For as long as I can remember I’ve always been the kind of person who made lists, whether in my head or in actual writing. I’ve always felt better once I’ve put some semblance of order into the everyday chaos of my life, and things just make so much more sense to me when I can see them in bullet points.
At work, I would probably be described as task-orientated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean we thank the stars for task-orientated people in our workplaces because they get things done. They tick off each item on the list and move on from one task to the next without batting an eyelash.
I come from a family obsessed with life goals and plans. We’ve always been encouraged to go for our dreams but to make sure that those dreams pay the rent. Again, sensible, but the thing about having dreams and aspirations that no one ever tells you about is that they take a lot of work and a lot of focus. Hence, the list. The list of the things you need to accomplish in order to achieve your dreams.
It’s only now that I’m a little bit older that I wonder what things I’ve missed out on because I’ve been too busy trying to achieve that “life list” in my head. For example, I was so focused on doing well in my studies that I never really dated in high school or college. I mean, let’s forget about the fact that my strict Chinese-Catholic parents (and extended family) had forbidden it, we all know there were ways that I – being smart and sort of devious – could have gotten around it.
It’s telling that I never felt the inclination to rebel against that particular rule when I’ve broken others (curfew, travels to other cities, drinking, spending too much money, you name it!). I think I always knew that dating and having a relationship would put a wrench in my plans; its an unknown variable that I can never fully control. Of course, that’s not to say that love (the unrequited kind!) didn’t shape my life in a major way but that’s a blog for another day!
And since we’re talking about dating, I can’t fail to mention that other list in my head. You know, the list I had of what constitutes the perfect man. Think of every attribute you’ve ever read in romance novels or seen in Hollywood rom-coms and you’ll have a good idea of what my list looked like. These days, much to my chagrin, I’m down to just two non-negotiable traits: hygiene and sense of humour. Everything else – I can learn to live with (or without). But there was a time when I was holding out for Prince Charming or his handsome twin brother.
Lists go hand in hand with plans. I’ve always planned to be successful, married and settled by the time I reach my 30s. I’ve sort of achieved the first one, but yeah, let’s all laugh at that naive teenage girl who thought that the 2nd and 3rd would be easy. I think everything I’ve ever done in my life has been rooted in my need to achieve that marriage plan. It’s so deep-seated that even when it makes absolutely no sense anymore I can’t seem to fully let go of it.
The thing is, I think we all harbour this illusion that we are somehow in control of our lives. And to an extent I think we are, I mean certainly its up to us how we react to or handle certain situations. But as for the things that actually happen to us, the people we meet, the things we experience, I still believe that a lot of that is fate and some unknown force in the universe who likes to laugh in the face of our so-called plans.
And thank God for that.
Spoiler alert: I’m not married nor am I likely to be in the immediate future. But. This year I planned to seriously think about settling and to keep at dating even when I have one bad date (or two or three. I think the current count is five in a row!). I told myself that I was done with the games and the fanciful aspirations; I want a mature life partner that I can finally think of settling down with, hygiene and sense of humour non-negotiable, stable bank account desirable but not required, good looks – open to negotiation depending on all other criteria met. Lol
I’ve spent the last 6 months making a list of how I can achieve this goal and the last 4 or 5 seriously doing everything I can to tick off the items on that list. I’ve been on a sort of dating frenzy, swiping right and left willy-nilly and never really getting anywhere. But just like the Energiser bunny, I kept going and going because I told myself that he’s out there somewhere and just like everything I’ve ever accomplished in my life, I just need to work harder and I’ll find him.
And then one day, out of the blue, due to some random collision of chance, fate and orthopaedics, I met a guy who made my world stop. It’s like someone was looking at my life for the past 3 months and they got fed up and finally pressed PAUSE. Pause, anj. You’re getting too caught up in all of it that you’re forgetting to actually enjoy life.
Since we’ve met and gone out, I don’t know, its like someone saw a list of all the things I wished for when I was a little girl dreaming of romance and that same someone has been granting my wishes one date at a time: getting lost in the city when its raining, bonding over a shared love for food, cuddling for warmth in winter, drinks and intimate conversations, texts in the morning, secret looks at work, waiting for me to finish up at the office so we can go out, going to a fair together, and my favourite, holding hands in the park while drinking mulled wine.
I harbour no illusions about this guy, nor do I think for one second that there is a future in store for us. In lots of ways, its a case of wrong place, wrong time. We’re at different stages in our lives and we probably want different things. He’ll be going back to his home city in a couple of days and I will not waste my breath hoping that this thing extends beyond that.
But until then, I got to enjoy the oh-so-wonderful present. I’ve loved every single moment of the past 3 weeks, the uncertainty of wondering whether he’ll text or call and the delight when he follows up with the next date and the next date and the next one after that. This is an interlude in my life that I’ll look back on whenever I need a happy memory.
I think that bad dates take away a piece of your soul each time and it gets harder to recover and pick up the pieces to try again with each successive bad date. I didn’t realise until now, writing this post, how close I was to giving up on love and romance entirely. That’s saying a lot for a girl who’s always been a hopeless romantic. So no matter what happens, I am grateful for this wrinkle in time, for this wrench in my plans, for this wholly unexpected blessing that fell into my life just when I needed it the most.
Cheers to another couple of days NOT making plans with you. 🙂