When I was in college and working as an English tutor and writing workshop leader, my wonderful supervisors introduced me to the practice of artist dates. An artist date is an opportunity for a writer, artist, or any person to go on a solo date and enjoy an activity alone as a way to foster creativity and self-love. It could be a solo visit to an art museum or a long hike or something as simple as blowing bubbles. We were encouraged to make a regular practice of artist dates and to journal about our experiences. I loved the idea; it appealed to the introvert in me. It was a practice I continued over the years.
Now as a busy mom, artist dates may happen once a year. Since my daughter’s school calendar has a different spring break than the district in which I work, I usually indulge in a spring day where I visit my favorite café, volunteer, or maybe catch a movie neither Rambo nor M will enjoy. I savor those quiet moments as I do my writing time or my morning runs. I like me time. It gives me a chance to recharge.
Recently, as part of ongoing staff development, I took a self-care survey. My results in the relationships category weren’t surprising but nevertheless disappointing. It seems I haven’t been giving my friends enough of my time. In the spirit of reaching out, I asked an old friend to join me for a film festival and dinner. It would give us a chance to reconnect while allowing me to see a rare film by my favorite director. I bought the tickets, checked the train schedule, and anticipated a happy reunion.
|OG Chicas del monton: early Almodovar divas
Due to unexpected circumstances, I ended up on an artist date. While I felt worried for my friend, I decided to enjoy the film and the time alone. It felt like a trip back through time: a 1980 film from the incomparable Almodovar in a classic Mission District movie house followed by a cheap slice of pizza in an old school pizza joint. Since I was alone, I was able to get back to M while the sun was still up. It was a genuine treat.
Being my own best friend took years of practice. My accidental artist date was a great reminder of the lessons that relationship has taught me. Unforeseen changes don’t have to be inconvenient or uncomfortable. Alone doesn’t have to feel lonely.
So funny, the look on Beautiful’s face as he stupidly says I’m planning for the distant future, picking out baby girl names, before he looks down to where I’m pointing, where my little Mexican/Peruvian princess is slumbering in my womb and I tell him I’m having a daughter in September. He is busy being a toxic bachelor, squiring a hottie whose name he forgets to the Grand Canyon.
So ironic, the congratulatory hug I get from Elbow because I know he knows that this is all I’ve ever wanted, to grow my very own true love.
But the best part is knowing that my daughter will be the first of a trio of autumn arrivals, babies that will wear blue and gold, sleep through football games and watch as we big kids drink and laugh and gossip just like we’ve always done.
He-who-shall-not-be-named-lest-I-retch married the white bitch who didn’t give a damn if I developed cervical cancer. They had the big church wedding I used to dream of.
But he’s bald. And I would have missed out on the adventures of the last 4 years including the wonderful, terrible Soldier.
I wouldn’t change a thing!
Once upon a November 2006 morning, I fell during an early morning walk in the darkness with my two dogs. I was depressed(little did I know it was the beginning of my current journey towards better mental health) over a negative situation with a longtime platonic friend of mine. He had recently declared his longtime crush on me–as well as his conviction that I had had some sort of sexual relationship with our mutual pal Beautiful. As I am prone to do, I was racked with guilt and moping around. Hence this nasty gash, which I wore like a true martyr.
Little did I know Elbow(code name for my former friend) had a girlfriend which he had initially denied but later confirmed via a curt email to me about respecting his relationship.
Why bring this up in late July 2007? Because Elbow eloped recently.
I don’t regret our drunken argument after the UCLA game. If anything, it may have cemented(to use my bff’s term) his relationship.