One might have thought that it would have occurred to me sooner, I mean, the Boy and I have been on our own for over 2 years now; but it has only just recently dawned on me that I am single, and perhaps ought to get out there and mingle –- I'm tellin you right now people, it's hasn't been pretty.
Prior to this fledgling single status, I had been “off the market” for almost 2 decades, and so have been away from the whole courtship dance, dating ritual stuff for nearly 20 years, and am woefully out of practice (Frankly, even way back when, I wasn't very good at it) So now, all these years later, rusty and road weary, I have been trying to read the signals and do the dance, and,due to my romantic illiteracy, I feel like I have been making a royal mess of things.
Several times now I thought there might be something brewing in the romance department, each time it has ended somewhere on the continuum between failure and disaster: here are but a few of the less embarrassing examples:
Shortly after the separation, in an effort to fill the weekends that The Boy was away, I began frequenting a local coffee shop. There was this one Batista who worked there on Sundays, when the place was nearly dead, who would come out and sit in the overstuffed chair next to the sofa I was camping on, and read the Sunday paper. There was nothing overtly sexual, but plentyl of under current. The Batista would share funny comic strips or interesting news items from the paper, and always seemed very interested in anything going on in my life. The atmosphere between us was charged, and yet at the same time it was very sweet and comfortable.
Then one day I said the wrong thing at the wrong moment, the whole atmosphere thing shifted, and the Batista suddenly had work to attend to. After that the Batista remained polite and professional, but our days of sharing lazy Sunday afternoons together are behind us.
Then there was the long time friend, who I had had a crush on while I wasn't available, who was suddenly more on-hand and solicitous once I was single. In retrospect, I feel like I can pinpoint the moment when it was on the precipous of becoming a romance, when we could have made that turn in the road. But I didn't see it at the time, or didn't realize that it would be my one shot. In any event, our wires got crossed, and so we remain buddies. Thoroughly, disappointingly, platonic buddies.
And then, more recently, there was the dear friend who I was dead sure was flirting with me: the friend whom I was nearly certain was waging a campaign for a shared future together --half the time. I don't know if I was reading the signals wrong or what, but half the time it seemed that I was being courted, that this vulnerable and tender soul was reaching out to me, and half the time it seemed like our friendship was simply blossoming in a friendly way. For a number of reasons (good reasons, damn it) I was reluctant to take the plunge and say somethin like “you and me, babe, how about it?”. Then, in a moment of temporary insanity, I kinda did --in a thoroughly embarrassing, awkward and ill advised way. I think I came on too strong, and now it is utterly and completely and in every way OVER.
It was at about that time that The Gardener started dating the teenage Intern, and, it should come as no surprise to anyone (though, apparently, it was a shocking revelation for the Gardener), that it rocked the Boy to his core. The Boy had been completely unaware of the near misses in my sudo-love life, and like any kid, he had been holding onto the dream that his parents would eventually get back together. I don't think the Intern is in it for the long haul, but there is something about this tryst that has put the the Boy and I on notice that the landscape of our lives has been significantly and irreversibly changed.
The emotional fall out for my son of one his parents dating had me convinced that the best course of action would be for me to live a monastic life, at least until the Boy moved out and had a life of his own . . . at which point I would be pushing 50. It seemed like a really good plan at the time, and maybe it is. But it is also a bit impractical
The whole monastic thing was lookin pretty good: uncomplicated, straight forward, conducive to completing my degree and maintaining my calm. A perfectly plausable path. Leave it to a chocolatier to break through my defenses and get me thinking amorous thoughts again. I ask you, who could resist a purveyor of hand-dipped vegan truffles?! And on top of it all, we have in common that we are both recovering from the demise of longterm relationships! The problem is, I am still a rank armature at this whole courtship thing. I think I have been flirting with the chocolatier, but who knows? Maybe I am just making polite conversation, maybe the chocolatier has been dropping hints and sending signals that I, in my infanent daftness, have simply missed. All I know for sure is that I have spent an inordinate amount of time and money loitering there, and don't feel like I have gotten a meaningful response, either way. I worry about being perceived either as a stalker or a glutton. sigh.
Perhaps I should draw on my activist back ground and try a banner drop to express my amore, or I could chain myself to the chocolatier's booth at the Farmers Market . . . then again, maybe not.
So I just don't know, the trail of failure and spectacular disasters left in my wake suggests to me that I am just no good at this romance stuff; Neither The Boy nor I needs more heart ache, and yet . . . I mean, theres chocolate involved: thats one hell of a powerful incentive --and not the only incentive, or even the most compelling one.
I wonder if theres some kind of “Flirting for Dummies” or 12 Step Program for the Dating Challenged that I could join?