Unlike the first five dates I went on, dates Six through Ten were all quite good, some bordering on excellent. The men I went out with, much kinder and more thoughtful, and in the end, helped me understand my place in the world a bit more. Now I am having a different kind of struggle; I am changing. Due to the events of the past few weeks, I have been thoroughly re-examining my values.
After I posted my date with Hugh, he sent me an email which I think was meant to sound light and airy, but ended up being a defense of his actions and motives. It also sounded like I hurt his feelings. After a series of paragraphs defending himself and pointing out my misinterpretations of various events, he wrote:
“You sometimes put out the vibe that you're all business; that biking is a single-minded task from point A to point B. That this experiment is putting your head down and getting from date one to date twenty. It comes off as a little mechanical, even in person, which doesn't help connect with other human beings, but probably does help support the thesis of your experiment. You've already shown that you can slow down and smell the roses (referring here to number Seven, about whom I'm quite excited for you!) so that's a good step. I hope you keep doing that. Life is short, you loner. Sometimes it's worth following someone down a less-familiar winding route, even one that's admittedly slower. :)”
Ouch. Um, yeah, that’s me. That has always been my M.O., I am usually quite impatient and single-minded in most of my endeavors. Should I be slowing down? Should I be going down “less-familiar winding routes”? Would I come off as mechanical if I weren’t so fuckin’ Heavy Metal? It is ironic that the man who initially referred to my project as a “marathon” is now telling me to slow down. Marathons are long enough without slowing down intentionally to smell the freaking roses. I know I would not react in this fashion if this analysis did not hit home in some way, but I don’t recall ever feeling good after having apologized for my actions, much less for who I am. In fact, what the last few weeks have taught me is that all we have in this world is what we carry within us, and compromising this to make others feel better is a huge waste of energy. In the last weeks, I have been told I am selfish, mean, slutty, and of little value by the people I used to be closest to. Some of this stemmed from my blog, some not, but all were meant to in some way pacify the teller’s own feelings of inadequacy. This is pure bullshit, and I have to say, I am happy I have had the opportunity to experience it all, because it has cemented in me the importance of being true to yourself and trying with all your strength to retain your integrity. As my mother used to tell me when someone was mean to me at school:
“Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke, and joke ‘em if they can’t take a fuck.”
I have in the past days been feeling a drain on me from this experiment. First dates are arduous, and I have been doubling and tripling up on some weekends, due to the fact that many of the gentlemen I have seen have wanted a date sooner than later. I am scheduling more dates over the next few months, but I now have two people I am starting to care about. I wonder how fair this is to the other first dates I am planning to meet, but I also wonder if I will find that not only can I like two people at once, but three and four is also a possibility. Who is this person I am becoming? How many first dates will it take for me to figure it out? Or will these dates just keep bringing up additional questions?
While I have seen ugliness over these last few weeks, I have also seen amazing love, generosity, and depth of character. The interactions I have had with some of these men have restored my faith in people, and while many whom I have loved have turned their backs on me, these strangers have shown a depth of feeling I believed to be long lost from this dark world. It sounds dramatic and somewhat amplified, but a renewal of hope is no small thing, especially when it occurs within the confines of Craigslist personals.