So this year is the first year, at nearly 40, that I was part of a couple for Valentine’s Day. To me, this is one of the weirdest things ever. A year ago (and the year before that, before that, before that going back almost 40 years [okay, let's say 20 odd years...the fact is, I don't look back at myself at 5 and think that I didn't have a boyfriend], I was single. And if you’d asked me one year ago how Vday was going to be this year, I’d have expected the same. But now I live with my boyfriend. So, going into it this year, one thought goes through my mind, “What the hell happened?” (The explanation makes for a longer post, so be warned!)
Good question. Aside from a few brief and unspectacular nonrelationships (6 weeks max!), I had virtually no relationship history (but even so, managed to get pretty badly hurt in the past). I liked being single. No one to answer to and I have solitary habits. Another person would just make me uneasy and, who would put up with my baggage (and vice versa)? I had my life pretty much set up the way I liked it and didn’t want to change my routines. Was I ever lonely? Yes. But, not enough to invite someone else in who could threaten the even keel I saw myself on. But, mr. strivingcynic came along and knocked me off balance anyway.
I did not have “this man will change my life” thoughts when I met mr. sc. Our work brought us together (I had an incredibly bad work romance once before, so I was particularly guarded against this possibility). We had contact only occasionally, but for the most part we didn’t coincide. He, quite frankly, sort of annoyed me (ms. cynic, meet mr. amiability). We would interact, and if he showed interest, I would be sure to say something that showed the wall was up….if he retreated, I was triumphant. But, what I didn’t want to admit to myself that I was also disappointed, and perhaps the annoyance hid a bit of attraction. No matter what I said or did, he was pleasant and friendly. I was never sure of his interest (I didn’t see him that often, although the frequency had increased), but when I became certain, I decided to fling a number of weapons from my arsenal. He not only didn’t disappear, but stood his ground and asked me out (so, to be clear, I knew him a year ago, but we didn’t go out until March). And I realized that all the objections I had in my head didn’t alter the fact that he’d always been nice to me, and he made me laugh (in a way that would always catch me off guard in a good way), and he kept coming back. So, I said yes…..and immediately thought “What did I do!” “WHAT DID I DO???”
We had agreed to meet for coffee one evening. I thought about canceling (and heaven help me, not showing [I was scared!]), but I knew he didn’t deserve that and I resolved to just tell him after meeting him that although he seemed very nice, I just couldn’t handle the possibility of something more. All my anxieties kicked into high gear. But, the evening of our meeting, I got in my car, drove out to the coffee place, got there first and ordered (thinking I’d pay for my own and wouldn’t owe him…). He got there while I was ordering (and it turned out that they’d bring the food out to you and you paid at the end [unlike EVERY other coffee place]). I think my natural tendency to not want to be awkward kicked in, and having decided on my escape route (the friends I had called in a panic reminded me it was just coffee…didn’t have to be more), I sat down to talk to him. And I had a great time. I had beyond a great time….I laughed my head off and realized I really wanted to know more about him. Before saying goodnight, he asked me out again and I found myself saying yes.
How I got from that to living with him in the space of a year is a story for another day perhaps. But looking back over it all, what has impressed me the most was how easy I found it to spend time with him. All the things I thought would complicate us either turned out to be no big deal or were easily dealt with. I can tell you I’m very happy and incredibly shocked to find myself here!
That being said, I didn’t go into it thinking “ooohh…my first real Valentine’s” (first of all, bleah!). In fact, it was pretty low key due to some schedule stuff. But, over the years I sometimes hated Vday (another reminder that I’m single, great!) other years I barely noticed it (oh yeah, that’s why all the flowers). But, this Valentine’s just reminds me of how things have changed…being single was part of my identity for such a long time that I didn’t think I could or wanted to change it (one day I’ll post something about the way some people cannot accept you might actually be happy as a single person). Mr. sc was the first man who made me feel like I could be as happy with another person as by myself.
And it just goes to show you, a lot can change (my announcement to my friends that I had a boyfriend was an e-mail with the subject line “hell’s frozen over!). And I was very happy that I got to spend my first “coupled” valentine’s day (as an almost-40-year-old) with him.