I went on two dates recently.
I had a party, a giant board game night in my studio, and I invited about 10 people, then more and more verbally because it was my first week back from the west coast and I missed these people.
My friend brought a friend of his. Tall, perfectly square jaw, did I mention tall, dark and handsome. Very tall, and handsome. I told him he looked like a movie star from the 1950s. He texted me the next day, after getting my business card the previous night in hopes of getting his band to play one of my shows.
We texted a bit. He was inquisitive, curious and open, quick on his feet with my sarcasm. I was hesitant, but I agreed to the date, even altering it to include the small theater down the street from the bar we would meet at. He put his arm around me in the theater and I didn’t feel the panic of a stranger touching me. It was comfortable, no pressure or exception, just two slightly too tall for the tiny theaters seats, trying not to laugh and get comfortable.
That second meeting, a so called first date, went well enough to warrant a kiss at the end of the night. It didn’t compare to a searing kiss I’d received a year before from what I can only settle to call a lead singer/bad boy. But there was something so sweet and reassuring about this man. Man. Boy. I’m turing 28 this year, and he just turned 22. The years separating us much less than the number of times my stomach twisted about it.
I’ve never, in my entire dating career dated a 22 year old. Not even when I was 22.
But, I realized the extreme distance in our lifestyles shortly into our 2nd date, and over the course of a few hours dreaded the determination in my gut not to alter this sweet, handsome face. His plans, his passions, so unlike mine. I want to flip a house. I want to build something from crumbling somethings. I wanted to find a career that was fitting to my desire to be outside but to make things beautiful.
I want to charge, chin up, into challenges because they call to me. I don’t need a lot of money, but happiness and hard work. He wanted to be swept up in love, deep and challenging. I was challenging. I was attractive. I laughed in the face of something that scared me, and continued laughing when I got more scared. And he stared at me, my lips, and my eyes, and my collar bones. The way my hands moved, and that I swigged gin straight from the bottle the night he met me.
I didn’t want to break or bend him, because he already seemed so willing to bend for me.
Two dates in and he already confessed that he would do whatever I liked, Whatever I wanted. Dinners, dates, a summer of one sided affection had I chose that… That kind of free reign makes certain people tyrants, not lovers. Not parters. Yes, you can guide a young lover into a better person, or you can alter their personality to an unnatural degree. They become a pleaser. I’ve been there. I did that, because a handsome man 8 years my senior gave me the kind of affection and attention that gets you drunk off life. That makes you watch movies, listen to music you never liked when you were alone, and spend Sundays doing what they wanted.
I don’t, nor have I ever, want to sweep someone up in my being. I want to sweep each other away, and stand up, soaking wet laughing and grinning in joy at the next challenge.
I think about the three specific men I’ve dated in my 27 years that have truly challenged me. To seek more, to move, to fight, to be more. They still do, in their absence from my life. I am more. I am so much. I don’t realize it when I look in the mirror.
I realize it when I leave a little tiny, speck of myself with someone I could have settled with. Or maybe changed a little bit. It’s not about change it’s about growth. It’s about the distances you travel together without even realizing it, until you see the mile markers that mark your never ending trip to “home”.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that… dating sucks. Because even when it’s okay. You have to communicate with yourself more than anyone else, before you damage yourself and others.