When my marriage went kaput, I found myself with a whole new concept of time to manage. At first I devoted this cache of free time to making friends with the Law & Order team. After all, I discovered, they are available on several channels at all hours every day of the week. Elliot and Olivia, Goren and Eames, Fin and Munch--theirs was a comforting reliability during the many hours I found myself alone. However, they were actually only doing their jobs. They are tv detectives whose shifts have their limits. My attachment to them was illusory at best. I knew I was going to have to wean myself and face my brave new world. I decided I could begin by dating myself.
Dating yourself is a no-brainer. All tenets of social dating apply here, perhaps even more so. You have to be kind to yourself or it won't be enjoyable. You need to make a plan as to how you'll be spending your time and your money. You'll want to decide how to dress for your date. And there is no need to feel self-conscious. If you want to be aloof, play it cool. If you feel sentimental, release those emotions. If you are feeling like you want an educational outing, no justifications required. You're taking your own self places now and you get to be the boss!
At first dating myself felt tentative, non-committal. I might be walking my little terrier at Cal Tech, admiring stately arches or discovering the monkey frieze on the side of the genetic research building. Or I might be exiting All Saints after 7:30 a.m. Sunday service, gazing over our magnificent City Hall in a beatific morning light. I might be walking past the transients who drink their Sunday coffee on Euclid and discuss the reclamation of gray water. Gradually, I began to realize that all about me in Pasadena lay beauty and architectural integrity and humor. It was up to me: seek it out, enjoy it, and appreciate it!
One of my favorite Friday dates is going to a movie at the Academy Theatre on Colorado Blvd. You drive down Catalina past the ingenious little housing courts, past the planetary society (whose building is still for sale) and turn right into the free parking lot. You walk past the redolent Cobbler Factory on the way to the movie theatre. After 6 pm the ticket costs $3, and the movies are slightly aged, but who cares? I know the hot dogs are sold for a buck, but I can't seem to mix a hot dog with cinema, so I confess: I might smuggle Twizzlers or Tropical Dots in my purse. The Academy was filled with plenty of other independent daters the time I went to see The Visitor, and no one noticed when I shed a few tears during Richard Jenkins' eloquent confessional speech about the state of his spirit before meeting Tariq. When the movie is over at the Academy, if it's a late one, you almost have the sense that last one out switches off the lights. You stroll back to your car and head home. Soon enough it will be time for another outing.