Yes! And… OR a Story?

I was a late bloomer. I have plenty of ugly-duckling pictures to prove it (another day, another post) but I’m all swanned-out now. I’ve actually done a lot of “traditional”-ish dating this year and most of it was good… for a story. The gourmet chef who swept me off my feet and then moved to Guadalajara, a short-lived but delightful tryst with my roommate, the strange man who approached me in Forest Park to tell me that my body was working for him.

Yes, my immediate reaction to crushing on a guy is to ignore him completely in hopes that he’ll never notice I like him. Yes, I have a dating track record that leads me to believe that every man who approaches me is either gay or crazy. Or clinically awkward. Yes, I’M a little clinically awkward. Yes, I miss a good makeout session (sorry Mom and Dad!) And most brutally: Yes, I move constantly and I get lonely

AND... there is a very simple solution. Online dating.

I’ve dipped my toe into the online dating pool before. And then I jerked it right back out, changed out of my swimsuit and put on a parka. I waited a few months and dipped my toe in again. I’ve established a pattern, re-activating my account only to shut it down after about a week. During my most recent foray, my first two “quiver matches” included that ex-roommate, and my new roommate’s ex. What are the odds?!? At the end of the day, I really hate it. It’s not the stigma: my cousin is married to a wonderful man that she met online! It’s not the people: virtually everyone I know is in the online dating pool! (Though if I get one more message from a terribly boring man in Tennessee who is two inches shorter than me and thinks that ‘sup baby’ is an appropriate opener when it says IN MY PROFILE that I’m a writer: I will throw my computer into an actual pool!)

But dull, illiterate, lives-two-days-away-from-me man isn’t actually the problem.

I can’t move past the fact that there is no story to online dating.

My parents used to run engagement retreats through the Catholic Church. They would return from their weekend away with the most incredible stories: sitting in the living room, they would recount hilarious, touching, personal narratives about how couples met, how they fell in love, how they proposed to one another. The stories were joyful and funny and beautiful, and I looked forward to hearing them every year. In truth, they were all very similar. (Except for the guy who bought a fake engagement ring so that he could drop it in the lake mid-proposal. I still pine for that dude.) But, for the most part, they unfolded: in an utterly personal, totally un-manipulated way.

I love the idea that love takes you by surprise. I love the idea that it finds you when you aren’t looking for it. It’s wrapped up in the way my parents  talk about the start of their relationship. Or how much I LOVE telling my own stories: the non-vanilla, offline kind. It’s wrapped up in my desire to have great stories for my kids, which hopefully involve something terribly awkward or terribly magical. Or both! An extraordinary expression of something that is probably mundane, but something that is completely mine.

It’s not like I’m worried. It’ll happen, when that part of my story rolls around. And so I think I’m done. With the online dating.

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