When I decided to put myself online, to meet new people, it was really my first real concerted effort at the act of dating. I never really did it before. Looking back at my last relationship, the time we spent hanging out and getting to know each other (our Saturday Night Adventures) were dates. But, they never really felt that way, they felt far more organic. Purposeful dating. That is what I’m calling it now. I’m going out on purpose to meet people, to get to know them. There is intent. To meet people.
It’s strange, going out and trying to build something from a profile and drinks. I’ve had some good conversations. It feels a little bit like hanging out, which I like, but there is also the vague feeling of being graded. Every person that I’ve had any sort of a relationship has begun with hanging out. In those circumstances there was often a sort of a crush that developed, some sort of burgeoning interest, that led to wondering “Do they feel the same way about me?” Those all started with some sort of friendship foundation (or fling). This is different, this profile and then personality matching. We established interest based on our profiles and then chose to meet up, I guess to evaluate each other. I’d say that it’s going well, in that I’m actually getting out there and meeting people. I’m trying to keep it small as I’m learning how to “date” (and really, I don’t like the word “dating” because there are two meanings: one that indicates that you are meeting a person at a location for an activity of some sort, and one that indicates a commitment to someone. I really do prefer hanging out, because it feels like you’re starting by finding out if you work as friends and progressing from there.) Right now there are two people that I’m interacting with. It’s tough, with my work schedule (now ramping up into the seasonal crazy fever pitch) and my general run of the mill introversion and anxiety, to figure out how any of this is going. It all feels like a bit much sometimes. And nothing else in my life feels like it’s getting any quieter.
I keep returning to the word purpose. It’s expanded for me past the dating into a whole “Oh god, what am I doing with my life” kind of thing. The sort of thing that starts you questioning everything. I’m starting my 14th season at my day job, that means I’ve spent 13 years working in one department, with one focus. If I left tomorrow, would anyone remember what I accomplished? Would I have left a mark? Or, more realistically, would my position be refitted and rehired and the whole thing would continue without me? And what would I do? Do my drawings and paintings mean anything? Do any of the words that I’ve written? I generally enjoy the types of movies where the main character explodes their life and starts fresh–that rock bottom to new start narrative, usually involving the right job and the right partner. But right now it’s hard to think about that because I live in a real world where I can afford to drop everything–I need my job to pay my bills and my debt. This isn’t even a matter of like or dislike, I can’t afford to not have it.
This whole purpose thing also implies some sort of resonance. Not only, do I have a direction or a path, but have the ripples that I’ve left resulted in anything? I think about the time I’ve spent in the Twin Cities, at my job, and the people that have worked for me, with me, and the people that I’ve called friends … how have I impacted those lives? I don’t speak to so many of them now, they’ve all moved on. My ex, who still effects me, does she think about me ever? Do I come up in conversation? Is there fondness or relief that I’m in the rearview? We spent nearly two years together and it’s been a full year apart. What was my impact? Do I matter? And in the last year, I became friends with and briefly was involved with someone. I’ve now been almost completely edited out of that person’s life narrative. Thanks to the internet, I can see it happening digitally, the hows and whatnot. To have so little resonance that your sum rises to maybe zero.
I’m looking for my narrative. I’m looking for my purpose. I tend to hold onto things, to remember, and I can’t always choose which of those things make me feel. I’m lucky that I’ve got a couple of really good friends that are touchtones, they remind me that I’m maybe being a little too hard on myself and that I need to keep trying. And I am meeting new people, people who are interesting and nice. Maybe one will be right for me. Or maybe not. But I’ve got to keep moving forward. It takes time, especially when starting from scratch. And I take time. Last time I thought I saw something good and I opened up a little too quick and got dinged, so it’ll be a little more difficult the next time. Right now it feels like I’m slogging through the mire and the muck, but I’m slogging. I’m moving. Maybe one of these days I’ll have an idea strike me that leads to months of exhausting work but, Aha! It’s a book and it’s good. Or a painting will be displayed and that will be the one, boom. And maybe one of these nights I will have another one of those moments where I see her and I smile and I know. Yes, this one. Yes.
More later …