Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Too Old for That?

We get older and we mark out lines that are no longer to be crossed. We won't get drunk like we used to in college. We won't go out if what we really want to do is sit on our couch. We won't avoid every vegetable that crosses our plate. We're too old for that, and it can be a good thing. We aren't kids anymore and we do our best to not act like it. When summer hits though, our minds begin to brim with all the kids like things we'd love to do. Eat ice cream too fast. Run through the sprinklers on a hot day. Maybe catch a firefly. I hope to never be too old for those things. Lately, though, there's definitely something I feel too old for: having a crush.

I see him and feel like the chubby, shy teenager I once was, my confidence diminished. I realize that the way I flirt with him is by verbally hitting him and running away. I can't always look him in the eye. I'm too old for this, I think. Way too old. Maybe though, after a couple of fruitless months of dating, of disappointments big (well maybe medium) and small, maybe this crush is like eating ice cream too fast. Neither is great as a long term life strategy, but both can be absolutely necessary to keep the giggling/walking in the grass barefoot/honeysuckle smelling feeling of summer alive. I might be too old for crushes and licking up 2 scoops of strawberry ice cream, but thoughts of either bring a huge smile to my face.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Making Time

There aren't enough hours in the day, that's what we've all said at some point. There aren't enough hours in the day to get all of our work done, to stay in touch with our friends, to pursue those dreams we've been talking about for years. And lately, I'm finding more and more men I date without the hours in the day to spend with me.

These men want to get a higher degree or want to get to a higher position in their company, and they tell me that they would really like to spend time with me, they would, it's just that, well they don't have the time. I call bullshit on them usually silently at first and then with a laugh after. I tell them it's fine, I get it, and then I call them names over drinks with my girlfriends. But I've been wondering lately about my own time management. A few years ago my roommate and I recovered our couch, I sewed the back and seat covers and felt so gratified looking and and sitting on something I'd done. Since then, I haven't sewn at all. Why, when I enjoyed it so much, when I got such joy out of it, can I not seem to find the time to pursue it?

I like to think that I'm like that for those guys: something nice they just can't seem to fit into their lives. We make choices every day about how we'll spend out time, whether we're conscious of it or not. That extra hour in bed, that second drink, that fight with your boyfriend: how do we spend our time? And how reflective is it of the life we do and do not want to lead? Ahh, too much thinking, where's that second drink?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What Did I Do?

That's the question the guy I've been dating just posed to me. Three weeks ago my answer might have, "Everything right." Now, my answer's more, "Showed me that you're no different than most guys."

Somewhere along the way with this guy, some things got tangled. Things were misunderstood or allowed to go with discussion and suddenly the steady communication got shaky. I didn't know what had gone wrong, but I knew something had. I brought it up and we had a discussion that resolved very little and that seemed to pretty much seal the fate of whatever we'd had.

So what did he do? He made me think there was a lot of potential, where now I see little. He convinced me that he was more evolved and more open than it turns out he is. He got me all excited about the idea of spending time with someone you really like, only to remind me that liking someone is a small part of things working out.

What did he do? He sent me back to the drawing board to sketch out someone new.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Modern Dating

A few days ago, I met one of my girlfriends for a night of raucous drinking. She's great in every way, except one: she doesn't have a cell phone. I respect everyone's right to live the life they choose, but as I was waiting outside of the building where we were supposed to meet I started to get judgmental. Why doesn't she have a cell phone? Had she really said 419 or was it 491? And didn't she say something about Tribeca, even though this building was in SoHo? It all worked out, I was in the right place and the drining ensued without major incident. I've never been clear about why she rejects cell phones, but I know some people feel like they don't want to be reached all the time, or that they'll be hit with brain cancer. I'm not overly reliant on my phone, but there are times when it's added value to my life is inescapable. Except when it comes to dating.

The guy I've been seeing is smart and funny and I know this for sure when we go out on a date, but can only convey this in between those outings with "Ha!" or "LOL" or the insipid smiley face. We don't talk when we aren't face to face, we text. The text message has often saved me, when I need to get in touch but I don't feel like talking, when I'm trying to set up brunch plans during church service, when an ex sends a suggestive message and the reply would be too naughty to be spoken. But texting is not a conversation.

You can't fall asleep to the sound of someone tapping out letters like you can fall asleep to their voice and sure you could keep up a text conversation for hours but it's never going to compare to a late night soul baring phone call. Modern dating and modern life often means more, more ways to date and maybe more people to date when you use online dating sites or social networking. Maybe though, it's more with a lot less: less intimacy, less depth, and overall less time and effort.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Your Cheating Heart

After weeks of slacking off on my partying, I got back down to business the other night. Despite the line and the smokers outside polluting my hair (not to mention the lungs of course), it was a nice night to hang out with some friends. We all managed to work on our drinks and our two steps.

Girl time was great, but of course we were all also watching out for potential dates. I noticed one guy lingering a bit in his glances. I assumed at some point he might make the approach, especially when he was within arm's length. He bided his time, but when I cautiously turned to check where my feet were in relation to a step he gave me some reassuring line like "Don't worry, I won't let you fall." Score 1 for a line that didn't feel like one at the time. Conversation started up shortly after that. I'd checked out his outfit though, and the cardigan he wore gave me pause. A sweater in a bar/lounge/club makes me think you've been married. But I'm not against dating a divorced guy (although my early 20-something self can probably be heard screaming in horror somewhere), and he seemed personable and very decent.

In one of his conversation starters--because when you're in a noisy place it seems you always have to restart conversations and my 5'3 to his 6'2 didn't make it any easier--he mentioned how much easier it is for women to go out. We, he said, can dance with our friends or dance by ourselves and not feel awkward or strange about it. Men have fewer options. What straight guy wants to dance with his boy? I added that men probably also feel awkward because they may be plotting on approaching a woman. He said, "Oh, I wouldn't know about that I'm married."

He'd never said he was single and he hadn't said anything that necesssarily indicated romance, and yet most women know when a man is at least interested. The cardigan had incorrectly set off my divorced man radar rather than my married man one. He told me about his wife never wanting to go out with him, how she didn't trust a babysitter to take care of their 9, 11, and 13 year olds. I listened because we all need an ear sometimes and maybe tonight had been a way for him to de-stress. I had no desire to excoriate him, until he asked for my number. He was in my part of New York sometimes to visit a friend of his and we should all go out for drinks, he suggested. I took his number knowing as I did that I would never call, and that I had no interest in doing so.

Months ago, a guy friend and I debated what constituted cheating. To him, physical contact seemed to be the line. For me, opening up the possibility of cheating is enough. You haven't done it, but you've pursued or created opportunities for it to happen. I can sit in judgement of no relationship, especially in my current state of unattachment, and I don't know personally how hard it is to sustain a marriage. We all like to know that we're attractive to someone and maybe those moments give enough validation that they need never be pursued. I do wonder though if that guy's wife, tired from struggling to get the kids in bed, loading the dishwasher, and checking the clock to wonder what time he might be back, would feel the same way.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Riding the White Horse

My sister and I occasionally debate whether we're Southern women or not. Our hometown is a mix of Southern and Northern culture, but I've never felt comfortable saying I was Southern because I'm not like many of the Southern women I know. I do have a 1950's housewife inside of me, but I'm more apt to need a recipe for a peach cobbler than to go into anyone's kitchen at anytime and whip one up from scratch.

Over the last year though, my Southern girl may just be having her revenge. I seem to find men who don't know and wouldn't want to learn how to be gentlemen. Now, there are views I have that are more traditional, old-fashioned even. For instance, men pay for dates. I'm a feminist and I'm liberated, but the only confirmation I needed was from a guy friend who said: "If I like you, I'm definitely going to pay." Men who don't like me (in that way) can be my friend and then we can go Dutch all day long. You want to date me? You pick up the tab. In my hometown, this wouldn't have been a problem (there's the Southern I suppose). In New York, I've dated men who protested--all native New Yorkers. I think I need a little more Southern in my dating life, a man willing to ride the white horse.

It isn't simply about picking up the dinner tab (which need not be a bank breaker because the price isn't the point), it's about a caring that I'm having a hard time finding here. It's the "after you" and the walking on the outside of the street, but it's also not dominating the conversation and never bothering to find out anything about me. It's maybe helping me replace my iPod battery because I'm not a techie, but not patronizing me as though I'm not capable of doing it. It's simple kindness, and everyone could use a little more of that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Breaking up IS hard to do. I’ve never been very good at it. In my younger years, I would just stop calling a guy if I’d found that our interests diverged, that we weren’t compatible past a certain point.

Then, when I found men I actually cared about, I approached the break up differently. One I forced the break up with because I was going to lose him under other circumstances anyway, why not channel my inner bitch and make the break now? Another stopped talking to me at one point over a plate of food (long story), but we managed to begin dating again. When he revealed that he’d omitted some things about who he was, I ended it. The last one also had some complaints about me, becoming unsure if he was prepared to be in a relationship. I didn’t wait around for him to mull it over and ended it.

In each case though, I held on too long. I got huge claret red flags that he wasn’t it and I wasn’t it for him, and God woman let go. I’m faced with another kind of break up now, between me and the career I envisioned having since I was in college. Some days it’s hard to let go. Just like some of those break ups, after the decision has been made I start to wonder if I’ve made the right choice. Were those guys right, was it me and I should have done or said something different? In this job, I wonder the same thing. I should have left this company before now. I should have been making more contacts all along. I should have done more, been better, been a little less me I suppose.

It took me some time to realize it, but with those men and in this job I am not who I want to be. I don’t want to wear my hair straight all the time as one boyfriend requested. I don’t want to argue all the time as one boyfriend was prone to do. And I don’t want to keep climbing a ladder that leads to something I’m not passionate about and if I’m honest with myself never have been. Those men were stand ins for the real thing, for all my hopes and dreams of what love would look like. Our lives are filled with rest stops on the way to our true destination. There’s nothing wrong with making a pit stop, but in love and in career, it’s best to know when the time is right to get back in the car and get on with the journey.