Monday, March 4, 2013

The beginning...sort of.


A few months ago, I began to realize that I would be turning 55. That sounds ridiculous. When someone asks me how old I am, I feel like a fraud. A liar. Then I realized: numbers don't lie. The truth is this: I am going to turn 55 in May.

This started me thinking...I've been single a really long time. Twelve years! In those years I have become a good friend to myself; forged friendships with others that are so rich and loving, I often wonder how that happened. Life today is in stark contrast to those days in the past. Back then, I needed to learn to stand on my own two feet. I needed lots of help. I still need help, but I know how to ask for it today. 

Robin Roberts, during her recent special, said that nobody gets points at the end for going through life miserable. (That's paraphrasing.) It deeply touched me; many of my days have been close to that. These past years have been difficult. Today though, I'm on the other side, enjoying the sunshine, breathing fresh air. I still have issues; some of them are difficult. Today though, I don't have to be miserable as I deal with them. 

So, I examined myself and discovered that I don't want to spend the next twelve, fifteen, twenty years alone. Not that I can't, because I have shown myself that I can. With help. I don't need to be in a relationship. I want to be, today. 

My age today doesn't match my spirit, my outlook, the way I engage with the world. My body though, is a different story. As I started looking at some of the online dating sites, it slowly came to me that I am no longer thirty years old. I was quite the sassy one at thirty! Full of piss and vinegar. Flirty. Full of myself. (I was a master at burying things deep down that would haunt me so intensely later on, that the world would come crashing down, but in those few years, I had fun.) I dated all the time, never giving it a thought, open to all sorts of things: tubing down rivers in Virginia; boogey boarding in the ocean with pods of dolphins, going to the Blue Ridge mountains. During the following years, my body would go through many challenges which it reflects today. I've gained weight. I haven't exercised routinely. Had a few accidents along the way. 

Dating is so different today. Shockingly so. Although I haven't been in a relationship, I've been out of the dating scene for all that time. I can't decide if it's the way I used to socialize, or what the deal is, but now, unless you join an online social group,or connect through a website, where do you meet people? I know people who have begun taking classes, joined a chorus, started book clubs and gone bowling. Have they met anyone that way? No. To make it even more difficult, once you narrow it down to your preference of no drinking or smoking, your options are even more limited. And forget about saying you want to meet people in recovery or having done their work. Now, you're down to 5. And in my lesbian community, I know all of them. 

AARP started an online dating service. I joined, and found one page of lesbians. I know all of them from one group or another, like the W.H.A.T. group (Womyn Here And There...yes, the spelling...). There they have a monthly party that a woman throws, I think at her house. And they have bowling nights. All of those have alcohol and frankly, drunk lesbians are not my cup of tea. 

So, two weeks ago I looked on the website. I decided to give it a good try. I put myself out there, vulnerable. I thought if I want to actually do this, I have to be real. So, I have had winks and emails and three dates. The most recent one was very nice; she is a tender, sweet person. I was a bit shocked when I met her though; she's six feet tall. I'm 5'1". I'm kind of nervous around tall people. Aside from that, we enjoyed each other's company. 

I think the most difficult thing is the whole "when will she text/call/email me again?".
There's so much wrapped up in this. Fear of rejection, abandonment...the list can be very long. This is kicking up so many issues for me. I hope not too long from now I can be neutral about someone not texting/calling/emailing me back. It sounds so silly but holds a lot of power. For today. Just for today. And for today, I haven't heard from her except a quick text yesterday. I know I have to let that go. 

So, after all of the angst, there is actually humor to be had here. This is practice for me; I'm completely unsure of what to do or how to handle things. The very first day I put my profile out, I had 9 responses. I was shocked. My thoughts at that time were, well, I will meet whoever wants to go out. Good experience! I'll expand my social circle! Not so much. Note to self: make sure to get a picture before you meet for coffee. A recent picture. Like, within the last year. *Before* you meet. And be clear about what kind of pictures you want. Because, well, I find that tribal tattoos and gnarly pictures of your toes to show off those tattoos are a bit out of my comfort zone.

And so the adventure begins.

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