It’s Valentine’s Day Eve, and I am single, and 34, and nary a glass of wine in sight, just a wee bag of M&Ms. Didn’t even go out – just hosted community group at my house. Who is this new me? I haven’t cried once all day and didn’t even buy myself over-priced flowers. Gone are the Valentine days of the past where I would wear all black, celebrate Singles Awareness Day (with its unfortunate acronym, S.A.D.), blast “I Will Survive” and complain about all things exes and dating. At least for this year.
No wait I want to complain about dating a bit. Just a little bit.
Why is it so hard to meet someone? Just one normal, smells nice someone?
Being a teacher means I have different hours than most people in Hong Kong. If you’re not a teacher, your day starts and ends a lot later. By the time most guys are leaving the office and headed to happy hours, where we might pounce on them (If you haven’t seen “Elder Millenial” on Netflix yet, do yourself a favor and watch it as a documentary about women in their twenties and thirties. Amazing.), we as teachers are either
- Lol, we didn’t go out, aren’t going out, we’re tired or
- We started happy hour at 4, we purposefully dehydrate ourselves all day so we don’t have to leave the children unattended and go pee, so we had a few glasses of wine and now it’s 6pm and we need to go home and go to bed because we’re tired or
- The marker all over our hands, unidentifiable stains at child-height in strange places, general smell of funk that comes from working with small children, and the fact that we hardly ever stop talking about the crazy meeting/email/parent/ child du jour drives them away.
So, as I mentioned, I’m on a few dating apps. And I find several parts of it difficult.
Let’s start with setting up your own profile. Finding the right mix of photos that say “I’m fun” and “I’m cute” and “No baggage” and “child-bearing hips” is hard work. They have to show personality, your sense of humor, your passions, and you have to be the cutest one in every picture. Then you have to put them in ORDER. The first one is essENTIAL. Because most of the time, we are first-look people.
Then sum up who you are and what you’re looking for in a tweet-size caption and throw it out to the wolves. Sit back (on the edge of your seat, anxious, wondering if you’ve chosen the right anything) and wait for the likes and superlikes and pokes and winks and all the other nonsense to come in. And it does! And it feels good! Oooh a mutual like! Heart eyes!
But THEN. Nine times out of ten, nothing happens after that. Oh, you might get a “hey cutie,” but usually that’s it. Maybe one guy asks a “where u from” or something lazy like that.
Every once in a while, you start chatting though. And you hit it off. There is banter, and my goodness, banter is sexy.
But it’s Valentine’s Day eve. The WORST time to even think about starting something. It is the kiss of death!
So why do I find myself giggling at my phone every few minutes? Why is he being so funny? Why am I already planning our futures together when he hasn’t even asked me out? We haven’t even upgraded this to Whatsapp yet, but I’ve got a mental rough draft of the next five years based on the very limited information we’ve exchanged.
It’s exhausting being a girl.
Workout update – canceled my class tonight and just did some low impact cardio because I hurt and sometimes you have to listen to your body. Tried to find the limit of how many times I can listen to “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande, but it does not exist.
Day Five – Valentine’s Day.
An unexpected benefit of living in Hong Kong, where I am at least 12 hours ahead of most people I know, is that everyone else’s Valentine’s day back home in the States hasn’t even started to really happen by the time I’m getting really depressed about it. I’m going to bed by the time people start the online posting their declarations of love and whatever cute “unexpected, I really don’t want you to spend any money on me, no stop, I hate flowers, why am I married to the perfect man,” posts.* If I’m smart enough, I don’t even torture myself by looking at them all. I’m not smart, but IF.
I didn’t wear red (or black) to school today, and it was a normal, busy day. No decorations, my officemate printed out a picture of a rose as a present after I gave him a hard time for not doing anything for all the lovely ladies he works with, I didn’t even eat chocolate. And conversation hearts are apparently over? And like, no one consulted me about this? They are my FAVORITE candy. Because I like the taste of colored chalk, apparently. One year my bestie shipped me like six pounds of them from New York to Brazil. I ate them all in one week. Amazing.
I went back to the gym. My Russian crush and mean “I don’t think you can do this” trainer were both there. I had interesting interactions with both of them.
Today was resistance day, which is a lot of muscle work. Which I need, because the only muscles I consistently work out are
Okay so yeah I need this muscle work thing. Boris (probably not his name) in all his tall hotness, kept coming over, putting a hand on my shoulders or my abs and asking if I could feel the muscles contracting where they were supposed to. To which I could only sputter, red-faced and sweating, that I was 99% sure that there weren’t any muscles there at all, and where could I buy some? He also did this cute thing where he stood on my feet and made me lift the medicine ball higher and higher to slap against his hands as I crunched up and I was giggling but also like “omg please don’t smell me I might possibly smell how sweaty am I right now I think it’s pretty sweaty omg he’s so cute how young is too young because he makes my tummy feel funny or is that an ab growing?”
Mean trainer likes to speak softly and correct my form while I’m standing under speakers, that were helpfully pumping jams from high school prom at a million decibels (so every three minutes I said “I LOVE THIS SONG” to no one. Think Mya, J.Lo., Motownphilly, TLC. I was digging it.) right above my head, so I kept having to ask “what? Do what where? I can’t hear you!” like the grandma I think she wanted me to feel like. She tried to suggest I do something during a certain move and I was so frustrated that I said (possibly too loudly) “I can’t do that because boobs! My boobs are in the way!” To which she laughed and said “I’m jealous, actually.”
To which I said “COOL.”
Jk I said “haha yeah well. A bit cumbersome at the mome-” the rest was forgotten and drowned out by my squealing because Color Me Badd came on the speakers.
*please don’t feel guilty about these posts. I’m happy for you.
Day Six – Galentines Day
One of the most important elements of anything I do is the playlist. It is the building block of my productivity. Need to write a blog a day? Start with a playlist. Have to pack for a huge trip? Better make a long playlist first. Need to shave legs? A playlist will help. For my wee Galentine’s Day celebration, I wanted to make a “it’s super okay to be single” playlist. But turns out it’s really hard to not find songs about being single that don’t seem angry or vaguely threatening. Or hyper-sexual. And those vibes were not going to work for me. I’m still looking for my ultimate single and ready to mingle with the snacks anthem. I’ll keep you posted. I’m open to suggestions.
But yeah, some of my girlfriends came over, and we busted out Mystery Date, which my mother helpfully sent me TWO copies of, by accident, just in case I forget I’m single. And still really excited to play children’s games. Apparently the only first date options back in the fifties or whenever this game was originally invented were bowling, a fancy dinner, a beach day, or a ski trip, which I feel like is a pretty big commitment for a first date. It was hilarious to play. Thanks, Ma.
There was wine and chocolate and chicken nuggets, so it really was the greatest of evenings. I really love my friends in Hong Kong. There’s something about us all being away from our families and the comforts of home and living abroad in this strange place that I think brings all feelings closer to the surface. We share all our experiences and I just love them with an intensity and honesty that I only did with my best of friends back in California.
My life doesn’t really have separate pockets of people the way that it used to. It was a little different in Brazil, because I also had Brazilian best friends who obviously were rooted and in their home countries and communities, and I got to know the culture and people and language. Here . . . I have Chinese friends at work but we never hang out. My thoughts and prayers and hopes and dreams and hugs don’t have the luxury of being spread out amongst family and other surface friends or work friends or church friends here – everyone who is my friend is my family and my bestie. Which is exciting and beautiful and probably slightly dysfunctional. But I don’t care. We’re putting the fun in dysfunctional.
Workout update – Friyay is my day off. The liver is the only muscle I’m challenging that day.