Category Archives: blast from the past

Revisiting old territory

This blog is back in town.

Kinda.  I’m going to try.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks.  Honestly, I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a few months. I knew that entering a year-long master’s program while working full time would be busy, but I never could have anticipated how much of a life-suck it would be, leaving me with no time to shave my legs except once every two weeks—let alone indulge in the luxury of writing blog posts about my love life.  (Which, minus one colossal failure of a non-relationship relationship—typical—has been more like a love-less life as of late.)

I’m still doing the whole master’s/full-time job thing, but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  In other words, whether it’s because this hell-year will be over in a month in a half or because it’s May and my primitive side is waking up for mating season (as Robert Frost put it, “spring is the mischief in me”…though I doubt he would have given that phrase the same connotation I do), I want to get back on the (dating) horse.  I’ve stumbled upon a little more free time, and suddenly the businessmen on my bus are cute again instead of annoying obstacles in my daily commute.  Pretending that I am a character on Gossip Girl and that Nate Archibald is my boyfriend is getting old.  I want the real deal, not a romance with WB-17.

What's not to love?

What’s not to love?

But how?  I find myself in a familiar spot: afraid to get back in the game.  Over the past month I have been guilty of the following: 1) Meeting a gorgeous English master’s degree student at a bus stop (who knew stuff like that happened in real life??), having a great conversation on the bus, and then totally chickening out when it got to my stop and I wanted to ask for his number; and 2) Meeting a cute friend-of-a-friend and immediately wanting to have at him but being too freaked out to even friend him on Facebook until days later.  I am lame!  (Slightly less lame or slightly more lame because I posted a missed connection on Craigslist after bailing on my plans for Bus Guy?)  I remember, in a hazy sort of way, a time when I had the guts to ask guys out instead of waiting for them to do the honors—a time when I felt like I had options.  A time when I was…in college.  I know I’ve asked this question before, but how does one meet people in The Real World?  And do so in a way that feels casual and safe and empowering?  Urgh.

So, here I am, back to square one and back to this blog.  Tune in next week for more awkwardness and angst.  In the meantime, wish me luck.

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The ghost of relationships past

Being home at my parents’ house while I’m in the process of moving has brought on my usual activity of going through my millions of papers, leading me to stumble across this excellent collection of post-it notes.  I wrote these a few years ago when a guy I really, really liked told me he didn’t want to spend time together anymore.  I was devastated.  I put them all over my mirror, theoretically to remind myself that being single is okay, awesome even—but really because I couldn’t bear to see myself looking like crap (lots of crying) in addition to feeling like crap.  Now they are a hilarious relic of my dating past!  If you want to read a killer post about the merits of being single, check out this one, but I think I’ve got a few nuggets of wisdom in here too…

A timeline of timing

They say that timing is eveything, and over the past few years I have found this cliché adage to be, well, true.  The more I date, the more I’m convinced that whether or not someone is “ready” for a relationship is the key to things working out or totally tanking.  As a case in point, I give you:

The Dude Where’s My Boyfriend Timeline of Timing (Abridged Version*)

Let’s go back to the spring of 2009, the second semester of my freshman year of college.  Enter Dumb Jock (the stereotype is, in this case, very, very legitimate), who I (dumbly) fell for—hard.  He treated me terribly, ignoring me for weeks at a time and then wanting to hook up again, but for some reason I couldn’t stay away.  When we finally ended things (i.e. when he started ignoring me completely), I was crushed.  For a year.  It’s almost laughable to me now—I’ve gained enough distance from the whole situation to be able to lovingly call that period the “Dark Days” of my dating life—but at the time I felt completely lost and hurt.  For several weeks I went to bed crying and woke up still crying.  It took me months to feel vaguely okay, and even longer than that to feel remotely secure enough to really put my heart into another relationship.  Obviously, the guy hadn’t been right for me, but he had been someone who I’d experienced a lot of “firsts” with, and I felt the loss keenly.

I was still in my recovery phase during fall 2009, when I hooked up with a guy who was clearly looking for more with me.  I thought that I was open to exploring that with him, but the experience of being with someone while continuing to mourn someone else was bewildering, and I quickly called it off.  In the spring, I was finally ready to move on from Dumb Jock, and so began another weird hybrid of a hook up/relationship with a different Dumb Jock, who was only slightly better than the first.  (What was I thinking?  It remains a mystery even to me.)  I went through another rough period after splitting up with Dumb Jock 2—in much the same, silent way that I’d split up with Dumb jock 1—but I came back to school in the fall of 2010 feeling fed up with dating losers and ready—for real!—to graduate to an adult relationship.

Over that summer I’d been keeping in touch with a guy from my school, and things seemed promising.  We hung out platonically a few times at the beginning of the semester, and one night when he came to my room we started fooling around.  He was pretty shy and even though we were lying on my bed cuddling it didn’t seem like he was going to do anything, so I kissed him.  (Not an easy thing to do for someone who had been wounded in the recent past—I was proud of myself.) He kissed me back, but only barely—and a few days later showed up to my room again, in daylight, to tell me that he wasn’t ready for anything.

Fast forward through the spring, summer, and fall, when no one of major interest shows up and I remain ready as ever.  And then, in the winter of 2011, I meet a guy who I’m 100% sure is My Next Big Love, and things go swimmingly for a week or so, I prepare to take his last name and wonder how many kids he’ll want to have, and BAM—you guessed it, folks: he’s not ready.  And then I’m not ready, because I’m 100% sure that I’ll never love again, and my heart feels like it has shriveled up and withered away.  And then I’m ready again, because I realize that that guy kind of really blew, and that I deserve better.  I’m ready now, but being ready, I’ve found, often means that you need to wait.  For a long time.

Not to get too scientific about it, but sometimes the conditions are right for love.  You’re both in the right place in your lives, you both want the same things, there’s chemistry between you and also intellectual attraction, your families like each other.  But there are so many things that go into making a relationship work, it’s such a hard balance to strike.  If one tiny part of the equation is off, the whole thing could go under.

But then sometimes the stars align.  You’re ready and he’s ready.  It never ceases to amaze me.

*Abridged because I’m only hitting the highlights here.  If I detailed all of my college mistakes, this would likely turn into more of a pity party than the mere hang-out session I intend it to be.

A love letter

Here’s another little gem I found in one of my old journals, not written by me but for me, from a boy in my fourth grade class.  He left it inside my desk, and when I found it I tucked it into the breast pocket of my blue button-down shirt (part of the school uniform) for safekeeping.  I spilled gravy on it at lunch.

The question mark at the end is my favorite part.

I didn’t have a crush on this boy.  He once bought me a single rose and I gave it back.  (I know, what was I thinking?  But hey, I was ten.)

These days, though, what I’d give for someone to write me a note like this one!

It’s in my genes, I swear…

Each time I come home I feel thankful that I was never so desirable to the male population in high school to have the unpleasant pleasure of trying to squeeze into my childhood bed with a boy.  Even though I spent practically every night of my adolescence wishing that there was someone else under the covers with me, I now see that what I then believed to be misfortune actually made for many a good night’s sleep.  I can’t imagine sharing my tiny twin with anyone, let alone someone I’d want to look good for in the morning.  Those twin XL beds in college were bad enough: after all, how many mornings did I wake up pressed against the cinder block wall while a hulk of a baseball player hogged all but my small sliver of mattress?

I love being home.  I love that my mom does my laundry for me, and that the refrigerator is always fully stocked, and that there’s no danger of running out of toilet paper because my roommates and I forgot to buy more the last time we went to the market.  But there’s also something odd about being back in a neighborhood filled with the sites of my former pining.  The guy who gave me my first kiss lives (or used to) only a few blocks away.  I’ll never pass his street without remembering that this is the very place where I swapped spit with someone after so many years of waiting and wondering when it would happen.  There’s the Starbucks where I went on my first date, the playground where I used to chase my kindergarten crush, and the hot neighbor dad who I totally thought wanted me when I was seventeen.

There are also the dozens of notebooks where I’ve faithfully recorded my romantic interests and pursuits since age eight, selections of which I will now reproduce for your entertainment.  In second grade, I was enthralled with “Jared” (all names have been changed).

I used to not be friends with Jared I was just thinking he was cute.  But now we have started a friendship.  P.S. Jared is still cute.  I wonder if he is the one who I will marry.

***

It is almost summer.  Me and Jared plan to call each other.

***

It is summer now.  I plan to call Jared tonight.

 

At this point in my journal I entered the third grade and abandoned Jared—who knows what happened on that phone call—in favor of another boy, Aidan.

Aidan is so cute and I mean “really” cute.  I fall head over heels for him.  I’m not sure this one is a crush.  Aidan is really my kind of guy.  He gets in trouble a lot but he is so so nice. 

Hair: Dirty blonde.

Face: Cute, non-freckel, smiles a lot.  [While my inability to spell “freckled” concerns me, my concurrent knowledge that “a lot” is two words kind of makes up for it. –Ed.]

Skin: Fair white.

Good Parts: Likes sports, is nice, tells jokes.

Bad Parts: Gets in trouble.

I wish he would try harder at things.

A few pages later I had taped in the valentines Aidan gave me, store-bought ones with animals wearing sunglasses on them.  One says “You are a cool cat,” and the other “You are a hot dog.”

It’s funny how little things change.  I haven’t gotten a paper valentine from a guy since elementary school, but I still meticulously record text message exchanges in my journal, I still find myself making the first move a lot of the time (like calling Jared), and I still end up dating dudes who are wrong for me (“I wish he would try harder”?  I didn’t know at nine years old that this would be just the first of many, many times I would say these words).

It’s kind of depressing that I haven’t made much progress over a decade later.

Then again, it also makes me really glad.  Is it weird that I’ve always been so obsessed with finding the right guy?  Maybe.  But I’ve been lucky enough to grow up surrounded by happy couples who have modeled love at its deepest, strongest, most honest.  My greatest hope is to find a love like the one my parents have, like the one my grandparents have (they met when my grandmother was 16 and my grandfather was 20, and have been together for over 60 years).  I have seen firsthand that love like this exists, that it is not only something that happens in books or movies.  In short, I’ve been brought up to be boy crazy.

I know, I know, I’m getting a little sentimental, so I’ll leave it at that.  It must be something in the water here.  But, er (one more!)—there’s no place like home.