I sat down with some girl friends recently to eat Indian food in the village when the conversation shifted. With deep concern in their eyes they asked me how I was, whether I had spoken with Jackson, and if I could soon imagine myself getting back on that horse. I know that was what they really wanted the answer to. I just wasn’t sure how to answer. Do I tell them what I think they want to hear (that I dug out my cougar-wear from the closet and am ready to paint the town red?) or the bitter truth (that I slip into a sad place from time to time and lose minutes of the day staring into space)? I decided to go with the truth. I love these girls and they’d know it if I were lying through my teeth.
They mentioned a speed dating event in the city they went to some time ago (back when I was caught up in the novelty of living with my first boyfriend ever) and how much fun they had had. I should try it, they said. I listened to them recall the awkward game of musical chairs they had played (awkward to me; they swear they had a ball) and I tried imagining myself in a similar situation.
Suitor #1: Hey, Charlotte. Nice to meet you.
Me: Oh, hi! Uh, my name is Charlotte. Oh, shit! You just said that. This is my first time. Doing this! Not like… other stuff. So like… What do you do for a living, uhhh…?
Suitor #1: Jeff. My name’s Jeff. I’m in advertising. Right now we’re working on marketing an eco-friendly diaper.
Me: Wow! That’s great! (I am actually enthused about this, as I’m all for protecting the environment)
Suitor #1: Not really. The pay sucks, hours are long, I hate my boss.
Me: Hi! Nice to meet you! My name is Charlotte.
Suitor #2: Yea. I can see it on your tag.
Me: Oh, right! (Nervous laughter). So what’s up?
Suitor #2: You don’t do this often.
Me: What gives you that impression?
Suitor #2: Because you look as though you might hyperventilate.
Me: Oh, that. It’s just this sweater is a little tight. Is it hot in here? No? Okay.
Suitor #3: Oh, my god! Are you okay?
Me: Yea? Why?
Suitor #3: Because you’re pale and your hands are clammy. Dude, seriously. You look like you’re going to barf. Do you want me to call someone over here?
Me: No, I’m cool. So like (reads tag), TOM! What do you do for…
And this is the moment I barf uncontrollably and have to be escorted out by a really hot guy named Lucas, because why would I have a matronly caretaker in my moment of total embarrassment?
I told my friends I would think about speed dating.
Later that evening, after I had fully digested my Indian food and was winding down with a hot cup of tea, I began to think. Was I ready to get back out there? I mean, I am carrying A LOT of baggage these days. Samsonites full of memories, regrets, photographs, dreams… I can’t imagine anyone signing up for the job of transitioning me back into bring-home-to-mom material. And I can’t imagine myself meeting mothers again without having minor panic attacks (in all honesty, the speed dating scenario is not a complete stretch).
Sure. I got along just fine with momma Jackson but I had known her for many years. Just before the dreaded night Jackson and I moved out of our shared apartment, I chatted with his mother on the phone, wheezing into the handheld and lining up an army of tissues on the wooden floor in a matter of minutes (I was quite a sight, truly). She consoled me as though I were her own daughter in an hour-long conversation I will not soon forget. I‘m not sure she even realizes how much it meant to me and that I still think of it, but maybe now she does.