I would re-read my profiles on each site often, to remind myself what my date was expecting.
“It’s hard to meet people in New York,” I heard people say, “Everyone’s so busy.” Again, I feigned concern. Instead, I started doing something I loved but never thought worth my time — I started writing. At first I was afraid to admit that I was spending so much time on something that seemed, in terms of life milestones, completely pointless. But it was all I wanted to do, and with no one to answer to, there was no reason not to.
New York, with its large, faceless crowds and anything-goes attitude, felt like a shield from the wedding wind. And in that vacuum, without anyone watching or any force pushing me, I stopped dating. I started going to classes and workshops and spent most of my Friday nights on the couch with an essay and a box of cereal.
We chaperoned wisdom teeth removals, held surprise birthday parties, gave each other pep talks before big meetings, cooked dinner together on Sunday nights.
Being single in a world of couples made us not only appreciate, but prioritize one another. But eventually, I had to move closer to my real family.
“Don’t give up, ” my friend urged me, my shoulder in her hand, a vodka martini in mine.
“You’ll find something that feels right eventually.” I realized that it had somehow, unbelievably, been a decade since I was in love. I can, often to my own detriment, fill hours, days, sometimes weeks, with actives of complete solitude without a speck of loneliness. Intent on my career, being single felt more like a badge than a blemish.
I was sick of trying to prove myself through intimate life details to people who weren’t even worth the time it took to program their names in my phone.
With each date I felt more like the profile I was trying to represent, and less like an actual person.
I knew no one, and even though I was smack in the middle of the densest U. I woke up early, eager to sit down and put words to paper before my real job. Pets frighten me and I’ve never owned a plant because I don’t understand why anyone would want to waste time watering it.
“Wild, I know...” I would joke to my friends back in San Francisco about my nights alone in New York. But I identify as an achiever, and so the thought of not getting married and having kids — something so core to what I’ve always imagined as the female experience, something that seemed so simple for everyone else in the world — was terrifying. Letting myself escape the tunnel at a moment when I was supposed to be reaching the end, really did feel wild.
My parents were getting older, and California, no matter how great my friends were, would never be home.