A Bit of Real Life, New York

Downward dogs, cheese plates, and bittersweet chocolate: Ah, February

I didn’t think I wanted to write about or around Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t sure how a post might be perceived: bitter? annoying? bitchy? At the moment, I feel pleasantly glad for my friends in relationships. Yet it’s a hard day to ignore. It’s Black History Month too, but 90% of what I see online is about creative ways to  seduce your partner, links to buy heart-shaped candy, and deals on last-minute romantic getaways. Maybe in an alternate universe, there are pop-up ads with airfare deals to DC to see the MLK memorial. But I’m stuck in this one, where no one’s selling black history, so I’ll keep my focus narrowed for this particular post.

I’m single at the moment. I’m OK with this now; I wasn’t always. I think relationships are wonderful, vital, meaningful, and I hope to be in one again. Thankfully, though, I’ve moved past the stage where every day of single life is another rumbling bell toll toward a solitary death. That stage—experienced mostly in my 20s—was awful. Lots of tears, self-critiquing, jealousy of other women and couples in general, and moaning, “Whyyyyyyy?” to a pitiless God. I’m not sure when and how I moved past it; all I can say is like anything else, it got easier with time. I’m an only child, which probably helped; I’m already accustomed to and comfortable in the quietness of my own company. Without a boyfriend, what was there to do? Simply, everything I would do with one.  Some may find me quirky (fine, substitute your own word here, but be  gentle) but if my friends or family aren’t free, I dine, see movies, travel alone—things aren’t put on pause because no one’s responding to me on Match.

This leads me into the fantastic, gruesome, awesome world of Internet dating. Wowza!

I think we can all agree, New York, like most major cities, is a hard place to really connect with people. Everyone’s moving fast, drinking fast, dancing fast. We’re big on lounges, which are lousy for singles. I imagine it’s hard for a man to approach a woman trying to get on her two-step in the club, let alone one spread out on a low couch, flanked by five friends and surrounded by dancers, hostesses, and other possible competition. Enter Nerve.com, my first online dating experience a good decade ago. I found it heady and interesting, but as the site pre-dated Match and most Web dating, friends and family worried every time I left to meet someone. “Tell us where you’re going.” “What’s this guy’s name?” “How late are you going to be out?” Not one date worked out, but it was good practice. The highlight for me was having my picture and profile printed on the back of TimeOut magazine. Look at me! I’m INCREDIBLY single!

Over the years I signed up for almost every major site online at least once:  eHarmony, which tortured me with a two-hour profile only to send me the polar opposite of prospective dates (50-something white men vs. 30-something black or Hispanic men; were they harmonizing with vodka back at the office?); OKCupid, where I chatted up some cool people and took some very funny quizzes; Plentyoffish, which I considered the anarchist Thunderdome of dating; and ChristianMingle, where everyone was so busy trying to sound pious that no one legitimately talked relationships. I would also occasionally browse BlackPeopleMeet, where there existed some unspoken men-in-wife-beater clause. I was intimidated just looking at pictures.

There were lots of memorable Web experiences over the years: the cop I chatted with on AIM during a blizzard who, within 10 minutes, turned our conversation to guns and kept it there; the guy who, upon meeting me for a movie, called me “Nyra” and continued to do so despite my constant, increasingly belligerent corrections; and the ex-Marine who was adorable, sweet, generous…and 2 ½ inches shorter than me. (You don’t know how much I tried to make that work. I feel guilty mentioning it even now, a good eight years later.)

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4 thoughts on “Downward dogs, cheese plates, and bittersweet chocolate: Ah, February”

  1. “…if my friends or family aren’t free, I dine, see movies, travel alone—things aren’t put on pause because no one’s responding to me on Match.”

    That’s how I am. There’s no point in wasting time waiting for someone to free up when you can easily do things yourself.

    Oh, man, sorry about all those weird guys you encountered. It seems as if for every normal guy there are hundreds of wackos. That’s why I just stopped caring about trying to find a man. Dating is a chore in itself and I just don’t have the energy to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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    1. Thanks Dienna! I assume even the wackos have their soulmates–it’s just not me. Hopefully at some point we all circulate to find our niche, like a combination lock–when it happens there’ll be a click and we’ll know.

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  2. Okay, so you got me with the “it’s also Black History Month” because I always think February = Valentines’ Day. Yes, I now know I’ve been brainwashed so thank you for pointing that out (smile). I love how this blog came together: you pulled on my heart strings, made me laugh out loud (which startled The Littlest Princess…lol) and you caused me to pause, consider and celebrate what a gift it is to love oneself unreservedly and enjoy life fully. (Plus, I love that we both describe ourselves as quirky!) I think one of the best gifts we can give ourselves is to accept the fact that singleness isn’t code for defective. I have learned singleness was the opportunity I needed to develop clear insight into the woman I am, gain wisdom into the dynamic of marriage (especially, having not witnessed many good marriages modeled as a child), learn to prune people, things & activities that drain me while feeding my spirit with those that nurture me.

    It is interesting how wonderful people write their lives to be on profiles which can be quite daunting when you have an average life (i,e, family, faith, work and the occasional extra trip to Wally World). Internet dating has been a roller coaster ride for me – like the very intelligent, funny, employed, charming gentleman I met who had nine children by two different women…all of whom lived with their mothers, and three of whom were around the ages of my girls. He rarely saw his children and felt they would not be upset with him spending time with my girls (if it ever got to that point). I was a little concerned about his sanity that he could not see how that could be a turn off for me. My Dad told me “N-O, he doesn’t have baggage, he has trunks.” Lol I guess, at our age, I expect people to have a history but that was a bit much. I have met some great guys but it seemed they were all states away and never the guy next door.

    I completely feel you on the height thing. I seem to regularly have men who are significantly shorter than me responding to my profile. I used to berate myself for not considering them when, based on their profile, they appeared to be great people. However, I’ve done my time with a height challenge (smile) and decided I don’t like feeling like the Jolly Green Giant in a relationship. Case in point, it’s impossibly awkward as a woman to slow dance with a man who is shorter than you. It’s only cute when you both are twelve, it’s your cousin’s wedding and your choice is between dancing with the short pre-pubescent boy, running around the room with three year olds covered in cake or listening to Great Aunt Gertrude’s recite a play-by-play of her recent surgical procedures interspersed with the symphonic movements of her snoring (due to . Then (and only then) do you pick the short guy! Lol

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  3. Thank you so much for such a thoughtful response, Marcia. Feel free to step in and write a post or two yourself if you like! ;-) I’m proud to be on your reading list.

    I’ve learned a lot of Web dating shorthand over the years. One of those is giving someone a bit of room to fudge–their age, their looks, their job–just about anything. If a guy says he’s 5 ft 9 with a child who lives in the Bronx and does consulting, I’m prepared to meet someone who’s 5 ft 5 (like me), has two kids (mom has custody of one), lives in Westchester and is unemployed. Real talk! It sounds ludicrous but it beats confronting a disaster at dinner.

    Re: Black History Month, I’m guilty of the same. And February is a drive-by; by the time I hunker down to do some deep thinking, it’s March!

    Re: the single life, thankfully it’s becoming more commonplace for singles to actually DO stuff by themselves. In the late 90s it seemed downright outrageous. But this was before social media, meetup, groupon et al.

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