I don’t normally do this, but buckle up for a sappy blog post that was initially going to just be a Facebook status update but ended up turning into this monstrosity.
Two years and seventeen days ago, I messaged him on OKCupid and told him he was stunningly gorgeous.
We started talking online and did so for a couple weeks.
Two years ago today, I met Dan for coffee at the local Panera.
I wasn’t quite sure if it was actually a date since he was so recently out of his marriage, but I thought that it would be cool to have an offbeat friend in the area even if anything romantic was off the table. Though he was real pretty so I hoped that maybe we could do some smoochin’ eventually.
I warned him about my manic nervous energy and flailing muppet arms, and he generously shared a deep and honest portrait of himself as we talked for hours that first date.
When he texted me afterwards, thanking me for making his first date in 6 years “a non-scarring experience,” I was so honored. He told me I felt safe. That meant so much to me that he felt like he could be vulnerable with me so fast.
(I needed a photo for this post for the link image and I couldn’t think of anything non-cheesy for the life of me, so here, have these silly photos.)
I was meaning to write a blog post this weekend but couldn’t figure out a subject that I felt strongly about at the moment. And you know how I just need to really FEEL something to wordvomit a blog post.
And then I got a Facebook message from an ex that I had dated right before my ex wife. It had been a few years since we had talked and I was reminded of some things that I had said while we were together that I had been meaning to apologize for.
That sent me into Contemplation Mode, where I began to think about my exes and what I’ve learned over my nearly fifteen years of dating, including six serious boyfriends, one girlfriend-turned-wife-turned-ex-wife, a handful of casual things and/or Things I Wished Had Been, and random dating here and there.
I have full respect for those people who date one or two people and find The One and settle down, but I know that, for me, I’m grateful for the variety of people I’ve dated because I’ve learned so much about what I want and need in a partner, what kind of partner I want to be, and what I want my identity to be while in a relationship. Even if that means I’ve been in way more messed up situations and experienced more heartbreak than I’d have liked.
For the first 25 years of my life, I had publicly identified as straight. There was a whole lot going on under the surface there, and I had begun to realize my queerness a couple years before. I had been an outspoken ally for the LGBTQ+ community in college when I began to realize that perhaps it wasn’t actually a sin to be gay and people couldn’t choose to be homosexual, but the process of coming out to myself was a longer one.
Next month, it will be one year since my divorce was finalized.
I moved halfway across the country and began a new job one year and three months ago.
I moved into my current, cozy little studio apartment with my dumpstercat Chet one year ago this week.
I began casually dating eight months ago, convinced that I wanted to “play the field” and try out “ethical non-monogamy.”
About five months ago, I began dating this super cool guy, and about three months ago, I realized that I had no interest in non-monogamy or “playing the field” anymore and I was perfectly content to be in a “real” relationship again. No anxiety about what I could be missing, etc. And no weird residual hangups about my divorce. It’s pretty awesome.
I have settled into my new life. My New Normal. Nestled into the cozy reliability of a routine, a steady paycheck, a great health insurance plan (for now…), a place of my own, and reliable snuggles.
I’ve seen dozens of think pieces, of Facebook posts from friends and strangers, telling me how I should feel about myself and my outlook on this year. I should feel lucky, I should take a good hard look at myself and realize that it’s all my damn fault that I’m not happy (forget about the fact that we have no control over some very serious shit that can happen like death and poverty and mental illness and abuse and it’s a very victim-blaming way to think about it to tell us we can just snap out of it.)
Personally, I’ll admit that 2015 was the bigger dumpster fire for me. That was when my depression had gotten its worst ever, and shit hit the fan with my marriage. 2016 has been a year of growth and rebuilding my life.
But for this country, 2016 has thrust me into a huge amount of worry. But that’s out of my control in many ways.
So what are my take-aways for 2016? What have I learned? How have I changed?