My Dear New Friends,
You know who I am, don’t you? I’m you. That’s the reason you picked up this little tome, because you’re looking for the same thing I was: that topsy-turvy, all about life four-letter word named Love. Well, sister, good luck finding it!
Wait – who said that?
I admit, that was me, but only a small part of me. I mean, the small but echoing part that doubts everything I do, that thinks it’s never going to happen, the part that believes the true title of this sorry tale should be Love and Other Strangers.
Heidi Lee, hush now. This is no way to begin a story about the most mind-boggling journey you have ever taken, is it? If so, I suggest that you shut the book this instant and do something useful with it, such as turn it into a prop for that pint of 62 Flavors ice cream you long for as you give up hope for the countless time of ever finding true love. That’s right, prop the pages under the ice cream as you prepare to wallow in self-pity and slurp up the whole pint. That way, at least, your hands won’t get cold from holding the container, and you’ll be able to stuff your belly and ignore your withered heart for a little while, at least for as long as it takes to down the dregs of flavor #62.
No no, my dear, this is simply not going to happen. And I will tell you why.
But first I must introduce myself. The good, the bad, and the … don’t even think it. The bigger, the better, the sugar-free part of me.
I like to think of myself as the proverbial independent woman. Think movie star, sleek sunglasses, hair whipping in the wind thanks to the convertible. Then, forget the film roles, the glasses, but keep the car. There I am, hair whipping in the wind. I am confident, successful, funny, witty, utterly charming – and single. While being single is not my first choice, I am also finally comfortable enough with myself to remain on my own until I meet a man who will complement my strengths, not ignore them.
So, what better way to get to know you – um, for you to get to know me – for us to understand ourselves more deeply, than to share my story through the ups, the downs, and especially the sideways of online dating. If my adventures can provide even one woman with direction, warning or inspiration, then my two go-rounds at the $99 dollar, 6-month membership to the Internet dating arena was a great value.
As my 30-something, occasionally scintillating tale begins, I am a full time marketing manager, a student in my Master’s Program, a homeowner. I am a friend, a mother, a daughter, a sister and sporadically, a girlfriend or a lover. I’m someone who we all know as there is nothing truly remarkable about me that isn’t the same in each of us.
Excuse me, Heidi Lee, but are you lying already? Did you say you were in your 30’s? Yes I did. But I am now a (sound of throat being cleared) 42-year-old woman who wants to share my journey in digital dating and romance with the hope that you, my new friends, can find humor, romance, the merest portion of sorrow that each of us must suffer, and ultimately, love.
As I rise from the sugar coma brought on by downing all 62 flavors, let me speak freely and with candor about myself. As most of us have at some point in our lives, I admit that during my 20’s I really defined myself by the men in my life. I did not know how to be a separate person, and because I had lost all of my childhood friendships as a result of moving away to strange cities, I felt even more alone and desperate for connection.
I met my future ex-husband while I was in rebound mode from my first ex-husband, and I found myself married again and raising children at only 23 years old without any sense of being an individual, much less a fully-realized woman. I had no close girlfriends, and those who I did know I had met through my marriages. While the second marriage resulted in an oddly cordial divorce, I do, however, have an incredible child for whom I am eternally grateful.
(As for marriage #1, let’s pretend that couple of weeks never happened. Believe me, it makes for a better story!)
My 30’s were about finding my personal strength and beauty – which was in part the cause of yet another failed relationship. You’ll learn more about this man as you dive – or tiptoe – into the chapters. For the moment, I’ll say that this relationship gave me a safe channel to grow. While the two of us eventually grew apart, I developed into a better person as a result of this time in my life.
Now as I’ve rounded the corner of 40, I’m ready to share my life with the right man – and with you, my new friends. Although I have the new challenge of making sure my hips and my bra size don’t round that same corner from my fondness for the 62 Flavors, I am starting again to recognize someone I only vaguely remember from my past – the cheerleader who during high school wanted to win the world one smile at a time. True, I certainly can’t fit into that sassy little skirt and child-sized sweater anymore, but I don’t need to. I’ve discovered desire, intellect and curiosity in myself – something which over time I had allowed to fizzle away to only a shadow of that once inspired girl who made landing splits an art form. Funny how life contorts in ways only a gymnast’s body should move as we grow up.
My romantic saga begins with the Toms, the Dicks, and the Harrys of the world and will end with me becoming my own person. I see the near-decade of my 30’s as a single mother and one man’s better-half only as an opportunity to invent myself. And, while the only Perfect 10 I’m going to see is my dress size jumping from size 4 to a double-digit number, I view my experiences in learning about love as a path of life lessons.
You are entering now into a very personal journey in which I love men, use them, leave them, destroy them, and also allow them to devastate my world. I am very ashamed of some of my behaviors, and I am disappointed in the male gender in many other situations. Using Match.com as Self-Discovery University, I find that being perfect and successful means being comfortable wearing my own size 6 (I mean 8, aw crap … a 10) skin. Over time, however, I develop into someone I am very proud to know.
Quite simply, I like me. My hope in sharing is that you will find yourself in my experiences and can say the same about yourself. Wait a minute, Heidi Lee. What you mean is that you won’t be lying when you say you like yourself. Yes, that’s true, that is what I mean, Butterball. Hey, no name calling, Self! Well, nobody can love themselves all the time, can they?
Only time will tell. But one thing I can promise you is that everything I write to you truly happened. I share because I believe that many women (and men) – perhaps even you – have struggled through similar life experiences, countless pints of calorie-filled, ice cold relief, morning-after doubts. Some of my stories may be upsetting, heartfelt, uplifting – who knows? I know how I feel as I write to each of you, and I know the bonds I built with other women in sharing these experiences.
Throughout my journey, I hope to offer a few nuggets of wisdom based on my follies. I share life lessons, online dating rules, and personal theories I have developed in the spirit of fun, but also in light of safe journeys for all.
In the end, I would like to feel I have imparted the self-value in thanking your own Toms, Dicks and Harrys for whatever hell they may have put you through. Those experiences made you who you are today, and I hope you like who you see in the mirror – no matter your dress size, and even if you don’t share my love of shoes.
With my warmest regards,
Editor – Stacey Donovan