Eight months ago I purchased this blog. November 1, 2017, was a busy Wednesday. I awoke knowing that I wanted and needed to break it off with a man whose understanding of truth was uniquely his own. I registered for training with Vote Run Lead, and a few weeks later traveled to Minnesota to consider if I would run for elected office. I also signed up for my first improv class at Westside Improv, where later that evening after breaking it off with the untruthful dude I met some amazing people, one of whom has become my dear friend.
I’m introspective this morning for a couple of reasons; Table for One being one of them, and July 1, being another.
While I purchased this WordPress blog November 1, a month would pass before I mixed my own potion of introspective thoughts, aspirations, courage, and vulnerability to make my fingers tap on the keyboard until some semblance of sense manifested on the monitor. I committed to write everyday for 90 days straight and I did. During that exercise, I also applied the 90-day rule to Alanon, to my career choices, and to my decision to sell or keep my home. I’ve come to appreciate the timespan of 90 days.
Table for One has been on my mind because I haven’t written as much I’d like. I have 60-plus drafts of blogs stopped and started. This week I wrote a blog in the back seat of an Uber driver’s car. I’m starting to realize that the structure and routine that allowed me to make that 90-day goal, is no longer present. I can’t wallow in yesterday. I must accept today, and as I’ve learned recently from one of my fellow yogis, the only thing I can control in life is how I react to life’s constant iteration. So when the time to write is only available in the back seat of an Uber Driver’s car, well carry on and blog.
I celebrated a Table for One milestone yesterday. I acquired my 100th follower. Accomplishments like this one, where I had no strategy in place, I didn’t seek it and yet it materialized, are very pleasant surprises. It’s an achievement that the world gave me. Now, I hardly feel I deserve it. But I whole-heartedly accept it. And am grateful for it. I don’t feel I deserve it because even though I commiserate with fellow bloggers and followers, I don’t typically give a shout out to every person who follows my blog. With bloggers, I don’t always return the follow. I’m discerning about who I follow and what I read. In other words, I don’t reciprocate the gesture for the sake of being polite.
I’ll call back this point in a moment.
So today is July 1. And I like this milestone. We are halfway through the year. 18 years ago, I packed up a moving truck, attached my Honda Civic to it, and my sister and I headed to Portland, Maine. I woke up for the first time in my one bedroom apartment on Independence Day. The symbolism of that morning has never been lost on me. Five years later, my former husband and I were 28 days away from having our first and only child. We didn’t know if we were going to have Bridget Ellen or Jackson Lee. What we did quickly learn is that no woman should spend her last month of pregnancy during July. I remember that time as an Emperor Penguin, waddling around in anxious anticipation of the birth.
July is a fantastically transitional and explosive month. Summer takes full hold, the monarchs are aplenty, the lighting bugs glowing, the hibiscus readying to burst, and my first ever hollyhocks have exploded like a wondrously brilliant pink firework.
Last year around this time, I went on my first dates, courtesy of digital applications that make matches. Modern dating is transactional, and as one friend described it, “Every time I told my story I felt like I moved farther away from my authentic self”. I get it. I put my foot in the water, waded, escaped, shut it down, set it up, shut it down, and repeatedly cursed out its existence. I applied my 90-day rule in January to one dating application, and stopped shy of the finish line. It was more tiresome and disgusting than fulfilling.
Yesterday, I thought it was time to try again. The difference today is the lesson of my fellow yogi, I will control my reaction. In order to help what I react to, I set up a filter, which means I paid for it. Yes, I paid for it. I gave it 30 days and purchased an upgrade that allows me to see everyone who likes me. Now, I can still have an organic match, you know the I swipe right and he swipes right and wow, ding, ding, ding, it’s a match. I can also look at the “New Matches” queue and I can see all of the 161 likes. That means 161 men swiped right for me.
And, to make this a wisdom building experience, I thought I would use this as an experiment. I’ve not written much, if anything meaningful anyway, about online dating. So, I thought let’s explore the bad rap. I harken back to November 1, when I realized that his definition of truth was different than mine.
My friend Karin and I detailed this married, separated, mistress, getting busy, nonsense to another friend last night. The only seeking hook-ups and more. Our married friend was enlightened and mutually disheartened. But to have fun with it, and in the ultimate act of trust and vulnerability, I let she and Karin go to town on the then 112 men in my “like” queue. Yep, in the course of six hours, there were 112 men who liked me and were just waiting for me to reciprocate. A married man nearby joined in the fun and offered his advice. They had fun being me. So matches were made, words exchanged, and in some cases matches undone. I was fine, kind of sort or maybe, with it. Because if your friends can’t help you get a date, who can?
I jumped in again to this transactional world yesterday because as I wrote about reciprocation it seemed timely. I knew my willingness to look at people, straight on, and make eye contact was my gesture to the world that I am ready. The challenge with the modern dating world, is it takes awhile to make eye contact.
Which brings me back to reciprocation of the gesture. Just like with following fellow bloggers, I too am discerning about who I like in these dating apps. Early on, I did reciprocate the “like” gesture, in part because I was being polite. I ignored the gut instincts that said move on. I found myself stood up and or on dates with nice men, but for whom I had little interest. My motivation in saying yes was my logic that maybe there is something that I don’t see in him. Having had a good 90-day sabbatical from online dating, I know this. Truthfully, I can’t see what they want me to see if, in fact, they want me to see something because I can’t see them. I can’t make eye contact. So I’m forced to rely on my other senses to discern which direction to take.
This morning I will spend a little bit of time sorting through the “like” queue. I’ll block the obvious cheaters and liars. I wouldn’t want my significant other on the prowl, so I’m not going to contribute to that kind of deceit. I will review the conversations that my friends started last night, and decide what if anything happens next. But, I’ll also get on with the business of my day, including making eye contact with people, speaking with those important to me, walking my dogs, replacing the lawnmower I blew up yesterday, canvassing my precinct with summer literature from the local Democractic party, and simply living in the present.
July is a month of metamorphosis. We move to our next best iteration. I find that transition occurs best when we are present; living a life that revels in the here and now, is open to what’s next, and avoids the rabbit holes of what if’s that force us to sacrifice our authentic selves for the fakers, cheaters, and liars. On Independence day this country owned its truth, through its severance and birth. The Fourth of July is a great reminder to each of us to own our own truth, too, because inside of us beautiful firework-like hollyhocks are ready and waiting to explode if we give them permission.