Valentine, Schmalentine

I happen to be one of those people that love Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status.

I’m not one of those “love to be in love, but only when I’m with someone” types, who post embittered “Happy Single Awareness Day” photos when I don’t have someone to see when I come home.

Single Awareness

In all honesty, I love any day that’s focused on love.  I don’t care if I’m single; I’m still loved.

So I had two opportunities not to spend this special day by my lonesome, but I chose to avoid both options.  You might call me crazy, but (at least at this point) I value my time too much to waste it with someone that I’m not feeling.  Feel free to tell me your thoughts when you read both scenarios, but I’m telling you, I’m better off cooking a meal, having a glass of wine, and enjoying the next episode of Scandal.

Scenario 1:

So I met this guy, and so far we’d only gone out for coffee.  There were so many things I found fault with that I thought maybe I was just being picky, but I eventually gave in and had to veto this option.  He was younger than me, and though I don’t typically have a problem with age, his age just showed.  He was needy; he constantly sought my approval about everything, fished for compliments like nobody’s business, but kept trying to assure me that he was mature for his age.  I wasn’t buying it, and I let him know that I didn’t feel he and I were on the same page.

Of course, he balked, so sure that the (several year) age difference couldn’t mean he didn’t know what “to do,” but how could he argue with how I felt?  In all honesty, to me, he didn’t come across like a man.  He came across like a kid.  We’d talk, and he’d go off on long tangents that had nothing to do with anything.  Sometimes, he’d text me random song lyrics he was hearing on the radio.  And his grammar made me cringe.  Ridiculous reason not to date someone, perhaps, but please don’t ever let your reaction start with “And so, I be like…”  Um, what IS that??

Youthful characteristics aside, something about his voice made him unattractive to me.  This sounds incredibly nit-picky, but before I even had the thought myself, he told me that he’d been asked before if he was gay because his voice is rather effeminate.  Um… was I supposed to think differently?  It just sort of highlighted the fact that there was no deep, manly, testosterone-dripping voice on the other end of the line.  As a result, there was just no way anything he said in a flirty manner was read as such.

When he asked if he could take me out for dinner and a movie on Valentine’s Day, I debated it for a while.  Although most of my friends, and even my parents, thought I should go for the free meal and movie (who can pass up Die Hard?), I just couldn’t do it.  The worst part about it was that I could have agreed to the movie if I could skip the dinner — that way we wouldn’t have to talk.  Terrible to say, but the honest truth.  In the end I told him that I thought he was really sweet (read into that what you want), but that I didn’t want to take advantage if I wasn’t really interested.

Scenario 2:

I met this guy a few weeks ago, who only randomly texts me.  Mind you, I’m really not holding out any hope for this guy — he doesn’t live in New Orleans — but he said he would be in town and wanted to see if I was available to go out.

Something about his request made me pause.  He was extremely attractive, definitely a man, a couple years older than me.  But still, I just didn’t feel right.  Something I noticed during all the texting (and absent conversation), was that he really never tried to get to know ANYthing about me.  I mean, really?  I know I don’t look brand new, folks, so he can’t possibly think I’m that gullible.  But he did.

When he mentioned wanting to get together, I told him I wanted to get to know him better first.  He agreed, so I asked him a question about himself.  He didn’t bother to answer the question.  Still hasn’t.  But yesterday, he sent me a text to ask if we were on for tonight.  Uh… what?  So I told him that he hadn’t even bothered to answer my question, and I felt that was indicative of his interest level.  I’m not doing Valentine’s Day or weekend trips if you don’t even want to know who you’re dealing with.  He said he’d been busy, but you know that’s BS when 6 days go by and he still has yet to answer one question.

I’m not the chick that has such little confidence or self-respect that I could go there.

* * *

Even with such terrible prospects, I don’t blame Valentine’s Day.  It’s a day, folks.  It’s what you make of it.  If you’re depressed because you’re single on Valentine’s Day, face it — you’re depressed EVERY day.  Love yourself.  Know that, if today were your last, YOU are enough.  If you don’t think so now, why should anyone else?

Love is out there, but don’t sacrifice who you are to try and find it — you’ll find something else completely.   I believe that to be true.  There’s no use in wallowing — your outlook affects what you attract.  You can enjoy Valentine’s Day whether you’re in a relationship or not, so opt for the one that can actually lift your spirits.

Cheers!

Roses

I’ll Call You

This three word phrase is almost as dreadful as the four word phrase “we need to talk.”  Why do people even utter the words?  We all know what it really means, having decoded the line the first time it was used:

They’re not really going to call.

I guess I always wonder what the point is in lying?  Please don’t worry about sparing my feelings — I’d rather you be up front with me.  If you’re not interested, want to pursue other prospects, the timing is wrong, whatever the case may be… just say it.

And when did this whole “let me spare your feelings” thing start?  When did people stop being straight with each other?  Were people EVER straight with each other?  If you’re not really going to call, and you’re never going to see her again, what is the point in trying to let her down easy?  Why try to gently sever the ties, only to risk her calling you anyway to figure out what happened, why you haven’t called?

In all honesty, I think that you earn so much more respect when you can be up front.  No one’s asking you to be lovey dovey here; all I’m saying is don’t say you’re going to do something if you really aren’t going to.  There’s no good that can come from creating an expectation that you have no intention of meeting.  Just let her know what it is and walk.  She won’t break into a million pieces — women are stronger than you think.

Seriously, I would say it to you…

Grow a pair.

Boxing Butterflies

I still have butterflies when I see him.  I can’t help how I feel; my heart just hasn’t been able to catch up with my mind.  I know at this point that it’s best for me to let go and walk away, but when I see him I just can’t.  Who he is, how he is, what he is… I’m still in love with him.  In spite of obvious flaws, shortcomings, and his own demons.  Truly unconditional — something he wasn’t ready to return or face.  How I feel isn’t logical, productive, or even right anymore.  But it IS.

And, in all honesty, I just can’t stop.  I want to, to save myself some hurt, but I can’t.  In my mind, I know I have to let it go, I know that I’m enough and that I can survive without him.  I just want him.  And when he walks into the room, everything I feel comes rushing back like waves, pulling me with the tide.  How he ended things wasn’t right; I deserved better treatment, no doubt.  But I can’t deny what we had, or how quickly I react when he’s in my presence.  I haven’t accepted the entire picture yet, because bringing everything into complete focus means having to address the mistreatment and the immaturity.

But being around him for over a week on a tropical island like Barbados?  Complete torture.  Seeing his ex constantly in his face, obviously still harboring her own feelings?  Killing me slowly, like the death of 1,000 cuts.  Wondering whether he would succumb to her advances because she’s right there in front of him, and we all knew he could get it if he wanted to?  Hell.  Beautiful, tropical island hell with a big cup of rum punch to fuel the flames.

We were civil.  Most days I felt like he was avoiding me, which I understood.  Guilt can do a number on you, and it has certainly been doing a number on him.  We had a heart to heart one day in an attempt to clear the air, and honestly I think that he expects me to make advances to get him back.  He thinks that I will ask him to come back to me, beg him for a reason, or let him into my bed just for a fleeting moment of reminiscence.  Thankfully, though my heart hasn’t caught up with my head, I can salvage enough reason and self-respect to know that I can’t (and won’t) ask him back or open myself up to more hurt.  I may not be ready to completely let go, but I’m not going to beg someone to be with me.  I don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t want me.  That’s been my saving grace.

It’s sad, but I wish he would give me a reason to hate him.  Maybe he has, and I overlooked because I feel the way I do.  But hating him would make things so much easier, because I wouldn’t struggle against letting go — I just would.

I have everything I need for closure.  I’m almost there.  It’s akin to packing for a move.  I have the box and the tape all set.  But my heart has to let go of these feelings so that I can pack them away.  I’ll always have some feeling for him, but this box needs to go in the garage and stop cluttering up my house.

Time for a little spring cleaning.

The Dating Rotation

Do you ever try to keep your calendar full so that you don’t have time to think about the fact that you’re very much single (and maybe a little lonely)?  I’m not afraid to admit that I do.  Especially around the holidays, more than any other time of year, I miss having someone to spend time with.  I miss cute little gifts (and big expensive ones too), cuddling up when it gets cold outside (though I’m starting to think there’s no such thing as cold in New Orleans), and making plans for the new year.  I’ve filled up my calendar, made some new friends, and kept myself busy at work so that I don’t really have time to think about it, but I still do.  Why is it always so difficult to find someone that wants to be there?  Wants to make an effort, actually cares, can be 100% real?

I used to have what I called a dating rotation, but my BS meter failed me on several occasions, and I’m to the point now where I’m so wary of nonsense that I don’t want to bother.  Each person in the rotation served a purpose.  One was fun to go out with, watch movies, shoot some pool, etc.  One was more of the “stay in” type for movies, cuddling, and well… you know.  One was a total foodie and would explore restaurants with me or be my guinea pig on new recipes I was trying out.

You may wonder why I decided to date a bunch of people, but there was a real reason.  Alone, each of these guys wasn’t boyfriend material.  They were good for certain things, but none of them really fit the mold of what I really needed.  I never lied or gave anyone the idea that we were exclusive, and I was forthcoming in admitting that I was dating other people.  I expected the same honesty.   I kept the rotation because I knew I didn’t want to fall for these guys, and what I had in place kept me from developing feelings for any one person.  And it worked for a while, but I eventually wanted more.  Just not from any of them.  Maybe I sound like a terrible person, but there was no deception.  We all parted ways amicably, one by one.  And then it was just me again.  And then I had butterflies… and, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out.  I was so sure about that one, would have done anything for him, but it didn’t matter.  At least not to him.

Though I’ll be the first to admit that I want someone right now, I don’t have the energy to start up another rotation.  Maybe it comes from turning 30, maybe I’ve just decided that all of the BS isn’t worth the trouble of dealing with a few.  I just want one.  One that I can be dedicated to, be myself with, share and experience things with that wants to be with me in the same ways.   Someone that’s willing to work at it, will tell me when I’m wrong, but who will also hear me when I’m right.  I don’t need pretense, nor am I looking for an immediate fix.

I’m looking for real.  Well, maybe “looking” isn’t the proper term… I’m praying for real.  When I look, they’re never right.  I assume that’s because when we know what we want and need, we try our best to make the person in front of us fit the mold.  But they don’t.

Everyone says to just let it happen.  Well, my white flag is waving.  No more rotations, no more quick fixes.

If it doesn’t have true potential, I just can’t do it anymore.

A Warrior’s Wall

I don’t honestly believe that time heals all wounds.  In some instances, like love, I do think that time can mend things and eventually open you back up to the possibility of a new love.  However, in other areas (like loss), some wounds just aren’t meant to heal.  Some people are irreplaceable, and they leave a void when you lose them.

Even with such loss, you may never find adequate closure.  The wound may stay fresh, but you have to find a way to continue moving forward.  I mean, you don’t have to if you don’t want to… but you should.  The tough part about loss is that we humans like to believe in something called hope, and sometimes hope leads us straight onto a path of denial.  When you lose someone, you don’t want to believe it’s true.  You don’t want to believe that the last time really was the last time.  You hope it’s wrong.  Even if you know for sure that it’s right.  They’re gone.  You still hope, against the odds, that somehow some miracle will bring them back.

But nothing will.

One of the scariest things I’ve learned about loss is that I have to depend on my memory to keep my lost loved ones present.  My mom said to me, about a year after my sister passed, that she’s been writing down all of her memories of my sister.  She’s afraid she’ll forget something, and she believes forgetting dishonors my sister’s memory.  My mom hasn’t completely moved on, and I don’t think she ever will.  And I’m not even saying that she should.  But I worry about her.  I worry that she’s so focused on my sister’s life that she’ll completely lose the opportunity to live her own.

Losing memories of my sister worries me too.  I don’t think I’m all that great at grieving, honestly.  I always have to be prepared to be the strong one; ready to pick up the pieces when anything goes wrong.  I can’t let down the wall and be vulnerable if I have to be my family’s warrior.  When the wall is up, you learn to smile a lot.  You have to.  A million things could be going wrong, but you have to keep it together.  Show a brave face to people, so much so that they don’t know the difference between true happiness or the wall.  They don’t recognize the wall because the brave smile becomes the default.  Smiling is my grief mechanism.

Maybe it isn’t the best thing, because I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t dealt with everything I feel, but at least I acknowledge that this is what I do.  There are very few people that I let see the other side of the wall, perhaps because I worry that someone doesn’t really want to know everything that I’ve been through.  I also have learned that, in the past, I trusted too easily.  I don’t want to continuously repeat the same cycles.

At the end of the day, you’ll find me smiling.  Every once in a while you may see some other emotion flash through my eyes, but I pick it back up and keep pushing.  My baby sis would have it no other way, and it brings me great joy to keep working toward accomplishments that I know would have made her proud.

The wall is up high, but I know when to bring it down.

Barbecue and Elvis

Well, I’ve been away a while… did some soul searching, still experiencing butterflies, and (oh yeah) I moved to New Orleans.  Big change, but a good one, although if you move somewhere and then get a hurricane warning on day two, you might think otherwise.

I have to admit, I’m used to earthquakes.  Though there’s no warning, they happen so frequently that it has to be a huge one to make any real difference at all.  If it’s not above a 4.0, I may not feel it at all.  If it’s not above a 6.0, I won’t be concerned about aftershocks or any major damage.  But hurricanes, that’s different.  You may know days ahead of time, and some people may think a category 1 is nothing, but I’ve never experience one, nor have I been educated on them.  A category 1 and Katrina could be the same thing to me.

Obviously, I’ve been doing my research, since one is looming ahead before I’ve even been here a weekend.  I’m nervous, to say the least.  I’ve already been warned about my job’s hurricane procedures and policies, and I’ve been told there could be a mandatory evacuation by the city.  That may be the norm to locals, but it’s pretty unsettling to someone who’s never lived outside of California.  I’ll deal though.

Before I left Los Angeles, I joked with co-workers that if a hurricane was coming, they could find me in Memphis.  I figure it’s far enough north that the hurricane will have dissipated, and there’s some damn good barbecue.  Plus, there’s always the possible Elvis sighting, right?  Ironically, the first hurricane I might experience comes before my car has even arrived.  So much for Memphis.  Maybe I’ll just harness a gator and ride to Memphis.  Can beignets be used as water wings?  Crazy talk, I know, but it’s easier to make light of things you don’t completely understand (and are admittedly afraid of).  Mother Nature can be a beast.

I will say, in the short amount of time that I’ve lived in New Orleans, I’ve rekindled my writing motivation.  Something set a spark in me today to get out to a local coffee shop and write.  I got down a whole chapter in no time, and it felt so good to be back to getting words on a page.  Something about this city just breeds creativity; there’s an openness about the people here, and so much history.  It’s a beautiful thing (though if I could, I’d nix the bugs and this whole hurricane business).  I’m very excited to see what else is in store for me here.

Eggshells

Ever feel like you never know the right thing to say?  Or that even if you say what you mean, that it will be misconstrued?  Or that you’re just walking on eggshells, dealing with a bunch of different personalities, knowing that tension is running so high that anyone could snap at any second.  Ever looked someone in the face after having heard all of their secrets, knowing they have absolutely no idea who you are?

I’ve learned that the best laid plans fail, even if made with the very best of intentions.  Just because you make them, it doesn’t mean that they’re not meant to be broken.  Or that anyone will place the amount of importance on them that you did.

I think I’ve come to the end of my planning rope.  Whatever happens will happen.  Life goes on either way.  I’m resigned to the fact that maybe I’m the only one who wants anything beyond happenstance.  If you’re strong when it comes to matters of the heart, you learn to adjust and move on.  Even when you don’t want to.

Too Open

So when I last left, I was taken over with butterflies.  I couldn’t get enough. But maybe he could?

It’s not that we’re on bad terms now.  There just are no terms.  I don’t know what to expect, and I don’t think he wants me to.  Some might look at it as mind games being played, but I know better.  I think that’s why I haven’t really done anything to stop what’s happened. I know that he needs to put himself first — this may be the first time he’s ever done that.  But it’s what he needs.

He came to visit me.  Waiting for the day he arrived built up so much anticipation.  I think we both knew that we would enjoy each other’s company, but we both were prepaaring for the worst.  We had an amazing time together; couldn’t keep away from each other.  When he had to leave, I think he was ready to take a step back.  Unbeknownst to me, of course.  I was beyond smitten.

I fell, and there wasn’t any denying it.  But I think the difference between us is that I was looking for something before we met.  He wasn’t.  And there it is.  I won’t ask if there’s such a thing as “too open” or “too ready.”  I was ready, and he wasn’t.  It’s just that simple.  I can’t blame myself, because it’s taken me years to get here.  I can’t blame him, because he didn’t think either of us could have feelings this fast.  But I did.  Maybe he did too. But he knew enough to stop things, or at least put them on hold (whatever this is) until he could actually do something about whatever it is that he felt. Maybe.

All I know is that I’m getting on a plane in an hour.  I don’t know what will happen when I get there, but I do know that I wouldn’t object to having his arms around  me one more time.  If the season has ended, I look back with no regrets.  I was ready, I was open.  That’s progress.  There are still butterflies to be had.