A few years ago, on a freezing cold morning after a somewhat debaucherous Halloween night, I walked to a Tim Horton’s with a man I was dating. I had spent the night at his house and, so, was still clad in my costume from the night before. Outside of the context of the Halloween party we had been at, I felt completely on display and wildly self-conscious in my short skirt and bodysuit.
On our way out of the coffee shop I attracted a particularly invasive stare from a man standing in the doorway. The man I was dating quickly noticed, stepped out in front of me and gave the other man a few choice words. In that moment, I felt like my heart grew three sizes, because it was the first time in my life that I didn’t have to handle a situation like that alone.
I’ve been ‘dancing on my own’ for quite some time now and I’m getting pretty good at it if I do say so myself. I earned two degrees in competitive programs at a tough university. I drive my career towards opportunities that will not only pay the bills but, also, allow me to grow, learn and feel happy and fulfilled. I show up for work everyday and perform to the best of my abilities and I do my utmost to show up for my friends and family in the same way whenever they need me.
I go home to a space that I decorated and maintain. I can hang up a painting, change a light bulb and put together furniture.
I cook and I clean for myself. I generally eat well and take care of my body. I go out with my friends, I buy my own drinks and I know my own limits.
I handle unwanted advances and I get myself home safe.
I’ve never had a partner to do these things for me. It’s not something I am accustomed too.
So, while I’m sure the man I was seeing at the time is completely unaware, that short and seemingly insignificant moment in our relationship on that cold November morning was actually anything but insignificant to me.
Because, although I am more than capable of taking care of myself, there are no shortage of moments where I wish I didn’t always have to.
My love life has consisted of a handful of very brief, but extremely meaningful ‘almost relationships’. I’ve never brought anyone home to meet my family, I’ve never been on vacation with a significant other or made a commitment to be faithful to someone and I’ve never called a man my boyfriend. In our deceivingly small city I have, however, on many occasions, had to swallow my pride and politely shake the hands of the women who would take those steps with the men who would never take them with me.
Few things in my life have felt more painful than those moments, I won’t lie … but I have to wonder if maybe those steps were taken with her because she wants something different than what I want …