Back in June I had my 48th birthday. At the time, I didn’t have any big celebrations because there was a lot going on with work and travel and family. I wasn’t feeling 100% well, either, and was tired a lot. I did have Happy Birthday sung to me twice that day: once during a phone meeting by my colleagues halfway across the world in India, and a second time that evening at knitting group. It felt good that I had people who cared about me enough to sing to me.
Talking with friends and my sister about this year’s birthday I made the observation that while I couldn’t say I felt old, I definitely no longer felt young. My earlier illness, the hot flashes at night and during the day, and the chronic sleep deprivation from trying to work an east coast schedule while living on the west coast was taking its toll on me.
Around this time I found a Regina Spektor CD at the library and was reminded of the lyrics to On the Radio, which seemed to perfectly fit with my mood.
This is how it works
You’re young until you’re not
I listened to the song a lot as I kept pushing through an exhausting month. Then it was July and I got sick again. Luckily I was able to start putting some balance back into my life in July as I recovered. I spent more time reading and thinking, and reflecting on past events in my life and how I got to now.
Over a year ago it was suggested by a colleague that I get the Gallup Strengthsfinder book to get more insights into work that appealed to me. The results of the personality test were not surprising to me, and reinforced my understanding of how my mind works. My key themes are Input (I absorb information like a sponge), Context (learn from the past), Restorative (I love to find solutions to problems), Learner (I love to learn), and Intellection (I’m introspective and need time to think and reflect). So it’s probably no surprise that I was reflecting on the past, trying extract lessons from it, and thinking about problems in my life I wanted to solve.
I started asking myself if I was OK with not having romantic love in my life. Specifically I was asking myself “Is it enough to have the love of some close friends and family? Am I happy with that?” I never got to a more definitive answer than “maybe.”
You love until you don’t
You try until you can’t
I thought that the best way to address the cycle of loving and losing was to close up shop for a while. I had adopted that attitude after breaking it off with B. I had told myself that I would spend my first year here focusing on building my friend base and settling into small town life, so that’s what I had been doing.
All my thinking about past relationships had led me to think that I was just not good at the dating and relationship stuff. I was being introspective about my marriage, in particular, and feeling sad. But I wasn’t closing myself off completely from men because I was doing social things like hiking and going to other types of Meetup events. I was friendly but not flirty. I wasn’t trying to attract dates and made attempts not to let myself get drawn into conversations that could be considered risqué.
I had a couple of outings with one new male friend that I met through a Meetup group. I was anxious about doing any one on one outings with a man, but I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in dating, just making a friend and that seemed to go OK.
As I moved through the sadness I started reading some of the more spiritual books I kept from my move and continued to reflect. And I started thinking that maybe what I had been dealing with weren’t problems to be solved, but just experiences to live through.
Then it was August. On an evening after work I was hiking with my group when one of my fellow hikers mentioned that he had a two person kayak and asked if anyone wanted to go kayaking. I said I liked kayaking, and he suggested we should go that weekend. But I had to decline because I already had plans for my weekend, so the conversation moved on to other things.
I did want to go out kayaking with this guy, so I contacted him a couple of days later to set up plans for the next weekend and we ended up talking on the phone for a bit about logistics and talking about different places we could go. Before we closed the conversation, he mentioned that if I wanted to get together for something else, like a movie or a play that I should feel free to let him know.
So I thought some more, and I kept thinking about how appealing he was. All right, here’s the blunt statement: I thought he was sexy. Although he didn’t look at all like the type of person I usually am attracted to, he was really flipping my switches for some reason. I spent a few hours that afternoon working through my weekend chores and thinking about what I knew about him. I considered whether I could or should suggest that we do something that night. I recalled that he had been asking around for recommendations on where to get a massage during our hike. I made up my mind to take a risk and sent him a text suggesting that we do to little place in town that did chair massage that night. And he accepted.
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
We met at the chair massage place. We had our massages and after we walked out he asked if I wanted to get dinner. With no hesitations I said yes, so we went and had dinner and talked a lot. I was still a bit nervous, but eventually it got late enough that I just became tired and he took me home and that’s where it ended that night.
A few days later he texted me. I was having dinner my neighbor, a really cool older woman who likes to cook for me and others on a regular basis. I had been telling her about my recent outings with the opposite gender and how I was wanting to keep one strictly friendly, but another one maybe not just that. I showed her the text; he asked if I wanted to out to a movie that night. Neighbor lady suggested that I invite him to my house for a movie. So I did and he came over with wine and snacks.
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath
After that I spent a couple of weeks on a roller coaster of feelings. I really liked him. I wanted to see him more than just at hiking group and he seemed to want that, too. We got together a few times for dinner and saw each other at hiking group outings and I was liking him more each time.
I kept thinking about whether I should be doing this or not. I had thought to wait until I was here a year before I even thought about dating, and this was definitely dating. I was fighting with myself over it. And then this past week I went through a little mini-crisis in my head and decided to forgive myself for breaking this arbitrary rule I had set about when I should start dating. I decided to just go with it and see where things went. After spending a lot of time with him this weekend, I’ve decided that maybe there wasn’t anything “wrong” with what I had been doing in regards to romantic relationships. Maybe things just worked out the way they did because life changes on you.
No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don’t get harmed
But even if it does
You’ll just do it all again
And I also decided that somewhere along the line I had started playing it too safe. So here I am doing it all again. Maybe. I don’t know where this is leading, but I don’t care. Because now I’m trying to just enjoy today and not look to the past for clues or see my life as a problem to solve.