"Hello? You in there? You're spacing out hardcore."
"Huh? Oh. Sorry."
I found myself standing in a shady Brooklyn parking lot with my then-boyfriend, who led me there with the intention of buying an equally shady guitar off an even shadier Craigslist guy.
The thing is, I was there, but I really wasn't there. My mind was drifting off to places I'd never been and people I'd never met -- like Hawaii and sample sales and the hot guy from Whole Foods I ran into two days prior and couldn't stop thinking about.
My boyfriend and I didn't make it past that summer. It turned out the things I wanted for myself starting out weren't the things I wanted toward the very end. I chalked our breakup to people changing and life happening, but even so, I had to hand it to my boyfriend for sensing my aloofness before I could sense it myself.
Dating. Sigh. Dating in your mid-20s is like trying to find a last-minute outfit for a big event: You know you’re racing against the clock, so you scramble to all the stores around you and try on every damn thing. Out of sheer desperation, you’ll try on an XXL, even though you’re typically an XXS.
I’m 25 now, but I've spent the entirety of my post-high school years trying all kinds of men on for size. I’ve dated the smart, sensible guy, and I’ve dated the dumb, beautiful guy. I’ve dated the self-important numbchuck (one too many times), and I’ve dated the impotent nice guy (WTF, there's always a catch).
Let's put it this way: I've been through a lot of men, none of whom managed to strike my fancy.
It also doesn't help that I’m as indecisive as they come; on any given morning, I can barely pick which cereal I want for breakfast (hey, it’s a big decision, okay?)
I don't know what I want.
We’re often told that love is blind and undiscriminating, that it catches us off guard the moment we’ve nearly given up on it. We’re also told that what separates the one-minute man from the forever man is a mere feeling.
That feeling feels far. It feels scary and imaginary. If I knew what it felt like, I'd know what I'm searching for. But I don't know what it feels like. All I know is the faith I have in both it and the path I have to take to find the guy who will make me feel it.
I may not know what I love, but I know what I hate.
F*ckboys and sociopaths and dildo-brains, oh my! If finding love is a process of elimination, then I’ve got this thing nailed down.
My adolescence has been a string of weeding out one man -- er, boy -- after another. These boys have been wrong for me in every way, and in the moment, I felt rejected. I couldn’t see past the hurt imposed on me.
But in retrospect, I know what happened, happened for a reason. These boys weren’t the remaining pieces of my puzzle; they were simply pieces to fill a void.
I may have an outline, but I haven’t yet colored it in.
There’s a notebook under my bed that I’ve been keeping since the day I bought my first Barbie. The pages are filled with naive scribbles -- fantastical at best and unintelligible at worst -- of my dream man: tall, handsome and charming. I decided I’d more or less end up with the real-life version of Prince Eric from “The Little Mermaid.”
Those margins in the side of my crumpled-up notebook have helped me form an idea of the kind of person I want, but I know deep down that people don’t fully get what they want (and if they do, they’re pretty damn lucky).
The beauty of having a rough guide is that it’s just a sketch and nothing more. I don’t need to stay in between the lines; I can zig and zag and pleasantly surprise myself.
I may not trust all men, but I trust my instincts.
I’ve been burned before, and I’ve been burned hard -- so hard that I often think twice about letting myself be vulnerable in the presence of a man. And, like most others who’ve had their hearts stomped on, I find myself unwilling and unable to trust the way my younger self once did.
But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe being guarded with my heart will pay off in the future. Maybe my instincts have become my weaponry, which means it’ll be easier to weed out the men who can't handle me.
I may not know who he is, but I know who I am.
Life is an ongoing journey, a winding path that takes gradual turns and slowly leads us to become our best selves. Though it’s possible, and probable, that we’ll fall in love more than once in a lifetime, the love that is intended to endure will be the one we find when we know who we are and who we’re meant to be.
I’ve come a long way on my own personal journey, but I still have a ways to go.
And, to be honest, if I were the man I so desperately long for, I wouldn't date me just yet. He who’s meant to stick around will stay when I find the qualities I want to stick with.
I haven't met him yet. I know because other than the one time it was taken from me,
I've never felt that feeling. But one day, I will feel it again, and it won't be fleeting; it'll withstand time and change because I'll finally be ready for it.
And though I sure as hell don’t know who I’m looking for, I can't help but feel like I'll know when I find him.