Ugh. Ugh and yuck and ugh. When I think about dating after divorce, I become super articulate. It’s like all the elements of the uncomfortable reality overtakes the part of my brain that can formulate anything more than “ugh.” The last time I really dated, I was in my early twenties. I looked young and alive and…firm. I was fit and free of baggage–emotional and physical. Yeah, my hair was sometimes unruly, and I sometimes needed makeup tips (I, apparently, liked to put on eyeshadow after a few cocktails), but I could wear almost anything and feel good. And dating was really nothing more than meeting a cutie at the club, busting some moves, playfully laughing at him as he tried to keep up and eventually reverted to grinding his pelvic area into my backside, and then maybe he’d ask for my number or want to buy me a flat beer for a quarter. It was all really romantic. Okay…the opposite of romantic, but it was easy. Less business, less algorithms, and more stupid, empty pleasure. I miss stupid, empty pleasure, if I’m being honest.
The chemistry either happened right there on the dance floor, or it happened across the crowded basement of some house party as you danced an impromptu routine to Prince’s Kiss. Chemistry was obvious, or at least less difficult. Sometimes, you could help it along with a few Dixie cups of beer, Boone’s Farm, or a shot of Jaeger. Where did those days go? Wherever they went, I can’t go back there after a decade of marriage, a divorce, two kids, and generally less firmness. What to do now?
Apparently, I don’t live a life that’s conducive to meeting single, felony- and STD-free, heterosexual men in person. It could have something to do with the “I’m-at-the-grocery-store-not-a-beauty-pageant” and “I-really-do-believe-the-gym-is-for-working-out” style and attitude I undoubtedly go around with in the world. When I’m not at the grocery store or the gym, I’m teaching 19 year olds English stuff or sitting in some Lit class with my fellow PhD candidates (all of whom are married and/or 26). Both places are not big pick up scenes for me. But when I look into the crystal ball of my future, I’m less than thrilled with what I see. In my mind’s eye, my youngest son is packing up his hand-me-down SUV that his older brother left behind when he went away to Harvard two years before. He is excited to settle in to UNC or USC or UC Berkeley where he received a full academic scholarship. I am excited to take that long-saved college fund and travel around Europe for the next three months, and after my final “baby” turns to give me an authentic, not at all obligatory hug before putting pedal to metal, I go to wrap my arms around the beautiful, solid, nurturing man by my side–except—um, there isn’t one of those there. Instead, I am forced to wrap my arms around myself ’cause I am alone. A. Loney. Lone. Lone. Lone. All by myself. Yep.
Possible desperate future times call for definite desperate present measures. So…I paid my membership fee and filled out my online profile. Who am I looking for? Let’s see, a non-murderer/rapist, please. I’d like not to be attacked at any point. After that, I’d like a man who’s single and divorced only once, if at all. I’d like him to have NOT cheated on his wife and left his kids. I’d like him to make upwards of $100K so he doesn’t feel threatened by my salary at all–and he doesn’t need any of it. I’d like him to have a full head of hair and not be skittish about Caesarian scars. I’d like him not to post any shirtless pics or pics of him with other women. That would be great. I’d like him to be secure enough in who he is that he is willing to follow me around as I carry on with my career. I’d like him to be assertive without being a domineering ass. I’d like him to have a master’s degree in something fascinating like rocket propulsion or history or gender studies. I’d like him to be more than okay with a woman who has kids, but in no way think she needed help from him to raise them. I’d like him to be funny, but not goofy. I’d like him to be wicked smart. Maybe even with a Bostonian accent. And be totally accessible. And honest. And self-aware. And faithful. And grown up. And I’d like him to choose me every single day, but be okay with using the bathroom and closet down the hall because he knows I’ve grown used to spreading out my crap. Too scary specific and demanding? Fine. The dating site forced me to narrow down my wish list into pithy little characteristics anyway: I’m a woman seeking a man between the ages of 35-45. Just checking that box makes me feel like my grandparents. When I was a kid, I remember my grandparents being in their 40s. And now I’m looking to date someone who used to be my grandpa’s age. In my head, that’s just old and weird even though being in your 40s is not old or weird. In my head, sometimes I’m still 11 and waiting for puberty to hit, and other times I’m in my 20s and still look like I’m in my 20s. Either delusional way, dating a 40-something is ugh. And yuck and ugh. But my profile is up. Make it rain, dating site. Make it rain.
Currently online, it’s not quite drizzling. Once, on an early morning run in Illinois, it was misting. It was the time of night/morning when the dew was fully present, but the sun was not even close to being awake. The air was wet. You couldn’t tell whether moisture was coming down from the heavens or whether the dew was being stirred up from the ground. The water was like fine dust, whirling around everywhere without committing to being real rain. The only way I could really feel the wet was when I ran my hands over my hair, condensing the mist and making it gather just enough to equal raindrops. For me, it’s the same annoyance as dating online. I’m getting poked and winked at, but it’s not raining. Right now, I would have to run my fingers across the keyboards to get some rain started and generate some email chatter. And I’m not willing to do that yet. If I have to make the first, solid move, he’s probably not going to be up to the challenge of dating me. Until then, I’m stuck with the three emails I’ve received so far. The first reads, “You’re beautiful and I’m not looking for anything serious;” the second one states, “hello.” I presume he wrote such a short note because mystery is supposed to be an aphrodisiac. The final email reads, “For some reason, I can imagine you with a European accent.” Yikes.
Looks like my imaginary future of wrapping my arms around only myself is coming closer and closer with each click. Oh well, at least I won’t have to share the long-saved college fund.