Keep Going: It’s Supposed to Be This Way

” As painful as this all is, I know that in the end things will work out how they’re supposed to, and I’ll keep going.”

Lotusgirl80, November 25, 2014

I still remember when I wrote those words. At the time, I’m not sure I whole-heartedly believed them to be true. My heartbreak was fresh, I was taking it day by day, trying to stay positive, but losing interest in those life sustaining activities, like sleeping and eating. My days went by in slow motion, and life seemed to be a chore. I had lost a piece of myself, or at least that’s how it felt. It took time, a long time, to truly believe that things would work out, and that I’d keep going.

It was the time and distance from my heartbreak that gave me a new perspective, and made me realize that all the pieces were already inside me. The love we had was beautiful, but it wasn’t perfect. We both had our faults, and I kept making excuses for him and trying to change who I was. I couldn’t see that when I was with him, and it took me a long time to realize that after we broke up. Now that I have distance, I can admit to myself that he was not the one that got away — it just wasn’t meant to be. Still, he’ll always hold a place in my heart, and the beauty of his faith and integrity will never escape me. He taught me to always be grateful, and to ask for more — not to settle.

And as I keep going, it is with gratefulness and a desire for something more. And this is reflected in all aspects of my life, not just my dating life. (I know my stories here have morphed into a dating blog recently, but there’s been a lot more going on behind the scenes.) In January, I started a post-graduate program, and after many all-nighters and internal questioning, I completed what I had started, and am now looking into new possibilities. In May, I quit a job that filled my need for productivity and belonging to the daily grind, but was ultimately no longer serving me, filling me with confusion and resentment. In June, I began following a dream that stemmed from my elementary school days, a dream to run long distances. After an intense 16-week training program, I ran my first half marathon in October, and now I have plans to run a marathon….eventually. To be honest, I’ve had my doubts along the way, but I have moved through these changes, thankful for the support of others, and my own internal drive that has kept asking for more of myself.

And love. I’ve had my doubts. For a long time, I didn’t believe it was out there and was so reluctant to make another connection, especially an online one. However, I did get back in the game, even created an online dating profile (hovering over ‘delete’ the whole time) before settling for that good-on-paper guy who totally didn’t get me. That didn’t last long, because my inner voice kept speaking out and I decided to listen. And I am so glad I did listen because I was shutting myself off to a real connection.

The real connection. I’ve met someone who gets me. I’ve met someone who makes me believe in love again. I’ve met someone who’s not afraid to share what’s on his mind, and I feel comfortable reciprocating. I’ve met someone who uses the word ‘love’ freely to talk about what matters to him, and  notices how guarded I am with that same word. I’ve met someone who makes me laugh to the point of tears. I’ve met someone who appreciates my randomness, or peculiarities, as he calls them. I’ve met someone who wants to explore the world and all the possibilities it holds. I’ve met someone who has woken me up to the possibility of an ‘us’.  And if you must know, we met on that feminist app, Bumble.

So, I’m glad I didn’t give up on online dating, and that I kept going, asking for more in all aspects of my life. I truly believe I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Before I die, I want to fall in love again....
Before I die, I want to fall in love again….

 

Adventures in Dating; OK, Let’s Go!

"How's your love life?"
“How’s your love life?”

My online dating profile wasn’t stellar, but it was honest. My pictures were less than a week old, and I answered everything to the best of my ability.(Wondering what “everything” is? Look here, a site dedicated to the OKCupid profile.)  The answers were brief and to the point – no pontificating. I was going for the soft-sell, but it wasn’t working. My friend, a fellow cupid familiar with pitching in other areas of his life, urged me to elaborate in some places and trim down in others. It was wise advice, but I was still torn between editing or deleting my profile. You see, I am still resistant to online dating; I still want to meet someone the organic way, the old-fashioned way. My friend’s quip to this is, “How’s that working for you?” Yeah, not so well these days. Editing had to be done.

With a slightly enhanced profile, I did acquire a ‘like’ from a guy I had exchanged emails with last time I was on OKCupid, over 2 years ago. As we had already done introductions before, I decided to send a quick message, and he responded with a dinner invitation. Normally, I would have taken a step back, but we had exchanged mini essays in the past, so I felt dinner was a logical progression, plus I didn’t want a penpal.

The date was on a Tuesday night. I was early –I usually am. The walk to my favourite Thai restaurant helped me shake off my nerves, and when he showed up, I didn’t hesitate to step outside and flag him down. The Thai chatter in the kitchen put me at ease, and after a long-winded discussion about our day, I broke out my rusty Thai to order dinner. The conversation flowed, the green curry was mild, the cha yen (Thai iced tea) was sweet, and it was a beautiful night. As he walked me home, we chatted about his son, acupuncture, and meeting up again. At my place, we hugged goodbye, and I thought to myself, I’d like to see him again. Against my friend’s advice, I even sent him a ‘thank you’ text the same night.

Maybe that was my faux-pas? Sending a text the same night came off as too eager? I hate dating rules. Anyhow, it’s been over a week since that date with Tuesday guy, and I haven’t heard a peep. I’m not going to second guess myself and run down the list of possible reasons why I haven’t heard from him. In fact, I haven’t been losing sleep or time since that Tuesday.

The same friend, a fellow introvert, is approaching dating as a summer hobby, or so she says. This isn’t typical introvert behaviour, but I thought maybe I could take this approach too. So, when a message from a handsome, well-traveled, multiple-degreed man landed in my inbox on Wednesday, I responded. Our messages went back and forth –hobbies and travel were the hot topics. Anyhow, we ended up meeting on Saturday for coffee.

I had iced tea, and he had what I can only assume was coffee. If you have been reading my blog for some time, you know that I’m not into coffee dates — they’re like interviews. Anyhow, the interview went well for the most part; we were re-hashing our emails, and he was everything that he said he was, plus nice biceps.  But somehow, he seemed like too good of a catch. Then the conversation took an interesting turn — marriage. He had ventured down that path for a brief period, and he told me the bad, the good, and the ugly of that experience. (It was mostly ugly.) At the end, I felt guilty because I couldn’t reciprocate –I’ve never been married. However, I did share my feelings about  family and my place in it, which is something I don’t often talk about. For him, family was the touchstone in his life, and his parents were currently living with him. I didn’t tell him this, but when I moved back from living overseas, I lived with my mom for less than three weeks before finding a place of my own. And once I had settled in my bachelor, I felt I had taken back part of my life.

After the ‘family talk’, I thought that our date would be sealed with a handshake, and a half-hearted, “Keep in touch.”  So, I was surprised that it ended with a handshake, and a dinner invitation for the following Monday, just a couple days away. I politely declined as I wanted to be with a friend going through a breakup, and because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the prospect of another date. With his line of questioning and the discussion on marriage, I got the impression that he’d figured out most of his life, but was just missing the right woman to start a family with. Although we’re the same age, I’m still figuring out my life in the West, and not feeling the ticking of any kind of clock.

Oh, dating! It’s complicated, and to be honest, I don’t think it is the right hobby for me. I’m open to meeting someone, but it’s not my priority right now. And as an introvert, making a connection with one person, whether it be a friend or love interest, is hard enough without throwing more possibilities in the mix. Tonight the online dating profile is coming down.

Fall in Love

 

P.S. I saw ‘what-if’ guy again tonight. After my run, I was walking home through the Village and there he was — not at a different table, but on the other side of the road.

Making Connections: a Handshake, a Name, and Bandages

candleA few weeks ago, I had an encounter that made me think twice. What if?

It was a lazy Sunday, and cooking for one was the last thing I wanted to do. So, I decided to make my way down to the almost vegetarian café in the Village, the café where I feel totally okay eating alone. As I entered the café, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one dining alone.

He was silently admiring his spread of curry, polenta and fresh vegetables. Well, he was silent until I was about to order, and then I heard a breathy, “Oh my God…..this is Soooo good!” It rang out more than once, making me blush and smile, as though I was eavesdropping on two lovers, who could no longer contain their whispers.  It made me look at my bowl of soup with a bit more enthusiasm. I’ve always had a thing for guys who know how to truly appreciate food.

As I hugged my bowl of soup and felt the sun touch my face through the window, I decided to be bold, take the Bumble approach, and strike up a conversation. I tried to let that introvert go as I inquired about his edible romance. Thai curry. I’ve got this, I thought — I lived in Thailand; I took Thai cooking classes in Thailand. But I didn’t offer that up right away; I decided to do what I do best — ask a bunch of questions to avoid talking about myself. Anyhow, he took the bait.

I learned that although he loves food, enrolls in cooking classes, and enjoys friendly cook -offs, he ended up getting a practical engineering degree. He told me that usually he can’t handle Thai spice, taking off his wire rim glasses, and wiping his glistening brow. At this point, I interjected with my Thai experience. He held up his hands in surrender and teased, “Oh, you lived in Thailand. I can’t compete.” I smiled, he laughed. Then he proceeded to describe the fine art of making phad thai, and how his friends fell in love with his sauce, proving that he could compete.

Still sitting a table apart, we moved on from Thai cuisine to music. In between bites, he told me how nervous he was about tonight, open mic night. The last time he’d performed was three years ago, maybe even longer, but this was something he had to do. I got the sense it had something to do with him leaving San Francisco and the end of his marriage. Yes, he shared all that with me without me asking. I did ask how he ended up in Victoria, and the rest just followed. There was no prodding involved, and he talked about it as if it was a wound that was both fresh and healed.  Realizing the depths of that, I felt somewhat guilty. I was just listening, asking for more.

“What will you be singing? Is it your own song?”

“Bandages. Not my own song, but I’ve made it my own. My wife used to think of me and my version when the song came on the radio.” A smile, but then a pause, “It’s a song that brings back memories too….some hard times. It makes me think of a close friend of mine….she died a few years ago…..”

I let the moment of silence hang there, in remembrance. I didn’t want to ask anymore.

As I eyed the last spoonful of soup, he turned the tables, metaphorically, and started asking me questions. And I obliged with some hesitation. I talked about my limited musical background — clarinet in high school with a band trip to Hawaii. And I touched on my time overseas, a time that shaped who I am today. That part of the world was close to him, his parents were born in that region, but he’d never really explored beyond his family’s old neighbourhoods. I found myself wanting to ask more, but he had an open mic to get to. He was still on the fence about going, but I pushed him. And then he asked what I was doing that night.  And I told him that I was doing laundry.

Yes, laundry.  I put on the brakes. I left that night with a handshake, a name, and Bandages.  Still, a few weeks later, I wonder what would have happened if I had said I was free? Would he have invited me to listen to him play? Would this encounter have turned into something more?