Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Women are weird

Some things you're going to want to know about me, if you haven't met me or figured them out already:
  • I am long-winded. I probably should've called this blog TL;DR and I'm honestly kicking myself just a tiny bit for not thinking of that before now.
  • I like to swear. I mention that because this post has some naughty words. I hardly think anyone who reads the following story is going to be horribly offended, but I just wanted to point out that there are some gosh darnits and fiddlesticks ahead.
As you were.

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Today's post is Think Kit Day 3: Time to get strange. (YESSSSS.)

Share the strangest experience of your year. Did you do something new or unexpected, see something out of the ordinary, or have a unique experience? What was so strange about it?

Hello, children. Let's talk about relationships. 


Bear with the back story. We’ll get to the weirdness eventually.

Dating, in my experience, has been a big, sticky ball of Not So Much Fun. 

I didn't date in high school. Hell, I barely looked up from the floor in high school. I generally had my nose stuck in a book, the same which I would literally walk the halls reading while moving between classes. I had a small group of friends, went to the standard parties even though I only felt awkward and out of place, and generally kept to myself. I was your standard, insecure teenager who thought the popular kids were far more important than they really were.

Given that I barely talked to people outside my circle (except for teachers, maintenance staff, and cafeteria ladies; yep, I was that kid), it's no surprise I didn't date. I went to prom by myself, which was either brave or really, really sad; my opinion changes based on my mood. Actually, I went with a chick my junior year. We went to prom stag... but together... so basically we were on a date. None of this occurred to me at the time. No one said anything, so perhaps my blissful unawareness -- and the fact that we didn't hold hands, smooch, or slow dance -- made it clear we were two single gals at a dance. In floofy dresses and too much makeup and ohhhh thank God I can blame all of it on being 16. The Clue Police are on the phone and would like to point out I look awfully serene in my prom pictures. Ah, homoshadowing.

I didn't have my first serious relationship with a woman until I was 30. Between the ages of 18 and 23, I dated a few boys but they did not fit right and I put them back. I came out to myself at 23, to my parents at 25, and, spliced in between a couple apartment- and dorm-related disasters, lived at home until I was 28. Not really conducive to wooing the ladies, amirite?

My serious relationship lasted about four months and gave me the foundation and confidence I needed. I finally felt like a "real" lesbian -- in addition to being attracted to a woman, I had acted upon my interest! There had been movies and ice cream, flowers, a Valentine's Day dinner (*cough* at Denny's), pet names, and weekend breakfasts with triangle-shaped pancakes. But we weren't right for each other and finally broke up. It took me a while to want to date someone again. When I did, I went out with some women who weren't right for me. Eventually, I took my less-than-stellar luck to mean I was meant to be single, at least for a while, and I basically stopped looking.

A few months ago –


-- I decided to reactivate an online dating profile. I wasn't ready to date, honestly. Good God, I thought. More uncomfortable situations and one-sided attractions and I don't know how anyone ever hooks up because this shit is maddening. But I hit "activate" because the only single lesbian in my apartment is me and I've had myself. I'm fantastic, but it's time to share.

After a few false starts -- correspondence that fizzled almost as quickly as it started -- I started trading letters with a woman I’ll call Rae. She was cute, very close to my age, lived in town, and her profile was grammatically correct. (Hush.) We shared a lot of interests and there wasn't really anything in her profile that worried me, besides the fact that she had a teenage daughter. Having been friends and girlfriends with women with kids, I was a bit worried about being shoved to the side when the kid(s) needed something because it had happened many times before. By "needing something," I mean something innocuous like new shoes, not a kidney. I conveyed this trepidation, however, and Rae understood.

So we started writing. The letters were fun. They got longer and longer. We were open and honest. I would smile like a doof when my phone dinged and announced a reply had landed in my inbox.

My happy-float-down-a-calm-river feeling lasted about two weeks. I suggested we meet for a beer. Rae said yes and we set a date. And then everything went to heck.

Two days before our date, Rae wrote and said she was sorry but she was sick and had to go to the doctor. She had to go, she explained, before things got worse and she ended up in the hospital as she had before.


I was disappointed -- it was literally my first date in about two years -- but I replied and said her health took priority, of course, and we could reschedule.

When she wrote back, she thanked me for understanding and talked about being on steroids and breathing treatments. And then she wrote about her exciting weekend plans. Two days after our now-cancelled date. Then she said the whole next week was busy with work, but she was going out with a friend the following weekend and asked if I wanted to tag along.

Eyebrow... raised.

I became suspicious and a little confused. Somewhere in my mid- to late 30s, I officially became Too Old for Bullshit. I started speaking my mind more often and understanding why old people often seem snappy or saucy. You've lived through it, you know all about it, you've played the game and know which move is going to lead to a checkmate.

Um... I'd prefer to meet one-on-one instead of doing a group date, but if you need backup, we can work something out.

In her next reply, Rae said she'd been doing a lot of thinking while recuperating. While meeting me online had been great, she said, all this talk of dating had triggered her various anxieties. She was taking down her profile and seriously thinking about going back into therapy because she hadn't made as much "internal progress" as she thought and wasn't ready to enter into a potential romantic relationship where she could be comfortable and a "full, healthy participant."

Oh... my fucking... God. It was just a beer.

Turns out I'd been freaking her out every time I said "date." To her credit (I guess), she gave me her personal email address and said she wanted to keep talking. I thought for several hours about how to respond to her email and only did so after text-bombing a few friends with a lot of what-the-fuck?!ness.

I laid everything out in my email and managed not to agree with her when she said she was crazy. I said most of what I thought: It was just a beer. I wasn't expecting something from you right away. I don't like to screw on the first date. I think the third-date "rule" needs to be reexamined. I have not subscribed to Bride magazine, enlisted a flash mob, or prepared to propose to you. One beer. Maybe two!

I used a lot of ifs in my reply. IF we go out and get along and IF we decide to date and IF we decide this will go somewhere, great! If we have a beer and halfway through you're like "Holy fuck, get me out of here" and you go to the bathroom and never come back, well, that's how the cookie crumbles.

I said I'd really put myself out there too and dealt with my own anxieties, many of which come from the shame I feel because I'm unemployed. I said I was eventually looking for the Real Thing and that I wanted to get married, but none of it had to happen immediately. I told her a few times if she wanted out, she was free to go. (I wanted to make it clear without outright saying so that I wasn't necessarily looking to marry her.) No pouting, crossed arms, or passive-aggressive But I really want you to stay! intentions. Too old for bullshit. You don't want to date? Cool. You are certainly not the only lesbian on Earth.

When she responded, she assured me she didn't want an out, but she'd never dated someone she met online and the thought was making her anxious. I agreed not to use the D word and promptly sent her the following:

She laughed. It was a good start.

Rae and I chatted a few times via regular email, but the letters stopped after only a couple weeks. What had all too recently been pages-long correspondence became a couple of general paragraphs about our respective days. A la T.S. Eliot, our budding whatevership ended not with a bang but a whimper. Of course I know that one foiled date is not the same as the world ending, but it sure would’ve been nice to have someone to hold hands with again.

1 comment:

Jennifer Adams said...

Chi, I am so thoroughly enjoying this blog. I like this "outed" you quite a lot. ;-)