I’m sitting in the kitchen watching the sun gently fade into night. Otis is asleep in the bedroom. I go into the bedroom with my heart singing a love song. Otis is lying in bed on his tummy with his face buried under a pile of blankets but he’s awake. He turns his face towards me and and says, “How many times do I have to say it? Knock before you come in!”
“You’re sleeping in my bed! This is my bedroom, asshole! Why must I knock?” A rush of bright red anger shoots up from my belly heading straight for my head. I grab hold of the red as it wiggles in me. I feel my body shaking and I cough as I willfully push against the anger.
“Okay, okay, oooookay…” I leave the bedroom, close the door, stand outside and wait until the red gradually turns to pink. Then I compose myself and knock. I push open the door and enter.
Otis has turned over and is lying on his back. With his eyes still shut he says, “Don’t knock so loud. It’s like you’re breaking the door!”
The pink I worked so hard to obtain instantly turns bright red again, “What the fuck! You shit face, idiot man!” I slam the door behind me and stand for awhile, again waiting for the red to subside. When I feel whole again, I knock softly and enter.
I feel proud of how well I’ve taken control of my body. Otis’s eyes are open this time and he shoots me a harsh glance, “Wait until I say okay before you come in. That’s the whole point of knocking before you enter! Where have you been your whole life?”
“Fuck you!” I slam the door and storm out of the bedroom.
I’m in the kitchen, hopelessly split in confusion, sadness and pain when Otis walks in. He is yawning and big globs of yellow goo are stuck in the corner of his eyes. He smells salty. “Sorry. I’m such a jerk when I’m waking up. Thank you for knocking.” At that moment, a shaft of light from the setting sun hits him and he seems to be glowing. I’m stunned by the sight of the golden rays shooting out from behind Otis. I lick my lips, aware that my brain is filtering out the fucks and shits in order to find other words. It’s difficult. My face twitches while my brain hurts but I manage to crack a demure smile.
That night, we go to see a movie. We decide to walk home. We walk for miles and have the most romantic time holding hands, talking and laughing. We make frequent stops to share goodies and as we no longer drink wine, we have fruit juices instead. We walk all night and around day break we catch sight of the cutest little French bakery. We go inside and they have just started baking – the smell is heavenly. I want to buy one pastry but Otis eggs me on, “Go ahead and buy all you want!” I end up with six cute pastries and I eat them all up while we walk the last leg home. I gaze into his eyes and fall madly in love with my man.
At that moment, to me, Los Angeles comes alive as the romantic city of angels.
Otis suggests we try Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg. We get a book and learn the process. Rosenberg has helped all sorts of tense negotiations between gangs and warring nations. As my willingness to learn opens, knowledge floods in.
Valentine’s Day nears and I think it would be great for me and Otis to talk about love in a live Funkmeyer event!
Sophia, the voice in my head and spirit guide, loves it. “What a fabulous idea!” Otis also thinks it’s a good idea and agrees. Otis and I are actually working together! This sends shivers up and down my chakra system!
In this great triumphant mood, I write a book to celebrate. I have had three long-term relationships in 40 years. In the beginning, it’s always so sweet until the honeymoon ends and years of endless battles ensue. I’m determined to give Otis big love, not small love. I dedicate the book to my lover man and call it “The Little Book of Love.”
In good time, I’ve secured a venue and we agree to break the show into two halves. During the first half, Otis will give a scholarly presentation on what lovers have expected from each other in old societal paradigms and how lovers can behave in New Reality. The old is based on separation, secrecy, fear-based monogamy and conditional love, whereas New Reality is about integration, honesty, openness and unconditional love.
For the second half of the show, I will read passages from my Little Book of Love such as: “Small love is like honey; sweet and sticky. Big Love is like water; a necessity for life.” Then I will bat my eyes at him and kiss him on the cheeks. I have a young lover half my age who is in love with me! He will be the most desirable man and I will be the luckiest lady. All set…
I get up bright and early on Valentine’s Day. Needless to say, Otis will not be awake until show time. I arrive at the venue, hang up a huge Funkmeyer banner and decorate it with a thousand pink hearts. While I prepare, I notice myself getting grumpy. “I wish Otis was here doing this with me…” I focus my attention on sprinkling glitter hearts on the floor but the hearts seem to be saying, “What a stupid love sick old fool you are, falling for a lazy young man!”
One hour before the show – no Otis. Half an hour before the show – no Otis. Then ten minutes before the show starts, Otis arrives. He doesn’t see all the decorations I’ve made but instead pulls me aside and excitedly tells me that he has some new ideas for his part of the show.
I growl, “You can’t change the show minutes before it goes on!” But it’s too late to discuss, the show is starting and I am fuming. Undaunted, Otis opens the show with, “Welcome to the Funkmeyer Valentine’s Day Show.” The audience claps. So far, so good. Otis throws me a curveball by saying, “Jenny and I have been practicing a technique called Non-Violent Communication. I want to give a demonstration showing you how to communicate using it.”
I’m sitting there blinking, “What?!” With a strained voice, I squeak, “I thought you were going to give a lecture comparing love in the old paradigm and New Reality?”
Otis says, “No, I changed my mind! What good is teaching theory when we can actually show something!”
I’m beginning to feel downright violent. “You can’t fucking change your mind in the middle of a show!”
Otis turns to the audience, “Here is the first step of NVC: calmly explain what the other person has done and how that has caused you to feel. Jenny, if we were to communicate in a non-violent fashion, what would you have said?”
Oh, I’m feeling mighty violent now. I can feel Sophia shaking her head behind my shoulder, asking me to keep calm, “Just do as he asks during the show. Get mad later.” I try my best to keep my now very phony smile on and say, “You changed your f-ing mind and my need to do a show as planned is ruined!”
Otis says, “Good, Jenny!”
I say between clenched teeth, “Yeah, indeed, but what good is it if you don’t practice the technique yourself. It would’ve been good for you to repeat after me!”
“Ah, Jenny is right. The next step is for me to repeat this to Jenny: ‘When I change the program, your need to do the show as planned is messed up.’ Now that we are on the same page, Jenny, why don’t you show us the next step. How do my actions make you feel?”
I’m in tears, “I feel really sad inside.”
“Okay, you feel sad. It’s important to follow the steps of the technique exactly. You’re supposed to put your feelings in actionable form. For example: ‘In order for me not to feel sad, I’d appreciate if we do the show as planned.’ Go ahead, Jenny, say it.”
I burst into tears and Otis continues. “What?! I now understand you feel that I ruined the planned show and that you feel sad, so why don’t you do your part of the show as planned?”
I run off stage.
Otis tells the audience, “Non-Violent Communication in a nutshell! Happy Valentine’s Day from the Funkmeyers!”
After the show Otis says, “People were laughing and clapping! They loved the show. It’s authentic! It’s alive!”
I say, “The audience had a good time but I hated it.”
“Why can’t you just go along with me?”
“If you love me you would’ve given me a chance to shine instead of demand me to do what I can’t.”
Otis says, “I thought it was a chance to let you shine. A much better lead-in for your love poems.”
“It’s unprofessional to change the whole show at the last minute without preparing your partner.”
Otis, “I didn’t know. Can’t you just forgive me?”
He didn’t know, he doesn’t know a lot of things. “I’ve got to go to a party with friends, wanna go?” He’s always got a party to go to. That’s all that is on his mind.
“I’m exhausted and in no mood for another party.” I watch him walk away wishing he’d stayed. After he is gone, I take down all of the hearts from the banner and throw them in the trash.