This weekend I went out on the town. I met one of my only single girlfriends out at a bar, drank a bucket load of prosecco, and watched her make out with an off-duty cop from New Jersey. I made excuses that I was exhausted and was back at home, in bed, at 2 a.m. Kelly was slightly disappointed in my turning in early. “This isn’t the Amelia I remember,” she scolded. “Next time, you’ve got to be out until at least four.” I promised her that next time I would be. But I was lying.To be honest, going out to bars depresses me. Watching my friends make out with Dumbo-eared off-duty cops depresses me. That bubblegum pink stretch Mini-Cooper limo that I saw rolling down Bleecker Street at 1:30 a.m., with wasted 20-somethings hanging out of it, depresses me. (And makes me angry. I screamed obscenities after them, saying their vehicle offended me.) I am, as my friend Teri says, “A 35-year-old woman stuck in a 30-year-old’s body.” I prefer to spend my Saturday nights curled up on my couch with my dog, watching Kate Winslet movies (I highly recommend “Heavenly Creatures,” a recent rental) and drinking bubbly (bought at the wine shop for way cheaper than what they’re selling it for by the glass out and about). But remember — I’m single and really would rather not be, and I know I’m not going to meet anyone awesome during the walk from the wine shop to my couch.
When you’re single, it’s hard not to feel, well, kind of like a loser if you spend both a Friday AND Saturday night in. Even if I’m totally enjoying myself, there’s a nagging pressure to get off my ass and go out. Even if standing at a bar and making small talk with a total stranger sounds utterly miserable. My friend Kelly is right though; I didn’t used to be this way. Back when she and I were roommates, pre-boyfriend/fiancé, we went out a lot. Like, nightly. I made out with a lot of randoms too, back then, including an off-duty cop, now that I think about it.
But then I met someone — at a party, through friends — and things got serious really fast. Within six months we were living together. My days of drinking Miller Light, playing darts, and making out with hot Irish bartenders were over. And I didn’t miss them in the slightest. When I heard my single friends’ tales I was still amused, but I wasn’t nostalgic. I was in the perfect situation — I was in love with someone who loved me back, we had a life together, but I was still very independent. When all that came crashing down around me and I found myself single again, I didn’t have a desire at all to relive my former single and wild life. I was a different person. I am a different person.
Don’t get me wrong — I still like going out. I love having dinner with friends, going to see bands, and occasionally hitting the bars with a group where the intention is to hang out together, not make out with the first guy who happens to body check me on the way to the restroom. I wrote in a previous column that I hated the phrase “put yourself out there” because it now requires ever so much more effort than simply being out in public. Spending an evening drinking overpriced booze does not guarantee that I’ll meet someone more interesting than the clerk at my local Blockbuster or the cab driver who takes me home that night. In fact, I’m almost guaranteed NOT to meet anyone interesting. So I’m not going to do it anymore.
Here’s my plan. First, I’m going to stop looking, period. I haven’t been aggressively “searching” per se, but I’m going to stop keeping one eye peeled. I’m going to refuse offers to go stand in crowded bars while clutching $10 beers unless I really want to accept. I’m going to continue to adhere to my New Year’s resolution to see more cultural events and make better use of living in one of the greatest cities in the world. (Since making this resolution, I have seen an Alvin Ailey dance performance and the Broadways shows “Next To Normal” and “A View From The Bridge.”) I’m going to make plans with friends to do things I love in advance so that I’m not as lonely as I have been lately. I’m going to even throw a dinner party, where each person invited has to bring one person I’ve never met as their guest. Because I do want to meet new people — just not in the ways I used to.