Single for the season.

I spent the last hour googling “single during the holiday season” and clicking in and out of articles. The stories were pretty much all the same. How to survive the holiday season. Things to do when you’re single. The articles start the same way, with cheesy puns about adding extra fa-la-la-la into your season. The slew of articles is really pretty pathetic for how weighty this feeling of “singleness” can be when December rolls around.

So you’re here. And you’re reading this. And maybe you’re the single one.

Valentine’s Day is one day on the calendar but, for some reason, the holiday season feels like two long months of social awareness for the single people in the room.

And maybe Hallmark Movies don’t make it any better because all these fiercely handsome men and seemingly perfect women keep colliding into one another in the old haunts of their hometowns while you’re just shoving more cookies into your mouth and ordering pizza from UberEats.

Scoot over on the couch, pass me a cookie, and let’s do this thing. 

 

First things first, you’re fine. If I had a quarter for every person who tried to tell me to be jolly about my singleness then I wouldn’t be writing anymore. I would likely be retiring and celebrating my newfound wealth on a beach in Mexico.

Reminder #1: Don’t cut the person who tells you this. 

Reminder #2: you don’t have to be jolly. It doesn’t have to be a thing.

People mean well when they say this sort of stuff. But if the awkwardness were to be stripped from every
“single at the holidays” conversation then I would just come out and tell you this: Hey, it’s absolutely okay if you’re hurting. You can be disappointed. You are allowed to want to shove couples frolicking together at the mall. Your rage is welcome here.

It’s okay to think it should be your turn by now. No one is going to hate you if you turn off the notifications this Christmas Eve. If seeing pictures of rings at Christmas is going to make you go ballistic then let’s take a step back and go from there.

You are allowed to grieve for what you don’t yet have. Singleness sometimes looks like mini skirts and cocktails. Sometimes singleness feels like grief and longing we haven’t learned to manage yet. We need to have better conversations about singleness. It’s okay to be single and yet waiting to not be. Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean life hits the pause button. There’s a difference.

 

Your singleness is not a scorecard. It doesn’t have the permission to rate you or degrade you. You are not defined by a ring-less left hand. I’m married now so maybe you think I don’t get to say these things anymore but I’ve been taking notes. I took notes throughout my singleness and now I am taking notes throughout the marriage and I can tell you one thing that never changes, no matter how your marital status may shift: a person never fills the holes only God, himself, was made to occupy.

In some ways, I believe God made the holes on purpose. Chiseled them deep. Dug them wide. Gave us a spirit to want, so badly, to fill those holes with something of value and worth. When we see the holes, we realize we are in need of something. We are in need of something better than this mediocre world. I think we were created with a need to taste heaven, even in the smallest doses.

 

There was a time when I thought a guy would change that. I thought the right combination of blue eyes and 5’8 stature would fix me. I found myself craving all the attention I could get. I found myself wanting to be wanted. I thrived off of desire. It didn’t matter to me if I wasn’t planning longterm with the man, I just wanted someone to see me, call me beautiful, and hold the door open.

Wanting isn’t wrong. Where I went wrong was picking any man, any guy off Tinder, to make me feel valuable. I could never stand in front of an imperfect man and ask him to give me worth. Your value, dear, will never come from someone sitting across the table from you. A person can accentuate your value. A person can call you to a higher confidence in yourself. A person can call out your greatness and make you feel beautiful. But a person cannot hand you all the validation you so desperately want.

I would learn eventually– after a series of bad dates– that another person could never complete me. We were made to complement but not complete someone else. That’s too big of a role and our backs would break trying.

 

I’m not going to jettison a list of 5 activities you can do while being single this season because, honestly, reading a list like that when I was single would have depressed me. I was single out enough already. I didn’t want to be singled out by stigmas too.

So here’s all I’ll say: wallow if you want. Cry if you need to. No one is going to stop you. The greatest freedom I ever claimed from the most wonderful time of the year was the ability to say, “It’s okay if I don’t feel wonderful. I’m still here and that’s what matters.”

Your purpose isn’t on pause just because you’re single this year. You could be single your whole life, and still, this world would need something from you. It would tap its worldly foot and look at its worldly watch and wonder, “Is that person still waiting for the relationship to come? There was so much we could have done in the meantime.”

The world still needs you to pick up the phone and do your thing. Not an inch of your passion need be drained away based on a relationship status. There are still cards to write out and people to encourage. There are still shelters in need of extra volunteers and people who feel so heartbroken they aren’t sure if they will be able to handle the season this year.

Whether you see it or not, you’re like this tiny gold thread that’s bobbing and weaving through the stories of other people. You might not be in every story but, if you keep your eyes wide open this year, then you won’t miss the ones that need your touch. Your golden thread.

 

Eyes wide open. No matter what. Whether you are single or married, dating or engaged, we all need a reminder to have eyes wide open this time of year. The season will go by fast. I’m probably the 12th person to say that to you this year. But I think back to the reason why I celebrate Christmas. I tell myself, don’t miss the point. Don’t miss the point of this.

I’ve lived too long at this point– seen too many things– to believe in coincidences and accidents. I know there is purpose here. I know God is at work. But I also know that every conversation I avoided could have taught me something and every event I go to has the power to change me. That’s what happens when you step out into the world and you look around– you start to change. You morph. You become someone new. And maybe, just maybe, that “someone new” is the person you were meant to be when you meet the “someone new” who ends of wanting to partner with you. You never know. I know it took a lot of fights, battles, friendships, and moves to get me to the place where I met Lane and felt ready to love him with all the selfish and unselfish parts of me. I had to let the world change me before I could change the way I loved someone else.

We get this one chance. It’s this one, rare chance to be living, breathing creatures for a little while on this planet. And as we go, we get this chance to love people until it breaks our hearts and we go mad for one another. We get to scour the planet for treasure. We get to make bucket lists. We get the chance to commune. We get to define the purpose and make plans. There is a massive list of “get to”s that we get to do and we waste so much of that time on feeling like we are incomplete. Feeling inadequate. Feeling underqualified.

This is it for me. This is it for you. We might not get this season again so we should try to shake the fear off our shoulders and get busy with love. Fear wants to keep us isolated. Love wants to keep us busy.

Tis’ the season of joy. And maybe you won’t feel it the whole way through. Maybe it will only come in quick spurts. But calm your little, worried heart and keep on the lookout for peace and light. Repeat this truth beneath your breath as you go:

you’re not missing any piece of you. 

you’re not missing any piece of you. 

you’re not missing any piece of you. 

 

Why it doesn’t matter if you met (or meet) online.

Lane and I met on a dating application.

The name of the application is called Hinge. My friend from New York City recommended it to me at the start of 2015.

“I’ve been on a couple of good dates,” she said. “They have jobs. Real jobs.”

It’s sad to think that a ‘real job’ is a thing you find yourself looking for in a partner these days.

 

I downloaded the application on the floor of her living room on January 1. We’d just come back from a diner where we mapped out our year and I was feeling lucky and ambitious. I set my search settings to Atlanta and I started to scroll.

Mind you, I was in the middle of thick depression when I downloaded that dating app. My feelings and emotions were a jumble of really high and rock-bottom low that winter. Me being on a dating application was probably not the healthiest choice and I soon realized that a couple of days later. I deleted the application.

It’s not that I didn’t want to meet someone. I just knew in my gut that the words I needed to repeat to myself were, “not now.” Not now. Get healthy. Get happy. Get sane. Get better. Get “anything” before you start believing a guy with a full set of teeth and a real job is going to fix you.

I ignored the idea of that dating application for another nine months.

 

My first year out of college, I wanted to be in love. I thought I would be one of those people who got married young. I’m happy God didn’t have the same plan for me because my husband would have starved to death in wrinkled clothing during our second month of marriage.

I don’t want to say I wasn’t in touch with reality back then but I really wasn’t. I saw everything through the eyes of a dreamer. I believed I would meet someone in a romantic clash of serendipity. I wrote this really whimsical blog post about how I didn’t support online dating because I believed I would meet someone in a more unexpected fashion. Somewhere like aisle seven of the grocery store where we would bump carts and then exchange awkward words before he asked me to dinner.

I remember getting a blog comment from a reader who was offended by my piece. She told me she and her husband had met through online dating and there was nothing less magical about their story than the idea of two people meeting in the oatmeal aisle.

 

I sat down to write this today because I know there is a stigma floating in the air about meeting online. I don’t know why the stigma exists but I think it’s because we don’t watch people in the movies meet online and fall in love. Rarely. We consume the unexpected crossings. We consume the scenes where two people end up in the same place at the same time and everything changes.

I wrote this because your love story is great and important, even if it hasn’t happened yet. You aren’t wrong to want to try out a dating application or make a profile on Match.com. That’s not crazy. You can do it. But I wouldn’t be a good friend to you if I didn’t ask you a more important question: is this what you need right now? Are you healthy and are you ready?

Relationships change things. Hearts are fragile. Humans are no different when you fall in love with them– no matter if we meet in a grocery store or in a chatroom. Make sure you are ready enough to bring your heart into the relationship before you swipe right.

 

Love stories happen everywhere. It’s important to note that. If we have a scale of what’s more magical and what’s more deserving of our applause then we are missing the point of love. The most beautiful thing that happens in a love story is two people choosing one another. I don’t think we should care how that happens, or where that happens, so much as we should be expectant and praying that it happens for the people we love. We should be more invested in people’s daily fights to keep one another, not the “how we met” story.

We become entitled. We get jealous and it’s hard to want good things for people when we haven’t yet seen them for ourselves. I think we miss the point we start to believe life is a story all about our expectations being met.

 

 

I remember one of the former contestants on the Bachelor telling a story about how she met her last boyfriend on a plane. It was such a serendipitous moment. For years, as they dated, she kept waiting to fully fall in love. She wanted things to click. She said she finally left.

“I was always waiting for my feelings to catch up to story of how we met,” she said.

Maybe it’s more dangerous that we ask the question so often, “How did you two meet?” Maybe it’s not important that you meet on a train or a bus or a coffee shop. Maybe the better question we could ask people is, “How do you stay in the fight for one another? How do you keep your love fresh? How do you sacrifice?”

 

Lane and I met on a dating application and I think the most important detail of the story is that my heart was ready to meet someone. My heart was ready to treat someone not like a crutch or a savior, but an equal. I knew what I wanted.

Fireworks never exploded in the sky to spell out LANE in big letters. He didn’t march up to my door with a bouquet of sharpened pencils. I made the first move. We talked for a week on the application before Lane asked for my number. I remember the messages were the best part of my day. In a week of traveling to three cities and watching my brother get married, this stranger on the other side of the screen was the best part of my day. He asked questions. He sent back paragraphs. We’d wait until 8 or 9 at night and then write back to one another until we fell asleep at night.

We found out, in piecing together our histories, there were a dozen or so places where we should have met already. We attended the same parties. We knew the same people. We lived 8 minutes apart. We were in the same places at the same time and I am still convinced I served that boy a corn dog and a coke at one of the parties. I just didn’t notice him.

“You wouldn’t have liked the girl you met if you met me any sooner,” I am confident enough to say to Lane. I needed to change before I was ready for a love story. I needed to become someone different and I am proud to say I did the hard work required of me.

 

It doesn’t matter where we meet. We are silly and insane if we get caught up in the “how we met” story that we forget the rest of the details. What will matter in 5 years from now is how we thought to build one another. How we thought to lay our hearts on the line. How we showed up. How we emboldened each other. How we met? That’s just the first part of the story. If you ask me, it hasn’t even gotten good yet.

Things fit: a note to those “flying solo”

Lane texted me last week from a shoe store in Utah. The store sold primarily Nike products. A picture popped up on my screen of an awesome pair of grey Nike sneakers.

“7.5 please,” I texted back, not actually thinking he would buy the shoes for me.

A few minutes went by before he responded, “The smallest size they have is a size 8!”

It wasn’t until recently that I figured out my natural shoe size is a 7.5 and not a 8 but I’ve been wearing shoes in size 8 for years so I knew I could wear these too. However, if Lane had texted me with the news that they only had a size 6 or a size 7, I would have been out of luck. The shoes wouldn’t have fit me.

 

I think when it comes to relationships, we want things to fit as seamlessly as shoes. We date with the anticipation that things will work out. We work hard to make things fit with the person across the table. And sadly, not because it’s anyone’s fault, sometimes things just don’t fit. Two people don’t click. One person has more work to do. You both don’t see the same future. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to realize you two want different things.

The wicked step sisters in the story of Cinderella were notable for trying to wedge their too-big feet into the tiny glass slipper. The original fairy tale actually illustrates the step-sisters cutting off portions of their feet so they could fit into the shoe. Bloodied up, they still didn’t get the happy ending they wanted. It simply wasn’t their story to live. This wasn’t their person.

Throughout my dating years, I knew myself to be guilty of trying to wedge myself into a box just so a guy would choose me. I thought that was the most important thing, to be chosen by someone. Being chosen is beautiful but making a choice because you know it’s the right one is an even better feeling. If dating leads to marriage and marriage leads to the long haul, you’ll want to be sure of the investment your making. You will want to be sure of that person’s character, ambitions, capacity and how they respect you.

 

People have asked me to write about marriage and I honestly don’t have words yet. I think I should wait another 20 or 30 years before I ever try to claim I have wisdom on this topic. However, I know one thing to be true: Lane and I entered under the contract of marriage because we knew we were a fit. We asked the tough questions. We investigated any red flags. We held the relationship loosely, knowing if things were meant to crumble before marriage became an option then things would definitely crumble.

We wanted to the relationship– our unique partnership– to be more important than our own personal needs to be chosen for an ego boost. I can confidently say that if Lane or I knew things weren’t fitting then we would have walked away. It would have broken our hearts but we vowed to never wedge ourselves into a space where a love story wasn’t meant to happen.

 

If you’re impatient, it’s okay. I wish people would stop saying “when you learn to be content with your singleness, then the right person will come along.” That’s garbage. I honestly don’t think half of the people who say that even mean to phrase it that way– that’s just how we’ve packaged it in the last few years.

I hope what people are trying to say is that it’s okay if you don’t like being single. You don’t have to like it but you have to be careful not to hinge your life, your joy, or your completion to a relationship status. You were fine yesterday. You are fine today. You will be fine tomorrow.

Waiting for the day when you enjoy singleness actually may never happen. I can’t honestly say I ever looked at my singleness and thought, “I am absolutely loving this right now. Bring on more nights where the only spooning I do involves the one I am shoving into this huge vat of ice cream by myself.”

I never once became okay with being single. I learned to be independent, yes, but I never liked the solo life. I remember crying to my mom through the phone after a breakup two summers ago. This was the guy I dated before I met Lane.

“I’m not even upset about the person so much as I don’t want to have to go back into the game,” I cried. “I don’t want to have to play the dating game anymore.” I didn’t want to resign myself to a chair again and wait for more glass slippers to come along.

 

Lane came along shortly after and I remember being so impressed with how easy we were with one another. It wasn’t forced. I wasn’t trying to wedge myself into a place where I didn’t fit. When it’s the right person, there won’t be all this grey area, fog or confusion. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy or you two will never fight. Fighting– healthy fighting where the two of you learn how to communicate– is vital to a relationship. A relationship is two people who’ve lived a separate life coming together to build new territory together. That’s a heavy and light mission. When you find the right person, they’ll carry your heavy and you’ll handle their light.

 

I’ve been writing about fear so much lately because I am realizing just how much I allowed it to narrate my stories for me. If you allow fear to narrate your “flying solo” story, it will try to convince you your person isn’t out there. This isn’t a forever sentence. I can’t tell you when it will end or when that person will walk in. I can’t tell you how you’ll meet or what it will feel like for the first time. But I pray you’ll give someone a decent chance to create a new story with you.

Don’t try to wedge someone into an old story. Don’t be constantly checking to see if they measure up to stories you’ve lived before. This is something new. Something golden and new. Treat it like its sacred (because it is).

All of this happening right now– the lonely nights and the days you cry for no reason except for the fact that you thought you should have met that person by now– is all part of the story. It won’t be discounted when you two meet. It will only help you treasure the person more.

Stop thinking you’re in the wrong place. Stop thinking you’re getting off the wrong exit. Stop thinking they’re in another city or at a different coffee shop. Just stop and live the life you want to live. Be the person you imagined you would be before fear gave you other agendas. That person is going to love you when they find you in your element.

They will love you. You’ll breathe out relief. You won’t be striving or pushing. The two of you will just fit. Don’t worry, things fit.

A no-nonsense guide to getting over a breakup.

075e3ecd8a78aa61404933acf3b5f3a8

Last summer, I went through a breakup that left me staring at my hands and wanting to loop the Wendy’s drive-thru over and over again until they restrained me from buying french fries. I sat on my couch with my nuggets in my lap and I called any person willing to listen to my ugly sobs.

I yelled. I screamed. I was bitter. Real bitter. In the deep of me, I was sick of heartbreak. I was sick of feeling like I was a loser when it came to love.

What people don’t tell you in the thick of heartbreak is that heartbreak is all about choices. It’s basically a Choose Your Own Adventure with more tears and Rachel Platten ballads. You make choices everyday until the pain is either gone or it becomes you. Either stalk him on Facebook or get a hobby. Either wallow in your bed watching Grey’s Anatomy or get up and go for a walk. Either declare perpetual singleness and become a bird lady (way more underrated than a cat lady) or get back in the dating game. Choices. We all get them.

I can confidently say that in 2015 I experienced the healthiest breakup of my life. I made some of the healthiest choices I’ve ever made in my life. Period. Game forever changed.

Was I perfect? No. Was I mad at God? Heck yes. Was I brooding for a while? Duh.

But here’s the biggest thing I learned through the high and low of getting over a person: you must do the things that will get your heart back into alignment. You’re not lost, you’re just camping out in a swamp for a few days. Pack up your bags. It’s time to go.

SCREW THE SHRINE

One of the reasons why letting go is hard? We feel the need to hold onto every last thing we ever had of that person. Sweatshirts. Coasters. Love notes. Etc. Etc. Burn it. Throw it away. Donate it. Just get it out of your sight, no matter how painful the release may be. You will never be over it if you are always holding on relentlessly to tangible memories.

His sweatshirt, sleeping in your bed every night, is not going to bring him back. That’s the sad truth I hate saying but I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t say it.

EMBRACE MILE ONE

Meaning, it’s okay if you are at the beginning of this breakup hangover and you feel miserable and pitiful. Think about running. Everyone is always miserable at mile 1 of a jog when they haven’t run in a long time. Embrace it. Embrace it and don’t give up because of how icky it feels.

It’s okay if you cry y0urself to sleep at night. It’s okay if you don’t feel like getting out of bed. These are natural symptoms of a breakup. The beginning is always the hardest. The middle will take a lot of work. The finish line will be sweet though.

MAYBE CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS

Or find good friends who will change your passwords for you and then be merciless when you ask for them back. I took a month-long break off of social media last summer after a breakup. Truth told, it hurt too much to be online. It was too much temptation to want to look him up and see how he was doing. His progress, though I am thankful it was happening, was no longer my business. Something inside of me wanted to be mad or bitter if he did make progress and that wasn’t my heart or my agenda.

Social media rarely helps our wounds. If you don’t have the power to block him or her, block yourself. Get a few friends to build a wall around you. Pick up the hobby of reading instead of stalking.

SEND THANK-YOU NOTES

When is the last time you did that? I mean it. We send thank-you notes after a party, a shower, or after someone donates. Thank-you notes should be a regular occurrence. I find they are one of the biggest ways for me to get outside of my own thoughts and think about other people. That’s what is going to save you from heartbreak: remembering others.

PRAYER HANDS

Prayer doesn’t need to be eloquent. It doesn’t need to be fancy. No need to put white gloves on to get on your knees and pray. You don’t even have to get on your knees. God likes you casual and God doesn’t preference a posture. I love how Anne Lamott says it, “My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God. If you say to God, “I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don’t like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You,” that might be the most honest thing you’ve ever said. If you told me you had said to God, “It is all hopeless, and I don’t have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand,” it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real-really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.”

Your prayers are allowed to be imperfect, short, sporadic, violent, and jumbled. That’s the beauty of prayer. He hears all the mess.

STAY HONEST

Find people who will allow you to have your honesty hour. An honesty hour is a chance to say whatever you feel. It’s good for you. It’s cathartic. An honesty hour is not to be confused with a pity party. Because I love you, I am officially granting you permission to partake in one pity party. Just one. Pull out your party hat, dance to sad Ben Rector songs, and then prepare to move the heck on. You are allowed to be honest without being pitiful. Even better than venting on Facebook, get a journal! House your honesty hours there regularly.

CALL IT WHAT IT IS

I remember going through a breakup several years ago and I wanted to act so damn strong. I didn’t want to cry about it. I didn’t want to feel hurt. But I was hurt. I was hurt because I felt like maybe he was my last chance, maybe that was my last shot at love. Sometimes you don’t even want to keep the person, you just want to keep the feeling of being loved and chosen at the end of a day.

It’s okay to be hurt, broken, tired, cranky, etc. Call a feeling what it is. Accept it. Own it. Owning your feelings doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck in them.

OFFER YOUR SERVICES

Think about what you could do for other people during this time when it is more tempting to sing the “me, me, me” song all day. I offered my babysitting services to friends for free. I figured if a baby in a giraffe bikini couldn’t make me smile then I was pretty doomed. I tried to cook for people (emphasis on “tried”). I met people for coffee. I became more active in my church.

You’ve got stuff to give to the world. Your neighbors and friends are in need of you even if you don’t think so. Be a participant in your friend group, not just someone who attends things. You could be the person who sits behind a screen all day hoping someone will notice you or you could be the person who sees and knows people when they don’t think anyone in the world is paying attention to them. It’s all about perspective.

FORGET FEELINGS

Feelings are dead wrong. I just have to say it. Feelings are basically like the weatherman- he predicts things but is wrong 70% of the time.  If you are always guided by your feelings then you can get used to a rollercoaster of unreliable twists and loops. Your feelings fluctuate on a daily basis. Texts alter them. Conversations alter them. Food even alters them. Truth is something you dig for. Wisdom is something you learn slowly and with time.

Most of this advice you’re reading is going to wear off in the next 24 hours and your feelings will tell you to give up and go back to mile one. Don’t listen to the thing inside of you that accepts defeat like a marching order. Stop giving your feelings the keys to your car if you don’t want them to drive you deeper into the woods.

KICK OUT THE LIARS

Those liars in your brain need eviction notices. Stat. It’s really tempting to roll out sleeping bags for the lies and allow them to set up camp in your brain. Lies are convincing. Lies mimic your own voice. Lies will start forest fires if you give them space. Whatever you allow to live in your brain, feeding off your thoughts, will multiply.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

Meaning, don’t feed the lies. The lies are going to tell you, in this very moment, that you will never find love again. The lies will say something like, “That was it for you. Too bad, babe. You had your shot. And that person is going to fall in love and get married and it won’t be you.” You will get fat on those lies if you keep them in your cabinets. Those lies will never help or heal you. The only way to combat them? Get yourself a thicker skin and a stronger voice. You can’t buy those things in a store but you can train yourself to respond to lies and self-inflicted criticism.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT (Pt. 2)

Here’s what I don’t get… Read any article on heartbreak and it will always, always make some reference to pulling out the tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and crying your snots into the carton. Eating your feelings won’t lessen your feelings. If anything, eating your pain away will only make you feel sluggish and more sad. Food, and how we consume it, has a direct effect on our moods.

Sign up for a yoga class. Learn to cook kale. Try boxing so you can kick the crap out of things and unleash your anger. Endorphins are your friend during this time.

You’ll feel a million times better getting off the couch, putting down the wine bottle, and hitting the outdoors with a hike or stopping by the gym for a few lunges.

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN SOMETHING… ANYTHING

After the Epic Breakup of 2015 (it wasn’t really epic but I don’t know what to call it), I met regularly with a goals coach. Being self-employed, she has consistently helped me to create goals and benchmarks to challenge myself with. She told me I needed a hobby that I could not turn into a full-time job. I told her I secretly love lifting weights and missed how I used to train people in college.

The result? One week later I created a work-out group for girls in my neighborhood looking to lift weights. We met every Monday, Wednesday, Friday to lift together. I planned the workouts in advance and we’d got down dog with yoga mats and Childish Gambino at 7am. I’m still training two of those girls!

Immersing yourself in something other than heartbreak will lessen the blow. People involved? Even better.

GIVE UP THE GHOST

Don’t call. Don’t text. Don’t find some excuse to reach out and say, “Hey, I forgot to tell you this but….”

I texted a guy once a few weeks after we broke up with small talk as a way to say “this is too hard.” He texted back and said, “We don’t need to talk like this anymore.” I translate his text as: Girl, you don’t need to be texting me. Pull yourself together and stop it. You don’t need a ghost story and I don’t need one either. Go on. Let go. I’m not your great love. Leave room in your heart. He’s coming soon.

INDEPENDENT, YEA

That’s the best thing that ever emerged from a breakup for me. By sitting with my own emptiness, and not filling the holes with another guy, I learned where I placed my trust. It wasn’t in God. It was in guys. I found my worth in guys. I found my hope in guys. All my emotions hinged on whether someone found me good enough to keep forever. I claimed I wanted to be this kick-butt independent lady but I was missing the most important thing: independence begins by allowing yourself to be on your own and not become afraid of it. 

GET BACK OUT THERE

Sometimes you go through heartbreak and you need time to grieve. That’s so understandable and I encourage it for those who need it. However, you don’t need to declare a year of singleness if you’re just afraid of rejection all over again. Get back out there. Get your dress on. Get your party shoes on. Be bold enough to try again.

I took a month off from the dating scene in September 2015. I said a lot of prayers. I worked my butt off in the gym. I created my first online class. I put myself out there. I met with people and discussed my feelings. I saw a therapist regularly. I ate the kale.  I said “no” to my feelings and ate more kale. I took that month for myself and I will never regret it because I made it about empowerment instead of defeat.

I grew stronger. I chopped off my hair. I dug deeper into the bible and said more prayers. And then, one month later, I downloaded a dating app.

The date was October 1. My demeanor was different. I wasn’t downloading the app to hinge my entire self-worth to a man. I wanted to go to on a date because I felt cute and sassy. There was nothing deep about it.

On October 2, I noticed a cute guy named Lane was my match. I thought to myself, “Heck no if I am letting some other girl get this one… Off limits, chickies!” I put on my big girl pants. I sent the first message.

On Jealousy.

Hannah,

I wanted to write to ask your advice on jealousy. It’s such a silly part of our human nature, but how can we combat it.  I struggle with it so much and it is really taking away from me allowing myself to be fully happy for others in their achievements and joys. Don’t get me wrong, I do get excited for them and share in their happiness. But when I’m alone and in my own head, I let this little green monster creep in and tell me all these lies.

For example, one of my best single friends is now starting to see this guy. I am beyond excited for her and that she found such a great guy, but there is a little part of me that selfishly says ” why not me? When’s it going to be MY turn to share the fun first date story with all my friends who are eagerly waiting.”

Say “yes” to Tinder dates: 8 online dating tips for singles who want to mingle.

I wrote a post in 2014 about how I’d only ever been on one Tinder date.

I remember writing that post and feeling really insecure about hitting the “publish” button. I was afraid to admit to the world that I didn’t want to be single, that I was taking matters into my own hands to try and meet someone. But the coolest thing happened after I made a heralding battle cry in defense of Tinder dates. More and more people began approaching me and asking me about online dating. That one blog post sparked dozens of conversations. I started getting all these emails from my readers detailing their Tinder date recaps from start to finish.

I soon realized that people want to talk about online dating and whether or not it works because people want to talk about meeting someone in general. It’s something most of us can agree upon: we would like to meet someone to text in the morning and watch Netflix with at night.

What “Single Ladies” never told me.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 1.31.03 PM

It seems like every time I write about my singleness the floodgates open up. People call me. People text me. They leave an absurd amount of comments on Instagram. For a long time I felt like God was poking me, pushing me to write about the topic, but I always refused. I’ve been fine to write about anything else but I’ve never written more than a few lines on my own singleness.

The thing is, I’m not single. Not anymore. For a while I thought God was going to keep me single until I finally wrote about it. I thought he was waiting to use me to be some single girl vessel to the masses and then, when I finally broke the silence about my lack of plus ones at weddings, he would bless me with some handsomely rugged man.

That’s a problem for a lot of us: we think God is some cruel scientist who has hid our cheese at the end of a maze. We think God is withholding until we learn “x” amount of lessons. We think he will eventually have good for us when we finally get our stuff together.

Death of a game player.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 2.12.55 PM

It was two summers ago. 2013.

I would have told you, in a nonchalant tone of voice, that I was “keeping my options open.”

He and I, we weren’t official. We weren’t much of anything at all besides a few dinners and a person to report back to at the end of the night. I knew that if we talked about it then the consensus would be mutual: This won’t go too far. And it’s okay if there are other people you talk to at night.

He was sweet though. Schooled me in enchilada-eating competitions. Took my hand at the movies. Sang (out of pitch and out of tune) right along side me in the car.

You could have thought the world of him. You could have told me he was certainly “it” but my conclusions were certain and drawn already: I knew I wasn’t going to date him long-term. We wanted different things. I wanted to get out of that state. He was leaving that state. This was our summer. The only one.

We were laying down one night on two separate couches, across the room from one another, and I felt this pull in my heart. This nag. This tug. This urge to not ignore it any longer. This tiny voice that whispered before roaring, “Turn off the back-burner. Turn off the back-burner and step away.”

Game over, girl. Game. Over.

I can’t pinpoint exactly where I learned to play the game.

You might know the game I am talking about: The texting game. The “wait until he calls me” game. The “don’t respond for at least a few hours” game. I used to play that game so hard. I’m not trying to boast as if it were a good thing, I’m just trying to be honest that I enjoyed the “game” a lot more than I didn’t.

There was something inside of me that craved attention far more than real love. I craved something instant instead of something long, and winding, and sprawling. I craved curbing the loneliness more than I actually wanted a person to get to know. I don’t know why. I think I figured if I could always be the detached one then I would never need to hurt or lose when the other person turned to walk away from me; I’d have been expecting it the whole time. 

And so I was the girl who my friends could not keep up with because there was always somebody new to like. Always somebody cuter. Always somebody more endearing. And I always had a reason why it was going to be over soon— falling away, but still always there like a dull flame sitting on the back-burner.

I remember that summer specifically because I was trying to forge a road between what I wanted for myself and what I thought God wanted for my life. The two always seemed to look different back then. And I am typing all of this so honestly because I never want to act like me and God are perfect and prim homies or that I’ve stopped sinning and needing the constant handfuls of grace he gives. It ain’t true. I am very much human. I am very much learning. And I am learning that you are capable of being with God, and forging relationship with him, even if you don’t feel good enough for him. He doesn’t want you to be good enough, that’s the whole point. 

When I heard that small voice, “Turn off the back-burner,” I immediately knew what the voice was saying. It was talking about people. It was talking about people in my life I was mistreating, people in my life I was keeping around to be my safety net.

People are not safety nets. They’re just not.

They’re golden. And they challenge us. And they push us. And they make us want to be better than yesterday. And some may make us worse. But they are not safety nets.

I didn’t need another text at night to prove I was not alone but I desperately thought I needed another attempt to try to mouth back at God, “I am in control.” I am in control because I am afraid you will not bless me with the life I want. And so I want to take this into my own hands and control this situation.”

And maybe you don’t think it is a big deal but I just feel like I learned that summer how I could be so much less hasty with other humans. Sadly, it happens everywhere. We cheat. We ignore one another when we get tired of the back and forth banter. We don’t confront. We don’t commit. We slide off the radar when things get stale. We seem to reinforce this idea that our actions determine the love we think we deserve and our actions seem to say sometimes, “I am sorry you are second string. I am sorry you are just something to be caught. I am sorry you are just a game.”

That scares me more than anything: to always be playing a game and never actually falling in love.

So I had to believe God had good for my life.

I still have to re-believe that every single day. But when I nail down that truth then I must swallow the second sister-truth like medicine: If God has good for my life then that means other people deserve that same good too.

It’s easy to think that for strangers and people we see on the news. It sounds too simple and basic to even voice out loud: God likes you just as much as the person next to you.

But let me be real: I know I forget that too easily when I’ve been hurt or my ego has been bruised. In those instances I want justice. I want karma. I want that person to cry as loudly as I am crying at night. I want to be missed. I want to not be forgotten. I want all those things that will ultimately scream into the ear of the other, “You deserved this. You deserved this when you broke my heart. Be sad for a little longer.”

That’s not how God plays though. And it was hard that summer to come to grips with an even bigger mistake on my part: the fact that I was playing games with people whose hearts were just as fragile and wanting as mine.

I was afraid to not be wanted. So I kept a board full of people always hanging in the background as stale proof to myself at night that I wasn’t actually fragile and wanting.

And I wasn’t giving those people full permission to just be human. To fail my expectations (because we do that, even when we don’t mean to). I was not acknowledging how it might break my heart to be treated like something that was only meant to be caught before shoving it to the side, never fully realizing that every time we crash into one another— catch one another— we leave marks, we do damage, we take pieces.

In the past, I’ve called them the “fishing lines of loneliness.”

The ways we bait one another into communication because we are all so afraid of what would really happen if the screen shut off and we had to face ourselves. Alone. Single. Separate from the wreckage of relationships we should have said goodbye to yesterday.

The fishing lines of loneliness come out on a Thursday night or a late Friday evening when the world gets quiet. You can’t handle scrolling through the Facebook streams any longer and you feel this loneliness in your core that is hard to give words to. It makes you feel unworthy. You feel all alone. You struggle with guilt. But your iPhone reveals a slew of numbers you can text to make that loneliness disappear for a while.

They’re old flames. They’re friendships that never had any boundaries to them. They’re people you’ve strung along without ever having to define anything. They’re past relationships–broken and battered– that never needed another stir of the pot.     

You send a few texts. And then you wait for the fish to catch on and the conversations to begin.

“Hi! How are you?”

 “I’m good. How have you been?”

“Great! I’ve missed you…”

There’s a tone of sobriety and sadness in the conversations, as if you both know you aren’t going back to where you once were but you are trying to salvage something all the same.

I’ve brought this up to about a dozen women in the last week and every single one has raised up their hands and said, “Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I know exactly who those people on my list are.”

And no one feels particularly guilty about these fishing lines of loneliness if it makes the hollow feeling inside fade for a bit. And so we carry on conversations we really don’t need, and we hash out memories that don’t have a place in our lives anymore, and we cling to anything that makes us feel special, and wanted, and worthy for the moment, even if it’s two-dimensional and someone else’s feelings get played with for a while. We hurt one another because we know how to. It’s not that we ever wanted to, we simply know how to.

Back to that summer. 2013.

The one before this last one that came with all the Georgia heat. I was laying there on the couch, across from a boy who wore Vans, and I was hearing this nearly audible voice say to me, “Cut off the back-burner, dear.

The back-burner does not work for you anymore. The game does not work for you anymore.

But you won’t stop playing games until you get rid of the pawns. Unless you finally learn to look a person in the eye and say, “You are not a piece. You are not a pawn. And even if you do not reciprocate these feelings, and don’t always treat me with the love I deserve, I have to be better to you. I have to be sweeter to you. I have to be kinder to you. I have to let you go because the grey zone doesn’t fit us anymore.”

I thought maybe I was crazy, hearing these voices as he laughed beside me. Maybe I was crazy or maybe I was growing up. Maybe I was learning what I needed to see for too long of a time: people aren’t safety nets. They aren’t lifeboats. They aren’t grenades you throw and then leave before the wreckage ensues. They were not made to be left on the back-burner just because you don’t want to have to sit with yourself at the end of the day.

I made a vision board on December 31, 2014.

It’s a tradition. Every December 31, myself, one of my very best friends, and a few other folks gather together with all the scrap magazines we’ve got and we make vision boards for the year ahead (y’all– if you’ve never created a vision board then you need to stop reading this… and go make one… pronto… vision boards are an everyday sort of thang. You don’t have to wait until December 31 for this!!). But we make ours on December 31. And we compare each board with the one made the year before. And the brightly colored collages hang in our offices all year round as a reminder, “At one point, you ripped this out a magazine because it symbolized something you wanted. Go for it. Don’t be afraid. Just go.”

And it is funny because every year I am consistently surprised by what shows up on the vision board. Last year it was a lot of kettles and pictures of homes with white walls. And this year, the board was just LOUD. A lot of LOUD words at a time when I was not feeling loud about anything in life.

I showed it to two of my friends, feeling defeated by the lack of clarity coming through the board, and I said in the smallest voice I could muster, “I don’t know what this means this year. It looks a lot like I just want to be loud. And I’m mad.”

One of the girls said back immediately, “But all of the words are in black and white.” I scanned over the board again. She was right. All the words were in black and white. “Maybe this is your year to have things be black and white. No grey zone.”

When she said that, there was peace. Peace nearly instantly. The thought of canceling a grey zone was liberating to me. Because I used to take grey in all 50 shades and use it for every corner of my life as a way to say, “I don’t know what I want. So I will just stand in the fields of No Clarity as long as I can.”

I thought to myself, “How many times have I lived inside of the grey zone? How many times have I handicapped people within my own grey zone?”

How did I get so far without realizing I am the one who gets to choose black and white? I get to choose.

No grey.

No games.

No pawns.

No back-burner.

It had always been my choice.

But it always had to start with me.

Love is not a piece of cake.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 10.10.00 AM

Love is not a piece of cake.

That’s the lesson I am learning these days. The other lesson I am learning these days is this: when life has a lesson you are clearly meant to learn, the whole entire world shows up to teach it to you. You get reminders of the lesson in songs. In traffic signs. In conversations. In strangers. Everywhere, through everything, the world shows up to teach you good. And it seems as though life beats that little lesson into you until you hold up your hands in exasperation and say, “Okay. I get it. I’ll learn this. I won’t ignore it any longer. We good? We good?”

Love is not a piece of cake.

Yea, that’s the lesson. And I don’t even mean that to play on a metaphor. I just mean, love is not some sugary, empty thing that looks surface-level pretty but fails to keep you full. If you keep meeting that sort of love then I think maybe you’re meeting an imposter. Some other thing dressed up and pretending to be love. Take caution, I’m no expert. I’m not someone who is going to yell in your face and tell you about the love you deserve. I’m just going to take off my own mask and finally admit it: I’ve worshipped the wrong definition of love for far too long. There was a strange kind of comfort in worshipping my own definition of love— it meant it could never hurt me, control me, surprise me or wreck me. My own definition of love let me be in charge of hurting, controlling, surprising and wrecking myself first.

Love, to me, was this script on repeat:

“Win people. Be worthwhile. Be the one that people want to love. Do what it takes to please them.”

And if someone came to me and said, “Listen, we need to borrow your definition of love. We want to print it in all the dictionaries,” then I would need to pity the world who would have to try to live inside my definition. Because love, to me, was blues eyes that stopped looking in my direction. Love, to me, was begging to my own strength to try to get it all right. Love to me was hearing scriptures like “love your neighbor as yourself” and laughing as I whispered, “That’s so funny. I barely even like myself.”

Love was promises we could not keep. Love was disappointment. And walls built up to keep me safe. Love was moats around castles. It was writing notes to ghosts. It was hinging my worth on being chosen. Love is all I ever wanted and the one thing I still feel too insecure to admit: I don’t want it. I need it. 

When my friend asked me to attend the church with her on Sunday, I was hesitant.

Like, really hesitant. It’s not that I hadn’t heard good things about the church. I just heard it was “traditional.” Simple. And the part of me that likes big, flashy church productions seems to naturally rebel against the idea of “simple.” To be honest, I think sometimes I like the flashy productions and poppy music because it makes gives me more layers of distraction to put between myself and God. Music. Trendy clothing. Attractive people who will surely mate and make even more attractive babies (though that’s everywhere). I’ve gotten used to going to church for people, not God.

So when I walked into the church, placed next to a super market I’ve driven past a dozen times before, I’d already scratched the hope for said-church off my list. I’d already given up on the church.

The lights weren’t low. The sanctuary wasn’t grand. We pursed cups of coffee in our hands as we waited for the music to start. I felt a bit like Lorelai Gilmore just because I am watching that show too much on Netflix these days. There was no flash. No opening. Just two guys and their guitars on stage. The whole hymn sat on the screen in simple white letters. They sang a song you only hear at funerals. The words pelted against my skin like rain in the moment you remember you like feeling it:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know, 

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

I stood in that church as the funeral song played and I thought to myself: I add so much excess to my own life. To my definitions of love. To my relationships. To God. And people. I still am stuck believing that if I just give you all my excess and all my barriers then you’ll be too afraid to love me. And you will leave me. And love will stay this “empty” thing. The “need to win” thing it’s only ever been to me.

Fittingly, the pastor spoke on love. She spoke on that overused verse: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your soul.” I always read that verse as: Love God and love people in the ways you know how to. But no, I never heard: love God and love people with your whole entire person. With all your doubts and all your fears. With the things you understand and things you’ve never understood. Love someone, even when you think you hate them. Love God, even when nothing is moving the way you wanted it to be moving. Love someone, even though you were never promised forever. Love people and God as if love were the kind of thing that has layers. Layers that let you go deeper and deeper, past whatever you think you are capable of.

To be completely honest and unscripted, I stood in that church and wrestled with God, saying: I only want love if it has more layers for me. I don’t want emptiness. I don’t want something that keeps me full for five minutes. But I don’t want to front it. I don’t want to fake it, either. If you’re real, then be real. Wash over me. Wreck me. Make me feel weak and woozy. I only want this thing if it’s real. I only want love if its the kind of love I can go ahead and stop trying to understand. Make this dance too exhausting for me that all I can do, in my own strength, is step on your toes and let you lead.  

I got an email just the other day from a girl who finally got the guy.

She got him. He finally said, “I am all in. We are doing this. No games. No hesitation.” Nike should maybe sponsor their newfound relationship because the two are about to hustle and do and jump the hurdles to make this precious love of theirs work. 

But anyway, she was emailing me, of all people, to say she was afraid. She got exactly what she wanted and now she was afraid to fail him. She wrote, “I’m scared. I’m scared that I won’t learn to actually let him in. That I’ll be so afraid & so guarded for so long that we’ll just hit a ceiling & never get better. I don’t want that for myself & I really, really don’t want that for him.”

Love is not a piece of cake. The lesson rears its annoying little head again as I start to type back to her.

It’s not a piece of cake. Love is not some sugary, empty thing that looks surface-level pretty but fails to keep you full. It’s not run by your own insecurities. It’s not susceptible to your own nasty thoughts.

Love is not a piece of cake.  If anything, love is a seven-layer dip and we just really comfortable with sticking to the surface with all those crunchy Fritos. We think, we’ll just stick to the surface and keep all our barriers up so that we can never get hurt.

Love is not a piece of cake. It’s a fist fighter. It’s a wrecking ball. It’s more than blue eyes and ghosts and slow dances that never became yours. It’s deeper than your own perceptions. It’s things you can’t see or touch.

It’s anything, anything but a piece of cake. I’m learning that old definitions must die hard. They either die hard or they swallow you whole. And me? I need a definition of love that feeds me more than a piece of cake with inflated frosting falling off the edges of it.

And so my request these days becomes: Show me love that is bigger than my brain, my bullies, my ballads and my bruises. I want a love so rich and so foreign that when it comes in my direction I think that I must give it a new name to make up for all the years I never knew what to call it.

I think I need a name for this thing called “love” so when it comes to knock at my door— to rearrange my heart like furniture I’ve grown fine with seeing sit in one place— I’ll know to let it in. I’ll know to let it in and wreck me good with its layers.

And one day I’d like another sky.

4ee82e05cfba34ee8ef73cfdfa021cd8

In the 26 years, 1 month, and 7 days that I’ve been alive, the universe has afforded me one Tinder date. Just one. And that’s probably due to the amount of mental energy it takes to give yourself the sort of pep talk before a first date that looks like this: “Okay, he has sent me a selfie. I’ve heard his voice. There is a person who exists beyond the screen. I will not be Catfished. I will not be murdered. We will meet in a public place. And we can just lie to people and say we met in Aisle 7 if this all works out. Okay… we’re doing this. We’re really doing this.”

Alas, after that one date, the Gods of Tinder never showed their faces to me again. And I’ve retired from the game. And then un-retired. And then re-retired again.

As a sidenote to those who don’t know the mystery that is Tinder, it’s a dating application. It’s like Pandora for people— you get to swipe through a collection of faces and accept the people you are attracted to and decline the ones who don’t suit your fancy. And if you and the other person are in agreement with swiping “YES,” you’re brought into an exclusive conversation. Your own little chatroom. The world is your oyster after that, baby. 

So this all sounds really shallow when I type it out. I’m seeing that now. And while I used to think it was an ankle-deep app for people who only want to hook up at 3a.m. and need a mile radius to know how feasible the chances of that happening really is, it seems to have shifted into a more legitimate avenue to meet people. A lot of my friends are going on Tinder dates. We’ve had girls’ nights where Tinder stories seem to steer the conversation. Someone in my office is actually engaged because of the glorious power of swiping right (and she’s too awesome to sum up into words already and now she has a pretty awesome love story, all thanks to Tinder). 

And this is all really a bunch of breaking-the-ice word vomit just so I can reach a point where I am comfortable enough to just say it: I’m single. Yup. That’s me. I’m solo. I eat alone. And I’ve wondered why it’s so hard to talk about that. I wonder why I’m met with glares and uneven faces when the word “Tinder” gets said in a group.  I wonder why I often feel lame, as if admitting defeat, when I tell someone I am single— as if I am genuinely sorry to announce that I haven’t met someone yet. And I’m trying to be okay with admitting that I sometimes feel like I’m floundering in a culture that seems to associate “singleness” with missing pieces. 

I want to seem like a cool single girl.

If there is even such a thing, if people even find themselves saying things like, “She’s a cool single girl,” then I want to be that. 

And that’s just because I spent a long time doing this whole “single” thing wrong. Trust me, I used to have my days of acting like the President of the Single Girl Gauntlet. I’ve whined with the bunches of them. I’ve asked the same questions: Do guys even call anymore? Is chivalry dead? What happened to running into someone in an airport? Do I really have to go online? 

The questions— they got me nowhere. The whining— it got me ten steps in the opposite direction of the person I knew I was capable of being. I was just choosing daily to stay mad at a world that made me feel like I was missing pieces when I was the one saying it the loudest, “You are missing pieces. You aren’t enough.” 

The problem wasn’t guys. The problem wasn’t the digital age. The problem wasn’t the rose ceremonies being denied to me. It was me. I was the problem. I was the one hunting down completion through another person. I wanted someone to give me a world I could go only go out there and grab on my own. 

That seems to be the wicked spell I’ve seen get cast upon the ones of us who have fallen in love before: it becomes really hard to convince yourself that another person didn’t complete you.  You get comfortable with the phone calls. You get comfortable with the silly messages that only you get to read. You get comfortable with the passenger seat being full. And your hand being held. And your darker parts being known. And your thirst being quenched, even if only for a little while. And when it is gone— you think you need it all over again. And it’s easy to get bitter when you treat your want like a need. 

But what I really needed? I needed to see all the ways I was standing in my own way before I ever welcomed someone else into that equation, thinking they could solve it for me. 

The story of how I got to that exact point is for another day but I know I packed a full suitcase for the girl I used to be and I sent her off with a one-way ticket in her hand. But I can still imagine what it would be like to sit across the table from that girl I used to be— both of us pursing lattes, cradled by fingers baring too much chipped polish— and tell her what I know now: Time gets wasted when you’re not content. And you not seeing the blessings for this moment is a disservice to all the people who don’t get a free life like yours. And if you ever hope to convince someone else they are complete and whole and good as they are— if a shred of you has ever wanted to tell someone that— then you should really stop acting like you’re the puzzle with too many pieces of the sky gone missing. You should stop thinking anyone but yourself can change that insecure part of you. A guy won’t change it. A Tinder swipe won’t cure the wound. You looking for something to plug the hole won’t do it. Humans are just humans, they aren’t lifeboats. They aren’t bandaids. They aren’t completion. 

A mentor of mine who worked at my college met someone unexpectedly during the summer of my junior year and decided not to return to our small campus come the fall. She’d always been there everyday. And then she suddenly wasn’t.

She sent an email. She gave up her job. She deserved the world, really. I emailed her back and told her that.

She wrote back to tell me this: you’ll find that the most astounding love will meet you when you are complete. When you can stand before yourself— in a mirror, in the car, or wherever you do all that internal talking— and say, “I am okay alone. I am cool on my own. I am legitimate. They should write rap anthems about me. Or at least play “Ridin’ Solo” when I walk into a room. I’m single and that doesn’t mean I’m not complete.”

And she told me it would be an even better love when the person who chooses you is complete too. And sees your completeness. And you can both sit there with your hands in the spaces of one another and recognize: there is no completing this time around. There is adding on. There is complimenting one another. But there is no completing because you’re not any missing pieces. 

When I read those words of hers, it made me think back to a childhood packed full with Puzzle Nights. That was a thing (that’s why I capitalized it). A legitimate thing. And just to further complicate the lives of anyone who sat down at our kitchen table for the traditional night of puzzles and hot cocoa, my brothers and I would pour out the contents of two puzzles– similar in theme– onto the table. We were still babies with something to prove. Instead of 500 pieces, there’d suddenly be 1,000. And if you’ve ever tried to assemble two puzzles at once, you draw a lot of conclusions quickly: there’s a lot of sky. There’s a lot of clouds. There’s a lot of random inanimate objects that seem to stretch in to the abyss of infinity. 

But I think that’s what happens when you share a life with someone— you realize it’s two puzzles. No matter how “one” you become, there are still two puzzles scattered on the table. Two skies. Two sets of clouds. Two very different landscapes. 

If you’re single, I think it’s probably better to resolve and say: Okay, I have my own pieces right now. Only mine. And one day I’d like another sky. So I will do my best to figure out the pieces I am holding while there is still just one puzzle to solve. 

The post should have ended right with that last line.

It would have been really poetic and cool. But I can suspect several emails coming my way after I click publish on this piece, asking me the question I haven’t answered for you yet: 

How did that one Tinder date go? 

Well, in the history of dates I’ve gone on, it was a pretty good one. It scores pretty high. 

We met halfway in as small, unheard-of town at the only restaurant we could find in the hour of distance between us that didn’t look like KFC and the Olive Garden had a baby together. It was a small pizza joint. The conversation was good. We both admitted to being fearful that Nev from Catfish might show up for the date in the place of one another. He wore Vans. We drove around the other small towns that encased that one small town. We blasted “White Houses” by Vanessa Carlton. I used his glove compartment as a drum set.

He was moving away, and I was restless with my own location on a map, so we only had one date. But I was complete that night. And I like to think he was complete. And we asked for nothing more of one another than summer air and a conversation that left us saying, as we went in our separate directions: keep getting out there in the world and giving it everything you have. I don’t know you all that well but I have a hunch you’ll do just fine.