Category Archives: Singlehood

Market Placed

Nothing makes you question your ranking in this game we call Life more than a hefty dose of judgement.  Not the simple parental judgement like you never measured up to your sister or you never fully committed to the clarinet but the self-imposed judgement that comes with putting yourself on the market.  Be it the job market or the dating market we open ourselves up to a level of critique that is tough not to internalize and impossible to ignore.  I’d like to think that I have a fairly solid sense of self, with a complete awareness of all my strengths and weaknesses, but then people keep telling me otherwise, so who’s a guy to believe?

While I’m certainly not in a good space to start dating again my return to the job market got me thinking about both pursuits with a classic exercise in “compare and contrast”.  With that in mind here are a few random thoughts about hunting for love vs hunting for jobs;

  1. When hunting for jobs you can proffer an impressive assortment of references and recommendations. When hunting for love it’s typically best to keep a separation between past and present partners.  Not to say all relationships end badly but few leave with a burning desire to fluff you with flattery in front of your next potential mate.  Likely any offered “constructive criticism” would be light on constructive and heavy on criticism.
  2. I’ve never been fired from a job, but I’ve certainly been “let go” of a few relationships. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if there was a corresponding concept of “collecting unemployment”; some form of lesser relationship provided temporarily to tide you over until a full-time position could be secured.  You did your time, you paid your dues, why feel guilty about getting back from the system?  Sure now that I write it down it sounds like state-sponsored prostitution but it started off as an inspired concept,… kinda like the Shake Weight commercials.
  3. There’s no negotiation for better benefits at the start of a relationship; Terms are typically vague or left unspoken. Benefits are offered spontaneously and generously during the initial vetting period… then drop off gradually with each subsequent anniversary.
  4. Relationships typically don’t require relocation and any required travel is usually a good thing. Invasive TSA screenings are more easily tolerated when you’re just hours away from umbrella drinks at a beach-side all-inclusive.
  5. Both markets offer convenient shopping sites online to assist with finding a good match. These sites help facilitate the connection starting with an email inquiry, moving to a phone screen and then finally to an initial meet and greet with the team.  Luckily neither one scores you with a Netflix rating system after the relationship is terminated.
  6. There is no “technical challenge” or “white board coding question” in a relationship, though you have to wonder if woman would approach prospects differently if there were; “you did a solid job in the cuddling and listening portions of the exam but we felt you lacked the depth of experience we’re looking for in the bedroom, so we’ve decided not to go forward with this relationship.” To which you’d think, with smug satisfaction, that it’s probably just as well since she had an annoying habit of speaking in the third person.
  7. When hunting for jobs working with a recruiter is a perfectly acceptable shortcut for finding the right position. When hunting for love though the idea of matchmaker feels old fashion and typically ineffectual in the long run, desperately misplacing you with only the small handful of leads they have at hand regardless of compatibility… ok, maybe they are exactly the same as recruiters.
  8. When hunting for jobs I feel I’m often competing against a much younger generation. When hunting for love at least you can target woman of the same age range. You’ll still be competing against a younger generation but woman will either be more subtle about their preferences, won’t show up in your search criteria or will be listed on a cougar-centric site that you’re too old to register for.
  9. Taking it a step further, when hunting for love we can be specific about not only age, but social class, faith, race and sexual preference. When hunting for jobs, all that crap would be illegal, at least on the employers’ side.  I do still have every right to steer clear of the faith-based radio stations and health care providers however, not because I have anything against them as an organization but because my digital resume would likely be blocked by blasphemy filters.
  10. When saturating the singles scene you very much want to find the perfect harmonic match. You want to be the “one”, without question.  When trolling the job market I’m not so hung up on such minutia; if we both compromise our idealistic views and settle in for a complacent yet mutually beneficial relationship,… I’m ok with that.

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What a Part Meant

Somewhere in my twenties, while away at college I was first introduced to apartment living.  At the time it wasn’t much different than sharing a house with friends, which had been the rental yardstick from which I measured life beyond my childhood home.  In both situations you had your own cramped messy room and shared a more cramped and much messier common area with your fellow roommates.  If anything the move to an apartment was a step up at the time since the first rental house was located in ghetto central, while the apartment was biking distance from the college campus, so less theft and vandalism, more coeds and beer consumption,…. Ok maybe a tie on the beer consumption, but the apartment was clean (when we moved in), the area was safe (no police dogs chasing suspects through our backyard,… yeah, that happened), and most of the appliances were both free and functional; perfect for cooling off your beer and cooking up your Rice-a-Roni.  What more could a young bachelor desire?  We didn’t care how many square feet the unit had, or read through the list of property amenities.   We weren’t concerned about the floor plan or how we were going to fit in all of our furniture.  At that age, having real furniture was like having a carton of cigarettes in prison, you had more sway as a roommate if you owned a comfortable couch; currency to hustle for the larger bedroom or purchase loyalty for future disputes over the last Pop Tart.  That single bit of furniture could become the inspiration piece on which all other home décor would be built upon.  That is if there were any home décor to speak of.  In the pre-Ikea era we filled in the gaps with creative arrangements of plywood and cinder blocks.  There were no picture frames, area rugs or accent pieces.  If you couldn’t eat on it or sit on it then why own it.  The apartment wasn’t so much a sanctuary as a safe place to pass out, and keep your post-hangover food stash.

Throughout my twenties and thirties I waffled between house rentals and apartment living.  My last apartment residence was at a place called “The Cowbarn Apartments” for reasons unknown to me, though considering the location and prevailing smells it could easily have been the previous predominant structure.  The Cowbarn had the distinct advantage of being located at the base of the hills surrounding the Broderbund campus, where I was working at the time.  I had a studio apartment with maybe three feet between the foot of my bed and the back of my couch.  My computer desk was where the kitchen table should be and other than my weird rattan basket chair from World Market the remainder of my possessions were stuffed into the walk-in closet that was about the size of my only bathroom.  A small folding chair sat on the balcony next to my bike to offer the option of outdoor living and a stunning view of the parking lot.  It wasn’t much, but again, at the time, it was all I really needed.

Fast forward roughly 15 years and I find myself in the surreal position of returning to apartment life after having graduated to home ownership for most of those formative years.  Even immediately following my divorce I was able to exit on a more graceful timeline and with the help of my aunt and uncle get a new home a couple of miles away.  At the time I remember coming across an article that stated that kids that grew up in a parentally owned house were more likely to attend and graduate from college than their apartment dwelling counterparts.  That had been the extra kick I needed to commit to home ownership again even though my career was imploding at the same time my escrow was finalizing.  I ended up with a house that was bigger than I needed, more expensive than I hoped, but centrally located by friends and conveniently equipped with every major appliance I was lacking.  It was two-stories, with four bedrooms and a fully open concept kitchen and living space.  It might have felt a bit empty when the kids were away but we really grew to love that house and made it our home for two years.

From there we had up-sized to a house with 5 bedrooms, twice the square footage and a corner lot yard complete with play structure and swimming pool out back.  The space felt expansive but with 5 more people and 3 more dogs, that house never felt empty.  Transitioning from that back to a two bedroom apartment, was jarring to say the least.  Not to say there weren’t some benefits; for all the lost space there was a proportional reduction in chaos and dog hair.   These trade-offs were somehow fitting, in the spirit of rallying the troops.  It was time to take stock of where we’d been and consider carefully the next step forward.

So with careful consideration I gathered up said troops, and started the search for a new home base.  Unlike those earlier, less discriminating years this time around I was all about weighing the options.  There was the balance of location and property rental prices, finding something affordable closer to schools than meth labs.  There was a balance of square footage and layout in the floor plans.  One place had an extra 100sqft but distributed it unevenly into a double-wide bathroom at the expense of a living area only slightly larger than a well stuffed beanbag.  There was a balance of amenities from necessity to trivial.  Would you rather have the in-unit washer dryer, with the clubhouse that smelled like sautéed jockstrap or the enclosed garage with the frothy lukewarm hot tub?  There was even a more subtle balance of presentation and security.  The one I picked lacked the unsightly iron bars on the front door but does require a half-dozen keys and a security card to get around the complex, not to mention the random guy in the hallway eager to provide a TSA style pat down,… I can only assume he works here.

After being here a few months I must admit there is a certain appeal to not having the added burdens of home ownership.  There is no yard to maintain.  There are no projects long neglected.  I have fewer reasons to frequent Home Depot.  I can vacuum the entire space from a single outlet.  The heater has been obsolete, even with my windows open in the dead of winter.  My commute to work is now even faster by one flight of stairs and a hallway.  Ok maybe that last one doesn’t really belong in the win column but all things considered the only two unacceptable compromises to apartment living so far are electric stovetops and noisy neighbors.  As a wannabe chef I cannot abide the use of non-responsive coils that slowly heat to the fires of hell and then slowly pitch down from there once everything has been suitably scorched.  More troublesome though, as a normal diurnal dwelling homebody I also cannot abide inconsiderate people.  I think of myself as a fairly tolerant person and have, over the years, had many a noisy roommate.  Granted, my current neighbors might even be excused their heavy footed stomping about if it were confined to daylight hours but for reasons incomprehensible to me he/she/they seem to stir into action around 11pm each evening and continue to prance about like a herd of drunken wildebeests until roughly 6am when they either collapse into slumber or go out to annoy people elsewhere.  I think it’s this unexplainable nighttime activity that bothers me the most.  I simply can’t understand what someone would be doing awake at dark o’clock.  If you worked the night shift, then shouldn’t you be at work,… and if you worked the day shift, then shouldn’t you be asleep?!  And if you worked the night shift, but worked at home, shouldn’t you be sitting at a desk the whole time like normal people?  That’s normal, right?!

Anyway, noisy neighbors aside I’m trying to make the best of apartment life while it lasts.  For my kids it’s like the excitement of going on a vacation and staying at a cool new hotel,… except all your toys are here.  For me it will serve as a transitional airlock helping me to decompress into a new space; any place I go from here will feel huge by comparison, and anything I’ve managed to live without during this time probably isn’t necessary going forward.  Either way my whole attitude towards ownership has shifted over the years.  No longer is there that pride of ownership I used to have when I was younger.  Back then you wanted to show off your new car or your new house.  It was a representation of who you were and how you’ve grown.  It reflected your personality.  Sharing it with others was like sharing part of yourself.  Most of my friends have had their homes for years, visiting them is like going to their folks place when we were kids.  It still represents who they are, but who they are is grownups, with established lifestyles.  Functionality has replaced fashion.  Those homes are like the worn comfy couches we used to prize during the college days, the ones you didn’t want to get up from for fear of someone taking your place.  There is no substitute for that subtle ass-imprinting aging process that settles into a joint.  I, on the other hand, continue to reset complete with new couch and new carpet smell.  I still have very few picture frames, area rugs and accent pieces.  My place represents me as a bachelor, which doesn’t have the same shiny quality it did even a few years ago.  Now it feels dangerously close to crazy old cat lady or whatever the male equivalent would be minus the cats.  Optimistically I could say this expresses my personality as a blank slate, ready for a rewrite, and not just a repeat loner with a growing list of failed relationships, but it’s hard to squeeze optimism into 1000sqft.  Maybe a new home will rekindle my nesting instincts and provide a fresh perspective. Best to get all this angst out now, tuck it tightly away in my little cramped apartment and leave it all behind along with the nocturnal neighbors, the coils from hell and the inevitable deductions from of my security deposit.

 

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Lock Picking Love

When I was young the key to my heart was a crude thing, made with a single rough groove fashioned to unlock an equally rudimentary lock.  In all honesty it was more like a simple deadbolt that anyone interested could open with an easy twist,…   heck, I let a few people in who weren’t even interested.  After a few false starts with that so-called security system I learned to upgrade my lock to something a bit more complex, like one of the those old fashion tube keys with two or three predominant teeth at the end; I had formed a rough idea of who I wanted and what it would take for that mystery person to find more permanent residence within my heart.  I was ready for the big league; dating.

Regardless of whether you’re starting out in your youth or jumping back in well into your adulthood, the predatory nature of dating seems to encourage a different approach to unlocking the hearts and minds of potential mates.  When you put yourself out there you are presenting the perfect package you perceive yourselves to be.  Like a well-padded resume you may inflate some aspects of your personality while compressing some aspects of your physique so tightly into that sexy outfit that your legs fall asleep from lack of circulation.  You navigate the online pre-date banter and the coffee shop small talk in order to better size up your new acquaintance.  In reality the goal of this interaction is to discover how this person ticks.  Does she love kids? Does she love cats?  Does she vote liberal?  Does she watch FOX?  Does she like wine?  Does she chug whiskey?  With every bit of information gathered you get that much closer to learning how to unlock that person’s heart.  You take it on faith that the person you’re sharing your life story with will use that information for good and not for evil.  You have to trust that the baby kissing, dog-owning, liberal wino she is presenting is a true representation of her personality just as she has to accept that your positive reception of her responses are equally truthful and not just a juvenile attempt to lock-pick her heart or shop-lift the pooty.  For me it was this firsthand experience with how to unlock another heart that taught me the most about what it takes to unlock my own.  Over time that rough idea solidified and through trial and error I added, removed and replaced various locking mechanisms with more refined iterations.  And then I got married.

When you find “the one” the lock is discarded, having served its purpose.  There is a certain degree of relief knowing you’ll no longer have to fiddle with your lock or find your missing key.  You accept the love you’ve found as permanent and make concessions to keep your heart happy while keeping it available to your new partner.  While the old lock may grow rusty your heart continues to grow in size and complexity.  Through that long-term relationship the concept of love evolves far beyond those original crude notions.  You grow in directions you hadn’t even considered.  At times you struggle with the concept of self while you try to become who your partner wants or who your children need.  Where does one heart end and the other begin?  How have all of these relationships changed you?

When you lose “the one” the lock snaps back into place without notice.  In addition to that lingering rust of disuse there are the new levels of complexity that have evolved over time; more pins in the tumbler requiring a more complex arrangement of corresponding teeth.  Not only have you continued to learn what you like and dislike in love, but you’ve also quietly learned what it was about yourself that you surrendered or suppressed in order to make those lasting relationships function.  You have a greater sense of self which requires its own measure of security and consideration.  Now a double-sided key is required to perfectly hit every spring just right.

Dating at this point becomes a challenging pursuit.  While we may develop an appreciation for our own sophisticated complexity, we don’t account for the statistical unlikelihood that we’ll be able to find a suitable key-bearer, and even if we do manage that much there’s still the question of being the proud owner of a reciprocal key.  It’s like one of those games at the fair where contestants line up at a locked door and selects a key at random from a bucket hoping to unlock it and win the prize.  You stand in line again and again trying in vain to find the lucky key.  After countless attempts to gain entry you finally have the satisfaction of opening the door, but rather than being met with some glorious prize you find instead a second door, like the adjoining rooms of a hotel, and realize there is an entirely different line of people standing behind that door trying to do the very same thing that you are.  You return to the back of the line increasingly dejected and start the process all over again hoping by some miracle that you and your perfect mate will somehow manage to open the doors at the same time and share your new communal space.

Frustration becomes your new companion.   Dating prospects come and go, leaving only a pile of discarded keys in their wake.   Are the good ones all taken?  Are only the freaks remaining (present company excluded)?  Is it you or it is them?  (It’s you).  You focus overly much on finding someone to unlock what lies within. You primp and polish the lock to a shiny luster, not bothering to go any deeper, since the deep stuff will likely go unseen,… like wearing ugly underwear on the first date as a guarantee that no one will ever see it.

Once the dust settles though you consider a different approach.  What if you unlocked your own heart?  Open it up with the sole purpose of sharing it with others with no expectation of reciprocation.  An open heart is easier to love and more accessible since the lock is no longer in the way.  You do what you love.  You be who you are.  You are open to everything (some limitations and exclusions apply in considerations of introverts; see manual for complete details on proper care and handling).  It would be like opening the door to your hotel reservation to find the adjoining room already wide open for you to spread out in.  No barriers.  No restraints.  At the very least you have more nooks to explore, and more freedom to enjoy yourself.  If you happen to discover your soulmate waiting in that adjoining room, then all the sweeter,… if it’s not your soulmate you should probably call management because that would just be creepy.

The point is there’s no guarantee I will find that perfect match.  I think there’s something to be said about young love.  It seems so simple in retrospect.  There were so many growth experiences personal and professional that became shared experiences, and so many shared experiences both good and bad that became precious memories.   I cannot replace those memories, just as I cannot recapture my youth.  Any relationship now must deal with that complicated heart regardless of how it evolved, and I must accept that any heart I encounter will be equally complicated by its own evolution.  So, for now, I’ll just go back and focus on opening my own heart,… if I can just remember where I left my keys.

 

TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR: “Hot-wiring Your Sex Drive”

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The Path We Chose

I walk along the path at the edge of the park.throwback_thursday1_large

It is a day of spring warmed grass and flower scented breezes. Assorted couples and strangers gather in their favorite spots within the fields and wooded hills. Pleasant conversation giggles in the air adding warmth to the cuddle of sunlight.

But I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

It is a path like any other. It has direction and destination. Precisely paved walls stand in strong contrast to the rambling bushes and the vine-covered fences that encircle the park; Quiet isolation accented by chirps and peeps of creatures, who too prefer the solitude. Daily I make my way along this path, glimpsing full view of the beautiful park that lies beyond the walls. I often slow to consider the park; sipping in the green soaked air or sampling the tickle of warm reflections. On other occasions I notice it not at all, and pay little attention to where my feet take me. Such distractions can even lead me astray and point me in the direction of a different path; the path that leads into the heart of the park itself.

But I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

I share the same powder blue sky and drift of white clouds that they do. The playful wind that brushes their hair and sets their kites soaring is the same wind that ruffles the leaves at my feet. Yet doubt still holds firm that my experience is in some way filtered by the lacy shadows covering my path. I imagine the feel of the fields on my bare feet and the crush of grass against my napping body,… the cool damp earth soaking into my back, the fiery glow of sunlight dancing on my closed eyes.

But I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

It is a path I know well. I know its direction. I know its destination. I know it will not lead me astray. I know it will not lead me through the heart of the park itself. In my dreams however truer passions emerge. Temptation provokes thoughts of the heart itself. The beauty that I behold within the park makes promises to my soul. Each night I envision crossing over the threshold of the park and being consumed by a shiver of happiness. I see every wish my heart has held suddenly realized before me. Mixed with the intoxication of night’s romance my heart cannot help but swell with the possibilities my dreams offer. I embrace the clutch of emotions and nightly promise to seek out the possibilities and explore the park from within.

But I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

Daylight melts my resolve and reason replaces romance. I try to convince myself that dreams are best left in the slumbering shadows of night and that passionate expectations cannot be realized in the heart of a simple park. I start to believe that I cannot risk disappointment dissolving the inspiration I hold so dearly to; it is the untainted view of the park that enriches my daily walk along the path I have chosen. I reason that promises of a sweeter existence will forever keep me reaching for my dreams. I am convinced I am doing the right thing as another piece of my soul begins to wither.

And still I walk along the path at the edge of the park.

 

FIN.

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Text Break

We all know that smart phones have become a permanent fixture in our daily lives and that texting has become the predominant form of communication in society.   Why make a phone call when you really only want to leave a message anyway? Why compose a well thought out email when you can get your message across with just few acronymthrowback_thursday1_larges and a silly emoticon? Why bother talking to the person in the other room when you can save yourself the physical exertion of getting off the couch and send them a text from a seated position? I accepted these things as the new standard as I once accepted being tethered to a rotary phone by its coiled wire. It’s just the way things are done. What I never considered though was the effect this would all have on a relationship, or more specifically the end of a relationship.   Having an argument via text is like having a barroom brawl at the bottom of a pool; no matter how hard you struggle everything moves in slow motion and loses momentum well before it hits. There is nothing “instant” about instant messaging when both sides are trying to express complex emotions and hurt feelings with their thumbs. At one point, knowing that the argument was going to go into overtime I went out to run my errands rather than waiting for the delayed fallout. I went to the game store, did a reply. Filled up the car, did a reply. Picked up the groceries, did a reply. The argument was still in play, but at least I felt productive. It didn’t all strike me until I was back at home cleaning up after lunch that this was not the proper way to argue. Something just didn’t feel right. The simple fact that I was able to multitask probably didn’t bode well for whatever the original point of the argument was,… probably something about how I wasn’t emotionally invested in the relationship.

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Online Dating

From the male perspective, online dating is a completely different game. In the predatory world of the bar scene typically the male has the dominant role of hunter,… or so I’ve heard. In my lifetime I’ve probably engaged in this sothrowback_thursday1_largert of bar room drama less than a dozen times back in college and even that was under duress because friends and roommates, driven by alcoholic delusion, were convinced that their boyish charm would score them some dance floor groping if not a full-fledged one night stand. And since misery loves company I came along for the ride and was therefore blessed with the opportunity to bear witness to their drunken failure and inevitable shame. But despite me and my friends’ lack of success I was able to observe how the game should play out by individuals more dedicated to the craft. The perfectly puffed up male swaggers confidently over to well-positioned and well-manicured female and engages in some level of inane small talk for the sole purpose of stalling for time while they mutually access their sexual attraction; the woman evaluates his potential as a lover, a provider, and his ability to make her friends jealous while the man evaluates if she’s at that alcoholic sweet spot safely between “willing” and “passed out”.

Ok honestly, what do I know? I just admitted very little experience with this whole process so maybe I’m just jaded and there really is some soul searching being exchanged out there. My point, though, is that the role of the male in these situations is still very clear, regardless of the depth of conversation or the sexual end game. When this moved into the online dating realm the gender roles remained the same. Everyone fills out the same profile information, posts the same self-portraits in the bathroom, and pads their preferences with the same white lies – guys pretend to not be couch potatoes, gals pretend to be really in to sports, and everyone pretends to enjoy hiking.   But after all that it’s typically the guy that initiates the first contact. For the woman this plays out with them receiving a stack of invitations from a variety of suitors from which she can choose or simply ignore the lot. For the man this plays out with them firing off introductions in a shotgun pattern hoping that something will hit and trigger a random spark. Sure you can spend all your time combing through profiles hunting for your perfect woman, but chances are a dozen other Romeo’s before you have already filled up her inbox with the same attempts at witty banter and romantic propositions that you were so proud of just moments before. After a week of the virtual cobwebs and crickets you realize that your perfect woman, who the site promised was a 92% match with you, is not going to be writing you back much less bear your children or share matching rocking chairs on the porch of the retirement facility. “Ok”, you think, “how about this one, she’s an 88% match?!” This process continues until you find yourself, late one Saturday night, after one too many rum and cokes, writing to a 65% match that is 10 years, 60 pounds and 120 miles outside of your acceptable range, waking up the next morning with a hangover and a vague recollection of the romantic promises you made to this mystery woman only to reach the sad realization that she too has chosen not to respond.

Having exhausted my pool of prospects in this manner I start to consider perhaps it’s not me (of course, how could it be); perhaps I’m just not on the right site! In this age of online dating the variety of sites that has cropped up is staggering. Now days I can sign up for a specific site based on my age, race, religion, occupation (at least if I’m a farmer) or even my chemical composition. This all sounds like a fantastic idea until you consider that any restrictive classification only further limits the pool of available prospects. Think about it; you can fill out as many questionnaires as you like detailing your preferences and ideal qualities but if there are only three 40 year old, Jewish farmers in the Sacramento area how meaningful is any of that amassed information really going to be? It’d be like if I walked up to a vending machine looking to score a package of peanut M&M’s only to have it spit out a bag of stale trail mix with carob chips because that was the closet match. Did I benefit any from finding my own personal vending machine? I could have stepped into Costco and ended up with the same bag of trail mix but at least I would have had more options for substitution. I could have settled for a jumbo bag of Goobers,… like that night I had one too many rum and cokes.

So am I bitter because the online dating world isn’t just handing over the girl of my dreams? Wasn’t that subliminal marketing promise? Isn’t it written somewhere in the cosmic small print that your efforts will be rewarded?   Ok, so maybe it is just me. Maybe if Gerald Butler felt he needed online dating to meet the right woman he too would find a flooded inbox filled with provocative propositions. Maybe that’s the part I’m bitter about. Why can’t I lie down and be the proverbial prey for a while? I want the woman to abandon the old fashion traditions and take some initiative damn it. I did find one site that was basically the online equivalent of a Sadie Hawkins dance; it’s all about the woman being in control and initiating the selection process.   This sounds great in theory but doesn’t it come down to the same principle; woman having the ultimate power of selection over multiple suitors. I guess the only real difference is I enter into the process accepting my passive role in the equation hoping that perfect bag of peanut M&M’s is already out there just waiting for me to pick it up.

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Start Anew

The packing tap screams out across the final box. And then the silence returns. It is the calm before the storm.  My final moments in the house that I made into a home after the divorce.  When I first moved in to this renovated house it was stark and empty. All the walls were white, all the surfaces new.  There weren’t even mirrors or shower doors in the bathrooms.  It was a blank canvas, which was oddly appropriate coming from my home of 10 years which had been so stuffed with memories and emotions.  That house had the rhythms of life that I had grown accustom to.  My family and the only life I had come to know all evolved in the house I left behind.  And then into this blank canvas. No wife, no kids, no cats, no dogs.  An empty house.  A quiet house. A quiet that was once overwhelming.  A quiet that I would banish with the TV on all day just to hear another voice from outside my office.  I was lost in the silence and emptiness.

As time went on the new routines became a part of me.  The walls eventually filled with pictures of new memories and the house filled with a new life with the kids.  “Daddy’s house” was a new concept for all of us, but we made it work, and learned to love it.

Then eight months ago another change for the better.  A new love and a new family awaits. Nicole and I have found a house to share.  A new home in which to combine our families into one.  One dad with two kids now becomes a full couple with six kids total. As much as I look forward to the new chapter in our life and the incredible memories and traditions we will share as a family, I reflect now on the silence and the quiet house that had once haunted me.  And in a few months from now, when kids are arguing, kids are screaming, dogs are barking and TV is blaring, I’ll look back and think, “what the hell was so bad about silence??!!”

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