Learning to Walk Again
The next two weeks went by rapidly. Kendra and I moved in together. Both of us sharing the room that Donavon and I had shared. We took turns with one of us sleeping on the couch, the other in the bed. The children had adapted to the situation surprisingly well. They accepted Kendra living with us and were enjoying having someone there that would help cook and look after their needs.
Donavon and I had spoken a few times since he moved out, but the situation between us was intense. Half of the time I wanted to try to make things work, the other half I just wanted to yell and scream at him for tearing me apart. Our conversations were brief, and to the point. I explained to him that I still wanted him to be a part of the children’s lives. He was after all their dad. He said that he wanted that too. I made the offer that anytime he wanted to come visit with the children I would be more than happy to leave the house or take them to a park. I even made the offer of letting him stay overnight with the kids if he wanted, on one of the nights that I was working midnights. Donavon started coming up with excuses about being busy with school and finding his own apartment. This would unleash another bout of anger inside me, but instead of fighting I would just get off the phone with him. It was getting harder to see him as the man he once was instead of the monster he had become.
After one particularly upsetting conversation with Donavon, Kendra told me to come outside with her while she smoked a cigarette. I loved that this was her way of letting me vent all my frustrations. I felt truly blessed that Kendra was being a great friend. More often than not she allowed me to vent my frustrations regarding the fact that Donavon was not really interested in being a father.
“Girl you need to quit pushing him to do what is right. He is not going to magically turn into the person that you want him to be. You need to quit thinking that he is going to change and believing his bull crap that he spews over that phone.” Kendra firmly but at the same time gently tells me.
I know that she is right. For too many years I have held onto the possibility that the Donavon I had once loved would reemerge, only to be disappointed every time that I was wrong. “My head knows that I need to accept that he will not change, even for his own children. Now if I can only get my stupid heart to accept it.” Sometime during the exchange, I realized that tears had started falling.
“You know what we need, a night out.” Kendra states excitedly. Thinking about her suggestion I realize that I can not remember the last time that I went out as an adult and had fun. I worked too much usually to have energy for much else in life. Work, kids, keeping house those things have always come before fun for me.
“Yeah but we do not really have the money for that Kendra.” I was honestly grasping at straws. The thought of going out kind of scared me. I had no idea how to have fun anymore. I am shy around people at first, and I do not know many people in Oregon. The whole idea made me nervous.
“Girl if we dress up, we will not be paying for anything.” She shoots me this look, like she knows exactly what I am doing making excuses. “Look Noel I am not going to tell you how to live your life, but when was the last time you actually went out and had fun? I remember that you said you used to like singing karaoke, and I have heard you sing in the house you have a good voice. We should go out to this bar on Friday that I know. You can sing karaoke for a little while and have fun.” She says all this in an authoritative tone, like I was a child that was going to listen to her.
“Well I guess it would not hurt. I do like singing, and it has been a long time since I have had any fun.” I find myself talking myself into this. I am still nervous, but I have agreed. It is only Wednesday so if I decide later that I do not want to go, I will fake being sick or something.
On Thursday I see Kendra on her phone while she is out smoking. “What are you always staring at your phone for?” I ask her teasingly.
“I downloaded a new app, and I have been trying it out. There are some really hot guys on here, you should try it.” Kendra tells me in her matter of fact voice.
“Wait you are looking at guys on an app?” I would like to point out that it had been years since I had been clued into the dating scene. I had seen ads for dating sites but had never seen anyone using an app on their phone.
“Yeah, sit down and I will show you.” Kendra is excited to show off her newest knowledge. I sit beside her, and she shows me the app. I must admit there are some very handsome men passing on the screen. She explains that if she likes their pictures, and they like her back then they can send messages to each other. She says it is easier than using a dating site because she does not have to fish around to see if someone is interested or not.
“It is like speed dating without the awkwardness of having to meet in real life. You make a decision if you like the person, and then can message each other and set up a date.” Kendra is aware that I am a little clueless to new technology. I have never been a person that was impressed with tech, so this was all new to me.
“Give me your phone, I am going to download it on your phone. Then you can match with guys too.” Kendra is all geared up to do this.
“Kendra I cannot do this. I am not even divorced yet, hell I have not even filed for divorce. Donavon just moved out. I cannot go on dates.” I explain to her.
“Oh my gosh Noel yes you can. You are allowed to have some fun in your life. Donavon has obviously moved on and you need to get your cute booty out there and start doing the same.” She laughs at me, getting slightly frustrated with my hesitation.
Seeing that I am close to tears, Kendra softens her voice. “Noel I did not mean to hurt your feelings, but it is the truth. You need to start moving forward with your life. Donavon and you are over. I am not saying that you have to find your next husband on this app, but you should at least go on a few dates. You need to have fun, there is more to life than work and kids.”
Finished with her cigarette, Kendra and I go back inside. I hate to admit it, but I was a bit curious about some of the guys I had seen on her phone. Could I really go on a date? It has been so long since I was out and, in the world, that I do not even know how to act on a date.
Curiosity finally got the better of me, once the children had laid down for the night. With some hesitation I opened the app that Kendra had downloaded on my phone. I punched in my information, my heart beating faster with every box checked. The last step was uploading a picture, and that is where I lost my nerve. I do not look good in pictures. I have a gap between my front teeth that a semi-truck could fit in, and because of the weight gain it was very noticeable in photos.
I closed the app, plugged my phone into the charger and decided to get some sleep. My mind would not shut off though, and after thirty minutes of tossing and turning I decided to find my cutest picture and just upload it. I was nervous as the little blue ring indicated that my photo was now available for viewing on a dating app.
I watched the little tutorial on how to use the app, even though Kendra had shown me earlier. I wanted to make sure that I was not a complete blundering idiot just in case I did end up matching with someone. I started looking through the pictures of men that were available in my area. Some were very cute, so I liked their photos. I had just had my fill of the dating world for the night and had set my phone down when I heard an unfamiliar ping sound.
Grabbing my phone, I seen a notification from the app. My heart sped up, as I opened it. I had matched with someone and they had shot me a message. He was a little older than me, took great photos, and had a dog with him so I assumed he liked animals. He had sent me a message that was rather blunt in asking what I was looking for on this app. My anxiety was in full blown mode as I tried to figure out what to reply, because I was not even sure why I was on this app. In the end I typed back that I was looking to get to know some people and find out if I am compatible with someone. Lucky for me he broke the ice and started asking questions about what I did for a living, what are my likes, and dislikes and so forth.
We continued texting back and forth through the app’s messaging service. We both agreed that we had enough in common, that we should meet in person. A tentative date was set for Saturday at a local pub. Curling up in my bed that night, I gave myself a mental pat on the back. I had done it; I took a leap of faith and rejoined the dating world. I assumed I was being smart by only meeting with someone in a public place that I was somewhat familiar with. Drifting off into sleep that night, I was excited for my future.