Tag Archives: relationships

The Year of Me

Wow. That sounds kind of narcissi20160520_143643-1stic, now that I see it in front of me. “The Year of Me.” Who does that?

Well, I do. Or I will, soon.

It’s not what you think – I’m not going to go all self-absorbed on the world, caring only about MY wants and MY needs and MY chocolate. This is something different.

A few years ago, a friend and former coworker had the “Year of Chris.” She has two daughters, and twin grandchildren, and a husband, but she spent the year doing things that made her happy – or being happy doing the things she was doing. It was awesome. And I was jealous.

Having been a single mom since 2002 (you have no idea how much I HATE playing that card, seriously), there had been relatively few “Days of Me,” so the idea of taking a full year? That was amazing. That’s what dreams were made of.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a bitter, angry person. In fact, I’m actually quite happy. I laugh a lot, I smile a lot more, I enjoy the “todays” because they’re so fleeting. I enjoy life – I truly do, and I am honestly happy doing the things I’m doing. Do I wish I had more money to enjoy it more? Sure. It would be nice to have extra to be able to go more places and do more things. But do I let it get in the way of enjoying today? Not in the least.

But this year is going to be different. Kind of.

My big dream has always been to go to Ireland. I’m third generation Irish-American, and there are still some distant relatives I’d like to go meet. And let’s be honest – Ireland. It’s beautiful. Flights aren’t horribly expensive, and if I (and however many friends and family members care to join me) stay in an Airbnb place, lodging won’t be too bad, at all. So, I thought, set it up. Make a plan. Do it.

In 2017, right smack almost perfectly in the middle of the year, I turn 50. It’s not a frightening number to me – 20 years ago I was terrified of 30, but 50 sounds almost exciting – but it’s a milestone and I want to mark it as such. So, sometime in the Year of 50, I’m going to Ireland.

But what about the year leading up to it? I don’t really want to spend a year in wait, saving every penny (though I’ll be saving several), waiting for the calendar to turn the right amount of pages so I can go on my adventure. Plus, I’ve loved my 40s, absolutely loved them. This has been the most fun decade by far – even with scraping to get by, failed relationships (which made for some pretty funny stories, I gotta tell ya’), and the loss of my favorite canine companions. My 40s have been great, I can’t just let them end on a whimper.

No, what I’m going to do in the year between 49 and 50 is allow myself to do the things I haven’t made time for/didn’t save for/made excuses for over the last several years.

I’m going to Phoenix to stay with a cousin I don’t get to see very often. I’m going to go to one of my college football games and try to connect with some college roommates and friends. I plan to go to Chicago. I’m going to go see an Iowa Cubs game. I’m going to go to the movies. I’m going to go sit on a friend’s balcony and have drinks. I’m going to do things for me.

I think we all need to take a year for ourselves. Just not this year – this one’s mine.

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Sometimes ‘goodbye’ is all you need

“But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!”
And Max said, “No!”
The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.”

— Maurice Sendak, “Where the Wild Things Are”

* * * * *

BoatI said “goodbye” to someone today, and in a way I felt a lot like Max getting on that boat.

My “someone” wasn’t and isn’t a monster, but like Max and his Wild Things, he is someone I’d had great adventures with, laughs, funny moments, thoughtful moments. We shared our lives and our families for almost three years, and when it ended a few months ago, we talked about being friends. That’s really what we had been for most of the time we were together, we reasoned, so how hard could it be?

We never really got the chance to find out. Shortly after we broke up, my “someone” met a new someone. “It was a surprise, totally unexpected,” he told me.

I was – and am – happy for him. The more time that passes since we ended it, the more I’ve come to realize we were a good fit as friends, but not as romantic partners. As much as we were alike, we were also different, and in ways that would eventually have mattered.

We still talked about being friends, but I knew even as we talked it wouldn’t happen. He would mention getting together for dinner – and I reminded him that his new someone might not appreciate it. The fact that we’d been romantic partners, no matter how much we know now that it was more like a friendship, will always get in the way when either of us has a new “someone.” It would for me – if I had a new someone in my life, I doubt that he would understand my wanting to go to dinner with a recent ex-boyfriend, and I know I would not be at all understanding if he wanted to go to dinner with a recent ex-girlfriend.

And I began to see the signs, and the signs began to bother me. Where once, even after breaking up, we’d instant message or text each other occasionally, they just stopped. He stopped “liking” my posts and pictures on Facebook. Pictures of the two of us together started disappearing from online photo albums. There was just … nothing.

I began to feel bitter and resentful, and then reminded myself there was really no reason to feel that way. I, too, have moved on, in different ways. I, too, know that the end was a good thing.

Can we be friends? I don’t know. Maybe. He’ll always be important to me, and his family will always be in my heart. I’m sure if I were to run into him we would be civil – friendly, even. But for now, anyway, that’s all there is.

So today I said “goodbye” and wished him well.

And got into my private boat and sailed away, ready to face the next adventure.

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Online dating is for the birds – and my wings are getting tired

I’m not a slow learner, really I’m not. I learned how to drive a stick (read “vehicle with manual transmission”) in less than an hour. I learned how to swim as a toddler when one of my dad’s friends tossed me into the pool. I could easily maneuver the roads in Mario’s ghost house on Nintendo 64 and I’ve pretty well mastered Angry Birds.

So why, why, why do I just not get online dating?

Oh, I understand the concept well enough. People who are too busy or too insecure or too something to get out and meet someone – or simply don’t know where to go – get online, fill out a profile and meet people with the purposes of dating (although some purposes are for a time commitment even shorter – and with a much more casual dress code – than an actual date).

What I don’t understand is the thought process some people use when introducing themselves to someone, or when actually taking the time to meet someone.

Whether it’s an online dating site or a singles site on Facebook, I am still surprised at how often I’m approached for a casual sexual encounter, or by “men” who are slightly older than my son (seriously – a 21-year-old this week told me to “ignore the age thing and just give it a try”), or who are still married (no, “separated” does not mean the same as “divorced”) or who just start conversation in a way that, really, just makes me laugh and delete.

One man sent me an email telling me he was “tired of the five-knuckle shuffle and decided to try online dating.” Um, ew. Another, in explaining how nervous he was about our first date, told me he’d been having stomach issues all day but he thought he had them under control – and was on his way to the Mexican restaurant where we’d agreed to meet. Yet another sent me an email asking if I’d ever considered dating a couple.

A couple of what?

And today, just a few minutes after being invited to a singles group on Facebook, I was sent a message by a man wanting to know if I was interested in having some naughty fun.

Really? While I’m glad I’m not sending out prude vibes, I’ve really got to wonder what kind of image I really do have out there. What about me says, “Hey, I’m bored and lonely so yeah, let’s have sex”?

I’m no prude, nor am I easily offended but really, really, let’s start with some normal conversation and get to know each other a bit.

I’d like to say I’m giving it up, but I’m sure there’s always going to be something that lures me back. Comic relief, if nothing else.

 

 

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Mars and Venus collide yet again

As if we needed further proof, I was hit with yet another sign that men and women really do come from different planets.

I got a phone call Monday from a friend — a male friend — who wanted some advice. He and I are both single and have recently decided to kind of “help each other out” when it comes to finding someone (we’re a mess when it comes to dating each other, but are finding out that the friend thing really does work for us).

This friend had met a woman and went out on a date on Sunday, then met for lunch or some such thing Monday. During the lunch this woman apparently threw up some pretty strong “red flags” which made my friend decide he’s not interested in pursuing the relationship any longer.

He initially asked my opinion on one of the red flags, and I agreed with his decision. But the advice came to be about an invitation to the woman’s birthday celebration with friends, to which he was invited. He said he planned to go, then let her down easy.

I said, “Bad idea.”

His thought was that he didn’t want to ruin her birthday and would go and “be nice.” My thoughts were that birthdays were special days and, since all of her friends would be there, he would be kind of “meeting the family” and implying that he was happy to share her special day with her.

He wasn’t convinced – not nearly as much as he’s convinced my take on relationships can sometimes be neurotic and angst-ridden.

So, without his knowledge, I conducted a short poll among my female friends. What advice would they give? I sent an e-mail out to 25 friends of all ages, walks of life, marital status, etc. Of the 12 responses I got back ALL of them were against his going to the party.

Then I told him of the poll and emailed him a copy of the answers – with everyone’s name removed. His response? “Thanks for the poll. I get the message!”

It’s just another insight, really, in why relationships can be so difficult – his thoughts on the party were valid and understandable, but as women, we knew how we would interpret his presence. And the two opinions had completely opposite outcomes.

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