I spent the last two years of my life trying to rebuild myself emotionally. And overall I’ll say it’s been a success. Not too long ago I ran into a bartender at Cooperage who I hadn’t seen in a long time and she made a point of saying I look much happier. So it shows, and that’s a good thing.
I’m 42. I’m single. The only girlfriend I’ve ever had was back in 1993/1994 and she dropped me when she graduated high school because of my emotional dependence. I didn’t want to be abandoned again, not after what my dad did to me. But she did it anyway, and I can’t blame her. Smart move because we all have to do what’s best for ourselves.
Aside from that I haven’t been in a relationship in 25 years. That’s my entire adult life. I personally haven’t met another person who has been single for that long. I’m sure there’s a few of them out there, but we’re definitely the oddballs or the outcasts. Or unicorns depending on your point of view. And the bitch of it is, the longer you go without being a viable partner to someone, the bigger the stigma. The unspoken complication is that something must be wrong with you if nobody has picked you up by now.
I’ve been on a lot of dates over the years. Four is the magic number. There’s been three great girls I’ve met who went out with me four times but that was the limit. By date number four they all made up their mind and decided to move on. I frequently tell myself it’s gotta be physical because I’m a huge fat dude. I get that. But even I have to admit if that was really true then there wouldn’t have been a second date. They all could have backed off at any point. So maybe they get a glimpse into my insecurities, maybe the sense of humor doesn’t click - who knows? At the end of the day we went our separate ways.
As a result I’ve spent so long building up a metaphorical brick wall around myself because I’m tired of being hurt. I don’t want to allow my emotions to be fucked with anymore. After I got seriously hurt by a non-relationship 2 years ago I decided to throw in the towel. At my age dating isn’t worth the potential downfall and although it’s the easy way out, declaring myself as a solo artist is the safest option. I might be passing up potential happiness and a genuine connection that I’ll never know, but I can do what I want, when I want...and that’s true freedom right there.
I learn from my mistakes. Except when it comes to girls. Maybe it’s a deep rooted desire to feel important to someone else, or just plain old wanting to feel needed and relevant to someone else. But recently a girl I’ve known for a while suggested what I call “Schrödinger’s Date,” which is both a date and not a date until you take the lid off the box and observe what’s actually going on. This happened to me in 2016 and it was one of the best experiences of my life, followed by an absolutely crushing downfall.
Even though I’ve molded myself into the steely lone wolf persona, I buckled and accepted because it was technically her idea. So recently we agreed to an outing (date? hanging out? not-a-date?) and I guarantee she would tell you that it was every bit as awesome as I thought it was. We both had a fantastic night laughing and getting to know each other. It’s a rare moment when you connect with someone and feel that spark, but it was there. I can’t speak for her but I’m pretty positive that it was mutual. Maybe she just wanted a friend, and I've been that person many times. I'm glad to be there for my friends. It's one of the few things that brings me joy. Yet something about this entire night suggested more than that.
But after that night, what’s next? I’m scared. Can’t lie. I decided to break my own code and allowed a beautiful girl with a killer personality into my inner circle. We get each other’s jokes, laugh together, and also both have a shared feeling of loss and heartbreak that we don’t talk about but is hovering just under the surface. We share that feeling of uncertainty where we both aren't 100% sure if our lives are going the way we'd pictured. And the thing is, maybe she’s scared too. Just like me, maybe she’s been burned one too many times and doesn’t want it to happen again. After you’ve spent so much time building up that wall it’s really hard to let someone else in. Because when things go great but the ground eventually drops out, the fall is a killer.
So we could just chalk it up to a good time and walk away. Or one (both?) of us might decide to be brave and see what happens when you slowly and carefully let someone pass through that brick wall.
Maybe we’ll take a chance and put ourselves out there to learn more about each other. Maybe we won’t talk again save for when we randomly run into each other. But there will always be that one night where we laughed together and forgot about all of life’s other problems. And that’s a magical moment that can’t be taken back.
If that isn’t worthwhile, what is?
“Oh, he chose a path, heavy the fall, quarter to four...
Fills his mind with the thought of a girl.” - Pearl Jam