Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Why gauge the stage?

Monday’s post sure made for lively discussion! Thanks for your remarks, ya’ll. Today, as promised, my larger point concerning life stages.

You see, Tall Drink o’ Water not only inspires me to teeter up onto my tallest platforms (at risk of great ank-ular peril), he’s fairly new to the city. So new there might still be enough fingers to count the weeks here. The city’s not his own yet; it’s still a sticky ball of clay he’s learning to get a feel for.

The upside of such a status, for a man-mad woman who should happen to come his way (clears throat), is that he’s probably very open to new things. The downside: a relationship is the sort of “new thing” that can create some very defined ruts. It may shape your social circle and habits, limit what sort of activities and restaurants you explore and discover in the new city, and significantly reduce the time you have for individual acquaintance with the city.

Not that any of those things are bad. But jumping into a relationship shortly after a move is both a major commitment in terms of your life in that place, and a commitment undertaken on a slightly unstable foundation. I thought about this quite a lot when weighing my decision to move to New York. Earlier that year, I had made my first trip here for a conference at which I met a dreamy Catholic vegetarian film student who took me to lunch at the famous diner from Seinfeld.

Upon return to Arizona, I proceeded to swoon the rest of the summer over what might be if I moved there and should become “friends” with the likes of Tall Boy Veg. This moving saga was so inspirational that later that summer I decided to put my plan into action. Clearly nothing achieves this quite like shopping. So one day when I passed a shoe store with a “great” sale, I went in and found myself strangely drawn to a very tall but otherwise hooched-out pair of shoes. Twenty-five dollars was the “sale” price which, compared to the $200 pair of jeans I fetched for a Ten at Urban Outfitters this week, wasn’t much of a “sale” whatsoever.

But was that really putting things in perspective? It was not. In the grand scheme of things, how much was $25 to pay for reducing the distance ’tween Tall Boy’s eyes and mine to a mere 3” (a lanky 6’3”, he towered over even my flat-footed 5’8”)? Clearly improving our chances of eye contact was a strategic way to advance the likelihood of Relationship, should I move to New York despite my then-impoverished, unemployed state. Swallowing my shame and footwear standards, I splashed out for the strappy ankle-sprainers.

I did indeed move to the East, but while I was debating these fashion and love-life dilemmas, Tall Boy Veg was even further east in France, falling for the woman who is now his wife. I have only the shoes and a badly rewritten Carly Simon verse to show for my pangs that summer. Well, those two things and thoughts on life-stages. You see, it had occurred to me that, eager as I was to become a special friend of Tall Boy’s, doing so promptly post-move might not be the savviest strategy. What if things went badly? Five months later I could find myself alone in the city, acquainted mostly with people and places I had gotten to know through and in association with him. Even if things didn’t go badly, I might never get to know the city quite the way I would while unattached, depending on how (in)dependent I proved in the hypothetical relationship.

I realize this is an awful lot of what-iffing, but surely some of it holds true in a broader sense. Sometimes you simply find yourself in a place where, horny and lonely as you might be, a relationship or other commitment just isn’t very realistic. Within weeks of my arrival here, I auditioned with the founder of the Lunch Club [expanding this fall to San Francisco!] to be a backup singer. While he liked my voice and we got along well enough, he wisely declined to sign on someone as unsettled as myself.

Now when I see a guy like Tall Drink o’ Water, I think, “Yeah, he’s cute and even entertaining to talk to ... but he’s too new to the city.” I doubt he’ll be ready to think of dating — or more than dating — until he gets more settled. And likewise when I gave advice to Still Waiting a couple weeks ago, the bottom line was probably that Young Love isn’t at a stage in life where dating someone in his place in life makes sense.

And me? I’m not sure. A year ago, I probably wasn’t ready for anything since I was so vocationally and financially unstable. Much of that has smoothed out now, but such that I look to be quite busy in the next 6-9 months. I may still not be in a life stage where I’d have much time to build into romance. Then again, they say love always arrives when you least expect it, so maybe this could be my golden season!

As Sis likes to say, “Good thing you’re not overanalyzing. GOOD thing.”