I downloaded Bumble again, because it’s around that time. I use Bumble in brief cycles of optimism every three months, followed by a quick sensation that I was right, I hate Bumble (and all dating apps). Then I usually delete them quickly, relieved to not think about the matter for another three months when something (usually a horoscope, to be honest) comes up and makes me think if I ever want to not die alone then I’m going to have to change my efforts and get outside of my comfort zone and start swiping.
The thing is, the problem isn’t me. I’m super cute, first of all. One time a guy said, “you look like that girl from Girls” and I was like, “ugh, I know, Lena Dunham?” and then he said, “no, the British one.” And I was like, “wait, there’s a British one?” because despite how many times I’ve been compared to Lena Dunham, I’ve never seen the show. It turned out he meant Jemima Kirke. Woah, she’s pretty! That must mean I am too! Plus, what a relief to get a break from being compared to Lena Dunham!
In addition to my physical appearance which is great, I’m also smart. I went to Vassar College, that’s a fancy school where smart people go. Now sure, it’s no Harvard or Yale, and I know that normally you can’t know if someone is really smart unless they went to one of those, but I contend that Harvard and Yale are stuffy and boring and that Vassar is for people who are smart and weird, which makes me more well-rounded and interesting. I also know normally no one cares if women are smart, but I figure my perfect guy would probably want to hold a conversation with me. Anyway, I can string together a sentence, hold opposing ideas in my mind at the same time, and answer a lot of the questions on Jeopardy when it’s on except I always forget to shout it out in the form of a question.
I’ve been told I’m funny and sincere. Recently, I was watching BoJack Horseman, Season 4 and (SPOILERS!) BoJack said about his daughter who had just overdosed on weight loss pills, “She’s funny! But she isn’t mean, which is pretty remarkable, because a lot of [people] think you have to be mean to be funny, but Hollyhock is very sweet, even if she can be sarcastic.” I decided this could be about me, because I am currently single and so if no one else is going to be around to compliment me I might as well do it via my television programs.
Last but not least, the guy checking me out at Dick’s Sporting Goods the other day told me I had beautiful eyes. Woohoo! What a catch.
The point is, I’m incredible, and so the problem really couldn’t be me.
“What is it then?” I had to ask.
A few times I’ve used bumble, I’ve felt like I’m actually entering a hive of bees. For example, there was the hour long conversation on the phone with an Australian guy. We seemed to hit it off, mostly because I am charming and good at asking people questions. At the end of our getting to know each other session I said, “hey, well I really enjoyed this, would you like to get a coffee?” because I am a modern woman who isn’t afraid to ask a guy she just talked to for an hour and seemed to get along with if he’d like to drink a caffeinated beverage. He asked me to send more pictures, not convinced by my prettiness, apparently. Sting! Also, fuck off, asshole. I am pretty, and if your accent hadn’t been so hot I would have considered that an hour of my life wasted!
There’s something about meeting someone in the void of an app based on swiping through people’s appearances that seems to make genuine connection difficult.
This is why I like meeting people in the wild, as I like to call non-dating-app-related-introductions. There’s more there from the start, usually a mutual friend, or a mutual interest or cause. There’s no need to ask for more pictures to confirm whether someone is hotornot.com, because you can see them because you are in the same room as them. As a person who reads horoscopes, I also believe in the general concept of “vibes” and I appreciate being able to get to know a human being as a human being first rather than a digital image of what might be a human being.
Alas, no matter how full and complete my life is without a partner, and no matter how much I don’t want to want a boyfriend, it seems that being a woman also means being plagued by horomones that make me think I should surrender and download Bumble sometimes. Or maybe wanting companionship is normal and human. Ugh, fuck, who knows. Anyway I downloaded it again.
This time I realized I am definitely going to die alone, but I think at this point since the problem isn’t me, it’s LA.
I’ve been in LA my whole life, but I’ve been in it in a dating capacity since 2007. That’s ten years of dating, subtracting about three of those years for long term relationships in which I didn’t date, and so still a full seven years of dating. Most of the people on Bumble are wearing beanies and have judgmental bios about girls who take pictures with those angel wings you see painted around LA, or look like wealthy serial killers in suits who spend time at douchey bars before going home to kill their girlfriends. The mere process of having to swipe through all of this is exhausting in and of itself.
Then I realize, after you get through the 95% of people on dating apps who are just like, “fuck no,” people who you would normally just walk past and not think twice about in real life, you start seeing the people you’d maybe actually want to date. This leaves about 5% of the eligible dating population in LA.
Of this 5%, I seem to already know most of them. Funnily enough, I didn’t meet any of them on Bumble, because as I’ve made clear I’m not an avid “dating app” girl. I met them in real life, through friends and mutual interests! But things didn’t work out with them, or we were never interested in the first place, so here we both are, on Bumble!
This leaves like three guys in the entire app left. I actually like these three guys, I’ve met them in person. We’re not close by any means, but we’re acquaintances due to things like mutual friends and interests that connected us without any swiping involved. This creates a sort of new crisis like, “do I swipe right on this guy that I actually would date if he wanted to date me?” Because he probably didn’t swipe right on me, but if he did then what would I say? “Hey uh… why haven’t you asked me out yet?”
I figure this is because, as the classic Drew Barrymore film “He’s Just Not That Into You” based on some book advises, they must not be that into me, otherwise they probably would have asked me out and we would already be dating and not swiping through Bumble. There’s no point in trying to figure out why they aren’t that in to me, because at the very least I know I’m great. All I do know is there’s no accounting for taste.
This leaves me with my question, “What is it then?”
I’m astonished to learn that I’ve pretty much already met every eligible single man in Los Angeles who would fit the profile of someone I might be compatible with. If anything, Bumble proves it. I feel impressed with how well I’ve gotten to know Los Angeles over the years. The entire city feels like my Cheers, where everyone knows my name, or at least I know theirs. The realization also makes me feel like I’m in one of those movies where Bill Murray keeps waking up to the tune of “I’ve got you babe” by Sonny and Cher, or Jim Carrey sails in a boat only to hit a plastered wall that only looks like sky.
I am going to die alone because I’m in LA, and there’s just something about LA that’s going to cause me to die alone. I’m not the first person to come to this conclusion, and I can barely explain the phenomenon of why this is so. I’m okay with this for the moment, because as I mentioned I have a full and complete life and enjoy the solo lifestyle. It’s comfortable to only have to do what I want all the time and not open up or be vulnerable. I prefer it, in fact. And that’s the only reason I signed up for Bumble in the first place, was feeling that maybe I was getting too comfortable with my aloneness.
I think though that whatever is out there for me is probably not waiting for me here. Leaving my comfort zone might instead entail leaving LA entirely, past the door in the wall that looks like sky. Or who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky on Bumble after all and find the relationship equivalent of a needle in a haystack, but I don’t count on it. The odds are always with the house, and my house is still LA.
After election 2016 I went to New York City to visit friends in an attempt to heal my wounds.
I was touring the city with Ilenia. Ilenia was, or I suppose still is, my “host sister”. When I was in high school I wanted to get away from Los Angeles to figure out if my burgeoning depression was just a result of my surroundings or something that was inherently wrong with me, so I did a study abroad program in Italy to find out. I was assigned a family in Sicily, and that’s how I came to live with Ilenia and her family for a month and a half of my life when I was 15.
I hadn’t seen Ilenia in over a decade, so when she told me she was going to New York City on vacation and asked if I would accompany her I agreed. I figured she might need an NYC tour guide, and I know NYC only second to LA.
One of the things we did together was visit the 9/11 memorial. I was internally against the idea, but she wanted to go and tickets were included in a tourist guide pack we had bought.
The first thing we visited were the two black square fountains in the ground that outlined where the original buildings had stood. The energy in the place was eerie. There was a heaviness hanging over us, and it was palpable. It made the trauma more real.
9/11 happened when I was 13, in 8th grade. I remember feeling pretty numb and nearly indifferent the whole day. I certainly wasn’t sad or scared, more just uncertain how I was supposed to feel. I don’t remember exactly what was said about it but I remember my history teacher, Mr. Giambra, explaining the horror and significance of what had just happened. When I got home the TV, even Nickelodeon, was not showing normal programs. I wondered how long that would go on for. I went on “Neopets” instead but all anyone was talking about there on the chat boards was what had just happened so I got off the Internet. I didn’t think the adults were overreacting, but the events were also so far away and I was so young that I couldn’t really comprehend. All I knew was that we were safe in California.
When Ilenia and I went down the escalator into the actual memorial or “museum,” I felt like I was descending into one of the scariest places I had ever been in my life. When I was 13 everything had felt so surreal and far-away, but being in the actual location of the fallen towers in December 2016, only a month after another American tragedy that had effected me directly, the events of 9/11 no longer felt so impersonal. Instead I felt like I was there on the actual day, which I suppose is the point of the museum.
I did my best to look at the artifacts and to honor the memories of those who had lost their lives, but I started to have a panic attack instead. I was sobbing. I felt overwhelmed, and all the emotions I was unable to feel in 2001 when 9/11 happened came to the forefront. I was finally grieving what I had been unable to as a kid.
Ilenia saw me being a mess and I tried to explain to her. Ilenia speaks pretty good English, but somehow there still seemed to be a disconnect in our communication, which had less to do with the words themselves but more how different our life experiences had been. My unbearable sadness wasn’t just because of the museum, though it was that too. It was how real all this inescapable horror was. I wanted to leave. I just wanted to be above ground and get some air.
Ilenia tried to comfort me, but also attempted to explain that this was not just an “American” thing but rather the history of the world. Horrible things had always been happening in Italy and Europe, apparently. I felt like her message to me was essentially, “get over it, you aren’t so unique” though she never actually said this. What she did say was, “If Americans want to help make the world a better place then they don’t have to learn other languages. It’s fine for them to only know English. But they should know what’s happening in the rest of the world, and read other news, read other history.”
I thought her words were wise. She was asking me to put something in perspective. I kept thinking about the election of 2016, and how awful it had been. I felt like this was something Ilenia, and for that matter a lot of Americans, didn’t seem to understand. I felt like no one fully understood how traumatic, awful, and dangerous it was that Trump had won. Everything was at stake.
I saw this which only made me cry more. I felt like America was being tested again, and I hoped that the fabric of our democracy was indeed as strong as this wall and that it could withstand the Trump presidency, which still felt as surreal and unreal as 9/11 had to me when I was young.
Ilenia and I walked into a room of the museum that had images and worst of all audio phone calls from people who were trapped in the building and trying to connect with 9/11 victims on the actual day. The room itself was super crowded. I started to feel faint and overwhelmed, and so I left Ilenia alone in the room and sat on a bench for the rest of our visit. I just physically couldn’t take anymore in, even fifteen years later the place still felt like death.
I asked one of the volunteers who worked there how she did it. She was like a nurse to me, someone who deals with unspeakable pain and trauma on a daily basis but somehow manages for the greater purpose of healing others.
“It is sad,” she admitted. “I was fortunate enough to not have any family or friends effected, but I’m a life long New Yorker and I will always remember the day.”
It seemed she had some distance to bear her job but not enough to not feel like she should avoid the work she was doing.
When we finally left I was so grateful to breathe the cold air. Ilenia patted me on the back as I finished crying. I hugged her.
“Thank you for being my friend all these years,” I said, and meant it. I tried to explain to her how cool I thought our friendship was, that we were helping each other to heal in ways, and that she had come back into my life at a very meaningful time. Ilenia had always been in love with America, and I had always wanted to be less American. She knew more about America than I did. She knew that we were the only country in the world to advocate for the “pursuit of happiness,” which was something I didn’t know. Not that we pursued happiness, because god knows I have, but that we were the only ones. She was helping me to know and understand my own country.
I didn’t leave the museum feeling better about anything, mostly more horrified, but I also felt more aware of the gift that life is, because that’s what death will do to you. I left the museum thinking about the great slurry wall, and the foundations that endured in the face of unspeakable trauma.
A few years ago, I embarked on an experiment of writing once a day in this blog. I kept it up for maybe 13 posts. Let’s see if I can’t break that record.
Today I was walking Rita and these people had their door open and this little white poodle looking dog ran out really fast. I wasn’t sure what its motivations were. Maybe it was just curious to check Rita out and sniff her butt. Instead, this little asshole started growling and nipping / possibly thinking about biting Rita.
I was like, “hello! We’re just passing by asshole. Leave us the fuck alone.” So I kind of shooed it with my foot.
Then this aggressive shit kept at us, still going in for a bite. So I stomped my feet and yelled, “HEY. SCRAM.” I was intense about it because I was pissed off at this dog. Leave us the fuck alone, we are just passing by.
I was also feeling tense about a lot of other things. My life feels like it’s in limbo. I’m on edge, so if a little white poodle dog tries to get into it with me I’m not gonna hold back. I’m going to make my message very clear: go back into your house fucker.
The dog does. Rita and I continue forward. Unfortunately, there are two cute little kids riding their scooters and they witnessed my whole dog fight.
“That little dog was just scared,” the little boy, about age 5, offers me with a smile.
“Yeah, you’re right.”
The little girl, probably 3, comes up to agree with the little boy.
“That dog lives close to us. It does that sometimes because it’s protecting its house.”
“Yeah. You guys have good points. I should have gone easier on that dog. I’m sorry I was like that.”
I feel embarrassed and also in awe of these children. They are so peaceful, happy, and non-judgmental. They aren’t offended by my transgressions, they just want to share their peace with me.
“I like your unicorn necklace,” I tell the little girl, because I do. She looks at it.
“It’s a unicorn necklace,” she tells me.
“Yes it is,” I say.
“We have a dog! Her name is Lola. She’s white and black,” the boy says conversationally.
They are being so nice to me. Their gentleness keeps putting my overreaction to a poodle in stark contrast. Yes that poodle was a little shit, but I probably didn’t need to act like it was a bear about to tear our heads off. I probably could have just kept walking or picked up Rita if need be.
“Oh Lola? That’s a pretty name,” I say, still ashamed of how I acted in front of kids.
We exchange a few more pleasantries, then it seems Rita and I should be on our way. The little girl scooters off.
“Have fun,” I say to her.
“I am,” she knows.
I don’t know how to have fun, or be as present as they are.
“They were nice,” I think as I walk off. “Ugh, I might want kids.”
I don’t want to want kids, but of the kids I’ve met in my life they always seem to help me more than I actually feel like I’m helping them. It seems like a good idea to have them around.
I walk home with Rita, feeling like I’m going to have to be nicer to snippy poodles if I want to cultivate more inner peace.