there are a hundred things that i should be doing right now. i have to pack for my trip home. i have to clean my apartment. i have to sleep. but i was once given the brilliant wisdom that it is incredibly important to chronicle my life. it is life-giving to slow down for a minute and take stock of what's going on around me. so this is me. taking stock. stopping to breathe and survey for a minute.

tonight, i went on a date.

what?

i went on a date.

i know. the all-too-familiar story of girl-can't-date-because-she-can't-trust takes a turn for the...something. this is the best i can come up with for what i'm feeling:

 

 

i am good at a lot of things. i make a mean macaroni & cheese, i can start a conversation with just about anyone, i can do sudoku puzzles rather quickly, i'll own you in scrabble. i have excellent taste in shoes and perfumes, i'm really good at eating, i remember random facts and i can tell jokes better than the best of 'em. i am good at a lot of things.

but i can't date. period.

tonight was great. perfect, even. well thought out but not tightly wound, casual but exciting, special, sweet. he was entirely chivalrous, easy to talk to, incredibly affirming. my hand was held, my cheek was kissed, my tummy was filled. our conversation comfortably bounced between serious and light-hearted. he told my i was beautiful. he complimented my shoes. he asked all the right questions and said all the right things. he called me "a perfect fit". i think he even used the word "serendipitous" at one point. and remembered the names of important characters in my life. he paid. he was polite. he got me back to my car at a decent hour. he made sure i got home okay. like i said - perfect, even.

i am scared shitless.  he likes me, that much is clear. right now, he is charmed. the first circle of me is very charming. the second circle is likable and fairly interesting. it's everything after that second circle that has very few footprints. the handful of people who know me that deeply have only been let in so close because they are girls who i trust completely with who i am. it is a safely guarded door, as i am told it is a "wellspring of life" and i am doing my best to keep it that way.

he wants in.

this sucks.

to love anything at all is a risk. to date someone is a scary, scary thing. to be vulnerable again is a daunting thought. i repeat: i am scared shitless.

maybe this is nothing, maybe this is the start of the rest of everything. i do not know. i am fighting the urge to be ten steps ahead of it all. i will end with something i wrote a few months ago. for whatever reason, it brings me comfort:

 

 

what are you so afraid of?

'what are you so afraid of?' you ask.
i'm afraid of the ocean. i don't like the vast blankness of it, and i can't stand the thought of sharks. i never go in the water past my knees.  i'm afraid of someone needing me and i won't be available. so i always have my phone on me, 24 hours a day. annoying to most because it comes off rude, but i cannot change. if someone needed me and i wasn't there, i don't think i'd ever be able to forgive myself.
these pale in comparison to my biggest fear of all.
more than anything in the whole world, i'm terrified that i will never be able to find someone who will love me. such a blanket statement, i know. one that can be easily written off with "yes you will!" or "good things come to those who wait" or "someday my prince will come!" but i am not interested in those phrases. they do nothing except irritate me. i am afraid i will never be loved. i am not afraid i won't be intriguing or interesting to someone. i'm not afraid i won't have flings. flings happen. but i am afraid that once someone knows me enough to love me, they will turn around.
i've been in love. twice, even! i've had a lucky love life and i've learned a lot. but each time they basically left me for someone or something else that they deemed better or more interesting or less complicated.
lady gaga is ridiculous but she said something once that i'll never forget. "if you're wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you it doesn't love you anymore."
i've been fighting for what feels like an eternity and as i attend the weddings of all of my friends, i feel like i'm fighting a losing battle. how is it that no one has wanted to love me? my faraway crushes aren't intrigued, and the boys who know me better than anyone don't want me. i fight like hell against the thought that a relationship is a reward for good behavior. i try like crazy to remind myself that it's all about proper timing and that, frankly, i am probably just not ready to consider another. i am a crazy hot mess because of what these boys did to my heart. i have given away more of myself that i was aware of and it affects everything i do. they permanently altered who i am; i trust very few people. i try to control and manipulate situations so that they work out exactly how i want them to. most of the time this ends in utter failure.
there's a verse in the new testament that says "perfect love casts out fear."
there is only One who will ever love me perfectly. He is the only faithful One, the only One who knows me exactly as i am and loves me anyways. the deepest fight of my every day life is to cling to this promise: His love casts out all of my fears. my fears about never being loved, about not being good enough. he takes them and he tells them to shove it, and i get to dance around in freedom.
when you're faced with a crossroads and to your left is all of your experiences and all of the people who told you that you weren't good enough, and to your right is all of God's promises, always go right. always go with God's promises. they are far truer than anything you will every experience.
perfect love. perfect love. no fear.