It was becoming fairly routine in the “date night” order of operations: moments before any Friday night date was about to begin, I would do a clean sweep of my apartment and quickly hide any evidence that might reveal who I actually am. Any old photos of me from the awkward years, any Louise Hay inspired affirmations taped to my mirror, and any erroneous object that might imply I had more depth than a kiddie pool was quickly stowed away in my desk drawer.
You see, when I moved halfway across the country about a year ago, I was going on a lot of dates. I’d like to think it was because I was entering a time in my life when men found me simply irresistible, but it was also part of a staunch effort to avoid having to spend any long span of time by myself. After such a significant uprooting, I was sure that if I stopped moving for a moment I would have to face a whole lot of grief and other yucky feelings I was dead set on avoiding. In order to continue hiding myself from myself, I also found it essential to hide myself from other people…particularly men I was going on dates with.
So when about four months ago, one of those dates turned into about six weeks of regular encounters, this man who we’ll call “John” for the purposes of a public post was recalling how I told him I was a writer on our first date. Curious as to why he’d never seen me so much as scribble, he asked me why it appeared I hadn’t been writing since we met.
“Didn’t you used to blog all the time?” he asked. “Why haven’t you been writing anymore?”
“Oh, you know,” I started. “I just haven’t really been inspired to write anything in particular as of late.”
I turned my back to him as I was talking to privately make one of those “oh my God, what just came out of my mouth was the biggest crock” faces to myself without him seeing. Of course, the real answer to his question was:
“Yeah buddy, of course I haven’t been writing since I met you…because then you would find it on the internet and know I’m absolutely nothing like the girl you’ve been spending all your time with.”
Suddenly, the truth was staring me in the face. I’d been working so hard at running away from myself that if this man were actually to stumble upon any of my writing, he probably wouldn’t be able to tie it to its author. I was so wrapped up in whoever it was I was trying to be (I tend to channel simple, needless, quiet, you know: all the things I am not) that I couldn’t even find it in me to do my favorite thing because it would stifle my act. It appeared I only had two options:
I could keep dating, or I could start writing.
I didn’t decide overnight. John and I continued seeing each other for a few more weeks, and after that there were one or two more guys I went on several dates with to no avail. The truth is, had those guys been Ryan Gosling clones descending from on high, I probably still wouldn’t have been interested in continuing to date them because there was someone I really missed spending time with who I was totally neglecting:
I told my inner circle I was taking a brief sabbatical from romance to get my feet on the ground, and most importantly to start writing again. Since then, the posts have literally been coming out of me like a faucet I can’t turn off. The first step felt like jumping off a bridge, but the ones that have come after that? Those I would not take back for anything: they are so much sweeter than the time I spent running in the opposite direction. In the end, if it were between dating or writing again, I would pick writing any day.
I suspect that eventually, though, I won’t have to choose.