This coming November I will have been separated for two whole years. What a two years it has been: I’ve grown as a mum, and I think as a woman too.
One thing that hasn’t changed in those two years is my relationship status. I briefly dated a guy last year who probably still takes up too much of my attention, but other than that, it’s been the occasional first date and nothing else.
It’s understandable, really – there have been other, bigger, more important priorities in my world. My son, my work, my fledgling business, my home, and to be honest, protecting what unbroken parts of my heart remained, became much more important than going for a few drinks with someone who may-or-may-not turn out to be an absolute dick.
Sadly, when I did venture out into the big bad world of dating (online, of course, because that’s where all the single 30-somethings are), it was awful. I’ll let you read about my Tinder dates elsewhere, but put it this way – this year a girl did a Fringe show all about her Tinder experiences, and she could be my warm up act. It’s not been nice.
However, earlier this year I learned to drive, and on June 1st, I passed my test. I was so proud, and I’ve been out driving every single day since then. I’ve spent more money than I care to remember on petrol and I’ve taken the little one to all the places we couldn’t quite get to on public transport without a three-day military operation and nerves of steel.
And in the process, I’ve rediscovered the sacred art of crushing. You know, like you did when you were about 14 and the boy in 5th year looked at you like that and your insides turned to mush. It sounds ridiculous for a 32-year-old woman to have a crush, but it’s marked a bit of a tide change for me.
Here’s how it happened for me.
At the end of my street there is a hand car wash. You know the ones: you drive your car up and a slick operation ensues, involving about eight processes and various layers of soap and wax and spray bottles and power hoses and a chamois dry and tada! Your car is sparkling. Well, there are two incredibly good looking blokes who work at mine. They cater to all tastes, as well – one is a tall skinhead with a tan, built like a brick shithouse, who wears shorts every day. He has blue eyes that are somehow bluer than the blue you’re currently imagining. One day his colleague “accidentally” threw a bucket of cold water that was intended for my windscreen directly over him, and I just about collapsed. His muscles have muscles, for Christ’s sake.
The other one is slight, toned, sallow skinned and has the cheekiest smile. He has thick dark hair with the perfect cut. He’s also about 20 years old, but this is a crush, so that’s totally allowed.
I am telling you, my car has never been cleaner. I go to the car wash just about weekly. I am grateful for the fact that Pod absolutely loves it – he thinks it’s the Thomas the Tank Engine washdown, and I completely use this fact to make it a source of entertainment for us both. He laughs at the soap and water covering the windows, and I bat my eyelashes at the impossibly handsome blokes flinging it at the motor. Behave yourselves – I mean the water.
I might sound like a dirty old woman, sexually objectifying those poor men for their beautiful bodies, but do you know what? I don’t really care, because having those crushes has taught me something really important about how much I’ve changed in those almost-two-years of being single.
I was never all that good at taking compliments and I’ve always been pretty down on myself, but I was even worse than before when my marriage ended. I didn’t believe anyone telling me I was pretty, or beautiful, or witty, or any of those other nice things people sometimes said about me, because I obviously wasn’t pretty enough or beautiful enough or witty enough to stop my husband from going off with someone else. Whenever I saw someone that I liked the look of in my venture into online dating, I’d always check myself with a, “But they’ll never in a million years fancy someone like me, so there’s no point.”
When I got those stupid crushes and when I got a bit giddy about a bloke at the car wash being gorgeous, I suddenly realised that I was letting myself flirt. I wasn’t hiding away.
Crushes are brilliant. You can admire someone from afar on a completely superficial level. It doesn’t matter if they’re an arsehole, or if they have atrocious chat, or if they are married, or if they have a really dodgy background. There is nothing between you, and vitally, they can’t hurt you. I’ve found myself sticking on a bit of makeup before I leave the house, or thinking about what I’m wearing, because you never know who might be around the corner.
I don’t want a boyfriend – like I said, I have so many other priorities right now, and the last thing I want is to waste my time with a relationship – but I’m sure as hell enjoying feeling that little flutter of fancying someone again. It’s harmless. It’s nice. It’s a giggle. It’s making me feel more like me again. Maybe one day I’ll graduate to actually flirting…