As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Stacey and I broke up in December. A while after this, once things had settled down and I had moved into a new flat in St Andrews, a few friends of mine started trying to gently encourage me to start dating again. At the time, I didn’t think it was a bad idea, per se. Here I was, back in a small town where I didn’t know all that many people of my own age, and where I could completely reinvent myself. Cut all my hair off! Change my name! Or at least, go out and meet some people.
Cutting out the long boring bit of this story, I ended up at a point where I’d been given the phone number of a girl who was my age, cute and funny and smart. It sounded like we had a fair few things in common, and I was encouraged to contact her. I usually really respect the opinions of my friends, and whilst part of me did think it was a bit quick, a little too soon since Stacey and I had broken up, I didn’t know whether I was just being too sensitive. So I took the plunge and sent her a message. For the next few days, we text back and forth, chatting about each of our days, our university experiences, our families. It was nice. I wasn’t immediately struck with a longing to go out and marry her, but it was nice to see my phone light up and talk to someone who didn’t know me at all.
Which was all well and good, until she asked if I wanted to meet up with her. Completely uncharacteristically, I panicked. Turned my phone off, pretended I hadn’t got the message, tried to ignore it. I spent a whole lunchtime going round and round in circles with one of my closest friends; him trying to work out what it was that I was worried about, me trying to express that it all just felt like too much of a demand on me. Later, another friend laughed at that comment –
“too much? if you think that going for coffee with someone is too much, how are you ever going to date anyone ever again?”
– and that was part of what tipped the see-saw from ‘decline’ to ‘agree’. When someone put it like that, it seemed silly. What idiot starts chatting to a girl like that and then can’t pull themselves together enough to go and meet her for a cup of coffee?
Well me, apparently.
I text her back (more than a little delayed), agreeing to meet up for a drink rather than coffee one evening. All the way there, I studiously ignored the fact that I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to go. I wasn’t nervous – on paper, the idea of meeting someone new for a drink was perfectly reasonable, and I went through the motions perfectly. Shower. Choose an outfit. Work out how long it’s going to take to get there. Take cash out. Check teeth. Remember keys. Leave house. But it didn’t really feel like it was happening to me, it felt like this story that I was telling someone; That Time That Carley Went On A Date.
And I got there, and meet up with her and she was great, chatty and personable and interesting. We had common interests, told related stories, reminisced about university craziness and shared experiences and our favourite types of gin. The whole time, I felt detached. I don’t think it was noticeable. It certainly wasn’t awkward, but a voice in my head wouldn’t stop distracting me with a multitude of put-downs. What are you even doing here? Do you really think that this is a good idea? Anyone can see that you’re just desperately trying to fill this hole in your life with anything or anyone available. But by that point, I was there. It was too late to back out, and besides, I was having a good time, right? Stupid voice in my head aside? And you know what, it was fine. A couple of hours passed before I said I should probably head – work in the morning, better be well behaved etc – and once I left, I text her a message of thanks; non-committal, I had a nice time, thanks.
But the whole what the hell am I doing cycle started all over again a few days later, when she text me and asked if I wanted to go for dinner.
You’ll be able to read more about my cringe-worthy dating adventures whenever I’ve recovered enough to detail them; you can find them tagged ‘The Single Chronicles‘.Carley