Dates = 2, Me = 0

This guy is going to think I have no elegance, and that couldn’t be further from reality.

Surprisingly (my dating history inspires no confidence in the activity), dating Client’s Brother is still going well. I might even give him a real name next week.

Dates, however, have resulted in a 50% injury rate for me.

On our first date I scalded the hell outta my throat eating pizza that was way too hot. I almost only ever get it takeout or delivery, and in that case I can eat it straight away with no problem. I somehow missed that it would not be so eating pizza right out of the oven. I also did not want to spit out my food. It took 5 days to recover.

Yesterday we went for an afternoon hike along a creek on a moderate trail. There’s a bit of climbing around and walking on rocks to cross the creek in places, and while it was warm enough that the water wouldn’t freeze us, no one wants to hike in wet shoes. We were on the last creek crossing on the way back to the cars and I had carefully made it across. He was ahead of me and kept going when he got to the bank, I stepped on the bank, my left foot slipped and I crashed into a bush, cutting my ankle on the rock I slipped on in the process. Yeah, that’s an attractive quality in a hiking partner.

When I realized I was neither injured (hadn’t seen the cut yet) nor impaled on the bush branches, I started laughing at myself. Whatever, spills happen. I did have a branch of the bush stabbed through the band of my Fitbit next to my wrist, and how that happened without even scratching me I have no idea. By this time Client’s Brother realized I wasn’t behind him, and he and the dog came back to see what was up. I was still laughing at myself and getting off the ground, and the dog kindly removed the stick from my arm. Good puppy.

None of this kept us from kissing in the car before we headed off to separate obligations, and I found the cut when I got home. I almost never have this kind of thing happen to me, but ya know, ya fall down, ya get up, and I’m thankful that I could laugh at this spill.

About That Date Last Night

Really not ready to date yet. I did it anyway.

I met up with some friends downtown for the annual turning on of the Christmas lights. I don’t care for crowds and getting bumped can trigger me so I generally avoid this kind of thing, but I figured why not? Client’s Brother decided that was a great reason to meet up with me rather than wait for Sunday, so we ended up on a spontaneous date. We grabbed some beers, watched part of the game, took a picture with the most epic ugly sweater ever (the guy also had Christmas ornaments hung in his long beard) and made out in my car for over an hour.

My post-trauma dating history is terrible. My ex did damage I am still trying to recover from, I have gone out with psychopaths (clinical) and guys with severe attachment disorder and it has all left me not wanting to date again, because I am tired of picking the bad apples. I’m pretty skittish.

But, you know, what the hell.

Thankful

Practicing gratitude does a lot for mental health.

I woke up in the middle of the night with searing pain in my tension spot. I have a place near my right shoulder in my trapezoid muscle that seizes up when I am really tense. It feels like the muscle is being ripped out. Fun times, right? I had just finished a REM cycle and had had a nap yesterday, so I ended up being awake for about an hour, which was plenty long enough to slap a Tiger Balm patch on it and consider just getting up already.

I went back to sleep.

I previously wrote about living with near constant physical and emotional pain. It can be hard to be thankful, but gratitude is so necessary to a good life. A friend asked me yesterday how I deal with it all. I do exactly what I was doing yesterday – serve other people and meet their needs. I mixed dressing (not stuffing cause it was in pans, not in birds), filled to-go boxes, made friends and delivered meals to elderly members of the community. I sat with a woman who cried because she is lonely, having lost her husband about this time last year. They were married for 74 years. I offered to come back to see her and bring some friends, and she accepted.

I got so much more out of that than I gave.

I met a woman who also has PTSD, who works with veterans because it helps her to be around people who get it. She, too, is a survivor of sexual assault, and she, too, knows the incredibly stupid things people say when you open up about an experience others don’t understand. That connection was such a blessing, and we plan to get to know each other better. She is surprised I am still here. I’m thankful someone recognizes the hell.

Client’s Brother (I really love ridiculous nicknames so that will be hard to change if this goes forward) asked me out, and we’ve been talking in the meantime. He invited me to lunch and a brewery on Sunday, and I countered with my commitment to make wall art to sell to support an orphanage. He offered to help with that instead and said the brewery could wait. I’ve been clear about having PTSD, that crafting is with some bonkers 20-ish church kids, he knows I have a stalker because stalker emailed me yesterday to wish me and my family a Happy Thanksgiving (ugh) and so far the date is still on. I’m not used to people just rolling with me. I’m also not used to standing on a position of join me or don’t, this is what I’m doing regardless, because this is what I want.

So many reasons to be thankful, not in spite of, but in the midst of.

A Man Brought Kumquats From His Garden

It was a snackluck – snack + potluck.

I was at a house concert last night, a gig my friends play twice a year. They play a bluesy, country folk vibe, and brought in some hymns to their set last night. I like that kind of church.

I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of months, and no-shows on the part of my friends, (former) crush and brother (to be fair, brother had to work and couldn’t get away long enough so he’s excused) weren’t about to deter me from having fun. I was at least half the age of most of the people there, and I made a lovely friend named Eloise. I was also very admired – jewelry, boots and looks – by a man who brought as his contribution to the table a cup of kumquats from his garden. I had never eaten one before, and it was a delightful experience. You can eat the whole fruit in a bite or two, and while I really dislike biting into a whole grape or cherry tomato, I do like biting into a kumquat. I really want a tree for my garden now, because those sound like fun to grow.

In addition to two hours of soulful music, there is a snackluck. People bring snacks, treats, wine, beer, and this time hibiscus flowers in syrup. The offerings were a little slim compared to the last time I went, so I was glad I brought pumpkin pie bites and a bottle of Prosecco. If you make pumpkin pie filling from the recipe on the can and use little filo dough cups instead of a traditional crust, you can have crispy little pumpkin pies that are lovely for holiday potlucks. Top with a touch of whipped cream and you’re in business. It’s the only way I’ll eat pumpkin pie.

I like the kind of funk that happens in the cozy places, the snug moments, the meeting of strangers over food and wine. I may look a little bonkers (Real question to my Mom as I was leaving, “Ok, do I look adequately bonkers?” “Yep. You look cool though.”) but it’s a conversation starter. I wear interesting clothes and jewelry because people comment on them and ask about them and it serves as an ice breaker. I always take an opportunity to pet the arm of someone wearing an interesting and soft-looking textile, because it’s a connection based on appreciation for a comforting fabric. As much as you can try to not stand out because you don’t want to draw attention, standing out can open doors to conversation and make things less awkward and uncomfortable.

How am I still single? Yeah, haha, that’s a very different conversation for another day.