f.w.b.

I didn’t tell anyone about the first date I had after Dave died, until after. I was afraid it would be an embarrassing disaster, so I made up an excuse and strolled out the door.

It turns out I didn’t do anything horrible at the date. I didn’t spill a glass of wine everywhere. (I’m not sure why I’m always worried about this particular thing when I don’t even usually drink wine.) I didn’t tell an accidentally gruesome story. I didn’t do anything prison-style.

All I did was get stood up.

The second date I went on after Dave died went much the same way. Without a word to friends anywhere, I walked out the door to go sit in a restaurant by myself. The third date went the same way.

After that, I looked at my Tinder profile with a fresh eye.

Unlike so many of my friends— I love dating websites. I would love to normalize the experience of sharing tidbits of our personality. Wouldn’t it be neat if, every so often, Facebook just asked you how you felt about cilantro? Or pineapple on pizza? Or your favorite Christmas movie? And then told you which of your friends was most compatible to your interests? Or provided a pie chart showing the findings?

I also like expressing myself through a series of photos. A single profile picture could never possibly describe me or my life.

I usually have a bit of a knack for that sort of thing. My studies, career, and hobbies align in this one area– the ability to be myself vibrantly online within the confines of a tiny space.

But obviously I did something wrong because being stood up thrice in a row seemed like bad odds. My profile was simple, in a nod to the reputation of Tinder.

It had said, “Felon. Widow. Blogger. The baggage is bright, but the weight doesn’t slow me down. I like people who know who their Muppet totem is. I like kindness, space sagas, possibly every type of soup ever, pretentious cheese trays, and tea.” I still like this. It tells the truth. It sets a gentle-hearted tone. It gives a few conversation starters and first date options.

There were some drawbacks. One, some men thought I was secretly coding “F.W.B.” — “Friends with Benefits”. Two, some men asked directly if the felony was related to the widowhood in the unfortunately obvious way. Three, and this was the kicker– a lot of men thought it was a joke.

In fact, they’d send me a message like “Skeeter” — and the conversation would blossom. Then I’d be invited to a place in Long Beach that has wonderful tea. I’d go because there are no wrong answers to the Muppet query. I’m happy to break bread with a Skeeter.

And then, because men on Tinder so often do their research after the date is secured, then they would Google me. They’d visit my Instagram. They’d go to the blog. And then they’d learn that I wasn’t joking.

I really did just get out of jail. I really did just lose my husband. But I was ready.

I didn’t talk about this part of the journey then, because I knew I’d be answering, a hundred times over– why now? You’re still grieving. You don’t have to rush into this.

The answer was simple, but it never sufficed. The truth is, even dead, the only opinion that mattered to me was Dave’s. And Dave would have wanted me to have what matters most to me. Companionship. Intimate companionship. And he was always saying that my ability to settle was my nemesis. I could hear him telling me that if I waited, I would convince myself that I did not need a love, and I would wall myself off from something that was meaningful to me.

I’m someone who has always been gifted with the treasure of many friendships, but I hold them differently than my partnerships. I’m not very physical with my friends. I remember in high school, a girlfriend telling Mamasaur, “Your daughter is not touchyfeely. She even hates hugs.” And mama replied, “Wait till she finds a partner. It will be different then.”

It was different then.

Everyone is built differently and companionship is a big part of my mechanism.

So I adjusted the Tinder profile, and tried again.

This time, I was stood up twice. Both, kindly, after, explained the reason. It was the issue I had guessed before. After the date was set, they did their research. They got in their head about the new widow thing. It seemed fine until they scrolled my Instagram and saw notes about my grief.

My grief wasn’t going anywhere in that moment and so I wasn’t about to delete posts that hallmarked it. To be honest, I didn’t want to date someone who couldn’t hold space for grief. I started to think of it as a blessing. This self-weeding of mankind. I was in a field of possibility and the lesser matches were plucking themselves away.

Put that way, I didn’t mind being stood up all the time.

As I continued on, I realized so many people responding fixated on the “blogger” aspect. They really thought I was going to go on a date and write a report on it, and I would just laugh. That’s not what I blog about.

What do you blog about then? they’d ask, and … I didn’t know.

I still don’t know the answer to that.

Life, I’d say. But not what I had for lunch. More about how we feed ourselves, how others feed us, how we are machines that need fuel, and little seeds that need watering. How we have rituals like naming our meals and giving them boundaries. How we shatter those boundaries at a whim, and is that an expression of the sacred, or a dissolution of it? What do I mean? I mean I had waffles for lunch and I’m not sure if I’ll be awake by dinner because of the sugar crash. So yes, sometimes I write about what I had for lunch, but not really.

Some men understood.

The first date I had after Dave died, the first date that actually happened, was with someone who heard a ramble like that and responded with a story about how sometimes he fills his pockets with skittles. How it feels like a rebellion.

“So you would write about why we need to fill ourselves with rebellion as much as we need to fill ourselves with vitamins, right?”

Exactly right.

That night he showed up early. We talked for a few minutes, and then…

Then, I spilled his entire glass of wine in his lap.

20 Comments

  1. You are doing better then me……haven’t been on a date since Lori passed. My brother suggested a dating site where I could be just friends without any problems. The first lady was and is sweet. She said she heard the “just be friends” line until the third date and then they wanted more. She was pretty surprised when I told her all I wanted to do was walk around a park. I think she was insulted a bit when I never expressed any interest other then walking. When she met someone,we quit walking.
    The second lady was slightly insane and I left after 30 minutes and never contacted her again. That was about 4 years ago and I haven’t tried it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard. There are so many obstacles to those of us who have lost someone. Dating culture changes. Tech changes. I can see how overwhelming it is, but in my case, not going forward felt like disappointing Dave. Which I never was any good at. πŸ™‚ I do know that, once you get past the unfamiliarity of it, it gets easier. And the more of the conversations you have, you know what you want now. None of that is helpful, I know, but I guess I mean, I’m rooting for you, whatever that looks like. πŸ’•

      Like

  2. Oh I don’t know what to say except that I really enjoyed reading this, and the post about the brute squad, because no matter the hills and valleys of your life you’re still so open to loving and being loved, and open to being happy, and it makes me happy for you. You’re a force of nature Ra whether or not you know it.
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Alison. πŸ™‚ I was thinking about silly fears, the kind that keep you from doing anything because you’re afraid of doing it wrong, and was remembering this beginning to my dating again. It sounds ridiculous to say so because being stood up isn’t an act of valour by any means, but it reminds me that, well– I’m on the brute squad. I can handle things as they come. πŸ™‚. Thank you for always supporting me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. some men thought I was secretly coding β€œF.W.B.” β€” β€œFriends with Benefits”

    This never would have even occurred to me. Do people really encode messages in their profiles? Is that a thing?

    As for the grief aspect- you and I have talked about this before. The only ones who can TRULY understand, I have found, are those who have been through their own version of it. But it’s surely nice to find someone who can hold that space.

    :thud:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. πŸ˜‚ I have no idea if it’s a thing. It was brought up almost a dozen times so it wasn’t a singular experience, but maybe it was just because they really couldn’t believe the words so they looked for another meaning? I can’t tell if I would like dating sites more or less if encoding messages was a regular thing.

      Nah, who am I kidding, I’d love it more. I like a good sleuthing.

      It was interesting to realize how much the grief was part of me now. I know even when it settled more into the back of my heart instead of just the tip of my tongue like it was back then, it would still always be part of me. Because it is a characteristic that a lot of people just don’t know how to handle, or how to be around. I guess it makes sense that deep grief would be like deep love– you most likely only understand it if you’ve experienced it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. He sounds like someone who gets you. I hope you are well sweet Ra. Unlike you, I over analyze everything I share. I feel like when too much about you is out there it’s easier to be taken advantage of. So even though I love blogging….it also causes me anxiety because the best posts are the ones that are real. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was just the one date, in the end. πŸ™‚ But we remain friends and he’s engaged now to a woman who gets me even more, so I got two friends out of it. πŸ’• Maybe this should be a mini series, ha!

      I am in a happy relationship now though. Still with the guy who lives near to where we met last. πŸ™‚

      Many of my friends are like you with sharing. I understand. The world isn’t always gentle with what we put out there. I’m glad you do blog anyway though– otherwise we might not ever have met! πŸ’•

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Am a never been married girl in her early 40s who wasted 4yrs on 1/2 dating apps- during the time, did meet quite a few guys, but they either wanted a quick roll in the sack or to be Fwb.. finally deleted the app and found someone on twitter.. so sending you hugss and lots of luck as you make a fresh start..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Aarti. The man I’m dating now, I met through a girlfriend in my poetry community, so there’s something to be said for stepping away from the apps. πŸ™‚ When I met Dave all the way back then, there really weren’t a million online dating options. He just walked into my store one day. πŸ™πŸ½ As much as I like setting up profiles, and think we’ve built a really robust system, nothing really connects people more than communities and fate. Wishing you happy 🌼🌸

      Like

  6. I simply cannot tell you how much I love this post. We have scars, ones that we never asked for, from our beloveds leaving us for the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. My Christopher told me some time before he Left that he didn’t want me to be alone: after he actually Left, I created online dating profiles; it was in a couple months. I had a conversation with the leaders of our church and they told me that he would have been very happy to know I was dating — he’d told them of his fear that I would close myself off from the world (he knew my proclivity for being a hermit). I was angry and thankful at the same time. I had my share of weird experiences (none involving actual dates … the one guy was a total troll, he was the first: it made me sharpen the claws on my profile to let so-called interested parties that I wasn’t looking for FWB and that I wasn’t a weak widow; there was this one guy I reached out to who was so kind in the way he said he wasn’t interested that it helped me hone down my claws), but in the end, truth prevailed. I met the man who has been my ‘new’ beloved for the past four years (Memorial Day Monday was the fourth anniversary of our first date). That, and the widow’s website I joined, have been important in the moving forward.

    But above all, it’s been about being as truly ‘me’ as possible.

    Be your true self, no matter what.

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  7. It’s a weird one to navigate for sure. I have a very vivid memory of thinking “I’m so glad I don’t have to do this ever again” when observing a group of university students in a room with sexual tension and raging hormones almost visible. Then a few years later… well, you know. I guess I have to do it again after all.

    I’ve put my story online for strangers to read, but still feel like I want to be able to decide how and when to tell that story to someone in a dating context… putting “please don’t google me” in a profile though would obviously not work! Glad you are doing well on this front. Here’s hoping I figure it out one day πŸ˜…

    Like

  8. I always love reading your posts!
    They feel like personal notes to me and encourage me to not hold back in sharing my thoughts. You are a principal of that.

    I was excited that the date was going well and almost screamed β€˜oh no’ when you poured the wine in his lap πŸ˜„

    I was going to come here and ask how he handled it but I see he handled it well.

    I hope your love blossoms- with your bae- even in these corona times

    Like

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