Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forty is the New Fifteen

Of course, that's only because I'm just getting over one of those terrible, wonderful crushes that I, at least, associate with high school and cheesy teen romance. I was astounded to be hit with something like that now, when I'm allegedly supposed to be a real and true adult with a mortgage and a job with actual responsibility, but hit I was. Now that it's (mostly) run its course, I'm trying to look a bit more objectively at my singleness to see what, if anything, I want to do about it.

I don't mind being single. This time it's been nearly seven months, and that's seven months truly single, no backsliding with a convenient ex, not even any dating. Nothing but the one intense crush that seemed, for a month or so, fraught with potential. I am a woman who likes having my space. I like living on my own: I come home to things the way I left them, I make up my own schedule and I cook or don't cook and unpack or don't unpack as the mood hits me. Of course, this leaves me with a spare room full of boxes, Raisin Bran for dinner two nights in a row, and way too much consumption of Netflix.

There are times when I miss having someone to bounce the events of the day off of, especially when I've had one like today. When my feet are cold (even in wool socks), there's no one around to help warm them up. And every once in a while it'd be nice to go to a reading, lecture, or music performance with someone else.

The problem is, I have no idea how to go about getting out there. I've never really dated in the broad sense of the term. Everyone I've ever been involved with I've known in another capacity before we began a relationship. I've looked at the possibility of online dating sites -- I know people for whom it has worked out beautifully -- but it just doesn't feel like the right way to find someone. I go out for a drink occasionally and have ended up striking up conversations, but it takes a lot of effort to get there, because I'm shy and not very good at stepping up. I'm also not entirely sure I want to meet someone in a bar.

For now, I'm not really looking that hard, and I probably won't change that anytime soon. I'll try to get better at mixing and conversing when I'm at social events, but unless someone comes along and sweeps me off my feet (or that crush finally wakes up and sees what he's been missing), I'll keep toddling along in my own little single world until I'm comfortable enough with myself there not to care whether anyone else comes along at all.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Right now I'm sitting on an old wooden kitchen chair in the no-man's-land between my living room and dining room portions of the main room of my first floor. I also happen to be in front of an antique mirror that used to hang on my grandmother's wall, so every time I look up from the screen I see myself, which is admittedly odd. Sitting here, now, I am trying to unravel the effects of sitting more formally earlier.

The past couple of months have found me returning to the local Zen meditation group, which meets every Sunday night in the basement of the Unitarian church in town. I have attended this group on and off for years, but the last time I stopped it was for much longer than before. I get something out of sitting with this group, even though I'm not entirely sure I'd absolutely call myself Buddhist, but sometimes I get too close to things I'd rather not examine and I find myself running. I want to get past that.

Sometimes when I sit I can tune into my breath and fall into whatever space it seems meditation should tip you into at least for a few minutes at a time. Most often, though, all I really discover is just how noisy my brain really is and how much energy I devote to thinking about mundane and trivial matters.

Tonight I found that I had to sit with my eyes open -- I usually prefer to close them for the bulk of the sitting period -- because every time I closed them I found myself welling up and stifling sobs. I couldn't put my finger on any one source of upset, and as long as I kept my eyes open it wasn't a problem. My best guess is that I need to take a look at the ongoing sources of stress and anxiety in my life and try to figure out how to resolve them.

The anxiety I feel when I look up and catch a glimpse of my 40-year-old self in the mirror has less to do with being 40 and more to do with still trying to figure out how I've managed to disappear into myself and what I need to do to break the surface again. Sitting with the questions, formally and informally seems to be one way to get there.