Monthly Archives: July 2013
For a while, I have been describing myself as “very single”. I haven’t been in any sort of relationship in 2 1/2 years, and in that time, I’ve only dated a handful of times with no serious outcome. And I know some of my friends get exasperated with my conversations about why I am single, why it is so hard to find anyone to go out on a date with, why, when I do go on a date, a second date rarely follows but not because I don’t want one.
And I’ve been puzzling through this. I went to a party on Saturday and got in a wonderful conversation with a new acquaintance on the subject of dating in general. We both agreed that OkCupid seemed to be the best way to meet men in the Twin Cities, but that “best” is not very good at all. We both lamented the fact that the gay culture in the Twin Cities is so heavily focused on bars (it doesn’t interest me at all).
But then he asked me, “What’s your type?” And I fumbled around with this. “Compassionate… intelligent… ” But he said, “No, what’s your type? What kind of guy are you attracted to?” And I couldn’t really answer beyond what I’d said.
I thought about this conversation after I got home. I wondered if the problem was that everyone was playing Monopoly, and I was trying to get in the game, too, but was using the rules for Scrabble. I don’t know about other cultures in the US, but the gay male culture, when it comes to dating, is deeply segmented according to physical traits and romantic and sexual proclivities. And, in all seriousness, those things don’t matter to me. Most men have some trait I find physically attractive. I don’t need to date an Adonis, I just need to have enough physical attraction to sustain the relationship. It’s about being realistic–there has to be some attraction, but the Adonises are very few and far between. I haven’t made sexual compatibility a factor in dating, either (though not doing so actually ended one relationship I was in).
My primary goal isn’t romance (which is great) or sex (which is also great) but companionship. And for me to know if a guy is going to be a good companion, we have to be around each other awhile. Unfortunately, the amount of time I need to determine this is much longer than most men (who may be more focused on romance) are willing to give me.
For the longest time, I figured there was something horribly wrong with me. All these wonderful guys (and I assumed they were all wonderful since they left before I had a chance to find out anything bad about them) left me; therefore, I assumed I was bad, wrong, damaged. And I had to work really hard on my self-esteem and self-image to get beyond the idea that my value and sense of self-worth depended on others’ opinions of me.
I got to the point where I started being happy about myself and my life. But still, though I thought myself a good guy now, I was still single. And as I saw all the happy couples around me, as my closest friends settled down and I saw them less and less, the idea was sinking in that I would always be single. I’m no spring chicken, and I came out relatively late (by today’s standards, anyway) , so I’ve felt like I’ve been in this massive game of catch-up. And I’ve wondered if it’s too late for me to catch up enough.
At the party, my acquaintance said, “If you want to date, then there will be someone to date.” But that hadn’t been my experience at all. Or had it?
Today a friend of mine posted an article from Cracked (an aptly named website if ever there was one, it is so addictive). It highlights the reasons why someone might not be having success with online dating. And I read through the article, and realized I’ve had one or two of these issues at various points. There was a time when I was terribly needy and lonely, and not fostering good mental and emotional habits. I think (most days, anyway) that is all behind me.
But it was reason #4 that really stuck out to me. My acquaintance said Saturday that if I wanted to date, there would be someone to date. And the article states that some people can’t land dates because they present themselves as having lives so full that there is no room for anyone else.
And you know what? There’s not! I spend a lot of time on school, extracurricular activities, and the chorus I sing in. I don’t have much time. Plus, I have absolutely no idea where I’m going to be in a year–that is up to the grad-school gods to decide. And the application season is heating up, and that is only going to take more of my time. I would feel sorry for any guy who tried to enter my life for a long-term relationship right now. He would find himself suffocated by my trying to get my career off the ground, and stuck with the uncertainty of whether to follow me around the continent for the next little while.
And you know what else? That’s not a bad thing. I’m going to school for a reason. I’m writing for a reason. And those reasons are all good. Just because there isn’t the sort of space and stability for a relationship right now doesn’t mean it will always be that way. And even if it doesn’t happen, even if I’m always single, there are certainly greater tragedies in the world, and I can still lead a rich and fulfilling life.
I think part of the challenge lately has been the drive for same-sex marriage in Minnesota. It has been almost the sole focus for the gay community in Minnesota for over two years, first to turn down an amendment to ban it, then to support a law to endorse it. Those of us who are not presently engaged in relationships sometimes feel totally left out of the picture–I know I’m not the first to express this sentiment.
And so, I’ve felt that if I’m not at least maintaining a pretense of wanting a relationship, even if I’m not really looking, then I’m somehow defective. And again I’m placing my self-perception in the hands of others.
But it took a random conversation at a party and random article from a comedy website for me to realize there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time, and I see myself getting happier by the day. My future is quite bright at the moment. And if I’m happy and working on good things, isn’t that all that matters? I know that singlehood can’t possibly negate someone’s attempts to make the world better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
So, if you are reading this and are single, ask yourself why. And if there are good reasons why, then rejoice!
Yesterday I celebrated my thirty-ninth trip around the sun. I enjoyed various celebrations for a couple of days, spent with friends old and new. It was a time of merriment and gratitude and laughter (with just a hint of debauchery–hey, I’m no angel). Yesterday began my fortieth trip.
Today I found out about the death of a friend. She was not a close friend, but I had wanted to be closer. Though she died nearly a month ago, many of her friends are only now finding out. This reminds me of how the modern age leaves us less connected than we like to think we are. She was intelligent and talented and beautiful, with a biting wit and a great laugh. She was a gifted actress, and I had longed to write a piece especially for her.
Today people are writing on her Facebook wall, wishing “Rest in Peace”. I’m not going to interfere with others’ grieving process. I will say, however, that I don’t believe she’s “resting”. I believe that the part of her beyond her flesh and bones, the part that we cherished as “Monica”, is no more. This is the sort of thing for which religious people often think that the nonreligious are cold and heartless, with such a grim and bleak view of the world.
I do, however, believe in immortality–it’s just not immortality as portrayed in religious texts. Monica has left an indelible print on all who knew her. Many times she entertained, encouraged, and comforted us, and that impact will not be lost just because she is no longer with us. And those good, beautiful things about her influence us, even in the subtlest ways. And then we pass that influence on to the others around us in our lives. And so that influence passes even after I and everyone I know will be dead and gone as well.
She left behind two sons, nearly adults, who, though I don’t know them personally, are by all accounts good kids. And I hope they continue to be good kids. I hope they carry with them all the good things about Monica and pass them on as well.
And as I look 364 days in the future, at which point I would unarguably be middle-aged, I reflect on my own mortality. And I recognize that I might not even see 40. Life is so very fragile, and so unpredictable. Which is why, each day, I must commit myself to living my life such that, upon my passing, I have left behind good things.
So today, I live with joy and sorrow, with comedy and tragedy, with triumph and pain. I carry the loss of my friend and the spark she left inside my soul.
Today I live.
Tomorrow I turn 39. The celebration has already begun. Yesterday, I treated myself to Glam Doll Donuts. Someone once gave me half of a maple-bacon doughnut from Glam Doll, and it was so tasty I vowed to go to the actual bakery. I had the très leches doughnut and the cherry cheesecake doughnut. Their doughnuts are dense and hearty–very tasty, but two easily filled me up. These are much more like full-blown desserts than something you scarf down at breakfast–definitely a knife-and-fork affair. I’m going back again sometime.
This morning I had a surprise: I was treated to the Taco Taxi food truck on Lake Street, just a few blocks from the brick-and-mortar location. Two tacos al pastor and a lime Jarritos–a very tasty surprise indeed. And tonight my friends and I are meeting at a local creamery for some lovely ice cream. I scheduled my party for tonight because someone else had scheduled another, completely unrelated party for tomorrow, and I honestly would rather have gone to that party than anything I would have been able to throw.
So with a birthday I can’t help but be reflective over the past year. This past year, I really hunkered down in the life of a student and a writer. I picked up a few publishing credits, and I started taking this blog more seriously. I also decided that I would go on to graduate school. This fall, I will be preparing my applications for an MFA in Creative Writing. With any luck, I’ll get into one of them.
It was a year largely devoid of romance. I wish it were otherwise, but you can’t have everything you want.
I made a number of new friends, especially at school, yet I’m socializing less than I have in years. Again, something I would rather see change for the coming year. Fortunately, unlike romance, I have a little more say in the issue. I know of places to plug in socially; I’m just not making the effort. So I need to make the effort this coming year.
Ah, the coming year. It’s going to be very busy with the applications. There’s a chance that upon my 40th birthday, I will be at or en route to a much different location. Whilst I’m applying to the University of Minnesota (honestly, I’d be daft not to), I’m also applying to locations across the map, as far off as Fairbanks, Alaska, and even to two schools outside the United States. After I’ve submitted my applications, it’s completely out of my hands where I end up, or even if I end up anywhere. In the meantime, I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, the best I know how.