I was walking out of Brew'd Awakening a couple days ago when I passed by the woman who helped put me in this condo (the ERA Morrison is on Market Street between the Shamrock and Brew'd). It was great to see her -- she was a huge help, and through some seriously great timing and luck, she ended up showing me this place the same day it was put on the market, coached me through the bidding process, finessed some numbers the right way, and voila, I was in.
I asked her how things were and she said they were booming. Since I'd come in to see her in March, she was swamped with prospective buyers, offers, sales, etc. and she seemed really optimistic about the market turning up after what had been a pretty rough patch for realtors. "You were like a good luck charm for me," she joked, and then showed me a picture of the seven-figure property in Acton that she was about to show someone.
Before she took off, she asked me (in the same tone and voice that my mother would ask -- with a sort of inquisitive but really-rooting-for-me type of lilt), "So, have you met any girls here yet?"
My first response was, "No" but then I quickly corrected myself -- I had read a little too far into the question and hadn't answered it literally.
"I have met a few. No girlfriends yet, but we'll see."
I knew she was in a rush to take off, and probably didn't feel like listening to a long answer, but that's what this blog is for, right?
What I meant to say was this: The two-thousand-pound elephant in the room that I've sort of avoided talking about here on the blog is that yes, I'm single, and yes, a huge part of my desire to actually *establish* myself somewhere is based on the simple but steadfast belief that by staying put for a while, getting out of the house as much as possible, and just basically being a decent human being, something is going to work out for me. Affordability here was a major factor, but I purposely avoided a depressed city (i.e. New London or Bridgeport) or a large, transient city (Boston) because I didn't see either as a good place to stay and pitch base camp.
Inevitably, at some point, someone is going to introduce me to their best-friend's-college-roommate's-aunt's-neighbor's-bridge-partner's-cousin's-stepdaughter's-dance-teacher's-niece's-barista's-younger-sister.
It may happen tomorrow, it may happen in a couple months, or it may happen in a couple years. Either way, the best thing I can do until it does it just stay put and be myself -- not pushy, not needy, but just genuinely friendly, open, and gregarious.
Roughly 90% of the people I explain this to generally seem to *get it.* The other 10% give me the raised eyebrow and/or eye roll connected with some quizzical remark and/or outright scoffing. Frankly, I was kind of surprised when I got this -- along with a cynical comment about this blog (and by extension, me) -- from someone in town last week.
You may think it's weird, or that it's contrived, or whatever else you wish.
It's your freedom to think and say what you want. It's my freedom not to give a rip.
Personally, I think it would be a whole lot weirder to stay on active duty for the next twenty-odd years, bouncing around to a completely new locale every couple of years and never really getting to know anyone.
Before I left my last command, my XO told me:
"So, you're saying you want to find a place to live, dig in a bit, and eventually get married? That sounds pretty gay." [I swear, a la Dave Barry, that I'm not making this up -- those were his actual words]. Let alone the obvious irony in the language, I found this kind of hypocritical, as he was happily married a girl he knew from college years ago, before he initially enlisted.
I tried to explain it another way so I hit him with this:
"Well, sir, if I had taken care of all this before I joined the Navy, I would see the world differently. I didn't mind being a single 26 year-old Lieutenant j.g. playing football with someone else's kids on the beach at the command picnic. But if I can help it, I'd really prefer not to be the single 36 year-old Lieutenant Commander playing football on the beach with someone else's kids at the command picnic." [N.B. that wasn't a dig against single 36 year-olds, but for historical accuracy, yes, that was my rhetorical flourish].
To go back to something I wrote earlier, the word 'stranger' may be denotatively neutral (i.e. someone you don't know) but in American English it carries a negative connotation learned from a young age. Put bluntly, being a 'stranger' is never a good thing in any context (except maybe in CIA spy movies).
I spent five pretty significant years (2003 to early 2008) never staying in any one place for more than a few months. While it was professionally rewarding and great in some ways (particularly the October 06-Jun 07 deployment, thanks to the lasting security turnarounds to which it helped contribute), it sort of left a huge gap in my life -- basically, a desire to belong to some other, larger social network and not to have to start from scratch everytime I left my house (esp. given that the two true 'friends' I had in Virginia were mainly in Bahrain and Iraq, respectively).
Anyway, back to the 'stranger' thing -- If you don't believe me, try it sometime. Take a five-year period, change addresses (on average) once every five months, deploy three times, come back and let me know how it works out for you.
I've mainly avoided this topic because a) I don't want to turn this blog into a running farce about my love life, or lack thereof; and b) I have even less desire to turn this into a 'Woe is Me' or 'Dear Diary' type of blog, as those tend be quite painful on the literary senses and not worth the time of anyone other than, possibly, the author.
So I won't return to the topic until there's something to report, and even then, I'll tread lightly and stay on the bigger themes.