like to be the one sitting on his lap, and his reply was that he had the same thing in mind. About twenty minutes later, I texted again to say that I was trying to read but having a difficult time because of the photo and my thoughts about his lap. He liked that I would admit to the distraction. I liked that I was willing to admit to it. I was completely unguarded with this man.

Two weeks after the first dinner at my house, Derek went to visit his stepdaughter and grandchildren who lived several hours from the Denver metropolitan area. He would be gone all weekend. I decided to make my own plans for the weekend and called my best friend, Antonio, who also happened to be the shaman to whom I had once been apprenticed. I scheduled a shamanic journey with him. I could journey myself, but even a shaman can benefit by allowing another shaman to facilitate a journey for them. The infusion of the other shaman’s energy takes it up a notch, and I needed it taken up a notch because I wanted to understand just what was going on. Why had that switch been flipped around the time of my birthday and what was the underlying purpose in my budding relationship with Derek?

A journey would shed light on it.


Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

Sex and the Shaman, Part 2

July 5, 2016

I had only experienced the muscle-clenching pain of dehydration once. It had come at the conclusion of a particularly hot sweat lodge. It felt as if every muscle in my body had seized up. But I knew that drinking too much water at once woud put me at risk. When someone who has been in the desert without water for too long comes upon an oasis, the risk is that she will do herself in by drinking too much water and developing hyponatremia, a condition in which the level of sodium in the person’s body fluids becomes unbalanced. Cells can actually swell from this, brain cells in particular. In severe cases, death may ensue. The same thing might have happened after that sweat lodge, but once I realized I was badly dehydrated, I took water moderately.

Dating sites should post a warning for the person dating after a long dry spell, which is the equivalent of being in the desert without water too long or in a scorching sweat lodge. That warning should inform the dater that she might be prone to desiring excessive amounts of touching, kissing, and fondling if the right partner shows up. It should advise her to use moderation for a time to avoid doing herself in from overexposure to sensuous and/or sexual encounters.

I had wisely taken my water in moderation after that sweat lodge. The same could not be said for my caution where physical contact with Derek was concerned when I next saw him. He came to the house that Sunday afternoon. We had admitted, during a text exchange, that we liked one another, and I had told him, more than once that I felt like an adolescent.

“I’m glad,” he texted.

“I’m scared,” I texted back, “and I don’t scare easily.”

“I don’t want to scare you,” he said. “Perhaps it is really us that scares you.”

Yes, he had it exactly.

When he arrived, I took him out to my gazebo, a safe choice on a Sunday afternoon for two adults who were feeling like giddy, oversexed teenagers. The chairs had a nice safe table between them, which provided a little distance so we could talk without the distraction of touching. But the first thing he did as he surveyed the setup was move the chairs and ottomans so they were right next to each other. He wasn’t about to let an opportunity for body contact go unexploited.

So we sat next to one another and chatted, his arm around me, my hand on is leg, with the occasional pause for a kiss. We eventually moved inside to the couch. Derek had professed to be a snuggler, and it became clear that he wasn’t just any snuggler, but a world-class one. For many hours, we talked and snuggled on the couch. If snuggling had simply been a duplicitous act with something a bit more sexual as the intended outcome, then he exhibited extreme patience. But it did not feel duplicitous. Snuggling, itself, coupled with getting to know one another better through conversation, seemed to be the intended outcome.

The problem with the intended outcome was that the very act of being so physically close was like putting a couple of people who have been wandering in the desert without water next to a water source and telling them that they had to wait before they could drink. Not only were we going to touch, but just like the desert wanderers, we could not get enough.

I was soaking up the touch like a dehydrated pilgrim. And the scent of him, which had pulled me in two days earlier, was enough to make me swoon like a dehydrated pilgrim too. After a few hours, we moved from the couch to an even more comfortable perch, and the reveling in touch got more and more intimate. The day ended without the relationship quite being consummated, but if I had claimed to still be a virgin by virtue of years without sex, it would have been just a fancy bit of hairsplitting.

It was way past my bedtime when he left. I would have been happy to snuggle with him all night, but he had a dog at home that could not be left alone all night. It was just as well. I needed the rest of the night to come down from the ceiling.


Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall

The Day After

July 2, 2016

It could be argued that I had fallen so fast because it had been a very long time since I had been with a man in any romantic way. It could be argued that I had just forgotten how good it felt to be embraced and how sensual it was to be kissed gently, with tongues engaged in just the right way, which for me meant not choking thrusts but instead, a kind of teasing, light exploration, coupled with a bit of nibbling. If anyone wanted to argue those things, they were welcome to their words and their opinions, but I knew differently.

Since my husband’s death, I’d had plenty of opportunity to be with men, both literally and in the biblical sense. I’d never been desperate. I’d always been willing to wait for the right man. As for kissing, I could count on one hand the number of men in my life who had been so compatible. All the waiting had been worth it, but my response to this man had not simply been triggered by a long drought, it had been triggered by the man himself.

He texted me just after 7:00 the next morning, reporting that he had awakened dreaming of me. During the flurry of messages back and forth, he said that he had liked it when I showed him that my butcher block was custom made for me to fit my diminutive size. “You are such a big presence that I just don’t think of you as shorter,” he said. “Plus, you know how to make use of steps.”

I doubted I had ever used that transition from the living room’s brick floor to the dining room’s wooden one to better advantage than I had the previous night, and he said he had never thought about having favorite steps, but if he did, those would definitely be his favorite. We were doing a little early morning tango around the fact that we had both been captivated by our mythic clinch the previous night.

He said that he had been a bit nervous as he walked up to my door that night, but the second I opened the door and smiled at him, the nervousness had evaporated. Of course, he looked so adorable walking up to my door, I couldn’t help but smile.

He confessed to being enamored of me, and I admitted that I was crushing on him.

We texted about the weather, the way he made coffee, and the fact that he was in boxers and I was in bed reading and watching the news in my cowgirl pajamas. He mentioned that he would be doing more work on the trail that day. This texting went on for an hour, like morning conversation over coffee, easy and intimate. Except that it was also like being on a sled with him, taking a wild ride down a hill and feeling a little breathless by the time we reached the bottom.

Later in the day, I texted that I had just realized he’d answered the boxers versus briefs question that morning without my even having to ask. I admitted that I was blushing while writing the text. He asked which I preferred, and I assured him that I preferred boxers. “But I’m still blushing,” I said, “or maybe just overheated.”

Clearly, I was becoming as unfiltered as him.

“You must have been thinking of me if you came up with that revelation,” he said. He added that he liked to think of me blushing and being overheated; he found it cute.

Derek was reawakening some things in me that I had nearly forgotten, and I told him so. It was an understatement, but I did not want to elaborate. I got back an emoji that suggested he was thinking sweet thoughts in response. He said he liked the fact that we had seen one another every day since we’d met. Of course, that had only been a couple of days.

Apart from my reference to my reawakening, anyone who might have stumbled on those text exchanges could easily have assumed that they were between two randy teenagers. Was I aging backwards like the Merlin of Arthurian legend? If so, I had raced backwards at an alarming speed.

That evening, we connected again. Even though it was a bit early to fall asleep, I was fading fast and told him so.

“I’ll call you tomorrow, baby,” he texted.

He had never before referred to me in that way. Did that trigger alarm about how quickly things were moving? Did I find the term just a little too intimate considering that we had known one another for less than a week? Was I suspicious? Did I think it ingenuous? No. It seemed just another example of his unfiltered texting, and I didn’t doubt that he had used the word genuinely and spontaneously. If some other man had called me baby, I might have felt differently, but coming from him, I thought I had never been referred to in a more charming way.

The previous week, I had been a woman on a dating site, just hoping to find a man I liked with whom I could feel at least a little chemistry. Now, a week later, I felt as if I had been given a small bit of paradise by the gods when I had only requested a simple plot of good earth to call my own.

How long could this go on and what in the world would happen next?


Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall