Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Endures

We all want to find love, right?

That's probably not an accurate generalization, but I've only run across a few people in my lifetime who truly didn't want a significant other.  And more often than not, they did want the benefits of a relationship.  Just not all the work.

I remember meeting M.  Walk down to the pool, he turns around and bright blue eyes are all I see.  Closest thing to love at first sight I've ever experienced.  Fast forward ten years, and next week he is marrying someone else.  I haven't seen him since I was a heavy, 19 year old college student.  And whoever we were down there in Panama City, we aren't those kids anymore.

I don't remember meeting C.  And I kind of like that.  He did this easing thing.  This thing where he slipped into all our lives and kind of radically shook shit up.  He didn't shower much and in the whole time we were together he only shaved once.  And we did life together.  Plain and simple.  I loved who he was.  But ultimately, I guess, you have to do a lot more choosing than that.  And now he's married to someone who matches him much better than I ever did.  Who doesn't mind the beard as much either, I'd say.

There hasn't been a real boyfriend since then. 

I have tried to forget a lot.  But a few still linger in my mind.  Some more than others.

Mostly him.  Almost three years ago, with the sunglasses and the summer that changed it all.  He's getting married too, to someone very much unlike me.  And he mentioned, not long before he proposed, that he had asked her to change in so many ways, which would have been unfair to ask of me.  I do not know what this means, except she loved him enough to do so.

He's married too, now.  With a blended family and house on the north side and I ignore him when he calls me now because he equals so much chaos.  He thought I hung the moon, he said.  But he picked someone else, someone who required much less of him than I did; and at the same time, demanded so much more.

And he's not married.  But he should have married me, maybe.  He lumbered into my life when it was still just me, the way only gentle giants can.  Leaving evidence of himself that I can't ever seem to scrub away.  And I see him duck to leave, sometimes, and wait quietly, angrily because I know the shadow will darken the door again.

But I don't really meet new men.  Or for whatever reason, when I do, it doesn't work out. 

And so when my best got engaged over Christmas, her maid of honor and I spent the drive to the bridal shop talking about online dating.

Because I am a social worker and she is a teacher and we are closer to 30 than 20 and now our best friend is getting married.

And all we want are dates to the damn wedding. (Which we are overwhelmingly excited about. Seriously. It'll be the best day.)

Groupon was "selling" a subscription to an online dating site for $15.  Chump change.  Right? 

I had tried online dating once before, last year, and was so spooked in the first 24 hours I never did it again.  Tucked my tail and ran.  But I justified why this time would be different and how we would do this together, share our experiences, and maybe find dates to this wedding.

Unfortunately, when you're a single mom of a cute little toddler, you're never just looking for a date.

And as it turns out, no one is really ever looking for you.

It's been three weeks and three days and I just deactivated my account. 

I don't know what to tell you, really, other than the month of January has felt like voluntary torture. 

I suppose we all get to the point where we crave attention so badly, so deeply, we accept all forms.  Negative attention feeds the need, I suppose.  But I am not at that point.

I am not this desperate

For the record, I don't think dating online makes you desperate.  But if I were to respond to the attention I was getting, or internalizing all the rejection, it would be out of desperation. 

I gave it a fair shot, before you tell me "these things take time".  

I gave it a fair shot and met multiple guys (out of hundreds) I was matched with.  I was matched with half a dozen guys I know in real life as well, which was a true litmus test for how poorly this site had me figured out.  I talked to a dozen others who either were not interested, were older than my dad (or lying about their age), had just signed divorce papers, who took creepy, green selfies in the corners of their dark basements, or who ended up being so conservative or judgmental we couldn't carry a conversation.

Not to mention how often I was weeded out because I selected "curvy" as my body type, or because I indicated I have a child.  In 3 weeks I had 3,000 profile views. 

I've been thinking long and hard about what it means to have a connection and what it means to have chemistry.  About the most significant relationships in my life and how they came to be.  And I know this method has worked for so many. I don't knock it, not for others.

But what I know is: on paper, I look like a train wreck

But I also know my heart is tough and I am strong.  No one, however, will ever fully appreciate who I am, who we are, based on drop-down menu selections.

Last week I went to church for the first time in a while.  Chasing Judah around the vestibule, I ran into two men who work out at my gym.  We're not really friendly, but I see them everyday, and the flicker of recognition crossed their faces.  Our worlds had collided.  Who they thought I was and who I really am (a mommy) finally meshed, and I have no idea whether they were surprised, disappointed, or if their suspicions had been confirmed.  But when I saw them both again at the gym later that week, there was a quick little nod.  Acknowledging.

That is how it should happen.  Paths should cross.  


Right now, I'm trying to figure it out.  Bombarded is the way I feel and I'm trying to sift and sort and compartmentalize so I can just deal.  Because I'm not that desperate.  And I know it's truly a blessing to get to be a part of Judah's life.  He and I have a good thing going right now, something which even on the hardest of days makes a lot of sense.  And you don't mess with a good equation, unless whatever you add or subtract makes it better. 

I deactivated the account today, with four or five days left to the subscription.  The straw on the camels back was the firefighter who'd been texting me for a couple days who found out what kind of neighborhood I live in.  Who found out Judah's ethnicity.  And never texted back.

And it all very much feels artificial.  Forced.  Like a bad season of the Bachelor or like Queen Esther... like walking into a party and knowing you're not the prettiest in the room.  And knowing that one fact, will keep you from being seen.

But the artificial spotlights what's real.

And it's the real stuff that endures.

Which has made me take a couple of second glances.  To return and reexamine for signs of surviving life.

Because he keeps coming back, after all these years, in a different way than the big guy.  He keeps coming back in the way you build a brick wall.  Building layers, and time is mortar.  Time is height.  And he is not like the others and he did not sweep me off my feet.  We argue and he complains and we do this little dance... while the pieces fall together.  And I check myself, my stubbornness, and learn to give a little.  Who knows.

love endures all things.