Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How to Stay Single--when you want to be

As of one week ago, I was selectively single. Today, I’m still single.  I’m just more convinced that I’m ready to seriously consider being in a relationship—or at least ready to commit to he idea of getting to know people I would seriously consider being in a relationship with.
That wasn’t always the case.
After my divorce I decided I needed some time to just be: Be a mom; be myself; be alone. During this time I rediscovered things I like to do; music I like to listen to; things I want to experience. I rediscovered myself not within any of the number of roles that define slices of my life—but me when my roles are off.
To society being single is a cause.
Eventually I expect to see walks, telethons and drives to eradicate the state of being single.  Friends, family, coworkers worry about singles; I’m not sure why. Reveling in my singularity I’m statistically more likely to be happier, to live longer, and to smile more—at least more than I did during the declining years of marriage—than if I were in a relationship for which I was not ready.
And they—relationships I mean—seemed to be everywhere.
When I was young “Excuse me, can I talk to you for a minute?” usually resulted in my having conversations I did not want to have. “Can I have your number?”  resulted in my dodging phone calls or in giving the number to some phantom residence.
Rejection always seemed kinder when I wasn’t around to do it.
Today, these questions are met with “no, thank you” or “no”: I don’t indulge in conversations I don’t wish to have: another benefit of divorce and maturity.
Remaining single in 2012 is not as easy as it looks. Here are a few tips—not a few easy tips; not a few nice tips—just a few tips.
1.      Just say no: friends, family, coworkers and strangers will try to set you up on dates with people they presumably care about. If you aren’t ready for a relationship, why say yes? Say no early and often. Saying no after asking what he does for a living, how he looks, and why he is available only make it appear that you are weighing the option and he’s coming up short.
2.      Develop confidence in your own skin: spending time with men you have absolutely no interest in dating is one of the fastest confidence builders.  First, love yourself and the skin you’re in.  If you need to make changes for you to love the way you look—do that. Then, spend time in places where you least expect to find someone you would go for.  Warning: love doesn’t typically adhere to plans or timelines, so just because you aren’t looking for it, doesn’t mean it’s not looking for you.  Still, when you are not ready for a relationship and if the wrong person comes along, you’ll be able to strike up conversations, etc…without the possibility of anything more lasting forming.

When I wanted to be in a relationship but wasn’t quite sure, I spent time looking in a place I was least likely to find one. I met a lot of interesting people, but I didn’t seriously consider them.  I admit, this probably wasted a lot of people’s time, but I never pretended to be more ready than I was.  I didn’t string any one along—intentionally. Still, spending time there only made me more sure of what I want when I want it. It also helped me appreciate things like: the importance of telling people no; the value of my time; the value of other people’s time and the art of beginning and ending a conversation.

3.      Immerse yourself in life: find the thing you are truly passionate about and start doing them.  Join or cobble together clubs and groups that are doing what you like to do.  More time doing leaves less time to get to know anyone.
Warning: while you are out living life and doing what you love—you may find yourself meeting and getting to know people you identify with; people you want to know more—people you can consider friends. Some of my best dates have been with friends…Having friends in your life who share the same interests when you aren’t ready for a relationship means you won’t jump into a relationship just to have someone to go to readings with you.  It also means when you are ready for a relationship, you know where to find people who share your interests.

Ok, so it turns out there is no clear cut formula, no magic, no list of tips that will make life less messy.  The only advice is make a choice.

If you aren’t ready to date: don’t.

And if you are, when you find yourself ready to make room for someone else—jump in with both arms open wide.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Feet Don't Fail Me Now

I don’t look down when I walk.

I look in front of me, around me, sometimes behind me, but I don’t look down when I walk. Probably, this says a lot about me: where I’m going, how I got there.

Last week I was helping a friend move—if we are still calling it that.

“You have to be careful about this,” I said, looking at the 6 inch (in my guess) black corkscrew nail sticking out from the floor.

This should have been my first clue. Even with my glasses on, I don’t see well enough to have known it was a six-inch black, corkscrew nail.

My concern was that my friend would walk out onto her balcony without shoes and step on the nail.

So, it turns out, the nail was not in the floor but was in the screen.

I found this out when I walked through it.
When I look down, I don’t see where I’m going, I see how I’m getting there. Maybe that’s why I don’t do it. In life, I often over analyze the steps it takes to get from where I am to where I want to be.

That should make my path more logical, my choices more coherent, my successes more certain. Sometimes, it does. Other times, analyzing the steps keeps me from taking them. Often, when I’ve tried, watching my feet causes me to stumble or slow my pace. I get where I’m going eventually, but mainly only once I look up.

As of today, the screen door is still laying beside, not on its track.

I don’t look down when I walk.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Things I Tolerate

A banana.
That’s really all my 3 year old wants. 
A banana—right now.
So, we pull into the 7-11 on Lombard and Broadway in search of a banana.  While I am no 7-11 Connoisseur, I have visited more than a few 7-11’s over the past 37 years, though only recently for fruit.  As a last-minute meal planner and mother of three, I make frequent trips to the grocery store, where I usually buy fresh fruit along with things I either do or do not need at the time.  In fact, during my son’s banana melt down, I have four yellow bananas fresh from the groves of Giant Supermarket slowly ripening on the top of my microwave.
Despite the patented 7-11 layout, it takes a moment to orient myself once inside.  There, near the counter, where they seem to be in most 7-11’s, is the largest basket of brown bananas I have ever seen.  I wonder if he’ll eat plantains, I think.  Though the sign clearly reads bananas, the brown-spotted, banana shaped, not-quite-thick-enough-to be-considered plantains, are not bananas.  Those that aren’t brown-freckled are completely brown.  All are soft, some quite mushy, none quite edible.
My 9 year-old-son helps me find the least offensive of the over-ripe offering. Finally, with a brown-streaked banana in hand, I prepare to pay fresh-fruit prices for second-rate fruit.  Would they try to pawn off bad fruit at the 7-11 near my home in Woodlawn?  No.  At the large, brightly-lit 7-11 downtown?  No.  At the 7-11’s I have frequented in and around Catonsville, Glen Burnie and elsewhere?
“Yes.” the cashier says.
Her ‘yes’ is in response to my presence.  I am supposed to translate that into the ‘can I help you?’  I expected to hear.
I ignore the incensed beating of my heart, the outraged rushing of my blood, the maddened urgings of common sense.
“Are these supposed to look like this?”  I ask.
“I don’t know what they are supposed to look like,” the cashier answers.
            Rudeness, over-ripe fruit, asinine cashiers, I know people suffer these inconveniences every day. 
There are injustices I tolerate.  For whatever reason, brown-freckled bananas are not one of them.

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