““Opening your heart and being courageous and telling people that you care about them or like them or that you think they’re special only makes you a better, bigger, kinder, softer, more loving person, and only attracts more love into your life.” Amy Poehler.
This afternoon I was running errands in these obnoxious bright green dinosaur print leggings. I’m actually a little bit obsessed with them (fun yoga tights in general) and I had just finished taking a killer barre class and was at Trader Joe’s stocking up on snacks and cheap wine. I wasn’t necessarily trying to make a statement, but as an introvert, I do find crazy pants are a sure fire way to get people to interact with you (for better or for worse.) No fewer than six people stopped me in the aisles to comment on the leggings, and as I was waiting in line one of the checker’s yelled “Hey Dinosaur, I can help you over here!”
I wore these leggings on a first date once. We met up in a Portland coffee shop at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, me before heading to a barre class, him before heading to an all day seminar on Social Justice. Both of us yoga teachers… he ordered a macchiato, and we talked a bit about yoga and to make the date even more Portlandia, I discovered that he didn’t have a car, and though he did have a “Real” job he wasn’t that into it and would rather teach yoga and focus on his Social Justice book club. I wasn’t sure what his reaction to the dino leggings would be, but he didn’t even bat an eye at them. I subconsciously wore them, thinking at all else they would be a conversation starter. Lord knows meeting someone for the first time at 8:30 on a Sunday, before you’ve even consumed coffee is a risky first date scenario, so it couldn’t hurt to have a built in conversation buffer. The pants were never mentioned… he drank his tiny tiny coffee and we went our separate ways.
When I was a Junior in college my roommate and I made up a song we would sing to each other as we were getting ready for bed/ hungover on the weekend mornings called “Wasteland of love.” Looking back on this, it might have been somewhat of a clue as to why we were both single at the time, but you cannot live in the past like that. I was coming off of this epic crush from the previous year, and making up a show tunes style ballad seemed like a pretty good life choice. I met the guy in a Religion class of all places, and the second he walked in the door it was one of those “I’ve got to get to know this guy” moments. He was ridiculously handsome (at least to me) and a complete nerd all wrapped into one, and by some miracle we ended up in the same small discussion group. The weeks went by, we talked about the Old Testament, and our friendship developed outside of class. We spent the weekends watching Raiders of the Lost Ark and eating pomegranate seeds, talking about Post Season Baseball, and chatting in dorm entryways until 2 in the morning. We nerded out about Star Wars, and went to a few parties, and talked politics, and finally towards the end of the school year I got the courage to send him a note through campus mail that told him how I felt about him. I mean, after two semesters of hanging out, of Instant Message conversations of constant weekend hang-outs he had to kind of already know, right? And he got the card… (which, I wish I still had it, because it was this perfectly witty thing, and I don’t entirely remember what it said on the front, but it was this whole monologue about ketchup and jiggling a toilet handle, and it was of course this really round about way of saying how much I liked him etc. etc.) So we decided we should talk in person to figure out what this all meant, and when we were finally sitting in my dorm room and I’m like trying to keep my shit together, he looks at me and says “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet.” And then kind of flopped over in this epic way like cats sometimes do , (and he had this amazing long-ish hair that that kind of flopped over this glasses) and that was basically our entire conversation about my year long crush on him… Twelve years later, and I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but whenever I find myself in a state of dating confusion, I often flash back to that conversation. And honestly, when people ask me why I’m not dating anyone, this is often the answer that pops into my head. “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet. “
I’ve tried the whole swiping thing, and though a lot of my friends swear by it, I just cannot seem to get on board. My Freshman year of college I got a letter from my grandmother and at the end it said “look out for all the jerks and weirdos out there!” and my friends and I laughed about it at the time, but flash forward to the current dating scene, and let me tell you, there are a lot of jerks and weirdos out there! Yes, there are also nice ones, and funny ones, and I get that I should probably keep trying, but let me just set the scene of the last guy I met online. Picture it. Sicily, 1937… kidding… We were out at a wine-bar and he spent a good seven minutes telling me this anecdotes about how he recently watched the best of Chris Farley episodes of SNL, and how funny they were, and how emotional he got because he grew up on that kind of comedy. I interjected how I could totally relate because I had recently listened to Amy Poehler’s book on a road trip, and started to get a little teary when she was talking about her last season and how it really resonated with me during that time since it was an election year and her portrayal of Katie Couric really resonated with me. And he turned to me and said “um… I don’t know who that is” and I said “Amy Poehler?!?!?!” and he got SUPER defensive and said “Hey I don’t really know authors that well ok!”
I’ve been on two “blind dates ” in my life. Granted, this last one, the guy didn’t know it was supposed to be a set up, and I ended up spending the evening with my best friend and MY PARENTS at a dive bar in Salem, listening to a bunch of Doctors cover rock songs, and my BFF used the “countdown to St. Patrick’s Day” clock as a timer to when we could leave. The other guy got my name and phone number while he was under the influence of Anesthesia… (hashtag welcome to my life)
Then there was the guy I met speed dating. He was nice enough, well spoken, had two master’s degrees, super involved in his community, and seemed kind of like a catch. Then I get a 3 minute long voice mail at 2PM on a Friday, and he’s curious why I’m not answering my phone, and talking about how he’s going golfing but he just had some dental work done, and it had been about 10 years since he had a cavity, and how his mouth is numb and how weird it is, and he literally said “you know like when your foot goes to sleep, only its your mouth!!!” and I’m sitting there wondering why he thought I wouldn’t be at work at 2PM on a Friday, and who leaves 3 minute long voice mails rambling about dental work… and then the next day he told me he didn’t want to see me again because I was TOO rooted in my community and he thought we had different communication styles. Fact: we do.
And I get it, I think there are still some good eggs out there (which is in no way a veiled reference to my biological clock, because I do not want to have children…) and lord knows I keep putting myself out there, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. Thankfully, people don’t seems to ask as much as they used to as to why I’m not dating anyone… When you are in your 20’s it seems as though people feel entitled to ask, and once you reach your 30s that line of questioning seems to mostly fizzle out, though occasionally it pops up, and once my brain stops screaming “Internet. Internet. Internet. Internet” my second impulse is to give out the phone numbers of all the men I’ve asked out who have said no, and say “ask these gentlemen, because I don’t know!” (disclaimer, if any of them are reading this… I’m not actually that crazy or that jaded, your numbers are safe) I live in a small town, I work in a women’s clothing boutique, so let’s be honest, most of the men I meet on a daily basis are shopping for their wives. I’m putting myself out there, I’m trying to stay open, but I honestly don’t have an answer to the question “Why aren’t you dating anyone?”
I did have a bit of a flirtation with one of the fill in UPS delivery men. It was always kind of exciting because I never knew when he would be on our route, and then randomly he would show up, all smiles and flirty banter, and it got to the point where my heart would kind of flutter anytime I heard a handtruck outside. My friend, who works at another boutique, started to text me when he was out on delivery so I could compose myself or put on lipstick before he arrived. Once I awkwardly dropped the signature thing and was thinking “pull it together Brisbin.” So finally, after a Summer of this, I get the text alert that he is out and about on delivery, and I calmly get a to-go cup, write my name and number on it, and make him a latte (of course it had a little foam heart on top, because that is the only latte art I can actually do, and also just because.) and I waited. I waited and waited and waited, and then I finally saw him walk by the shop, and realized that we didn’t have any deliveries that day, so he didn’t come in! Of course, I had a store full of customers so I couldn’t chase down hot UPS guy and give him the coffee/ my phone number, but had he actually come in that day, I still believe this would have been the COOLEST THING I’VE EVER DONE! But alas, I just had to sit there and somewhat pathetically drink the coffee with my own name and number on it. (follow up… the next time he came in, I did give him my contact card, and he was totally sweet, and told me he just started seeing someone, and I said “can’t blame a girl for trying.” And then he was our UPS guy for the next 10 days in a row and I somehow managed to not be a spaz that entire time. And now he comes in sporadically and I’m mostly a spaz, but hey, at least he has my number.)
Fast Forward to now. (sitting at my kitchen table, drinking wine, still rocking the dino leggings, listening to jazz) This month for Bookclub we are reading Quiet by Susan Cain… and I’m not going to lie, I’m having a little bit of a hard time getting into it. And though we haven’t discussed the book yet, I’m kind of thinking that most of us in the group are going to say “It was interesting… but I already identify as an introvert, It was basically like reading a book about myself… and I already know that I’m like this. “ At least this has been my response to the book. There is part of me that feels like it should be required reading for extroverts, or maybe for anyone that I date (doesn’t dating me sound fun?!? I have hand outs and recommended reading about how to best get to know me and deal with my quirks… LOL) But honestly, I don’t need a book to tell me that I’m a careful thinker, that I think before I act, that I take longer to digest information and that if left to my own devices I “tend to sit around wondering about things, imaging things, recalling events from my past, and making plans for the future.” ( Quiet, pg 168)
Granted, I haven’t finished reading the book yet, but thus far the part that has resonated the most with me is a section that is talking about small talk “ In most settings, people use small talk as a way of relaxing into a new relationship, and only once they’re comfortable, do they connect more seriously. Sensitive people seem to do the reverse. They “enjoy” small talk only after they’ve gone deep”… When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else. “ (Quiet, pg 152.) This I get, this is my jam, this is the section that I’m going to highlight and put on my nametag at speed dating. This is the flyer that I’m going to hand out to all my potential suitors, this is my new mantra, This is the key to the decoder ring of my life.
I recently got blindsided by having feelings for someone… and though I’m totally in life recovery mode right now, because things didn’t work out the way I hoped they would, I have to say, that the things you don’t see coming are often times the most exciting. Anyway, I’m still kind of in the middle of it, and figuring out the day to day, but basically the blindsiding thing happened, and I decided to act on it, even though I knew it was complicated, because in this day and age, dating is complicated (per an e-mail I recently received from a dating site, the Dating Apocalypse is here… just so you know… ) life is complicated, so why not just go for it and see what happens, and pick up the pieces of your ego and self esteem later? (kidding) But really, I’m a firm believer in embracing vulnerability, and most of the time it’s scary and kind of sucky, but also awesome, and so, once again, I found myself dropping a note in the mail saying, “I’m interested” (side note… I didn’t really realize until just now that this is apparently my MO. I’m boycotting technology based dating, but damn it, Jane Austen would be proud of my snail mail declarations of love… at least I’m consistent?) and maybe putting a letter in the post wasn’t quite as cool as writing my number on a cup of coffee, but it still felt like this amazing force of forward motion.
And here is one other observation I have about being an introvert… you have to be your own advocate.I feel a little conflicted with this one, because generally speaking, as a woman, as a human, as a person, looking for love, you shouldn’t have to convince the other person that they should have feelings for you, am I right? If they don’t get why you are the cat’s pajamas (where are these antiquated sayings even coming from? I’m just rolling with is) then they are NOT your person. You shouldn’t have to explain why your quirks are charming, why your awkwardness is endearing, if they don’t get you, then onward and upward…. ONLY! I’m an introvert. And I’m slow to warm up, and it takes me a long time to process things, and establish this comfort zone, so mostly I listen and observe and think, and process, and then I end up totally surprising everyone when I just put it all out there. And then everyone is like “Her?” (Oh my God, am I Anne Veal?) because it goes against everyone’s preconceived ideas of me. I think I would have thrived at the Milford School where Children should neither be seen nor heard. ( if you aren’t getting the Arrested Development references, I can’t really help you.) And so, yes, I shouldn’t have to advocate for myself as to why I’m awesome… but sometimes it feels like maybe I actually need to. And it goes kind of goes back to that big talk vs. small talk thing… It seems so much more natural to just tell someone you have feelings for them and approach things from a larger angle before getting into the smaller and more trivial things. At least it does for me… then again, I’m kind of realizing I’m in the minority here, and basically it feels like maybe my approach to dating is kind of like living in The Upside Down. Everything is vaguely familiar, but it’s different, and you can’t get through to the people on the other side, and its maybe slightly scary. But why bother with the small stuff when the big stuff is so much more interesting?
Anyway… its been a challenging few weeks to be a single gal in McMinnville. Then, add in the fact that I had a huge fight with my father over politics, and I’m basically feeling a little lost as a single. I mean, I should have known better than to ask him point blank if he was voting for Trump, and when his answer was “probably” I literally burst into tears. My mom immediately asked me if there was anything else going on in my life… and well yes, I’m feeling a little vulnerable, and not necessarily trusting my gut right now, but also his answer really devastated me. As a little girl you are supposed to look up to your father as this ideal, this larger than life representation of how all the men in your life should treat you. And I realize that I’m exceptionally lucky, because my dad is, without a doubt, a keeper. But finding out that he was most likely supporting a candidate that boasts about sexual assault, who degrades women, and who I view as an all around terrible human kind of destroyed me. What is that supposed to say to me as a single woman, that my father is willing to support that sort of behavior from the man who could run the country? What is that supposed to say to me, that my father is willing to support someone who could speak that way to his daughter, to his granddaughter? And how can I look at him the same way? (and then, as I was having this meltdown, my mom backed her car into my car… I can’t even make this up.)
Anyway… round back to the story at hand… it didn’t work out. (Lol, you know that scene in Dirty Dancing Havana Nights? No? Just me? “I liked this guy once… it didn’t work out. He didn’t even know I existed.” Go watch that movie immediately, if not sooner). My dad might vote for Donald Trump, and I’m just trying to wrap my head around it all.
But here is what I know for sure. I’m an introvert. And I’m witty. I’m well read, and I’m a little awkward at times. I drink Whiskey. I like to listen to jazz when I make dinner. I sing Sinatra songs to my dog a lot. I’m quirky, I probably know more about Star Wars than you do, I teach yoga, I love to hike, I don’t like IPA, but I understand if you do. When I’m stressed out I like to watch The Golden Girls, my books are color coordinated, and I hate folding laundry. I’m not a morning person, but I’m really trying to be, I don’t like mustard, but I do like pickled mustard seeds. I like to cook, I love The Red Sox, but I tolerate most sports pretty well. My idea of the perfect first date is going to the batting cages. I like action movies, and I tell it like it is. I’m a good listener and I’ll probably remember random little details about the first time we met. I’m sentimental, I hate drama, and I value authenticity. I love gardening, and pickling, and my favorite place on the planet is Tintern Abbey (Fenway Park is a close second) I like real conversations, and binge watching things on Netflix. I’m snarky and cynical and also a hopeless romantic. I hate sappy novels, I love to cook, and being creative. I quote Arrested Development at least 3 times a day, and a good Meme makes me surprisingly happy. I’m quiet, and reflective, and dorky and driven. I like to dance in kitchen, and I can’t do a cartwheel, but I do make a damn good Manhattan. And I’m in the girl in the dinosaur leggings.