“Wait… that’s Valentine’s Day.”
He gave me a sly sideways glance and said he knew.
We were walking back to my car after the opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics. He had held my hand as we sat too close on the couch watching Wayne Gretzky ride in the back of a pickup truck down the streets of Vancouver, but I don’t remember much else of the programming since my brain was a little distracted by his fingers interlaced with mine.
As he led the way to the parking lot, he asked if I’d like to hang out on Sunday. My stomach felt like the entire cast of Cirque du Soleil had decided to practice in it, so of course I said yes.
He jogged up to me, blonde hair shining in the bright sun, sunglasses covering eyes I had yet to stare into, and a long-stemmed red rose in his teeth, his plaid shirt making him look like a burly lumberjack-turned-tango dancer. The guys in his dorm were crowded around the window, hootin’ & hollerin’ at us as he opened his car door for me.
We walked along the river, our conversation floating between school and friends, family and dreams. We talked about what we wanted, and he had an answer ready for me.
Me? I desperately wanted to have an answer for him. I gave him one, mostly agreeing with his opinion, but I think it was formed just about as solidly as the steam from my breath as I spoke.
I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what I needed.
I just didn’t know.
I’ve learned a lot since then; the laws of the French Press, how to navigate airport security, and when it’s appropriate to pull out the Latin phrase for “like a boss.”
I’ve also learned a lot about what I want. And what I need.
Those lessons didn’t come overnight. If you’ve ever asked yourself what you want and been met with the loud sound of overwhelming silence from your brain – you’re not alone. Wants and needs can be different, yes. I’ve learned that some things I want are extravagant when compared to what I need.
A grande peppermint mocha with whip instead of a tall Americano, for example.
I take myself for walks along the river now.
I grab a coffee first, read a little of a book I was recently recommended, and people watch. It settles me into intentional alone time, a space for me to enjoy my company, listen to my thoughts, and be honest with myself.
I’ve wasted much too much of my life pretending to need something other than the thing I need.
How silly of me! I don’t have time for anything less than authentic. My heart wants to go deep, to sit in those uncomfortable places that good things seem to sprout from, to be moved by love and loss, to ache from joy so that the ache from heartbreak isn’t so lonely anymore.
So I date myself.
Not as a substitute for dating someone, but because I want to know myself. I am much better at speaking what’s on my heart if I first and foremost know what the heck is on my heart.
If I can’t tell others what I need, what I want, how can I let them help me? How can I let them fully know me if I don’t know myself?
Oh yes, some things will be discovered with the insight from other people. They will draw out things that perhaps I didn’t see, that perhaps God is asking them to draw out of me. Those people – bless them. God sure knows how to speak to me through other people.
But I don’t need an official date to ask me questions about my life if I want to know the answers now. Figuring myself out is a conversation I like to have with myself first.
And God. He’s really good at the whole listening & giving wise advice thing.
So I date myself.