Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography
“If you can’t say anything nice, text it to the ladies and save it in Notes.” -Me
Watering your own garden can get to be tough work when a woman reaches a certain age and place in life. I was determined to commit to caring about myself and continue falling in love with myself so damn deeply that it would have to take a really REALLY f*cking upstanding male specimen to get me to say yes to a date. But alas, while my standards remained high, my expectations were maintaining a low, bottom dweller station…ah the millennial magic.
I started throwing more energy into spending time socializing with friends, out and staying in, just organically making plans and being open to any opportunity that could potentially come my way. I had a welcome mat…in front of a dead bolted door, but I was open to saying yes to things. I also really started relishing my alone time to the point where I chose it over other things. Balance. The thing I realized was, there are a lot of seemingly great men in this city, but just like most of us never know what the hell to do with our hands when someone says, “Cheese? Smile!” for the camera, these dudes didn’t know what the f*ck they were doing (and neither did I).
Paul* came into the picture as I was sticking to the high standards / low expectations equation and although I didn’t find him super attractive physically, he had good teeth and loved photography seemingly as much as I do so he got a swipe to the right. We matched, I waited a few hours, messaged him, and he didn’t wait until the last possible clutch second to respond either. He was already ahead of his “competition”. A Kentucky born and bred guy, I wasn’t sure where he was going to land on politics, or literally anything, but considered the fact that he was living the good life here in our PNW bubble as a sign that he had liberal leaning tendencies. This brings us to the month of March (2017, mind you) and I was doing the Whole30 thing…resetting and dealing with more of those food and beverage sensitivities I mentioned in that one episode, where I may or may not have been drugged by Tiny Hands?
So for those of you who have been living under a rock and don’t know, Whole30 is a nutritional “reset” to eliminate five main food groups out of your diet for 30 whole days. No dairy, sugar, grains, legumes, or alcohol. Damn. Aggressive, I know. You gauge your psychological and physical relationships with food and it’s really effective for most people in figuring out how they can help their bodies thrive through food that agrees with them. This was my second go around after the first 2016 try and I intelligently stayed hibernating for the first 7-8 days of massive sugar withdrawal. That’s some monster shit and no one should be meeting strangers when they’re five seconds away from losing it because they can’t eat or drink that. I’m talking glaring at Girl Scouts at your local grocery store and imagining pummeling them over to savagely steal a box of thin mints to eat in your corner of shame later. It’s no damn joke.
I met Paul* at The Innkeeper down on 1st Ave (as this episode goes to print, it has been closed and now goes by the name “Jerk Shack” so we have irony being served up stiff which is my fave-pour it in a glass and add a lime, thanks). I can’t make this shit up people…actually I can, but I don’t even have to so why would I? I had forewarned him that I was on a special elimination diet and currently not drinking, but was happy to meet him for a soda water and citrus. Paul* proceeded to tell me that he was actually also on a special diet and doing the Keto thing currently so he could drink, but had to limit his intake. Having had a little ounce of anxiety having to lay this disclaimer down prior to setting up dates, I was relieved he understood. Then I realized that I’d just landed myself another filter for weeding out the weak-if a potential date couldn’t understand or be chill with the fact that I was prioritizing my nutritional health over getting buzzed with him, he was out.
Paul* got there first (are we even surprised? No. I’ve told you I’m notoriously late and IDGAF). After finding epic street parking, for freeeee, I rolled in to find him sitting at the bar. I wore my new 3 3/4 inch black booties strategically. This was an easy way to size up height when on a date, but dude was sitting so I was totally uncertain for our two hours together and internally screaming to solve the mystery. He had on a t-shirt and jeans, had hair (BONUS), and tattoos that at first glance weren’t horribly judge worthy (like a barbed wire arm band-yes John or Bill reading this, you should get it removed). He ordered food and said something to the tune of “I’m bulking and so hungry so I had to order food.” Okay bro, just don’t talk about Crossfit, mmmk? My Basic Bitch PTSD can’t hang tonight because I haven’t had alcohol or sugar in 11 days and I just said no to the mini entrepreneurs pushing diabetes filled with hopes and dreams for the 64th time this month…I can’t handle it. Cal* ruined me for real on these types. THANKS.
With the bartender disappointingly delivering my tall soda water with lemon and lime, the date really started and all I was thinking was, “How tall is he?” and “God damnit, that whiskey smells good.” “How many more days do I have?” You get the idea. Politics came up, not by my lead, and I learned Kentucky boy was a Libertarian and didn’t vote for either candidate, but wrote someone in (I have strong opinions on that one, but held my tongue), was a retired military guy, working in communication systems sales-like the kind that do those big conventions, and had a pug named Atticus after my favorite literary character of young adulthood. Epic name choice, but turned out Paul* should keep his dog pics to himself. Atticus was 0% adorable, but I’m sure he had a kind soul.
The date wasn’t totally blah, but nobody was calling the fire department to put out the fire either. As we ended our 120ish minutes together, he stood and I came to find that even with my heels on, he was still a couple inches taller than me which at this point had become irrelevant because I had already put dude in the probably never going to happen again category. But, it did feel like a step in the right direction in terms of height. We said our goodbyes on the street, hugged awkwardly, and he did that whole, “let’s do this again sometime,” dance. I agreed, but I think we both knew it wasn’t one for the books. We did actually attempt a follow up date, but then neither of us really tried so it fizzled. I saw him months later down on Alki Beach while I was sunning my face on a restaurant patio, enjoying lunch and a strong Bloody Mary with my Grandma. He was skateboarding and Atticus was pulling him on a leash. I mentioned that I’d gone on a date with that guy and from our table across the street, the cutest thing about the whole scene was by far my Grandma…who then went into a brilliant speech about how women don’t need men and his dog was ugly anyway. (Mic drop).
Spring continued blooming in Seattle and my dating life was actually budding, but only with the one and done date thing. When I matched with Brandon*, I was really beaming in that low expectation glow. I didn’t find him attractive really, but he seemed to have the right credentials so I thought, “Why the hell not?” We messaged a bit and decided that Kickin’ Boot in Ballard was our Sunday date locale and when I showed up first (now we’re shocked), I was all cozy Sunday dressed since it was a blustery AF March day, yes, wearing a beanie…and he showed up in a bright green The North Face windbreaker (so PNW) with what I’d describe as Sunday Real Estate Broker attire (that wasn’t his line of work). Not judging, I have brilliantly dressed Real Estate Broker friends (shout out to Matt and Pham), I’m just sharing. I was sitting at the bar…I’m telling you, it’s the way forward..and he joined me. I got off my stool to give him a hug and then laughed as I told him it was going to maybe kill me not to order whiskey at a whiskey bar.
We got to talking about his upcoming travel goals and discussed my time in Australia. Not going to lie, I felt like a travel agent and was starting to daydream about what I’d charge for my trip planning services. As I told him about where he could look to get flight deals, the cheapest days of the week and times of day to book, I realized he seemed more interested in gathering intel on flight patterns than in me as an actual human. I was fine with this because I wasn’t really into the opportunity to work with him after this first date either. We shared a similar life circumstance of having friends who were happily married, friends who were (already) happily divorced, friends unhappily married, friends with kids, very few friends who were still single, and eluded to how tough dating is. Although we had this and travel lust in common, we weren’t heading to Google Flights to book a joint trip to Aruba.
We sort of hit a plateau and I was eager to get on with the rest of my Sunday. We walked in the same direction towards our cars, hugged goodbye in the crazy wind, and I went grocery shopping and journeyed home to meal prep. Monday morning came and as I was sipping my first cup of Joe, I decided to message him in our Bumble convo for taking the time to meet up on a Sunday and drink alone. He responded with, “Yeah, it was fun and I really appreciate your knowledge on travel and everything. But I think I’m going to go in a different direction.” Copy that, Brandon*. If I’d known I was on a job interview, I would have worn my pencil skirt and pearl earrings. I mean, I was just being nice, I wasn’t interested in this guy romantically and wasn’t even flirting with the idea of friendship, (let’s be real, when you’re on a dating app, friends isn’t top priority…stay tuned though because there’s more on that to come). I literally laughed out loud. Like who was this guy? It was so business suit and tie, like bro, we were on a date not a conference call, chill. You can just tell me thanks and take care and we’re golden. After my research in my own personal March Madness, I realized I had reached a new level in will power because I was actively choosing to stay sober. On first dates. And I survived. If you’re ever losing hope, people, know this: you too, can do really hard things.
There are a lot of great “almost’s” out there. So many “so close’s”…I felt like I had maybe only scratched the surface in the Seattle dating pool and it seemed…ummm, shallow. It was starting to feel more like nails on a chalkboard than getting closer to scratching someone’s back. I started thinking long and hard about what I really wanted…what I was truly seeking in this whole dating thing. I knew I wanted to be wow’ed by someone enough to feel like a relationship could spark. I knew I was looking for fireworks and heart sparkles and lady bugs and butterflies and unicorn shit. I knew I wanted something that felt real. The trouble was, it was feeling further and further from my reach. I began to feel like my equation needed some new solutions. Low expectations just didn’t work for a confident woman who knew herself well enough to know she deserved a whole lot more than what she had gotten before and what she seemed to be getting. Doubt set in a little…as it does when the weather in Seattle is bipolar and you can’t seem to find a man who will walk Greenlake with you or go to the Farmer’s Market so off you go for the 4,379th time, alone.
I started defining what time spent with this hypothetical human would look like and I honed in on my wants and don’t wants. I realized settling for a “meh, his credentials are okay,” just wasn’t going to cut the cake anymore. Because I didn’t want a love found in the shadows of a maybe. I wanted to find a love that took my sleep away from me for all the right reasons, hurt my face from smiling, was filled with laughing until we cry, sounded like telling secrets in the dark, smelled like maple syrup while we make pancakes in our underwear on Sunday mornings, wanted to sit in silence reading books, getting lost in listening to our favorite music, longed for adventure, and felt like home. I couldn’t help but feel deep within my bones…if nothing else is, wasn’t that worth waiting for?
Photo Credit: carleyjayne photography
*Name has been changed to protect identity of former date