Life and Love Update

So far this summer I have traveled to California, New York and roughly 20 states in between. It has been an amazing adventure -- exhausting, invigorating, cathartic, inspiring, educational, affirming… I could go on and on.

There were many reasons for my journey, but a large part was that I’ve been in Austin for 7 years now and began to feel a bit restless – wondering what I might be missing out on somewhere else. In the past that’s been my cue to pack up and move, but I couldn’t think of any other place I’d rather be.

Before I uprooted my life and moved back home to Scottsdale or ran off to NYC, I thought I’d spend some time away from Austin and see what it was like to live in other places. But, when I arrived in each new city, I found myself telling everyone about how awesome Austin is by comparison. Though I liked them all, I didn’t love any of them like I do Central TX -- it became very apparent that it was time for me to come home.

When I returned with the realization that the grass is not greener, I had a daunting feeling of “now what?” and it became clear that after two years of being single, it was probably time to throw my hat back in that ring. Ugh! After exhausting a long list of excuses, I had run out of reasons why I was avoiding a relationship.

So, I did what anyone who's looking to find a suitable partner would do -- I set up a Tinder profile late one night while watching bad TV and drinking a vodka soda.

At first I had it set to men ages 30+ within a 10-mile radius and added a profile pic, with no bio. The next few days I got lots of matches, and it was addicting! I couldn’t turn off the app.

I started getting messages, and it seemed that the men were divided evenly between those looking to hook up that night, and others interviewing for the position of “baby mama.”

After browsing profiles on the app, I decided to just use Tinder as practice for getting back into dating and not take it too seriously. I took off all age, location, gender restrictions, and added a short bio trying to weed out the riff raff.

Lots of new seemingly cool, interesting people! I started chatting with a handful of them and decided that for the next couple weeks I was going to go on a bunch of dates. I was just going to dive in headfirst!! Worst case I would end up with some funny stories. Best case I meet some nice people. I planned on shooting for ten dates with a variety of people and began to fill up my calendar.

The first guy was super sweet, but not for me. The second guy was also very nice, but exactly the kind of guy I needed to RUN away from!!! A cute, young foreigner, without a vehicle or a green card -- bad news.

By the third day I was already feeling exhausted and rethinking my ability to be outgoing enough to sustain two weeks of dates. I was looking forward to the lunchtime doggie play date scheduled for the weekend…

Julia and I began talking after a night of insomnia when she saw that I was online at 4am, and asked if I was having a late night or an early morning.

By the time we met we’d been texting daily for a week, so I felt like I already knew her. She had also been married, in the Army, two big dogs, a liberal, tree-hugging vegetarian… lots in common.

It felt very comfortable from the beginning -- besides the part where I’m straight and didn’t want to lead her on of course. When we met we had a very honest conversation up front to make sure we were on the same page about me not being gay, just trying to stay open-minded as I figure out what is next in life.

The rest of the day we ate pizza, played with the dogs, swam in the pool and had great conversation over a couple beers -- before I knew it she had to leave. More than six hours went by in a blink. I didn’t want her to go, and as an introvert, that is NOT normal!! But, she had to get to a work dinner, so staying wasn’t an option.

As she left, I kissed her goodbye -- and, it was awesome. Whaa?! Wasn’t I the one who just hours before made sure she knew that I wasn’t gay? Hmm, yeah, maybe not as straight as I thought.

We saw each other a couple days later for another afternoon date, which turned into two days. I immediately went to visit her for the weekend in San Antonio, and then she came back to Austin with me.... and that is how its been since. I didn’t go on any other Tinder dates. In fact, I deleted the app a few days after we met. I didn’t care who else was on there.

This has all happened very fast. It's felt surprising and exciting, and there have been a handful of mental/emotional breakdowns when it all seems too scary.

Not only has dating a woman completely caught me off guard, but also falling in love has scared the hell out of me. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to again, and I certainly didn’t anticipate it happening with a woman or so quickly after meeting.

When I start to feel scared or overwhelmed, I realize that the scariest thing is dealing with others’ reactions and worrying about what people will say or think -- getting looks from strangers and unsolicited advice from those who have a strong opinion, but no personal experience. When I am able to clear all of that out of my head, the reality is that this is without a doubt the healthiest, happiest relationship I have ever been in, and the rest is just noise.

I know some will not approve, and as much as I’d like to say it doesn’t bother me, it does a little bit. However, I feel like I have found exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m in a relationship full of fun, respect, and trust… I am happy and in love. And, that is where I’m choosing to focus my attention.