Tuesday, January 1, 2008

happy new year - or something

This is the story of a New Year’s Eve which unfolded in two (very different) parts - and the story of the morning after.

My story actually begins the day before New Year’s Eve, when I mentioned to my church choir director that I would probably be travelling to London at the end of January to celebrate my father’s birthday.

The choir director commented that my father must be an Aquarian. Yes, indeed he is. (And how does the choir director know this? He is also an Aquarian – his birthday is two days after my father’s.)

I joked that my father’s zodiac sign was the reason that he (my father) and I had always butted heads. (My inside voice groaned: Did I just say that out loud? To the Aquarian choir director I respect and admire?)

When I was a girl, I found an astrological romantic-compatibility chart and was astonished to discover that my parents - an Aquarian and a Taurean - were supposedly a very poor romantic match. The kicker is, my birthday is one day after my mother’s. Also within the calendar boundaries of Taurus.

The conversation with my choir director turned to other things, but I went home from church that morning wondering to myself why Taurus and Aquarius were not supposed to get along.

An internet search proved very fruitful:

“This is an unusual combination, and the association isn’t likely to last long. Taurus is fixed earth and Aquarius is fixed air. The two signs form a natural square between them, signaling challenges and conflict. Aquarius tends to be very social, easy going and willing to try everything at least once. Taurus, on the other hand, is very sentimental and forms emotional attachments to things, feelings and people. Read: they do not like change and usually hate trying anything new. Unless this couple has very compatible moon signs and other factors in their charts together, the combination is very unlikely to last long.”

Another site put it more bluntly:

“Taurus is closemouthed and conservative. Aquarius is unconventional and vivacious. Taurus is lusty and passionate. Aquarius operates on a mental plane. Taurus likes to be home and Aquarius likes to roam. Taurus needs security and Aquarius is a fancy-free loner. Not good for the long term. Aquarius has a careless attitude toward love that will enrage the highly passionate Taurus. Taurus is too possessive and jealous for Aquarius. Taurus loves home and Aquarius loves to wander. Both are stubborn in different ways.”

My memories of the conflicts between my parents bear some of this out. Dad is a gregarious visionary whose idea of a good time is to be out socializing every night of the week. Mom is a quiet homebody who loves nothing better than to curl up by the fire with a good book. Every night of the week.

(I should mention that my parents are still more-or-less happily married to each other after 44 years, though.)

This whole exercise got me thinking. I’m not one to put great stock in astrological predictions – maybe it’s just that I don’t seem to fit many of the characteristics of my sign – but I would love to find a good romantic match. And I certainly haven’t had much success so far.

I was curious to see what kind of man would be considered an appropriate partner for my “lusty and passionate” Taurus. Turns out that Capricorn seems to be the best pairing - with Virgo, Gemini and Cancer trailing somewhere behind. After reading through the combinations, though, I have to say I still felt more drawn to the tempestuous Libra and Scorpio descriptions.

If I am not in a relationship, New Year’s Eve is a non-event for me. I’m not a party animal (see the “homebody” bit, above), and the turning of a new year is, for me, less a holiday to celebrate than an opportunity to spend time in quiet introspection.

Which is exactly what I planned to do this New Year’s. I whiled away the first part of the day working at creative pursuits and cleaning my apartment, and then, with the suddenness of a switch being turned, I became quiet.

I listened to music. Really listened – just lay on my bed, absorbing the sounds.

I had a bath - an amazing, luscious, restorative bath.

The bath alone deserves an entire chapter. I rubbed myself from head to toe (well mostly – I didn’t do my hair, which later turned out to be a good thing) with oil, in the ayurvedic fashion.

Then, slicked-up with extra virgin (I smelled like freshly-tossed pasta, especially since I also added immunity-enhancing oregano oil to the water), I lazed in the hot tub for nearly an hour.

Romans used to clean themselves with olive oil, scraping it off with a utensil called a strigil. Many religious traditions still practice anointing - smearing grease or oil on body parts in ritual ceremonies.

I wanted to feel cleansed; I wanted to feel blessed. I was well on my way to both, relaxing in damp languor on my bed after emptying the tub, when I got a phone call. It was 10:30 p.m.

Domenic, a business associate with whom I’ve been working on a new project, was five minutes from my place. Did I want to go out?

Now, Taureans supposedly hate change and spontaneity.

Ha!

I was all over Domenic’s invitation, and when he called five minutes later to say he’d arrived, I was only two or three minutes from walking out my door.

(Ohhh, but I’m a low-maintenance woman!)

Dom took me to his favorite pub, where the music was loud, the live band was smokin’, and the celebrators were…fifteen to twenty years younger than me, on average.

I looked especially hot (if I do say so myself) in a long, slinky black skirt paired with a crisp, fitted white shirt buttoned too low in the front, cuffs turned back, a delicate pearl necklace around my neck. Not too shabby for someone who’d been wearing sweats and a t-shirt when the telephone rang.

Wispy tendrils of hair delicately framed my dewy face. (Thank you Jesus, I didn’t rub my head with the oil.) The music at the pub was so loud I couldn’t make myself heard unless I leaned in and spoke into Dom’s ear.

Crammed into a standing-room-only corner, I looked up into his warm eyes…and heard him say he was a Capricorn.

Now, my story could go several ways here - and if it were fiction, I know which ending I’d choose.

The reality is, Dom is still pining over his last girlfriend, and I’m still pining over Mac – plus we have a good business relationship that doesn’t need to be complicated by a little boot-knocking.

I did entertain some brief (cough) thoughts, though… (and thank goodness Dom has an aversion to reading, so is never likely to see this…)

I wondered how the New Year’s kiss might be negotiated, but when the time came he very politely bussed me on both cheeks in the Italian fashion. We went for a walk in the newly-falling snow when I’d reached my tolerance for amplifier-induced tinnitus, and I told him for the millionth time that his ex was only going to continue to disappoint him if he continued to revisit that relationship (a foible of his).

We waited for people to come move their cars so Dom could get his Range Rover out of the alley where he’d parked, and I went home exhausted, deaf and (once I’d bolted my apartment door at 2 a.m. to the accompaniment of my upstairs neighbour horking for ten minutes straight) cranky as hell.

“Taureans are quiet, gentle people, but they know their own mind. The thought of too much action can sometimes make a Taurean feel physically sick.”

No shit.

It was not the night I’d planned. I don’t regret spending time with Dom – he needed a friend after his ex took off to a New Year’s event without him. We talked about business, he talked about his fears and dreams…and I woke at 7 a.m. to the sound of the alarm clock that I’d forgotten to disable.

Is there a lesson in all of this? If there is, I hope it includes the observation that I’m more flexible than my horoscope gives me credit for.

Dom asked me at one point last night what I thought he should be looking for in a woman. I didn’t have a good answer for him at the time, but in retrospect I should have fallen back on the stars:

“[Taurus’] lovable and trustworthy nature relaxes the usually serious Capricorn boy, and [she] really bring[s] out his sense of humor.”

For me, I’m tired of looking through all the compatibility charts, searching for maybes. Whatever this New Year brings, I hope it includes relationships of all kinds – relationships with deep, sustaining love and respect on both sides.

(And maybe a playful attitude towards sex - with the right partner, of course...)

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