“See that’s why you date people. You get to find out who you really are,” she proclaimed, loudly to her a friend over frappucinos. I did not realize Elizabeth Gilbert came to this Starbucks. "Relationships are just a reflection of ourselves,” is that last thing I heard before I wedged in my headphones, drowning her out mid-selfie because that’s why you date people, Rebecca? To get to know yourself better? That seems a bit narcissistic, I thought as I opened my Twitter feed and scrolled through past tweets, laughing at all my witticisms. God you’re funny. You should do comedy.
It’s been three years since my last relationship. Three years. Kids have been born and have fully mastered walking and talking in the time it’s taken me to find someone to hang out with on a regular basis. Babies who fell out of their mothers, arriving on this Earth unable to perform the most basic, life-sustaining functions are now using human toilets since I last had someone text me back.
But here we are. I met someone and we’ve been going on dates. Let’s not call it a relationship, because like most people who have been single out on these mean streets, I’m aware you never want to jinx it. The slightest move and poof, we ghost. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it.
Because if relationships are a reflection of ourselves, then the dating apps are a funhouse hall of mirrors, Rebecca.
I talk to my married friends about dating the way I imagine Civil War veterans spoke of the war when they returned to their farms. At first, they'd vividly describe the carnage and then, after a couple of years passed, they became those old men on porch rocking chairs, mumbling to themselves about how everyone swipes but no one chats.
I almost forgot dates could be fun, because I’ve had so many years of coffeeshop interviews that ended with a hug and a phone call on the way home, confirming with my friends I shouldn’t go on a second date with a man from Virginia who acquired a British accent after briefly living overseas. Like Madonna. Or, you know, a serial killer.
And Rebecca was right. I am learning a lot about myself. I’m learning I’m the type of person to google the history of the word “dating” and discover it was first used by George Ade, a columnist at the Chicago Record. In 1896, George was profiling a working class guy named Artie whose girlfriend was over him and starting to see other guys. When Artie confronted her, he said, “I s’pose the other boy’s fillin' all my dates?” And I imagine the answer was yes, because Artie doesn’t sound like the most attentive lover and also like he might have been missing a couple of teeth.
I’m also learning I like Romanian food, smiling, and regional accents that makes sense. I’m not sure I’m going to find out who I really am, but it can’t hurt to fill up some more dates trying.
This is post 4/30 in a 500 Word a Day Challenge - read them all here.