Sunday, 13 March 2016

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...Really?

Reality, after 10 hazy, sunny, beer-filled days in Mexico, bites. Reality means donning lulu lemon pants and a bunny hug when I wake up instead of a bathing suit. Reality is looking out my window to see a dirty, snowy street with bare tree branches instead of palm trees and mangrove. Sometimes I do question living in a prairie city that spends more time below zero than not. Alas, here I am. As I touched down in Saskatoon and took my phone off airplane mode, the actuality of my love(less) life came into sharp focus.

A: Hey, how are you? Any days off this week?

At first glance, a totally innocuous message. The context however - oh, the context - is convoluted and ridiculous, and a prime example of my dating life. Mr. A and I met a couple of years ago, we started dating, and things seemed to be going well (if I had a nickel…). He joined me on a New Year’s snowboarding trip, and morphed into a complete jackass; a total 180 from what I knew of him to that point. We spent a silent 16 hour car ride home, went on one more date, and didn’t speak to each other again. The end to another in a long line of flawed relationship attempts.

Fast forward to this past summer, and we find ourselves on opposing slo-pitch teams and ending up at the same bar for post-game beers. Since mutual friends and friendly competition forced it, we talked and navigated the awkwardness so as to be friendly when we run into each other (entirely inevitable in this small-town “big” prairie city). Later in the summer I started getting messages asking me to “hang out;” which I politely declined given that at the time, I was seeing someone (or so I thought, turns out he was playing the field and deftly fooling me into falling in love with him…see previous post). Now here I am, receiving an inquiry and an invitation as a welcome home. I turned him down once already. Our attempt at dating did not go particularly well, and it ended in a relatively uncomfortable way. What exactly makes him think a second go round would be a resounding fucking success!?

I should come clean. I’m the queen of giving people second chances. My first real boyfriend was someone I broke up with after a year of dating, and then got back together with after being apart for a year. I spent almost two years going back and forth with the next guy I dated - we repeatedly slunk back into each other’s life one way or another. I spent the better part of my 30th year going back and forth with a certain someone from Regina, fooling myself over and over into thinking it could work. My most recent heartbreak was courtesy of someone I reconnected with last August after having had a few dates earlier that year. Are we sensing a pattern here?

I will shamefully admit, for a brief second - as I sat waiting to get off the plane and get home - I wondered, should I be giving A a second chance? A brief moment of weakness (and stupidity) followed by a tidal wave of epiphany from the ocean I had just finished swimming in. I’ve reached a point in my dating experience where it is an available option to recycle dates. Sure, the occasional fresh meat is thrown in the mix; but in large part, my dating life is littered with reruns. Filler, until I get to the real thing. Is this inevitable? Does everyone eventually start circling back to past lovers, wondering if they're worth a second look? Is this what happens when your dating philosophy hinges on questions like "why not?" and "what if?"

What dangerous questions, especially when applied to your love life and past loves. My numerous failed dating attempts, are exhibit A. Somewhere along the line, I allowed myself to tumble down the slippery slope of “what if?” and it’s led me nowhere but into a maze of shit. I remember, having a conversation with one of my aunts about my love life and I told her I was somehow convinced the man of my dreams (whoever he may turn out to be, if he is in fact meant to be in my life) is someone I have already met. What a twisted way to live out a self-fulfilling prophecy (and what the fuck do I know about who Mr. Right might be…I’m the one who keeps selling herself short).

What if I re-framed the question “what if?” Instead of always asking myself that when I meet someone…maybe I should be looking at myself, my own life, and saying “what if?” There is a shift happening inside me, a possible byproduct of my last foray into dating and having my heart broken in a way I didn't think was possible anymore. What if I take the emphasis away from finding a relationship? What if I focus instead on forming a life I want, without having constant consideration for the mysterious Mr. Right who may materialize one day? What if, instead of allowing myself to recycle old feelings and lovers, I break the cycle and move forward, on my own?

What if?

(I'm thinking the same thing you are...it's about fucking time, April.)

A

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Where My Ladies At?

I've now sat here, staring at a blank screen, for about 20 minutes. I've written and subsequently erased a number of opening sentences for this post, attempting to introduce what I regard as one of the most complicated subjects on the planet.

Women.

You may giggle, thinking I'm making light of the fact that men often voice their woes about dealing with the female gender. This is partially true - I've been asked numerous times (as my perpetual single status lingers on) if I've ever considered "switching teams" and becoming a lesbian. My usual answer to this is a quip along the lines of my adverse reaction to dealing with another crazy chick (because I myself, am a little wacky sometimes). I realize this plays into every terrible stereotype and does nothing to aid our gender in moving forward toward genuine equality. I will admit, I'm not the best feminist. In reality, the subject of women and the myriad of issues facing our gender across the world is staggeringly complicated.

As part of a growing demographic of single women, my view on the subject is of course steeped in my own experience. I am but a speck on the horizon of the female experience; but I'm increasingly coming across literature about single women and how their growing numbers are influencing society. As part of this spinster movement, I can't help but devour anything coming across my path that speaks to this - I've just finished Kate Bolick's Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own, a piece of writing I'm still digesting as it speaks directly to my very single soul, who struggles constantly with societal expectations (however outdated they may be) and my own goals in life. I've come across articles in Maclean's and New York Magazine, adding to my growing collection of information about what it means to be a single woman in today's day and age (click the links to read the articles).

It's International Women's Day, and the theme for celebrating women this year is drenched in gender parity. It calls for women to have parity with men; equality in status. I might be a terrible feminist, and I'm quite certain this blog has played into the stereotypical issues that have plagued women for centuries, but it always comes as a surprise to me that our society still struggles with this issue. I could launch into a rant about gender parity, but truthfully my knowledge on the issue is sparse and I'm a relatively non-political person. I've been a part of the largely female-dominated profession of nursing for 8 years now, and am fortunate enough to know that my male counterparts make precisely the same amount of money as I do, and may actually experience what some women may come across in their male-dominated workplaces.

When it comes to being a woman, I can only speak for myself - we are a complicated bunch; our lives are a unique tangle of expectations, dreams, emotions, goals, and struggles. My worth as a woman is sometimes still entangled with my inability to bear children, harkening back to the caveman view of women as part of a production line for the human race. I grew up grappling with viewing myself as "womanly;" a skinny, flat-chested girl who spent more time with the boys next door drowning bugs in a pool and playing with Lego than I did with the girls, playing Barbies and dress-up. I endured ridicule because I didn't have breasts, and didn't quite fit into the feminine mould adolescent boys (and fully-grown men, even now) had in mind. I, like every other woman on Earth, struggle with my body and my self-esteem. My negative experiences pale in comparison to those sustained by so many women around the world - genital mutilation, domestic violence, and inequality to a horrendous degree...just to name a few.

Despite any negativity I have experienced, from within just as much as without, I am a woman. And I would be nowhere without the women in my life who are a constant source of strength, inspiration, and grace. It would be easy to attribute that solely to my mother - she is hands-down the most influential woman in my life. But I have been incredibly fortunate to collect the most amazing friends, and to create friendships with the women in my family. I have watched these women face every circumstance - divorce, single parenthood, death, domestic violence, mental health struggles, and basically just life - with so much courage and grace it brings tears of pride to my eyes.

So today, I want to recognize the women in my life: my mother, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, coworkers, and friends. You inspire me, every day. I am in awe of how you move yourselves through life, taking so many different kinds of struggle in stride, and exuding so much grace. I am blessed to have shared tears, laughter, conversation, and love with you.

A

P.S. - Adding to the ever-growing soundtrack of my life (and blog), this song crept into my thoughts and onto my iTunes while I wrote...