I had pen pals as a kid. I picked out stationery and carefully wrote out each word, phrasing each thought carefully because writing in ink means I would often have to start over. I would spritz a bit of my favorite perfume in the air and fan the letter in the mist so it was scented and keep fanning until the strength of the scent was less aggressive. (I do the same thing when I put on perfume. Spritz and walk into it because too much would make anyone sick.) I would send pictures and cute shaped confetti. I haven't hand written a letter in a long while. Email has taken over. Correction: Email, messaging, phone calls, texting and social networking have taken over.
I won't date military men, but received an email with many great questions from a soldier on deployment this morning. It came after my thoughtful rejection. I gave him a solid block of undivided attention in responding to his first email. I was upfront that I wouldn't date him, but I don't mind writing to him. He's worth the carpal tunnel because I will always respect military men and have a soft spot for our military on deployment while I get to do whatever strikes me as amusing. His email reminded me of being a kid and teenager with the thought in my handwritten notes. He had many well thought out questions that were designed to get to know me and many that were superficial but detailed in a way that felt genuine. That's so hard to find online. I still won't date him, but it was more about what I think or feel than when I might be free or some witless banter about looks and when am I available to meet for a date that might end in groping. I'm only sharing three of his questions. The rest are mine and I will enjoy them alone.
This first question made me question myself in a way that forced accountability for my choices: Are you a player or for real?
I'm not a player. Not really. I'm not in a dating relationship with any one person. Not yet. I'm talking to several people. The people I'm still talking to that I'm not really interested in were given a flat out rejection but were persistent enough that I don't mind chatting from time to time. I remind them that I won't date them fairly often, but I also haven't blocked them and respond to my emails. Actually, I respond to almost all of my emails. I'm likely to respond, if only to say I only date men in my age range and city. Otherwise I'll start chatting and keep it polite if disinterested, and eventually the conversation fizzles. I think some men crave rejection and like blatant disinterest. It was suggested I should just ignore people I'm not interested in and I may start doing that, but then I'm also having fun in exercising my right to say no. Maybe I really am too nice. At the same time, false hope is quite evil. I am looking for a long term monogamous relationship. I'm also being picky because I'm trying to listen to my gut and the reactions I feel in my body. I admit to ignoring some of those feelings while I sip on an Original New York Seltzer (because it's like drinking my childhood) but I'm not silencing them.
This question is about what I like about me and it wasn't him telling me what I should value based on his opinion: What's your best attribute?
I usually say my super power is in my love of writing. If you ask about my personality, it's my optimism and ability to redirect my mood for the most part. If you ask about my body, I'm likely to point out my legs. I love my legs. Or my ability to handle pain and disappointment. I like what my strength looks like now that I've seen it.
This question was about an obvious desire to give me pretty things that would make me smile. This was about my choice and I liked being asked: What color of roses do you like?
Fire and ice roses. I love the dual tone roses that are blood red and white. Or the ones that are pink and orange. I like the tips of the petals in contrasting colors, but my favorite flower is the California Poppy. I love a field of orange flowers that wake with the sun and close with the moon.
I'll respond to his email tonight. There will be a day of doing what I must, a night of doing what pleases me, and in the end I'll write to my new pen pal.