hether it’s going to your first music festival
or finally writing your first book, one of the things I’ve learned over the past year is that good things happen when you push past your comfort zone. When I started this blog in 2009 I chose the name “Skinny Dip” because I thought “skinny dipping” was a good metaphor for writing about your life online – it’s naked, it’s scary but also a hell of a lot of fun.
While writing about pretty things & sexy goodies is definitely enjoyable, lately I’ve been feeling a little too comfortable around here – and not in a good “hey I’m wearing silk pyjamas” kind of way. It’s more like, “hey, I’ve been sitting around in these silk pyjamas so long that now there’s a bum shaped imprint on the couch.” It’s time for a change.
I want to use this space for it’s original intention: to tell the truth – about dating, about sex, about bodies, about the challenges of being a (now) 30-something woman & writer. I want to talk about it all, in the most honest way possible.
So, in an effort to strip things down, I’ve decided that every week I will write and post one short personal essay about something that is currently ‘true’ in my life. There’s a very good chance I’ll still post things in-between these mini-essays, but in the meantime I’m really looking forward to more writing and real talk. I hope you are too.
Here’s the first of those “truth-bombs” if you will.
When I was in college, I was an avid “recycler” of relationships (Al Gore would have been proud!) My love life mostly consisted of a rotating cast of 3-4 different guys that I’d keep getting back together with even though all the signs were there that none of these relationships would ever work out, no matter how many times I revisited them.
This has always been one of my favourite quotes from Maya Angelou (she has so many.)
At the time, I understood on an intellectual level what Angelou was getting at, but I just couldn’t put it into practice – not really. So, I continued to recycle my hookups and date my exes even though we’d “broken up.” I justified my behaviour in two ways:
“If I’m recycling relationships then it means I’m not adding any more notches on my bedpost.” (I was very concerned back then at being perceived as a slut. Now, as a 30-something, I couldn’t care less.)
“If we keep coming back to each other, it must mean there’s something there.” (What I know now: there’s always something there. That doesn’t mean it needs to be revisited.)
I’d keep up this pattern until something would happen that was so hurtful and ridiculous that it would be impossible for me not to walk away (i.e. discovering the person I was dating had a secret family stashed on the other side of the city.)
The whispers were always there, quietly guiding me towards the knowledge that these people were wrong for me. But, I needed that whisper to turn into a yell before I’d pay attention. I can’t help but wonder how much pain I could have spared myself if only I’d really listened to what the people I dated were telling me.
(For example, “I don’t want a relationship right now” doesn’t translate to “I just need the right woman to change my mind.” Trust me.)
I’m much better now. I’m becoming better at listening to those whispers and I don’t let things linger like I used to. I favour clean breaks and moving forward. Yet, in order for that clean break to happen, I still need definitive answers. I need to know that a situation is unequivocally wrong for me so I can eliminate it once and for all from my psyche – or, as my Mom likes to say, “Simone, you can’t just leave well enough alone.”
Since I broke up with The Secret Agent, I’ve been turning over stones looking for answers. This is how I ended up on a date with someone I hadn’t seen in 14 years.
I fully, 100% blame Adele’s Hello for everything that happens next (only kind of sort of kidding.)
I met C. in 2001 through a friend. He was everything that the guys I had dated previously weren’t:
Big hearted. Sweet. Cheerful. Devoted. Tall. (Although he’s made it clear that he wants to be played by Idris Elba in the movie of my life, I envision him as more of a approachable, Pooch Hall type.) He’d do nice things like make me tapes with remixes of all of my favourite Prince songs – just because. He was the kind of guy I should have been dating all along – that I’d be super excited to date now. However, unfortunately, at the time I was still attached to the immature and misguided notion that a relationship needed lots of hot and cold drama to be “real.” I thought C. was “too nice.” So, a month or two into dating I broke things off (something I’ve always felt bad about.)
Now, flash-forward fourteen years. I’m browsing through my OkCupid matches when low and behold, I’m matched with C.
As it turns out, he’d recently moved to the West Coast from Toronto. Messages were exchanged, texts were sent, but it didn’t go anywhere. A few months later, I met & fell in like with The Secret Agent.
Flashforward 8 months and I’m single again. I reached out to C. to say “hello” (cue Adele.) A few weeks later, I found myself sitting across from him at a sushi restaurant in Vancouver, laughing and having a really great time. This lead to a second date, a third date and a four day weekend spent together.
I like myself a whole lot more than I did when I was 21. Consequently, I like the 2015-2016 version of C. better too. He’s the same friendly, affable, cheeky guy that I initially got to know – but better. He also still does sweet things that I like (ie. records the Soul Train Awards and doesn’t “cheat” & watch them until we’re together.)
But, here’s the thing about those whispers. Once you become attune to them, they become impossible to ignore. Although C. and I connected in ways that were new and pleasantly surprising, there were a handful of little things that pointed towards the fact that long term, we’re probably not a good match. I spent years thinking that the reason that we didn’t work out the first time was largely due to my own immaturity, but really, the whispers had been there all along. Once I noticed these things, I couldn’t un-notice them. Before I knew it, the whisper had turned to a yell.
I called things off. Again.
We talked and agreed that neither of us regret reconnecting. And I truly don’t – regret it that is. In this case, I’m glad that I revisited the past but I’m also glad that I listened to my gut.
This is all to say that sometimes we need to turn over those stones. You might not always get the answer you were hoping for, but if you pay attention, you’ll always get the answer you need to move forward.