Mayte's Dating Chronicles: context
Let me paint you a picture. It is 2012. "Call Me Maybe" is a phenomenon. President Obama is re-elected and the northeast is recovering from Hurricane Sandy. And I... well, I am a young vibrant thing living in Brazil about to head back home to the states. I say things like "the states" when I meant "The Bronx". I'm single, had been single for the last year or two. Memory's a little hazy. I'm sure there was a heartbreak that led to my dramatic retreat to Brazil. Regardless, there I am...still a young vibrant thang (thing but with an a so you know I'm serious) when I happen upon a friend's facebook post where I see another familiar name to me. I couldn't quite place where I know this man from. Until it hits me...xanga! For the purposes of this story, let's call him "Barnes". Sprinkle in some cute back and forth and boom, we have a relationship. Almost straight out of a rom-com, my favorite.
Now let's fast forward to the year is 2017. Now Donald Trump is president. Despacito makes my hips move even when I don't want it to. Barnes and I had been together for four years; we're engaged and going to be married. Allegedly. That's what you would think an engagement would mean. We're living in Long Island. Literally in Amityville. In hindsight, the universe was being very clear and I was being very dense.
Cut to May 2018 and I'm single, living alone and wondering how life happened so quickly. Because on a Monday, I was engaged and on a Tuesday, I was in a hotel wondering where I was going to live on such short notice. No ring on any finger. It wasn't until July that it hit me -- I wasn't in a relationship anymore. May and June were dedicated solely to shelter and making sure I kept my job. But July was when I started to notice the loneliness. The particular ache that comes from craving intimacy.
Have you ever missed the small things like the way your partner will squeeze past you in the kitchen? Or the way a banister feels like the person you love was just there?
Have you ever missed the way you thought your life was supposed to go?
Life should really come with some kind of rulebook. At least for the big stuff. The big stuff that no one talks about. The awkwardness of grief. Mourning the loss of the "What if's" that kept you going on the darkest of days. How it's okay to be bored. How we all need people sometimes. It'd be helpful. Starting over was painful. What was I supposed to do now? Long term planning seemed cruel. And I had had enough of cruelty. I wanted peace and could only find it in short bursts and so that's how I lived my life. Small to do lists that turned my life into bite sized pieces of routine. It was all I could stomach. It was my reintroduction to grace and to parenting myself in a way I never knew would be required of me.
Overall, summer 2018 was pretty hazy (there's that memory again) but I do know it was when "dating" started back up for me. Now, if you remember our timeline... the last time I was without a partner was 2012. Needless to say, I entered the dating scene confused, overwhelmed and also concerned. In case you were wondering, it is abysmal out here in these streets. 0/10 do not recommend.
Now, was I dating for a relationship? Absolutely not. I just got out of one, I wanted no parts. This was one of the first things that I had to come to terms with. Things don't always have to be so serious. I was allowed to want to feel desirable. I was allowed to flirt. I was allowed to want some company even if it was just some mindless back and forth text. Who doesn't love a good date?
I get to be soft. I get to be temporary. It was possible for me to not need something to stay. It was possible for me to encourage things to go, to be the one who says goodbye.
And that is when a couple of friends re-introduced me to "Sunshine". For the record, I am not complaining but I would not be Mayte if I didn't remind everyone that Meghan Markle's friends introduced her to a literal prince. Sunshine is okay but y'all, a literal prince. Now that I've gotten that off my chest - back to the program. Sunshine is kind of a recurring character in the Dating Chronicles. There was also "Topaz". "Marvel" is another recurring character. But wait, I think I'm getting ahead of myself.
The Dating Chronicles was very simply the title of some facebook posts I would make about my dating life. Little quips, cute musings, snapshots into the dating life of a formerly fiancee'd woman. Mostly it was a lot of "wtf? is this real life?" and "hashtag team forever alone". Sometimes I asked questions, crowd sourcing for dating best practices. People would chime in with advice. I'd get perspective. I'm okay being wrong. Other times, I need a cosign to know I'm right. I spent the better part of 6 years ignoring my instincts. I was an unreliable partner though I had the kindest of intentions. In my past relationships, it was clear I had no idea what I was doing. Turns out I knew even less about casually dating. But I was okay with my cluelessness for two reasons:
1. I am not the smartest person I know. So if I didn't know, I knew somebody else would.
2. I wouldn't be clueless for long. I know how I am.
I would screenshot exchanges, crop out any identify information and ask questions like "Am I wilding? Am I being unreasonable? What does this mean?" But I'm also petty so sometimes I just had to share the foolishness I would see. Sometimes it felt good to laugh.
I'm trying to be a better person, scout's honor.
Back in 2018, I was seeing everything through a filter of trauma. Silly as it seems, these facebook posts grounded me because I trusted the community I'd built to ground me.
As a fat, black woman who was recently single (and truthfully that breakup felt like a divorce), dating was frightening. It still is. Do you know how much society hates fat women? Fat, black women? Fat, black women who know they deserve to be happy? A lot. Society hates it a lot. Here's the kicker - I didn't realize how much of that hate I had internalized. Somewhere along the line I made the decision that no one want to be with me ever again because I was fat. The Dating Chronicles helped me realize that sometimes my community's voice was louder than mine, and at that time mine was unkind. So the comments on those posts turned out to be.a gift.
Another reason I started the dating chronicles?
I'm low-key nosy. Deep down, I also wanted to know if dating was hard for other people. Turns out it is! Misery loves her some company.
Pictured: me before a date back in 2018. Spoiler alert: it was terrible.
Many people have suggested (very aggressively) that the Dating Chronicles should be a blog. And originally, this whole blog was just going to be the dating chronicles. But (context: I'm a heterosexual cisgender woman) men are exhausting and I take frequent breaks from dating. For example, I'm not currently on any dating apps and Covid has me in my apartment looking out the window like a loser. Data shows there's a high probability that I will be on team #foreveralone for an extended period of time and then I'd have no content for this blog. But don't worry, I date just enough to remind myself and everyone around me that God has a sense of humor. It's also helpful that I do more than just date and that was before Covid-19 decided my love life was going to be a recurring joke in 2020.
So there's your context.
Because dating is a two way street, I will share what I think is responsible for me to share. These stories aren't just mine. I'm not always the victim, I'm not always the hero, I'm not always the villain. So I will storytell to the best of my ability and leave the rest to the memories.
Drink some water. Wear a mask.