Does anyone else ever dread the new year? I look forward to it from afar, but find it daunting when it actually approaches. Not so much now, but a few years ago, it was pretty bad.
The year 2000 was a bittersweet one for me, with emphasis on the bitter. My family sold our shore house in Wildwood, New Jersey which we'd had for close to 100 years. I loved that place. No matter how many times we moved, and we moved a lot, that was the one constant in my life. When my great grandfather was alive the house was always filled with relatives and friends. My grandmother was one of five and they divided up the summers in the house. Dewey, or Grandpop Angel as we called him, stayed April through October and someone was always there to keep him company and feed him. I remember my brother and I being put to bed when we were little and the two of us listening to aunts, uncles and cousins telling stories and laughing on the wrap around front porch. We'd wake up in the morning to find which cousin had been relegated to share our beds with us. I still think of us like a litter of puppies when we go on our extended family vacations. Single people and children were swapped in and out of beds to make the most logical sleeping arrangements for the evening.
In retrospect, losing that house really was the worst of it. To this day, I can't drive past the old house and I'm sure the neighbors who are left curse us everyday for the vile trash my mother sold the house to. But, the loss of the house wasn't the only blow that year.
In June we bought a house and moved in, but the husband flaked and we separated in September. It was a huge blow for me and I was reeling. The life I thought I was going to lead no longer existed. My plans and hopes and dreams of the future were dashed. There went another long stretch of prime childbearing years completely wasted. In September of 2000 the new year seemed like something to yearn for - new year, new me, new dreams, new life - everything could be different- things couldn't possibly get worse, right?
As the new year approached I started to dread it. All that pressure on the new year to be better and to make a difference was starting to show. What if things didn't get better? They can always get worse. I didn't want to celebrate, I just wanted to put on my jammies and snuggle up with my constant companion, my puppy Pickles. I wasn't ready for a new year and I wasn't ready for all of those expectations to be either realized, or to find that 2001 would just be more of the same.
I went (more like dragged) to a New Year's eve party at friends of my brother and sister-in-law's. I was the only single woman there and the evening got weird fast. Somehow, I was a huge threat to every marriage represented in the building. The weirdest thing about it is that I was sooo pathetic. I had been burned really bad and could not even imagine dealing with men and romance again. Every time a man talked to me, they were quickly dragged off, and in a couple of instances dragged out of the party completely. It was so strange. It got to be a big joke with my sister-in-law as she watched events unfolding around us. Now, I'm just your basic, average girl, I'm not claiming supermodel status or any such nonsense, but somehow for a while there, I was every married woman's greatest threat. Not just at that party, but at quite a few social gatherings that I went to in those days.
2001 had its ups and downs. I won a cruise from Macy's. I filed for divorce. I started dating again. I was convinced that I was dead inside, but that could have had as much to do with my dates as with me. My divorce became final. I dated, a lot. I mean, really, a lot. I had a date every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night and usually one or two on the weeknights. You know how they say you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince? Most of these guys were way too froggy to even kiss. I would date a lot for a few weeks, then get so bummed by how little fun I was having that I would take a week off. My first date sweater (a pale rosey pink cashmere and silk beaded cardigan - it looks really nice with my fair skin and blue eyes) was practically threadbare, but I didn't need to come up with a second date outfit. I couldn't come up with a guy I'd want a second date with. The weird thing was that almost every single one of them asked for another date. I would come home and think to myself, "Wow! That sucked." I'd figure that I wouldn't hear from that guy again, but they'd always call. Weren't they on the same date as I was?
Dating was pretty rote. I met a lot of men online and screened them pretty carefully. I did messages through whatever place we found one another until I felt comfortable enough to give e-mail and IM information, always on the lookout for that moment when they gave me some clue as to whether or not they were psychotic. My freak radar was set to ultrasensitive and I would cut them off immediately if they started to weird me out. If that went well, then they would get my phone number and I'd talk on the phone with them until I could decide if I wanted to meet them in a very public place.
At the very end of 2001, I met a man through American Singles (which I have to say is where the best of the men I met came from) and we sent a few e-mails, then he went to Minnesota for the holidays and was going to call me and we would get together when he came back. We went out that first Saturday of 2002. I had a nice time, nice enough to consider a second date. The second date was all it took for me to decide that I didn't want to see anyone else. I wanted to see if anything would come of this relationship. Well, on Thursday, it will be the 4th anniversary of that first date. The "everything happens for a reason" people are convinced that I had to go through all the crap I did and all the lousy relationships I had, to get here. I think that sucks, especially if it's true. I don't know if I'd say it was all worth it, but only because of all the time it took to get here, and all the things I missed out on.
The Handsome Honey is totally worth it. I only wish we found each other sooner. We've both got fairly tragic romantic histories and it would have been nice if we'd had each other and avoided a lot of what we've been through. For every little thing that he does that makes me crazy, I can think of at least 2 things that more than make up for it. He is kind and thoughtful and funny and smart. Since we've been together, the new year has held promise of more good things, more love, more fun, more time together. I don't dread them, I look forward to them and to what may come next for us.