I heard from my upstairs neighbor for a year before I met him. Walk above me, play music, watch how I Met Your Mother and Parks and recreation. Besides worrying about the thin walls between us, I was amused by the idea that because he watched two of my favorite shows all the time, we’d probably be best friends. I admit – I sometimes wondered about him, this mysterious neighbor who loves Netflix. But I never thought in a million years that I would end up dating him.
Until I signed up for Bumble.
Yes, after a two-year self-imposed break a few months ago, I decided it was time to “get back there”, as they say. I had heard good things about the Bumble dating app from a few different friends, so I decided to give it a try. After a few first dates that went nowhere, a guy appeared in my listed match queue 0.4 miles away (Bumble is a location-based app). “Wow!” I thought. “This guy is practically in my backyard!”
I didn’t know this guy was literally in my garden.
He knew who I was; I had no idea who he was. Apparently we had said hello to each other in the parking lot a few times over the past year, but I had no recollection of it. Somehow I had managed not to notice the cute guy right under my nose.
We hit it off instantly. Within a week, we were hanging out every other day or so. We took walks, watched movies, and played Scrabble. It was one of the easiest and most transparent dating situations I have ever entered. We had so much fun. Great chemistry. A very similar sense of humor. He was a bit of a nerd, and I loved it because me too.
One of our more cheesy things he drew me to was geocaching – basically looking for a hidden token that you can find with your phone’s GPS. The cool thing about geocaching is that caches are hidden in the most ordinary places: hanging from a tree in a parking lot, on the side of a stop sign, and behind books on a library shelf. . They’re so subtly hidden in plain sight that it can be easy to forget what you’re looking for. Kind of like my upstairs neighbor.
Despite all of our compatibility boxes being checked, after about a month of seeing each other, things fell apart. The reasons are complicated; the resolution is simple: he was not supposed to be my great love. He was supposed to prepare me for it.
My quasi-relationship helped me see what I had missed by cutting myself off from the risk of intimacy with someone new. This month-long relationship even gave me the courage to reach out to the ex who broke my heart two years ago. . . and he apologized for hurting me. Abundantly. I felt healing and closure that I didn’t even realize I needed.
We miss so much beauty, so much meaning, so much life, so much love. . . being too busy. Too stressed. Too worried about wasting our time on relationships and dating apps that probably won’t work. But really showing off means acknowledging the possibility that dating doesn’t lead to bliss forever. It also means being open to the possibility that even failed relationships are a step forward.
Just like with geocaching, the things we need most are often in the obvious places, but also in the quiet places, the subtle places, and the places we never even thought to look.
Like a dating app or our own backyard.
Today I invite you to stop and take a look around. Allow yourself to not only look, but really show off. You might be surprised to find unexpected faces in unexpected places. And hey, if all else fails, you can always try introducing yourself to your neighbor.
Photo credit: Erynn Christine Photography