Status update: Everybody loves love

I changed my Facebook status from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’ 24 hours ago, and so far I have received 71 reactions – mainly thumbs ups, but a few hearts too. The funny thing is, I didn’t intend it to go public in the newsfeed.  As I was updating my ‘Education’ and ‘Employment’, I noticed that my relationship status had expired some time ago. In the spirit of honesty, I updated it. Then I saw it in the feed, and little notifications started popping up and a few comments too. (My favourite comment so far has been “What??? I want mooorrreee.”) The introvert in me is debating taking it down. (This is my relationship. I’m not sharing the juicy details!) But the nerdy me, who once upon a time updated Facebook regularly, has kept the post up. My reasoning, everybody loves love. I’m already sharing my love on Instagram. Why not celebrate my happiness and ‘In a Relationship’ status with the Facebook world?! More love, less fake news.

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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….

 

A Soundtrack for Crushes

Do you remember that first crush? Maybe you were in high school, and it never amounted to anything more than a flutter in your heart. Maybe he didn’t even know your name, but you wrote your initials beside his in a little heart on the desk, in your notebook, and on the bathroom mirror. You knew the way he walked, and the sound of his laugh. He thought he was cool, and so did you. You imagined what you would say to him, if he asked to borrow your pen, and smiled at him behind his back.  And then when your eyes eventually did meet, he was the first to smile before you looked away, blushing.  Maybe it became more than that, maybe it didn’t, but you’ll always remember that crush.

And as you got older you still had those crushes to varying degrees. I still remember those butterflies, and how the world would stand still when I was with you. My hand fit in the crook of your arm just so, and you even sat beside me when we ate. You said it was easier to share that way.  I remember staying up till 2am and then texting that same morning to tell you I was on cloud nine. Or was it you that told me that? It’s a bit foggy now, but I do remember I forgot to pay my rent. You were the only thing on my mind. And I remember sitting there waiting for you, then the warmth of your hands on my shoulders when you did arrive, and finally that smile. Even though you were late, it was impossible to get mad at you. That was just the beginning –it all started with a crush.

And if you’re still trying to recall those sweet crushes, let the smooth vocals of  Yuna and Usher remind you.

Adventures in the New Dating World: A Warm-up

It’s a whole new dating world and I’m thinking about joining it again. After experimenting with dating apps, going out with safe pseudo-dates, and consuming books like Modern Romance and movies like Everything Before Us, I’ve decided to let technology help me and have one last pseudo-date.  This is my warm-up.

To be honest, I’m not really sure how to approach dating again, so I ended up creating a profile on OK Stupid aka OKCupid. I know I should give online dating a chance, but after making a connection without technology, I feel like I am taking a step backwards. I feel like something is wrong with me. Yes, this is me being stupid. Studies show that those who partake in online dating are usually university-educated, often with multiple degrees. (Sorry, I cannot find the source to back this up, but I’m going to take my friends word for it, and my own personal research.) When you think about it, it makes perfect sense — look at the data and algorithms that are used to predict matches! Plus candidates are given a space to write a statement of purpose, and to select ideal mates based on personal data, pictures, and good grammar. For brainy folks, that is sexy. So, why doesn’t this online dating excite me? I will save that for another post – this is about my warm-up to adventures in the new dating world!

Before embarking on these adventures, I ended up going out for dinner with pseudo-date #1. As you might recall, this is the platonic friend that drives me nuts, but I still make an effort to impress. This time it was very different. After six weeks in his motherland, he came home with a ring and immigration documents.  When he picked me up, he announced right away, “I’m off the market!”  I went into over-analyzing mode –does he read my blog?

Over dinner, he shared pictures of his wife and her family, a sexy cabinet minister (not his wife), and a meme insinuating that the only happy men are single. Me being me, I called him out on this. He defended himself right off the bat, and even though I pressed the issue, I knew that he was genuinely happy to not be single anymore. He had been seeking stability and the ‘right’ someone for quite some time, and had finally found her.  I was ecstatic for him, and also fascinated by the arrangement process.  After my long line of questioning, we decided to share a dessert. I suggested lavender chocolate mousse — the ‘what-if’ guy had recommended it. The guy who had invited me to an open mic, but I had declined due to laundry.

Waiting for Mr. Right
Laundry is waiting for me…

As I dipped my spoon in the mousse, I noticed the ‘what-if’ guy (with a bit more facial hair and the same glasses) sitting by himself at the bar. Really? Yes, really!  Our eyes met and we exchanged smiles, once again sitting at different tables.  The married man excused himself, and I was alone at the table. It’s no surprise that ‘what-if’ guy did not take this opportunity to approach me — it looked as if I was on a date! And I didn’t have the guts to walk up to him, and say, “I’m not crazy about the mousse, but I would like to get to know you more.” Lesson learned: if you go on pseudo-dates, you eliminate opportunities for real connections.

Yes, that was a bit of a detour from my real adventures in dating, but it was a story worth sharing.  It’s the warm-up and why I believe I don’t need a digital cupid. And you know what? OkCupid was not what I remembered. I received barely any messages — 35, fully-clothed (not even a collarbone protruding), bookworm, elusive answers, what did I expect?!

To be continued…..with the real OKCupid dates.

Love is

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?

 

Sometimes

Sometimes I think I am over him, but then I tell a friend how we met, and  my eyes tell another story.  Sometimes I think I need to be over him, when he passes me on the street, focusing on what is ahead, and it’s not me, but my heart won’t let me be.  Sometimes I wonder why I am not over him, when he once told me his heart wasn’t in it, but my patience persisted then and it still does.  Sometimes I feel that I am over him, but then I remember his embrace. An embrace that told me I was his and he was mine, and that maybe it would be like that forever.  Sometimes I know that forever is only in fairy tales. Sometimes a day goes by when I don’t wonder how he is, or if he still reads my blog. Sometimes a day goes by when I don’t whisper his name before I sleep. Sometimes I think of him and am simply thankful for the memories we shared. Sometimes I am free and my heart simply beats. Sometimes…..

flowers

NBPM #6: Flowers for Friday

Flowers at Pike Place MarketThis morning, I walked into the office at 10:30 and found a beautiful bouquet of lilies, irises, and pink gerbers on my desk. This time the flowers were for me! They were ‘thank you’ flowers from a colleague, on her last day. For a moment, I thought maybe they were from him. It’s been nearly a year since we’ve been through, and I guess I’m still a little hopeful and/or delusional.  Anyhow, I’m not going to get into matters of the heart at this time of night, especially on a Friday. Friday was our day.

 

flowers3Tonight, Friday is for flowers.  Although I would rather receive chocolate, the beauty of flowers does not escape me; the vibrant colours, the intricate petals, the sweet fragrance, all make me stop and appreciate. Flowers on their own are beautiful, but it is the stories and intentions behind them, that warm my heart.  Yesterday, a student at my school received flowers from her husband in honour of their seven years of marriage. Many yesterdays ago, I received white lilies on a first date. Last month, I received a single coral rose for my birthday.  On Mother’s Day, I sent a bouquet to my mother at work.

Flowers say so many things – Thank you, Good luck, Congratulations, Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, You’re cute, You’re special, I admire you, I’m proud of you, I love you, I’m sorry, Get well soon, Let’s try again. The list of sentiments goes on, and the gratitude flowers express lives on, even after they are gone.

Couple buying flowers at Pike Place Market, Seattle
Couple buying flowers at Pike Place Market, Seattle

 

 

NBPM #5: Special delivery

bouquetWe get daily deliveries at my work place — usually of office supplies and textbooks. Today we had a special delivery — a beautiful bouquet. My colleague and I exchanged quizzical looks when the flowers came walking in, but our hopes were quickly dashed once we realized they were for neither one of us. They were for one of our students. We guessed it must have been her birthday, or the day after a lover’s quarrel. My colleague, a married woman, lamented that flowers only came for her on Valentine’s day now, and I shared that I missed flowers, but always preferred chocolate!

I waited patiently for our student to finish her class, then rushed to present her with the vase of roses, lavender, and pink daisies. A smile blossomed on her face, when she saw the flowers, and she told me she wanted to cry.  She was nowhere near tears, and the glimmer in her eyes was of pure joy. It was her wedding anniversary the next day. Her lack of surprise told me that this wasn’t such an unusual thing for her husband to do, and she told me pointedly, “He is sweet like this.”  Me, being as inquisitive as I am, asked her how long she’d been married.  Seven years –seven years and a little boy in kindergarten, living in a different country, far from her native land.  All three of them are students, too -what an adventure!

Now as I recall my day, I think about that special delivery, just before lunch. Even though the flowers weren’t for me, they added some beauty to my day. They stirred memories in me; memories of a time, not so long ago, that I had a special someone who was ‘sweet like that’ and would bring me flowers, chocolates, and even a whole cake, just because. And I know it may sound silly, but those flowers and my student’s smile made me believe in romance….and love again.

NaBloPoMo day 25: Work it out

Maybe I don’t give such realistic breakup advice. On NaBloPoMo day 17, I suggested that sweating it out is better than crying it out. That’s not always true, especially if you haven’t been sleeping or eating right. I know this from first-hand experience. Tonight as I was running up and down on my step in SWEAT class (yes, it is all in caps), I lost my balance and fell backwards. I didn’t land gracefully, but I managed to pick myself up and keep going. I even managed to fight off my spontaneous tears that have been making regular appearances lately.

tears

Sometimes you need to just work it out, and keep going. That is what I am learning day by day. I’m not sure if it is getting any easier, but I’m grateful for each new day that comes. And I have moments where I’m actually able to see the humour in all of this. I imagine it was a comical sight watching me fall on my bum in the middle of class tonight. And then there was hot pot and Google translate with my student. I still feel a bit guilty for driving her to smoke a cigarette. Only a little guilty. And I’ve been sporting a Gothic look these days, as I refuse to wear waterproof mascara. Sometimes I am able to laugh at myself. 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.

NaBloPoMo day 26: Daydreaming & letter writing

Hindu offeringLately, I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming. That’s what I like to call it, but sometimes my mind is just blank ~ I’m not here. My mind wanders away from me, and I am unaware of the world around me. I’ll be sitting on a bench reading a book, and then I’ll drift off. Sometimes it happens when I am with my students, and then I use it as a teaching moment. “Do you know what it means to daydream?” Then we’ll talk about our daydreams. Maybe it is a kind of meditation. Maybe it is my way of making sense of my reality.

I’ve always been a daydreamer. I’m not sure why. There are so many possibilities, so many choices. I’m left wondering if I made the right decision. What if I had done things differently? What if I had never moved to Thailand? What if I didn’t say “Yes!” to the date? What if I had never sent that message? Perhaps, it would be like this or like that. I daydream about the other outcome. It’s not living in the past, present, or future. It’s living in my head. And I know it’s not always healthy. I’m not embracing my reality.

Lately, I’ve been drawing blanks, or filling up pages. I sit in quiet contemplation, and welcome the nothingness that enters. There is something calming and peaceful about it. It is a reprieve from my heartache. Then, I also welcome the random, and crafted thoughts that could fill an entire novel or a lengthy letter. Sometimes they are so eloquently put together, that they bring me clarity. They are letters to myself, letters of love and compassion. They are letters to that special someone, letters of love and gratitude. They are letters that I don’t know how to write. They are the letters that reside in my daydreams, and in my heart.