Did you know that the name Anna means “grace”? The tale to follow might provide substantial contradictory evidence.
To any future suitors that might read this: Please remember that the ability to laugh at oneself is a fine trait indeed. Don't judge me. To anyone that might have a weak stomach, there's a small section you might want to skip.
Now that we got that out of the way.
I ripped the flat iron chord out of the outlet after I gave my hair a once over in the bathroom mirror. I topped the frizz off with a spritz of my trusty hairspray, gave it a fragile pat, and then adjusted my new tank to the perfect position. “Rose All Day” was displayed across it. The perfect summer shirt. I doused myself with my Juicy Couture perfume, collected my things, and headed to my van to meet my family for a baseball outing that day.
As I walked outside my mind drifted back to my first real date since my divorce. I had met someone online and he had taken me out to a place that served many different types of beers. It was pretty cool, actually. We had only talked for a couple of weeks before meeting up, but he seemed nice enough.
Now, before I get into any more details of this date I feel like I should let you all in on something. My ex-husband was my first honest-to-goodness boyfriend. I mean, sure, I had dates here and there, but it never panned into anything serious. So I really haven't done much of this whole dating thing in general, but you'd probably guess that soon enough.
The date started off pretty well. We began by talking about music, which is a big part of my life, so that was great. One beer down. Then we started talking about past relationships. He asked about my divorce. I asked about his kid. Two beers down. The song “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran came on the radio at the bar. He started staring at me and said this song was our song now. I stopped drinking. Three beers for him. Water for me. He asked if I was talking to anyone else. When I tried to answer politely that we had just met and I had JUST started dating he stopped me to say, “Who are you talking to right now?” I opened my mouth to answer and he said, “Who are you here with right now?” I squeaked out a, “…you…” and he replied, “That’s the answer I wanted.” CHECK PLEASE!
Oh! And the date before him?! Didn’t even happen! I had been talking to a guy who had suggested that we meet up a few times and when we finally were able to I stopped at my best friend Kellie’s to have her help me with my hair. She’s so good at it and I needed the friend pep talk. He didn’t respond to my text about an hour before we were expected to meet. You guys- I legit got ghosted. That night I could’ve went home depressed, but luckily I have the best friends in the world that took me out to have a fun time instead. I still think that night was way better than if he had actually shown up.
But this whole dating game thing? It’s for the birds. I had deleted the dating apps at this point because I felt like I wasn’t really ready yet and it was turning out to be more of a waste of my time than anything else.
Back to my summer family gathering. I had sat down in the van, cranked the air conditioner on to full blast, and slowly backed out of the garage. I turned the wheel and heard a grinding sound. Driving down to the end of the driveway resulted in a gear crunch sound. It felt like my van bottomed out. I slowly crept the van across the street to the gas station. After I called my parents, deemed it undrivable for the day, had a nice gent help me fill up the air in my tires, I pulled back into my driveway. I went back into my house feeling a little defeated. Rose all day? More like, “No way, Jose.” No bueno.
I changed into my favorite floral summer outfit and thought about what I should do for the rest of that day.
:INSERT MONTAGE OF CLEANING AND DANCING ALL AROUND THE HOUSE. DISHES. LAUNDRY. SWEEPING. I WAS A MACHINE. THIS WAS ALL SET TO THE SONG “FIRE” BY THE POINTER SISTERS.:
After I made myself dinner I sat there and resolved that I didn’t want to be at home alone anymore. I felt good, I looked nice, and I shouldn’t let my fears of being alone stop me.
One of the perks of living in my new little town in this Chic Chick Pad is that I’m right on a main street. I live right by a park and down the road from about 5 bars and 3 restaurants. All are about a 5 minute walk.
There is the big stigma about doing things by yourself, and I feel like it’s for a good reason. Doing things alone can be scary at first, but I reminded myself of that quote, “Life happens outside of your comfort zone.”
So I packed up my purse, gave myself a “you’re fine” talk, and headed out of the door to explore my town. Solo.
About one block into my walk a slick black truck rolled past me slowly and I heard, “Yeah, baby!” My body tensed and I didn’t even turn to look over. “Welp, it was a nice run,” I thought as my anxiety almost led me to turn around and go back home. Nope. I’m seeing this through. I’m going into at least ONE place alone.
The first bar had two couples in it. I ordered a beer, pulled up a seat, and immediately whipped out my phone to text a friend about my current situation. “At least you are breaking out of your shell a bit,” he texted back. He was right. I could do this.
The second bar I meandered into had a married couple playing dice with the bartender. As I sat down and ordered a drink they invited me to join in on the game. After they explained the rules another stranger jumped in. He was alone too. After he lost the first round and had to buy us all drinks, he scooted his chair closer to mine. He proceeded to lose the next round again. I took up the opportunity to give him shit for it. I may seem timid, but my smack talk game is strong. We got to chatting a little bit before he informed me that he was single and we should hang out. So we did. And I had a nice time. For all intents and purposes (and anonymity), I’m going to call this guy PJ.
The second time I ran into him I was out with my roommate Jenny. That night he had walked us back to our place and I had convinced him to give my favorite comedic movie “Hot Rod,” a watch. He obliged.
For those of you that haven’t seen my room, it’s my little oasis. I love it. I have a million pillows. It goes like this: TV, a small pathway, and then my bed.
“This movie is so dumb that it’s funny. Do you like slapstick humor? Cause this has that,” I assured him as I walked over to my Bluray player and threw the movie in. I pushed the close door button and started to head around with the intention of propping myself up in my bed.
And that’s when it happened.
I had the biggest trip of all of the trips that I’ve ever tripped.
One minute I was standing and the next minute I was face first on the carpet.
You guys. I don’t mean that I-stumbled-and-caught-myself-and-politely-laughed kind of trip either. I mean I didn’t-have-time-to-put-my-hands-out-to-catch-anything kind of trip. I mean my face got carpet burn kind of fall. I mean I rumbled the whole house kind of tumble.
And he saw the whole thing.
I started to laugh as I got myself up and felt a shooting pain in my foot.
“Are you okay?!” he asked wide-eyed.
“Yeah,” I slid my foot forward and noticed his shoes were in that little pathway. The culprit. His eyes followed mine and he started apologizing profusely.
I half-laughed and assured him that I was fine as I felt my big toe’s very own heartbeat. Baboom. BABOOOM.
And that’s when I noticed all of the blood…
I gathered up my dignity and stood myself up. Ouch. Ouch. In the sweetest and kindest voice I could muster up I said, “I’m fine. I just gotta run to the bathroom real quick and I’ll be right back.”
I lightly closed the door behind me and tiptoed to Jenny’s room.
My voice dropped about ten octaves. “JENNY!” I rapped on her bedroom door. “JENNY I NEED YOUR HELP RIGHT NOWWWW!”
She opened the door and saw my foot. She grabbed her First Aid Kit and helped me hobble to the bathroom so we could see better and talk a little louder without PJ hearing us.
“Oh my God…” she said when she saw it.
“IT’S BAD. IT’S SO BAD! THERE’S BLOOD EVERYWHERE!” I said in my best John C. Reilly voice.
She looked up at me and we started giggling.
“Is that what that big BOOM was?” she asked.
“I went down so hard, Jenny! You heard it?!”
“Anna, it was so loud…but I was not about to go in there. I didn’t know what you were all doing…” We both snickered.
Well, we laughed until we assessed the damage. This is humbling to admit because it hurt very badly and it was the most unpleasant thing ever. But that was the day that I lost my big toenail. Yep. That was the pain I felt. Ripped it off. UGHHHHHHHHHH #summerofnosandals
But we handled it like champs. After Jenny, bless her heart, helped me bandage it up, I put a sock on to try to help cover the situation.
I limped back to my room, put on my happy face, and proceeded to watch “Hot Rod” with PJ.
Did blood start seeping past the bandage and the sock during the movie? Of course it did. OF COURSE IT DID. I sheepishly grabbed a blanket and covered it up while he, again, expressed how awful he felt and told me that I could use the tripping over his shoes card for a very long time with him.
I didn’t. We spoke for a little while, and he was nice, but it didn’t feel like it was meant to be anything else. And that’s okay. I got new experiences and a funny, yet painful, story out of it. (Also, if I tripped in front of a guy I liked a little, just imagine all of the clutz I could get into with someone I reallyyyyy liked!)
Before I had even begun to think about dating again, I remember when my ex and I first split and I was sitting across from my best friend, Kim, at a tiny table at a local diner. At the time I still felt very broken. The split was still fresh.
Through teary eyes, I admitted one of my fears out loud to her. “Kim, I really liked when Dan and I started dating and he used to get me flowers. What if I don’t ever find someone that’ll get me flowers again?”
“Anna,” she said before taking a small sip of her water and continuing, “Maybe you won’t need flowers with the next person you love. Maybe they’ll fill your soul in other ways and you won’t even want flowers or even think about not getting them.”
Dating can be hard. Dating can be really fun. It can be funny. I’ve been thinking of dating, good or bad, as a way to learn more about myself. Admittedly, I haven’t done a ton of it overall, but the times I have I come out knowing something about myself that I didn’t before.
I’ve since learned that Kim was right. I don’t need the flowers. Instead of wanting the final bouquet of perfectly grown and cut flowers handed to me by someone, I want the seeds. I want the dirt under the fingernails of both him and I, showing off our hard work of planting them. Together. I want the warm and gentle sun to support both of our growth. I want the refreshing and cleansing water and I want that full and glorious bloom instead. ❤