Heck no, I’m not dating. I don’t have a Match.com account or an ad in the local paper that reads “Must love dogs” or “SWF seeking ______.” At this point in my life, I can’t even imagine getting in a car with someone never mind sitting down in a restaurant sharing my life story with them. For the first time in a long while, Teresa is mine, and I’m not really wanting to share her.
I have dated since Roger died and have even had some relationships I would consider serious, but nothing that had potential to last, and that’s really OK. They had their own family issues or insecurities that didn’t complement my life, like not being able to live up to Roger’s memory or they were openly uncomfortable with my general independence. Although I wish them well, it’s better that we’re not together. So, it’s not because of my loss of Roger that I am single and not wanting to share my life or room. It’s just because I don’t want to.
I remember when my Nana and Poppa had separate rooms at their house in Northampton, MA, I didn’t really understand why. They were right across the small hallway from each other at the top of the mauve, carpeted stairs. Both spaces were neat with simple furniture and no clutter. I just never understood why a married couple who held hands in public and danced with each other in the kitchen while making pancakes would want separate rooms.
Now, I totally understand it. I sleep in my room with two other girls; a young cat named T’Challa and a 90-pound German shepherd, Gisele. Throughout the night I turn on Frasier, Modern Family, or Everybody Loves Raymond when I can’t sleep, which is every night, and there’s nothing like freely munching on too-big mouthfuls of Cheerios with bananas in bed and tipping the bowl to finish the highly caloric whole milk. I don’t want to stop doing any of that. I want to wear my night guard which makes me drool with no shame, and I like having the window open in the winter.
I also don’t want to go on a date! Dressing up and talking about my life to a stranger gives me so much anxiety. I don’t want to buy Trident gum, perfume, or new razors and I don’t want that awkward end-of-the-night handshake or even worse, kiss. What’s wrong with me, right?
The most important thing is that I don’t feel like I’m lacking anything right now. I have two nightstands, two sinks in my bathroom, free rein of my moods with no explanation, and I don’t have to worry about someone feeling insecure about my independence. I don’t want to share the remote or attempt to meld two families. I tried that and it doesn’t work. People don’t understand that about me, and will say things like, “You’ll find someone one day.” I’m not looking for anyone, but why is that not socially acceptable for me or my sons? Why is it a life goal for so many people to be part of a whole?
Often when people ask how the boys are doing, they say, “Are they dating anyone?” That’s the first question usually, like a person is not whole unless they are with another. People are not halves; they are wholes who may be complemented by another whole. I’m not against couples, but why does it have to be the norm? Aren’t we past that as a society?
When Roger and I got together, I had just gone through a breakup and was not even willing to entertain dating again for a long time. It just happened. If that happens again in my life, I am not closed to it, but it would have to be someone who I can laugh with, who is good with my many quirks and obsessions, and who wouldn’t mind living in separate houses, even towns, because I haven’t felt this whole in many, many years.