All the voices in my life, pouring through car radio speakers and ear buds and screens and pages and phone lines, all of them have told me that love comes when it wants to. It sneaks up on you, taps you on the back, and whispers something sweet in your ear. You might be shucking corn over the kitchen trashcan or painting your toenails or joining a pair of socks when it happens. Whenever it happens, it isn’t because you sat quietly on the other end of the computer and waited for it to find you. It isn’t because you went online, and made yourself into a profile of a human, and pursed your lips together and closed the computer and paced your living room and wondered what the hell you’d done.
I committed myself to it, this online dating thing. I mean really gosh darn wholeheartedly. And it took a few weeks, but one night last August, I stopped midway through my barefoot kitchen floor dance to WHAT I WOULDN’T DO by A Fine Frenzy, and said, “God I am so in trouble. God, am I in trouble.”
Because in my head, I knew this was it. I was kicking those people and ideas and movies and books in the butt and saying, “You can find love online. You can make a profile, and be proud of it. And you don’t have to wait until you’re 35 or 57. You can do it now. Now. Now. Now. Now, you can do it.”
And God, that’s a terrifying thing to jump into. But I’ve learned, over the last year plus, that it’s worth it.
Last August, I had a feeling. I had a feeling about a boy with blonde hair + blue eyes + a big smile. The kind that crinkles your eyes when it means something. I had a feeling he was somebody important in my life, though I can’t tell you why, except that I could tell, in the span of a few days of messages and texts back and forth, that he was sweet. For the first few weeks, when people asked me about him, I’d say that: He’s like, really, really nice. Really sweet. And that seemed odd, because it felt like the most generic thing to say about a guy – except that it wasn’t generic at all. It was the truest thing. It still is.
When you want to share your life, when you want to open yourself up to the world, it’s freaking scary. I watched ONE DAY, the movie adaptation of the book by David Nicholls, the night before I joined the growing community of online daters.
All because that movie wrecked me. For half an hour, I sat cross-legged in sweatpants atop my pub-height kitchen table, ceiling fan whirling above me, and wrote a blog post. It was a promise to myself that someday, somewhere, I would stop apologizing for the person I wasn’t and start loving the person I actually was. It was a promise to let go of waiting, to turn on my computer, and open my heart to the single men in Maryland + DC + Virginia.
It’s been more than a year, and I’ve stopped waiting to apologize. I’m not sorry I don’t have a romantic Barnes & Noble encounter to share. I’m not sorry the Wegmans Self-Checkout didn’t hold within it my future boyfriend. I’m not sorry the stationery aisle at Target didn’t find me bumping into some beautiful boy who needed help locating a Mother’s Day card.
This jumping, and trusting, and putting-myself-out-there thing was worth so much more. God knows I have friends whose hands I’ve never shook, whose driveways I’ve never backed out of. God knows I was built for connection, just not over red grapes and Italian bread.
My favorite story is from last December, our bodies wrapped in light-up Christmas sweaters, cold drinks in hand. His oldest brother leans over and tells me a line that I think will stick with me forever: “They don’t make ‘em like him anymore.” I nod because it’s true. It’s true and it’s true and if you don’t decide to jump outside your comfort zone and cross into new territory, you don’t get those bone chilling true moments, where you lean back and realize this life has been good to you, but only because you let it. Only because you opened up and let it pull you forward.