Saturday, June 25, 2016

Do You Come Here Often?

“Do you like her?” I hear it again, a little louder this time. I turn to see the guy behind me pointing to a book that sits on his table. I am in my favorite coffee shop and have just sat down to read. He points to the book and asks again, “Do you like her?” I tell him I don’t know who she is and so have no idea if I like her or don’t. “She has her own television show,” he says as if this should cement my decision. Wondering why he cares if I have any sort of affection for this nameless woman, I tell him I really don’t watch television and so am unfamiliar with said chick.

He makes a lame attempt to redirect the conversation. At this point, I realize he doesn’t care about my thoughts on the book but is, in fact, hitting on me.

And here is where the judgment begins.

I have always thought myself an open-minded, nonjudgmental human being. I quickly learn this is not the case. “You’re not even reading that book,” I tell him in my mind. “Do you read at all?” It is apparent through conversation that he is not, how could I put this delicately, the sharpest tool in the shed. Thick neck, muscular build, and eyes that cut right through me, though, he is in no way lacking in the looks department. He does, however, have a strong negative opinion of those who are not white middle class American-bred males. I subtract points for this even given his pressed polo and perfectly white sneakers. Where did I learn this? How did I come to a place in my life where I could cut a person down quicker than he could finish telling me about the fifty-five year-old guy he met who got a twenty-five year-old heroin addict pregnant?

Did I mention he is thirty-eight? “I’m old enough to be your teen mom,” I thought.

Maybe this isn’t so much judgment as it is my way of pushing away the idea of guys. It’s not that I’m not interested in dating. I’m just not sure I’m ready. Though technically I am divorced, I feel no urgency to find myself a man. As with many things during this transition from thirty-year marriage to life as a single woman, I find my desires in direct opposition to the advice I have been given. I have been told by many well-meaning friends that I need to get myself back out there. Out there being anything from drinks and karaoke with friends to a presence on multiple dating sites. Not only do I have no desire to meet someone in a place I never care to hang out, I am also of the firm opinion that dating sites are the devil.

Is it okay to confess I just want to date myself for a bit? I want to buy myself something pretty, take myself out to dinner. Maybe pick up some flowers as a little surprise. I want to get to know myself better. How much of who I am is who I really am and how much is who I have been conditioned to be? Will the real Tammie please stand up?

Bookstore Guy meant no harm. And maybe he was just trying to start up friendly conversation with a stranger. But the situation gave me pause to think. Would I welcome the opportunity to begin dating? Yes. With the right guy. Do I feel the need to date? No. I don’t. What I do feel the need to do is to figure out who I am and what I am about and to let in only those who are on board with celebrating that. So, until I meet that guy, excuse me please but I have a date with a quirky writer chick I know.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

"What's Next" for a Thousand

In the dream, I awoke to sand covering my carpet. It was a supposed beach recreation meant as a romantic surprise. I was confused. Who would throw sand on a perfectly clean floor? Worse, I wasn’t even in my own home. Whose home was this, and how did I get here? I look down at myself and see that I am still in my strappy nightgown. Why would I have left the house in something so skimpy? I discover later that I was taken during the night and carried to this place I have never been. I am horrified because, first, I am not wearing any panties and, second, I must have forgotten to lock my door. I wander the sand-covered home and find a man named Wade standing in the kitchen. There is a huge PowerPoint display with clues as to the surprise flashing across the screen. It seems Wade will be my guide on this adventure. I am excited because Wade, at first, is like one of those guys in Facebook memes, sexy and charming, posted often with a “Hey girl” quote. Later, Wade will turn into a scary, unshaven mess who more closely resembles someone one would see in a cheaply made murder movie. I am not comfortable in this dream and want out but can only make that happen by properly answering the quiz show questions that flash across the giant screen. “Great,” I tell myself, “I’m fucked.”

I awake in real life and begin to mentally review all the foods I ate the day prior. Salad, grapes, whole wheat toast. Dry-fried okra, a tofu black-eyed pea sauté. A reasonably portioned glass of Pinot Gris. I check to see if I am wearing underwear and if, indeed, my door is locked. My carpets are clean, and my kitchen is devoid of motivational movie screens of any kind. What can explain the weirdness of what happened in the night?

I rack my brain to wonder if I have a fear of intimacy of any kind or if I am possibly afraid to let go of control and to have a little messy fun in my life. I pull up dream dictionaries, take a few notes, get absolutely nowhere with interpreting this mess. Is my life a game show being emceed by an ever-changing dude named Wade? That would be fun but makes no sense. And now I remember I must add value to the reader’s life or take my words and go home.

Maybe Wade is God.

I am at a point in my life where I am trying very hard to write the script. I have not much cared for the previous chapter of my life and have grabbed the pen from the hand of God in an effort to draw ponies and rainbows and multi-colored unicorns in a land that rains glitter and hangs sparkly clouds. In the story of my life, can’t I have feathers and frills and chocolate-covered cupcakes in every chapter, on every page? Why do things sometimes have to be tough? Why do there have to be death and divorce, addiction and sorrow? Why must there be days of loneliness so crushing it sends one to bed with boxes of tissue and eyes that are red?

Pain is the path to growth. This is what I’m told. When someone tells me this I secretly imagine them burning in hell. And then I smile and say out loud, “This is what I’ve heard.”

“It is always darkest before the dawn.” “If the Lord puts you through it, he will see you through it.” “If you want to see the rainbow, you gotta make it through the rain.” I know a couple of people who are dying. Or at least they’ve been told. How’s that for dark? Where’s the rainbow for them?

If I put my academic hat on for a sec, I know that pain and joy are relative and that it is through the experience of each that we know the other. Would it be easier to have a life of okay-ness than the ups and downs promised at birth? Is a life of okay-ness really a life? Does life exist if it is clean and controlled, as I preferred it in my dream? Life is messy. Life is hard. Life is also fun and joyous and free. Life is all of this. And I, like it or not, am not always the one in control.

Fine, then, Wade. I’ll take “What’s Next” for a thousand.