I actually think about Tolstoy Lied a lot. I think of it on my way home from every mundane and uneventful date I go on. Specifically, I think of this passage in particular...
Dating emptied me out. One evening, returning from a tepid dinner with a perfectly nice man ("perfectly": adverb of dating doom), I turned on my TV and stared bleary-eyed at a nature special about the tropical rainforest. There, amid platter-sized dasheen leaves and aerial roots... were the hunter vines: stout branches that sprouted from the forest floor, hitched onto the nearest tree, spiraled halfway up its trunk, then--a dozen feet up--groped out into open air to find another, likelier trunk, around which they grew for a dozen months or years until switching to another tree and then, finally, up in the canopy, leafing out into golden sunlight. I thought: I know people like that.
"Perfectly nice man." Oh, how I can relate to that. I'm not a hunter vine. Never have been and likely never will be. I want more than just any old branch to latch on to. And dating is, indeed, emptying me out.
I had brunch with the latest in the long string of perfectly nice men today. And it was... fine. Pluses for being friendly and well-dressed and using the word ethereal properly. Possible minuses for doing 85% of the talking and for not even pretending to reach for the check first. But it isn't about pluses and minuses, of course. It's the overall feeling, post-date. I know it might be too much to expect what Chandler's whiny, nasal-voiced girlfriend Janice called movie love, but shouldn't I once in a while leave a date smiling, feeling giddy with the idea of seeing this person again? Is that too much to hope for? I don't want to believe it is.
As I so often say, the jury is still out on today's date, I guess. If he contacts me again, I'll give it another go, but if today was a first date that was also an only date, I won't be upset either. What's bothering me is that I actually had a good feeling about this one. I may go on entirely too many dates and may be prematurely dismissive and jaded as a result, but every now and then, I still muster optimism. I've done the first-date-prep routine so many times that generally I give it barely any more thought than I do getting ready for work. Every so often, though, I feel an extra surge of anxiety; I have to steady my nervous hand as I bring the mascara wand to my eye, because the date I'm getting ready for is one I've somehow convinced myself might be different. I let myself believe it might be the day I meet The One. I entertain the lofty idea that magic will strike, that I'll finally know what all those people who've found love at near-first-sight are talking about. I want to think there is still hope for me, because I find myself still in that hopeful place now and then. Of course, when that hope falls flat, it leaves me lower and more pessimistic each time.
Am I being unrealistic? When it's right, I should feel something, right? When I've found it, I'll know? Isn't that how it works? Maybe not like a light bulb, but at least a few sparks maybe leading to a slow burn? I want to think it's as simple as that. As I recall, I think Rachel Kadish agreed.