I really shouldn't be writing this right now.
I should be out enjoying a steak dinner with my fantastic new girlfriend. Or be back at her place, debating who is going to get which side of the bed. Or enjoying a non-kid related getaway for two involving wineries rather than theme parks. In other words, I should be out enjoying what I was sure was going to be my first significant post-divorce relationship.
There's just one little hitch. There isn't any fantastic new girlfriend. Things looked promising there for a while, far more than they had for the previous eight years of divorce. We'd only had two dates, but somewhere between staring into her Hawaiian ocean blue eyes and listening to stories about her fascinatingly eclectic life, I started to feel something great was finally going to happen.
And then, I got her email. She was done with me. I had many wonderful qualities, she explained quite sweetly, but apportioning my time to include her was not one of them. I was focusing on the couple of wonderful times we'd had together. She focused on the many other times when my work or my kids had forced me to cancel dates or never set them up in the first place.
I can't blame her. I felt horrible every time circumstances kept me from getting together with her, and I tried not to realize that this could prove fatal to a relationship. I just never expressed that regret as I probably should have, preferring instead to take it on faith that things would work out. (My steady diet of romantic comedies has provided me with hopeful yet, as it turns out, extremely inaccurate information.) My work would slow down. My kids would accept that I was dating again. And I'd learn to just be in the moment and enjoy myself rather than worrying about writing I had yet to finish, groceries I had yet to buy or SAT tutors I had yet to hire.
I've been through my share of quick breakups these past few years, along with relationships that never progressed to the point where we could break up. This time felt different, though. I hit the Trifecta of breakup anger -- pissed off at her because I feel like I deserved more of a chance, pissed off at me for not working harder to accommodate her and pissed off at life because I'm back at square one with dating again.
I suppose that at the very least, I can now clearly see that dating post-divorce is really all about time. Or, more accurately, the lack thereof. At this point in life, we've all got enough baggage for a three-week stay in the south of France. There are kids to spend time with before they grow up and live their own lives. We've probably climbed to a certain level at our jobs where working overtime is expected and not the exception. The exhaustion that comes from dealing with all this makes it tough to find the time to even have a social life.
These probably sound like excuses, and maybe they are to some degree. However, I prefer to see them as the facts of life for a divorced person in his or her 50s. There's some degree of irony in the fact that as our time on the planet gets shorter, the time commitments we have here get larger. My erstwhile romantic partner recognized this and could navigate through it. I was so consumed with all that was sucking my time, I apparently forgot to take hers into account.
There was a time, before kids and careers and alimony, when relationships could start out as something fun and eventually move into something serious because there was no sense of urgency to the dating process. I haven't been able to retain my waistline or hairline from my 20s, but for some reason, I've stuck with two misguided notions from that era: the belief that sport coats with rolled up sleeves look cool and the idea that I've got all the time in the world to develop a relationship.
That choice has landed me here, writing yet again about the difficulties of finding my first serious post-divorce girlfriend while someone I cared about enjoys a wonderful relationship with a guy no doubt much more schooled in time management than I am. This means that either a) I'm still not ready to commit fully to someone new or b) I'm just a self-absorbed jerk who only thinks of his own needs. Either way, I'm not getting that steak dinner or the winery weekend.
I suppose I should have seen this coming. There was a moment on what would be my last date with my latest near-love, when she said her friends wondered why I was still single after 8 years post-divorce. I told her it was because I just hadn't met the right person yet. I was still waiting to find someone older, someone who I found irresistibly cute, someone who would adore me no matter how much (or how little) time I was able to give her.
So I'm sure that eventually, my cat and I are going to be very happy together.