table for one
Wednesday. 11.6.13 9:39 pm
It was seventy-seven degrees and mostly sunny, today, in my beautiful college town. I got out of my last class at noon, and sat around for half an hour doing nothing before feeling this intense sense of Why Am I Here?
So I left. I stopped at the drug store and grabbed a bottle of water, then at the bookstore for a new book to read. My employee discount makes paper novels worth buying, sometimes, in a time pinch with a dead Kindle, and anyway I was replacing a book I'd lost so I could read it a few more times.
Then, I started walking. The funny thing about walking in my town is that, often, you'll get wrapped up in where you're going and not think about where you are. But then, on days like today--which don't come often, by the way--suddenly I can see everything again: the tall palm tress bursting out of the sidewalks, the packed-in historic buildings, the old streets, the sky... After not so terribly long, I found myself at the park by the ocean, and settled in a tree branch to read. The wind rocked me as I read, and occasionally I would look up at the ocean and bask in what I had access to. Living here is a privilege I too often forget I have.
After a long read, I started feeling hungry. I'd remembered passing one of my favorite cozy restaurants, on the way, and how the craving for fresh bread had hit me like a sack of rocks.
So I stopped in, on my way back.
This was my first experience eating alone.
The staff was pleasant, placing me at a table and generally leaving me alone while I read. The only things I had to say to the waitress were my order, and then my request for a check. One of the employees stopped by to ask me about the book I was reading, and what it was about, which was challenging, because it was a Vonnegut novel, and his novels are about everything and nothing, really. I settled on telling him that it was a novel about human choice. Fate, luck, happenstance.
He liked that answer.
He liked that answer so much that, after I'd paid and left, he came running after me with a handwritten note--written on the back of an order receipt--introducing himself and complimenting me. At the bottom, he drew a Vonnegut asterisk.
I smiled the whole walk home. Strangers are wonderful, and so is eating alone.
Unfortunately, I had to think.
I've been wondering a lot why my love life is so shoddy and temporally-limited, and this kind of...added to my ponderment, because I started thinking about idealism versus reality. I think that I see dating as such a weak structure for learning about someone because it's always been an idealist venture. It's hard to form into coherent thoughts, but I have it all in my head, so I'll try to be systematic:
Let's say you start as friends. These two friends see each other in a variety of situations, in the context of real life: studying, watching movies with people, doing the ugly laugh, maybe sometimes crying...you see these people, and you get to know every part of them in a relaxed atmosphere, and then those feelings start to develop, and that's how you get to maybe dating, but mostly a relationship. Friends tend to come as they are because there is no politeness, really, in friendship--you're there to challenge the other person, and that's part of the reason why they picked you.
Then, okay, otherwise, you start as strangers. Strangers, who like something in each other, something that catches attention. The first thought after meeting this person, for some reason, isn't, "I would like to be friends with this person," it's "I would like to date this person," and that brings me to kind of a problematic area.
To me, it feels like it's skipping a step. I've heard others talk about the same thing--how it doesn't really feel real, going through the motions of dating, without ever really breaking the ice. How are you going to break it, anyway? Over dinner? Out for ice cream? No, it's going to be way later, when both of you have started getting invested and doing couple activities, like staying in and watching movies (not that it's always a couple thing), and by then, anything you find out that really, really breaks the deal is found out a bit too late.
(You know I dated a homophobic individual for several weeks before finding out? By then, I was starting to really like this guy. It was an emotionally-elaborate ordeal.)
I've said it so many times before that it makes me ill, because I say it, but I never seem to change the behavior: I hate dating. I would love to go sit out in the grass on a warm, sunny day, and just talk for hours. I would love to bring our own sandwiches and our own drinks and just enjoy each other's company without the overbearing pretense. I hate the awkward pause after a waiter asks if the checks are together or separate. I hate having people immediately say "Together," and pay for me. I like paying for other people, sometimes, but it would be fine, all the same, to me, if we never paid for each other, outside of a relationship (and even then, just whenever we wanted, no expectations).
Relationships--especially marriage--should be like getting to spend tons of time with your best friend, but with sexytimes. That doesn't come from dating, for me. It comes from genuinely seeing that person, rather than a foggy idea of a person.
Monday. 10.28.13 5:34 pm
Sunday. 10.27.13 3:42 am
So, I meet this amazing guy, that night during the bake sale. Perfect. Awesome. I can stop worrying about dating, because he's amazing and wonderful and I want to focus on dating him and building a romantic interest between us.
THAT IS A SUPER THING.
Then I go out tonight and meet someone else who is genuinely incredible in a different direction.
Saturday. 10.26.13 12:54 pm
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