I have a confession to make: I joined an online dating site. For all of five minutes. And promptly cancelled my subscription. It gave me anxiety. I have found myself in a pattern: days spent teaching children and nights spent home grading or trying to get some writing in. That leaves very little time for grow-up activities and I've been trying to convince myself that if I am surrounded by lots of adults, it will be easier for me to feel like one. So I made an account and gave myself a pithy name. I answered the litany of personal questions, added a few pictures of myself that didn't look too posed or narcissistic, but made me seem approachable and capable of a good filter, and the messages came rolling in.
It was fun. For all of five minutes. I love beginnings: The way that questions feel easier to overthink than to answer. And sometimes I think I do better behind a screen. I have the sort of mouth that can do with some editing and, a product of my generation, we prefer the anonymity; only feeling stupid for the frivolities we get caught in. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw; big curly hair and romantic woes, in my studio apartment. But I quickly found myself waiting for the spaces in conversation saved for laughter. A glint in his eye. The intentional brush against an arm. You don't get that over the internet. I want the man you meet in a bookstore, over a conversation about Thoreau. We cannot be reduced to an icon and a code-name. The sound of keys chipping away at language makes me nostalgic for the way words can't be edited, miles per minute, when they come so naturally.
I think every life is bestowed a person to which it does come naturally. A person you think about when you shouldn't, who you missed before you met, who gets you, moments before you've figured out your next move. In Yiddish, they call it besheret. Loosely translated to "destiny," the besheret is the soulmate. And, if we are only given one, we better be careful. The idea that two people could be destined for each other frightens me most because, if that's true, we need to spend our entire lives thinking for two: Where does our love go, if our "one" is with someone else? Where does our love go, if it go lost in the bad years, if it took a detour on the way to its destiny? What if love is impatient? What if love is waiting behind a computer screen, or sitting under a tree, with a copy of Thoreau? In someone else's bed?
We are to trust in a process that has let us down before. I am still building up trust from a hurt that made my head spin and my heart search for solace in a million places that looked like safety but were only loosening the trigger on an old gun. I'm tired of apologies. I think we know when something is right. I think we have to be smart enough not to waste it. Or else we settle for less than we deserve and, when it comes to the person we choose to love, we make a commitment to settle for life.
So I signed-up for an online dating site, for the better part of five minutes. Because there was a New Years sale and I am resolved to be less lonely. This City is too big and fast for a tea drinker. It is full of promise but it skins us to the bone and I am raw. I think Lady Liberty and I took turns draining each other of our resources. She gave me art and bakeries and I gave her the last five years and the skin on my fingertips. This year she wants to test my strength. I will lift skyscrapers, with only the fire in my belly, if this Lady can show me that brute strength is worth more than we give up for it. I am exhausted and unsure how I will make it through 2016.
I have made my yearly list of yearly resolutions...but before it is finalized, I will spend the next week falling in love with New York all over again. We have forgotten each other. I am not yet ready to give up on offline possibilities.
I still think I need to find more ways of tackling the form of a grown-up but that may just mean I pretend my life is a computer screen and I finally sign-up for mine.
This is Me:
My name's Melissa. I'm the girl with her hands in her journal.