I have been dating or going out and meeting new people for about a year now. I have met some really interesting people and have learned new things. I have made some new friends which I greatly cherish. I have gone out for some really nice dinners, concerts, movies, and I even had a great lunch and a great day walking the Grand Haven beach. This winter I went to a strip club and got my very first lap dance (I would never would have gone if it hadn’t been for E.K.). This past weekend I even got to drive a Porsche Boxter (I didn’t even stall it or grind the gears!). This same evening I was introduced to a really cool couple who shared their family, their beautiful home and (after finding out my love for reading) gave me more books.

But I am not so convinced that I am really actually enjoying myself 100% of the time.

I have fully analyzed myself. This is what I have to report:

The wave of fear crushes me near the end of every one of these evenings. I feel the weight of water in these men’s stares. They shuffle their feet. I know they are waiting for an intimate kiss. I feel dread come up like bile.

All of a sudden I feel I want the world to swallow me whole. I don’t want anyone getting inside that respectable Edward T. Hall’s two feet comfort zone. I am not fumbling for any keys. I am pushing on that car door handle and clicking it shut tight and hitting it fast and hard running for my front door.

I get looks of exasperation. I get eye rolls. I get sermons on how I need to open up, that I need to let go, that I need to let someone in. I get offers for men to take care of me (O.K. for the record I don’t want to be taken care of). I get offers for men to fix my house (O.K. thanks that is really nice but then you see first hand my most intimate setting). I get offers to do my taxes (O.K. but I think you just really want to see how much money I make and if I own any real estate). I get grilled about my work and how that is basically fucking up my whole notion that there could ever be a “normal” couple or relationship. I get asked to go on some really nice vacations. Then I ask if I can take Amy. (We all know what men suggest next).

They think they are being funny. I am deadpan serious. I want Amy to get invited too and I want my very own room.

So then these men just fade away and don’t call me back. Who can blame them? I certainly can’t.

What I have been waiting for—that raw nature of man—is standing right before me telling me that I am wonderful, beautiful, smart, and sexy………and I am running out of the water like I was stung by a man-o-war. I am jet skiing myself out onto dry beach sand. I want to feel that hot heat under my feet and between my ugly toes. I want to go home to my blue-sky, Key West bedroom filled with books, pictures, tea lanterns and my journals. I don’t want to be intruded upon, held or even touched.

I know these men might like me and all of a sudden I wish they didn’t. It would be easier if they didn’t. It would be less scary. I don’t want the pressure. I don’t want the relationship speech.

I don’t know how to make these great people understand my problem. I don’t want my kids to meet just some random man. I don’t want my parents to just meet some random man.

I get that there are no guarantees. I understand that. But my family is my booty and treasure. I don’t want to subject them to just anyone.

I don’t want to share these worlds. I don’t want the Rubik’s cube squares to get all mixed up. Blue stays with Blue. Yellow stays with Yellow. I don’t want any coloring outside of the lines.

I had given this luxury to someone I thought would be lasting, true, honorable, kind and good. He ate in our homes. He witnessed our banter, our love, and our caring.

Then he just closed that door ever so softly behind him.

So now and in time, I totally grasp with full appreciation, the desire to just have a physical relationship for the sake of just having a physical relationship. No one gets hurt. No promises are suggested or made. No one is tricking themselves that the relationship will evolve into anything more than two pigs rolling around in the mud.

(The nuns at my elementary school would cringe if they knew I wrote this or even suggested such a thing.) But Sr. Felicia, I can see clarity in this. I don’t want to be tangled up. I don’t want to be controlled. I don’t want to be guilt-ridden. I want peace in my soul. I don’t want anymore sadness. I don’t have to share my thoughts, my feelings, my coffee can soul. I can empty myself. I can slip out of a house at 2 a.m. and never be heard from again. But even E.K. got all irritated and snotty when I tried to be straight forward, forthcoming, honest, and good.

I totally grasp with full appreciation how this works for people. I totally grasp with full appreciation a fantasy man or a work of fiction I can create.

My real dates all have the same exhausting theme. These men ask me what I see in them. What could they possibly offer a woman like myself. The younger men not seeking a family call on me. I look fun, older, financially stable, and possibly would enjoy the company of a younger viable strong sexually active male. The older men ask me about the younger men. They ask why a person like me is still single. They ask me what do I want. They look at me suspiciously. They look at me like I am a raw saminolia cracked open egg. The physics professor just asked me, “Jodi what is it that you want?”

After thinking about it this is what I have to say:

I want a best friend. Those are really hard to come by. They don’t come in over night. Time builds that friendship. I want space to be me and to express myself. I don’t want to be rushed or told how I should feel or what I should do. I don’t want to be pressured. Right now I want to be up on that beach. If you want to swim around in the water with other sharks—ok—go swim. For now I am good with my 94 SPF, sunglasses, and beach towel. I am just fine sitting next to that really good looking lifeguard perched in that lifeguard station.

For now I want to sit on the beach, have fun, socialize and play some beach volleyball. If and when I get good and hot I imagine I will eventually want to get into the water.

I understand that I might miss your boat or that you might decide to swim away.