Max once said to his brother, “Shane, what’s the difference between you and a calendar?” Shane said, “What?” Max said, “A calendar has dates.” Shane said, “I’m going to my room to play video games now.” Max said, “That’s exactly my point.”
A good friend told me to wait until I had been separated from the Wasband for a year before I started dating. He also told me to take get new art for my house and rearrange the furniture. So, while I was waiting for the year to pass, I took down 20 years of compromise art and relegated it to the garage. I moved or donated furniture. Things got lighter in my house. Finally, a year later, I was ready to date. But, as it turned out, there wasn’t anyone at my front door ready to date me. The last time I had gone on a date was in 1994, when I started dating my Wasband. This was 2016. Shit was going to get real.
I set up a couple on-line dating accounts, with the help of some friends. I received some messages from men, “Hello, how are you? Tell me more about yourself. Would you like to meet?” I went dates. I learned that 5’11” was not an actual height but was subject to interpretation. I learned that dating is like a job interview. I learned that there were people who had been on dating websites the entire time the dating website had existed. Basically, their dating half-life was the same as my youngest son’s life-span. Which meant that for these guys, dating websites were just like singles bars, but they had eliminated the time and energy buying drinks and talking to you until closing time.
It took me another year and some half-hearted dates to realize that the most important date I needed to have was with myself. I know, I know. It’s totally granola yoga crunchy chakra of me to say that. But during my years of marriage and the subsequent year of dating, I never stopped to breathe. In yoga, there’s a word for it: pranayama. It means the practice of regulating the breath. I needed some time off to just be with myself again. I hadn’t been with her for a really long time. I hadn’t really taken a breath in 20-something years.
Just breathe. How hard is that? Harder than you think. Even my Max got it, long before I did. One night, before the divorce, he and I were walking the dogs and he told me, “Mom, I still have a bloody lip from wrestling and my tongue hurts where I bit it. My whole physical being is tired and in pain and I wonder, will I ever feel better?” I said, “Max, I really don’t know what to tell you.” He said, “Mom, do you know what a rhetorical question is?” I said, “Yes, it’s a question that doesn’t really have an answer to it.” He said, “Well, that was a rhetorical question.”
When your whole physical being is in pain and you can’t find answers to make it stop hurting, the one thing you can do is sit down and wait for your breath to catch up with your own questions. Or maybe, just maybe, the questions are just rhetorical. And sometimes you don’t need an answer. You might just need some time to breathe in. And out. Do that about 100 more times. Or however long you might need.
If I had a regret, it would be that I wasted so much fucking time agonizing over what a man (or boy) thought about me or “us” when I should have taken that time for myself. Stars fell from the sky, entire microcosms and colonies of bunnies died while I angst-ed out over the trivialities of relationships that did not even exist. I could have owned an estate full of shoes with the time and money spent on the rage and anxiety of the rhetorical questioning of why it didn’t work. But there is still time and for that I am grateful to pranayama and the shoe allowance I have given myself. Get the shoes. Take your time. Getting back to dating is all on your own timeline. Basically, it’s a rhetorical question with no right answer. So do whatever you want do. Just don’t forget to breathe.