Outside Omena in the Leelanau peninsula there is a wonderful business where a woman has turned her front yard (conveniently located right on M-22) into a You-Pick Bouquet garden. She has rows and rows of beautiful flowers and provides scissors and milk jugs full of water so you can stroll through and snip away to your heart’s content. Each blossom is individually priced based on size and availability and you are asked to keep track and pay on the honor system when your bouquet is complete. This is one of my very favorite up north activities. My mom taught me to love flowers, but I lack her patience in growing them. This lovely business owner has done it for me.
This has become my new analogy for dating. I’ve decided I am free to walk through the plentiful garden and admire as many different flowers as I like. I can stop for a closer look or check for fragrance or I can just say “no thank you, marigolds. Lovely but not for me” and keep walking. Anything especially desirable can go in the bouquet and when my jug is full I can still make some final cuts before arranging. Sometimes there will be wonderful choices that are not available—already out of season or snapped up by another shopper and I will take a moment to say “aw…” and then move on to enjoy the many species that ARE in bloom.
The problem, of course, is that flowers do not have feelings and people do. I might want someone in my bouquet who doesn’t want to come. I might be chosen by someone I don’t want. I might be willing to try something that just doesn’t work out, and vice versa. In other words, I might get hurt or worse, might hurt others. Because I know so little of what I want right now I am sticking with the “casual relationship” label. That feels about right. Someone to share a meal with, take a hike, go to a movie. Nobody needs to fall in love or start combining households. But even that is trickier than I anticipated. I met a very nice man for a cup of coffee. We were together for 45 pleasant minutes before I dashed off to church and he sent me a note that said:
Please understand you might be the first person I have wanted to go out with more than once in a long time. I found you charming, attractive with unique life skills. It makes me feel good knowing I can still be excited after meeting a woman. After so many dates, I was beginning to think I would never be able to find a woman that intrigued me again. So even if you tell me I will always be in your friend zone, I will feel good knowing “it” can happen when I least expect it. Just like in tennis, the ball is in your court. 🙂
This was very sweet and probably should’ve made me feel good, but I suck at tennis and don’t like the ball being in my court because then I have to figure out how to hit it back! And there are only so many times I am willing to put on my Spanx. Eventually he and anyone else I go out with are going to see what Bridget Jones endearingly called “the jiggly bits” and maybe I will not seem quite so attractive.
I always wondered about those girls in college (I’d say sorority types, but my college didn’t have any real ones) who were forever blow drying their hair, spray tanning and wearing high heels to class. They seemed to laugh a lot, never lack for dates and generally be having a great time. Only decades later do I start to understand. It might be fun to get dolled up and go out a lot. Learn to flirt and tease and string people along, always looking for a bigger catch over this one’s shoulder. Uh, no. That is not and never will be me. I can slap on the makeup for a special occasion and even suck in the blub to try for a good first impression but a steady diet of that life would put me over the edge. The façade would literally crack, if it hadn’t already exploded!
So how to proceed? So far I’m sticking with the “it’s a volume business” approach and going for my 10 dates goal. I need to play the field because I am new to this sport and all my dating muscles have atrophied. Truth be told I was never good at it which explains why I married absolutely anybody who ever asked. (Oh! You want to marry me? Ok, I guess that’s what people do. Sure!) I have volleyed with nice man by sending a big tall lob to the back of his court and begged for more time before date #2. I am still browsing each night to see if the store got any new shipments, but there is a man in a flannel shirt who has caught my eye. He lives a couple hours away, but may be coming this way soon and he has me typing way more than I’d planned.
Through it all I am trying to internalize something I read recently that cautioned all of us to remember that there is another human being on the other end of every exchange—at the bank, at the grocery store, at work, at the restaurant, and yes, even on line. We are all in this together and best be careful to tend to the feelings of fellow travelers. I’m not really known for my niceness, so I may just have to channel Tom who had a deep well of it on which to draw.
All I can say is life seems a little spicier since I started this. The forsythia in my yard is a brighter shade of yellow and the possibilities for the balance of spring seem endlessly exciting. Since I’m not dead yet, this feels like the right approach. We’ll see. Stay tuned.