Date Hard

I have the sneaking suspicion I have used a riff on Die Hard for a previous blog post, but Die Hard is just that cool. So, this past Saturday, I went on my first date. Not just with Calla – my first date, period. Yeah, took me about 34.5 years to get around to it.Now, being in my mid-30s, I don’t exactly have the same inclinations as your average teenager, but at the same time, this is all very new territory to me, so I really don’t have any idea what to do. That makes this whole dating thing both amazingly exciting and utterly terrifying.

I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing in the dating game, and my only quasi-personal experience is watching romance movies (I like Say Anything) and TV shows, and their dates tend to be either tremendously romantic, hilarious failures, or sometimes both. So I am kind of floundering in the dark. I don’t really care, though, because any time I get to spend with Calla has been great, and I believe will continue to be so. So if any readers have any helpful advice to someone new to the dating game, feel free to share.

What was particularly scary when doing some research (hey, I’m a nerd, I like to do internet research) is the kind of really hurtful, unpleasant stuff around on people with mental illness in relationships. I was looking around for advice on being in a relationship with someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, and I came up with this fun little article. It makes it sound like someone with BPD is just manipulative and nearing sociopathic, and that’s just not my experience. This made me a little scared to look up similar articles on dating someone with depression, but I looked anyway – and while articles on that topic were a bit, well, depressing, they were also closer to what I have experienced. Well, some of them; there was this gem, basically saying that depressed people shouldn’t try to find love.

It was just kind of shocking to see this kind of thing. There were better articles for depression, but I imagine that’s just because it has a wider knowledge base, and people at least understand the basic concept – even if they might not get that clinical depression, unlike situational depression or just regular feeling sad, isn’t something people can just snap out of. The lack of decent knowledge about mental illness is often scary, especially since I spend so much time in my little bubble of people who have, or at least understand, mental illness.

I guess it’ll just be some undiscovered country (yes, that was a reference to Star Trek VI, I am that much of a geek) for Calla and I.

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High on Life

So I didn’t end up posting anything on Saturday, or Sunday. Sorry about that. But I do have good reasons. On Saturday, I got to spend the day with Calla, on what would turn out to be our first date (I say first because I hope there will be more, but we shall see). I spent most of the day feeling like I was on a sugar and caffeine high, though thankfully I didn’t act like it – that would have been embarrassing. Even though the weather was pretty lousy – it ended up raining for most of the day – we got to go down to a place called Moody Gardens, and spend a good deal of time there. They have a very cool rainforest setup there, with all manner of birds, beasts, and other sorts of life, and I enjoyed being there with her. I’m pretty sure that when she slipped her hand into mine the first time, though, that my heart skipped a beat. Maybe two.

We walked, talked, saw some interesting wildlife, and even got to go see an exhibit of genuine historical pirate artifacts – though there were a fair amount of lines, which wasn’t good for either of our knees. Then we went to dinner at a place she really likes, and even though there was a wait there, too, it was nice to sit with her; we even ended up sharing a meal. Not quite the spaghetti scene from Lady and the Tramp, but it was still a very enjoyable experience.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and I had to drop her off at her parents’ place, where she stayed while she was back. But I did get to see her again for lunch/dinner on Sunday, with her family, and so I got to see her one last time before she heads back to treatment for her last few weeks and tell her how I felt. I felt much better this time, knowing she’d be back in a matter of weeks, than I did when I saw her off in December, and I’m already trying to make plans for when she gets back.

After getting home, though, my brain finally decided to tell my body, “You know that constant high you’ve been on since Thursday? You can stop now.” Which my body, obediently, did, and I crashed. Not how I was planning on spending the rest of Sunday, but I suppose I needed the rest – I can really only work on two hours of sleep a night for so many nights, after all. I’m not 18 anymore, though I kinda felt like it.

In any case, Saturday marked the start of a new phase in my relationship with Calla, and my first date in, well, ever? While I’m not still on a days-long high, I am feeling good, and while I’m a bit sad that Calla is gone, I know she’ll be back soon. There’s no reason to try and make things happen any faster than they are, so I plan on enjoying things while I can.

(I’m not opposed to any good dating advice for guys, though, because, at 34 and single, I’m not just rusty – I think the entire structure has dissolved, and needs to be rebuilt. Points go to the more romantic ideas.)

Men are from Mars

I spend a lot of time talking about mental issues. That’s mainly because that was one of my main goals in writing this blog. but there are times when I want to talk about other issues – issues that aren’t necessarily related to my own mental problems, but are problematic for me all the same. One of those is, as I have mentioned in the past, my relationships with people of the opposite sex (i.e., women).

It’s odd, having gone to an all-male high school, and being surrounded by mostly guys at college, that most of the people I am closest to here in Texas are women. I am surrounded by them. Now, I’m not complaining. I like women. I like having them around. I like having guys around, too, but it always seems easier to have serious conversations with women. I’m not quite sure why that is, but in my case it’s true. But I do have a lot of female friends here, and given that I am still trying to work out a lot of things emotionally, I sometimes have trouble telling my feelings apart,

See how that could be confusing? Well, it gets better. Because I am generally kind of socially awkward, and I never really knew any women before college – and the ones I did know all ended up going out with and/or marrying male friends – I have extreme difficulty reading signs of any kind. I mean, I can generally tell when someone is mad at me. But in a community where a lot of people have traumatic backgrounds and are often very tentative with physical contact (and I should know, I’m one of them), reading signs is both important and difficult.

Honestly, I don’t know how to tell if a woman has any interest in me. That has happened so rarely in the past that I could probably count the times on one hand and have fingers left over. And, reading material on dating, even things aimed at socially awkward people, has limited information to give me. It can tell me how I should try to act, but aside from very vague generalities, it can’t really tell me what a woman might be thinking or feeling.

That’s a question that scares me. Well, the whole process scares me, but that first big gate – asking someone if they’re interested enough to go out with you – is particularly worrisome for me. It’s essentially a leap of faith, which is something I don’t have a lot of in general, working on extremely limited information. While I enjoy the abstract nature of discussing literature, I also like to have information when possible, and more is usually better. I’m actually sitting here reading through an e-book called The Geek’s Guide to Getting the Girl because I feel I am so inexperienced in this area.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to say here, other than that I am confused and not sure where to go. Even if I like someone in this community, would asking them out, or expressing my interest, be weird? Should I look for that kind of shared experience, or should I go outside this little pool? These are questions that keep me up at night.