I look at her and can’t help but imagine how beautiful our kids are going to be.  It’s always interesting to guess at whose traits will have the dominant genes. Will our little boy or girl have her eyes or mine? Maybe a combination of both, with the nice big size of my eyes, but with a little less bulge. I know I’m not the first person to daydream like this, but I also know I’m putting the cart before the horse, you know, especially since we’re not actually dating yet.

I should clarify by saying that “we” technically haven’t even gone on an “official” date, and in some cases, “we” don’t even know each other, because I’m not sure who specifically I’m writing about. I’ve been pretty much doing this with every woman I meet.

It could even be you, seriously. Have you followed me on Instagram in the last three months,  spoken for more than 10 minutes, or are you a cute face I see every now and again? Then yes, I have virgo’d my way through every possible open social network to run you through my checklist and see if you are, in fact, the human I am looking for. I’m not quite sure how we got here. I feel like I used to be a pretty sound minded human, but somewhere along the road, I’ve become “that guy” who’s now picturing his future kids, and future marriage, with every fresh face that he meets.

This admission probably changes the way you see that conversation we had last week doesn’t it? You were unwittingly participating in another round of interviews. You know, to double check against the list again, because I’m “that guy” now.

I’ve only heard the archetype referred to as “that girl,” but hopefully you understand what I’m saying. I’ve become that human who’s hunting through humanity to find that perfect spouse he thinks he should have by now.

I was introduced to this particular personality during my time amongst other vital young men, who were so horrified at the thought of settling down, they deemed it necessary to uphold the ancient order of the “Watch Out For Her” society. It was a low-tech social network dedicated to warning the others about possible life-suckers who want your freedom and babies.

Ladies, have you ever secretly fantasized about marrying a boy you were talking to, only for him to disappear, almost as if he knew you wanted to lock him down? He was probably tipped off by the network.

Nice try though.

I’ve always had a critical role at such gatherings. I was a teen dad, the cautionary tale, the closer. It was my job to convert the non-believers.

“They’re out there boys, and they want your babies, and your free time, and your fucking soul, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be spending next summer with me, learning how to change diapers instead of euro-tripping with your bros.”

It didn’t matter how much you loved or trusted her, or how fail-safe her birth control was. I told you to wear a condom and watch your back, because somewhere out there these creatures were lurking, waiting, and planning your capture.  It could happen to you — it had already happened to me.

Euro-trip, bro.

Now, nine years later, I’m in a West Elm looking at night stands for no other reason than to make your capture more comfortable when I lure you into my web. I am now that creature lurking in the shadows, planning to wife you up three years from next Tuesday when I ask you out.

I’m going to get really cute nightstands for you, though.

I see the poor logic from this vantage point. I understand logically that this is the worst possible place from which to find love, but there is no logic that changes the economics of this situation.

Simply put, I feel like I have paid my dues, and it is my time,  it would only be fair for me to find lasting love now.

Fair?

One time after waiting through an airport security line I realized I had forgotten my boarding pass at the counter and the TSA agent let me grab it and skip the line when I got back. Is the universe so cruel that it cannot even match the karmic justice that TSA agents afford?

I’ve been in a relationship close to eight out of the ten years I’ve been allowed to vote. Let me write that out in another way.

8/10.

Look at that — that looks like a passing grade, a B, undoubtedly good enough to move on to the next assignment of happily ever after. But no, all I have to show is three giant emotional scars and a 9-year old.

Also, side note:

It turns out younger me was wrong, and the kid is one of the best things I have in my life, and he’s a big reason I didn’t kill myself after the end of the world so he’s since been pardoned from robbing me from euro-tripping with my bros.

However, this isn’t a grateful dad post. This is an emotional heart-dump post!

I love him to death, he’s great, but he’s nine. That’s not exactly wife-bait for much longer. He’s too old to be the adorable older brother in a modern family rom-com. By the time it’s even possible to be married with more kids, he’ll be a teenager, saying insolent shit like “you’re not my fucking mom bitch!” When my wife asks him to pick up his jizz-socks off the floor.

“I’ll make you a deal. If you don’t call my wife a bitch I’ll pay for your Xbox live account.”

But the heartbreaking part of this single soul isn’t the remnants of the heartbreak. Those once razor-sharp edges have thankfully dulled out, and seem safe to handle now. The sad part that I am well aware I am probably wasting my time, and that I have become the boy who is following a treasure map, who forgot somewhere along the way he made this map himself in the kitchen earlier, and he is not searching for real treasure.

I’ve already found and know women who are real treasures, women who pass “the test” with flying colors, and yet every time it would make sense to give dating a chance, I pause.  I want a partner. Why would a man who so desperately wants to find his match not ask a single person out on a real date?

One possibility is that that I am not looking for true love or a real partner, but that instead I am looking for a woman who can be my life-preserver, my suit of armor, and battery pack, and the antidote to my loneliness, a woman who will wrap her love around me and protect me from this world and who can somehow bypass the sacrifice and risk that all real relationships require.

The investment of your entire heart’s life savings, and the possibility that you may lose it all, can be a little bit daunting.

Without that down payment, I am playing the nickel slots, getting excited when the bells and whistles go off, feeling like I’m part of something exciting, but without actually gaining or losing much of anything at all on every pass.

So maybe, I’ll have to do the less exciting thing, of continuing to save and build my heart’s saving and patiently wait to become more willing to risk it all again.

What do I know about love? Only That it is real and elusive, high stakes, and scary and beautiful, and it is why I’m here.

But in case I’m wrong, I’ll probably keep on asking you for your sign, your enneagram, and a brief description of how buoyant you are in the rough open water.  Bear with me awhile longer, okay?

12 COMMENTS

  1. As always, refreshingly honest. Most enjoyable reading, compelling my voice from out here in the middle of nowhere to look you in the eyes and say the most true and unoriginal thing I know for sure about love: it won’t be forced, you cannot control it, and yes, it shows up right on time.

  2. I haven’t read anything Sam has written since his mom was worried he was drowning in heartbreak, when I honestly worried about a guy I didn’t know and hoped he could find a lifeline and not pack it all in. I’m excited to read that he’s moved to a new, anticipatory phase of recovery where he may not see the light at the end of his tunnel, but at least he recognizes there’s no train coming toward him on the track.

  3. I followed you on Instagram recently so basically you must be talking about me, right?

    Also, nice nightstands are nice, but fluffy pillows are everything.

  4. Ah Sam, I am so proud of your willingness to explore the bumps, stumbles, skinned heart, and WTF’s of this path called life. I am old enough to be your grandma, and sometimes I feel like your grandma, watching you grow into who you are. I hope you know the poem Hokusai Says by Roger Keyes.

  5. Don’t wait too long says the now middle aged single mum who was so impressed by your ability to Dad skills recently… I’ve recently reached the mile marker that says I only have 5 years left in this Mum game and that partner hasn’t materialized yet?! Damn, seems like I’ve near burned the forest down keeping the rescue fire ablaze. Maybe it’s the Virgo rising… see you at Alley Dad.

  6. Oh…. so relate to this. I’m a little older and have a 7-year-old — plus I’m a (straight) woman, so it’s different; at least more women than men are probably ok with a potential step kid. But damn. You are killing me softly with your song. Thank you for putting my heart into words.

  7. You probably already heard this, but you, your family, your friends, your work, your projects are already your life preservers. She will simply be someone that adds extra happiness to your life. (Apologies if you have already heard that a million times :P).

    When you find somebody you really love–even after the honeymoon phase is over–make sure you treasure that person. And when life makes you a little bonkers, let her know you need to get some fresh air and go howl at the moon for a little bit. Once you let out the crazy, come home and let her know that you are okay. I get kinda bonkers sometimes and every once in a while I have to do that.

    Thanks for sharing your story! I always enjoy your posts :).

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