Posted in Dating, Love, Wishes

Permission

Within hours today, I got a text message, a Snapchat, and a letter from three different women with the same question. It’s a question that’s been coming up from many directions recently. I think the universe may be trying to say something.

“So, I went out with this guy. It’s… not happening. Is it okay that I hate this all?”

Yes, you beautiful women, yes.

You do not have to date.

You do not have to continue seeing someone just because it wasn’t awful.

You are allowed to prefer spending time with your dog, your whiskey, or yourself in the mountains.

You are allowed to have Tinder purely as a way to pass the time. You are under no obligation to talk to any of your matches, under no obligation to go on a date, under no obligation to start a relationship.

You are allowed to enjoy being single.

You are allowed to change that label.

No, you don’t have to be “single”. You don’t have to describe yourself as “unattached”. You don’t have to defend that you’re still “waiting for Mr. Right”.

Goodness.

You are students. You are scientists. You are problem solvers. You are hikers. You are beer geeks. You start grilling chicken and suddenly you’re three chocolate chip cookies into the batch. You’re transplants. You’re natives. You’re sisters. You’re daughters. You’re best friends. You like to be alone. You binge Netflix. You have no fear of trying a new restaurant without company. You are willing to be dragged along by a coworker to meet strangers. You sleep in hammocks or tents. You hop on a plane because someone needs you. You stroke your cat to sleep. You hold your roommates’ baby. You play your guitar. You roam through thrift stores. You save up for that kayak. You work hard. You dream big.

There is absolutely nothing deficient about you! You are allowed to not need a partner. You are allowed to go on dates for fun, and then to say, “This is exhausting and expensive. I’m going to take a nap today.” You are allowed to drink wine on your porch alone, or call up an old friend while going on a walk. You are allowed to go see that new movie alone, and to pick up some flowers from the farmers market because you think they’d brighten up your room.

My dears, my beautiful women. Look at you.

You are allowed to delete the app.

You are allowed to log out of your profile.

You are allowed to cancel that date.

Just as you are allowed to go back out there and try again, you do not have to.

If you want to be alone, enjoy it.

If you want to take six months to be intentionally single, to find yourself and what you like and who you are without using a partner as a measuring stick, do it! Those six months may turn into two years, and that is okay if you are okay.

You are allowed to be happy.

You are allowed to be happy alone.

You are allowed to throw rice at your friends’ wedding and then drive through the night to a national park to explore alone.

You are allowed to swap phones and swipe on someone else’s profile, but then ignore the buzzes as you tell stories to each other of the lives you’re busy living.

You are allowed to go to bed early and sleep in late because you’re working yourself to the bone and just need to recover alone.

Oh my ladies…

Do you need permission to be yourself?

You have it.

If you ever want it, the complicated, deep and shallow wells of dating will be back there.

But you don’t have to be there now.

You have the permission to step back and discover yourself.

Oh dear friends.

You are allowed to hate the fifty first dates and only three second ones.

You are allowed to be so tired of trying to get to know someone, but feeling like you’re going in circles.

You are allowed to want to step away from emotional ups and downs of wanting to click or wanting to love, but something is just not right.

You are allowed to enjoy being single.

You are allowed to enjoy being you.

You went out with that guy. And that’s okay. You can go out with yourself, too.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Changes, Family, Growing Up, Home, Lessons, Love, Time, Wishes

simply

My blog is named “Simply Eliska”.

These days, it feels like nothing is quite so simple.

Several months ago, I told a friend Eliska represented my new identity after a very intense growing period, but that I felt like anything painful that I’d felt since I’d pushed beneath the surface to Allison. I then confided that it felt like Allison was becoming unburied, and I was going to have to deal with all that dolor at once.

Then my dad died.

Two weeks ago, I was moving away from Colorado. I called my dad to tell him I was at his sister’s place for the night. It was so brief, maybe 15 seconds. “Hi Dad. I’m safe. I’ll see you soon.”

Two hours later, he was gone.

My dad lived for 22,725 days. I was alive for 9458 of them.

People keep telling me that we’re handling his death well.

I don’t really know why.

Sometimes I’m sitting still and realize that tears are slipping beneath my chin, unbidden. Sometimes I’m laughing. Sometimes I feel nothing but absence. Sometimes I swear I hear Dad walking up the stairs.

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My Dad slipped from this earth without warning.

I’m at the first place I called home. And suddenly, I’m not “simply Eliska” anymore. There’s no one in this county who calls me by that name.

I’m not even “simply Allison” these days.

I’m a grieving daughter. I’m a sister. I’m part of 130 years of history on this farmstead. I’m pulling my family into the world I had crafted independently for myself – here, Mom, let me add you to my AAA. Here, everyone, let me put you on my cellphone plan instead. I’m the answer to “Where are you these days?” and one of the rare times where people are 100% genuine in asking “How are you doing?”

I am not a barista. I am not a nomad.

Not these days.

These days I’m the scribbler.

I scribble thank you notes. I scribble the dates and notes from meetings as we take note of how to settle the estate. I scribble text messages to friends who have gone through similar situations, asking, “Did you feel… Did you do… Why?” I scribbled my Dad’s eulogy. And now I scribble here. I scribble because right now, it feels like the only thing I actually know how to do. It feels like the only place that still makes sense. I scribble because in my words I can begin to process this new version of normal that I wasn’t prepared to enter.

There’s very little simple in my life right now.

I got into the tractor a few days ago, and when I turned it on, I heard music playing softly in the background. I turned it up.

Bright fields of joy
Dark nights awake in a stormy bed
I want to go with you, but I can’t follow

So keep to the old roads
Keep to the old roads
And you’ll find your way

I wept, as I listened to a song that felt like my Dad was reaching across eternity to talk to me one more time. I wept for all the conversations I wanted to have while I was home. I wept for all the things my Dad will never be a part of as my life continues forward, and all the things I wanted him to be there for. I wept for my Mom, that her other half who looked at her with such adoration and cared for her so gently, was gone. I wept. I weep.

I was so lucky.

I had a father for almost 26 years who loved his family, and whose kindness and intelligence spread throughout the community.

Yes.

I’m selfish.

I want my Dad back.

I want my parents to continue to live the American Dream.

I want to be a whole, complete family.

So today I scribble.

Today I write, and remember those 9000 days with my dad, and the stories of the years before I was born.

Life isn’t simple right now.

But I’m going to be simply Allison, the farmer’s daughter.

“Hi Dad. I’m safe. I’ll see you soon.”

 

 

Posted in Current Events, feminism, Lessons, Love, NaNoWriMo

1000 words on 3 hours of sleep

I couldn’t write yesterday. I was running errands all morning, and then come my class ending, I was glued to the television.

As I sat watching the results roll in, someone handed me whiskey. I don’t often drink liquor, but I sipped on it and watched. I watched as my LGBTQ+ friends, my Muslim friends, my Latinx friends, my Black friends all reacted in horror, and I joined in with my disbelief.

I am so grateful for my Christian friends that have taken the time to share their views, who they voted for and why. I respect you, because you have thought out what you are saying. But I have seen so many who voted “for the babies” and for no other reason, and for that I grieve. I grieve because so many blame imported dark skin for terrorism, and I think of a Mexican friend who once confided that he never grows his beard out because he gets called a terrorist when he does. I grieve because you forget that Dylan Roof, Robert Lewis Dear Jr, and Adam Lanza were white. Micah Xavier Johnso, Rizwan Farook, and Omar Mateen were American citizens.

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

I did not vote for you.

For over a year, I have been reassuring friends from each and every minority group you have callously insulted that I believed in the American people, that no man who started an international incident the day he announced he candidacy could ever be the President.

I was wrong.

Dear President-Elect, in a time where our nation is divided, you won. Your party won a sweep of the entire legislative body. Congratulations: you’ll be able to squeak through legislation for two years at least. And while I disagree wholeheartedly with the vast majority of what you say, I pray to a God I don’t believe in that Congress will listen to the people. And I pray that the many, many white people who turned out to vote remember that it is only from a position of privilege that equality looks like oppression.

I pray that you create a panel of advisors who can speak frankly to you, and that you listen before you speak. I pray that we are able to hold you to a higher standard than “he didn’t screw up too badly on that one” – forget political correctness, I want a President who speaks with human decency and is humble enough to seek wisdom from experts in other fields.

Mr. President-Elect, I still believe in the American people.

I still believe that we will stand up with our brothers and sisters. I believe that We the People will fight for equality, justice, and for people who look and think differently to not fear for their lives as they walk through the streets.

America is not a middle class white man.

Dear President-Elect, I pray you see the great and beautiful thing we call this country and realize that we can be “great”. But that greatness comes from within. Invest in math and science. Invest in exchange programs. Invest in encouraging your people to think outside the box.

I did not vote for you.

But I still believe that the people of this nation will turn to their neighbor and say, “Brother, I am with you.”

You’ve lost the popular vote to one of the most unpopular establishment politicians, and yet won the electoral college. So listen to your citizens. Listen to our cries for equality, for love, for a fair shake. Listen to your advisors, listen to your people. You wear a heavy burden now, and without middle ground this country will only grow more and more divided.

The sun is up, and the world still spins. As I sit here, sipping coffee in a cafe, I look at the variety of people around me. This is my country. These are my neighbors.

“But see, America is the best country in the world!”

That superlative is dangerous. It lets us be lax.

You think we’re the best?

There’s 123 countries that classify themselves as democracies. There’s 21 countries that believe the ability to criticize the government is a fundamental democratic principle. There’s 61 countries that have a GDP per capita of $30,000 or more. There have been 70 countries with a female head of state. The WHO, while admitting their research is flawed, still ranks 36 countries ahead of the US in healthcare. In math and science, our education system has 28 countries ahead of it at the high school level. We don’t even crack the top 30 for nominal commitment to human rights – frankly, the stats on this link are maddening.

Our country is far from the worst it could be. But tread carefully when you tell me we’re the best.

Who knows, President-Elect Trump. Perhaps you can make American great. But you’ve got an uphill battle.

And here’s what I get to do.

I get to call my legislatures. I get to talk to the people that have been elected by We the People. I get to say, hey, this thing matters to me. I get to love my neighbor, giving the coat off my back if you need it more than me. I get to provide safe haven in my home if I see someone who is scared. I get to be a voice for the voiceless. I get to donate my limited dollars to organizations I believe in. I get to vote in the midterm elections. I get to teach children how to treat people with respect. I get to meet people from all across the board, to ask them questions, and to understand their mantle and stand with them in solidarity.

This is our America. These are our people. Hey, friends, standing in a place of privilege: it’s time to reach down, and pull others up. Let’s not tear each other down. Let us make each other better at the grassroots level, and knock on your neighbor’s door to say hello.

Because like it or not, we actually are Stronger Together.

 

Posted in Changes, Lessons, Love, Snapshot, The Barista, Time, Travel, Wishes, Work

Life out of season

I loved Denver – she was just my type.

In appearances, the mountains glistened, the city sprawled, the old became new. In personality, there were a thousand places to go, craft scenes to explore, people to meet. In soul, she was vibrant and alive and six hours from everywhere.

No wonder it was so easy to fall in love – Denver was just my type.

But something was never quite right. Long timers warned me. She’s changed, they said. I didn’t care.

But Denver didn’t love me back. Oh, we were friends, certainly. She took me along for the ride. But the lust was never reciprocated. I was one of many to court her, but in the end she chose another.

She was the heartbeat of Europe with the familiar shoes of Iowa and an exotic note all her own.

She fought me. Threw housing problems, ill-fitting jobs, broken relationships, car theft and exorbitant prices my way. I ignored these signs. I had friends! I had adventures! Surely, we were meant to be, Denver and me.

I loved Denver. She was just my type.

But then, one day, as dreams began to form again, I looked at the dart I’d thrown on a map. I looked at Denver. And I realized with sadness that she didn’t love me back. She’d never given herself to me as I had to her.

The suffocation of the unrequited love affair began. I felt our connection crumbling. I was a barnacle clinging to her rather than a lobster paired for life with this beloved city. Trapped, I felt the urge to flee. What now? Where do I go from here?

I loved Denver. She was just my type.

Posted in Backyard Tourism, Career, Current Events, Dating, feminism, Love, Snapshot, The Barista, Travel

The Serenity of Singlehood

Although statistically the median age of marriage has skyrocketed since the early 90s after remaining static for a hundred years, there’s still a stigma associated with being without a partner.

Don’t believe me, city dwellers?

When was the last time that you read an article that genuinely celebrated the author’s singleness, instead of making-do until the next relationship came along?

I’ve struggled with this mindset.

I have always warned potential mates, “I’m really good at being single,” as a way to prepare them for the fact that I’m going to continue to live my own life with my friends, dreams, and aspirations. If I’m choosing to include you as a significant other, it’s because I want you around as a part of it, not because I’m going to replace everything else in my day with you.

Unsurprisingly, most guys aren’t a huge fan of this.

No worries for me. Like I told them, I’m really good at being single.

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I’m currently reading the book All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. I was on the waiting list at my local library for six months, and it is well worth waiting for. Allow me to share a couple of excepts that resonated with me.

On life after a breakup:

Suddenly, my life was so much richer and so much more full of people to depend on and relate to and connect with. I never felt more fundamentally lonely…than when I was in a relationship. And I’ve never felt more supported and connected and fully appreciated than when I was single!

And on marrying later in life after living in a big city:

It’s not such a bad thing to always have something to do, someone to meet, work to complete, trains to catch, beers to drink, marathons to run, classes to attend. By the time some women find someone to whom they’d like to commit and who’d like to commit to them, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that they will have, if they were lucky, soaked in their cities and been wrung dry by them, that those who marry later, after a life lived single, may experience it as the relief of slipping between cool sheets after having been out all night. These same women might have greeted entry into the same institution, had they been pressured to enter it earlier, with the indignation of a child being made to go to bed early as the party raged on downstairs.

Many of my small town friends are married. I danced at their weddings and coo over their children. They tell me of their domestic lives, and I cheer for them while inwardly shrinking back in horror from the entrapment of even a long term relationship. There are so many mountains to climb, cities to get lost in, men to flirt with, wines to sample, nights to wane with conversation. For me, singlehood offers the best of all there is. With some recent developments, I’ve realized I’ll be single for at least the next two years, and that concept doesn’t frighten me at all. Oops, I might not date until I’m 27? Meaning at the absolute earliest I’ll be married at 29, if then? Ah, well. Did you hear about that new taco place on Tennyson?

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Last night, I borrowed a sleeping bag from a friend (as mine was lent out to someone else), and headed out into the mountains. With the fire ban in effect, I decided to just car camp near the base of Mt. Bierstadt. I’d hoped to hike it in the morning, but as I rolled by the parking lot, the cars overflowed onto the roadside even at 6:30 in the morning. Anxiety welled up in me, and I realized that I needed solitude. I kept driving down winding roads, occasionally turning and barely keeping track of how to get home. Eventually I found a place to walk around. I spent a good hour strolling, encountering only one other soul as I listened to the river beside me and rejoiced in the gray skies relieving Colorado from the relentless heat.

There was silence. There was solitude. There was no one to call and check in with, no one to text that I’d changed my mind. It was simply the delight of following the open road, following what my body and soul so desperately needed.

Certainly, there are moments of loneliness. But at the end of the day, I crave freedom more than warm arms. I prefer to forge a family out of the friends and city around me than to create one by law. Thanks to the generations of women before me, I’m able to be wild and nomadic and make my own rules. I’m able to be alone or surrounded by people on a whim. It is here, in this self-made world, that I am truly able to find serenity in singlehood.

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Posted in Dating, Growing Up, Lessons, Love, People, Wishes

To the girl who will replace me

I wish that I could say that I was above the pettiness of social media stalking.

But I’m not.

I casually spotted, then intentionally searched. And I had a few thoughts.

I don’t know if you even know it yet.

But I think you will be The One.

The One for Him.

I see the same characteristics, how you’re a blend of features of myself and his other serious ex.

You’re his type.

I see what you study, what your few public pictures show. And I can tell that your interests align with his even more closely than mine did. That conversation with him won’t be a teaching moment, but something of excitement as you weave through a world you both adore.

A part of me wants to hate you. Selfishly wants him to always love me from afar, even though we should never be together again. I want him to always ache for the fact that he screwed up, to feel guilty because it was his fault that our relationship ended.

But mostly, I’m just watching.

I want to tell you how to understand his mood swings. I want to compare stories with you about his quirks and favorites. I want to gush over his son with you.

Even more, though…

I want to know that he’ll take care of you. That he learned from his mistakes. That you will have a partnership. That he’ll love you, and for once, he’ll move you up on the priority list. I want you to be cherished, to be treated with dignity.

I don’t know you from Eve. But, dear girl who will replace me, my fingers are crossed for you. That the boy I loved will turn into the man who loves you.

You’re beautiful. He’ll tell you that.

But always remember – you’re worth it, too.

Posted in Growing Up, Lessons, Love, People, Wishes

think about it

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and surprise, surprise, it got me thinking again.

Margaret Brown ran for public office – including the Senate – three times before women even had the right to vote. Yet what is “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” known for? Not dying on April 15, 1912.

When a male friend asked me about my opinions on the objectification of women through exotic dancing, the conversation quickly delved into rape. When I asked him what he did to protect himself from sexual assault as a man, he was flabbergasted. “Well, nothing! I don’t think about it!” Therein lay my point: as a woman, even a fearless one, it’s a part of my daily life. Women are coached how to not be raped. Men have no such commentary woven throughout their teen and young adult years. Another male friend genuinely suggested that I wear a fake wedding ring so that my desire to remain single and lack of desire to sleep around would be respected.

I don’t really remember when the transition happened, when feminism stopped being a dirty word. But I do know that it’s permeated through my life much more in the last couple of years. Funny, right? That a straight, white, hipster, cis, middle class female would care? After all, I haven’t faced much sexism. I haven’t faced much discrimination. But that’s half the problem. My life has been relatively easy and I’ve still had to intentionally walk the wrong way because I was being followed and harassed at the grocery store a block away from my home.

So how must it be for my friends – and complete strangers! – who don’t fall in such a generic category? For women who wear the hijab in Texas. For a transgendered person in small town Iowa. For gamer and programmer girls. For a Mexican traveling the globe on his motorcycle. For the homeless family that slips through the cracks.

These are people. Racism, sexism, homophobia, ethnocentrism, and peniaphobia hurts real people whose lives and stories are just as important as yours.

That’s what feminism means to me.  That there are people out there who matter simply because they exist, not because they have anything to offer me. That equality should spread beyond history. It kills me to read news stories of onlookers cheering as a migrant dorm burns, of cutting the funding to Planned Parenthood when for many women it’s the only access to healthcare they have, of protesters deciding that ‘all lives matter’ so the BLM movement needs to be shut down.

Feminists of 2016, if they only thing you are willing to speak up for is the closing of the white wage gap, you’re missing the point. Especially as a white woman, I’m in a position of power to say something, to do something.

And you know what? That’s pretty freaking awesome. I love being able to hop online and shoot a message to a friend who politically sits across the aisle and ask questions of each other. I love being able to have the right to vote, the right to use my social circle and wallet to make a statement, the right to stand up and say what I believe in.

I’m a woman who will be able to celebrate one hundred years of suffrage in America. I can wear my hair short and dress as I please, I wasn’t forced to marry young, nor am I bound by an expectation to have children. Feminism in 2016 looks very different because the women of the past have already fought hard battles. But the war isn’t over. Recent studies show that at current rates it will be 2133 before we have worldwide gender equality. Messy, no?

Hey women, hey men. It’s your call. It’s your world. It’s your turn. We’re of an age where we can take up the mantle and fight for equality. I was born into a position of privilege – while I have worked hard, I did not get where I am because of sheer determination. I was dealt a good hand. Now it’s my turn to fight for others to have access to those same things I took for granted: a roof over my head, food on the table, transportation, an education, not being afraid that someone will attack me for the color of my skin.

That’s why I’m a feminist. Are you?

 

 

Posted in Lessons, Love, Musing, People, Snapshot, Stories, Time

this present moment

A friend recently told me that they only ask questions if it pertains to who a person is right now.

“I want to know who you are, not who you were.”

Not going to lie, my brow furrowed.

I see a strong vein of truth that I agree with, but almost equally powerfully disagree.

I am who I am because of who I was.

A conversation here, a crazy night there, a struggle, a triumph, a journey, a moment.

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To only want to know a person in this present moment is to lose the rich tapestry of being alive.

The past gives depth. The future gives growth. The present moment is only a snapshot. I would not be who I am if it were not for the experiences that led me to this moment. I am on a trajectory for tomorrow because of where I am today.

You are always told to live in the present: YOLO, carpe diem, all that.

The present is a beautiful thing. Time is a beautiful thing. But to only know one part, be it any part of their timeline, is to miss the true beauty.

This present moment is a kaleidoscope of memories and dreams, taking a deep breath to appreciate a thousand coincidences and questions that drove you to right here.

This present moment is full of opinions and beliefs that are wildly different from the past – but why? When I meet someone, I don’t just want to know that you agree with me, I want to know why. What led you to be the person you are today?

There’s a story.

A beginning, a middle, and an end.

I want to know you, who you are today. But I want to know where you’ve been and where you are going. I want to know why you justify some things, why you forgive others, what causes triggers and emotions to flare. I want to know what makes you you.

Those answers rarely are found in the present moment.

They grow, they develop, they change.

If I want to know you, I want to know why.

I want you to be genuine.

I want the intimacy that comes with revealing.

I want to share in your joy and laughter, your heartache and pain.

I want to know the past, dream of the future, and have it all come back to this present moment.

Posted in Career, Current Events, Lessons, Love, People, Wishes

so, i’ve been thinking.

It isn’t all that often that I’ve paid attention to sexism. Being a middle class straight white cis female, life has gone fairly accordingly with “work hard, do well”. I’ve looked up some ways to get involved in the 2020 celebrations of 100 years of women’s suffrage, but never faced much discrimination.

Tonight, I was chatting with a group of all male baristas. I’m not even sure how, but the conversation steered towards the gender breakdown.

“Females don’t make it in specialty coffee,” one of them declared, then made eye contact with me and tried to backpedal. “No offense, just usually they don’t cut it in specialty environments.”

Irritated, I listed off a few female dominated specialty shops in our city, and the other men called out a few of their respected female colleagues. But unfortunately, he wasn’t wrong – the gender breakdown skews pretty heavily the higher up in coffee you get.

But why?

It’s COFFEE.

I love it. I’m passionate about it.

But for all the science that goes into it, coffee is. not. difficult.

This is a relatively new industry.

This isn’t like politics or medicine, which for much of history has been male dominated.

This isn’t the military or a physically demanding industry where testosterone levels can affect performance.

This is an industry about grace, intricacies, art. This is an industry about communication and cleanliness and teamwork. This is an industry that can delve deep into the molecular breakdown or float at the surface of “does this taste good?”.

Tell me. Is there a single thing about this industry that favors males?

No.

And to be honest, that terrifies me.

Over the last month, I’ve been looking into going back to school to study chemistry. I’ve been looking up programs and trying to figure out if I’m willing to go into debt to get an education grounded in my current career.

But women are severely underrepresented in STEM careers and programs.

If this is how upset I’m getting about coffee – will I be able to handle the discrimination I read about in a science program? Will I be able to make a difference?

We’re almost in 2016. It makes me so angry as I look around at the world I live in. I look at my Middle Eastern friends and hear the stories of the racism they face and their concern for their families in Jordan, Palestine, and Syria. I look at my friends raised in poverty and listen to their stories of ignorant comments calling them lazy and worthless. I cheered with my LGBT friends when gay marriage was legalized earlier this year, and cringe when I see the rampant homophobia still trolling my facebook page.

Who ARE we, humanity? Why do we hate so much? Why are we so afraid of things that are different from what we know? Living is hard enough, why do we have to make it harder?

I just want to issue a challenge that was given to me a few weeks ago. I challenge you, all three readers, to give a good hard look at your motivations. Why do you do what you do? What are you thinking about – and why? What does your future look like, and is that how you want it to be?

Think about it.

Wrestle with it.

And maybe we can turn 2016 around.

(And seriously, vote.)

Posted in Changes, Love, Stories, Travel, Wishes

please, don’t try to impress me

Online dating allows you to meet people outside of your usual social circle. I was curious about the apps that had developed since the last time I was single, so I jumped into the world of swiping right to explore the city and see if I could figure out what qualities were important to me.

The answer? Don’t try to impress me.

I met some interesting folks via Tinder and OkCupid. There was a professional skydiver, a comedian, a civil rights lawyer, and a pilot to name a few. And to be perfectly frank, I was bored to tears.

I got so tired of walking into breweries or art museums and dealing with the awkwardness before me. These grown men, some of whom had drastically misrepresented themselves on their profiles, stumbling over words too big for them to pronounce correctly. Attempting bravado in telling me about their escapades, or how everyone loves their cat.

Now, perhaps I’m going about this the wrong way, but on OkCupid I almost never read my potential date’s profile. Instead, I’d glance at their picture. Do you look like you enjoy being alive, or like you’re on display for the world, or like you have something to hide? That was it. All I wanted was conversation and the ability to have someone to talk to while I went to new parts of town.

But no.

You all tried to impress me.

Do you realize how unsustainable that is? Do you realize that you’re far more likely to get a second date if you are genuine in the first? Do you realize that if you create a beautiful image that has no grounds in reality, you’re going to set yourself up for eventual failure? I was chatting with a friend today about this, and he looked sheepish.

“I did that with my current girlfriend. I was trying so hard to impress her that first month. She calls me an a**hole now, because I don’t do any of the things I used to.”
See?

Would I love for a gentleman to open the door for me, sneak a kiss before getting out of the car, make me dinner, or surprise me with an adventure? Of course!
But here’s the thing: I don’t want you to impress me.

I don’t want to spend a few weeks or months building you up on a pedestal because you do everything right only to fall apart when it becomes too much work and you become too comfortable around me. I don’t want you to woo me until you win me and then never try again.

I don’t want to think I want to know you. I want to know you. With your flaws and quirks and wrinkles. I want to know how you’ll treat me when you have the flu, or I am in the middle of moving. I want to know how you’ll respond when you have a deadline coming up or you’re with your mom. I want to see how you treat waitstaff and dogs and children.

I want you, whoever you are, to be consistent.

Call it the antithesis of being a nomad, but when it comes to dating, I’m a fan of stability. Maybe that’s the only thing I want stable – to know who is holding the other glass of wine, standing next to me on the mountain, listening to me dream of far off lands. Whoever you are, wanderer or homeboy, dreamer or builder, geek or athlete… I want you to know who you are. I want you to be confident in how you live your life. I want you to understand your strengths and flaws.

I want to be impressed by you. I want to see your character and your dreams and your passion and your ethics. I want to be impressed by who you are.

But I don’t want you to impress me. I don’t want you to try. I don’t want you to try to be something you’re not just because you think I’ll like it. Believe me, if I’m spending time with you, it is because I want to. I’m not afraid to pull the “I’m a barista-have an early morning-I know it’s 8pm but I’m going home to go to bed” gig.

Don’t try to impress me. Just don’t. You’ll hurt yourself and annoy me.

Be confident in you. The rest will fall into place.
(Well, unless you’re doing this:)
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