Tomorrow, I have a date. I’ll be meeting in person someone I met online. It is sort of a blind date. I mean, I’ve seen his picture and emailed with him, but I’ve never heard his voice or seen his mannerisms when he speaks, and though we try to show our whole selves on our online profiles (at least, I do), we never can quite capture how we are in real life. Anyway, the last time I went on a blind date was over a decade ago. All of my boyfriends were people I knew before we started dating, so our first dates didn’t really seem like much of a big deal. All of this is to say that I feel like a fish out of water as I prepare for this meet up. I realized that I don’t even have proper dating attire; my work attire is too business casual to be flirty, and the dresses I have are too formal for dinner at a mid-priced restaurant. So, today, Valentine’s Day, I went shopping.
As I scoured racks and racks of clothes looking for something red and date appropriate, I had lots of time to think about this whole venture. I’ve been doing the online thing for a few months, and I have to say that, in general, it has made me feel like a freak. Here’s the problem: I read a profile and think ‘this guy is really funny/interesting,’ then I check out what he put for religion and without fail it’s either Judaism or atheism. The guys who label themselves Christian answer some of the questions in ways that I have serious problems with. I might go into this in detail in a later post, but for the purposes of this post, just know that I basically feel like a unicorn looking for another unicorn.
Yet, as I wandered the shopping mall, acutely aware that it was Valentine’s Day, I didn’t really mind that I was alone. At first I thought it was because I have a date tomorrow. But I quickly saw that that wasn’t the reason at all. You see, I’m not putting a lot of stake in this date. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like it to go well and am nervous, and am going to do my best to look nice and not make a fool of myself. Maybe it will go really well, and that, of course, would be awesome. But I don’t know yet what this guy means when he says he’s a Christian and “somewhat serious about it,” as opposed to my “very serious about it.” Maybe he just means he’s not like Ned Flanders; maybe not. So the whole thing could end up being much ado about nothing if he proves to be spiritually lacking.
In the midst of this unicorn hunt, I have wondered to myself if I might not ever get married because the price of following God, for me, might be singlehood. I hope that’s not the case, but I’m also not willing to change my core beliefs in order to end up with someone. For example, my last boyfriend, after our break up, brought up that one problem for him had been that we attended different churches. I saw that same situation very differently. I knew that neither of us were planning on staying in that area for long and could, upon moving, (if things got that far), scout out a new, shared church. In the meantime, since I knew I would never leave my church for him, I saw it as an indication that I wasn’t making an idol of the relationship. God and my commitment to my church came first.
So, as I meandered through the consumerist mecca, I realized that I was enjoying my solo Valentine’s Day because I enjoy my own company. And the thought occurred to me, as selfish as it might seem, that I may never find a valentine better than me. When I buy myself a present, it’s always just what I wanted. When I’m in a bad mood, I don’t always accuse me of being on my period. I never get into a fight with myself over whose turn it is to do the dishes. (Though that’s also one of the drawbacks of being single; it’s always my turn to do the dishes. And clean the bathroom. And do the laundry. And...I digress.)
My Valentine’s wasn’t fraught with pressure to get everything right. I didn’t have to worry if my boyfriend would like what I got him or whether he resented having to do V-Day because it’s “expected.” I didn’t have to plan a dinner reservation months in advance for the pleasure of sitting in an overcrowded restaurant and risk being made jealous by witnessing another couple two tables over who were “more romantic” or whatever.
I did everything I wanted and could do it spontaneously. I treated myself to a massage because I happened to pass by a massage place and thought it’d be nice. I ate pizza with all my favorite toppings including the loads of black olives that none of my exes liked. I watched my favorite episode of “The Vicar of Dibley” for the fiftieth time and quoted along with it by heart. Then, after a nice, hot bubble bath, I sat down to write a long overdue blog post. Quite frankly, after a prolonged period of stress and bad luck, it was the best day I’ve had in a long time.