“We want adventure.”
“What?” I put the phone on the kitchen counter and clicked it to speaker. “Picturing me strutting around in my jeggings wasn’t enough of an adventure for you?”
She laughed. “No, that was fun. We love hearing about your progress and we’re all cheering you on but really, it’s time to start dating again. Just like you said. That’s what we all want to read about.”
I sighed. “I know.”
Every once in awhile, Tina’s husband will surprise her on a Friday evening with a stack of gossip magazines and a chilled bottle of white wine. He’ll tell her she’s relieved of her ‘Mommy Duties’ for the night, set her up on the couch, hand her the TV remote and her phone and then he’ll spend the rest of the night playing with Jordan and letting her do whatever she pleases. This usually involves her drinking the wine, watching ‘Real Housewives’ and catching up with her friends.
She had called me on her second glass, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. I was home cleaning and uncharacteristically, not drinking. I had her on speaker because I was scrubbing down the stove and she had me on speaker because she was giving herself a manicure.
“I know,” I said again. “That’s what the blog is supposed to be about. ‘Adventures in Dating as a 40-Something in NYC.’ I haven’t forgotten the premise. I’ve just gotten a little…derailed.”
“So what’s the hold-up?” she asked. I could hear her blowing on her nails to dry the polish.
I wiped a Lysol cloth along the front of the oven. For someone who didn’t cook too often, it was rather grimy. “It just takes up so much time,” I said. “Going online, reading profiles, emailing people, and then actually meeting them. Ugh. I’d rather be doing anything else.”
“Why can’t you see it as fun? Dating is supposed to be fun.”
This made me laugh. I threw the cloth into the trash. “Tina, the only people who ever say that are people who are under 25, who are in a relationship or who have just gotten out of a relationship. I can promise you. Dating is not fun.”
“What’s not fun about it? Getting dressed up, meeting new people, going to new places?” She sighed. “That sounds like an awful lot of fun to me.”
I bit my lip. I have to continually remind myself that the way we all see each other’s lives is not how they necessarily are. I’ll look through Facebook sometimes and want to cry because everyone there looks so happy and married and are parents and homeowners and more successful and I’m home alone drinking wine and rolling cat hair off the couch.
But I also know, that some of these same people, those who’s lives I covet, are the same people who will e-mail me after reading the blog and say that they’d always thought my life was all hot dates, hot affairs, hot ‘Sex and the City’ plot-lines. And they will have been envious, watching my fun NYC life scroll through their feed. Now, they know the truth. And it’s not so fabulous and it’s not so enviable. It’s just life. I can only assume that is the truth for their lives as well.
So I have to remember that someone like Tina – who’s been with the same man since she was 19 years old, can not even fathom what is like to be single for 8 years at the age of 43 and how she would think dating is fun and an adventure. Just like how I can not fathom how she can get irritated with her husband over certain things and complain about situations that to me seem like nothing. But she does not know Single and I do not know Married.
“Let me put it this way,” I said, as I opened the fridge to get a Bud Light. It was 9pm and I figured I had accomplished enough productivity at this point. “Let’s say you had a good job, a job that was okay, but you wanted more. You wanted a better job.”
“Okay,” she said and I could hear her pouring another glass of wine.
“Okay.” I grabbed the phone and moved to the couch. “So let’s say you put together your resume and emailed recruiters and started interviewing.”
“In the beginning, you would be excited. It would be challenging and fun. This whole idea of a new path spread in front of you.”
“That’s what I’m saying!” she exclaimed. “You have to-”
“I know that’s what you’re saying,” I interjected and actually held up my hand to stop her from talking, even though she couldn’t see me. I piled the couch pillows together and laid back. “But imagine if you kept on interviewing and emailing perspective companies. Over and over and over. For years. And nothing permanent came of it. And you kept trying and you kept putting yourself out there. And you kept getting rejected and getting thwarted. After a while you’d get tired, right? And you’d lose hope maybe. And you’d be frustrated. And after 8 years of this, you might not be so enthusiastic to go online and search the job boards and send in your resume and go on another interview. You might sort of dread it.”
She sighed. “Dating is nothing like looking for a job.”
“It’s exactly like it,” I said, maybe more firmly than was appropriate. “It’s the same thing in that if you want something really bad and you keep trying for it and you don’t get it – eventually you’re not going to enjoy the pursuit anymore.”
“Okay, I see what you’re saying,” she said and her voice sounded sad. It made me sad to hear it.
My mind flashed back to the previous Saturday night.
One of the awesome things my company does, is that it has a program where you can award other employees ‘medals’ which then correspond to a set number of points. These points, when accumulated, can then be exchanged in an online store for certain purchases. The store is quite expansive and has everything from electronics to gift-cards to clothing to a charity of your choice. Because my co-workers are awesome, I had a number of points to redeem last month. After scanning the store for awhile, I came across a stair-stepper. With twisting handlebars that would whittle your waist while you stepped. This caused me pause. Maybe instead of drinking wine while watching ‘The Bachelorette’ I would step my way through it. What a way to cut down on drinking AND get in some exercise!
Stop rolling your eyes. IT COULD HAPPEN.
Anyway, it arrived that Saturday morning and I decided I was going to put it together that night. Now, I am pretty self-sufficient. I’m an only child and have inherited from my Dad a determination to fix things myself. When I went away to college, he gave me a little blue toolbox with the words “Do It Herself” on the cover in raised letters. When I moved into the real world, it was so worn out I replaced it with a more rugged and extensive version.
Ninety percent of the furniture in my apartment, I have built. I can fix most minor plumbing problems. I own an electric screwdriver with a variety of bit sizes.
I am not afraid of ‘Some Assembly Required.’
So how hard could it be for me to put together a stair-stepper?
So. That was a little daunting.
But I poured myself a glass of wine, grabbed my screwdriver and stood over the instructions with hands on hips. I nodded my head and scowled at the pamphlet on the floor. Don’t even THINK of fucking with ME, Stair Stepper.
Bring. It. On.
It turned out to be really hard. I found myself sweating and needing to take breaks. I’d sit back on my heels and wipe my palm across my forehead and then fan myself with the instructions.
But there was not one single minute that I wanted someone there to do it for me.
It took me waaaaay longer than the pamphlet indicated it would. But after many false starts and many erroneous connections, I put it together. When I finally pushed it up to standing, I felt like I had accomplished a miracle. I climbed up on it and gave a few tentative steps. To be honest, it was a little rickety. But it worked.
I hopped off and then did a victory lap around the apartment. Which took literally 2.5 seconds because I live in a Manhattan studio. I put on Imagine Dragons’ ‘On Top of the World’ and danced around and fist-pumped into the air and grinned like a maniac. I was elated.
Then the song ended.
And I found myself in the middle of the living-room, breathless from my chaotic dance moves. I looked around the room and blinked twice.
I was alone.
And I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so alone.
I had no one to celebrate with. And it was then that I really wanted someone there.
So I posted pictures of my achievement on Instagram and Facebook and online friends and strangers congratulated me and it made me smile in a sort of melancholy way.
My Dad always says the greatest thing about being in a relationship is sharing your life with someone. Not just sharing things together, but sharing your outside experiences with someone. Someone to congratulate you on the highs and have your back during the lows. That is what I miss the most.
And, truthfully, I don’t just see it as a one-way street. I want to be there for someone else’s life too. It’s exhilarating to be a part of someone’s ups and downs. The other day, my friend was over and she told me of a new career path she is taking. I was so excited I almost burst into tears. I skipped around my apartment and clapped my hands and toasted her with my half-filled champagne glass. The people in my life, their adventures, good and bad, I am honored to be a part of it. THAT is life.
Tina was wrapping up our conversation. “It’s bath-time. I’m going to go join the boys. I can’t stay away.” She laughed lightly.
“I know,” I said.
I could hear her re-corking the wine bottle. “I think I’ve had enough alone time.”
As I hung up the phone, I thought to myself, “Yeah. Me too.”
I laid back on the couch and I clicked on my Kindle and tried to read. But I couldn’t focus. I sat up and dug my fingers into my temples. The Cat jumped up and aggressively headbutted her way onto my lap. I leaned into the couch and sighed, my hand running over her head absentmindedly.
I was tired of having adventures alone. Like, really tired.
And that’s when my resolve steeled.
I was going to find a partner goddamnit. None of this waiting to lose weight, or waiting to have more free time or waiting until my bad haircut grew out or waiting for whatever, whatever, WHATEVER. No more waiting.
And I was going to look for this person like it was my job.
Like. It’s. My. Job.
Another TStone Production.