Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my memories. They are frequently comforting, or at least familiar. There are no surprises—they have already happened. Though it seems new insights can be (re) learned with each visit down memory lane.
It’s easy to get stuck in the past. You don’t have to worry how new people will perceive that person who is still slightly unfamiliar when you glance in the mirror. In the past, there is a shorthand. He already knows you. The real you. From before.
You don’t have to give your health history (again) to every potential boyfriend, in addition to the really cool things about yourself. Trying to exude that confidence, while secretly worrying that the health stuff is a scarlet letter, or alphabet really, branding you UNDATEABLE.
Or at least, it may seem as if the ones who still want to date you are the guys who normally wouldn’t be your first or second choice. They are really nice, but… Or they aren’t so nice. They might just be horny freaks who only care that they might get the chance to see you naked. As if.
So I put my earbuds in and turn the iTouch up loud, listening to my lectures for school, getting excited about my potential future. Trying not to let fears about being good enough in a new career hold me back there as well. Watching other classmates zoom ahead of schedule, and wondering what’s keeping me from sprinting along with the rest of the pack.
But then a chance conversation leads to a friend spending an hour and half with me, treating me as if I really know what I am doing, like I know something useful, like I really can help her. She eagerly asks me when we can next meet to follow up on some of the things she wants to work some more on together. I don’t have the heart to tell her this isn’t how things are generally supposed to go because while I am helping her, she’s helping me. Giving me a dose of that rocket fuel that pushes me forward instead of keeping me stuck.
Suddenly, my dating life is moving forward again as well. Tomorrow I have a date with a handsome nurse practitioner with a lot of energy, great attitude and a seemingly good heart. We have a lot in common, we agree. But I dread the conversation where I have to fill in the blanks with this triathlon athlete who runs daily, kayaks and does all the great things outdoors my old body would jump up to do in a heartbeat.
Surprisingly, the Jock With a Heart brings it up first to find out what we should we do on our date. “I don’t want you to have to talk about it if you’re not comfortable,” he says. “I just want to know what you can do, so I can plan our date.”
So, I hesitantly share some details. He sounds curious, jokes that he’ll look it up tonight and have a cure for me by tomorrow. I ask if I’m scared him off yet. He says not at all, adding that if I am going to go hiking with anyone, he’d be the best person to be with if anything went wrong.
He was reluctant to get off the phone. I’m trying not to let me insecurities ruin this before we even meet. Obviously he sees something in me he likes enough to go on his first date in a long time. So I will remember my awesome me-ness and just be my self.
The next day a teacher from Albany is driving down to spend the day with me. We’ve been talking for several weeks and are building a nice friendship. He’s very passionate about education, community activism, and bringing people together. He previously formed a kibbutz in Israel for two years, and he’s been running a non-profit in Uganda, and he’s starting a school in upstate New York.
Albany Activist is extremely intelligent, a great conversationalist, has great compassion and empathy—and he has great taste in music and seems to enjoy every aspect of getting to know me, even why certain books or albums are my favorites. Sounds wonderful, right?
It is. And he is. Though he comes with some complications of his own that may or may not be of concern. And while I wouldn’t say I have a type—Jock With a Heart, for instance, doesn’t really look like any other guy I’ve liked—I would still say Albany Activist’s look isn’t usually what I tend to be attracted to. But he looks like a lot of fun and very kind. Everything he’s said over the last few weeks reveal a great guy, and I’m really looking forward to spending time with him too.
So life is moving forward, just as it should. And I am looking to the future, while learning to enjoy the present. The past? Been there, done that. Thanks for the memories, but it’s time to start making some new ones.