My Dating Adventures (Part 1)

I became single after being married almost six years. I grew up in a conservative Christian household so the few pre-marriage boyfriend experiences I had weren’t anything hugely informative as to what real dating is. They were more like courtship. Here I was, 27 years old and single.

I was absolutely terrified. Was I going to have sex with people? Holds hands? Should I pay for dinner? Or not? I decided to bury my head in the sand for a while. That was a wise choice because I was starting over and had a lot to figure out.

I had next to nothing and was thrown back into full-time work right away. I spent most of my days trying to perform well at work and figure out what my living situation would be like.

One of the things I tried doing with my free time to make new friends was going to groups from a website called Meetup that were based on common interests. I went to a board game group, a book club. All kinds of stuff.

I was asked out by a guy at one of the groups after I got up and sang karaoke. (FYI if you can sing, karaoke is a great way to impress ppl & maybe get a date) I’ll give him a new name here and call him Luke. I wasn’t incredibly attracted to Luke, but when I became single I told myself I’d be as open to new people and possibilities as possible. If he was showing genuine interest in me it was time to give it a shot.

So a couple of weeks later we went to a bar in Houston and had drinks. This artist guy approached me and started touching my arms because he wanted to “feel the lines” in the tattoos on them. I could see Luke was uncomfortable but instead of bailing me out he left me alone with the guy and went to the bathroom. I assumed after that I wouldn’t be asked on a second date. I was wrong.

Luke asked me to dinner. I drove over an hour through Houston right after work to where he lived. He said to meet him at his place and he’d drive us to dinner. I pulled up to: a long-term stay motel. He’d told me he hadn’t been in Houston long so I figured he just hadn’t found a place yet. Turns out he’d lived in the motel for a year because he kept resisting complete relocation to Houston. He struggled with the permanence and commitment of a lease or mortgage.

He picked an average Italian place. He kept making choices for both of us, but just penny-pinching ones “No, she won’t have a salad if it costs extra” and “Just water for both of us is fine”. He also said no to dessert. During dinner he told me how he’d been going to the meetup groups to find women. He’d planned this second date with me but had gone to a wine club event just the night before to try to meet more women. He told me a long story about how he got a scholarship for college and how much of a big deal college was for him.

I don’t have a college education and he was really hard on me for it. He said he didn’t know if he could be with someone who hadn’t been to college (not that I wasn’t smart, of course) and asked if I have plans to get a degree soon. (condescension from someone with a degree about my lack of one is a major pet peeve of mine) Then he drove us back to his motel room.

He offered me an alcoholic drink in a plastic cup, and told me to say “when” as he poured. Honestly I was not having a great time by this point so as he poured I did not stop him for a while. He stopped pouring, looked at me and said “that’s enough for you” and handed the cup to me.

That was probably the second big nail in the coffin. I was in a place where a man making choices for me was not welcome. Then he broke the news to me that while he looked young, he was in his 40s. He was almost 15 years older than me.

I tried to find out what he liked to do; what he was passionate about in life. Not much as it turns out. He was in accounting but did it more for a safe job and didn’t really like it. He played video games but didn’t love them. He played board games but wasn’t that excited about it. He chalked his lack of direction up to his dad dying almost a decade before. (A parent dying is not really second date material in my mind.)

Prior to moving to Houston he’d spent almost two years of his life sleeping on couches and not having his own place or a job. His whole life was getting an awesome standing in World of Warcraft. After hearing that I was kind of done. I am the first to say everyone has their own path in life and their own pace of living. But I wasn’t interested in a partner that’d ignore me for 3 days straight and play computer games.

So I tried for a smooth exit. I put my purse on my lap and he immediately looked at me and asked “Are you trying to leave?!” I said “Well kind of, I have a long drive home and work tomorrow morning.” He pleaded with me to stay longer and started to ask me questions about myself.

The fact that I was recently divorced came up. He asked me how I could be dating already and I told him he was actually my first date since becoming single. He acted like the combination of being recently divorced and my lack of experience with men was a deal breaker for him.

I couldn’t believe it! I was willing to work with the fact that he lived in a motel and was homeless for World of Warcraft at 40! Come on. So I really left. Before I did, he insisted I give him a big hug as I went. I was enveloped in his Axe-sprayed body and I panicked. I literally ran out of his motel room, across the outdoor walkway and down the stairs. I almost never run but I think it was a reaction to how uncomfortable I felt.

I thought for sure if I ran away from him that he would know I wasn’t interested in another date. Unfortunately that was not the case. I got a lot of text messages and voice mails over the next few weeks, asking to go on another date and filled with little bits of info about me I didn’t realize he’d remember.

After that I figured maybe being open to just anyone who showed initial interest in me was not the best plan.

What a fun day it was

When my sister was going through cancer treatment often times her white blood cell count was insanely low, which prevented us from having other kids over to play very often. If one of them had any trace of a cold it could be devastating for my sister. But that all changed when she went into remission. Oh what an amazing piece of news that was!

I can remember a pool party we had after that so vividly. A friend my sister made at the hospital, Matt, and his mom came over. A couple of friends of mine from school also came over. We all swam in our above ground pool. It was warm, but not too hot that day, and sunny.

We had all kinds of pool toys! Various floating rafts, that ring toss game where the rings sink to the bottom; super soaker guns.

My mom served cut up fruit and this amazing sweet dip she makes to go with it. We all sat on the deck, snacked, and let the sun dry us off. Everyone was smiling. Our dogs played together. It was really fun.

Freedom from the hospital and good health never tasted so sweet.

On Having Children

I’m 29. When my mom was 25 she had two daughters, one of whom had cancer, and a full-time job. I’m a nanny, and I love it so very much, but if I’m being honest at all my work hours each day are all the love output I can give.

Parents truly blow me away with how much they love their children and how constant that love is. At the end of my day I’m glad to go home & rest my face a little bit. It’s like I have no smiles left to give for a while and I need to recharge.

My mom ran a preschool (which I attended each day) and every night after work she went to be with my sister in the children’s hospital during her cancer treatments. How did she do it? When did she sleep? How did she have smiles left for each of us?!

I look back at myself at 25 years old and it seems like I was just a kid. I was proud of myself for taking care of my dog. Now I’m 29 and proud of myself for having two Chihuahuas and a kitten and caring for them. I guess I won’t be ready for human children of my own for quite a while.

This thing has to start somewhere

I don’t have a major goal in mind for this. I haven’t figured out any strong theme. It’s not specifically about food, or my job. I just want to share stories. I’m going to jot down what’s on my mind in the moment I log on. Thanks for reading.

 

When I was three years old my younger sister was diagnosed with cancer. Embryonic rhabdomyosarcoma was her poison. She was just a toddler, and it was bad. Bad enough that she was a Make a Wish kid. We went to Disney World. She lived through her treatment and is now in her late 20s, like me. Treatment took its toll on her mind and body and she’s never really had a simple or easy life since. I wish there was more I could do to help her in general than be a listening ear. The problem is we can each only live our own lives. We can’t live for someone else.

Something like a terminal cancer diagnosis affects the entire family in some ways. I certainly didn’t come out of those years without my share of things to work through. One of the hardest parts of it all is how little I feel I can talk to people about that part of my life. It was a huge chunk of my early childhood but often when I drop the words “pediatric cancer” I see eyes dart away and smiles fade. No one wants to be the Debbie Downer of the group. Not even if it means keeping a part of my life quiet a lot of the time. The people who stick around in my life long enough will want to know.