Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me.

I’m a little disappointed in you if you don’t now have that song stuck in your head.

I love sushi; everyone should know that. So I go to this place in Gabs called Ocean Basket whenever I get the chance. I’ve been there 3 times. The first time, I had this great time flirting with our waiter and from then on out, I would look for him when I went in. Recently I went in with two friends who are a couple. We were seated by THE waiter; I’ll call him T in this. T sat us, but he wasn’t technically our waiter. We were sitting outside, right by the door, so T had to walk by our table to get to his tables and then to get back to the register. Every time he would walk by, he would stare right into my eyes. It was the most intense eye contact I’ve ever had. I couldn’t ever keep it up as long as he could, so I would shy away with a little blush. When I would look up, he would still be looking at me. When I wasn’t completely distracted looking into T’s eyes, I was completely distracted talking to my friend about what she thought I should do.

Her boyfriend ended up leaving before the food came to go play rugby. Since I love sushi, I had ordered enough food for about 3 people and my friends had ordered about the same amount between the two of them. T must have talked to our waiter because he was the one that brought us our food. Once all the food was out and our table was completely covered in sushi, he asked if he should sit down and join us since we had so much food. At this point, I decided I had to give him my number, but was freaking out. So I texted Bethany who had been with me each of the other times I had been there. I told her that the waiter from before and I were having this intense eye contact session and I needed her help. The friend I was with said that calling it intense eye contact wasn’t enough and she could only describe it as eye fucking. She thought she was really clever, and still thinks she’s really clever, when she said that my eyes were no longer virgins. So, anyway, I took a clean napkin and started to write my info with sharpie. As I was writing it, another waiter came up to ask if he should sit with us because we had so much food. I scrambled to hide the napkin. The sharpie bled so much, I decided it was unreadable. So I crumpled that napkin and tossed it in my purse. I proceeded to rewrite it with a pen. I was annoyed because the pen stopped working part way through, so my J got an extra little loop at the bottom.

Now came the hard part of figuring out how to give it to him. What do you say when you’re sober and you’re handing someone your number. “Here, I wanted you to have this.” “I thought you might like this.” “Call me.” They all felt awkward and forced. I was still thinking about it as we packed up our leftovers. T asked if we were leaving and I told him soon. “Not too soon, I hope,” was his response. My friend and I sat waiting for our check; we had been there nearly two hours and all of our plates and everything had been taken away. It still took about a half hour before we finally asked for the check. T asked me if I would be swiping because then he could get my name and number from the receipt. I said yes, but I tucked the napkin in with my card anyway.

My friend went to the bathroom and while she was gone, T came out with the card reader. I told him he could keep the napkin in the most awkward way possible (my memory is a little fuzzy there as I’ve tried to block it out). I told him my Setswana name, that I live in Kanye and teach at the senior secondary school. He seemed a little shocked by the distance; it’s about two hours away. “Do you have to go back tonight?” T asked. I told him I did because I had to go back and take care of a dog. He laughed at that and asked what her name was. Then he turned to me and said he would call and that I was pretty cute. I told him that I’d like that and he was, too. Then he walked off forgetting my friends cash. He came back with a little flush saying he forgot. My friend and I got ready to leave as T went back to stand at the entrance with the other waiters. As I was leaving, we locked eyes once more. I turned around to find him still looking, turned back to my friend and giggled nervously. I looked back again and he was still looking and then we turned the corner…

He called an hour later when he was off his shift to give me his number and say he would call again. It was four days later when he sent me a “Morning beautiful” text. I was long since off my sexual tension high. I had realized that I didn’t want too much to come of this because not much could come of it. I would be returning to America next year and I’m not really someone to start something when I don’t see much future for it. Why go through all of that anxiety and complication for it all to end anyway? I responded asking how he was. He replied that he was good and said he wanted to see me. I didn’t respond. Ten minutes later, he texted again asking when I was free because he really wanted to spend time with me. Again, I didn’t respond.

I hated the idea of cutting it short because I really didn’t have any idea where it would go, but on the other hand, I’m not really interested in a relationship right now, especially one without sex and having sex in this country is extremely risky with the prevalence of HIV. So, I waited. I didn’t want to make a rash decision that I would regret. I really have only been asked out once before and at the time, I agreed at first only to later cancel the date after giving it more thought. I decided that this was a situation where I needed some advice from my big sister. After talking to her, my big brother, and everyone else that I know. I finally decided that the best plan was to turn him down. I hated it. I felt anxious all day thinking that was likely what I would be doing. I finally decided on the “you’re really sweet, but I have no time. I’m sorry I gave you the wrong impression. I hope we see each other around.” He responded minutes later, “Cold…!!! But I can’t say I didn’t c dat coming… It was going to b fun… I love fun… but thanx. C u beautiful lady.” I laughed out loud.

As you probably could guess, if you didn’t already know, I don’t have a lot of experience with relationships. I have been on three real dates and quite a few things that could appear as dates, but later turned out to just be hanging out with a good friend. My first date was when I was 18. I had just started at Evergreen and all my friends were in relationships, so I felt like I should try it. I started online dating with OKCupid. My profile said that I was straight because at the time I had only ever had crushes on guys, so I figured I must be straight. A girl messaged me and said that she knew my profile said I was hetero, but if I ever wanted to experiment, she thought I was really cute and would love to go out with me. I thought she was cute, so I said what the hell. We went on two dates, the second ending with my first kiss and then some. She fell off the face of the planet after that and I didn’t hear from her for nearly a year.

In the mean time, I had my third date. Again, I met someone through online dating, this time a man. We went on a very awkward and long date. In the end, he asked if he could come in, I said I was just going to call it a day. He then asked if we could go out again, and I said very awkwardly, “maybe” and jumped out of the car. After that, I decided that online dating wasn’t really getting me anywhere and life started to get a little hectic, so I deleted my profile. During that time, I discovered that I had a huge crush on a coworker. I told him how I felt, which led to most of my friends talking about how big my balls were. He told me that he didn’t reciprocate those feelings (I later found out he had a giant crush on my best friend) and we went on to just be really flirty friends who all our coworkers thought were secretly sleeping together. The women I went out with contacted me the summer before my senior year saying that she was sorry she had disappeared and she would like to go out again. At first I agreed, but then realized that I was nearly done with school and starting something seemed stupid. It wasn’t something I was looking for at the time.

Of course, I was still envious of all of my friends who would just meet someone at some function, or through a friend, and start this great relationship. I wanted something to just pop up for me and I felt like the reason no one was showing interest in me was because I was fat. I felt like I had to lose weight to get a date. I left Olympia and moved to Montana. At that point, it felt stupid to try to pursue anything because I was yet again leaving in just a year. I also was the heaviest I had ever been and the most insecure I have ever felt. I was going through intense episodes of depression and anxiety and was in no state to start a relationship. I did have my first kiss with a man though. I was out drinking and dancing with some friends. A semi-androgynous, Asian man-boy (he looked like he was 12), danced with me and then pushed me against a pillar to kiss me. He stabbed my closed lips with his tongue and when I opened my mouth, he told me to close it again and proceeded to stab me with his tongue again. It was a very strange experience, but it makes for a funny memory. But back to the point, I, yet again, just sat back and envied the people in relationships. But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking that it was only going to get harder as I got older.

My siblings have all gotten married in age order. My sister when she was 24, my oldest brother when he was 23, my other brother when he was 21 and then my step-sister when she was 22. My step-mom made a joke when my step-sister got married that I should be the next one, since I’m the next oldest. My other step-sister and half-sister have to wait for me. In my mind, a relationship is a given. When I was a kid and going into my early teen years, I was terrified of being alone. I hated being left alone in my house, especially after dark. I thought that I would never want to live alone and I didn’t even want to spend any time alone. I wanted to constantly be with someone. So, that kind of meant that I had to get married. Then there was the whole idea that I would be a great mom, so I had to have kids. Which then turns me to marriage, because it’s not societally acceptable to have kids out of wedlock. Then as a teenager, I wanted to be in a relationship mainly so that I would have someone to bring with me to my dad’s holidays because I hated those events. I never fell into a group to converse with, so I was frequently just floating around or reading a book. After that, I was in college, so now was the time to meet the one and get married because my older siblings were all already married and I was nearing the age my parents got married (they were 19 and 20). But this was also an easy time to not date because I was frequently taking over full time credits and working more than full time. Also, no one was asking me out and it’s not like I had the time to hang out in places to meet people. So then I turned to online dating. When that turned out to be a terrible time, I decided I would just let fate decide. I had enough going on, I didn’t need a relationship, except, time was ticking away. I was getting older and all of my siblings had at least started dating their partners by this age.

Choosing to do the Peace Corps, was essentially choosing to not be married by the time I’m 23. It was me choosing me instead of a relationship, which honestly is what I have always done. Yes, in the past, I was scared to be in a relationship. I was scared of rejection, I was scared that no one would find me attractive, and I was scared that I would open myself up too wide and never be able to put myself back together. Honestly, I was barely holding on without the added anxiety and stress of a relationship. I was filling my time so that I didn’t have to face everything that I had been holding in. When I got to Montana and I no longer had the support system I was used to, my grip started to slip further. I knew that I was going to go to the Peace Corps though, and I was finally going to take the time to work on me. At the time, I thought that meant losing all of the weight and that that was going to be the thing that changed my life. And sure, losing weight has contributed to it, but I also have just undergone so much personal and introspective growth, I don’t feel the need to grip myself so tightly. So, yes, I was afraid of relationships, mainly because I didn’t think I was good enough for anyone to love me. I don’t think that anymore. In fact, I’m getting a little full of myself these days.

But now, I also don’t think I need a relationship. And I also don’t see relationships the way I used to. I have never seen a real life marriage that I would want. I’m not saying that my siblings don’t have great marriages that work well for them, but I wouldn’t want those relationships. I don’t know that what I would want in a marriage can exist, but instead of settling for something I don’t want, I’d prefer to not get married. I honestly don’t see why I need to. I’m not even sure if I believe in marriage. Why do we celebrate and try so hard to emulate something so random as two people deciding that they like each other more than the other people in their lives? Why can’t we celebrate awesome things like getting a PhD? Or becoming the first female president? Or breaking the record for the number of cats living in a one bedroom apartment? Oh, wait, that doesn’t fit with my other points. The point is that I want to be a strong independent woman and I’m OK if that means no marriage. I’ve realized that I don’t really see biological children in my future either, so I could honestly live my entire life without a relationship. I’m not saying that I’m going to. And honestly, what does it even matter right now? I’m 22. I have so much time left to do something as mundane as marriage. I’ve got a lot of extraordinary things I want to do before that.

So yeah, I didn’t go on a date even though this was the first time I had had this kind of mutual attraction with someone. I’m sure my friends who have told me that I’m going to find some great relationship soon are disappointed in me, but honestly, I have too much of my own stuff going on right now to want a relationship and I’m glad I figured that out. Doesn’t change how horny this isolation makes me though. 😉