July 2012

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I’m sitting at an airport gate, having arrived early for my flight for once, and killing some time.

This is the first time I’ve traveled alone in a little while, and it’s a bittersweet mix. Exciting because I’m getting back in to being single again, and yeah it does feel pretty good to be a bachelor on the go. But I do so miss having a traveling partner. I hadn’t even done a *that* much traveling in my last relationship, but we did get around to a few places. NOLA and that bed and breakfast ski weekend stand out as highlights. And we had been in the process of planning more when the relationship split. Such is life, I guess.

And that’s been a weird hold up for me in dating. I spent the better part of my 20s learning things the hard way, and I’m just now in the phase where things are good and I’m ready to travel. And, man, am I! I’m a homeowner now, so I have to be careful with money, but still, traveling is the thing at the top of the list. I want to get out there. See the world. Hell, just see more of the US. And I’m gonna do it.

But it can be a little weird when you’re on a date with some uber ivy league girl and she’s been to a dozen countries already. Cause she could be out on a date with some other guy, who’s been to just as many countries. And such is dating. I guess the dates where you’re feeling weighed and measured aren’t the good dates, and honestly they don’t phase me that much these days.

But it’ll be nice to find the girl who’s going through the same steps as me. Maybe I should stick to dating the liberal arts majors, for whom entering the workforce was a less than glorious experience and who had to survive on their wits for a bit before they started to find success? There’s folks like that out there, right?

Anyway, guess it’s food for thought.

For now I board a plane to San Diego to enjoy a couple of days at the beach with friends. It’ll be sweet. And then after that… on to the next adventure.

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Tomorrow I will be leaving my home state for a brief sojourn on the west coast, and I couldn’t be happier.  With everything going on, I’ve needed a vacation.  I will be dipping my toes in the Pacific, along a beach that looks just like this one:  

Jogging along the surf in the morning is one of my favorite things to do, and for the next several days that’s just what I’ll do.  My friends I’m staying with live south of the city, and in past visits I would jog every morning down to the estuary that is the last piece of American thing along that coast before the hill slopes upward and Tijuana springs from it–crammed up against the fence and spilling down the hill into the sea.

It’s intensely calm standing on the boarder like that, another world just beyond your reach.  Everything is behind you in a moment like that–your home, your people, your life, your past–it is all quite literally behind you, and for a moment one can forget everything and simply behold another world.

And I’ll need some peace of mind like that after these past few weeks.  I seriously am having a hard time getting my head around the good, good things and the bad, bad things that have happened.

The long term relationship I was in ended, rather suddenly, when my ex decided she was moving to another country.  And of course, only then did I realize how I felt about her, and as much as I tried to figure it out and express it, there was nothing to be had in the break-up for me but heartbreak.  It sucked.  But life moves on…

I got promoted at work.  Again, finally, only this time the pay grade is permanent.  And there’s more buzz on that note that I don’t want to get into yet, but I’m optimistic.  I’m in a leadership position now, finally officially, and I love it.  My work is challenging, and my days go by quickly.  Perhaps I have more thoughts on this that I should sort out… especially since the road to this promotion was not, for me, a straight one.  I endured some ups and downs, and I really think they made me, frankly, more of a man.  I do not feel young anymore, and I do not approach my problems like a young man.  Which is interesting, because I still look like a young man.  I really want to shave this beard off, but people give you shit when they think you’re a twenty-something know it all.

There are family issues going on as well, and they are not good.  I’m not sure if I’m even ready to type about that here….

Life at home couldn’t be better… when my power’s on at least.  The storms knocked out power for the better part of a week, and we had to toss out all our food.  But things with my roommates right now are great.  In fact I was crashing at my roommate’s girlfriend’s house while the power was out.  It’s good to have good people in your life.

So there’s a lot for me to compress and file away while I’m relaxing and jogging and swimming at the beach the next few days.  It’ll be nice.

Oh and speaking of compressing things…. I’ll be compressing a few of these bad boys.  Burgers at Hodad’s!  Can’t wait!

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So it’s a little interesting, I guess, being thrust back out into the dating pool unexpectedly.  I’ve definitely taken my time with things.  Hell, I was full on heartbreak boy there for a month or two.  But life goes on, and so do I…

I guess coming back around to dating right now, I can see sort of clearly why so many ladies date up in age:  those young guys just don’t have it together.  And when I say that, I’m definitely thinking of the younger version of myself.  Always oscillating between extremes, an emotional pinball, and so obsessed with defining life and discerning ultimate self identity.  I don’t miss those parts of being young, and I don’t miss how they messed up my dating life at the time.  I revisit some of the relationships in my mind sometimes, and man I just want to smack myself and shout “relax!”  But such is life.  (I have always been determined to learn things the hard way.)

Perhaps being a thirty-something (especially one who’s mistaken for a twenty-something) with some confidence and calm is a bit of an asset when it comes to dating.  I’m exploring that, and so far I like it.  It’s just funny I guess because when I was younger I would really obsess over age differences and age related things, and I’m finding that these days I’m just not worried about it.

I think the thing that experience has taught me the most when it comes to dating these days is simply not to overthink things.  Dating makes us so stupid.  Otherwise amazingly intelligent people are rendered complete fools when it comes to opening ourselves up to others.  The tendency to define who we should be dating, what we want from relationships, what kind of relationship we ultimately know we need to be in… There’s plenty there to obsess over, and it’s easy to overdo.

The other thing I’ve come to see so clearly about dating is the importance of first impressions.  And I don’t mean that in the sense that one should treat it as an imperative and obsess over one’s appearance so as to guarantee perfect first impressions always.  In fact, I think that quite impossible.

But no, I’m talking about just that moment: the first moment.  I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink a few years back, and he talked about our subconscious minds and how quickly and efficiently our subconscious minds analyze and make determinations.  In that first moment, so much information is exchanged, so much learned, right then, right there.  It’s profound when you stop and think about it. We meet, and we immediately know so much.

And it can be amazing. Have you ever had that moment?  You meet someone, and just click, snap, something just happens.  It doesn’t have to feel like magic, but somehow you just like someone right off the bat.  In fact, a number of my friends are in the process of getting married these days, and a lot of their first dates are described like that (followed, generally, but some form of all night conversation).

I’ve definitely had that moment.  Though definitely not on the dates I went on this week.  Very fine, attractive young ladies, and what academic pedigrees! (I guess I was running a theme this week)  But there were no sparks to be had, alas.  Oh well.

Maybe next week there will be some bang, pow moments… or maybe not.  In either case, I won’t be overthinking it.  Enjoy your days and toast your dates, that’s all that really matters.

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