I have a date tomorrow night. My first in eons.
We have dinner plans. Pretty old-fashioned. It’s a good restaurant, so the eating part will be pleasant no matter what.
“But Matt!?!? Your first date?!?! I thought you said you went on dates with girls from Match.com!?!?”
Yeah, yeah. Online dating is bullshit. This is a real date. A person I met out in the world, then expressed interest in hanging out with some day, and was fortunate enough to have her reciprocate.
I know very little about her.
I know she’s pretty.
I know she’s about five or six years younger than me.
I know she just finalized her divorce about a month ago under circumstances very similar to mine.
I know she’s not a parent.
I was scared to tell her I was a dad. At least with online dating profiles all those “red flags” are just out there for people to accept or reject upfront.
In real life, you have to drop the hammer and wait for the reaction. My date knows I have a five-year-old son. And still she wants to go out.
So. Yay me.
The Floodgates of Fear
So, I’m afraid of a million things. At least.
Nothing petrifying. I’m not particularly nervous. She and I have already met and spoken for a half hour or so, and then again on the phone. So there isn’t that weird online-dating dynamic where you don’t really know what you’re walking into.
But I tend to over-think things. It’s kind of my modus operandi.
Do we talk about our divorces, since that’s what’s most in common and what’s most affecting our lives?
Do we ignore that topic to avoid discussing emotional and deeply personal things?
I don’t know.
But there really are a million things to be afraid if I allow myself to indulge the fears. Fears, both big and small.
Because I haven’t done this in about 14 years.
What if she doesn’t like me and never wants to see me again? Ouch.
What if she likes me and wants to see me again, but I don’t want to see her? I hate hurting people.
In the big picture, regardless of whoever I date seriously again, isn’t my next relationship doomed from the start? Isn’t your follow-up relationship to a marriage by definition a rebound? Don’t those always fail?
I think they pretty much always do.
I’m not just writing about my date tomorrow. I’m writing about any date. About any girl I meet from now until eternity.
What if I like her but we’re far apart philosophically?
What if she likes me but would make a lousy partner in caring for my son?
What if she finds out I write about my personal life and decides she could never be with someone who does that?
What if she likes me but then reads my spaz-fest writing here and decides she doesn’t?
What if she reads this post!?!?!?!?!?
State of Zen
None of that shit is going to happen.
Well, maybe some of it will. But who cares?
Maybe the world will end today.
Maybe I croak before I pick her up tomorrow.
Maybe we get salmonella poisoning from the food and end up in the hospital together and she falls in love with our doctor.
Maybe spacemen will beam me to another galaxy.
Being afraid of the unknown—while common and sort of standard operating procedure for me—is wasted energy.
When your entire life turns to shit, you toughen up in a hurry. I know I don’t always act like it, but I’m going to need you to trust me.
I’m now tougher than I have ever been.
I don’t know that I’ve been to hell and back, but I’ve been somewhere close. Hell’s suburbs, maybe. Everything’s really shitty there. I didn’t like it.
But it didn’t kill me.
And none of this is going to kill me, either.
I’m confident in ways I’ve never been before. I’m still insecure about my physical appearance sometimes. I don’t like that I don’t have washboard abs. I don’t like that my arms and back aren’t what I want them to be.
But mentally? Spiritually? Emotionally?
I’ve never been more put together than I am today. I’ve never been more confident in my ability to navigate personal waters with grace. With humor. With sensitivity. With wisdom.
Maybe after tomorrow night, she and I will never see each other again.
Or maybe we will.
I can’t control tomorrow.
I can’t control other people.
I can only control me.
So, I’ll smile. I’ll listen. I’ll care. I’ll feel.
I’ll be grateful for the moment.
The silver linings.
The opportunity to feel alive after all that time I felt like dying.
Because there can be no bad outcome as long as honesty exists.
I feel lucky.