Guest Column: Dating Online Series.  A Secular Mass in Three Movements. Third Movement. The Transition by Ms. Jennifer

 Third Movement. The Transition

Interval. I can’t sleep anymore.  Sometimes I feel like I’m slowly falling off a cliff.  Maybe it’s like the batting cage and the balls are just coming too fast or there are too many curve balls that I don’t see coming and I get hit upside my head.  

The first day of the hurricane I lit candles and amused myself saying I was playing Laura Ingalls-Wilder in Little House on the Prairie, but by the second night of no power I was not amused any longer sitting in the pitch dark. Who knew that the humming of the refrigerator and the wheels of a car were my friend?

Sitting in the dark highlighted my aloneness.  Thank God for my dog, Nola.  Little things start to add up like the broken window, broken tooth and broken date (not necessarily in that order).  

“People are on edge.  Forgiveness and tolerance are in order.”  And this was BEFORE the election!”   This was my response to James breaking our third date because of the mandatory mask wearing rule. 

“Not exactly following your train of thought.”

Exactly.

“So New Orleans restriction are not conducive to meeting for the time being.”

“For me connecting with another person would supersede any bullshit politics.  In general, it stirs up the feeling that we are all simply disconnected and alienated from each other.”

“Maybe an alienated existence for you since you are a transplant to the area.”

I’m having a hard time pep talking myself into continuing to date.  I was hellbent before (perhaps in part to force myself into a happy ending). 

I’m sure I’m not alone human civility (the Latin word for citizen) on every level has hung itself.  We’ve created new words like “ghosting” to describe a whole new level of rudeness and “gaslighting” now means manipulating someone making them doubt their own memory or perception. 

Taken on its individual merits it can temporarily be tolerated, but it’s starting to erode like the Lake Michigan coastline and one day you wake up wondering where it’s all gone.  Ghosting is the new way of saying goodbye.  Even when the date is great.  Went to a Mexican restaurant couple weeks ago (after a month or so of texting).  I know the old rules are to let the guy pursue you, but how often is that happening now a days? Today there are hundreds of options.  

Texting is something, but what does it really mean?  It’s pleasant and fun, but not really intimate.  Like a recent text with a guy who I ask, “what is a hippy” and he shared “you need tie-dye” and a “hairy bush counts.”   Which leads to the question if I shave.  Which leads to “Show me” (your bush).   Is this exciting?  “That will not be happening, sir.” 

My expectations have changed.  Nothing really surprises me anymore and I understand almost every encounter I have (texting or in person) we are just simply having a dull to exciting exchange somewhere on that continuum.  I get the revolving door now.  I’m interested, I’m not.  I’m available, I’m not (unless fucking is on the menu). Maybe people hunger for the intensity of that, but they know their life will still stay intact after.  Perfect!

Maybe it’s all about control and I’m finally getting I don’t control anyone–all I get to do is decide if I want to engage with someone (and increasingly the answer is no).  Even when you are in a committed relationship you may have agreements, but you don’t have control and the more intimate the relationship the more they know where your Achilles heel is. 

The rude behavior exhibited on dating sites is emulated by “our” president.  The trickle-down effect is more than alive and real. The Election. Never have I felt so afraid and uncertain about what is happening in the United States of America.  My dad used to talk about “martial law” and I thought he was nuts.

In a culture of SWIPE, when lies, corruption and cheating is commonplace, when our President will do anything, and I mean anything (lawsuits… it’s not raining men, it’s raining lawsuits) to win how do we find a place of hope and grace–and hang on to democracy!?  Are people that afraid of people who don’t look like them?  How has intolerance and racism taken such a stranglehold?   Wake up!  “Daddy” doesn’t have all the answers and, more importantly, “daddy,” doesn’t give a shit about anybody but himself and maybe his cronies.  And what EXACTLY do they mean about “Make America Great Again.”  My dad used to talk about the “vertical dead.”  He was spot on.  

The Transition.   I found myself walking among the trees and watching an egret in the swampy, muddy waters on a date.   I was with someone who was talking to me but having a monologue.  I like fucking, but I miss romance.  But mostly I miss people thinking for themselves, doing their own internal work.  Trust me I’m not trying to say I’m above all that.  I’ve figured out that doing someone else’s work for them is a good distraction for me not looking  inside and unpacking my own suitcase. 

My dad taught me how to struggle with cognitive dissonance, how to seek out my own answers (after years of looking outside myself with tantric healers and charlatans). How to lean into something perfectly flawed and how to own my own shadow and my light.  And I’m working on how to feel compassion with others (but what if they are racist, homophobic, and misogynistic?), and to have boundaries.  I’m learning how to move on more quickly, how to romance myself (I’m easy just need Wi-Fi and a bag of potato chips or peanut butter pretzels). Of course, I’d rather have some hot man work a little hard than that, but it is what it is. 

I’m grieving my dad, grieving my naivete, my optimism, grieving my youth, my grand schemes/hopes, grieving that one last love affair.  Can I find a way to feed myself?  There is a lethargy.  Maybe as I slow down and lot of old shit is making its way to the top (AIDS, suicide, premature death, alcoholism, poverty, betrayal). I accept it more, understand it more, unpacked it, just some days are easier than others.  This is the human condition. 

I’m not trying to host a pity party or fan the fire. I’m trying to be honest and deal with my struggles and I see this being played out in the US.  There is such a deep hatred towards those who look or act different than the norm.  Why can’t we be curious and sensitive rather than hateful and judgmental? It’s the ego that needs to be destroyed, but how can we prevent a narcissist from taking down the free world?  

Pre-election, I started considering moving to another country. The corruption has bled into all aspects of life. If you have enough money you can get away with abuse of power and privilege. Presidential norms, hell human civility, have been shredded.    

As I get older, I want to be closer to my kids (and now, hopefully, I don’t have to run off to Mexico).  I put an offer on a log cabin near my daughter in California.   It’s “pretend remote” and that could be exactly what I need? 

I try and ask “God” what I should do, because so often I don’t know.  I often don’t know what I want, but I’m working on it.  I tell myself if I had a partner, I would have someone to bounce ideas off of.  I have freedom and privilege and I also feel unsteady, unsure.  A state of mind?  

Meanwhile, I have dated a doctor, lawyer, carpenter, witch, truck driver, musician and probably an agent or spy of some sort. One never knows who one is meeting on St. Charles Avenue. Perhaps I might have reversed the quote, “You think of women as disposable pleasures, rather than meaningful pursuits,” Vesper Lynd tells James Bond in Casino Royale.  

I am transitioning to a new dichotomy and a different stage of awareness.   I am dating myself, but shall I keep going, keep looking?  Is it insanity or hopeful if I keep going?   I just had a great date. And some hope burns bright, but I’ve been there before.  I figured I already had an answer to the question but wondered why is it so hard to actually begin a relationship and I asked James.  “You want me to be honest?”  “Relationships are difficult.”  I get that, but isn’t the effort worth the “pay off?”   He’s got four daughters (one he adopted).  He knows intimately about the hardships and benefits.  We’ll see…will I have a happy ending?  But how long do they last in real life?  Or maybe I should ask how MANY happy endings will you have?  Will I have?  

I always try and give people the benefit of the doubt, within reason. Reciprocity is important to me. This may seem like the same old thing but it’s not. Since my dad’s death I am easing into a new transition phase and accepting who I am and where I’m at and it’s honestly quite comfortable.  Flexibility, gratitude and humor are key… and some crazy optimism and, thank God, we will have a new president.  

I still want to open up a shelter and rescue dogs.  If I have dozen dogs to love will I need men (except for OSOD – Oral Service on Demand…lol)?   But I also want to travel so how is that going to work?   Regardless of what happens, thanks for joining me on the ride.