Monday, August 2, 2010

Changing My Mind

Something changed this weekend.  Besides the very obvious lack of rapid fire, incessant text messages.  For the first time in what I can remember of my adolescent and adult life, my inner monologue said words to me that I had never heard before.

I couldn't resist. I loved the 80's.
Through most of my life since "boyfriends" and "girlfriends" became more than just the person whose name followed the heart after your name scribbled on your Trapper Keeper, I've been either in search of or pursuing someone.  There hasn't been much time where I've actually been with someone.  Think what you will about me, but that's just the way it is.  I can't rewrite my history or make different decisions, but I sit here today pretty significantly behind the curve.  We talked about this history or the lack thereof a little bit before, remember?

While in pursuit or in search, my brain would do weird, very anti-Melanie things.  I'm not generally a jealous person, but I'd see people in public, happily frolicking through the tulips, arms linked, and smiles so bright they could light a city, and think, "Urgh.  I hate them."  Anyone displaying anything even resembling a public display of affection, and I'm talking as tiny as holding hands, would at least get my eyes squinted at them and possibly rolled, sometimes followed by a huff and a puff, and maybe even with an exclamation of my hatred for PDA.  Occasionally, I'd be accompanied by another grizzled, bitter Singleton who would reiterate my sentiments and justify my disgust. 

But, this weekend, I realized that my brain had made an obvious shift.  My moment of discovery came while sitting in the Target parking lot.  I saw a couple, about my age, come out of the sliding doors rather quickly, cackling with laughter.  You could instantly tell by the way they were looking at each other that they were more than friends.  They continued their merry stroll across the road and into the parking spaces, where he very innocently and sweetly took her hand and together they walked to the car.

Now, a few months ago, my reaction to this very short interlude would have probably been some form of fake vomiting.  Even retelling this story would have made me consider skipping lunch from nausea.  But, somewhere, somehow, my brain was able to muster up new words that I'd never heard from it before:  "That's what I want."  "Where'd that come from?," I asked my brain in bewilderment.  "All this hard work you've been doing lately," it responded to me with a proud grin. It was both strange and reassuring to not feel my usual resentment for this happy couple, so I started my usual Type A response (analyzing things until your head spins) and tried to decipher what about what I had just witnessed created this shift in emotions.

The difference was that I didn't envy the couple what they had with each other or on their own, for that matter.  I didn't look at her and think "Well, she's got him because she's cute/skinny/tall/blond/etc. and I'm not."  I can't even really tell you too much today about what they looked like.  Their physical appearance is not what I remember; I remember their connection.  That connection was instantly recognizable and made me happy for them that they'd found it with each other.  I also remember their ease with each other.  They didn't care if the whole world was watching them be silly; two grown adults almost skipping on a Sunday afternoon in broad daylight in the middle of an overcrowded, back to school weekend, shopping center.  All they cared about for those few seconds was that they were happy with each other, right then.  When he slipped his hand around hers at her side, it seemed like the natural next thing for them to do, as if they'd been holding hands their whole lives. 

Although I am well aware of the fact that no relationship is perfect regardless of how it may look from the outside, I immediately responded with wanting that connection and comfort in a relationship of my own.  I'm sure this seemingly head-over-heels couple have their down moments, just like anyone else. But, unlike before, I didn't want her boyfriend, I didn't want her hair, her makeup skills, her perfect beach body or her sparkling white teeth.  I didn't want a cookie cutter version of him or his Jeep or a guy who could wear sandals and make them look fashionable.  I didn't care about any of the visual elements of the scenario, just the emotional.  And suddenly I started looking at everything differently.  A man with a shopping cart full of children came running out of the same doors, beaming from ear-to-ear as his speed increased and then he jumped onto the back of the cart, riding through the parking lot with his children squealing in delight.  They rolled past my car and you could tell that this father was the happiest he could be in that moment.  "I want that, too," my brain answered.  "Got it," I replied, "a guy who loves his kids and wants to act like a kid with them." (Possible double-edged sword, but I'll take it.)  Now, the mother didn't seem overly excited about this potentially hazardous activity, but I'm sure, deep-down, she loves that he loves it.

Maybe I'm growing up, maybe I'm starting to realize that just because I'm not in relationship doesn't mean the rest of the world can't be.  Maybe I'm taking a better inventory that will help me make better decisions in the long run.  Whatever the reason for my shift in mindsets was really quite liberating and enlightening.  Kind of like when you first discovered you could read and kept looking everywhere to find more words to reel off to anyone who would listen. 

Don't get me wrong, I will still sneer at same-side-of-the-booth couples.  That's where I draw the line.


  1. What a great post, Melanie!

    By the way...I also sneer at the same-side-of-the-booth couples. It really annoys me and I think a lot of people just do it for attention. You can't even see into the person's eyes when you are right smack next to them!

  2. Well, they're getting negative attention from me! LOL Plus, sometimes I like a little room when I'm eating. I think I'd constantly be saying "Get off me!" I just wonder why some people can't go 30 minutes without full body contact with each other. A bit clingy in my book!

  3. Melanie! I tried to get your attention when you were at the store and you were in your own world :) I'm not a big fan of PDA (just ask my husband who would rather kiss me while walking than anything else lol), so I can relate! You are just fantastic girl!!!

  4. Aw, man! I did look for you up at the registers, but was on a mission! I got there and thought "Why is the entire city in Target today?" and then realized that I must have some kind of subconscious death wish and had gone retailing the day before school started! Thanks, my love, you're pretty awesome yourself. I think guys are always big fans of PDA. I've watched my dad literally torture my mom for 30 years with public displays of affection. I think it's a territory thing, like "See, this chick? She's mine, watch this!" LOL

  5. The only reason I sit on the same side of the booth as my significant other is because the hostess perpetually sits us under the a/c vent and I would freeze without another person's body heat next to me! An added perk is that it's easier to steal his french fries...

  6. All right, all right. Body temperature is a valid excuse, I guess. So is french fry stealing. ;)


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