The future is a hard thing to imagine, especially when just managing day-to-day life in the present feels so unpredictable. And yet I’m letting myself go there. To explore possibility. To wonder what might yet be found.
My previous post, Feme Sole, was written from a retrospective mindset. Not gonna lie: 2021 was the hardest year of my life. Hands down. That may have been the case for a lot of people. And yet – and yet – this too shall pass. Perhaps even now we see light.
Which raises the question – what next?
The pandemic, and even my life before the pandemic, taught me how capable I am. Responsible, reliable, conscientious. And those are great qualities to have. But when they are one-sided, its exhausting. I’ve found that in many relationships, for most of my life (this includes family, friendships, workplace, romantic interests), I’ve taken pains to be the most likeable, most competent, least demanding version of myself. When there is imbalance, it tends to work out swimmingly for the other party, and not so well for me.
In midlife, I am flipping the script. I have the audacity to hold expectations. And the presumption to voice them.
So much for the theory. What about the practice? What about real-life application? What about… dating?
Here’s the deal: If we go out, I will show up. I’ll be polite and punctual and most likely send a text while I’m parking. I’ll have makeup on, and possibly be wearing hiking boots, or maybe the cute shoes I bought in Paris, depending on the activity.
I’ll laugh at your jokes. I’ll maintain eye contact. I will stay off my phone and hope – please – you do the same.
Midway through I’ll excuse myself, grab my purse, and take off to the ladies’ room where I will either text my sister or a friend to let them know how things are going. And to assure them I’m not dead. I’ll do the same once I get home.
When the bill comes and if I have a chance to jump in, I’ll offer to split it and mean it. (I don’t need your money.) In reality, a lot of external markers mean very little to me. I don’t make decisions about someone based solely on the occupation they hold, the salary they earn, the height they are. (Although, it would be nice if you’re taller so that I can wear heels and not feel weird on the 3 occasions a year when I’m in the mood to do so.)
I have a career and a title and a salary. I don’t need to borrow your prestige. I don’t need to borrow any toughness, either. I have that on my own, too. (With the ink and the scars to prove it. Also the facts that I was laid off, got divorced, found a new job, wrote a novel, and bought a house on my own during the pandemic. Say what you will, I get sh*t done.)
What I want is this: to not be asked to make myself smaller. Not to have the price of our connection be contingent on my being less than what I am. In time, to come to trust you enough so that I don’t have to be so self-reliant. To sit on the couch, or on a mountainside, or at the beach and genuinely relax, not because I’ve decided to stop being “so uptight” but because you have created a space where, for a time, you’ve taken care of everything and I don’t have to.
To not be behind or in front of me, but beside. And to say – truthfully – “We’ve got this.”