To Date or not to date

To date or not to Date

Catherine Miller

I smiled when my daughter then 25 said,"Why don't you try dating again?  I smiled when she gave me a shiny silver frog wearing a gold crown. "This is yours to keep until your next Prince Charming comes along," she said as I unwrapped the birthday gift. I was celebrating my 53rd birthday, I did not know how tight a grip I would keep on that shiny little frog for the next several years.  During those years my gaze would land on the frog, and I would picture myself chugging and churning through the land mines of possible dating I thought the idea was mildly absurd Perhaps I was too old. I now checked the box 55 and older. My husband passed away in 2002. I lost my best friend and my daughter lost a great stepdad. Tom had died suddenly. I came home from work one day to find him lying on the bed. He had taken an afternoon nap and never woke up. He was 52, far too young to die. I was a widow at the age of 48.

As a few years passed I found myself getting on with my life, I was close with my family and I adored my two grandsons. I had many wonderful friends. I painted, wrote poetry, and enjoyed attending events in the performing arts. My life was full and I felt peace. I overlooked the arena of dating. My daughter asked me one day, "Have you thought about dating, Mom?" "What about online dating?" I had to admit there was an underlying deep lonliness without a partner. I had loved being married. There were times when I did not want to eat alone. I wished I had somebody to fold the paper in half and read the sports section while I read the arts. I wanted someone to take me to the symphony and ballet. I wanted to say "we need to go to that production", "we need to go fo that party". I wanted walks in the park and ice cream runs at midnight.

That being so, why was I not moving forward dating? I was scared. The thought of even finding a first date was enough to make me pale. I worried that going on a first date would feel awkward and the conversation stilted. I was mighty uncomfortale thinking of meeting a stranger. I worried my mind would go blank leaving me with none of my usual conversation skills. Walking into a coffee shop as a first meeting would provoke a hot flash severe enough to send sweat rivulets down my face.

Swirls of self doubt would circle around me that surely the date would see. In every way I felt closed in and uncomfortable. I tried to revert to my old tactic of putting the whole thing out of my mind. I tried setting the topic aside, compartmentalizing it into my brain. That idea failed me. I suffered in silence unwilling to make a step forward

One hot August night I was reading the Parks and Recreation catalogue. There was a course outlined in the 50 and over age category. It was a class for people who were returning to the world of dating. There was a class for like minded people? How about the serendipity in that? I am not sure what exactly happened but suddenly I felt a spark of excittement and new positive thoughts began swirling in my head. An organized plan took shape. I felt freed from the negative thinking that had taken me nowhere, I could do the beginning dating. I could formulate a plan that included goals. Then I took a deep breath and and decided take the plan one step at a time.