I rolled over and turned off my alarm, and blearily scrolled through the notifications on my phone. My glasses still off, I had to squint to make out the tiny boxes of text. Amongst the nonurgent emails and notifications from apps that had rolled in during the night, I had received a message from someone named Tim.
Tim. . . Tim? I know a few different Tims, none of whom I’ve spoken to recently. I decided it must be the Tim who I had met through a friend while I lived in San Francisco, and who currently resides in New York. What on earth could he want? I put on my glasses, sat up in bed, and unlocked my phone.
Now that I could see, it was clear that I had been wrong about which Tim had messaged me. No, it wasn’t Formerly-San-Francisco-Now-New-York-Tim, it was Tokyo Tim, whom I had casually dated for a few months in the summer of 2019. At the time, we’d both been working as English teachers, and had a fun fling dining and drinking all over the city which had ended when the newness had worn off. I hadn’t heard from him since.
My surprise and curiosity piqued, I opened the message. “Hey doll! What’s shakin? Check out what’s happening over here:” – which was followed by pictures of his newborn baby.
I’m sorry, but who does that? I understand wanting to share momentous good news broadly with the world, but who would think about sending a direct message with such news to someone they slept with three years ago? This is not even someone I consider an ex, or even a friend.
I stared at the message with no idea on what the proper response was. Finally, I settled on a generic: “Wow! Congratulations!”
Dating in one’s 30’s is strange sometimes. All of my old flames are getting married and having kids, all the new people I meet are divorced or separated. Inside, I still feel 29, i.e., not yet old enough for this to be happening.
I’ve been finding it hard to meet people in LA. How do folks do it? All of my peers are matched and so are their friends, so they’ve got no one to set me up with. I don’t go out a ton, so I’m not likely to meet someone at a bar or club. I’ve been using dating apps, which is what I thought everyone did these days, but I’m having a hard time getting guys to chat with me, much less meet me for an actual date. It’s such a big city, and people have so many choices and options and other demands on their time. The odds here are just not in my favor.
Which doesn’t mean that I don’t have my share of anecdotes. There was the 25-year-old who was only interested in work, coding, and going to the gym, who’s idea of taking me out was to a taco truck. There was the nice Jewish boy with Tourette’s who talked about himself nonstop, but at least took me to a nice pub in Woodland Hills. I ended up back at that same pub a few days later with a very different lad, who was so quiet that I had to keep asking him to repeat himself, and who also admitted that he’d smoked weed before meeting me. Charming. Bar was still great, though.
Surprisingly, I had an easier time in Tokyo. Don’t get me wrong, Tokyo is also massive and challenging in many ways, but as a foreigner there I was automatically part of a smaller pool, and since most of the people I was connecting with were also foreigners we were all more or less in the same boat. Although our pasts and circumstances for being there were different, we were all eager to meet new people, eager to be less lonely. Even the men I dated casually there, Tokyo Tim included, treated me like a queen and appreciated my company.
Now that I’m back in my hometown, my years spent abroad have created a gap between me and the people I meet here. I’m in the same boat with no one. I go on dates with guys that are homeowners, who have careers, who have money. I have none of those things. I’m crashing with a friend and working multiple income streams to save money while I figure my life out. By your 30’s, most people are stable, looking to settle down and call a place home. I’m anything but.
As much as I’d like to meet someone (don’t we all?), I’m not sure that I’m even in a position to be looking right now. Currently, I’m not planning on staying in LA once I finish grad school in two years, and the future after that point remains uncertain. Meeting someone could potentially complicate things. Burned by overly compromising for my long-term partner in my youth, I want all of my decisions about my future to be made with myself in mind, and not somebody else. So although I still crave romance and companionship, a relationship seems really out of the question.
But even though I feel lacking in this one area of my life, it’s amazing how other aspects are really taking off. I just started grad school, a new, exciting chapter that will ignite my mind, get me meeting like-minded individuals, and keep me busy. And this summer I finally got back into dancing again. Since June I’ve been taking swing dance classes at a studio in North Hollywood, coincidentally the same dance studio where my sister took Irish dance twenty years ago as a young person. Dancing again is such a gift, and I’m lucky that I found a great class and am finally making new friends here in LA. So while I might be in a bit of a famine, romance-wise, in other areas of my life there is abundance, a feast of social interactions and possibility.
I flicked through the apps on my phone. Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge. . . One by one, I held down the icons on the screen and deleted them all. I don’t need that shit in my life right now. I don’t need the time suck, the dopamine hit, the bittersweet combination of agony and hopefulness that comes from waiting for someone you’ve never even met to message you back. I ain’t got time for that. I’m too busy traveling, and dancing, and learning. . . and living.
Safe and Happy Travels,
*All photos in this post are real dating profiles that I’ve found in my “travels” through dating apps. Apparently all men in LA really like tacos. . .