I was down on Victoria’s inner harbour last night to view the Canada Day fireworks. It was a spectacular display, and such fun to be part of a huge and appreciative crowd. As the last explosions echoed through the city, and as the last of the enormous red and white fireworks bloomed across the sky and then slowly drizzled into night, I turned to my date and said, “Ill bet you haven’t had such amazing first date fireworks in a while!”
I know. It was a cheesy line. But I’ve been thinking about fireworks for a while now. I’ve been thinking in particular about how much store I put into “chemistry,” into that initial connection and attraction I’m looking for when I meet someone. I don’t think I expect fireworks. But I do want a spark. The trouble is that I’m not entirely sure that it’s an impulse I can trust.
Take last night’s date, for example. Richard is sexy, successful and very charming, the sort of man that my father used to say “could sing the birds from the trees.” I’m drawn to men like that. I’m drawn to confidence and charisma. And even as the red flags are going up, I’m still thinking, “yes, but he’s so hot!” This is a man who is wrong for me in so many (glaringly obvious) ways. The longest relationship he’s ever had is six years, he’s very focussed on himself, and it’s clear that he has a “my way or the highway” mindset. Not long term material at all. But still I’m drawn in.
Conversely, I’ve just ended email correspondence with two men on Plenty of Fish, both of whom seem like thoroughly decent, good guys. These are both the sort of men who would make me a high priority in their life, who would work to build a relationship, who would work to develop a relationship with my children. They both have stable lives, good careers, and, as far as I can tell, well adjusted adult children. If I really want a long term commitment, why am I not giving these men a bit more of my time? It’s just that they’re a bit boring. Neither seems to be passionate about anything. Nice, but dull.
And I’m not interested, thank you. Apparently, I’m looking for a bad boy on a motorcycle, someone who will whisk me away on a spontaneous adventure, who will sweep me off my feet with romance, and then disappear when he starts to feel trapped by the commitment. Apparently I’m looking for the short term excitement of fireworks rather than the slow burn of a small fire that might warm me for years.
Either that or I’m holding out for one very special man, somebody who at once values long term commitment and family, but who also has an adventurous side, who is finding ways to honour his dreams and aspirations, who is finding ways to live his life out loud, and who might be convinced to join me in my quest to say yes to life. Is it possible that such a man exists? Can I have fireworks and the slow burn of a small fire too?
I remember the night that Griff and I broke up. We were holding onto each other, crying. “You’re an amazing woman,” Griff whispered. “Promise me you won’t settle.” It’s a line that keeps reverberating through my head: “Don’t settle. Don’t settle.”
I won’t, Griff. I don’t think I can.