‘YOU MUST DO THE THING YOU THINK YOU CANNOT DO’

“March on. Do not tarry. To go forward is to move toward perfection. March on, and fear not the thorns, or the sharp stones on life’s path.” – Kahlil Gibran

I should be a Mom by now. I anticipated this morning would be full of such sadness, grief and many tears.

I could sit here and focus on how hard things have been as we have mourned these past six months. I could attempt to count the number of times I have cried or tell you how often an ultrasound or baby picture made my heart drop.

I could complain about how I’m suffering from intense writer’s block or how a month after my loss I was asked out-of-the-blue to come and interview for my actual dream job and had to pass, because buried in that much sadness, the thought of selling myself was almost paralyzing. I could make this entire post about how my short pregnancy really did a number on my body, and the blood pressure medication I was switched to has caused me gastroentestinal issues. (You can only imagine the screwed-up irony of being in the hospital for endoscopies this weekend, instead of giving birth like I had once planned to.)

The month of July has been hard, knowing she could have been here at any moment … My birthday a week ago was a struggle, as the thought we would possibly share that had crossed my mind many times as Penguin grew inside me. Hunter and I went yesterday to a local nursery and bought a Kalanchoe succulent in memory of her, and there were tears from both of us throughout the day, him dreading this moment as much as I have been.

As I opened my eyes this morning on what would have been our due date, my first thought was not of our loss, but the peace I felt now that it was here and would finally be over. I was told by several of my fellow “Loss Moms” that the anticipation would be the worst. A couple of hours into it, I could already see where they were right. Today, I chose to focus on all the things we have gained this year, rather than what we have lost.

The last day in June, Hunter and I found ourselves in Wisconsin, as we had driven to Alpine Valley to see Phish. (For those of you who know him, you know what a big deal this is for my nerdy love.) The show was actually even more special to us, as a few years ago, it was really where we solidified our love for one another. We were just friends at the time, so it was nice to go back as a couple and watch the show together, me not working. There were tough moments throughout the day, knowing we would not have been going had she still been with us, seeing many pregnant women there, and the onesies the band had printed for its fans to buy. Talking about it all as we walked from the lot toward the show, he told me “At least we are out living our lives.” It was a far cry from where we had been just months before, and it was wonderful to believe in the progress we had made.

We’ll both admit to retreating into our own world for a while, simply making it through the day at our jobs and then returning back to the the safety of our home as quickly as possible. But he was the only one who actually knew my pain, who felt it like I did, who mourned for her like I did. We never thought it possible, but we have grown so much closer this year, loving each other on a level neither of us knew could exist. That wouldn’t have been possible had she not left us, and it’s a tiny silver lining to our pain.

I shied away from my friends here, including my best one who lives just two blocks from me, because I never wanted to burden them with my sadness. (All the while, depriving many of their right to take care of Hunter and I, who they love.) Once I was able to start seeing people again, sharing laughs across the dinner table meant so much more. I learned just how many people truly care about me this year, how many care for him. The support we have both received from afar has touched us as well, our closest friends and family doing all they can to help us through it all. My best friend Robin flew up here twice this year, and reminded others of my birthday so that I could possibly feel more joy than pain. Women, who were a part of my life along the way, sharing with me their hurt, their losses, all left me with hope and an even stronger feeling that I was not alone.

And then there are the women who I have never met in real life, yet have been such an integral part in my recovery, not to mention my hope for the future. The Internet has allowed me the opportunity to bond with a small group of women, all in various states along the East Coast, all who have been through what I have, or worse. We cheer each other on daily, sharing in each others’ heartache and joy. One will be here this weekend, and we finally get to meet in real life, after forming a tight bond as we went through all of this together. Two of them are in the early stages of pregnancy, and we all take every blood draw, every ultrasound to heart, knowing how much we want their struggles to be worth it somehow. And they are just a sampling of the love I have found online, as I have discovered such great camaraderie from dozens of other ladies who have walked in my shoes.

We miss her like crazy. Not a hour goes by that I don’t think about her, talk about her, wonder about what might have been. But Hunter tells me all the time that we will make a beautiful, well-loved child, and I’m inclined to believe him. Although I can honestly say that we’re still not in a place where we’re ready to try again, feeling like this time was hers, and hers alone. I know one day, when I hold our baby in my arms, I will know that the struggle was all worth it … I hope knowing that child would not be here had Penguin not left us will help ease the pain.

We remain thankful she was with us, that she’s still with us.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself  ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BOY

For nearly a year-and-a-half, I have been a slacker.

Not in life, might I add. Just here on the Internet. (Well, technically, just on my blog, as there are other sites where you would find articles by me … Just nothing personal about my life and my beloved Uptown.) I have decided that I will no longer be lax, and look to return to blogging with full force … Yeah, we’ll see about that one, huh?

I need a creative outlet right now, and besides painting, this is what I do best. I never meant to take this long of a break, believe me. But to be honest with you, my life hasn’t been all that exciting for the past 16 months … Unless you’re me, that is. To me, it’s been amazing, awesome, mind-blowing, stupefying and magnificent. (It’s also been wracked with more heartache than I ever thought possible, but that’s neither here nor there.) Thankfully, it’s been more good than bad, though, and no matter what, I now know I can survive anything …

At least I can with him by my side.

“SWF SEEKS SWM BETWEEN THE AGES OF 25-35. MUST BE EMPLOYED. MUST LOVE FAMILY, DOGS, SMALL BABIES, SERIOUS CURVES AND MUSIC. MUST BE FUNNY. MUST BE ABLE TO PUT UP WITH MY ALMOST SMOTHERING BOUTS OF KINDNESS. MUST KNOW THIS COULD ALL JUST BE A PHASE. MUST KNOW I NEVER MAKE PLANS, AND I COULD FEEL DIFFERENTLY TOMORROW. MUST BE DARK ENOUGH TO SEE MY LIGHT. BEARD OPTIONAL, BUT PREFERRED.”

That is from a blog post I wrote Jan. 27, 2010. A blog post that would eventually lead to my life being forever changed.

I was inspired to write “Training Myself to Look Around” after a Red Line ride downtown one morning with an older, yet attractive neighbor. After writing said piece, I got really embarrassed, wondering if someone would point out the posting to him before I ever got a chance to explain why I wrote it. (I wasn’t interested in him, and just needed to make sure he knew that before he got the wrong idea! Ha.) I tried to track him down through our Sheridan Gardens page on Facebook, but to no avail. Instead, I ended up sending a message to one of my other neighbors I saw on there, simply because he had great taste in music.

We had met a few times before, him and I. We had said hellos in passing, but nothing more than that. But after the initial online exchange, we decided that we would meet in person. So, plans were made for the following weekend for me to cross the courtyard to hang out with him and his roommate. No big deal, I thought at the time … Just a couple of soon-to-be friends, Elton John’s “Honky Chateau” on vinyl, and a few laughs. What more could a girl ask for?

Obviously, everything.

I liked him immediately, but not in a romantic sense. I found him to be funny, self-deprecating, smart … I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find him to be attractive. But it was more in a “you’re-cute-let’s-find-you-someone-your-own-age-to-date” kind of way. We were friends for a while. For months, there would be late-night conversations about everything from music to family life … Religion to our dating pasts. For hundreds of hours during the beginning of 2010, we never ran out of things to say.

It was during the summer that I knew that I loved him. It wasn’t like having a crush on a friend. (Believe me, been there, done that, bought a few T-shirts.) No, this was way different. I couldn’t imagine ever having to spend a day without seeing him … And I couldn’t imagine that he’d ever look at me in the way I saw him. But, boy, was I wrong.

He too had been feeling the same way for a while, he would later tell me. He said his stomach would turn when he’d see me coming up the back sidewalk to their apartment, and that’s when he knew. But both of us, unsure because of past hurts, doubt or whatever, never put ourselves out there, scared of being let down, afraid of disappointment. So, for months, we just looked at each other longingly, both of us wondering what the other was thinking. (And both secretly knowing how much we cared for one another.)

A rare bottle (or two) of wine at the beginning of September helped change all of that in a night … One kiss, and all at once, we were no longer just friends. We were best friends … And we were in love.

I’d like to say it’s been a whirlwind of romanticism, the kind of courtship you would read about in a Jane Austen novel … But, truth be told, as far as him and I, it’s always just been an easy ride. There have been some flowers, chocolates, and the like. Sweet dates, many a foot or back rub, and a wonderful trip home to meet each others’ families. We simply love to be around one another, each spending our time away from the other just waiting to be back together. Yes, we have become that couple that even we would have hated this time last year. I have been told that our love is infectious … That when you are around us, it’s hard not to see everything we feel for one another.

He makes me laugh on a daily basis, even if all I feel like doing at the moment is crying. He values my opinion, and thinks I am one of the smartest women to ever walk this earth. He sees my beauty, both inside and out, and finds me to be both sexy and funny. (Even if I do make up my own words and phrases sometimes, it’s one of the things he loves most about me.) Most importantly, he “gets” me … I never have to worry about being anything other than who I honestly am. (And the same for him, as well.)

All he has to do is put his arms around me, and the rest of the world, and all of my worries, seem to fade away.

We’ve been going through tough times lately, and it has only proven to me how much I love him … How strong we are. Together we have survived something that most will thankfully never face in their lifetime. But through that, we have grown to love each other on a whole other level that neither of us thought possible. For that I am forever grateful … And for that I am forever changed.

I never expected that in him I would find the one person I had been waiting my whole life for. The one person who would love and understand me better than anyone who had come before him. This week marks two years since I climbed the stairs to the third floor of 4720 N. Racine Ave. in Chicago for the first time … Now I take the same flights daily to get to my home. Our home.

It’s funny how quickly life can change. It’s times like these where I try to hold on to that. I still can not believe I put out into the universe what I was looking for, and I got everything I wanted and then some. (Plus, he looks good with or without a beard, so bonus points there.)

With all that being said, I just wanted to say thank you Hunter. For everything.

And ask you, my readers, to forgive me for being away so long. It wouldn’t have been that interesting anyway, as it’s hard to write about living when all you want is to be holed up inside with the man you love.

(But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.)

TRAINING MYSELF TO LOOK AROUND

SWF SEEKS SWM BETWEEN THE AGES OF 25-35. MUST BE EMPLOYED. MUST LOVE FAMILY, DOGS, SMALL BABIES, SERIOUS CURVES AND MUSIC. MUST BE FUNNY. MUST BE ABLE TO PUT UP WITH MY ALMOST SMOTHERING BOUTS OF KINDNESS. MUST KNOW THIS COULD ALL JUST BE A PHASE. MUST KNOW I NEVER MAKE PLANS, AND I COULD FEEL DIFFERENTLY TOMORROW. MUST BE DARK ENOUGH TO SEE MY LIGHT. BEARD OPTIONAL, BUT PREFERRED.

I didn’t notice a single person on the train this morning.

(Well, there was this one stranger I made eye-contact with a few times … but that’s only because I had to look away every once in a while.)

As much as I’d like to say they are, my 3 hours of commuting aren’t always worth the effort. (But, on the bright side, I don’t have to drive two hours a day, stuck in stressful traffic, worried about other drivers, the speed limit, potholes, road construction, 18-wheelers … after three years of it, it simply took a beating on me and my car.)  But sometimes I’d rather be anywhere else.

But today, today was different. No iPod … no dodging glances … worrying about strangers getting too close to me.

I was taken away from all of that by the simplest of things: An actual conversation.

It started on the platform and lasted from Lawrence to Lake (11 stops, if you’re counting) where I then went to the left, and him to the right.

We talked about getting married. (Not to each other … just our thoughts on it.) We talked about children.

We talked about Internet dating. (“Have you tried it,” he asked? “Yes, I actually am for the first time. It’s creepy.” Yep. You heard me right … don’t judge, I’m a very busy girl, it’s cold outside, and I thought it would be an easier way to meet people in Chicago. Now that I’m open to meeting them, that is … But other than finding people from far away that I am forming friendships with … well it is downright CREEPY. And remember from my earlier post, I’m a big girl … so that cuts my choices down significantly, and unfortunately ups the perviness of it all. But thank God, I’m smart enough to know that.)

But back in the real world …

We talked about music. We talked about politics. We talked about world events. (I admitted I had cried every day since the earthquake in Haiti.)

We talked about our dogs. We talked about growing up in small towns.

We just talked.

And yes, he was attractive … his one dimple showing every time he smiled or laughed … (Which was a lot … What can I say? I’m a funny girl.) … the slight gap between his teeth (And not in the middle, on the side, which makes it even sexier.) … the graying stubble … (I am a complete sucker for a beard … or even the slightest hint of one.)

And yes, he was totally crush-worthy … (See aforementioned attributes above.)

And no, this wasn’t our first conversation, although probably our longest. We’ve run into each other a few times before. See, he’s one of my 42+ neighbors in my complex … and just a little bit too old for me. (Not that I’ve ever gotten the feeling we were each other’s “types.”)

If it had been anyone else, I might have found it almost like a round of speed-dating. (By the way, never going to try that one.)

And although he’s just a friend, and clearly not the one for me, the non-monotonous way I started my day surely showed me one thing …

After a few weeks of the Internet thing, I think my best chance of actually meeting someone I could be interested in is by actually meeting them … on a train, in a bar, getting coffee or simply walking down the street …

And then having a conversation.

THE PLACES I GO … THE STARES I FACE

YES YOU … THERE ON THE LEFT, FACING ME … I KNEW YOU WERE STARING AT ME THE WHOLE COMMUTE. NOW STOP IT. IT’S GETTING WAY TOO CREEPY HERE ON THE RED LINE FOR ME.

DISCLAIMER: This post may be a little more information than you want to know about me. I am warning you … not for the faint of heart. (OK, OK being a bit dramatic … but maybe this editor’s note is more for me, and the fact that I am even writing this. Or have to.)

It’s no secret … I’m a big girl. Big belly, big thighs, big ass.

It is what it is. And what it’s always been.

And it’s something I am most of the time OK with. (Come on now … everyone’s got some things they want to change about themselves. But I’m much, much smaller than I was years ago, I’m a true vegetarian, I’m constantly moving, I’m healthy … and yes, hopefully one day I’ll find a gym that I actually like going to … and can afford … in my neighborhood. Ha.)

But to me, it’s not what defines me. (Want to pigeon-hole me? It’s the creativity … the kind and pure heart … the want to learn … the need to grow … that I’d rather be known for.) Again, it is what it is.

At least for me. The same can’t be said for others … both sort of good and really bad.

Let’s start with the bad, and get that out of the way. Coming home on the train last night, immersed in Bon Iver’s Daytrotter session, I was excited about the prospects of what awaited me in Uptown. It was the end of a rather long – but pretty decent – work day. Despite being in the midst of an hour-and-a-half commute, I was pretty upbeat. Until they got on the train.

Well her anyway.

Youngish couple, both short and thin. As soon as the doors closed, she looked at me like I was going to devour her, and well, quite frankly it scared me a little. Not to mention pissed me off. So, for a solid 10 minutes, I endured her points and comments to her boyfriend, the direct stares at me.

(And believe me … I wasn’t just being paranoid here. I am fortunate to have had very few people ever make fun of me because of my size. I know most see me instantly for my beauty … my sense of style … my openness. My Mom was the first to really point it out to me last time she was here. We were walking down Belmont, doing some shoe shopping – her for me, of course, my wonderful Mom – when she commented that everyone walking by just stared at me. Men, women … everyone … and in a good way. And it’s true. Usually.)

When the man got up from the seat across from me, and they sat down three feet from where I was standing, I knew in my gut I wouldn’t be able to take it anymore. I stood there, for a few stops, begging the stripped-down-then-upbeat, bluesy version of “Creature Fear” to drown out the thoughts in my head. Because here was the thing, she was ugly. Horribly broken down, beat-up ugly. (And no amount of money could hide it … no matter how much the boots she had on cost, it didn’t change her face, nor her aura.) And I never would have noticed it had she not been so obviously disgusted by me. Judge not, lest you be judged is truly the way to live for me, and I am thankful that each and every one of us is a different creature. And it saddened me to see all her bad.

Three stops before mine, I moved to the door and as far away from her as I could possibly get. But not from her stares. Seriously? Really?

And then the doors finally opened, and I was free. And I wished her along on her miserable “I’ve got it all” existence. Bye-bye.

But I have to give her boyfriend a little credit – which he needs if he’s with her – he never fed into her cruelty, at least as far as I could tell. In fact, I never even noticed him look my way past the first time. And believe me, whether I’m looking at you or not, I know when someone’s staring.

Which brings us to the good. (Well … kind of anyway.)

Ah, the stares. On a train, packed or not, lately I have a few instances of full-commute leering. (And I mean every time I looked up … the eyes were still there, locked on me. A few stops, OK … maybe. Five minutes … why don’t you just try to get my attention. 10 minutes … we’re getting a tad bit creepy here fellow. Craning your neck to stare at me out the window as I exit the train 30 minutes later … what gives, serial killer?)

Now, I’m OK with the frequent looks, the eye contact, the suggestive glances. We’re all human. And during rush-hour, we’re all about the same age … heading to an office where we almost won’t see the light of day until we walk out the door the next morning to board the train all over again. I’m sure many a lasting love-connection has been made during a commute. (Plus the help of craigslist.com.)

So cool. Check me out. I’m open to possibilities. (Actually, for the first time in a long, long time. Weird to some of you, I’m sure.)

But if you find me attractive enough to stare through your entire commute and you can’t even say hello, well, that’s just insane. You’re either a pervert or you care WAY too much about what other people think. (And unfortunately, yes, it’s what my best friend has decided is the problem when it comes to men and me.)

So stop undressing me with your eyes and just move on.

Or simply grow some balls. (Sorry Mom.)

It is what it is.

And this is my commute.

2009: MY YEAR IN REVIEW

ONE OF THE TOP MOMENTS OF THE YEAR FOR ME CAME AT PITCHFORK IN JUNE. I WAS MORE THAN EXCITED TO BE THIS CLOSE TO THE FLAMING LIPS FRONTMAN WAYNE COYNE. (EVEN IF I WAS IN AN AREA WHERE I WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE.)

JUST SOME OF THE BEAUTY DOWNTOWN CHICAGO HAS TO OFFER … ON ONE OF THE FEW SUNNY DAYS WE HAD THIS PAST SUMMER.

THE SHOW PUT ON BY DAN DEACON AT LOLLAPALOOZA THIS YEAR MADE ME PROUD TO BE A TRUE FAN OF MUSIC … AND EVEN HAPPIER THAT I GET TO WRITE ABOUT IT.

DURING A LABOR (NOT LABOUR) DAY BARBECUE WITH FRIENDS, HUXLEY AWAITS HIS SECOND PIECE OF STEAK EVER … HAVING JUST HAD HIS FIRST SECONDS BEFORE. NOW THAT MY FRIENDS, IS PURE JOY.

LIVING DOWN THE STREET FROM THE BUSIEST FIRE STATION IN CHICAGO TRULY HAS ITS DISADVANTAGES … BUT THE FIREMEN THERE ARE SO FRIENDLY, AND HUXLEY ALWAYS KNOWS HE CAN GET A TREAT. (IF IT’S WARM ENOUGH FOR THE GARAGE DOORS TO BE OPEN, THAT IS.)

THIS WAS ONE OF THE MOST PATIENT DOGS I HAVE HAD THE FORTUNE TO OBSERVE. LEADING HIS OWNER AROUND A CROWDED RED LINE HAS GOT TO BE A THANKLESS TASK, BUT I’M GRATEFUL I GOT TO SEE IT.

ALWAYS A HIGHLIGHT OF ANY DAY FOR ME IN UPTOWN IS ENJOYING A CUP OF COFFEE WITH JOEL BY THE WINDOW AT GOLDEN HOUSE RESTAURANT.

DESPITE HAVING TO RUSH MOST DAYS AS NOT TO MISS A TRAIN, I HAVE FULLY EMBRACED THE LIFE OF A COMMUTER THIS PAST YEAR … EVEN IF IT HAS BEEN DUE TO AN UNFORTUNATE SITUATION, THE LACK OF A WORKING CAR. (AND A SERIOUS LACK OF FUNDS TO REMEDY IT.)

THOUGH IT WAS SAD THAT MY BEST FRIEND ROBIN’S SON, GARY MICHAEL, BROKE HIS ARM OVER THANKSGIVING, IT WAS AN ENLIGHTENING EXPERIENCE BEING THERE TO SEE HIS CAST PUT ON. DESPITE BEING ONLY FIVE, HE HANDLED IT LIKE A TROOPER.

THIS FAMILY JUST CAPTURED ME ONE DAY ON THE LAWRENCE BUS. I DON’T KNOW IF IT WAS THEIR BLUE PUFFER JACKETS OR JUST HOW ANIMATED THEY ALL WERE, BUT I ENJOYED WATCHING THEM FOR BLOCKS.

AGAIN … WAITING FOR YET ANOTHER TRAIN, BUT I LOVE THIS VIEW FROM THE PLATFORM. THE ARAGON IS SUCH A MAGNIFICENT VENUE.

Oh 2009, won’t you just go away already?

Counting down what’s left of this year …

(Don’t be confused by the time stamp of this post, I can’t be bothered to change it from U.K. time. Even though I am punished for it by having certain words show up as misspelled … It’s theater, not theatre … it’s humor, not humour … But since most of you know London is one of my favorite (not favourite) places on earth, it’s kind of fitting.)

… and I am waiting with frenzied anticipation for this one to beat it.

Go away … Scram … We don’t want you around here no more.

Oh so close, is how I can best describe the past 365 days … or 397 if you stretch it back to when my Dad died. (It’s all quite a blur really, each has smudged into the next.)

It’s been a year of heartache, of adjusting to changed dynamics all across the board … family, friends, lovers … life in general.

Are you really still here 2009? It feels as if the few minutes it’s taken me to write this has been an eternity.

It’s been a year of stress, I type through clenched teeth. I have accomplished things professionally, and thankfully creatively, that I never thought possible. (Moments of which I wouldn’t have wished on anyone else, hence the anxiety. The ones that caused me to lose my sense of humor (not humour) a bit … painful …

But all of it mixed with such discoveries that I almost want to think it worth it.

Ah, those discoveries …

The writing … the photography … the moments I have been able to capture this year … that’s where I count myself so very fortunate. New experiences that I would have been jealous had I not lived them myself. Special moments in my life …

… Two feet from Wayne Coyne at Pitchfork … and sharing that wonderful weekend with fantastic friends; Ruining brand new shoes traipsing through pouring rain the first day of Lollapalooza while introducing my visiting Mother to the music of Bon Iver and Ben Folds … and sweating my ass off during the hottest day of the summer 24 hours later, grasping hold of the greatest 45 minutes of my festival-going life during the Dan Deacon Experience; Grizzly Bear entrancing ever fiber (not fibre) of my being at The Metro … and sitting by Pat Sansone (sigh) while numbed by the sound …

… My first full Christmas with my best friend of 17 years, spent with her in-laws in St. Louis … the joy on her kid’s faces when discovering Santa’s bounty and later while sledding is captured in my mind forever. (Along with the unfortunate moment when I sliced my hand through a glass candle holder playing Wii tennis. The sound of that is an mp3 somewhere in my brain.)

… Being able to fish with my nephew over Thanksgiving … Knowing I am fortunate enough to have amazing family that loves and misses me, as I do them. (But are accepting enough to know that Chicago is my home now … no matter how long I choose to try to survive it’s terrible winters. Allowing me to embrace everything Uptown has to throw at me … good and bad.)

… Finding a new friend, with an amazing number of things in common … someone I told more to than anyone else over the last seven months (And vice versa, as I thankfully got to hear wonderful tales of family life.) … only to have lost him yesterday to a new job in the city. Our daily commute will be mourned, along with the ladies who came to love me at the Starbucks where we met each morning, and the seat warmers in the Subaru.

… Again, so close. The always perpetual Catch-22.

(And notice I didn’t bring back up the boys? That’s because there’s only about seven hours of greatness I can take away from 2009 … A night that forced me to confront some walls … finally woke me up … changed me.  The rest … well, quite frankly, delete.)

But here’s to the next 52 weeks. Despite the hiccups of this past year, I am truly filled with hope. Opening a Christmas card today from a friend in California who unexpectedly welcomed a daughter this year, I was fully hit with the notion that life can change in a split-second.

So here’s to 2010 … may it be filled with wonderful things for everyone that I know and love, including me.

Now, if I can just make it through the next 3 minutes.

NONE OF US ARE ALL INTO EACH OTHER

This is a column I wrote in February 2009 for the movie release of “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

“He’s Just Not That Into You.”

Those six words seemed to set off a light bulb in women several years ago. Was it really that simple? Dating liberation.

A better title would have been “Just Get Over It.”

Trying to find a partner in the 21st century is a daunting concept of sorts. Times have changed. Men and women are closer than ever on so many levels: friends, jobs, social status, power … Especially the power in finding a compatible mate. (See, maybe SHE’s just not that into YOU.)

But, in a time when divorces are just as common as engagements, why is dating still so important? (And not to mention, neurotic.)

Singletons are always looking. Work. Missed Connections. eHarmony. Churches. Dog parks. Coffee shops. Bars. Friends of a friend of your uncle’s cousin.

You meet someone you fancy. A date is arranged, a new dress is bought, flowers are (hopefully) brought. He’s nervous. You’re nervous. But soon, the uneasiness passes and you realize you are actually having fun. “He’s interesting, kind of cute and really nice,” you think to yourself. “Maybe …”

But that is where the trouble begins. It is the perceptions and projections that come along with relationships that screw things up so badly. In our minds, we’ve already imagined the outcome: A happy, fairytale ending.

On a recent – and really great – blind date, my suitor and I shared the best first kiss I had ever had. He seemed really interested, and I was left wondering if maybe I was wrong not to feel more. “I’ll call you. I had a great time. We really need to get together again soon,” he said as he walked away from my apartment door. Flash-forward 24 hours later, and I had wasted a whole day reliving the kiss over and over again in my mind.

The truth was, it wasn’t really him I was interested in per se. But, because I have been raised in a society where the act of partnering is the norm, I began to imagine what it would be like to see him again. Our relationship. Our happy ending. But we’re all smart enough to know what “I’ll call you means.”

The Urban Dictionary gives the literal definition to this sentence as “I will never call you. Ever.” And to my shock, but little dismay, he didn’t. I will give him credit, though. I did receive an e-mail. You know the one: “You are a really great girl, I just don’t want to lead you on.” One more frog, I guess.

Maybe if I had read all of Greg Behrendt’s “book,” I would have known he would never call. I doubt it though. One thing Berhrendt fails to remember is that everyone is different. Every situation is different.

The only thing all of us a single people have in common? Hope for that ride off into the sunset.

But don’t set that fairytale in stone yet. There’s always, “Hey, we need to talk …”