When the day I started Aunt Becky’s came around, I started referring to it as my “jam-i-versary”. My sister Heather groaned and said “this is the longest relationship you’ve had in a while”. Um, thanks? Sadly, she is right.
Disclaimer: This post is almost completely unrelated to jam. Also, some might call it an “over-share”. You’ve been warned.
I was married for 10 years, from age 19 to 29. Getting married at 19 always seems like a good idea. Needless to say, I’ve been divorced now for 10 years. The first three years after my divorce, I spent my time in intense counseling for severe childhood abuse. The next two years after that I spent my time doing the grueling, but effective, Gerson Therapy to address my multiple sclerosis. Whew! Then in moved back to Portland and declared it to be the “Summer of fun!” Once again, my sister, this time Rachel, teased me and asked me if it was the same as the “Summer of George”!?! If you haven’t seen that particular Seinfeld episode, you are missing out; I was not flattered to be compared to George Costanza. The Summer of Fun turned into the start of five years of fairly bad dating experiences.
Now, there’s something you should know before I go on. My “problem” with this whole situation is not that I don’t like men, as a male friend recently asked. It’s actually quite the opposite. I know enough really good men that I know what it looks like. Men who loved me when I was freaking out about something small. Men that have been incredibly kind and gracious. Men who are funny. Men who fix things and teach me how to fix them myself. Men who have encouraged me when I was in despair. Men who are okay with discussing, gasp, their feelings and listening to me express mine. Men who hug me appropriately like a sister rather than trying to squeeze my boobs. Let’s be honest ladies, you know what I mean. Men who say what they mean and do what they say. Men who actually return phone calls and treat me with dignity and courtesy.
Okay, now that we have the basics out of the way, I’ve really worked myself up for a good Taylor Swift style rant. I think that Facebook is helpful to stay in touch with friends and see photos and share cute videos. But it’s usually insanely positive sprinkled with crazy ranting, like uber crazy. I’ll try not to dive off the deep end here. But it’s been a very rough five years! My sisters and friends can’t keep track of the names of the men I’ve dated. It’s not that I’m “easy”, only that I keep trying when all evidence points to the futility of the whole thing. Okay, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic with the word futility, but hey, that’s where I’m at.
I read a blog today by another blogger about using faults in online dating profiles to cut to the chase. The blog is called “My Dating Profile” by Key + Arrow and you can find it here. Not only is it incredibly funny, but it’s also poignantly accurate. The men I have dated have been brilliantly educated and blue collar workers. They are dads and single guys. They make more and less money than me. (Since I’m a CPA, people often feel compelled to tell me about their financial status and situation, even though I don’t really care.) They are funny and interesting and troubled. They have taken me to San Francisco, Nashville, and Kansas City. I learned to hike and run. There are lots of good things too. In the spirit of this rant and in order to give you a flavor of what’s I’ve been dealing with, I made a list of the deal breakers or individual traits of some of the men I’ve dated. In no particular order:
- the alcoholic baseball fanatic
- the angry probation server
- the short-term marriage proposer
- the cheap-skate pervert (who, even though I was starving, refused to order food until happy hour started at 9pm and asked me if I wore “a sexy apron” at craft shows. I responded that I was only selling jam and not by body… or my soul)
- the bitter divorcee and runner
- the recently fired flake
- the enraged cult member
- the apocalypse preparer and metal-detector
- the incredibly nice bore
- the hot mess
- the hiking professor
- the controlling creepily-small-handed addict
- the extreme introvert
- the friends-with-benefits commitment phobic
- the extremely angry hater of all things including “gay people, people who live in the Hawthorne neighborhood in Portland, and (my favorite) people who ride bicycles with banana seats” (all his words)
- the big promisor but stander-up-er
- the narcissist
- the unemployed dreamer
Why oh why do I keep trying?!? Well, I have the gift of faith. I believe people can change. I see the good and fuzz over the challenging. It’s strangely who I am. After years of difficulty and pain, I can only explain it by saying it’s a gift that God has given me, the gift of faith. Also, I know I am loved even if I never get married again. It’s not about one person “fixing” everything. It’s about being loved deeply by God and the people who are in my life. I am loved and Aunt Becky to seven nieces and nephews. And I’ll always have jam. Every time I have a difficult dating experience, I can always still make jam. My sister Rachel says my angst gets stirred into every jar. While at the beginning of a batch, she may be right, by the end of the canning process, I know it will be okay. I will be okay. And I’m learning to get out quickly. And who I am. And what I want and need. And maybe jam will end up being the love of my life. And I will get to pass on my “jam empire” to Chef Lily. Who knows. For today, that works.
In the interest of fairness, these are the labels I would use for myself:
- the emotionally high-maintenance, affectionate foodie
- the nerdy sci-fi and poetry lover
- the gift-giving gardener
- the spreadsheet-loving accountant
- the child-spoiling Aunt
- the old soul, but young antics, jam-maker
All are true. And I am okay with that. And maybe someday I’ll meet another imperfect person like myself who will fit. In the meantime, I’ll make more jam.