I don’t expect the relief that comes but it washes over me nonetheless, a susurrant exhale that makes me feel roomier, supple, more at ease in my bones.
I have been at it again: dabbling in cyberspace to find a potential mate or at the very least someone with whom I can while away a few hours here and there in easy conversation and shared interests. It’s been nine months since I began Internet dating, an admittedly impulsive decision given how vehemently I’d once protested such a seemingly manufactured pursuit of love. But once I signed up and created a profile, I surprised myself by going on a string of dates with four very different men, choosing to spend my time with only one for three months, and then enjoying a brief but extravagant dalliance with another when the promise of that summer romance sputtered out.
Internet dating was fun and eye-opening and rife with comic entertainment. From the beginning, I told myself I would focus on possibility and not rush to judge or dismiss based on the superficial or any initially uneven seams of compatibility. And whenever this strange but undeniably intoxicating – and sometimes baffling – approach to finding love began to feel like more of a burden than a hopeful exploration, I would quit.
And I did, twice, disabling my account for weeks at a time. Then in December, a smart, funny, cultured and spiritual gentleman caught my eye. We talked periodically during the busy holiday season and exchanged a few texts but it wasn’t long before my enthusiasm for all those traits I’d first admired was supplanted by a growing weariness and irritation. He was preachy and a tad arrogant and as I started a new job at the beginning of the year, struggling to get my bearings in a sea of change, I knew I didn’t have the energy to sustain a connection with him.
I had all I could handle adjusting to a career switch, a new schedule, and a sudden resurgent grief over losing my dad. Getting to know someone new would have to wait. I simply didn’t have the space, emotional or otherwise, for dating. And so I shut down my account.
Then two weeks ago, lolling on the sofa, aiming for a distraction from the hefty to-do list before me (and I admit it, swayed by one more story of an engaged couple who’d met in cyberspace just as they were about to give up their search), I created an account on a different site and set up a new profile.
Within days, I was texting and messaging with three men of diverse backgrounds, and logging on whenever I got a notification that someone else had written or was waiting to meet me. Yet even as I tried to throw myself into such diverting activity, I was aware my efforts were half-hearted at best.
I was impatient and terse with some of the men who obviously didn’t read my profile, and at times reluctant to engage even the ones with whom I’d agreed to take our conversations off-line. After a long day at work, the last thing I looked forward to was talking to them on the phone and when two of those men asked me out on consecutive nights, I found myself yearning for the quiet cocooning of home. Now was not the time for love and romance and I knew it, even if I were charmed by the French accent and easy laughter of one, and the expansive creative energy of another.
I was in my own season of growth and adjustment, and I needed to be present to me.
And so rather than go out with either of them, I spoke the truth I’d been deliberately skirting and thanked them for their interest. The relief that filled me was instantaneous. Here was my life again, knotty and delicate and hallowed in all of its shifting sands. And that was enough.
The truth is, I do get lonely. I imagine the man who will unfold my heart and make me laugh, the one who will cherish the dreams I carry and burn with me in the splendor of his own. In these dark, cold months, that longing can slice through my solitude with a swift and feral ache.
But I am learning to hold my aloneness with tender anticipation. The last thing I want is to fill this space with heedless distractions or the kind of dawdling that does not feed my spirit. Besides, my life is full and rich as it is. A mate would only enhance that tapestry but he will come when I am ready. Whatever ripening must happen before then, and whatever else must be pruned, that is what I’m being invited to allow. It isn’t always a comfortable place to be, but it’s one where I’m getting more in tune with the wisdom of stillness, with a knowing that nourishes the more I come to honor its presence, prickly though it can be.
And sometimes from that space, I will break into song for no reason, dance as an electric joy moves through me. I will seize a single moment with a giddiness that shakes the dust from every lonesome cleft and reminds me that right here, right now is good – and spooned from the sweetest of love.