Decisions, decisions.

Now that I’ve definitely made it through to the other side, I can safely talk about Bad Decision Weekend. Here’s the deal. The anniversary of my first marriage is May 22nd, and the anniversary of my second is May 26th. Though there is 9 years in between, the dates being so close together creates what could easily become a long weekend surrounded by depression and regret. But these are not the only bad decisions I’ve ever made. This ain’t my first rodeo, and I don’t give up that easily.

The weekend’s title is mostly a joke. At the time, I thought each marriage was the best decision I’d ever made, and I entered into both of them with bright eyes, full of love and wonder. I look the same way going into the cheese aisle at grocery stores, though. Not every ticket is a winner.

I decided instead to put a positive spin on it. Celebrate the days for something new. Applaud myself for making good decisions, no matter how small. Making them at all is actually really difficult for me, no matter the context. It can be anything from where I want to eat (THE BANE OF MY FUCKING EXISTENCE! GOOD LORD!) to whether or not I like one shade of purple better than the other, and I instantly create a mental block that wouldn’t allow me to tell you my opinion even if I did have one. So I decided to take it easy on myself, and acknowledge my progress. No matter what, I wasn’t going to feel guilty (as long as nobody was hurt by my decision, that is. Rule numero uno.)

Friday, I decided to post little throwback pictures of Wedding 1. It’s more of a fun memory than anything else at this point, and seeing the younger versions of all of us in terrible clothing was cute. Also, my son was our ring bearer, and he was freaking adorable. I also went on a date, and decided to eat a salad. It’s not exciting because I’m trying to be healthy (the beer I washed it down with was proof of that.) it’s that I remembered to order food I can eat with a fork. I have a tiny mouth, and there has been more than one occasion where I ended up wearing more of my food than eating it. Or, better yet, having to use both hands to cram it into my wee maw whilst trying to appear smooth and sophisticated. I also decided that the date would go no further than the planned dinner and movie. Sticking with the schedule takes out the guesswork and accompanying doubt. Easy peasy.

Saturday, I decided to act like an adult. For the first time in my entire life, I had preventative maintenance done on my car. It finally occurred to me that, independent lady that I am, I have no idea how to change a fucking tire. Though I’m sure I could find someone to call in the case that I need one changed, there’s nobody contractually obligated to bail me out of car-related issues within a reasonable traveling distance anymore. Seriously though, I lived off the high of being responsible and buying new tires before I needed them for a good 3 days.

Sunday, I picked a place to eat. By myself. Even without multiple options from someone else to choose from. Also, it was a place neither I or my companion had ever eaten before. Totally new. As if the tires weren’t enough, now I was just getting cocky! And I didn’t stop there! I chose dessert, AND what to watch on TV. I may actually scrap the whole weekend and just make a holiday out of that day alone. The Day Dinner Was Chosen in Less Than Half an Hour. Be prepared for your banks to be closed on this day next year.

By Monday, I was all too close to the dreaded anniversary of Wedding 2. This one was not a fun memory quite yet. There would be no cutesy pictures, no happy stories. It’s too fresh, too raw still. So, I decided to let myself feel that, and be okay with it. With help from both Bridget Jones movies (back to back, no less) I stopped holding it in, toughing it out, or making jokes about it. I let myself just be sad that something I once believed in so much is now gone. It hurts. When Colin Firth hunted down Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason to confront him about letting Bridget be arrested for drug smuggling, I cried it all out. For our heroine, who didn’t know what a good man she had til she found herself in a Thai prison, for the little girl I once was who thought (twice) that she had found such a Prince Charming, and for the woman I am now, who can take care of herself, but secretly wants someone to punch a dude in the face on her behalf every now and then.

The actual anniversary was Tuesday, and as I had previously decided to take the day off work, I then chose to go shopping. I know, how cliche. But there’s a reason for that, it friggin’ works. Except that I almost turned around halfway to the outlet mall, because I felt guilty. Then I remembered the year I spent looking over my shoulder at every checkout line, trying to figure out how I would justify my spending on the ride home, and the panic attack I nearly had over buying an unplanned sponge. (That fucking sponge will haunt me forever.) Before I knew it, I was checking out of Journey’s with 2 pairs of overpriced, completely nonsensical shoes, and feeling pretty good about myself.

Though this weekend was actually harder than I thought it would be, or told anyone about, I made it. I never doubted that I would, actually. When I do get around to making a choice, I stick with it. Maybe there are times that I shouldn’t, but in this case, it worked out pretty dang well.

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The record shows, I did it myyyyyyyy way.

So there I was, sitting on my bed, thinking of how I could make my life a little more ridiculous. “Ahhh, yes…” I thought, “online dating.”

Though I felt a little lonely at that precise moment, I wasn’t trying to find my newest soulmate (which is made more difficult by not believing in the idea of them.) or jump into anything serious at all. Really, I wanted attention. This seemed like a pretty safe way to do it, I didn’t even have to get out of my sweatpants. I filled out the questions in the snarkiest way possible, uploaded a couple adorkable pictures, and posted it out there for the world to see. Or for a bunch of random dudes to see, whatever.

As it turns out, I’m a hit. I’m also gorgeous/sexy/beautiful, I have cute cheeks, a very regal nose, I seem like I’d be perfect for no less than 7 different people, and it’s worrisome that I dislike cats so strongly. I got the attention I wanted, and a bonus helping of pure entertainment.

I talked to the people that interested me (I’m totally going to admit it, it’s waaaaay easier to be a girl on these sites than a guy. I never once started a conversation with someone. I just sat back while the messages flooded in, and my ego grew.) and politely declined further exchanges with those that didn’t. Or, I just ignored them, because I’m not going to feel guilted into replying to¬† every “hey sexy u wanna hang out?” that comes my way. Some of them were funny though, and that’s important to my people. Those guys, I replied to. A few times, it went well enough that I went on real, live, face to face dates with them. That was also quite entertaining.

The biggest thing I discovered is that I do, in fact, have standards. It’s super exciting! In the past, I’ve told myself that I should accept people the way they are, be open-minded, and find a way to get along with them. While I still tell myself that frequently, I add “but that doesn’t mean you have to date them. Friends are great, too. Or acquaintances, even. Who doesn’t love a solid acquaintance?” I no longer feel like if someone shows interest in me, I should be grateful for this miracle, and reciprocate, no matter how they treat me or whether I actually like their personality. It’s like… I matter. And the things I want, the things I believe in… they matter, too! [insert heavenly chorus and beams of light shining down on my now-functioning brain here]

I’ve also started noticing red flags AS THEY HAPPEN! Not years later! Not when I’m already married and realizing that I should’ve taken his comment about wanting to wear my skin as a coat a bit more seriously, but in real time! Someone who texts me after meeting me once to ask if he can call to hear my voice is perhaps going to require more of my full attention than I’m willing to give anyone. If someone starts explaining to me on date two what my own behaviors mean I’m feeling for them, they might be a bit more controlling than I’m going to put up with. When someone assumes based on 17 text messages, about families and work, that what I’d love more than anything is to receive a picture of their genitalia… well I bid them good day and have myself a hearty laugh. And by “hearty” I mean I almost hyperventilated. Dude. Just… no.

Another thing I’ve done in the past is feel guilty when I do apply the few boundaries I had. Telling people “no” is not my strong point. So most of the time, I just don’t do it. You can see how this might not be my best strategy. But it’s not just that I don’t have to feel bad about saying it, it’s realizing I have EVERY right to say it, as much as I want, for any reason. As does everyone. Nobody gets to decide what I want, feel, or think, except for me. It’s so logical, yet something that eluded me for so very long.

When I started this, someone asked me what I was looking for. I had no idea. I do now. I’m looking to talk to people, because it fills a void, and starting conversations with strangers in public is too hard. I’m looking to keep being me, without having limits or requirements put on me. I’m looking for someone to have dinner with, have a beer with, and share a laugh with. That’s all. I don’t say that to seem low maintenance and cool, then hook someone in and tattoo my name on their chest while they sleep. I say I don’t want a standard, committed, serious relationship because… I don’t. At all. Maybe I will one day, but it’s not in the foreseeable future.

However, I do love me some free dinners.

I don’t live here.

I was a weird kid. I came by it quite naturally, I have a whole weird family. We sang patriotic songs together in the car, we took turns forming the letters of the alphabet with our bodies instead of watching TV, and we created an imaginary call center selling Ghostbusters equipment to made-up customers. (We didn’t bust ghosts. We just sold proton packs over the play phone.)

Once, I had a pet plastic egg. His name was Eggbert, and I’d found him during the egg hunt that Easter. He wasn’t the thin, crappy, see-through plastic kind with the little tab connecting the two halves that rips apart within seconds.No, no. He was the good kind. Solid, golden yellow, and smooth. So I stuffed him full of plastic grass, made him a bed out of a Kleenex box, and carried him everywhere. Before bedtime, I’d spin him on the table for exercise. We had a great time, Eggbert and I.

At some point, I realized that having a pet egg does not at all make you awesome. Shamefully, I tucked little Berty in his tissue-lined sanctuary and crammed him in a box so none of my friends (I swear I had them, and they were real, tangible human beings) would discover him. I cried, because I didn’t want to grow up. I just wanted to hang out with a fucking Easter egg.

Earlier today, I was thinking about how after 3 months, I still don’t really live in my apartment. I haven’t fully unpacked, or decorated. I don’t spend time here if I can find any reason not to. I love the place, but it’s not yet my home.

Home is where your heart is. For your heart to be in one place, you have to leave it behind from time to time. I can’t. I’m not willing to take the risk. What if I’ve chosen the wrong place, yet again, and it’s not safe here? Strong as it can be, the heart is still fragile at the core.

So instead, I pack up my little heart into a cozy space, lined with caution, protection and Kleenex, and cart it around with me. When nobody is watching, I let it ride out on my sleeve, wind whipping through it’s ventricles. Most of the time, though, it stays hidden. Not because I’m ashamed this time, I’m just a little more careful than before. My former ways of jumping from one hurtful moment to the next with nothing but hope and optimism has finally taken it’s toll. I don’t have resentment, I’m not bitter, I just need to heal. I’ve recuperated quite well so far, but there’s still a ways to go. When I get there, I won’t be celebrating by turning around and diving back in the deep end. I’ll stay there, throw some dorky pictures on the walls, and finally make my home.

The pain of losing Eggbert was enough. A girl can only take so much.