Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Returning To The Fray

I hope everyone has been having a nice holiday time however you've spent it. I've been enjoying spending time with my parents and brother over Christmas. However, I had been bereft of a plan for New Year's Eve. It's my first one as a singleton since 2003 but most of my friends are married and starting to have kids, or unavailable in some other way, so my options seemed to be:

1) Hang out at my parents' place despite the fact that nobody else will be there;

2) Return home and hang out at my flat, again with nobody else there;

3) Gatecrash my parents' friends' party and possibly be the only attendant under the age of 55.

I've spent NYE on my own before and in a way it was an interesting reflective experience, so I had been leaning towards option 2, but part of me wanted to be doing more as I'm pretty much back to full health again - I went to work for a week before Christmas and even managed not to miss our Christmas drinks evening. Happily, a conversation that very evening was the genesis for an alternative idea:

4) Go to a New Year's Eve Speed Dating party!

So that's the plan - restart my dating with a bang and solve my NYE conundrum at the same time. I've never been speed dating before but I've been interested in trying it. Does anyone have any speed-dating-related thoughts/advice/stories to share?

P.S. For readers of my previous post: I've sent a Facebook message to My School Crush. I aimed for light and upbeat but I did mention the crush within it. I'll let you know if I get a reply!

Friday, 17 December 2010

My School Crush

Way back in my second post I wrote about my slow start to dating and interacting with girls/women in general, and I briefly mentioned the one girl whom I'd sat next to in school for any length of time - but to me at that time she was so much more than that. My imagination for blog nicknames must be faltering because I'm going to call her My School Crush.

I'd had other crushes at school, generally one per year. For the most part it was an enjoyable experience - I would feel a rush of excitement when I saw them and even more so if we had any kind of interaction. They would brighten up the day. My mind may have invented my attraction to them for exactly that purpose. I never told them or tried to get closer to them - I'm really not sure what I would have done had one tried to get closer to me.

My School Crush was the last of the lineage and started out in much the same way. I admired her from afar and assumed that this would be the extent of her involvement in my life. But times were changing. I was gradually changing - rather than being 11 or 12 I was 15 and starting to learn (later than most) that talking with girls wasn't such a strange thing to do. My School Crush happened to be in three of my classes - Maths, Science and Economics. I can't quite remember how it happened, but occasionally I must have actually talked with her and got to know her a bit. It probably helped that we had a Mutual Friend in the Economics class - a guy who was much more adept at socialising than I was.

But the big development was to come in our Maths class. Maths had always come quickly and naturally to me and I'd flown through it all the way through school. For the last few months of our two years together as a class, the teacher (who was very keen on maximising the exam marks of his classes) split the class into the Nine top-achieving-kids-to-push-even-more and Twenty-odd kids-who-would-do-OK-but-weren't-worth-bothering-with-too-much (maybe I'm doing him a disservice but it did seem a bit like that, particularly to a friend of mine in the Twenty section.) I was in the Nine and so was My School Crush. Before long I ended up sitting next to her and she would ask me questions about our work. Finally it was paying off to be good at Maths! Test scores and praises and prizes are one thing, but an attractive girl being interested in me (in some way at least) seemed rather more valuable at that point!

I wasn't normally a massive fan of school or of organised learning in general, but funnily enough I really looked forward to those lessons. I was lucky enough to be at a point where I didn't need to worry too much about the actual work and I could concentrate on soaking up this intoxicating new experience. The more time I spent with her, the more I liked her. This was uncharted territory for me - my distant crush was suddenly right up close and even more attractive than before. I had no idea what to do next. I needed more time. I really didn't want those last few months of Maths classes to come to an end. But, of course, they did.

The summer holiday came and went. I knew that our classes would be changing around completely on our return in September. I would be going into some kind of even-more-Maths class and I hadn't seen her at the induction for that. But as far as I knew we would both be taking Economics again (as would our Mutual Friend) and there were only to be two different Economics groups.

I bumped into My School Crush on our first day back and we compared timetables. Bad news - she and our Mutual Friend were in one class and I was in the other. I couldn't switch without changing my other subjects drastically. I still remember that moment of sinking realisation. She said "Well then, I guess I'll see you around." All I could think of to say in reply was "Yeah, see you around."

I did see her around occasionally, but less and less. I made an effort to speak with her at those times - it may have been obvious that I was trying a bit too hard to keep some kind of connection. It never really looked likely to work. I debated whether to tell her - without being quite sure what to say - but often she had a boyfriend, which made it seem inappropriate, and at other times I came up with other ways to talk myself out of it.

...but one day she and I were walking, just the two of us. We were walking through some kind of forest and we came to a clearing and I thought: I should tell her how I feel. Here and now. As we faced each other I started to speak but she simply put her finger up to my lips and said "I know." And then she kissed me. It was wonderful and I felt so full of happiness...

And then I woke up. Waking from that dream and realising that it hadn't actually happened left me in a bad mood for most of the following day. These days I like the idea of trying to enjoy having had the dream rather than begrudging reality, but at that time it felt like I'd just had my greatest wish granted and then almost instantly snatched away.

As time went by and I saw her less and less, the Out Of Sight Out Of Mind effect gradually took my thoughts away from her and readied me for the fact that we wouldn't be walking around the same school forever. By the time school finished I was ready to let go of My School Crush and free my attention for my impending move to university. Apart from a fleeting glimpse in a local shopping mall the following summer, I never saw her again.

...Well, I've never seen her in person again. But now it's 2010 and Facebook has firmly established itself as the way to sneak a peek at people from one's past. About six months ago I finally started to enter her name into the search box and was briefly shocked when Facebook flashed up her photo to me before I'd even finished! She doesn't have an unusual name - how on earth could Facebook know that out of all the possibilities in the world I was looking for her? Then I realised why it had given her priority: we've got a mutual friend - a different guy from our old Economics class. I haven't seen him since school either and I wouldn't claim to know him at this stage, but he sent me a friend request two years ago and I accepted (I had decided to accept any requests from people I'd known at some point even if we hadn't stayed in touch.) So that's how Facebook knew. I think I preferred the magical mystery actually.

So, here's what I'm wondering: I'm tempted to write to her and let her know that fifteen years ago I had a big crush on her and that she brightened my Maths lessons to the point where I wanted them to keep going. Would this come across as a nice thing to hear, or would it seem creepy? Of course, I could contact her and not mention any of this, at least at first, but that option doesn't appeal to me. I like the idea of using Facebook to say the things I never said to people in the past - I've already used it in that way several times (not in terms of confessing to crushes though.) I wouldn't be expecting great things to come from writing to her - I guess ideally I would be hoping for an acknowledgement of my message, and that would be fine. But I wouldn't want my message to be uncomfortable or worrying to read. What do you think? Nice message to receive or creepy guy giving too much information?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Impatience and Time Passing

I like to think of myself as quite a patient person in some respects. I'm willing to explain an idea to someone several times in different ways. I don't get too irate when public transport has a bad day. However, I'm not patient when it comes to my own incapacity or inability to do whatever I most feel like doing.

My break-up in May was not out of the blue - it had looked likely for months. It wasn't long after this before I felt the desire to be dipping a toe into the dating pool again. I wasn't kidding myself that I was ready for a full-on relationship yet but I thought that starting to have some kind of non-platonic encounters would help in the process of moving on. However, I was still "stuck" (as I saw it) living with my ex, and I didn't want to risk angering her by seeming to try to move on too quickly as if our relationship hadn't mattered to me, plus I thought that not many women would want to have any involvement with a guy living with his ex (and I have a compulsion towards honesty which meant I'd have been candid about my living situation if asked.)

Therefore I decided that I felt unable to date while living with my ex. This was one factor in my desire to get our house sold quickly. I had optimistically hoped to have it wrapped up in three months or possibly four. In the end it took six. Six months of my life spent in limbo.

But then I'd be free and ready, right? Unfortunately, my health had other ideas. I spent my first days of post-house sale freedom in hospital and I'm still recovering now. I'm not sure when I'll be back to full health and ready to think about trying out dating again. I know that I've been seriously ill and that I should be grateful to be pulling through, and I am, but part of me is just seeing this as more time passing by while I'm having to sit out on the sidelines.

I also know that it's a good idea to have a full and fulfilling life outside dating before going searching for a possible new relationship, and I can fully see the sense in that idea, but part of me just doesn't want to have to spend more time working on other parts of my life. It's OK as it is; the main thing which I want to change is my love life! But at the moment the days are still ticking by. How many more will slip past before I manage to be ready?

Does this resonate for anyone? Do you think in terms of days slipping by without managing to follow your desires? Or have you managed to maintain a more positive attitude to the passage of time?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A New Chapter

My break from blogging has lasted longer than I'd hoped, but the event for which I'd been waiting has finally passed so I wanted to post an update and an explanation of why I stopped when I did.

My last posted internet dating tale took place in early 2004. Shortly after that I began a relationship with a woman with whom I'd been friends in real life for several months. A very brief summary of my view of our relationship would be: the first year was wonderful; the second year was good; the third year was pretty good; the fourth year was tougher; the fifth year was a struggle; the sixth year was a much harder struggle. In late 2009 and early 2010 our relationship teetered on the edge. Just when it needed some luck it instead received several body blows and it fell apart. We spent a lot of time talking about whether it could be saved but my feeling was that too much had been said which could not be reversed; our communication was still heavily hampered; our life priorities were diverging and adding to the strain. I ended our relationship in May 2010.

Once I'd ended the relationship I wanted to go our separate ways as soon as possible to begin recovering and moving on but there was an obstacle to this: we had bought a house together in 2008 and still lived in it together. We talked about various options but it seemed that the only solution was to sell it. Additionally, there was no practical way for either of us to leave until it had been sold. I wanted to sell it as soon as possible. She was hoping to switch jobs first because she was working part-time and needed more income to cover living on her own.

Over the summer we found a buyer but the sale proceeded gradually. I felt in limbo in that situation, living with an ex-partner, but was also trying to give her more time to find a job. My big fear was that she might decide to try to block the sale of the house, which might drive away the buyer, and my time in limbo would be hugely extended. As part of my efforts to stay on good terms with her I decided not to mention any of this on my blog for fear of her finding it and taking offence somehow. Hence when I ran out of material concerning the distant past I stopped writing rather than progressing to writing about the present.

In late October the house sale was ready to be finalised but no job had been procured. I pushed for completion of the sale anyway and the final sale date was set for mid-November. We both hurriedly found flats to rent and it looked like my new life was about to begin. I envisaged writing a post like this straight after completion of the sale.

My new life didn't start quite as I'd imagined. Eight days before the sale I began to feel unwell. I had expected the stress to take its toll, but previously in my adult life this had involved a two-day cold and a quick return to health. This time after two days I felt much worse. After discovering that I had a scarily high temperature I was taken into hospital and I was diagnosed with pneumonia and some related complications. For the first few days my mental health suffered too - I was delirious and delusional and even ended up refusing my own medication at times. Thankfully after a few days my normal mental state returned and I tried to be a positive influence in my own treatment program.

The house sale went through during my hospital stay, so my freedom had arrived but I was in no fit state to start to make much use of it. My ex-girlfriend did very kindly carry out the final sale-related tasks which I'd been planning to take care of. She moved to her rented flat and her job search continues as far as I've heard. I sincerely wish her well with both of those endeavours and everything else.

After eleven days in hospital I was released into the care of my parents, who have been wonderful throughout this whole ordeal. I've been staying with them now for eight days, soaking up their hospitality/food/old clothes/spare painkillers/attention and gradually learning to breathe more deeply again. I think I'm on the mend but it may still be some time before I get back to my rental flat (which I haven't seen since the day I collected the keys three weeks ago) and my job. This wasn't my plan for my new start, but I'm lucky to be hopefully making a good recovery from a serious illness, and hopefully at some point in the not-too-distant future I'll get the chance to make the kind of new start which I'd originally had in mind.