I consider myself a pretty open-minded person about most things. I’m very accepting and curious about new things and people and ideas. My childhood really gave me that freedom to see the world with an open heart–despite how scary it often was. I was always surrounded by things that were new to, or different from, me. In fact, this might be one of the reasons why I am a collector. Why I constantly seek out new music, new movies, new books, and all kinds of other things. I can, and do, spend hours adding stuff to my Amazon wishlists. It’s ridiculous, but also pretty inspiring. I love learning and discovering. It’s so much a part of who I am that it sometimes has made people think I’m something I’m not.
A friend of mine once joked that–as much as I’m someone who is responsible and reliable–someone who is ride or die once she commits–I am also someone who likes to try things on first. Or as he said, I’m someone who embraces “flavors of the week.” When he said this, years ago, I was quite offended–especially coming from him. Mostly because we have a lot in common, and I would say he’s always been one to wander right off with me. Especially when it comes to women. Ahem. I’m not really like that when it comes to love–oddly–which come to think of it–is kind of weird. With love, I’ve always been a meet someone, like them, and boom–everything–sort of girl. But I will say that the Universe tends to be a bit of a meanie when it comes to my love life. It’s either feast or famine. I can go years without meeting a single person I truly like romantically. I’ll see plenty of attractive men when I’m out, but very very few even pique my curiosity. So, it’s weird how–sometimes–I’ll find myself in situations where a gazillion men just show up…usually when I’m not really that interested in being in relationship. But then I’ll like them and will end up in something. This hasn’t worked out so well for me.
Mostly because I think it goes against my core nature. I’m an experimenter. A wanderer. Someone who likes to experience things and then decide. So, the weird part about my habits toward love is that I’ve never been a dater. I’ve never really experimented. I’ve never had much fun. Mostly because, I think, I don’t want to be reckless with anyone’s heart…and for some reason, I see all this shit we do to find the one to be a total bore and waste of time. I don’t want to meet 100 guys. I want to meet A GUY and live happily ever after. Oy.
Does this sound like a non-functional person to you? Or am I alone in feeling like, “huh…maybe I’m not running the show here”?
Recently, I listened to a video message from Iyanla Vanzant about why people are single. And even though I wasn’t the exact target audience, I got some stuff from it. But one thing kinda threw me. She said that, to find the love you want, you have to ask for it. You have to know what you want your experience of love to be…you have to know what you need. You have to look at the choices you made, and the reasons behind those choices–the core beliefs–before you’ll find it. But here’s the thing that puzzled me…she said, basically, to make a wish list based on all of that. Which I’ve done–a few times. I try to be nonspecific about things like appearance–but I’m noticing when I’m on dating sites–appearance means a lot to me. Not because I’m not open-minded, but because sexual chemistry matters to me. While feelings CAN grow and HAVE grown for me with people I wasn’t exactly lightning bolt attracted to–I found that I was forcing the issue because I wanted to love them…but the attraction and spark just wasn’t there. And it caused problems, eventually, because you can only force an issue for so long. So, based on that, I should add some physical attributes to that equation. But there are some things that are less based on needs than on preferences. So, for example, I could give a rat’s ass about height. I’m like the only girl on the planet who is totally okay with dating less than tall men. But I do find myself bothered by extremely tall men. For no real reason. It’s not a need. I just…my people are smaller. I’m the tallest in my family and barely got to 5’4″. I’m not sure if this preference is based on some weird genetic coding or what, but I never date really tall men. And I prefer lighter colored eyes–which means I’ll often avoid entire ethnicities just because brown eyes aren’t really my thing. Again–not a need, by any means–just some weird preference I have. So, should I honor those preferences when I don’t really understand them? Maybe they are part of a need I don’t yet understand?
But that’s not really the thing that threw me. I find, often, that I compromise–especially on the looks stuff. Like–okay–this guy took time to write me a nice note that actually was articulate and sweet. But I’m not really attracted to him. And I know I probably won’t be. But hey–I’d be cool being friends. So–do you write back or just say nothing? Or give them the friends shit–which hurts them…but maybe not as much as not saying that?
Too often, I write back because I convince myself that the appearance thing isn’t that big of a deal to me. That–huh–he’s not an ogre–I can make this work.
Okay–I answered my own question. Ha.
But here’s the thing–Iyanla said–if your wish list is–6’2″, 180 lbs, blue eyes, drives a Jaguar–then anyone who isn’t that is not yours. Shit–I could wait a long time for the exact perfect match. Are we really needing to be that specific?
The thing is–when I’ve found the right things, romantically, in the past–I wasn’t that specific. I just followed my curiosity. Ha. Well, look at that. Maybe in my quest to overthink this love shit–I’ve actually stumbled upon something. Something that’s actually pretty relevant to the something that prompted me to start writing today.
On Friday, I went in to see my dentist to have some work done. Two fillings. One to replace an old filling I got when I was nine, and the other to fix another filling in the tooth adjacent to my wisdom tooth–that was now cracked as well from said wisdom tooth trauma. Because it had taken so long for them to get me in–and I even had to beg for this appointment after being in lots of pain for a week. I had developed a cavity in the tooth adjacent to the wisdom tooth–partially under the filling and where the break happened…pretty close to the nerve.
It was raining on Friday–pretty hard–and my roommate was kind enough to take me over there. We almost got into an accident leaving our driveway. So, that woke me up. I was super nervous–though I’ve had fillings before. I’ve never had an actual procedure with this dentist, though, and I’ve never had true dental pain before–so I think that was why. My new dentist is pretty hot and just the warmest, nicest man ever. He’s that guy that smiles at you and makes you feel like you’re in good hands.
Anyway, it was a little bit of a struggle. My mouth is pretty small, and the location of the complicated tooth was pretty difficult. He basically had to reconstruct the area that broke off. It was so close to the nerve, and he was pretty adamant in letting me know that–if I had any aching or pain after–I needed to come in right away and get a root canal. I might have nerve damage from that cavity being so close…but hopefully not. Oddly, that tooth had really not bugged me at all. It was the bottom, more superficial–just replacing an old filling–tooth that had really hurt–and hurt a shit-ton when he was injecting. I literally felt a stabbing ear pain when he did it, and it took a while for it to numb up–and hurt still when he was drilling.
I’m not sure I like the composites. I’m so used to having metal in my mouth from childhood. In any case, I have been having aching, but he did say my cracked wisdom teeth might ache too. My mouth was sore from being open so wide for so long and from the evil injection. But I think I might have an ear infection in both my ears causing weird pain, too. I keep having achy pain after I take Mucinex or after I eat. But maybe it’s just sensitivity. Sometimes, it’s completely painfree. So, since my dentist is on paternity leave till May, I think I’ll treat the ear infection and then go back if the pain is still there.
Anyway, as I was leaving the dentist’s office–or rather waiting in the lobby for my Lyft to show up–I pondered my fear. It was a visceral fear I’ve had before–the kind where I shake and get very close to myself. I’ve been known to actually hold onto myself during these times. I used to get this way whenever I was making a speech in front of a small group. Or when someone was breaking up with me.
Oh, shit. It’s six year old me. It just sort of clicked. She had been running the show in all those situations. Which made sense, really. I was painfully shy as a child, so public speaking would be terrifying for her. And well, being broken up with–this was the version of me that endured the ultimate abandonment. Of course, she’d show up to help me through it. Turns out–six year old me shows up whenever shit is scary. Isn’t that odd? How a child version of myself is stronger than any adult version?
Anyway, I went outside. I started taking pictures of stuff on my phone. Flowers, mostly. But, then, I noticed the mountains. I feel silly calling them mountains because they’re more like foothills. But they were green. And it was so foggy, and all the flowers and palm trees framing all of it. It was beautiful. I couldn’t deny it. I took a photo. It felt like–for one instant–okay…this could be home.
My Lyft driver showed up then, and she was just the most amazing person. I instantly felt like this could be a great friend. She was from here, and we actually talked about stuff that mattered. I actually talked about how I was struggling here. And she told me to give it a chance–that it really is the very best place to be for someone like me. She could just tell certain things about me. She dropped me off at the leasing office, and I walked up to grab a package. Before I was even in the door, our manager had grabbed my package and was walking towards me with it–knowing exactly what I was here for–welcoming me and saying how good it was to see me. I walked back to our building, said hello to the various maintenance guys–said hi to some neighbors walking their dogs—and sat–as I usually do–at the big fountain–that was somehow even more beautiful in Spring. It had been weeks since I’d been here.
It was still raining a little, but I took photos. And the whole time–I was thinking, “Holy crap. She’s been running this show, too.”
Most people think of their six year old selves as carefree and innocent. My six year old self is an old woman in comparison. She is a survivor. She is a protector. She doesn’t explore. She plans and executes. She is fierce in her ability to carry on. She doesn’t let herself feel, and she is suspicious of all things. Pretty much the opposite of a child. Pretty much the opposite of functional me.
And this week, I realized I’ve been resisting this new place very very much because she’s stepped in to help me survive–because moving here was so, so, so traumatic. I needed her. And I’m glad she did. But now I don’t. And well, it’s a problem because she’s the ultimate unwanted houseguest.
Every time I explore–even in little spurts–I feel connected more to this place. But most of the time, I feel judgmental and it’s like I’m looking for reasons to disconnect more.
And that drives a whole slew of really shitty things.
So, I had a bit of a conversation with her at the fountain on Friday.
“What if we gave this place a chance? What if we gave ourselves permission to be wrong? What if we allowed ourselves to risk being hurt?”
Self-care this weekend has been pretty good. Easier. I cooked a lot. I bathed. I messed around with photos. I had conversations. I collected. I was very near tears a lot, too.
And I gave myself some damn credit.
I often see myself as controlling and thinking too much about the future or the past. But actually, I am usually right in the moment. Especially when I’m outside. With my camera. Paying attention to the flowers and the fog and the mountains. Noticing the body language and how the light hits his face. Noticing details.
I am not this controlling perfectionist I’ve made myself to be, and maybe I haven’t been that person in a really long time.