She squirmed her way across the carpet, climbed up into my lap, and then turned to face the television in front of us, quietly watching animal friends dance and sing about emotions and colors and shapes until mom and dad put on Daft Punk; then, she started bopping her head and tapping her foot. Wow, I thought to myself. One-year-old and the kid already has kickass taste in music. I’m not surprised.
Mom and dad are old friends of mine — I played music with the dude back when Chris and I were together but knew the girl first. She and I baked something together at her place once, the first time we met — I remember being so nervous around her back then (because she was so cool and I was so clueless), but over the past eight years, we’ve become really good friends. She’s the girl who introduced me to liqueurs, shared music I’d never heard of before, and talked to me about all kinds of girl stuff. We were born on the same day a few years apart from each other: both Virgos. She’s confident, ambitious, quiet, remarkably intelligent, and – again – impossibly cool… I’ve always admired her.
Still sitting on my lap, my friends’ kid would turn her head to look at me every now and then — twinkling eyes, brown hair — and I felt so special that she liked me enough to hang out with me. Mom and dad mentioned, in-between laughing at the scene of us, that she wasn’t usually this outgoing with strangers.
“I think she knows that I’ve been really excited to meet her,” I said, smiling down at the girl.
While her parents prepared dinner, kiddo and I took turns following each other around the house; we moved magnetic alphabet letters around on the fridge, played with a shape puzzle of sorts on the living room carpet (I pretended to find it difficult), and snacked on garbanzo beans on the kitchen floor. I’d never passed so much time with a baby before — and I was actually having fun! “She’s like a puppy!” I told the parents, ecstatic over my new friend. The dad said that if I ended up following them out to Colorado (which is my 2-5 year plan), I could babysit her anytime.
“I’d love that,” I said. “I believe we’re going to be best friends,” I told the kid (and while she probably couldn’t understand my words, I think she felt the message). I imagined watching her grow up, wondering if she’ll like to ice skate or play softball or draw pictures or something. Unlike me, she’ll be able to do whatever she wants, growing up: wear pants or skirts; draw make-up on her face or write song lyrics on her arms; listen to classical music or metal; date boys or girls. Or all of these things.
She’ll be able to express herself freely with parents who accept her unconditionally. “She kinda makes me want one of my own someday,” I admitted to my friends. I wanted to give someone the same kind of unconditional love and support I knew they’d be giving her; it’s a beautiful thing. Or I can just hang out with their kid sometimes and continue keeping German Shepherds at home, I thought to myself. TBD.
We all sprawled out in the living room together, eating matching bowls of kale-sweet-potato-cranberry-and-garbanzo-bean salads and talking about work and Colorado and Mac Miller and The Office and things. I asked if either of them had heard from Chris recently; no.
“It scares me that I still miss him so much,” I admitted. I’m not embarrassed to admit these things; it is what it is.
“How long were you together again?” my girlfriend asked.
“Then don’t be surprised. You fell in love with him for 5 years, and it’ll probably take twice as long for you to feel differently about him.” That was really reassuring. I’d never thought of it like that before. And honestly, three years out of the relationship, it already has gotten easier… I don’t think about him every day anymore, and even on days when I do, I don’t feel totally heartbroken without him. It’s changing as I continue to change.
I shared my most recent dating experiences and prospects with these friends, confessing that I was exhausted from such a quick succession of hopeful encounters. Because every time you talk to somebody, every time you guys meet up, you can’t help but wonder: Is this the one? FINALLY? Should I memorize every sensory detail of this monumental meeting for the benefit our possible, future children? Am I actually about to be done with this weird-relationship-interview-bullshit?
When it was time to leave, I hugged everyone goodbye, feeling exceptionally warm as I stepped back out into the cold; spending time with old friends who really know me (and an already cool, beautiful, and smart-as-heck baby) had been very soul-nourishing.
And because this girlfriend had encouraged me to not wait on guys to pursue me (and to, instead, BE the pursuer), I reached out to Levi again – that farmer-forester dude – to see if he’d like to get dinner this week. He said yes! Woohoooooooo!
We planned on meeting each other (for the first time EVER) on Wednesday night. I told him I was available from 6-8 (I had an open mic gig scheduled right after 8) and asked him to just name the place and I’d be there.
He waited until 7:45 to cancel. Uh, RUDE! SUPER rude. What the heck?
Then he texted me again the next day: I’m feeling so much better today; so sorry about last night; I’m free tomorrow night and would LOVE to get dinner with you.
I sat on the text for a while but ended up deciding to give him another chance. He was, after all, the guy sending pictures and videos of rivers, cows, and sunrises to me… very worth seeing. Very worth a second chance.
So we were going to meet last night – Friday night – at 6. He was simply to choose the place.
Well the idiot texted me at 3 in the afternoon and said he’d forgotten about some Christmas thing with his friends; dang.
Dang indeed, I thought to myself.
And here, I paused, remembering something my best friend Charlie had told me once: You treat people how to treat you.
If meeting me is so bleh that you’re going to cancel our SECOND attempt at a first date, then fuck it, I decided, and I felt good about this “fuck it” sentiment, because a few months ago, my senses of self-worth and esteem were both allllllllll the way down here, where I would have been all mousy and cool, sure, whatever! about it; now, they’re a lot healthier, so I know when I’m being treated like chopped liver and I also know I don’t have to settle for that shit.
“No worries,” I texted back. “Every time we cancel, it bums me out, so I’m going to go ahead and pass on your next invite… but it’s been great getting to know you, and I hope you enjoy your evening, Levi. Take care.”
And then he sent me a whole bunch of paragraphs about how interesting I was and how he hopes I’ll reconsider accepting his next invite once he gets his bearings in order, blah blah blah… and I was faced with another hard decision: respond affirmatively to this soft, indefinite, future invite or just let it go?
I let it go, backing out of the thread without any kind of reply. Because I’m sick of feeling unimportant — like something you shelf and unshelf, notice and ignore, love passionately and then don’t love at all. I’m better than that. Everyone is. Just takes a while to realize it sometimes.
Levi isn’t the first dating app guy I ended up NOT meeting.
There was this random one who messaged me and asked me to write a poem about how I imagined our first date going (we hadn’t scheduled one yet — we hadn’t yet spoken at ALL, in fact). I found this “pick up line request” (is that what it was?) intriguing and figured he was expecting something sexy, so I delivered this instead (and asked him to please rap it out loud as he read it):
DrivingInterstateSay IMight be lateSay heOn his waySay heSave a placeTableThere’s no waitRittoRoll it straightNo phoneFace to faceLet’s walkOut this placeMoon shiningTell me somethingChildhoodWhere you grew up andMoon shiningTell me somethingYour dreamsAre they comingTRUE*mic drop***confetti**Woohooooooooo
He was, I believe, so intimidated by this well-written rap I’d composed in less than three minutes that he couldn’t bring himself to respond. Oh well. I think I may actually start rapping for real-real (not for play-play) as this all-original rap poem caught me off guard with how cool it ended up being. Think I’m accidentally catching onto something here.
Anyways, there was this other guy, a chef, who’d seemed quirky and fun. But his opening message to me was complete and utter bullshit:
I will not EVEN reinvent the wheel here, but if you want to know my very strong feelings on body hair and how girls + women should NEVER feel pressured to “fix” what is NOT actually wrong with them, be my guest.
And then there was a creeper who wouldn’t quit stacking messages throughout the day; he’d made me uncomfortable with his insistency, so I’d quietly unmatched us — the next day, he’d found me on Facebook and sent a rant via private message: “Not going to ghost me, huh? What is this — some weird FEMINIST thing? I think…”
Fuckin hell, I breathed, blocking the weirdo immediately. I wasn’t trying to ghost him, but the dude had freaked me out. Clingy, right out the gate. When I told my friend that his clinginess had scared me off, she laughed hysterically. Oh hush, I’d said, getting the message — ha ha ha.
So those are the most remarkable dates that didn’t happen; most conversations just taper off naturally without either of us ever planning to meet up at all.
After getting back on Bumble Fri (yesterday), I have four dates lined up for this weekend. I went on one of them this morning (a too-handsome welder-writer dude named Erick; friend vibes only bc he’s a little too macho and emotionally slash sensually intense for me) and have three others scheduled: Adam, the spiritual-guitarist-data-entry-dude; Sam, the sweet-drummer-dude; and Zee, the fun-cute-and-quirky-physician dude. I’m getting drinks with Zee tonight: “Zee, you’re the next contestant on this weird fucking dating show… wooooooooo!”
I’ve grown less excited when Bumble says “BOOM! It’s a match” and less woohoo-like when the guy asks me out for dinner or drinks and way less merry when he casually mentions “so glad I can get off of Bumble (implied: now that I’ve met you)” because I’ve learned how untrustworthy people are. I’ve got my guard up now. Didn’t used to be this way, and I wouldn’t say I’m jaded, exactly; just a lot more cautious and realistic than before. Less naive and less likely to be used by some stupid donkey man (aka jackass).
I’m reading a few new books now and one of them is Dune (an old SciFi wonder). A character said something last night that I emailed to myself, because I didn’t want to forget it: “Hope clouds observation.” Hm.
When you observe, objectively, how someone looks at you (or doesn’t), talks to you (or doesn’t), spends time with you (or doesn’t), it’s pretty clear to see how they really feel about you. Generally-speaking, anyways — assuming the person is acting naturally and not trying to muster or hide their true feelings.
And I’m sure you’ve heard it before: “Don’t make someone else a priority when you’re just an option.” It sounds shitty, but it’s true! I’ve transparently offered my heart to so many people who didn’t want it at all, and while these rejections have – naturally – made me feel bad about myself, they shouldn’t have. Why?
I’ve gone on THIRTEEN DATES since getting on these apps, you guys (soon to be sixteen). There was chemistry with a few of the guys, yeah, but not all of them — certainly not the majority of them. However, every single guy was honestly mostly great. Each of them had an interesting mind, background, perspective… unique interests and talents and quirks… the only thing was that I just didn’t click with them and they just didn’t click with me. And that’s okay! None of us are terrible, boring, unlikable people — we’re just not the best fit for one another. Chemistry is real; it’s there or it isn’t.
So when it doesn’t work out again and again and again, don’t feel bad, like it’s you (you stink, you’re lame, you’re not fun at all — no, it’s not that). Just keep being yourself, you hairy-legged, rapper gal. Be your weirdo self, and someone will eventually recognize the precise weirdness they’ve been looking for in you. Isn’t that exciting?! Stick around for it. And burritos. And Indian food. For food, in general, as well as lattes and shepherds and concerts and rivers…
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT UPDATE BEFORE SIGNING OFF: I drafted this post around 2. After that, I randomly started chatting with this guy on Bumble; he lives in Chattanooga but was passing through to visit fam out in Mississippi. Basically, the chances of us “meeting” were SUPER slim (proximity-wise, both of us happened to be in the right place at the right time when we checked the app).
Anyways, he was wearing a duck costume in his profile picture (“chicken,” he corrected me later) and this. guy. is. quirky. and. cute. as. HECK. He kept making me laugh, via text, as I ate Indian food at a table outside, and when I offered for him to call me while I went walking downtown, guess what? He DID. He’s the first dating app guy to take me up on the offer to call… and you know what else? The second I heard his voice, I felt nauseous. In a great kind of way. Do you understand what I’m saying? Probably not; re-reading that, it sounds really weird…
Basically, I notice two things about a person before anything else: Their voice, and their hands. I haven’t seen his hands yet, but his voice — I knew right when I heard it that I could listen to that voice forever. And that’s terrifying. Because it’s scary to want something to work out when you’ve no idea whether or not it will (and when you scarcely know what “it” is!).
Well anyways, we talked for 45 minutes and they felt like 5. He’s also passing through Birmingham to visit me on Christmas day. Holy cow. I love cows. (And ducks and chickens and rabbits and shepherds…)
His name is James, by the way.