You know how some people – adults, parents, mostly – vaguely threaten (or at least strongly imply) to misbehaving children that someday said children will give birth to children just like themselves? i.e. “Just you wait, you little whippersnapper. You’re going to have a daughter just like you someday, and then you’ll know what it’s like!”
I totally want that to be true! I really wouldn’t mind if my kids maneuvered through their childhood years into adolescence and then into early adulthood along the lines of my path. I don’t want them make the same mistakes I did, no, nor do I want them to be me. That’s not what I’m thinking. And yes, I could be plenty annoying as a kid – I hated my paper route and took great pains to avoid it through dawdling. I hid my vitamins under the dinner table. I frequently pushed my curfew, tardy because I just never wanted the pizza parties to end. I left my clothes on the floor. I knew how to give a mean silent treatment. Still, I was the kind of kid I would be happy for my own children to be like. I loved my parents. I wanted to not worry them. I loved school and checking out library books and spent my leisure time reading Anne of Green Gables. I wanted to be happy – and thanks to parents, friends, temperament, and luck, I mostly steered clear of the worst of the detours on the teenage expressway.
So if my children end up taking a similar route, if childrearing karma does its promised thing, then yep – I’ll feel a-okay. I think I can handle kids like me, because I know me. So while we are at it, universe, well, I wouldn’t mind a boyfriend like me. I’ll admit it – that after multiple years/months/dates/disasters, I’ve come to the conclusion that I just want to date myself.
I wouldn’t mind if this doppelganger boyfriend had a robust stock portfolio, of course, nor would I mind a boyfriend with a better grasp of home repairs than I myself possess, having recently spent over an hour precariously perched on a step stool jammed into a stair step corner, while holding both a broom in my right hand and an umbrella in my left, in a failed attempt to change my air filter, inconveniently located near the ceiling in my stairwell. So yes, I would like to supplement my skill set and no, I would not want to date a clone of myself, but I do wish I could find the kind of person I’m trying (and even sometimes managing) to be.
I am a frazzled mom who loves her kids. I am an enthusiastic teacher who struggles to stay on top of paperwork. I’m curious about the larger world, yes, but super and only somewhat guiltily into pop culture. Yes, I admit it: I want more Spotify playlists, the contemporary equivalent of mix tapes. I love to cook, but get lazy in the face of dishes and picky eaters. I love to laugh. I need to laugh. I possess few relationship game-playing skills, but I love to play games…like Rook and Milles Bornes, and Set. I want to be better. I want to be with someone who wants to be better. I want to be here, in the moment. I’d like to find someone here too. Mutual conversation, reflection, attraction, and affection. That’s all! Not much, really.
Or maybe too much?
I’ve been trying to figure out my dating karma, because while my post divorce dating experiences have been instructive to say the least, in my calculus, the ratio of pleasure to pain feels a little …off. Less than optimal. Less than if I were dating myself, right?
I walked out of my marriage in emotional shambles. And that was before I began my downward descent. Somewhere along that sharply sloped descent, I found a warm hopeful thought, wrapped in a velvet ribbon, waiting in a pocket in my brain, and it was this – that all of my soul searching and teeth gnashing would help me and perhaps had already refined me so that I would be a better person and partner the next time around.
I had no doubt there would be a next time around.
Lo these years later, I want to believe there will still be a next time around, but I doubt.
Unfortunately, I found another thought during my descent, this one a question waiting in that pocket of my brain, this time wrapped in twine. The question quite literally startled me out of sleep one morning, and as it came to me, I buried myself deeper in my yellow quilt and allowed myself to speak the question aloud: what if everything you learned from your divorce was specific to that relationship and you actually don’t know anything more about relationships than you did then and if, IF, you get a next time around, you’ll get it wrong again?
In that moment, the whole scope and span of single men, be they Mormon, Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopal, agnostic, atheist, deist, or undecided, stretched before me as an army of enigmas. So many men I did not know, so many I would never know, and perhaps a few I would try to know and fail miserably. And yeah, I have gotten it wrong since then. (I have the Rx bottles and the empty kleenex boxes to prove it.) I have found some amazing people…for whom I was not quite amazing enough. I’ve met some charming keepers who did not want to be kept. I’ve heard about winners who were busy elsewhere. I have yet to correctly guess behind which door waits bachelor #3. And thus my simple wish to date myself.
The wish to date myself means wanting to find and be someone who wants to get it right. It means finding someone who is willing to stick around, someone who can laugh at both himself and me. It means finding someone who will talk and listen, someone who loves mercy as much as justice, someone who will stay up late to attend live music shows with me. That requirement is a must. I love live music enough to go by myself (I have attended three live shows by myself in the last four weeks), but by golly, I would enjoy having someone along to keep me awake.
Yeah, I’d like to find someone awake.
Extra credit points for being able to talk at length, to talk about Mormonism, maybe, or Minnesota or the virtues of Newman’s Own ranch dressing or the race to the South Pole or attachment parenting or 529 saving plans or Jon Stewart. That’s a must, actually – talking about Jon Stewart!
But mostly, wanting to date myself means wanting to find someone who wants to find me.
[Previous post in this series: Single Experiences: More Welcome as Half]