I was dating someone recently. Now I’m not.
I’m sad but not as sad as I could be. I’m used to it by now. I’ve spent the majority of my life sleeping alone, sprawling out, taking up the whole bed when I’d be content to take up just half. Truthfully, I’d love to battle for the blanket and worry about morning breath.
I’ve been the single friend for as long as I can remember. While most of my friends are married and having kids, I’m the queen of short-term relationships. Three weeks here, two months there. Each time I feel hopeful that maybe, just maybe, this one will last longer than three months. No one ever has.
Occasionally, I have nightmares. The kind that wake you up in the middle of the night, breathless and scared out of your mind. On those nights I wish I could turn to someone beside me, grab their hand, and feel safe from the terrors created by my overactive imagination. But there’s rarely ever anyone there. So I sleep with the lights on.
I could be cynical and sad. I could be worried that I’m going to wind up alone and single forever. I could wallow in despair that no suitor will send me flowers just because or say “I love you” and mean it.
But I’m not cynical or hopeless. Not even a little. Because I still believe that there’s someone out there waiting for me. Despite a rocky and turbulent start, I’m still a romantic.
I read a Post Secret once that said, “He hasn’t found me yet either.” It became more than just a phrase scribbled on the internet, it became an anchor. After every failed short-term relationship, I’d pick myself up, dust myself off and remind myself that he wasn’t my person. My person is still out there.
I find it reassuring to know that he is probably alive, living a life that runs parallel to mine. He’s breathing the same air, staring at the same moon. Our lives haven’t intersected yet but they’re both there. Perhaps he’s watching the same presidential debates and buying the same pumpkin pancake mix at Trader Joe’s. He has friends and family. He gets up and goes to bed and he hasn’t found me yet either.
Sometimes before I go to bed, I say “goodnight” to him, whoever he is.
I wonder, if somewhere in Malaysia, an unknown man hears a hint of a whisper that he doesn’t understand. Or maybe he’s sitting at a bar three blocks down. Closer than I think. Sooner than I expect. Maybe in California, my person is cuddling with someone else he was meant to find before me. When he comes my way, I won’t be jealous of her because she helped him become who he needed to be. Maybe she’ll break his heart but I hope not. Perhaps he’s tucking in kids that aren’t mine but might love me too some day.
I like to pretend that when I say goodnight, somehow he’s getting the message. Maybe when we meet he’ll say, “I know it sounds crazy, but there were nights when I didn’t feel so alone.” Maybe not. He might be the sensible kind who will humor me but doesn’t believe in fate or anything of the sort. I don’t know, but I get excited thinking about it.
I officiated a wedding last weekend. I was writing the ceremony right when my six week relationship started falling apart. I knew that there were things I was never going to learn about the boy I had been dating. There were things we were never going to say or feel together. Places we were never going to visit. Our story was over. Not exactly the best inspiration for a wedding ceremony. So I switched my thoughts to the man I haven’t met yet somewhere in Malaysia or California. I thought about what I’d say to him at our wedding.
“I’ve been waiting for you my whole life,” I’ll say. Then I’ll probably cry because it’s true and I’m an emotional person.
“I didn’t know it, but I’ve been waiting for you too,” he’ll respond.
Maybe I’m delusional, a byproduct of a childhood that involved too many romantic comedies. I’ve read too many books by Nicholas Sparks. But I’ll tell you what, when I saw the couple exchange their first dance at the wedding, I was reminded that people find other people. People who make them happier and better. That’s something that happens. And it can happen for me too.
Whether it’s next month, next year, or 50 years from now, when we’re meant to meet, we’ll meet.
Until then, I’m going to keep going on first dates and hoping they turn in to second dates. I’m going to keep writing and living and feeling. I’ll third wheel all of my friend’s dinner plans because I love the company. I’ll go for walks and read books. I’ll work on making myself kinder and better before he comes along.
Who knows, maybe I’ll even spend the weekend making pumpkin pancakes from Trader Joe’s before heading to that bar down the street. If he’s not there, I’ll go home, lay in my bed and whisper “goodnight.”