This has gotten me into trouble many, many times when, despite the fact that I tell myself to relax, be calm and just enjoy the moment, I inadvertantly find myself adding my first name to the last name of a young man about .386 seconds after meeting him. I’ve tried to train my brain to stop misbehaving — to just relax and not overthink anything. But I can’t help myself from looking at the way in which I meet someone and deciding if it makes a good “story.”
Do you know what I mean? It’s one thing to say, “Oh, yeah, I met my boyfriend/husband in college” or “We were introduced by a mutual friend.” Both totally reasonable, respectable ways in which to meet someone. But I can’t shake the feeling that I want a significant story to tell for the rest of my life — this moment of kismet, or destiny, that brought me to The One. That I just happened to be at this particular cafe on this particular day and he just happened to be there, too . . . and we spoke. And knew. Destiny, a la “Sleepless In Seattle.”
Needless to say, this hasn’t happened to me — not in a lasting way, anyway. Most of my relationships over the last eight years have been gradual, growing experiences — men I met through school or work who, over time, became more than just friends. The closest I’ve come to some great, cosmic love match was when I met someone at a wedding five years ago — and I knew, instantly, that I was in love. And fall, fall I did — so incredibly hard. When it was over, I blinked like a newborn baby and had to readjust my footing in the world. It took a long time to feel okay again.
But now, I’m way more than okay — and, despite a recent spate of bad dating luck, I feel happy, confident and free. My tendency to examine “stories” surrounding the circumstances in which I meet cute guys will probably never change, but at least I can indulge in that in a safe fashion. By not placing my own heart on the line so much, so fast, but reading about other people doing just that.
Enter the Craigslist “Missed Connections.” Of the many things I enjoy in life, I’d have to place the MCs somewhere near the top! Whether I’m looking for something to make me giggle, roll my eyes or restore my faith in romance, there’s something there for me — something so . . . weirdly romantic and disconnected all at once. Plenty of the ads can set off my Creepy Meter, sure, making me question whether these people are sweet or unstable stalkers. But most of them are just lovesick. Like “You’ve Got Mail,” one of my favorite films ever, it’s the push-and-pull romantic tension that’s so appealing to me — the “will they wind up together? Can they really find each other?” energy.
As I’m from the D.C. area, I spend my time culling the MCs in and around the District. Like any major city, people from Maryland, D.C. and Virginia spend a vast amount of time on public transporation — in our case, the Metro. It never ceases to amaze me how many people spot some “hottie” (do people still use that word? Apparently) on the yellow or red or green line and decide to hop on Craigslist to look for them. What are the odds the object of your affection even saw you? How did you wind up in the same train at the same time on the same day? Is anyone (other than me!) actually reading these?
Destiny. Either you’re meant to connect . . . or you’re not.
Here’s my favorite in recent memory, a “m4w” (man seeking a woman) called, “Dana, I miss you. Read this.”
I’m sorry for the way I hurt you, and the way I treated you.
It was not right, and I am ashamed of the person I was to you.
No one deserves to be treated like that — not even the worst of the worst.
I miss you.
I hope you want to see me, too.
Let’s go to Clarendon Ballroom, let’s do Ibiza. Let’s do WHATEVER you want. NO LIMITS!
I want you to be my first New Year’s Kiss.
I want you, and only you.
Friends, tell me that’s not modern romance. If I were Dana and came across that in my daily travels around the Internet, I’d be leaking tears all over the keyboard and calling that guy to book a flight to Ibiza ASAP. I mean, seriously.
A “Missed Connection” like that is a Grand Gesture — a declaration of affection, often public, that makes me believe in serious, sweeping love. Each time I see/read a Grand Gesture, I file it away in my brain and use it as ammunition for pulling myself up when I get down on romance. They’re scary . . . and the ultimate leap in faith. I’ve seen a few in my own life — and even been the object of a few. And they’re everything that’s great about living.
But that will be “Why I’m a hopeless romantic, vol. 2” — because there’s plenty more where this came from!