|I joined an online dating site not too long after putting the ex out the door. I had high hopes initially, hell, lot of people on the site, locally, too. I placed a thoughtful and straightforward ad, posted a bunch of pics, and sat back.The emails began to roll in. Hell, this was too easy, lol. I began to read them, correspond with some.The initial burst of energy i felt began to dissapate rather quickly as i corresponded and read the email. Every single one reeked of dysfunction. Kay, perhaps i was being too hard on folks, I thought, no way could such a high percentage of people be toxic. Surely I’m being jaded, or too hard on them, setting my sights too high……..
Over the next year and a half, it became quite an education on the condition, psychologically, of the average single adult walking around out there. And not a pretty one. I’d come to the conclusion that a healthy person is not the average. The average person is unhealthy. Healthy is the rarity.Shit.
This is likely to be a long spell, I realized. After about a year and a half, I’d come to the point of I-just-don’t-give-two-shits-anymore. I had long since learned that sex does not equate to love, and that it was never really a necessity. My life was, is, very good. My daughter in my primary custody, legally…… bills paid mostly on time. Time to spend with her, lots of little adventures. Peace and tranquility abounded, no more drama at all. I had learned to separate the wheat from the chaff rather quickly now, amazing how a few sentences with someone, and i would just know whether they “got it” or not. I had two people i met in person on the site, nearly all others ended up getting the delete button. No time to kill on losers, I’ve only got so much time on this earth to kill, and that clock just keeps ticking. So, I kept busy at the task of living….. not existing, living.
I worked less, enjoyed more. I found myself, found the outdoors and nature again. I rediscovered many passions I had had in my youth, like going a a hard and fast tear on a mountain bike – riding so hard that when i came home and dismounted it felt like walking on taut springs rather than legs. Took great pleasure in small things i did with my daughter, soaked up as much of the positives of being a parent as i could possibly do. The first day of kindergarden, and being outside to have her run into my arms at the end of the day. Camping, so far out in the boonies, that we heard a pack of coyotes howl in unison, not more than 50-100 yards away. Kayaking, fishing. The first ER reunion in Ohio, where soph and i hung out and assisted Chris in the kitchen, went swimming with robin, and cycling with Greg . Fossil hunting in an area less than a mile from my home. Playing with slot cars, working on projects in the basement workshop. Bike riding together, exploring the world like we were both 5 years old. Road trips in the 72 vw bus camper, some through wilderness logging roads, some to the drive in movies. Some to tiny, out of the way silver 1950’s style roadside diners where the waitress still calls you “hun”, even if she’s 20 years younger than you, and where you can sit and sip coffee at the counter- while Sophia makes conversation with the staff, and then proceeds to order for me… As in, “he’d like coffee, and creamed chipped beef……. I’d like a hot dog and..” The whole while, waitress has a hysterical smirk on her face. We’ve gone to a local museum, to see dinosaurs bones and artworks, and been to an opening for a local author’s first book, a children’s book, a copy of which was free to every child, personally signed by the author, as well as read by the author to the kids. We went to a local spot that I knew from my childhood, where a creek goes down a 50 foot long sheet of rock, probably a 30 foot drop along it’s length….. a natural waterslide….. and spent a particularly hot august day squealing as we slid down it, as well as just lolling about in the icy cool stream, talking. We sat and watched insects – praying mantises and others that flocked to the tiny garden pond we built in the backyard. We tamed 5 tiny wal-mart koi to the point that we could feed them by hand, and named them flash, moonbeam, nemo, spot and bingo. We rode a little antique red wagon down some hills. Tended to a garden in the back yard. Learned from a gardening friend that the reason our strawberry patch in the back yard was not producing sweet enough berries anymore, was because we needed to add rabbit manure. Imagine trying to explain to a 5 year old that her pet bunnies shit would make our strawberries actually taste better, not like shit, LOL. Shot over 2000 digital photos, of things worth photographing, documenting little bits of life. While driving to the supermarket, we found a lost soccer ball in the street, stopped, and took it directly to a local park, where we giggled like idiots while both playing soccer for the first time, just the two of us.
For the cost of nothing, i acquired some old unwanted roof racks from an old phone company van, cut and welded them as necessary to make them fit, and mounted them on the vw bus, enabling me to carry the kayak, bikes, and mount an also free canopy to the side for camping – a crank out deal that allows me to set up in 30 seconds, wherever i park for the night. We went picking blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, still in the freezer and used for the occasional smoothies we make in the blender. We camped, free, on a friends property where our campsite was at the peak of a mountain, the highest spot for miles……. where the sky’s horizon seems a full 180 degrees and the night stars, the milky way, are visible to the naked eye. We sat around many campfires, toasted marshmallows, cooked hot dogs, and talked of little things while snuggling on a folding chair.
Such an amazing year and a half. I feel as though I’ve crammed a lifetime of simple pleasures into that period. I’m thankfull I’ve been such a hard sell, thankful that i refused to lower my standards to simply have someone at my side, for just the sake of having someone there. Aside from the obvious dysfunction that would have ate at me, it would also have kept me from living these things, had i allowed another mentally unwell person into my life.
As I review it now in my head, damn, it’s been a good life, this short period of time. I’m glad i took the time to heal, the time to fix myself. The time to simply be a dad……… and hopefully instill in my daughter these same values. I no longer regret the years wasted before – i focus now on cherishing every minute i have here, and enjoy life and my loved ones immensely. I also note that nearly all of the past 1 1/2 years escapades, cost extremely little or nothing at all. So the old saying that the best things in life are free, makes sense.
I was 39 years of age before I even learned how to truly live.
I’m just so damn happy that i made the choice to not lower my standards. The past year and half has been the best of my life. I’m looking forward to the rest of it being that way. Living, not just existing.