Sitting across from a tall sports-fanatic in Hell’s Kitchen a handful of Saturdays ago, I considered my escape route.
The establishment – an Irish-y bar with many beers on tap – was dark enough. It wasn’t a bad pick for a first date and we had simple, meaningless chats over artesian beers and a fried appetizer platter. He came from a great family (check), had a job (check), was moderately entertaining and endearing (check, check) and yes, attractive (check). Our conversation was easy and flowing, without awkward pauses or strange questions or topics that shouldn’t be discussed on a first date (like your ex-girlfriend, take note, Mr. Unavailable).
He was a perfectly good man, but I didn’t feel a thing.
I offered to pay my portion when the check arrived but he insisted, like a gentleman, and I tried to squint enough to picture him as a boyfriend. But it was a fruitless try – to me, he was just another guy. In a very long string of guys I’ve dated lately. On paper – or on their online dating profiles – there is nothing wrong with them, and honestly, we should be pretty compatible. And yet, I find myself twirling my hair, attempting to ignore my phone, making small talk and getting through drinks or coffee by going into journalist mode: asking questions just to hear answers and seem interested, not to actually get to know someone.
That night, I met up with my friend K for a late-night dinner and then with Mr. Wingman for a night out in Flat Iron. I found myself drinking strong cocktails and talking to seemingly strong men and instantly dismissing them as romantic opportunities. Maybe my mind was somewhere else or perhaps my standards are finally reaching an all-time high, but when it comes to dating the past few months, I’ve not only been a little lazy, I’ve just lost my desire to get-up and put lipstick on.
Yet somehow, I’m pretty happy about it.
Though my social calendar has taken some hits lately since my lovely lady friends have all paired up with equally lovely men, and I’ve been spending more time alone (or with the white pup), I’ve found myself retreating back to those first days of the blog. Back to the days when I was still discovering peculiarities of the city and figuring out where my feet were meant to be planted. When I didn’t have many friends and was eager to try new things, meet new people and explore what this beautifully spastic island had to offer me. Back to when dating was just for free food or the possibility of friendship, not of a nightcap. Back to saving money to move, except now it’s to travel overseas with a passport that badly needs exercise.
Back to when I was figuring out how to be single – how to be happy – how to be… me.
Admittedly, this shift was scary at first. I was terrified of losing my best friends or of never going out for a night on the town again. I worried that with moving in together also came marriage and then that baby carriage. I didn’t want everyone rushing toward the family finish line while I took my time sipping lattes and writing these blogs analyzing, for the hundredth time, my (lack of) love life. Then what would become of me? Would I become one of those ladies in waiting, waiting for something I’m not even sure I want… right now? But then after a couple of dates with perfectly good men, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I’m not ready for a relationship.
Or that I don’t want one just yet.
The thing is – it takes a great man to snag a great woman. And my settled down gals paid their dues without ever settling – they’ve been out there on those dance floors and those grimy bars, writing dating profiles and nursing heartaches to get to where they are now. They aren’t living with perfectly good men – they’re building a future with ones that are better than that. My time hasn’t come yet and I’m sure, if the universe is correct like it always is, it will in its own sweet way.
Apparently someday when I’m least expecting it.
I’ve come a long way since that faithful day sulking in a tub over flying solo. Three years, 460 posts, one great love, one bittersweet heartbreak and a dozens of frogs, a dream job and endless experiences later – I’d say I achieved what I set out to do:
I fell in love with who I am – with or without a man. And I’d rather be sans-dude than settle down with just a perfectly good one.