Single Ladies

(Part Fifteen in my series on my six years in New York)

I did not come to New York expecting to ever be single in New York.  In fact, I have not really ever been single in my adult life.  But when you wake up one day, and you find that there is no longer a diamond on your finger, and your age suddenly begins with a “3” instead of a “1” or a “2”, and you step outside, and you get hit by a car, and you’re sitting in a hospital bed and you can’t find the man who you’ve been dating because he’s out with a woman whose age begins with a “2” (who “makes [him] smile”) and then, the day after you get out of the hospital, you get a phone call telling you that said man has actually been sleeping with someone else whose age begins with a “2”…

Well.  It is at that point — your arm bound in a sling, and the painkillers mercifully still coursing through your system — that you start to rethink what it means to be “single in New York.”

You start to wonder whose name you put as your Emergency Contact each time you fill out the form to run a New York Road Runners Race, when, for years — and without thinking, you simply put your husband’s name, and then the name of your significant other.  (Answer: Strand.  Just remember to tell her about it before you’ve been doing it for a few months.)

You wonder who will walk the dog in the morning when you are too tired/sick/hungover to do it.  (Answer: you.)

You wonder what it will be like to date.  To date at all, really.  Let alone in New York.

Dating in New York is a strange dance, I’ve found — one for which I have mostly been a wallflower rather than a participant.  From what I can tell, there is some kind of strange caste system: like dates like; socioeconomic classes stick together; Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl rings as true on Second Avenue today as it did when he was wooing Christie Brinkley.

You meet; you talk; you drink; you go to bed; you decide after that whether someone is disposable or worth another go-round.  And after that, you decide whether it’s “relationship-worthy” or was just another “hook-up.”  Are New Yorkers a bunch of anonymous, throwaway people, wandering the haunts and hangouts, looking to find a co-caste’d mate — for now; or forever, maybe?

I don’t know.

I came here, engaged, ten weeks out from being wed.  I never expected to date in New York; never thought I’d be missing out if I didn’t.  Then the papers were filed, and I found myself suddenly, a stereotype, dining on Peking duck with a gent I’d met on Long Island the weekend prior. Very civilised; very proper; he was my type (sons of bankers; sons of lawyers); and I was his (blonde; preppy).  Our pedigrees matched and we both liked duck.  Done.

But my dips in the New York dating pool have been relatively yucky, ending with the awkward kinds of kisses on the mouth that should have been left at Junior Prom.  And when my ex-husband regales me with stories of his successes at speed dating in New York, I become increasingly confident that this is, in fact, a pool in which someone has urinated.

So I spent last Saturday afternoon with my main man, my dog Roo, and we watched the couples on the Upper East Side…the women in dresses and the men who love them; the bickering pairs; the butternut squashy pregnant ladies about to pop and their worried spouses who trailed behind them.  I ran errands.  I was…bored.  And it sunk in that I really am single.  And generally speaking, I am not ready for someone else’s New York life to comingle with mine; to subsume this existence; to take over my little empire.

I would love to share my New York experience, but I wonder — will that be in New York; will it be with a New Yorker?  These questions gnaw at me as the piss-pool beckons.  But for now, I’m still in the chaise, observing — sometimes, I still feel shell-shocked over the whole thing: the divorce, the “I haven’t done this since I was 19;” the badly ending post-divorce relationship.  So it appears that, for me at least, it is still adult swim.

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