I Could Not Fall In Love Again If I Tried...

This is not a desperate statement or one that should bring about sympathy from anyone. I do not need "saving."

Listen:

I've fallen in love three times. I'm 33. What is the significance of the number 3? I have no clue, but if you know feel free to comment. 

The first time I fell in love, I was blind. Not due to injury or literal loss of sight. But I was blind to myself and blind to him. One cannot love another if they don't love themselves first, just as one cannot know another if they do not first know oneself. 
We got caught up in physical attraction and very late night debates on the back of a ship in the middle of the ocean. One night we slept outside under the stars, hands to ourselves, but with untrained hearts.

When I moved to Atlanta to be with him, he all of a sudden "didn't want anything serious." As if a move across the country isn't already a serious thing, but I digress. 
It is not healthy to start a relationship with an ultimatum. I know that now but 24 year old me was fed up. So I said, "I'm not going with you to this event if you're going to introduce me as your friend." And I was prepared to not go. He chose to take me and so i became his "girlfriend." Kind of a stressful way to proclaim "relationship" but we need to ask for what we want. And so I did.

Two years of good followed by two years of awful leaves a lot of wreckage in the heart. And the body. My chest, a harbor full of broken ships, planks, shapnel. Could not see the ocean floor through the remains of what we were trying to build. And so I left. In order to rebuild myself.

The second time I fell in love I was just ripe for sky flying souls meeting in the clouds to make love. We free wrote to each other. For months. Now if that won't do it to a poet, I dunno what will. But there was no editing, no deletions allowed, just full and open words. We wrote until we were finished and hit 'send.' Talk about cultivating intimacy! I now know to not do that with anyone who isn't committed to sticking around for whatever is to come. 

I learned the pain of falling in love with someone who wasn't in love with me. What a tragedy. A writhing ache, snaking its way through your body, til it makes you sick. And contemplative. Depressed and alone. Til it turns you into a yogi. 
This is what happens when you grow love and intimacy without legs. Or a ground. It is a cloud, just waiting to burst or become fog and rain away. 
Don't do this. I really wouldn't recommend it.

The third time I fell in love I was legs but no feet. No ground underneath me. Walking like that is wobbly. Carrying the dried out wood and straw, the old news chronicles of pain in your chest leaves you susceptible to fire. You can burn wildly like that. But that doesn't mean you should.

I fell without realizing the fall. My heart an upturned smile, the hopeful face of a child. His too. 
At least this time it was mutual, but it didn't last. We had both been burned before meeting each other, so we were both pretty easy to lift. This time at least it felt like ascendance but we showed up with no ground, so when we fell out:  there was nothing there. No front steps to rest our shoes on. No welcome mat. Not even a door. 

***

I think falling in love, in how we talk about it, in how we see it on TV and portrayed in the media is an accidental, decision-less thing. This is not the kind of beginning that anyone can expect to build on. And while occasionally we hear stories of those who did, who could, who were successful at that - they are rare, are they not? How many of us actually know a real story of two people we actually know who have been successful at that. Who's relationship survived?

Those stories belong mostly to our grandparents. Perhaps a few of our parents too, but not many. Our grandparent's generation was one with more patience, more time, less distraction. Having most likely not grown up with TV, or color TV for that matter, which proliferated in the 60's and 70's, they would have relied more upon learning about relationships and love through conversation. Or watching their family members and friends trials and tribulations. 

TV really does us an injustice with it's fantastical, romantic, whirlwind romance portrayals with little to no substance. These are not places we can build from. In this storyline we can fall - in love - we can feel like we're flying, we can let our hearts go but when they come back to us what do we have left? Reality? Which may or may not feel like love.

Love is a way. Not a thing out of reach that escapes us. We can cultivate love in our lives every day with the people around us. By being responsible friends, by practicing kindness, generosity, honesty, integrity and by practicing these things also with ourselves. We do not have to lack love just because we are not in love. We can build a solid ground beneath us. A foundation with which to rest on and walk and grow from. 

If we do this it becomes our source of life and from which we can grow. When we do this we will realize that falling makes no sense. It is a risk not worth taking. We have too much beneath us now to be so frivolous with our hearts. 

It is form this place that I write and from this place that falling makes no sense. 
I prefer to build.

 

 

 

 

Radically Authentic. Woman + Free.

I tend to spend most of my time with free-spirited, artistic folx.

So it has come to my attention, again, that many men who do not fit that bill do not expect, and are even practically flabbergasted, when the universe presents them with a free, radically authentic woman.

They're all like, "you're FUNNY!" which is not 'hilarious'-funny. Cuz I'm not that funny, really.
They mean 'different.'  Not fitting in any of the "women" boxes they keep laid out as options for what kinds of women exist and how to categorize them.

And I'm kind of tired of it.

A friend said, "well, that's kind of flattering" lol! As if I'm supposed to be all impressed with myself or something. Or impressed with the fact that two someones two days in a row have been surprised at my personality, my openness, my freedom, my authenticity, at the lack of fucks that I give. What is there to be flattered by??? That I broke a mold? At my own existence outside of a box? I never fucked with the box anyway. Flattered by who or by what now?

Y'know, I'm not. flattered. 
I dont care. 
I actually find it quite annoying.

Because here I am just presented with a man so used to boxing women in. So used to meeting woman upon woman that he throws into a category and never takes a second look at. Someone who is so sure that every woman he meets just fits here or there, in this fixed space, without dynamism. Without my favorite word: nuance.

So I'm not flattered, damn. I'm actually slightly disgusted at what is clearly either the lack of free, radically authentic women in his life that I somehow stand out like a sore thumb, or a green one, or just one that's just twiddling independently for a while, to its own damn tune...
OR I'm disgusted at his lack of seeing the diversity, the nuance, the authenticity right in front of him every day that when he faces me, who is unabashedly so and incredibly energetic about it, that I somehow seem different from my already dynamic AF sisters.

Boy. Bai. 

16/30 - I Don't Wanna Date Your Best Friend

I always find it interesting which doors open and which doors close

doors close for me that folks seem to be surprised by

I am told I am a likable person. Nearly everyone
Who meets me feels they've met me before.
Somewhere between that place
And their own sense of self
They decide: I am like them.

Suggest I should do things
like them, should like
the things they do,
That I should date their best friend.

This sentiment can be full of flattery but
The target is usually way off.

I never like their friend.
The food sucks
And their life is boring. 
I won't do those things.

Today a door closed
that a friend had tried to convince me was open for me
for months.
And I am not mad,
I am resolute.

Resolute to know mine
will not be a traditional path,
I was never bred for that.

A little too creative for the safe
Too polished at times for the radical

My place will be where I open all the doors,
carve my own way out of wood.

It will be where I am
always.

Mine is the way
for me
My light is strong enough to illuminate my path

Best stay busy with the work
become both carpenter and cook
woodswoman and shrine
hunter and healer
all facets of the divine

And no, I don't wanna date your best friend. 

<3

15/30 - Small Cups

I will not regret this.

Your eyes twinge with worry every now and then
a hesitance, a distant
Reeling back like a dragon before it burns the entire village, I know
you won't stay.

and I won't burn.
Besides, the fire is in it's place, not your lungs.

 

Yours is the simplest house I've known, I
love that.
Few pots or pans, glassware, tiny
cups that are actually shot
glasses, but you call them 'small cups' and
I guess they are
So we sip from them, slow.
You, usually faster than me, but still slow
and we make poems about bicycles on the backs of steel plates
made in the USA.

I know you won't stay.
Have yet to delude myself and have zero plans
from here on out

Which is a freeing thing:  to know this isn't forever.
That we are not bound by the burden to build something here.
I won't get mad if you don't call every night, forget that I hate pepper,
or speak about your future like I'm not there.
I don't expect to be. Not much, at the very most...

I have spoken about futures
before
with men
as if they were in it. Believed
they'd be in it, felt that strong dream of love pull
my soul from my mouth so easy
like soft clouds over a lazy, blue sky
and y'know what?
They're not. 

If anything, this is the most honest place I have been.

I know it's not forever
But if we're honest, nothing is.

This morning a woman who invited herself on my porch to ring my bell and shake me out of bed
Asked if I ever thought about what Heaven would be like.
Typically, I think this is a foolish thought to spend any time with
because if there is one (and save for a few asshole moves here or there, I would be lucky enough to experience it)
Then I will know it when I arrive.
And if there isn't
my afterlife will be nonetheless without.

This might be the easiest place I've been since I lost my best friend.
Who is in Heaven, if there is one.

So I may see him down the line
but some other kind of Heaven still exists in the now
in the not asking questions, taking stock of what we've both brought
of who's doing the leaving and when
a kind of Heaven in the limbs of your body aligned with mine

And so if that's all the Heaven there is
Then I'm honestly pretty okay
with that.

14/30 - When Asked 'What is Love To You?'

So, I'm so cheating my way through a few of these 30/30s  cuz some of the are totally NOT poems, they're blogs or rambles or facebook posts turned public, lol.
But yknow what? Today someone said to me, "I'm very interested in what YOU believe the definition of love is?" And that seemed like a meaningful enough share to place it in the 30/30 poem pile, even if there isn't any rhythm, structure or figurative language. So here:

I don't actually think there is a definition of Love because I don't think love is a thing. 
I think love is a way.
I approach love as a serious practice that I am always working toward improving. I practice when I give gifts or time or attention, when I give compliments and praise or support to my friends, when I show up to do the work it takes to help someone who really needs it (i.e. moving, raking leaves, feeding people, hugs), affection both to my dear friends and lovers of course. I think of love a lot more in a less-romantic sense than I do romantically. I just try to embody all the best qualities I can in a constant effort to strive toward my highest and best good. By doing that, I am practicing loving myself and those around me, all the time.
That's love to me I guess. In a nutshell.

What is love to you?

13/30 - Dudes are Dumb (a short story)

I come home from work, get out of my car and go to check my mail and as I'm walking my neighbor's dumba** friend says, "You know I'm too old to be having a crush" - which I barely hear because it doesn't totally resonate that he might be talkin to me.
I arrive at said mailbox, take out my mail, see it's all wack sh*t and dude repeats, this time louder and walking my way, 
"You know I'm too old to be havin a crush now!" 
("pfffttt!!" I think) And I mumble, "oh," kinda wit an attitude cuz like, who the F cares...
but fr fr my dude. Y'know, YOU PROLLY RIGHT! You probably ARE too old to be havin a crush. So what now? Am I now supposed to be interested in you after your confession of clear and obvious immaturity? Am I supposed to feel bad for you like, "ohhhh, you got a crush on me" which happened in all of like: 15 seconds. Am I supposed to then proceed to massage your weak AF male ego? Cuz I guess the heteronormative patriarchy might dictate that I, a young and highly capable woman, must have so much compassion for your weakness and your vulnerability that I immediately run up to you and rub your back to make you feel better cuz you got a crush. Poor you.
Maaaannnnnn.... Miss me wit ALL THAT.
I'm just tryna get the mail ova here.

12/30 -

The archetype of your face
a careful chiseler
pleated crow
feet, paper
thin smile

I let
my lips
linger too long
on wind-chapped skin
became bitten all over,
a wolf's playground

Last night we tornadoed in one place
avalanched in another,
became crane upon crane
building and crashing
into ourselves

making bent rock, metal, rusted joint
collapse
into whirlpool
into hot spring.

lets do that again sometime.

11/30 - Hate Map

Georgia is burning in wildfires
Up north
All of my friends wear face masks outside
Have trouble breathing
Panic Attacks
Anxiety

And I woke up wanting to do yoga today and work on my breathing.
Funny, the ways your body responds to things
You’re not really aware of
 

Well today
I saw a hate map
Of the US.
Looked like an ice cream cone
covered in sprinkles on two opposite sides
Kinda shaped like a wishbone
Heavy at the ends
Thinned out across the shank
Fat right down in it’s bottom-middle
A bottom-heavy, broad wing-span hate map
Spread out
Like an eagle

Kinda makes you wonder
If the rise in hate is just burning up the earth
Spontaneous earth combustion from toxic human energy
Have we’ve burned our national bird out of it’s own habitat?
So its image just pressed across the face of a map like an emblem
Of hate.

Could people burn themselves out of their own habitat?

With enough money, I mean hate
Anything is possible.

10/30 - Friend for a Gemstone

I wish i could take back the sad lament of Goodbye
cover it up instead with gumdrops or Twizzlers, your favorite candy.

It's been a while since I've written about you, my sweet friend
and your riling, whirling disaster of a self that was always so much
fun to dance

I wonder what your life is like now, in the afterlife.
Do you still sneeze at the light?
Do you still not want to kiss anyone?
Are your jeans too tight?
Are you wearing that "babycake" shirt I bought you?

if lament is regretful then i lament nothing.
but the living know well that death makes life valuable.
And so you are the most precious of gems I can imagine.

On days when I miss you, I carry you in my pocket
and we laugh at inside jokes, sing our favorite songs
belting out loud to Celine Dion or Mariah in the car
eat pizza and take too many shots of vodka, for you,
Gin for me

And we are always happy.
life is easy with a friend who's a gemstone. 
You can hold them in your palm, hide them for safe keeping,
Keep them close and imagine them giving you strength.

And there's not much more they need to do
than that.

You must be the easiest relationship I have by now.
So easy
it hurts.

9/30 - Cuz I'm a Contrapuntal Writin GANGSTA Right Now!!!

Grotesque it always is                             when art awakens you
Make it sit outside in nothingness          make it work
Unworthy enough to                                earn its keep
Be a doused cat or                                   be coffeepot overflowing
A vacuum siphoning the faith out           a well conjuring earth beneath
Close off chakras, build up walls             trust, be a geyser today
Ghost the century                                    Give yourself back
Become old aged, out-of-use tool          Be prolific
Claustrophobic as a worm                      With a mouth like Tequila
in the desert of the real                           Holding space
For the lifeless, the yearning          For the good,  awakened, for taking

8/30 - The Saviors of Today

prompt: if you're struggling with today's news what has kept you alive? afloat? what or who has cracked a thin smile to your face or made you laugh, even for a moment? What has been a belly full of soft pillows to curl into? What has made you feel safe?

 

The saviors of today are a crosstitch
2 buttons sewn on 2 shirts for a kind man I have just begun to know,
are his gratitude, precious smile at having again his favorite cold-weather shirts just before winter

The saviors of today are my friend Amy, her simple kind ask:
"how was dinner?" knowing such a small question meant so much.
her superhero way of making me believe I'm a superhero too.

My brother getting a gun, my having a passport,
my pending trip to Cuba, the realistic possibility I may not come back.

My imagining communities of peace in other countries. A dreamy, far off place I could learn and grow and love well supported
and not surrounded by rascists and mysogyny.

A man who made a sly, sexy suggestion to me via text, knowing I would receive it well.

The saviors of today are my friend Karen, her thoughtful commentary on how she too feels
trauma at this new announcement
and how she's chosen healthier responses to it.

The savior is how I've chosen healthier responses to things.
Like giving love, genuinely, sending it up in messages and texts
A "I'm not sure where to ask this but:  how are you" to a distant love
that never quite materialized

It is knowing you are cared for the world over. Knowin folks be
believin in you.

It is you boss not calling to talk about the news but talking about it anyway because
how could you both not.
It is his text late in the day asking, "Where's my help when I need it?" accompanied by
a picture of a beer list
And a "look what happens when I do it on my own" with a photo of a beer you know damn well is MUCH too dark for him to ever like.

it is in the knowing your community still exists
that you are still needed
in every crook and cranny you have wiggled yourself into now.

It is in also knowing that you could fly to Cuba and never come back.
And that you would still have all the same love for it.

7/30 - Fuck a Poem. I Just Need to Write.

 

I have been through so many emotions today already.

From shock last night and fear as the results came flying in like a bald-ing America eagle

To disbelief when I awoke at 3am and checked my phone of the news. I must’ve stared at the screen for minutes hitting ‘refresh’ because i couldn’t believe it was true: Donald. Fucking. Trump. For President.
A hate mongering, violence inciting millionaire inheriting imbecile whom it is claimed would have more money today had he just invested in the stock market rather than his various real estate investments, or divestments.

And this is all before waking up this morning.
But at the vibration of my alarm I felt the ‘damn, I don’t wanna get up’ become the familiar and ugly, heavy lifting of depression. I laid there for a full 30 minutes, shifting my legs a little, hiding my face in my pillow, rolling over to make no difference in the world.
I laid there so long I left myself no time to shower. And upon getting up I was a discombobulated mess. Go into bathroom, use bathroom, wash hands, come out of bathroom, realize you forgot to wash you face, go back in bathroom, wash face, dry face, leave bathroom, open closet, realize you did not put on face moisturizer, go back in bathroom, put on face moisturizer, realize hair is  a mess even though you’ve looked at at yourself in the mirror over 15 times by now

Realize you haven’t actually looked yourself in the mirror yet. Not once. Not thoroughly.

This is how I live depression when it surfaces.

Sometimes it’s joined by a more interesting set of energy+mood swings like anxiety or mania. An addictive twinge in my chemistry rears one of its many gargoyle heads so that by the time lunch comes around I had gone from depressed, to full on pissed, to staring at the face of a man I adore, which quickly turns to lust

But since lust could not be fulfilled my wanting turned toward mac and cheese.

I would’ve done almost anything for some mac and fuckin cheese and some XcensoredX around 11:30am today.

Thankfully some duty actually called, by which I mean, a phone call literally came in and I made myself pick it up. A person that I had to actually communicate with. I was cordial. Most of my clients are nice so they make it easy. But I really let the Paypal customer service dude have it after that.

Dear America,
"Who the fuck do you think I am?
You ain't married to no average bitch boy" 

See, the election results are bigger than just a win and a loss. Race relations are on the line (again)(tho they never really left but I swear we were having a little bit of progress somewhere…), Sexism, Homophobia. My ability to feel safe in my woman-body. Masculinity is toxic as fuck and will likely only get worse. Xenophobia. Hate crimes and violence against the entire LGBTQ community. Violence in general. More black bodies being killed for just existing. More incarcerations of black folk and people of color. Stop and frisk is right around the corner, just don’t get caught being black with…

Well, just don't get caught being black. Or brown.

 

I didn’t go for the mac and cheese because this is how quickly my mood changed today. What a day of undoings. To come undone. To lack of emotional stability.

What Trump supporters don’t realize is:

  1. People of color are human

  2. Women are also human

  3. The emotional and physical health impacts this has caused are serious and very real. No one’s exaggerating their heart palpitations. We got more shit to do than that. Like work one of our 2-3 jobs because unequal pay is still a REAL PROBLEM. And these student loans certainly ain’t going anywhere now...

I know that my work is going to be more needed than ever before.
I just don’t know if I can be this close to it.

For sake of my own health. My ability to make healthy choices.
(Cuz now all I wanna do is go fill my flask, put on some tight pants and heels, drink the gin down and flirt with any cute guy at a bar tonight cuz:

but I wont. not today. more recent integrity-type work has kept me more on track but I ain't about a stone's throw from a bad decision right now, I swear)

But, this
is Day 1
of the news.
I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

 

Now might be time to seriously take up meditation. In group format.
In a setting surrounded by people who also want peace.

Hoping this will all only fashion me into a sharper tool

For the good I still have left
to bring to the world.

<3

Amen.

6/30 - From a prompt by Marty McConnell on "Want"

What I want right now is a half mile down the road
"tooling around the house"
probably in fuzzy, felt like pants and an American
made-shirt
hands rough from climbing.

What I want right now is the satisfaction of 'after,' not the build-up
of 'before.' it gives me anxiety.
And i haven't been satisfied in months.
Steadily wringing my hands over themselves
Attempting not to undo myself again.

I left casual sex in the fire-pit of Want.
Burned it for solid burial
It hasn't come back up since.

The last thing i ate was dark chocolate
on my bed
some other kind of gluttony.

When I get what I want I will keep going back
to feed the crave that aches
without saying too much
the only thing I want next is:  more.

5/30 - draft contrapuntal on Feast vs. Famine

To pray and praise God                              We burn bodies
For Thanksgiving feast                               by the broken bridge
We will be bursting open                           because that's all we have left
Turkey, mashed potatoes, collards           scraps, dust, decaying matter
We will have only full bellies                     of nothingness
drunk off wine                                              lying on the ground
jowls sore from chewing                            our desolate village       

3/30 - after Traci Brimhall

Say my body is a kite.

Tie a string to the end of me and let me go

just not forever

let me travel and travail and wind-skip and jump and lay on the breeze without you

 

Let me do so many of the things partnered women aren't "supposed to"

(shy of the things that would make you insecure about us)

know I will come back

keep us safe.

 

at night lets retire to different bedrooms sleep

sprawled out on kings and queens alone

but together

 

most might think this crazy

but maybe this is what happens after years of suffocating partnerships, so you

be there       and I'll be here and lets just be us

together.   Away.

 

I will make breakfast on weekend mornings after being awake too long for most

but you would like it anyway because you were busy too

or not worried too much about bacon and eggs

(or at least not much about the eggs)

(and there is coffee on anyway)

and i can slide off the bright red and foreign blanket of my bed, down to the floor

like a fish

as if this were normal

and you would think, 'oh there goes my weird girlfriend

just being a fish'

and not think anything else of it.

No, I'm not doing yoga.

i'm just fishing. In my bedroom. On/Off the bed.

 

One day, we will have a hot tub that we both love.

and I will often make it smell like jasmine

and you will be annoyed because this means we need to clean it

but you will

because:  jasmine is a thing that i love

and because scent is the closest sense to emotion

and because love and because earth and because we built this, because here

with out own two weird hands

because sometimes you sleep on the porch because you love the rain

and you love outside like i love jasmine

 

and i think your outside sleeping is weird because:  bugs.

and you think my jasmine in the hot tub is weird because:  gross.

 

but i still make breakfast a little late in the morning

and you still aren't mad about that.

2/30

if you stand on either side of a catastrophe
you can feel it trembling.

my friends tell me all the time how unlucky i am
how fateful, how full of hope, how insecure
that i just want someone to love me but i have to
love myself first.
easier said than done.
tonight i sat naked in front of a mirror, palms up
trying to be open to good all around me
couldnt help but feel my soft belly so round
rounder than its ever been
protruding further than it ever has
and i wonder,
is this what 33 is like? 
i didnt ask for this, this happy 30-something gut
this thick smile above my hips
this jolly round full of jiggle so big I could give it a name.

when I began to live this year i said, "this is the year i will learn how to fight"
i still havent.
and now crowds of men fight every night on my street, bout half a block up, 
across is a neighbor's house and another home for sale
that will never sell while they remain there, fighting.
supposedly someone was stabbed to death
the other night, in an empty house.
yknow, nothing new here,
nothing to see, just a picture of poverty
of lack of opportunity
just the failings of democracy and justice and today i voted
and it felt meaningless
while at the end of my block young men fire their frustrations at the night
with a semi-automatic, specs of flame
against the dark black God
calling our attention here, to the fire that burst from the end of their guns
here, to the catastrophe.

and i do not own one, 
a gun that is,
and i do not want one but I am sure i could
have one if i wanted to. I could yield something heavy against death
to create death
to be able to wager a bet against my safety and feel like I could win,
unlike my write-in on today's ballot that i know is hopeless.

Maybe my friends are wrong.
Maybe God is on the north side of town ignoring the black
at the end of my block
ignoring death
and fear

There are parts of this poem that are not true.
And they're not the parts that I wish but the parts I am unsure of.

But if you stand on either side of a catastrophe
I know you can feel it trembling.

And I know
I do not want
a gun.

How I'm Not Actually Hating Dating Right Now

Dating sucks in the U.S. I'm sure it sucks elsewhere too but I have no experience with that. 
I've written 1000 times about how much I hate it so no need to continue the long list of reasons here and recreate the diatribe
(you can scroll through previous posts or click the tag-thingy on "dating is stupid" if you really wanna see, yeah? Word.)

So here's how I'm all of a sudden NOT hating dating:  I think I'm finally doing it right.

But let me unpack that first before some of you get all judge-y like, "well what WERE you doing" type ish...

There are some very common, widespread and sometimes seemingly unbreakable/unbendable social conventions. I think how we date seems to be one of those, or has seemed to be that way to me at least. (Keeping in mind: woman, patriarchy, specific gender norms, etc...) 

The way I've dated or participated in this weird process so far has included, y'know, a dude sayin' he likes me, or I like him - largely before either of us knew anything about the other, right? Which means it's really just an expression of physical attraction, maybe energetic attraction, but that's it. So once that's established begins the text messages, phone calls, actual dates where you go spend time together doing something. Hopefully something cool. In my experience, a dude who does not try and kiss me by the 2nd or 3rd date has been an anomaly. Some try on the first. Sometimes i've let them, sometimes I haven't. But overall I've kinda just went along with this approach. I never really tried to date differently. Seemingly caught under some blind acceptance, that I think I was largely unaware of, that 'this is just how it's done.'

In essence, I never really questioned it much. Not the process, the ways of men, the social mores, the expectations I often felt pressured by to be a certain way, (i.e. "ladylike" or overall agreeable), to do certain "ladylike" things, etc. I did begin to push back against a lot of that roughly 5ish years ago when I had a personal revolution. (Yay Me.) But I never revisited the dating process or tried to qualitatively change the way I date. Or even develop a way that I could date that made more sense and felt better to me. 

I was still learning. Still am...

But in all,  I'll say in short:  Right now I am dating a little. Having enjoyed the company of a specific gentleman on 6 or 7 or 8 occasions.
He has yet to try and kiss me.
I have never genuinely loved dating so much as I do right now.

:)

The end.