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.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Changes, Current Events, Dating, Lessons from the Church, NaNoWriMo, People, Stories, Time

play the game (for “Rochelle”)

How am I supposed to live without you
How am I supposed to carry on
When all that I’ve been livin’ for is gone

Rochelle angrily pounded the space bar, forcing the YouTube clip to stop Michael Bolton’s crooning. Finding the music popular from when she was born was supposed to be a distraction, not something to force her back into melancholy.

She let her head fall back on the lovesac and watched the fan blades spin lazily. One glow in the dark star that had held on defiantly to a wobbly blade for over a year traced a white streak in her vision. She wondered what had brought her to this moment.

You need everyone’s eyes just to feel seen behind your make up. Nobody knows who you even are. Who do you think that you are?

She pursed her lips ironically and bounced her head in time to Mike Posner’s slightly more modern tune. She thought back to her early college years, dancing with her roommate around their apartment with cats darting between their feet and candles glowing all around the kitchen. “It’s probably because you think you’re COOLER THAN ME!” They’d sing at the top of their lungs.

I’m gonna drop some cash, only got twenty dollas in my pocket

Macklemore’s boom resonated through her chest. Was that the time when things started to change? Was that when she started to get angry at everyone she had called friend for the last four years?

Hellooooooo, it’s me…

She couldn’t do it. She slammed her laptop closed on Adele’s sepia gas stovetop.

The boy. So brief, so wild, so beautiful. He was the one that got too close when she was about to shatter. He was the one that found her right as all the years of hiding who she was, what she really believed, came bubbling to the surface. He was the one who stepped into her world right at the wrong moment.

She hated him.

She loved him.

He wasn’t enough for her, she was too much for him. These opposites pulled each other into a circle of gravity, whirling around each other, the attraction becoming too much until they collided with cosmic power.

And now all she had left was a black hole.

She was cold.

The new men who filled her bed were placeholders. She pushed them out her door at three a.m. and collapsed in a drunken stupor. When morning came, she would brew herself a full pot of Folgers and debate pouring Bailey’s in each cup. She would sit at her table, slouching over the steam and inhale the scent of coffee while she waited for it to cool. She would delete the texts from the night before, praying that by deleting the electronic record she could delete the memories.

She’d drag herself to class, hair clipped back, make up on point, a tasteful scarf wrapped to cover the hickey her latest lover had left. She’d make small talk with coworkers, and beg forgiveness for not joining them after shift for a drink. Rochelle would return home, pulling her cat into her lap.

“Love me,” she’d tell it, stroking it’s soft fur. The cat would glower and struggle away from her grasp, finding a ball of paper on the floor to bat around. She’d pull out her phone and find the app, the orange flame tempting her. Left, left, left, right, left, left, left, right, MATCH. Keep swiping. Left, left, right, left, James has sent you a message. James it was.

Got a long list of ex-lovers
They’ll tell you I’m insane
‘Cause you know I love the players
And you love the game

Taylor, Taylor, Rochelle sighed to herself. I’m dying to see how this one ends, too.

She wondered where it had all gone wrong – or had it always been wrong? She thought of her sister. The one who had always come into her room, stolen her things, touched her… Rochelle shuddered at the memory of her sister. Their mother had never believed Rochelle, and even now couldn’t understand why she refused to be in the same room, why she refused to forgive her sister.

She thought of the church she’d found herself a part of. She thought of how she’d changed for them, dying her hair back to it’s natural color after the black started to grow out instead of keeping it rebellious. She thought of how she moved in with them, reading her bible and striving to learn the lingo, to say all the right things and volunteer with them and be at the church every time the doors were open. She thought about how when she tried to open up, to share what was really going on, how Emily would shift uncomfortably and offer to pray for Rochelle, or how Miranda would go off on some Christianese rant. One day she called her out on that. “What does that even MEAN, Miranda? Do you even know what that MEANS?”

She’d run away, moving into an apartment in another city with Emily’s sister. Rochelle learned very quickly that Amy was even worse, and when they tried to have conversations about current events, it would quickly devolve into nonsense, and Rochelle would storm away trying desperately not to scream about how stupid she found her roommate.

All her friends were getting married. The three-three-nine method, Rochelle thought wryly. Single for 23 years, then “court” for three months, engaged for three months, and nine months later… hello family. Was there no such thing as a healthy friendship one-on-one with boys? Apparently not, she muttered. It’s marriage or running away and doing exactly what I’m doing. That’s it.

She lived alone now. After an entire lease of fighting and anger, and oh that stupid election, how could Amy actually believe that godawful candidate was genuinely a good human being? She’d finally escaped. She was alone. Was it better? Was she going to be free?

They say I’ll never be the poster type, but they don’t make posters of my kind of life.

She picked back up her phone, Elle King demanding freedom in the background, and kept swiping, pushing the thoughts of That Boy further and further into the abyss.


“Write a story for me?” My friend texted me. “I don’t care if it’s real or fictional.”

This is for you, love.

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 Backyard Tourism, Beer, Dating, feminism, The Geek, Travel, Wishes

Dilemmas of a Frugal Feminist

“You’re a pretty girl,” my date waved me off as I reached for my wallet. “Pretty girls don’t pay for things.”

I bristled, mentally calculating how much he had spent on me already – well over $100 in two days. He grinned at me cheekily. “I’m going to always do this, you know. Let me enjoy treating you.” And off we went to another out of the way restaurant that I’d never been to, the sapiosexual in me wrapped up in our invigorating conversation. The next morning, I got a text from a different recent date inviting me to go to a last minute concert, and that his offer still stands to pay for me to get a costume for the Ren Faire this summer.

Every date I’ve ever been on, I walked in assuming it would be dutch treat. If we clicked, I’d allow myself to feel indebted by letting the other party pay for me, and then I’d pick up our next tab. If I never intended to see him again, I’d interrupt for separate checks.

Egalitarian is how I’ve always operated in relationships and dating – if not bent towards me paying more because I was so adverse to feeling like I wasn’t pulling my weight. To be told I shouldn’t pay for something because I was “too pretty” left me looking like a gaping fish, and my inner feminist reeling. I was angry. Angry that beauty mattered. Glancing out at his brand new truck, I was angry that I pinched pennies for over a year to be able to travel to a friend’s wedding while he could casually drag me to expensive adventures and not bat an eyelash.

I’m an adventurer. I’m a traveler. I do a job I love that will never put me in the 1%. I’m a feminist. And every once in a while, these collide terribly.

Dating is really, really fun. Being able to go to new places all the time, meet new people, hear new stories, start new arguments. It’s expensive though – a couple beers can run you $15, and $15 is a night in a hostel, or three backpacker meals. To adventure at home, or away. That is the question.

I’m wrestling with all this. “New” is what makes my heart race for travel. If someone else is offering to pay for it, allowing me to explore the nooks and crannies of my home, is it so wrong to accept? Even thinking about it is making me clench up anxiously. I want to be able to be on the same page as a partner in crime. I don’t want to even have it be an issue, yet here I am, wondering if I’m taking advantage of someone. Feeling like accepting an offer for dates is slapping my feminist beliefs in the face. Wanting to go, to dream, to wander, to explore, to taste, to dine, to be absorbed in sound and sight. The desire to vagabond battling with the desire to do it all myself.

Often when I blog, I use it as a method of processing thoughts, ideas or questions. I still am. But for once, I haven’t come to a conclusion. I’m lost. I’m desperately needing a girls night, wanting to hear the words of fellow feminists who have already wrestled with these thoughts, these questions. I don’t know the answer. I don’t know what I want to do, what I ought to feel, how I think I should behave and respond. It’s frustrating! Friends, let me ask you: what would you do?

 

Posted in Backyard Tourism, Career, Changes, Dating, Stories, Travel

places and people

The last couple of weeks I’ve been heartsick for travel.

Have you ever stayed in a hostel? The beds usually squeak, the sheets usually have a hole somewhere in them, you most definitely want to wear flipflops in the shower, and locking your suitcase up isn’t a bad idea.

They’re my favorite place to stay.

I met a couple girls over spring break in Bratislava, Slovakia. Two months later, we grabbed lunch in Nijmegan, The Netherlands. Then there were my friends in Venice, Italy – a one day trip turned into three because of them and we wandered around the city speaking auf Deutsch and letting one of the German girls interact with the shopkeepers in English so I wasn’t the obnoxious American stereotype. And who could forget Frankfurt? Two weeks later I was on a flight to Croatia to hang out with my Spanish-speaking locals, and a year and a half later I was on my way to New Zealand.

All because of hostels.

Lounging by the bar.

Making dinner at the same time.

Charging our electronics on the same power strip.

God, I love travel.

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The happiest moments of my life was the five weeks I spent wandering aimlessly around Europe, waking up and the first question I asked myself every morning was, “What country am I in?”

I miss nodding off on the train, shaking myself awake so I don’t miss my stop. (Although sleeping on the overnight route when I haven’t spent the extra $60 for a bunk is not something that bothers me as much).

I miss wandering through grocery stores, trying to figure out what a culture cherishes.

I miss sitting on a hilltop, watching the sunset over a new city. I miss laying in the sand looking at unfamiliar stars.

As strange as it seems to say: on a related note, I’m single again. For the third time in two years, I’ve ended a relationship.

I’m coming to a realization of who I am and what I want.

And part of that involves being single.

I love dating. It’s lots of fun exploring new places with new people. I enjoy being in a relationship purely from having a regular partner-in-crime to go on adventures with, and I like the comfort of being in love.

But that’s who I am: an adventurer. Everytime I’ve gotten semi-serious with someone, my heart breaks a little bit because it makes me feel trapped. Trapped in this country (what if I want to do a working holiday?!), trapped in this state (what if I want to get residency somewhere so I can do an on-campus chemistry program?!), trapped in my time (but there’s twenty other people I want to hang out with!?).

I haven’t been single for longer than 2 weeks since I graduated university and started stepping into adulthood.

I don’t know who I am without my name being attached to someone else.

That’s not to say I don’t know how to act single – hell, the Chaser and I averaged seeing each other once a month for about half of our relationship. I knew how to have my independent life. But I always had a ready-made excuse of defining why I could be platonic friends with anyone.

“I have a boyfriend.”

But “girlfriend” is not a part of my identity that I enjoy.

It’s time to break free.

It’s time to be myself, and find out exactly who that is.

So let’s be friends, and only friends.

I get to start 2016 by myself.

So here’s to that, and here’s to 25.