Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Archives of Disappointing Men

My twenties are about over, and thank goodness, because they took a whole lot of energy. For example, every time there was a chance I'd see a boy I liked at a social event, I'd straighten my hair. This may not sound like something that takes a lot of energy, but it does, trust me. I have exceptionally thick hair. And there were a lot of social events. And there were a lot of boys I liked.

I feel so happy that I dated and hung around with so many different people, and that I was single as often as I was. I gathered a lot of mildly entertaining stories, gained some superhero-level interpersonal skills and wept buckets on my friend Steph and Ammen's couch. I was convinced I'd be alone forever, which is a very important thing to be convinced of at some point in your life.

Dave and I talk about how glad we are that we fished in the open sea for as long as we did. I'm not sure why I've been thinking so much about this lately; maybe it's those Duggar girls who are suddenly everywhere, now that they're old enough to hold hands and get married. They didn't get to be unsettled before they settled down, but I sure did.

I'm grateful for that, because when you've had a lot of strange and excruciating experiences playing the field, like I have, you tend to feel keenly aware of how supremely good things are today, now that you've found your player. Even if Today means having an argument over when it's okay to turn the heat on. Or someone forgets to text when they're come home late and dinner is cold. Or maybe dinner is hot and on time and everything is great, and then someone starts to chew very loudly.

If you have a decade plus of dating and disappointment and utterly transparent late night texts behind you, then you know that this is a teeny, tiny, minuscule price to pay for what a great thing you have.

Every day when my boyfriend gets home from work I jump out of my chair and I think, "I'm so glad I'm me, and you're you, and everything happened the way it did, because now we're here and it's fabulous."

In the past twelve years, it wasn't always fabulous. Sometimes I felt like I was on one of those reality shows they have in China where the subject has no idea they're on TV. So many small indignities and tiny fires of frustration. So much time wasted shaving my legs and choosing my underwear and it always, always ended in a long, slow trudge back to the drawing board.

There was the one who who mistook me for a midget. I never even met him. The handsome ski patroller with the strong jaw line who told me about the shingles rash that started in his right nipple as I sipped a Manhattan.

There was the guy who tried to make me eat a cobra on our first date. If I'm to believe the other girls who dated him, who left comments on that post, this was something he routinely did. I guess his 'thing' was to make ladies eat mystery meat.

Then there was the guy who was just a dick.

And the college boyfriend, the one who let a psychopath into my bedroom.

Oh those awkard times when I was single and confused and highly focused on having a fun plutonic time at game night, even though no one else was. The time that dude beat me to the punch and broke up with me, even though I already felt like I was the one settling. And I know that's a mean terrible thing to say but that's alright, because we've all felt that way at least once.
Oh those seriously sad times! I'd lay in bed for days bemoaning those break ups- for weeks! I'd do melodramatic things like wander around a Walgreens at night, far from home, having left my job and my friends for a boy who very slowly and very surely lost interest in me. Once, I saw a picture of my ex-boyfriend with his pretty new girlfriend, on an utterly terrific ice climbing trip, and I politely gathered up my things from the cafe where I was writing and went outside and threw up. And we weren't even ever in love!

I'm not done. There was that boy from the ski race I met when I was wearing the cutest tights. That still doesn't add up to me. I thought he wanted to go skiing, but really he just wanted to send some vaguely (and I mean vaguely) naughty texts about snow pack, and that was about it, apparently. That was all she wrote.

And let us not forget Washington's final gift: the boy who literally swam across a lake to get away from me.

As for the handsome cinematographer, he never did call. What a shame he lost my number, his telephone got destroyed, he became a monk, he was kidnapped and taken to a place without cell service.

The very best part is, these are just the ones I chose to write about. There were others, and for some reason I'm relatively proud of all of it.

All of this is not to say that I was miserable for the last ten years, because nothing could be farther from the truth. And I know the Blogging Hate Site will lose its jar of marbles after reading this post, admonishing me for Counting My Chickens the way I am. And they're right! I could be knocked back in the arena at any time. We all could.

But that's not the point. The point is not how much I count my eggs, or how much I like my eggs and the one basket I've chosen to put them in. The point is this: the experiences that were very difficult and sad, and annoying, and defeating and exhausting and bewildering and even degrading at times, are now proving to be very useful and insightful.

I used to feel, after each break up or near miss, that I had wasted my time. That it had all been for nothing. But that is just not true.

I wasn't wasting my time, and neither are you.

If you like this post, share it! And if you share it, email me at with your address. I will send you a thank you card. I'm growing my 'online platform' on the advice of a fantastic literary agent, and 'Shares' are worth their weight in gold. Also, I want to write you a letter.


Desiree said...

I'm sharing this with every one of my girlfriends.

Spot on and hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Amen amen amen!!

Erikaa said...

I'm happy to hear that you are happy! I also went through my share of bad relationships but ultimately they challenged me and made me appreciate my relationship now. Happy to be happy.

Erikaa said...

I'm happy to hear that you are happy! I also went through my share of bad relationships but ultimately they challenged me and made me appreciate my relationship now. Happy to be happy.

Lis said...

So true.

Anonymous said...

thank you, because I needed to read that last sentence tonight :)

Liz said...

I'm glad you're happy! You seem REALLY happy. Yay for good partners for good people! I happen to think you're super lucky, too, to have found someone. Some of us spent all that time dating and hoping to be dating and at the end we are still home alone with our dogs (not that the dog isn't cute and all). I'm currently thinking that, at 34, I need to start reframing everything. I've always wanted to get married and be a mom. I can't control finding someone worth marrying. I can control becoming a mom, if I want to operate outside what I've always wanted, not to mention the cultural norm. I'm at the bottom of that staircase, looking up, hoping I can find a way to climb it. I'm not unhappy, but I'm not exactly fully happy about the situation either. So...onwards?
Seriously, great post though. I especially love the pic at the top. :)

Stormy said...

You are the coolest writer anywhere. I apologize for not following Wilder Coast for a bit, but I promise to get back -. And going through years and years of relationships that don't relate is awful So happy you are happy!!! -

Diary of Why said...

I so want to send this to my boyfriend and say look, see, this. This is me. But I have sent him posts of pictures of your dog, just to prove a point, and for some reason he's still not on board with the corgies, so, maybe not.

Haleigh said...

This is the best! And so spot on!

Anonymous said...

I loved it! Emailed you.

Liz Stout said...

This is precisely what I needed to read this morning. Totally and completely in so many ways.

Thank you. Thank you for writing this.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Mandy in AZ said...

So I'm going to parcel these stories out all day and make them last! Sorry, work!! Thanks so much, this is a great post. Fun and very ballsy!

meg bird said...

All of these are gold. It was hilarious to read them all again, and thank you for being so willing to share you disappointments and heartbreaks with the world!

colleen said...

thank you for posting a terrible photo of me. I forgive you. I also needed this today. Love you Lina.

Anonymous said...

I so needed to read this today. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Also -- those links are a gift to my frustrated heart. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

Carey King said...

This was an interesting/funny read. I have watched my friends date all kinds of guys and there is something so different and special about finding, dare I say it, THE guy.
I know we all have different paths and who knows why we get the ones we get but I guess its what we need for our character, our journey or growth or whatever. I'm glad you found the good solid happy feeling that kind of sits comfortably in your tummy, its such a good feeling:)

Anonymous said...

Thank you. It's been a tough road recently. I'm actually starting to wonder if a man, any man, is worth all the trouble. I've dated a few in the last two years, and I always call it off when I find out just how selfish, insecure and helpless they are beneath the facade! Some times I am completely convinced that I will be just as happy, if not happier, with a large group of friends, a solid career that I'm very proud of, and hobbies. But the one hang up I have is that I do want to have children and, darn it all, if my 'window' isn't closing. I think more and more about just going it alone. I am working on rearranging my perspective so that I do not see that as a 'failure' but as a new type of awesome family. Yes, I am leaning that way. Anyway, I do feel quite isolated some times. Especially when my friends (most of whom have already paired off) are having second babies, moving away to be closer to their families back home, and just seem more wrapped up in their own lives and families. It was nice to read that you too (and all the comments) have experienced what I am going through. I just hope that I don't have to kiss too many more 'frogs.' Thank you for writing, and thank you to the women who have left comments, as they too make me feel less alone in this!

Rachel said...

This archive compilation is brilliant. I had read most of the posts before, but I loved them again. Your writing is magic and I so hope that you are able to do it for life. You belong in the world with the pen in your hand (er... fingers on the keyboard. whatever.).

Alice said...

I love this post. It's pretty much my life story with men as my friends all say I should have been on Jerry Springer at one point (that includes my 3 ex-fiances!). Now I'm happily married to a Colorado ski bum despite living in NC (I'm in FNP school so I feel your nursing school pains and doubts) so it's funny how things work out.

Bethany said...

Love this! You make me feel great about all the men I met and ditched or loved and cried for days about. I was certain I was going to be alone forever and have 10 cats. And I hate cats. XO