Saturday, June 28, 2014

Anticipation makes the heart grow curious (and occasionally cool to wait)

So this might sound a little whack-a-crack (I just made that up), considering all the whining and wisecracking I do pertaining to the subject, but sometimes I love that I haven't found my man yet.

At church recently I met a woman who's older than me and also never married, and she told me that her twenties were her hardest years (they certainly have been for me so far). As we got to talking about singlehood and being in it for a long while, she also told me this: "You will like yourself so much better for it." I didn't expect to have an encouraging conversation with her during our first meeting, but I got one.

She actually recently got into a relationship, and we were talking about the juxtaposition of having no one to check in with (single) and always having to check in with someone (taken).

Maybe the first thing out of my mouth in response was: "I read all the time."

It is one of my biggest hobbies, that being single allows me to do a lot.

Every night, man, this girl is a-readin'. I'm tearing through Susan E. Isaacs' "Angry Conversations with God" right now. I have found a kindred spirit in Susan. She wrote about her frustrations with faith (as you might guess, from the title), being single well into adulthood, moving cross country, therapy, writing. She even briefly mentioned a cat that helped her during her struggles.

I'm just reading this book and I'm like, "Gurrrrl, when can we get coffee and talk more?!"

I stay up late and read this book. I take potty breaks. Sometimes I turn off the light, realize sleep is not coming, turn the light back on, read some more. Get hungry, get up, secure a snack, eat that snack in bed.

Is anyone complaining about this? Nope. Because it's just me in this little 400-something square foot apartment. Though I'd like to spruce the place up a bit by adding a purring feline.

So, you know, sometimes I love the fact that I can just read a crap ton of books right now in my life.

(Yes, I struggle with extreme depression and anxiety and loneliness and doubts in my faith, etc. etc., but I kind of think those things will always be a struggle to some degree, and I'm here now to talk about the flip side of all the badness of singleness. I'm here to talk about some of the goodness.)

There's ample time to read, and cross stitch, and pet cats when I have them on hand, and watch all those shows on TV Land that a bunch of my friends (single and not) don't know about.

Plus I can pick up and go places, and enjoy this crazy good connection with my other single friends, a lot.

I spent Thanksgiving last year in San Jose with a precious friend, watching Christmas movies and drinking wine in his living room. On Valentine's Day this year I watched the moon rise over a desert road as I drove to Vegas to see a dear friend from college who I hadn't seen in something like seven years. It was not awkward, it was just great to see her, and be reminded that we can still get hit on (one guy who was fresh out of college -- or maybe still in it? -- parted from us with the words that we were beautiful. We were sad to see him go).

I'm going on a cruise in December. I have a spare ticket to see Kathleen Madigan in March. I've got nine months to find someone to go with. And I'm so blessed with a ton of great friends to choose from. My friend who I met up with in Vegas is considering flying here for it. We're also talking Europe trip, 2016.

I can do all that right now. And it's kind of awesome.

Does the other, not-awesome stuff suck? Oh of course it does. But again, we're here today for the mostly good stuff.

I went to the beach today. It was a long drive, and traffic was annoying, and I had to find bathrooms along the way, and the experience was awesome at points and lonely at others. At one moment I was lying, belly up, in the sand and almost fell asleep. The waves would suddenly become louder, like when you fall asleep near a TV and all of a sudden it sounds really amplified and you realize you were dozing.

At another point, I was watching these (grown) boys, in their mid-to-late twenties, probably, playing in the ocean. There were five of them, then six, then seven. I so wanted to go play with them, because I never swim here due to the really strong waves and no lifeguard and -- spoiler alert -- I'm usually at the beach alone, so I don't have anyone to chaperone me. And I wanted to play with them to potentially flirt. Of course I didn't have the nerve (but thought maybe I did) to just go get in the waves with them, but I went to the edge of the water, and let it hit the edge of my shorts as I watched them. I think I wanted to be with them a)for the always-there ridiculous could-be-lovers scenarios I think in my head*, b)to just hang with some boys -- I love boys, because: c)I miss my brothers, and being with men takes me back to my childhood, I think, in a strong way. I'm kind of always in my element with men. That something I'm not meaning to say.

*By the way, I wasn't planning to become the stunning girlfriend of all seven boys in the ocean, just one.

After I got in the water to get a closer look at my prospective boyfriends, my legs were stinging. I shaved this morning, and the salt was getting acquainted with my pores.

I loved it. I love that stinging sensation.

Because I love the ocean. That's why I went, and put 100+ miles on my car today. Because I know that even if there are lonely moments in the process, it gets me out of my apartment and I know that salty air and ocean breezes and (even if some of it makes me feel on the outside looking in) people watching and let's not forget SEAGULL WATCHING make me happy. And they calm me.

During one of my pee breaks today, I stepped into a hotel near the beach to use their bathroom, and I saw a group of people outside heading in, with a cooler, probably full of booze. They seemed at ease, about to start their vacation, happy, chill. I got jealous and then thought that sometimes it's me with the booze and the friends and the hotel. That was me last summer, singing pop songs with Tom and Brad in a rental car headed for Nebraska, then dancing my ass off at Kari's wedding, then later in my parents' basement singing songs on Guitar Hero (and rocking them) with college friends I hadn't seen in years.

It's not always a party. I don't even want it to always be a party, but it's hard when you're vulnerable and fragile and feeling Very Single to see another's party, or what seems to be one, and not jump to a bad place of jealousy and anger and annoyance and hopelessness.

But sometimes you just have to breathe, put on some classical music, talk to God and tell Him that you're not sure you even believe He's listening, and you wonder if He's mad that you're not sure you believe, and you ask Him to get you through it, and tell Him you want your life to be happier, and then tell Him you hope He's not mad that you're requesting such a thing, as if what He's given you isn't right. And you buy some fish sticks at the store and you go home and eat them and turn on Dawson's Creek, and then end up blogging.

(By the way, tonight's episode of Dawson's is one in which Joey's professor tells her she's a writer, and so the torture has just begun. Breathe. Take a bite of minced fish. Breathe.)

But back to my original point.

The other reason that I sometimes feel glad that I haven't settled down with my man yet is this: I like the anticipation.

I know, I know. That's basically the exact opposite of my sentiment -- and yours, too, I'm sure, if you're in my boat -- when things are hard, and when I'm cranky, and it just feels like fists in the air, #%&! AAAGGGGHHHHH! Hurry up already! I'm a catch, and if I want at least three kids spaced out nicely, then things need to advance-a-mundo in the romance department.

But sometimes, legitimately, I get this weird, bubbly giddiness inside me thinking about the fact that the surprise is still a surprise.

I remember distinctly asking my childhood friend Jenni, when we were maybe 11, if she liked Christmas Eve or Christmas Day better, celebrationally speaking.

(I know that as a Christian, Christmas Day should be the obvious choice, because before Jesus shows up we're just suffering, but then again, not alone and not without God. (I'm just getting nervous here, trying to layer in too many metaphors with this blog post, so I'm trying to clarify what I'm saying)).

She thought about it for a moment, then told me her answer, which (I think) was Christmas Eve. And I knew when I asked the question that Christmas Eve was my preference. (Celebrationally, in an A.D. context, not in the context of my faith and what Jesus means to me).

On Christmas Eve as a child, I was effervescent. My brothers and I used to put on these performances for our parents at home, and we would prepare for weeks (and as we got older, um, days) beforehand. At first we reenacted the traditional Nativity for our performance, though I use "traditional" loosely, since Gumby guest starred.

Later we got more creative (one year, several stuffed cows came to visit baby Jesus. Several cows. We also may have got the family cats involved).

Anyway. There was prep for the evening performance, then church where there was usual candy, then dinner/performance, then opening of out-of-state relatives' gifts, then trying to sleep.

It was just one thing after another, fun and excitement still coming.

For many years I declared Thanksgiving to be my favorite holiday, because that was really the beginning of the anticipation season, late November through January 1st.

I actually don't love feeling high and hyper all the time, but I guess I just love beginnings?

I know I love surprises.

So sometimes, if you catch me in a non-cranky moment, if you could chisel your way into my brain, you would see imaginings of who my lad may be. Maybe he's in a coffee shop in New York right now, reading. Maybe he's hott. Built, like those guys at the beach today (oh, did I not mention that detail earlier?). Maybe I'll meet him tomorrow, or in a month, or while I'm wearing something ridiculous. Maybe I'll meet him and think it would never work between us, think that he would never be interested in me, and then be proven wrong.

And when I know I've found him, I'll think, "So now we know it wasn't one of those guys in the ocean. It wasn't that guy whose lips I used to stare at in the newsroom. Or the one who made me laugh so much, or the one who..."

Or maybe I've already met him, and that's the surprise.

But it's still a surprise.

Beach photo credits: Michael Martens (Note: taken at an earlier date; I didn't pretend to be alone today to romanticize this post.)

    Gumby photo credit: that would be Mom or Dad.

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