We sat in lawn chairs in their sprawling backyard, the summer night illuminated by tall lamps reaching above our heads and into the clear sky. We shooed away the bothersome insects that the thick air welcomed and sipped our cocktails from sweaty glasses.
"That was some party," Bill said, arching and stretching his back. "But I'm really sorry about Rob."
I nodded my head, the corners of my mouth upturned: The precursor to a laugh. "Really, Bill. It's okay. It's not your fault. You didn't know he was going to be such a skeez."
"You know what it is about you?" He turned his attention from his personal basketball court to me. "You have the appearance of a 24 year old, but mentally, you're in your thirties. So there's a real challenge to find someone right for you."
I shot him a quizzical look. "What are you trying to say, Bill?" I asked playfully.
"I don't mean anything bad by it," his eyes were wide, telling me not to misconstrue his statement. "What I mean is that you need a special man. One who is young enough to keep you young and happy and full of life, but one who is mature enough to be your equal. That's a mix you don't come by everyday."
I tossed his idea around in my mind, played with it a little. I do have a tall order to fill when it comes to my ideal man. And every so often, I wonder if maybe settling wouldn't be so bad. So I sacrifice maturity for fun, or fun for maturity - so what? So maybe I'll be a little bored, or start to feel older than I feel already. At least then I won't wonder why I can't find anyone. Of course, the thought lasted no longer than a second; I don't have to sacrifice either one. And anyway, I'd rather be alone than with someone I'd chosen just because I was sick of being lonely.
"But don't worry, Laurie," Bill continued; And the tone of his voice told me exactly where he was headed. I tensed up and braced myself for the impact of what I knew he was about to say. "You'll find someone. The right guy is out there for you. You just haven't found the right one yet. Hang in there."
"Yeah, I know," I mumbled, offering him a forced smile while I waited through his condolences.
"I'm serious. He's out there. One of these days, you'll meet him. It's just a matter of time and patience."
As sweet and well-intentioned as this type of conversation is, it is the type I dread most. I truly appreciate that I'm cared for, but when someone says to me "Don't worry, he's out there," or "hang in there," or "don't give up" - as they often do - I'm left to nod my head and examine my cuticles and wait for it to pass. Because really, what do you say when someone offers you their pity? They know how badly you want to find someone - they want you to find someone, too, - and they don't know what else to say. And so, rather than saying nothing, they present you with a bouquet of clichés and worn out well-wishes. They stop just short of giving you advice, because they know you don't want to hear it, but the need to say something is just too overwhelming.
"I know Bill. Thanks."
But the general misconception is this: That I want to find the man I'm going to marry within the next week. Sure it'd be nice to find my soul mate, but that's not really what I want right now. I'm kind of getting used to being single; I'm beginning to like the way I feel in these shoes. What I really want is just someone to be excited about.
I don't want to fall in love tomorrow. I just want to meet a man, give him my phone number, and actually hope that he calls. I want to stare at my phone and will it to ring with the desperation of a schoolgirl. I want to revert back to high school when, if I thought my crush was calling, I'd pick up the phone and check for a dial tone, just to see if everything was working alright. I want to race home to check my email to see if he's written. I want to tickle the refresh button with my cursor, hoping that if I hit it, I'll see his name in my inbox. I want to be excited for a first date. I want that giddy intoxication that comes after a date that went well. I want the buzz that lasts for days after a first kiss. I want to have a crush on someone. I want to come home and call my friends and say "Oh my God, he was so wonderful!" and giggle like I'm twelve years old again. I'm sick of relating my bad date stories. Just once, I would like to be able to grin from ear to ear and, in a dreamy voice, say "Oh, the date? It was phenomenal."
Today on the phone, I filled my mom's ears with those same desires.
"I don't think I'm asking a whole lot. I just want to meet a good guy that I'm into, you know?"
Instead of giving a response, my mom chuckled.
"What's so funny?" I asked, confused as to why she'd laugh at my plea for one good date.
"Laurie, did I ever send you that joke? The one about the guy talking to God?"
"Uh, I don't know. There are a few jokes out there like that..."
"Well, every day, this guy prays to God 'Please, God, just let me win the lottery.' Every day, it's the same prayer, 'Please, God, just let me win the lottery.' For years, he asks God to let him win the lottery, until, finally, God speaks to him. God says, 'I really want to help you, my son. But you have to buy a freakin' ticket."
Good point, Mom. Good point.
Although I've been wanting to buy my ticket, Milford's all sold out, and I've been waiting for the ticket to come to me. It's time I start checking out other vendors.