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Single In The Suburbs, Installment 128


Our writer’s become introspective after sharing a night with Ethan. Is there hope for this budding new relationship, or is she still stuck emotionally and mentally in her past?

By Sara Susannah Katz

To read the entire series of articles from the beginning, click here.

n our last installment, Sara and Ethan took their budding relationship to the next level by becoming intimate. But while she should be deliriously happy, our writer’s becoming more introspective about what she truly wants out of a relationship — and her life in general.


Tuesday, 3 p.m.
Adrian, the new departmental secretary, is a big fan of some New Age philosophy based on “the laws of attraction.” She has a book she keeps on her desk religiously and attends classes after work once a week. I was skeptical, but it’s actually not all
I wonder if the laws of attraction apply to dating, too.
that different from riding a motorcycle. When I was taking lessons, the instructor stressed that the bike will go wherever you put your attention. If you stare at a pothole, you’ll fall into it. If you want to make a smooth turn, look at the road ahead of the curve, not the curb at the corner. It sounds mystical but it’s true, at least where motorcycles are concerned.

I wonder if the laws of attraction apply to dating, too. A few months ago I was bemoaning the dearth of men in my life and now, just one day after I wake up in bed with Ethan, my inbox is flooded with emails from men on the dating site who are interested in meeting me. I’m serious. Here is but a small sampling of the men who have contacted me in the last 24 hours:
  1. Mike is a literature professor with a goatee and chiseled face. He says he likes my photo and loves what I wrote about my ideal match. He has kids (they live with his ex-wife) and he rides horses. Unfortunately, he lives 150 miles away.
  2. Christopher looks like Jeremy Irons, teaches dance at Arthur Murray in the evenings and by day is a radiologist. He has never been married. (I suppose it’s possible that he just hasn’t yet found the right woman but I see this as a red flag.)
  3. Paul is cute but he’s cropped every photo so that you can’t see the top of his head, leading me to assume he is bald. But I don’t mind bald heads and certainly prefer a shaved head to a desperate comb-over. He’s an agnostic bus driver who likes to mountain bike. He’s also a smoker but he’s trying to quit. Though I applaud him for trying to quit, I’m not interested in smokers.
Actually, I’m not interested in anyone but Ethan right now. I should probably keep my options open, but old-fashioned as it sounds, I’m just not hardwired to date around once I’ve become intimate with someone. That may come off as ridiculously prudish these days, but I can’t help it. This is who I am. It’s not a conscious moral imperative or part of some religious belief system, it’s simply how I feel.

Wednesday, noon
I’m sitting across from my therapist and wondering whether there’s anything she can tell me at this point that I don’t already know. This isn’t Freudian therapy; we’re not going to talk about my childhood.
That’s tough talk from a woman who has a stuffed Big Bird doll on her desk.
And it’s not Jungian; we won’t be talking about abstractions and metaphors. This is cognitive behavioral therapy. She’s trying to get me to think differently.

When I tell her that I spend a lot of time thinking about my old life, she says, “Forget about it. Ancient history. Craig’s not going to rescue you. So what if you’ve got a fireplace in a can. Some people don’t have two sticks to rub together. You’re on your own. Get used to it.”

That’s tough talk from a woman who has a stuffed Big Bird doll on her desk. I’m guessing that’s for her younger clients.

By the end of the session I have my homework assignments:
  1. Practice thought-stopping techniques. She says that she stops herself from ruminating by imagining all her problems in a garage. She pulls down the door and walks away from the garage. I’ve decided that I’m going to try imagining my problems on a TV screen and hitting the remote control button to turn off the TV. (This sounds so simplistic. Could it possibly work?)
  2. Do something nice for myself every day. (Cleaning the house doesn’t count, by the way. She says that’s not about self-care, it’s about getting control of my life when I feel overwhelmed.) Eating chocolate cake every day is not an option. Interestingly, I had a tough time coming up with even a few ways to reward myself. I finally choose: getting a massage, eating a mango and buying myself a new lipstick. “I’m serious,” she says. “You have to do something every day.” I promise her that I’ll try. (This sounds simple but it certainly couldn’t hurt.)
Wednesday, 1 p.m.
I’m in my car and since I’m taking the rest of the day off, I resolve to do something good for myself. But what will it be? Should I buy something inexpensive but indulgent, like a new body lotion? Or maybe I’ll stop by the co-op and grab a lovely red apple? Oh, who am I kidding! An apple just doesn’t cut it for me. As I’m considering my options, I see a figure waving frantically at me. I get closer to the corner and realize that it’s Craig. And — oh, no — it looks like he’s been crying.


Sara Susannah Katz is a writer in the Midwest.

Read Single In The Suburbs, Part 129


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