a magnet in the marsh

Have you ever seen those “Boyfriend Girls?” They’re the girls you know who’ve never not have a boyfriend. They’re beautiful, lovely, sweet, and put together. Not a hair on their head is out of place, they’re always sporting perfectly-manicured nails, they’re owners of a taut tummy they barely have to work for, all to fit seamlessly into an impeccable wardrobe. She wouldn’t be caught dead in mud, or anything that could disrupt the act of constant cleanliness. And, of course, something so perfect must always be complemented by a perfect mate, and these are the girls who always seem to have one. The only reason I even know this is because they’ll incessantly talk about their boyfriend. They’re always discussing what they do, what they think, how they feel, rather than actually talking to him and getting his take. We get all the dirty details of an intimate union. And when it’s time for that boy to stop being her boyfriend, as they eventually always do, she picks up right where she left off and acquires another one. No one knows who this guy is or where he came from, where they met, how long they’ve been talking. All we know is that he is head over heels for her already. She just magnetized herself, put out the lure, and he went right along for the ride. She’s beautiful. She’s lovely. She’s sweet. I don’t know how she does it.

I’ve never been a magnet. I’ve been nothing but a dull bump on a log. I’m like a big lump of uranium emitting a foul glow from the depths of the swamp. No one wants to go near me, and they make sure to stay out of the woods. It’s dangerous in there after all. You’re liable to get hit with a huge dose of radiation if you get too close, where it’ll slowly but surely poison you the deeper you head into the bush. Perhaps that’s how it really once was, or at least felt. But over the years, I’ve learned to harness my nuclear energy, and put out a much different vibe instead. One that’s not so toxic to the touch. I’ve softened. I’ve found a groove. I’m willing to be run by a factory rather than an anachronistic stronghold. I’ve shined myself up enough to be presentable. Approachable. More willing to offer than I am to take, unless that means I’m receiving what is mine. 

And still, no one comes. Not lately, anyway. I excuse this dry spell as a reaction to Covid times, which is partially true. Honest to God there’s nothing to do. But I can’t help but feel there’s a whole entire ecosystem locked away out there, full of people absolutely living it up. Rooftop parties. Lounges and cocktails. Meeting all the right people and getting to know their friends. The Sex and the City era of partying. Old New New York. I don’t know how it exists, but it’s real, and I want access on a regular basis.

But I can’t. Not me as I am now. Single, unattached, a solo city woman in her mid-30’s. Not exactly an ideal candidate to invite along into your group if she’s unknown to you. Mostly, people just feel bad for you if you’re out by yourself. How do you approach someone like that? I’m harkened back to a time this past December where I took a long weekend to myself in Saugerties, New York. I stayed in an AirBnb and just enjoyed my own company for a bit. I walked around, toured the countryside, shopped, wrote a lot, and ate a lot of delicious food. One night at the fanciest Italian place in town, they put me at a solo table right in the middle of the dining area. This of course was when you could still eat inside. I felt a bit on display, wondering if people were wondering about me, and why I was all alone. Probably not, as they were focused more on their loved ones at the table, but it’s not like I could have gone unnoticed. I was smack dab in the middle of everyone’s eyeline for chrissake. You’re positioned around me. You’re in my swamp. But I kept to myself, enjoying my wine, eating a pasta and a meat dish, and writing. Taking physical notes. Mental ones. Writing it out in my head what exactly I was feeling. I came to the conclusion that I would have said “my husband left me” if anyone asked why I was alone. But that’s just it. No one asked, and no one outwardly minded. Why does this mean my first thought has to be that people don’t want to be near me? I just so happened to be alone for that weekend. What’s the harm in that?

Maybe I just assume everyone is going to find me toxic right away, so I don’t even bother doing the reaching out most of the time. Maybe if I approach it and think, “They’re gonna love this,” then maybe they actually will. I’ve never tried that. I’m always out to rile people up. It’s why I voted for Donald Trump twice. I wanted some chaos, and boy howdy did I get it. But maybe it’s time to be a little less chaotic and a little more attractive. Who wants to approach a never-ending erupting volcano?

I never reach out sweetly. Maybe it’s time I try. Although there’s still rules put into place, I’d like to get to a point where I have the opportunity to convince someone that I’ve fixed up my home, and it’s big enough for two. They won’t have to be subjected to the quicksand in the corner, nor the creatures that may be hiding in the murky depths. I’ve carved out a sweet little spot for us, because I found beauty in the place I currently lay. I’d like you to come see. It gets dark at night. I wonder if you’ll bring the fireflies to help light the marsh.

At this point, it’s not about just attracting someone temporarily, to bewitch him with my charm until it’s time for me to move on. Those days have passed. It’s time to work on getting him to stay the night. Boyfriend Girl has found her Husband. There’s got to be someone willing to put up with an old stick in the mud like me.

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