I was driving down a street near where I live. It was a block of row houses with very small front yards and a sidewalk in front of the homes. It’s a very walkable area, not just for residents from the block but for dog owners and people going to nearby restaurants. One of the block’s homeowners was replacing the sidewalk pavement. I could clearly see this as I drove by because every piece of porch and outdoor furniture available seemed to be propped around the drying cement. The owner clearly wanted to keep people off of it. Completely understandable.
Having gone to great expense to replace the sidewalk, he/she didn’t want some random person to come along and write his name in the cement. Because if someone did that, then the owner would be stuck with it. Clearly, the homeowner wanted a fresh start.
It got me to thinking, am I guarding my heart like the homeowner guarded his/her new cement sidewalk? And I trying to keep someone from coming and leaving their mark before it’s had a chance to harden?
Well, if I am, that’s okay. Everybody deserves a fresh new start. I don’t want someone else to mold me, write on me, make permanent markings on my facade. I’m still in the midst of fixing what had crumbled. I’m working on it.
In truth, I’m not really keeping people out, I’m preparing to let someone in. If I’m permitted the luxury of guarding my brand new concrete heart until it heals and hardens, then it will be open to someone coming by for a visit. It’ll be smooth and pretty and, yes — inviting. Moreover, it’ll be safe for visitors, who can come to my home without tripping and falling on the rubble of what happened before (and then suing me for their pain and suffering).
So yeah, like the homeowner, I’ll go to great lengths to protect my concrete heart, until I’m/it’s ready .
So keep off.
Actually, in the biz they call it “curing” —- concrete doesn’t harden, it “cures.” I like the sound of that. When my concrete heart has/is completely cured, I’ll move the blockade and invite someone to my porch for lemonade. The pathway to me will look good, it’ll be safe, and . . . I will have complied with Township Ordinances . . . but I digress.
Just Me With . . . my curing concrete heart.
Post script: I went back later to try to snap a picture, but the barriers had been removed and I’m not even sure which house it was.
I’ve established that I’m not ready to date, or at least I’m not ready to make a sport or hobby out of it. UnDateable, Part I.
But as I was writing about it, I heard from the TV in the background,
Matt to thirty-year-old New Christine: “You met him when you were 26. Now you’re 30. Trust me, from a guy’s perspective, that’s depreciation.” The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Scary statement. And the statement was to New Christine, the younger, shiny replacement model. That statement drove her to drink.
Imagine how scary it is if you a woman who is neither 26 or 30. Imagine if you are Old Christine, which is who I’d be in that scenario. Hmmm. Talk about depreciation.
So while I’m not dating, taking care of me, getting myself together, climbing out of the hole of depression and debt, yada yada yada, I hear something– tick-tock, tick-tock — no, it’s not that biological clock ticking — I have enough kids thank you — no, I hear another clock . A clock that (in my mind) will sound a silent alarm which will summon (in my mind) a giant iron hand from our misogynistic -youth-obsessed-paternal-madonna-whore- heaven to snatch me up and drop me straight into Old-Lady-Ville where all mothers or non-mothers over a certain age apparently belong, according to decent society (in my mind). I’ll be forcibly taken to a place where women are always covered from head to toe in solid colors, no one has sex, discussion is only about women’s health or lack thereof, and no one is ever seen again in public — well, not until the woman becomes a grandmother. Grandmothers can leave Old-Lady-Ville on holidays if they come bearing cookies and something made from yarn.
Old-Lady-Ville is a scary place. It’s a place where women are not supposed to wear, say, do, want or feel “that” anymore. (i.e. the people who criticize Madonna) “That” being anything that men like seeing women not in Old-Lady-Ville wear, say, do, want or feel. Where sexuality is either non-existent or the butt of a joke (i.e. Betty White). I’m not ready for that place. I can still pull off some looks and still want to be able to do — stuff. But that won’t last forever. Or at least that won’t be socially acceptable forever.
So I don’t feel like I can take my time. I don’t have years. Not in this market.
Okay, that tick-tock — that iron hand taking me to Old-Lady-Ville — is horrifying, but I know it’s in my head. I’m mean I’m not crazy. (Insert laughter here) But the calendar? That’s real — and worse. The calendar says that if I wait too long, I’ll have to check a different age box on the online profiles which will, effectively, make me ineligible for yet another whole generation of men, if I wasn’t out of the running already. Or, the horror, if I wait too, too long, I’ll have to go to the sites for . . . (gasp) seniors !!!!!! (Insert scary movie music.) And where it used to be completely socially acceptable for a woman’s age to have a fluid quality to it, in order to avoid the abduction to Old-Lady-Ville, the internet has taken this option from us.
Bottom line. It could take years for me to get myself together. In the meantime, I will have depreciated. So whatever it is, my imaginary iron hand or the real calendar, it scares the crap outta me. Clearly. It almost scares me enough to create yet another online dating profile, even though I’m not ready. But it’s do or die — or be put out to pasture, or Old-Lady-Ville.
(I know how paranoid I sound, trust me.)
I just don’t want to be the dude who dutifully, painstakingly, and slowly restores a previously neglected Victorian home with plans to sell, but by the time it is perfect and ready to go on the market, well, the neighborhood has gone to crap and no one will even drive by — except, of course, as a short cut to the “new construction” in the next subdivision. Five years earlier, the home would not have been perfect but he could still unload it. Five years earlier, it could stop traffic, or at least slow it down. Wait too long? Not so much. People just drive by.
Timing. It’s all about timing. And it’s not the same for guys, not in the open market.
I blame the economy.
Just Me With . . . fears, needs and more than a little paranoia. Shhhh. Did you hear something?
I’ll call her Erin. She was senior to me in the fancy law firm we worked in — seems like a lifetime ago. She was attractive, a model of good taste, not particularly well liked and frankly a little scary. Harsh, is what people said about her. She was playing with the big boys, and had watched the big boys make partner while they passed her over, year after year, despite her superior qualifications and track record. Picture a younger Miranda from The Devil Wears Prada, but a Miranda who has to work under all of the Mad Men.
On the personal side, Erin is single, never married. This made her an expert on dating. She also had had a long, too long relationship with an older man who would not commit. She spent the bulk of her last good child bearing years with this man, kind of like Mr. Big from Sex and The City, but not as cute. Following her ultimatum, he finally told her he would never marry. They continued to date and travel together but with no expectations for more. Like Woody and Mia (without all the kids) they kept separate apartments in the city.
When I was a junior attorney Erin scared the crap out of me and I vowed never to have a meal with her. Once I matured professionally (and personally) I found myself getting closer to her and we became friends.
By the time my marriage ended neither of us worked at the firm anymore. They never did make her partner. She had ended her relationship with “Mr. Big Can’t Commit Guy” for good but had had no serious relationships since. I was struggling, this was during some pretty dark times, but I didn’t want her to know how hard things were for me — maybe she did still scare me a bit. Regardless, her intuitiveness and observation skills revealed my pain. I was still deeply wounded by my then soon-to-be-ex’s ability to so easily discard and replace me. I admitted that it had deeply injured my ego and confidence. Erin, however, had never been impressed with my Ex and she didn’t mince words. She never did.
Erin instructed me:
She further explained that I needed to be around men who will appreciate my good qualities, men who will appreciate my choosing to spend time with them. She elaborated that these dates should not end in sex, that I should not be looking for a boyfriend or someone to love. These dates should simply be a means to an end, a means to break away from being the wife — the jilted and rejected wife. I needed, she said, to see myself the way others see me– not how my Ex treated me.
I wasn’t really convinced that I could or should take her advice, because I really did not want a man and was still too depressed and wounded to seriously consider it. She sensed that, and added, in her strong, pointed manner,
“Roxanne, he has changed the playing field. You have a right to play on that field.”
I wasn’t ready to take her advice then and I didn’t. But she’s a smart woman, a really, scary, smart woman.
Just Me With . . . the good advice, that I just didn’t take.
The front of my house is on a busy street. The back of my house is on an alley. Not too much privacy. But since purchasing this little fixer home, I’ve been dutifully working on the yard. . Last year with the help of a friend I put down a flagstone patio. I built a fire pit by myself. I put up a split rail fence. This year the plan is to plant something that would give us a sense of privacy. But on this day, I was simply moving buckets of rock mulch from one part of the yard to another.
It was a beautiful day. I was dressed in jeans, T-shirt, baseball cap, work boots, no make-up, glasses on but the lenses had transitioned to dark (so maybe I looked like I had on sunglasses). I wasn’t a beauty queen, wasn’t trying to be.
A man walked by, probably on his way to a nearby bus stop or train. Asked me if I needed help with my landscaping, said he really only does it as a side job, he’s in school right now. No, I say, I usually do it myself. (I was doing it myself, thank you very much.) He said he wouldn’t charge much, that he could plant and mulch for me. Again I say — I do it myself. Of course, I told him if I need him I’ll let him know. (I gotta stop doing that). He asked me if I lived alone, asked me if I was married, if I had a boyfriend, if I was looking. He offered, and I allowed him to, carry my bags of top soil from my car into my yard. Again, a woman doing exterior work, SCREAMS single to men. See The Snowman
Now, if you’ve read my previous posts you know that I am trying to open myself up to meeting new men. But does that mean ANY new man? Must I be indiscriminate?
He spoke fairly well and had all his teeth. (Could my bar BE any lower? Chandler Bing style) He wanted us to hang out, nothing big, maybe dinner or a movie. I said, “Can I think about it?” He wanted a way to contact me. Instead of offering my number, I asked for his number to put into my phone. He said he doesn’t have a cell phone right now, he dropped it in concrete. (This man was exhibiting the classic I don’t have a job giveaways — “I’m in school” “I don’t have a phone right now” and he appeared not to have a car in this suburban area.) Plus, though he spoke well and had a nice smile, he was sweaty, had a scarf on his head, had on a white tee and sweatpants. Since I don’t need a suit guy, his casual appearance is not a deal breaker . . . but his overall mojo was not working for me. Still, I gave him my number.
When he called the next day, he did not identify himself. (Poor phone manners, bad)
“Hey, are you busy?“
“Kinda, who is this?“
“Darren.” He said he wanted to talk, wanted to set up a time when we could get together and get to know each other.
I explained, truthfully, that I was in a store, and had a meeting that afternoon. Also, since I knew I’d be busy with the kids’ concert that night I asked if he could call tomorrow. Plus, I’d just found out that my Ex-husband is getting married again, in a horrible way and I didn’t feel like small talk right then and there with random alley walking landscaper guy. He said he’d call me tomorrow, but wanted to know whether he should call or just come by. (Dude, a call is sufficient.)
“Okay,” I said, “Nice talking to you, good . . . ” — click. He didn’t say goodbye or allow me to finish. (Poor phone manners, again.)
Bottom line: I don’t feel like talking to this guy. Is it because I’m justifiably not feeling him or it is because I’m still avoiding getting out there? Or is it because I was having a weird day, finding out about my Ex’s remarriage and all.
So, here are the red flags for me from Random-Landscaper-Guy-Wanna-Be. Everybody’s flags are different.
1. He lives in my neighborhood. Frankly it’s not the best neighborhood, not the worst either, depends on the block and the house. He didn’t tell me which house he lives in. Still, he may know people I know or who know my ex’s family, some of whom live nearby, and I’m kinda turned off by going out with random dude. [Stranger Danger! Stranger Danger! — as my kids would say] Plus, what if I do go out with him and it’s not good — I may not want to see him walking behind my house routinely (I had a stalking incident at one time, so I’m a little gun-shy).
2. He had no phone. Okay, so like most people I’ve lost/broken my cell phone before and had to go without for a couple of days, it happens — but it doesn’t happen for a long period of time. He offered no house phone number. I know, not everyone has one. But he offered no date or time frame in which he’d be getting his cell replaced. The last time I was “phone-less” I told everyone I’m getting my phone on [insert date].
3. When he called, it came up number WITHHELD. ‘Nuf said.
4. When he called, he left no message, just called repeatedly. Again, ‘Nuf said.
5. “Should I call or just come by.” And again, ‘Nuf said.
I am seriously regretting giving this guy my number.
But since I don’t really want to go out with anyone anyway, is there anything this guy could have done?
YES!!!!!! If he actually lives “down the street” from me, there was no need for him to close the deal on the phone number right then and there. He could accidentally on purpose run into me later. Like later, when he has a phone. Like later, when he is not so sweaty, like later, when he hasn’t just asked me for work. The point is, it was not a classic Craigslist missed connections kind of thing. He knows where I live and reportedly, lives nearby. Moreover, he could have engaged me in conversation to see if we had anything in common, other than “I look good for five kids” (a pet peeve of mine, though I know it’s meant as a compliment) and “I look too good not to have a boyfriend.” As if not having a man to mulch for me was some sort of enigma he couldn’t comprehend. Again, I know it was meant as a compliment, but it’s all in the delivery. If he’d offered these “compliments,” wished me a nice day and walked away, only to see me another day, marveling how we keep running into each other, well, that would have been better. Still, even with the red flags, I was trying to have a conversation with this guy. I was trying to be open. And trust me, this is not the cabana boy – – romance novel- -six pack having- -strong muscular arms — looking man I could simply enjoy watching mulch in my yard. No sir, no ma’am.
Ugh . . . . . . I’m SO not feeling it now.
So, what to do if he calls? (To be continued, because . . . he did call again).
Just Me With . . . number WITHHELD and possibly on my way to Home Depot to buy some privacy plantings.
Waiting for Spring, still. It was a rough Winter, as far as precipitation, emotionally, vehicularly (I love making up words sometimes), it was overall kind of blue. In my part of the world we got a lot of snow this year. Snow means different things to me now that I’m in a much smaller house with no driveway. Not so bad. There’s so much less snow removal, but it is all my responsibility. I can’t always count on my beautiful ( lousy, good-for-nothing children) to help me when it actually needs to be done.
One fine, sunny, cold and clear day after a snow storm, I was out shoveling my front walk. By myself. A truck drove by and with some equipment in the back and slowed down. Then it kept going. I thought, well, this is gonna be some guy asking to do my snow removal for pay. So I wasn’t really surprised when he circled the block, came back and pulled up in front of my house. But I’m not going to pay someone to do my little front walk, though this snow was really heavy. I just got ready to tell him, no, thanks, I got this. But you know? He was pretty cute. Nice eyes. Nice smile. Had a hat on, which can mask a lot, plus, he was sitting in a truck with a big jacket on so height and weight were not clearly apparent, but still . . . As it turned out he didn’t ask me to hire him to shovel my snow. He had pulled over . . . (on a busy street, mind you) . . . just to talk. huh.
I’ve found that nothing screams SINGLE for a woman more than doing exterior work on your house (not gardening). Exterior painting? Clearly this woman has no man. And now . . . shoveling snow? This chick must be single. Still, I was not prepared to be hit on outside my house on a snowy day with a shovel in my hand. Actually I was not prepared to be outside in the snow — NO TISSUES. My nose was running like Kobe Bryant at a Gay Pride Parade (tee hee). But lone pioneer woman that I am, my sleeve and gloves were good enough for the task at hand. That is, until this good-looking guy was trying to talk to me. And I was a — sans makeup, nose running, ugly knit hat and hand-me-down snow pants wearing — hot mess.
He managed to find out from me that I am indeed single, own the home, not a drug user, not a church go-er and my true age (not something I generally share, not even with myself some days). The man has interrogation skills. Or, standing there in the cold, trying to control my snot as traffic was whizzing by, I just didn’t feel like being coy. I found out his age (men always tell you that and of course he’s younger than me), where he works and where he goes to church. I got a little sermon about having faith and that will see me through. Then he tried to get my number. This man kinda liked me. As he already knew where I lived, I didn’t feel like giving out any additional information (aren’t you supposed to get his number anyway?). So I got his number and name (which this time was not the same name as my Ex — it was a sexy, French name). He made me promise that I would think about calling. “We could have coffee or something,” he suggested. And he invited me to church.
I did think about calling him. I still do. I figure, I can only get better in his eyes — I wonder how much more smitten he’d be if he saw me without snot, breathing through my nose instead of mouth, and maybe with a little lipstick on and dressed up in maybe — say –Uggs — instead of snowboots. But I didn’t call, still freaked out about being single. (Translation: chicken-sh**) But I have the number, right here in my phone.
Just Me With . . . the digits of a snow man whose name is not the same as my Ex. Maybe if he had shoveled that heavy snow for me . . . More importantly, maybe this Spring . . . as I resume my exterior painting . . . I’ll be ready . . . for . . . anything.