I had kind of an a-ha moment the other day.
It came after a friend asked me if I’d ever been to Uchi, this really amazing sushi restaurant. I was like, yes, I had a really great date there and the food was to die for. Then in the same day the same friend asked me if I had ever been to Meddlesome Moth and I was like, yeah, another great date, different guy. Then it hit me … a lot of the really amazing experiences I’ve had in my life have come while dating different men at different times … and I’m starting to think that’s not a bad thing.
I’ve said it before in my posts, but I have quite literally dated almost all of Dallas. It might seem like an exaggeration but I’m not so sure it is. One of the purposes of this project for me, though, is to write it all down, every good memory, every bad one. Part of that is so that I can unburden myself, put the bad parts and the baggage into words and set it free. Another reason is I want to remember the good, in detail, because this checkered past is a beautiful mess that deserves to be remembered.
When I look back at my record, sometimes I can get really discouraged. So many dates, so few true connections and even fewer have turned into anything more than a 2-3 date situation.
However, like I said, I recently had an a-ha moment.
What if all the guys I’ve dated who weren’t ‘it’, who didn’t last, who got off on the wrong foot, who had terrible timing, who for whatever reason just didn’t work out … what if they weren’t failures.
What if they were all meant to give me a unique experience that was completely necessary and special, but also singular and temporary.
So with that, I want to pay homage to the men in my single, dating experience that gave great ‘date’. The men that came in, even if just briefly, and through contact with them I learned something else about me. I grew a little bit stronger, a little more self aware and whole lot ballsier. They may have been short-lived, but man were they fun while they lasted.
Hot Child in the City
The first thing I noticed about him was his absurdly towering height. He was 7 ft tall. He had shaggy black hair and a scruffy, peppered beard covering what could still be discerned as a baby face. His eyes were heavy lidded and slightly squinty but in that sexy, ‘I’m almost too cool to keep my eyes fully open’ way.
He was beautiful. Rory. A baby rebel without a cause.
I was 32 and he was 26 and he had trouble written all over him. But trouble was just what I needed.
The night we met I was tipsy and just brave enough to waltz up to him and say, ‘Hey, you’re freakishly tall.’ He grinned at me and said ‘yeah, so are you.’ Then I said, ‘you wanna hang out?’ He smiled sexily and we did. There was an electricity between us that night as we bounced from bar to bar, dancing and drinking. It was one of those crazy grand single girl nights. He was young, so young. I needed a rebound. I needed a confidence boost. And his swagger and confidence and general commanding presence was just what I needed.
The sex? Well he certainly was sexy but man, 26 year olds just literally don’t know what they’re doing. Still, he treated me like a goddess and I was craving just that.
After that night, we texted and hung out a few more times. Still electric, but obviously the deeper signs of ‘there’s not much to this’ started to show. He got high a lot, not that I mind that but it was something that seemed to keep him from actually being able to take care of himself. (If you’re a die hard SATC fan like myself, he was the “Hot Child in the City” episode.) He was young, sexy, fun, but still being taken care of by his parents. But for a short period I was young again, 26 and no worries, just frivolous fun and inappropriate behavior.
But … we ended things quickly. He ended up handling it like a dick. And I learned that you can’t make a man out of a baby.
Before the 26 year old, there was the sexy former Navy guy. Sam. He was tall, thick and burly. Piercing blue eyes and black hair with just the right amount of grey. Chest hair. Swoon. And he was built like a brick house. A brick house I wanted to CLIMB.
He was older, 40 and he was a bartender at my favorite bar. He also owned his own metal shop, which was his passion. This guy … well in a way he was kind of the first guy I dated after my second long-term relationship ended. I was shy and nervous. I hadn’t really owned my body or my sexiness as a woman. I legit didn’t know how to flirt. And I thought for sure there would be no way he would fancy me … so my best friend made it happen. She cooly asked for his number for me, he grinned and said he really hoped I would text and I was on cloud 9.
He was the epitome of cool – he did a whole flashy cocktails type thing while bartending. Throwing glasses behind his back and just generally peacocking. And it WORKED.
His schedule didn’t allow us much time to actually hang out and so it eventually tapered off, but one Sunday we shared was particularly magical. I brought over sushi to be sweet not realizing that he had an intense shellfish allergy (he failed to disclose that when I said I was grabbing sushi), so he couldn’t eat any of it. Like even TOUCHING the fish made his hands swell. Luckily I had also brought some miso soup. His home smelled of cinnamon and cloves and he had Nina Simone playing on his record player.
He set the table (for me to eat while he watched, which honestly is my dream scenario) and ended up dropping almost all of the sushi. We had a good laugh and kissed and fooled around. Then he taught me how to swing dance. I told him I was planning to go to Sons of Hermann Hall for the first time that week so he turned on some upbeat music and showed me the basic steps. He got really into it and he twirled me and dipped me and I felt like a delicate princess in his muscular arms. For a girl who’d barely dated, who had little to NO romance in her first relationship, my heart skipped 15 beats.
It was kind of a perfect day. But, alas, he was not meant to be and I believe that is a good thing. At the time I was bummed, but it was an important lesson too. A perfect day doesn’t necessarily equate to a perfect match. That day was special and romantic and that’s all it needed to be.
After the 26 year old and the Navy dude, there was the rugby player. We met in a pretty adorable way. I was sitting at my favorite bar with a friend of mine and he made eyes at me a couple of times. He eventually walked over to me and handed me a coaster where he had scrawled in pen ‘Will you go out with me?’ And then had a box for yes and a box for no. SMOOTH. It worked.
I said yes and gave him my number. We made plans to go out a week later. During that week, we found out we actually lived in the SAME building. I was racing to work one morning, my hair still wet with minimal makeup on when the doors to the elevator finally opened on the ground floor and bam, there he was. I almost ran into him trying to exit the elevator. Internally I screamed ‘dear god WHY?!’ as I looked like a minor wreck but he just smiled and we both laughed at the irony of us living in the same building but never running into each other before then. I got off the elevator, he got on and as I was turning to leave he gave me the slightest kiss. He said he just couldn’t wait till our date.
Our first date was unique too. When we left for dinner, he told me to choose a number between 1 and 5. I chose 3 which apparently meant we were going to this adorable, hole in the wall Italian restaurant. We were the only ones there. Dean Martin was crooning and the wine was flowing. It was incredibly romantic.
That night we kissed outside my door and man, was he a ridiculously good kisser. Very passionate. He wanted more but I turned him away. 45 seconds later there was a knock on my door. I opened it and he was there and he pulled me to him for one more passionate kiss. Sigh.
We went on a handful of other dates, each one just as fun and electric. The first time he went into my apartment he remarked that I needed twinkly lights for this giant steam pipe that runs behind my bed. Our next date he brought the twinkly lights over and wrapped them up. He was indeed correct. They were quite necessary and they set a very romantic mood.
Annnnnddd the sex. My god. The sex. Did I mention he played RUGBY? He had these crazy thick legs and he was nearly 6’5”. I’m a tall girl myself and to be with someone who could quite literally pick me up and carry me to bed was kind of incredible. I’d never experienced that before.
Rugby was not meant to be either. He was a little bit younger, not that age matters, but I think he was mostly interested in a summer fling. I wanted a bit more, so we parted ways. We ran into each other a handful of times while living at the same apartment but it was always friendly. And full of chemistry and fond memories.
Two more men round out my best of post, both because of the epic-ness of the dates as well as their critical timing in my life.
The Musical Doctor
As I’ve said before, I was involved with an unavailable guy for a bit. There’s a lot to say about that one day … but for now, I’ll just say he held my heart completely to the point it was impossible to let him go and move on. Towards the end of our brief time together I told Mr. Unavailable I was intending to start dating again, because it seemed silly to continue holding onto him when he didn’t seem to be taking steps towards leaving. I forced myself to start looking outside of the very unhealthy situation I was in.
Enter Brad. He was a friend of a friend and a young doctor who also played in a few bands. He was just the right amount of nerdy and confident which I’m a total sucker for. He pursued me and made his intentions very clear from the beginning. Unfortunately my heart was still very much in love with a man who didn’t deserve me … but Brad made me pause for a moment.
For our first date, he took me to one of the nicest restaurants in town where we enjoyed a four-course meal that included DESSERT. (Insert heart eyes emoji here) It was french and fancy and I felt like a princess. Then he took me to hear jazz, then off to dance the night away.
It was fun and easy and the conversation flowed effortlessly. He was sheepish and flirty and honestly he gave me a reason to look at what I was doing by staying attached to an unavailable man. In a way, Brad was the beginning of the end for me and Mr. Unavailable and that was a good thing.
We went on several dates and were off and on again for a while, but it didn’t work out with him mostly due to the timing of my heartbreak. However, I’m so grateful he showed me that there was a reason to start letting go of a very unhealthy and toxic relationship.
Then there was Floyd. I met him at dance one evening after Mr. Unavailable and I had ended things finally (though we were still in contact). Floyd wore a leather jacket and had a husky voice with a thick southern drawl. He looked like the spitting image of Harry Connick Jr. I was smitten. I met Floyd while at dance one night. He sang a mean karaoke and kept giving me the ‘eyes’. We went out for a drink after and talked the night away. He asked for my number and I said yes, giddy with excitement.
Floyd took me on a few really epic dates. The best one was an all day affair. Started with breakfast for lunch (which I LOVE), then he took me to his home so we could take his Harley out for a spin. I rode on the back of his motorcycle to a little brewery near his home. Then we rode to a tiny little taco joint with the BEST tacos I’ve ever had.
It was a simple but beautiful date. And I will say, in the midst of it all, I had this perfect single girl moment … you know, like you see in the rom coms? Where the heroine in the movie just looks starry eyed at the opportunity in front of her and finally in love with her life and exactly where she is? For me, it happened while I was on the back of his bike watching the sunset over Dallas. I sighed. I was in awe of where I was. If I’d stayed in something with the unavailable guy, if I’d have stayed in any one of the relationships that were not meant to be, I would not have been able to be on the back of his bike, watching the sun set.
I didn’t fully understand it then, but I do now. That experience was meant to be something I will remember when I’m old and grey. At the time, it was meant to be a reprieve from the heartbreak I’d just experienced. It was meant to foster hope for my future. It was meant to be a temporary, but meaningful moment to give me a better understanding of how exciting it is to say yes to things that scare you.
And this is what I’ve learned after ALL this dating.
One man couldn’t possibly give me every single experience I wanted and have been seeking. Half of the amazing dates I’ve gone on were amazing because of the unique people I encountered who could offer them. The man I fall in love with may or may not be able to take me on a sunset motorcycle ride to a tiny taco joint. He may not be able to take me to eat the finest sushi at the finest restaurant. He might not be able to dance with me to Nina Simone. And that will be a-ok because loving him will be it’s own adventure, the greatest one of my life.
But I’ll just say, I would be sad if I’d never experienced those moments, those dates. These men were all apart of my becoming and I am so grateful for them. Those experiences alone were not enough to build a relationship on and most of them were likely not good long-term fits. But man, were they romantic and special at the time.
And isn’t that what romance really is? Being present and enjoying that special moment as it happens.
I finally realized these men weren’t meant to be a major piece in my story. They’re the side characters. They were catalysts that pushed my story forward but they weren’t the ones meant to be the hero.
Bear with me with this metaphor but … each guy I’ve dated, each date I’ve been on is like a tiny, beautiful piece of glass that when put together with all the other pieces create a pretty magnificent mosaic that is my single girl story. In that way, I’m super grateful to all of them. The sexy navy swing dancer, the 7ft tall young rebel, the doctor/musician, the rugby player, the motor-cycle riding, Harry Connick Jr look-alike. Each one of them made my story a little more interesting and colorful.
So tonight I’ll raise my glass to the ones that weren’t ‘it’. I’m grateful for the experiences they gave me, the food they treated me to and for showing me a little more about who I am and what I really want.
Cheers to the ones who weren’t ‘the one’.