this is just to say. (on dressing up and first dates).

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.51.24 PMNot terribly long ago it struck me that it’s been about a year since I’ve gone on a proper date.

 

I should clarify, a proper first date.

 

There are so many reasons for this.

 

Most deeply personal—not understood by even my closest confidantes.

 

But a year goes by. And a boy kisses you. And it feels so good.

 

I mean, the thing is, I forgot how a kiss can be so simple and easy and fun. And satisfying.

 

Mostly because the kisses this year have been anything but.

 

Which should have been a clue.

 

But we learn how we learn.

 

So, should a first date come along, I think I might say yes.

 

I think I might want to say yes.

 

But I want to wear a dress.

 

And I want it to be fancy—almost inappropriately so. Inappropriate because no one ever dresses up for anything anymore, and how terribly disappointing that is.

 

Let the man wear a suit. A nice one. (Tie optional).

 

Let us, middle of July, dress like it’s New Years Eve. And drink like it’s a new beginning. (Or a very good end).

 

I want the restaurant to be just cold enough that he has to offer me his jacket. Has to drape it over my shoulders. And do that thing, that men do, where they stand behind you and ever-so-inexpertly rub your arms.

 

It won't matter where we choose to eat. It could be McDonald’s. Or the Corner Bistro. (In fact, I’m partial to burgers).

 

I just want, for a single night, to feel young and foolish and exquisitely beautiful.

 

Just for a night I’d like to be the sort of couple that other people look at—wistfully, longingly, knowingly. That other people regard with a sort of fondness, remembering their own youth—remembering that time the future rolled out before them like an invitation.

 

image via. 

having a witness | laura jane williams

What follows is the fourth in a series about wanting men/not needing them.

And because I know some pretty spectacular women, I asked them to weigh in on the subject.

Laura is one of my very favorite people in this world (and we've never even met).

I came across her blog not terribly long ago and was immediately smitten. It is, without question, one of my very favorite places on the internet. She is ruthlessly honest and brazenly self-aware--and the older I get, the more I think those things might actually be the answer to all questions. Which is to say she's got some stuff figured out--even if it's just the willingness to say, you know, I'm still not there yet--I don't know. 

So, lucky you all (and lucky me), her response:

afterlight-2
afterlight-2

The thing is, it’s about having a witness to my life.

I didn’t understand for such a very long time. I’d had my heart crumpled young - too young, really. I was too naïve to understand that he was the making of me, not the breaking—and that misunderstanding coloured my choices for days that became weeks that became, in the end, about five years of healing. It took many forms: promiscuity, celibacy, travel: searching so that I got my answers but was still puzzled as to the question.

But, you see, because of all that, I’m really fucking proud of who I am. And the woman I’ve become? She wants to share her life with a man. A husband.

It’s not a desperate kind of want. It isn’t sleeplessness nights and pints of ice-cream salted with the tears of singledom. It’s not the ticking of a biological clock, nor the irritatingly true knowledge that rent would be cheaper split by two. It’s not about sex. I’m not searching for my other half, the soulmate who will make me whole. I’m not incomplete.

I’m not incomplete.

The obvious, practical stuff aside – making my own money, being able to change the fuse on a lamp, backpacking solo and how to figure out interest rates and train timetables and reverse parking and the best way to mow the lawn – emotionally, I’m ripe.

Beyoncé said it best (because she always does): you have to have a life, before you can be somebody’s wife. Oh baby, have I had a life. I’ve cried tears enough to earn the right to be empathetic and strong with the man who will feel courage from standing by my side. I’ve laughed so much that I’ll be able to make the future father of my children see the funny side of our lost luggage, or the leak in the ceiling, or even, with enough time, the tragedy that’ll blindsid us both one sunny Friday afternoon.

Make no mistake, I’ve experienced so much anger and frustration, that when he thinks he can’t take anymore – of work, of family, of the tiredness of life – well, I understand the difference between psychological space from words, and the closeness of my chin on his shoulder, just for a minute. I’ve known the aching for roots, so we can build a home together, somewhere in the world. And I’ve developed a taste for freedom, too.

I don’t need a yes man, and won’t be a yes woman, either.

This man, my husband, the one I’m ready for, he’ll have lived as well. He’ll be whole from experience. I don’t need a project, somebody to mother. He doesn’t have to be broken to be interesting (why do we always look for them to be broken?) but there’ll be cracks in us both that being together will help mend. He’ll know himself, and his self-kindness will teach me to go easier on myself. His manners will make me more accountable to those around me, and possibly his ambition will guide my own. I might be whole, but I’m not perfect; I still have more to learn, than has been learnt. But I’ll navigate those lessons eventually, with or without him. I don’t need him.

It’d be hella fun to do this next part of growing, of understanding, of learning and becoming together, though.

This want, it’s a want for watching how he talks to his parents over dinner, so that I get insight into how I engage with my own mum and dad. I want long and lazy Sunday afternoons wrapped around each other in bed, surprising myself with truths that feel safe to share in dappled, early evening light. I want blazing, heated rows in the aisle of Ikea over everything and nothing at all, friends over to our apartment for dinner, children who look like me and sound like him – everything it takes to unfold another human being so that I might unfold myself.

I want to love whole-heartedly and without restraint with a man who is there when I wake up, and knows when to leave me alone and when to take the small of my back with just the right amount of pressure. Doing so will make me better, will teach me – as will letting myself lose control enough to be loved. Because, of course, that’s harder than loving when we’re all waiting to get found out that somehow, we don’t deserve it.

We do. I do. My husband does, too. We all deserve a cheerleader, a champion, an equal.

I’ve taken it this far, and I’ve done it goddamn well. If this is life alone, then life in a partnership – a coupling where we make each other better, compensate for weaknesses and amplify strengths – well, shit. That’d be some life.

 

part onepart twopart threepart four. part five