Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Settled at Solo

Sometimes I wonder.  I wonder if my year of essential singledom has changed me without my fully realizing it.  I wonder if I have become so settled in being solo that I am subconsciously making little efforts to sabotage any potential relationship that comes my way.

I fought singlehood so hard for so long.  I didn't go on a date with anyone until my freshman year of college, and my first real relationship wasn't until the summer following the close of that freshman year.  I stayed in that relationship for 10+ years.  Then I split from my husband and within a very short period of flailing I settled into a new one.  Suddenly, another year passed.  That relationship ended, and within 2 months I was in another one.  Bam, almost 2 more years involved with someone, this time living together for 16 of those months. 

When that relationship ended last spring, I started to flail a little bit again.  I was an expert at it.  I knew the choreography by heart, but that time I was aware of it.  I watched myself, as if from the outside, and saw where it would lead.  I saw the failure that would come from not taking the proper time to heal.  I saw the aftermath of such a mistake...I would get stuck again.  I vowed to do things differently.  I wouldn't date anyone right away.  I wouldn't reach out to all the easy marks of my past for attention and flattery in my time of weakness.  I wouldn't operate out of loneliness and need.

I've screwed up a lot this last year.  A lot.  I've made countless questionable decisions.  I've behaved out of character many times.  I've felt exhilaration from these choices, and I've felt laden with guilt from them, too.  I've questioned who I really am.  What I really stand for.  What my values are.  Where my lines are drawn.  I've surprised myself with some of the lines I've crossed, and I've learned that I am a hell of a lot more complex, intricate and strong person than I ever realized.

Sometimes I am very, very weak.  I behave in ways that embarrass me later.  I've learned the magnetic pull of acting on impulses that I know will hurt me later, or drag me backward.  Sometimes I still act on them, all that knowledge not withstanding.  I've seen myself rationalize lousy or simply inadequate behavior on the part of others to ignore the sharp truth of the matter.  To explain why I was doing what  I was doing with the people I was doing it with.  I've lied to myself.  I've omitted truths when speaking with others.  I've spilled my secrets to certain people and felt great waves of relief.  I've also received impenetrable walls of judgment.  I could understand both.

Sometimes I am very, very strong.  I stand up for myself more than I used to.  I draw lines when before I just shrugged and let someone else decide.  I've worked hard to not punish myself for making reckless choices sometimes, to not let my self-worth be determined by individual acts or words or choices.  I've learned to function solely on my own.  To take care of myself when I'm sick.  To go through indescribably hard life transitions with no one to support me in the most acute moments of sadness or difficulty.  I've learned that sometimes people are unreliable and selfish and hurtful--me included. 

I've soldiered through intense periods of anger.  Consuming lethargy and sadness.  Nerve wracking anxiety.  Loneliness like the heaviest blanket in the world.  I've come out on the other side of all of them.  I harbor fewer delusions about the nature of the people around me.  I see their faults and weaknesses as clearly as I see my own, and I've tried to learn to treat them the same way....awareness, acknowledgement, and room for acceptance and forgiveness.  It requires entirely too much energy to constantly carry around the hurt someone has issued to me.  I want to lighten the load of my emotional baggage.

Through all of this evolution over the course of the last year, I've grown.  I feel more in touch with the world around me, and I feel emotionally stronger and more self-aware.  I did this primarily on my own.  I forged this bond with all of these tiny little voices and feelings inside of me.  We battled, we negotiated, we made some kind of peace.  All right inside of me.

So now I come through the other end of the tunnel, or at least partway through this maze.  I am in a new place and I finally begin to wonder if the time is right to open my heart again to the possibility of a real relationship.  I let myself get excited.  Hopeful.  I feel anticipation and butterflies and happiness.  I smile like an idiot, spend too much time figuring out what to wear for dates, I ponder words that have been said, glances that have been shared, kisses that have passed.  I feel like I really am moving forward.

But then there is a bump in the road.  A tiny pebble even, and it stops me still.  The butterflies freeze in place, then droop away off to the side listlessly.  Joy deflates a little bit.  Skepticism creeps in.  Doubt.  Insecurity.

I consider my bed, how comfortable I've gotten sleeping in it alone.  How I can lay wherever I want across its expanse, turn the thermostat to the temperature I want, clean when I want to clean.  I buy groceries for me and I don't have to worry about anyone else telling me they like a different shape of pasta, or a spicier sauce.  I never have to compromise in my personal space.

This is when I worry that I've become too settled in solo.  Something clicks inside of me and things shift.  I feel distant from the magic of the butterflies.  I forget so quickly.  I think dispassionately that yeah, it's nice to have physical proximity to someone, but that proximity is heavy with expectation.  I begin to think of someone else having a right to my time.  Being close enough to make me feel guilty or bad or less than for an impulsive/selfish/unexpected/out of character decision. 

I think that kissing is nice, and sleeping next to someone is lovely.  But then I think about how awful it is to sleep next to someone who you are not sleep compatible with.  Someone who wants it cold in the room when you like it warmer. Someone who needs a certain kind of pillow and is a pain if they don't have it.  Someone who likes to sleep as if they are alone even when someone else is in the bed with them.  When I have someone in my bed I like knowing that I can curl up against them. 

I think that it would be awesome to have someone to take my the second in a pair of concert tickets.  To go see movies with.  To have my automatic plus 1.  But then I think of how sometimes I just really like having no accountability to anyone.  That I like flirting at happy hours or parties or whatever else. 

If I think too hard about any of this, the idea of a relationship begins to seem claustrophobic.  I can feel my world shrinking, and it makes me balk.  I've worked so hard to make my world bigger.  To get out of my own tiny bubble that I always fall into in relationships.  I don't want to be stuck in there again. 

I don't know if I know how to do the in between.  I want someone to kiss.  To be happy to see me.  To miss me when I'm gone.  To make me feel better when I'm sick.  To be my partner in things both boring and fun, happy and sad.  But.  I just don't know if I know how to do it anymore.  I feel so intensely out of practice, and I feel like something has broken or splintered inside of me.  I wonder if I somehow threw my relationship joint out of whack.  Something is off.

I keep hoping that when the right situation comes along things will click back into place.  And yet I wonder.  I do.

I'm not writing anything off.  I'm not even putting the kiss of death on the particular situation that sparked this.  I have no idea what will happen with that or with anything.  I am tired of over thinking, and I can think of no better way to take a break from myself than my impending vacation.  I need time to clear my head, to have fun and laugh and get out of DC.  Perhaps some of the fog will lift and I'll see things more clearly.

No matter what happens I know I am okay.  I know that even if something is broken right now, it can be fixed.  I am constantly changing, and that means that even in the most uncertain of moments, I know things can get better.  I can get better, smarter, braver, anything.

Hear me roar...even if the sound sometimes is underwhelming, never underestimate the fight that still lurks inside.  :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


The excitement has been tempered.  I'm not sure what shifted, but for one, I think I overextended myself.  I realized that I was initiating contact more often, and I stupidly, stupidly blurted out a question about what he was doing Tuesday (the day I get back).  Sigh. 

Beyond that, I laughed a lot.  I did have a good time.  But I think it's a mix of feeling like I overplayed my hand as well as *maybe* my tendency to start overanalyzing and looking for flaws.  I really don't know.

Tomorrow will likely offer a little bit clearer perspective, but capturing for historical purposes my immediate thoughts tonight.

Life is good :-)

I am seriously restless today! I am just so excited for my vacation later this week that it is near impossible to focus on anything else.  I just have to get through today and tomorrow of work before I get to spend Thursday traveling to San Diego.  Oh, and I guess there is that minor note of my date tonight, too.  ;-)  I am just not used to having this many good things to look forward to all at once.  It is quite lovely to feel for a change.

When I got my new job, I was so excited.  However, it felt like as soon as that puzzle piece snapped into place, it was the only good thing I had going.  I was stressed and upset in so many other facets of my life, and my dog was sick, and I was just emotionally spent. 

For the first time in a long time, it really feels like more of the puzzle pieces are fitting than are not.  I am pretty damn happy.  I know that nothing is guaranteed, especially in terms of this dating business.  But I'm having fun.  I'm getting good butterflies.  Nervous anticipation.  Flat out excitement. 

And I seized the moment and booked this San Diego trip instead of overanalyzing, overthinking, overplanning.  I just made the plans and now it is almost here, and I am overwhelmed with anticipation about that, too.  I love making mental lists of what clothes to bring, which shoes I will want, wondering what I will see and do, and knowing I am going to have an awesome time.

Today I have bright, luminous blue nails.  My hair is smooth(ish) (thanks, humidity) and wavy, my outfit is cute, my white mocha is cold and sweet, and my week is full of things to look forward to.  Life is good. :-)

I wear my heart upon my sleeve like a big deal

He called me tonight just to say hi.  We talked for about 15 minutes, including discussing ideas for our date tomorrow.  It was unexpected and totally made my night.  :-)

I am all aflutter with anticipation about seeing him again.  I'm trying to think about what to wear, hoping we'll go wherever we go in one car so he can hold my hand while one of us is driving again.  I am ridiculous.  :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

little things, big feeling

I don't know where this is going.  I expect to have a third date, but I've learned not to assume anything, no matter what I think I feel, or how well I think things are going.  But here in this in between place, where I vacillate between happy anticipation and the insecurities and nerves of a teenaged girl, I want to be sure to capture the little pleasures.  Too often (and even today, and probably tomorrow) I dwell on what could go wrong.  How I may get disappointed.  How we might not be ultimately on the same page, or the right match, or that I could be made a fool of.  These are all risks.  I cannot say for sure that any of them will not happen.  But...

* I got picked up for my date friday night, and I felt fluttery nerves as I walked to the car, the sidewalk feeling like a long, weird runway wherein he could see me coming, and I could just see the vague shape of him in his car. [ETA: I told him before he arrived to just let me know when he was there and I would come out.  He would have come to my apartment, but I didn't even tell him which number I was in, LOL].

** He looked adorable.  All of my worries that I wouldn't be as attracted to him this time were quickly assuaged.

*** Dinner was full of flirtation and smiling like an idiot (the latter on my part).  He waited for me to take a bite before he ate.  I asked him why he wasn't eating, he said he was waiting for me.  I asked why, puzzled.  He told me he'd been taught by his father to always let the lady start first.  He teased me about how he was just trying to be polite and I was giving him grief for it.  I had to explain to him that not only had no one ever done that with me before, I'd never even heard of it.  Who knew?

**** We were walking back through Old Town (he drove, so in that case I love Old Town!) and he grabbed my hand.  We were walking along this brick street, past these lovely old homes with bricked in courtyards, it was dark and mostly warm and lovely, and it was intensely sweet.

***** He opened my door for me when we reached the car.  He came around, got in, leaned over and kissed me.  It was so unexpected, but very nice.  Just an innocent kiss, and then he kissed me on the forehead.  He held my hand while he drove.  :-)

****** We came back to my apartment after to hang out for a bit longer.  I put my ipod on the dock for music, and defaulted to Mumford & Sons because it was a safe playlist.  I didn't want to explain any embarrassing music just yet.  ;-) As I turned away from setting the music up, he pulled me to him and we actually danced in my living room.  I am not kidding you.  It was like something out of a book or a movie...something people never actually do, right?  But apparently they do.  Apparently I did.

Don't get me wrong.  He is not all hearts and flowers and swoon and sincerity.  He is hilarious.  He is intensely smart, well spoken and clever.  He is a big flirt.  His sense of humor is over the top at moments.  I definitely sense a mischievous nature, no doubt at all.  But in the in between moments, he is the man who is holding my hand.  Opening my door.  Looking into my eyes.  Complimenting my beauty.  Kissing my forehead.  Holding me close.

Little things.  Big feeling.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I am such a blog tease.  :-)

Mostly, I don't want to jinx myself.  I've done this before, where I have a good first date and get all excited and hopeful.  Then it either fizzles out before the second date, or the second date is the kiss of death.  Therefore, I am cautious in my optimism.  I will say that I do have a second date scheduled for Friday night.  This makes me pretty happy!

I will likely talk about this further if Friday goes well.  In the meantime, I will leave you with these tiny pieces from things so far:

Old Town, with a milkshake and an iced coffee, on a gorgeous spring night, is lovely.  Old Town, with a milkshake and an iced coffee, on a gorgeous spring night, walking by the waterfront and spending two hours on a bench with a cute, funny, kind guy, looking at the Potomac and talking?  Even better.

5'10"  - Thusly, meeting my preferred minimum height requirement.  ;-)

Apparent mutual physical attraction...finally! 

I keep writing more, but then erasing feels like I'm overstepping at this point, so I'm taking a step back. 

I have a second date with the coffee date guy from Saturday tonight.  I agreed to it earlier in the week because he was such a nice guy.  Smart, well spoken, we had some common interests.  Attraction?  Not for me really.  But I already agreed, so I feel like I have to go.

Beyond that, I'm tired of putting all my eggs in one boy basket only to have it backfire.  I figured this was not a bad move, just in case.  You never know (unless you secretly know, like I kind of maybe do).  I feel a little bad because my mind is on tomorrow night, and tonight is just something to get through. 

Also?  I'm insanely tired.  I've been going nonstop this week, and it's exhausting in itself.  Then last night I went and stayed up until nearly 4 am for no good reason.  Talk about tired!  In my dream world I get to go home tonight and lay on my couch catching up on my overloaded DVR before crashing early.  In reality, dinner with nice boy, then home.  I should go to the gym, but I am thinking that perhaps getting some quality sleep is worth the sacrifice.  I don't want to go out tomorrow looking tired!

No, no...tomorrow I want to look sparkly and awesome.  First date I made some measure of effort, maybe a 6 on the scale of things.  Tomorrow I would like to aim for an 8.5 or 9, LOL. 

Regardless, I should have further details and updates later this weekend.  I will either be back to give you happy, giddy details of the dates, or a story about how the first date was awesome, and the second date was meh/okay/horrifying.  ;-)

Cross your fingers for something on the happier side for me!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eating my words

So the unoriginal date guy?  The one I mocked about being pretentious for wanting to go to "hole in the wall" places?  The one I wanted to cancel on, to skip, to bail?

So grateful I didn't.  ;-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Originality...clearly not the name of the game.

Dating is still stupid, but I'm trying it out again on occasion.  It's something to do. 

Lately, it's something to do that kind of makes me roll my eyes. 

I had a coffee date on Saturday.  The guy suggested a coffee shop in Old Town.  Fine.  I love Old Town, but parking is a huge pain.  The place he suggested was so crowded you could barely fit in the door to order.  Not impressed.  I scored a parking spot *right* in front, but only because it was pay parking. I didn't care, it was worth it for the ease.

I have plans to **"get a drink" with another guy this evening.  Guess where he wants to go?  OLD TOWN.  He suggested this bar I've never heard of, or  another bar I've never heard of as the second option.  Sigh.  I kid you not, I'm tempted to cancel just because I'm annoyed about the locations and how much work this feels like.

Plans for a second get together with Old Town coffee guy Thursday night.  The dinner spot he suggested?  OLD TOWN.  WTF, guys? 

Look, I know Old Town is cute, and quaint, and full of lovely restaurants. But it is feeling really overdone right now.  Like a lot. 

In other news, my week is entirely overbooked because I'm an idiot.  Last night was acupuncture, which I showed up to with a migraine, and left with a migraine, though it was less bad.  That burned my plans to hit the gym, so I instead laid on the couch and wished my damn oven were working so I could have something other than pasta to eat. 

Tonight is the annoying Old Town "drink", then gym.
Wednesday is meeting up with a girlfriend, then gym.
Thursday is dinner in Old Town with the other guy, then gym.

Friday, I will rest.  Rest, damn it.  Saturday is a movie with a friend.  Saturday night, no plans thusfar.  Sunday, I'm hoping to swing a brunch with someone. 

Seriously, I love being social, but doing it at the same time as trying to get into a gym routine is a stupid idea on my part.  I so do NOT want to keep going out and then having to go home, change and go back out at 10pm to go to the gym.  I am still recovering from DST screwing up my internal clock and I am just tired!

I need a nap.  And really what I'd like to do is just go to the gym after work and then call it a night.  I am weird because all of these dumb Old Town dates make me not want to go at all.  The guy tonight was like "I'm okay if you have another hole in the wall spot you'd like to go to."  Um, okay.  Why does it have to be a hole in the wall?  You don't feel cool or special if you go to more well known spots in town?  You need something secret and obscure to up your trendy factor?

:-/  Oh dear.  I am on a roll, LOL.  The pretense just annoys me, I'll admit it.  Give me a good bar and grill and I'm happy.  I do not need to go drink overpriced drinks from some stuffy little spot because you read a review about how awesome it was.  It does not impress me that you suggested this, sir.  It makes me roll my eyes.  ;-)

Did I mention before how stupid dating is?  It is.  Really, it is.  In this moment, I'd rather go to the gym.  Experience the warm embrace of an elliptical machine. Ha!

**Pet Peeve:  Going out for a drink.  Did that last week with another gentleman, we had plans to meet at 8.  I can't wait until 8 to eat dinner, so I ate at home.  (I get home about six).  Plus, we had plans for a DRINK, not dinner.  Well, at the pub he eats dinner, I get a drink, the balance is all thrown off.  Sigh.

Tonight:  Drink plans.  Am I not eating again?  I'm hungry at 7pm, but this pretentious little spot doesn't have any food I really want. 

I am probably being really, really unreasonable.  Probably.  :-)

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Un-Anniversary

Ten years ago today I got married in a little church in the Midwest.  The days leading up to the wedding were gorgeous, sunny and unseasonably warm.  On the Friday before the wedding, it turned cold and snow fell overnight.  On my wedding day I stood outside of the church shivering and cold for pictures.  The landscape matched my white dress, which in retrospect wasn't anywhere near my dream wedding dress. 

March 2, 2002 Wedding
November 2008 Separation
December 2009 Divorce

March 2, 2012 It would have been my ten year wedding anniversary.  Weird.

I'm not really sad, as that marriage was not what it should have been.  I am sad that it ended in the general sense, though.  I never thought I would be a divorced person, but I am.  Guess what?  It's not the end of the world.  I'm still here. 

Life truly does go on.  You pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward again.  If you're me (or most people), you fall down about a million more times, but you keep going.  Sometimes you cry about it, sometimes you laugh about it, sometimes you just feel really grateful to have the chance to keep screwing up.  Sometimes the screwing up makes you feel really alive and present and it always, always teaches you something...even if you have to make the same mistake a dozen times before it starts to sink in.

Ten years ago today I made a choice.  I took vows, and I kept them.  Things didn't work out exactly like we'd planned, but I kept my promises and I have no regrets. 

Happy independence anniversary to me.  I'm doing just fine on my own.  :-)