I usually carry three bags when I leave the house in the morning.  One is for the gym, one is for the extras I am taking to the office, and one is for whatever miscellaneous obligations I have scheduled.  There is always something extra.


I like being busy.  I like exploring new interests.  I like meeting new people.  I hate saying no.


The combination means I stay busy.


It also means I never have enough time to devote to anything.


If I want to work out every day and consume two or three books each week I can’t write three drafts of this week’s post.  If I set up a meeting for a non-profit organization I can’t really help my niece with the problems she is having with learning how to read.  Or really be there for my friends.  Or spend enough time on my job search to actually send out resumes.  Or finish my quilt.  Or organize all of the recipes I have saved.  Or learn how to knit.  Or improve my French.  Or do any of the million other things I would like to do.


I have virtually given up movies and t.v..


I consider it a good night if I sleep six hours.


Despite my best efforts, I have a hard time putting down the books.  Even when I try to read them slowly I rush through because I have to know how they end.


I am lucky to have the resources to dip my toes into so many pools.  It is fun to indulge my curiosity, regardless of how whimsical it might be.  There are so many options!  The shiny things that glitter the world keep me spinning in glorious circles.


But I only get to see the glitter as it twinkles by.  I don’t catch it.  I don’t know what it smells like or feels like.  I only know that it seems pretty.


I date the same way.


Now that I am on the one-date-a-month plan I am paying more attention to my patterns and thinking about what I am looking for in a man.  It turns out I am nervous about dating.  It isn’t so much the first date; a good first date is an unexpected bonus, and after enough bad dates you find ways to appreciate the evening regardless of the person across from you.


My problem is with the getting-to-know you part of dating.  Of course I want to know a lot about a guy who makes it out for a second round.  But I don’t really want him to get to know me.  I want to amuse him, entertain him, make him think, make a good impression…. But I want to control the conversation and deflect anything too personal.  I don’t want to explain myself.  I don’t want to watch him judge me.  I don’t want to see that moment when it flashes across his eyes that this isn’t going to work.  It’s hypocritical.  I have those moments a lot.  No matter how much energy I expend steeling myself for the moment I am on the receiving end, however, the anticipation of it overwhelms me.  I also don’t want to get my hopes up about actually finding someone I want to connect with, and it is easier if I hold myself apart.


So I keep it easy.  The men are shiny objects floating by.  I bounce past without getting to know them.  It’s so simple to keep it about sex.  Everyone leaves happy and it doesn’t get personal.  Besides, I like knowing how the stories end.


But it doesn’t get personal.  It stays easy and rushes past.  You nod and smile at each other as the breeze pushes you on.  There are more men to distract me.  There are other dates to schedule.


I control the relationship by controlling my time.  I’m sorry; my schedule is so full.  I can only give you a couple of hours.


I want to learn appreciate what comes from getting to know each other, and knowing that you can count on each other.  It’s been so long since I’ve opened myself up that way, it seems like it was a different person who fell in love once upon a time.  But I suspect that the beauty that comes from successfully taking the chance is what I am craving now.


Maybe I just need to stop rushing my life and the people who come into it.  Maybe I need to stop excusing myself whenever life gets uncomfortable and learn to work through the fear, or the pain, or the boredom, so I can appreciate something about the glitter besides the way it shines.


I need to stop taking on new habits and practice enjoying old habits at a new level.  I need to learn how to slow down and enjoy the book instead of just pushing to the end.


I need to turn my time into welcome mats instead of stacking it into barbed wire fences.