(Because apparently one is meant to talk about love this time of year.)
I don’t write too much about my dating life, mostly because I don’t exactly have one at the moment. For me, it has historically been (as the silly saying goes) feast or famine. I am either entangled in a bunch of scandalousness, likely as not stepping out on at least one person, or I am alone for extended lengths of time, likely not even looking for anyone. Lately, it has been the latter situation, mainly because I don’t know anyone I would consider dating who is single and not already my friend. I think this singleton life is just fine, because after the slew of unsavory dudes I had been dating before this recent phase, I think I deserve some damned time off.
The hits of the past include, but are not limited to: possessive control-freaks, drug addicts, felons, bi-polar alcoholics, dudes with girlfriends, dudes who never want to ever have a girlfriend, dudes who are also hitting on my girl friends, and dudes who split up with me and then slept with other dudes. I have been in dubious long-term, long-distance relationships; strange short-term relationships that were always just on the cusp of something intriguing; relationships where I only saw him every two weeks (but for twenty-four hours at a time, wink wink); relationships that were such a secret from everyone uninvolved that I often wondered if I was imagining them; and relationships (and I wished I was imagining these!) where I was afraid to ever look in the dude’s refrigerator, toilet, or shower. I have split up with dudes I happily never saw or heard from again; dudes who remained my best friends for a dozen years after the fact; dudes who dated slews of nineteen-year-old skanks after me, only to suddenly realize at the point of some “life-changing” event that it was me they still “loved,” so they snuck up behind me and dropped an anvil-like love-letter on me from the safe remove of a mailbox thousands of miles away.
So, yeah, I needed a break.
It’s not that things had been all bad — not at all. I have been with amazing people; some of my favorite people; some of the best, funniest, smartest, kindest people I know. And the moments! Oh, the moments! The moments you know you have to remember, so you do; you write about them and draw them out and color them in and play them back time after time, because they are the tiniest moments and they contain so much.
You don’t have to try so hard, though, because they are moments that can write themselves into your memories and into your chemical composition without your knowing. They are the memories you come back to again and again, when you need them, when everything else seems total shit and you have to explain to yourself once more why you don’t kick his alcoholic, commitment-phobic, deceitful, secretly-gay, felonious ass to the curb already, because fuck it all, dude ain’t going to change. And you know that.
It’s easy when you’ve been single for a while to forget about the whole dating thing — after all, there is only so much time in a week, and it’s more than enough to squeeze in a PhD and teaching and writing and a part-time job and friends, and it’s impossible to imagine giving any of that up (or even just partially shirking it) for something about which you feel completely ambivalent. I mean, love is awful, isn’t it? It can be all pain and anxiety and sacrifice (but it can also be a gleeful, bubbly stomach and goosebumps and moments of complete solace or pleasure or elevation or all of those at once). It’s fucking exhausting, and you just have to forget about it all, because everything else you have has got you full-to-bursting and, in this moment of selfishness, you can only tend to yourself.
I totally bought these for myself.
It’s just as easy, though, to get sour on the whole idea, fixating on things like the utterly insignificant but telling fact that in the last ten years, the only people who have given you flowers are your mother and your college roommate, and both of those bouquets were given on the same day, making that a ratio of approximately 3549 flowerless days to 1 flowerful day. And all that would mean nothing, except that, embarrassingly enough, you care.
It seems hard to end this discussion, not because I don’t know where it’s going, but because I don’t exactly know where I’m going. But I can’t exactly sit around forever waiting for someone else to come to the rescue with a bunch of red tulips when they are there — right there! — at the grocery store. So I take things into my own hands (heh), I open my own pickle jars and squish my own spiders and check my own oil in the car. I try not to get sour, and I try to stay on this comfortable even keel, which is a good life: sleeping diagonally across the big, big, too-big bed and puttering around in the mornings, talking to the cat and the dog, walking around in my underwear, and never, ever finding someone else’s pubes stuck to the soap.