As I said in a previous post, Spunky and I can weave a metaphor like you wouldn’t believe.
Our Metaphor of the Month is an old one. Wikipedia even calls it a cliche. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. It’s really good dating advice and especially so for girls like me and Spunky who are prone to Big Crushes.
Rewind back about 7 years ago. I was in the second year of my juris doctor and she was a teacher in a small, rural town in the northern Midwest. She got this enormous, all-encompassing crush on this pig farmer. Seriously. When she called me to give me her initial run down on the guy I screamed “I can’t believe he’s a PIG farmer. Didn’t you read Charlotte’s Web?”
Considering she eventually moved back to California, obviously things didn’t work out with the Farmer. The short version is that they dated for about half a minute, every few months she’d get him to go out with her or make out with her on a couch and then he would disappear for a long time and not return any of her phone calls or texts.
Spunky very firmly had all of her eggs in the Farmer’s basket. Every time he would tell her “Don’t keep any of your eggs in this basket. Here have this back. No really, here.” She never actually believed she should get the eggs back. The slightest glimmer of interest inspired a new round of “How can I get him to keep my eggs this time?”
This is a photo of Spunky I took at his farm when I went to visit her over Thanksgiving. It was about six months after they had dated, when she was still chasing after him. About six more months and he would leave her eggs in a parking lot along the side of the interstate when he told her something along the lines of “Why don’t you get it, no really, I don’t want to go out with you.”
We’re the kind of friends who drive past the houses of our crushes. Or, you know, sneak into their tractor garage and take holiday card photos.
Spunky isn’t the only one who has had to learn the eggs in a basket lesson the hard way. At the same time she was scampering after The Farmer through dive bars, I was dating the first in a series of girls named Jen. (They were all from different states, which helped my friends keep them straight.) She lived across the country and we began our lovely tryst the day she turned 30 in the bathroom at Henrietta Hudsons*.
We spent hours on the phone together, had romantic weekend dates once a month (which is a lot for two people in an expensive graduate program). At 23 I didn’t know any better than to give her all of my eggs–even though she was adamant that we weren’t “girlfriends” and I should be dating other people.
Eventually things ended with her saying that the distance or the age difference could have worked, but not both. I also realized eventually that she was already dating her new girlfriend when she broke things off.
The Farmer and Jen from the West Coast could have been far less devastating for 23 year old Spunky and Bevin if we had learned the delicate process of Graduated Egg Distribution.
When, at 29 and pretty fresh from a break-up, I wrote my brass ring personal ad, it was with the intent to make a contract with myself. I was going to give my eggs away slowly, and only upon being shown those qualities I list in a potential partner and experience what I wanted to see in a potential relationship. Until then, I do everything in my power to keep the investment super light.
It is also important to carefully evaluate how sturdy the basket is that you are depositing those eggs into. On my recent visit to California, Spunky was in the bizarre position of needing to break things off with someone in an email. I helped to draft it, laying out specifically where things went wrong and what he had done. They had four dates, and though an email break up is totally a violation of protocol**, he was exhibiting enough creepy/bizarre behavior that not being in his vicinity was a safety concern for her.
The problem with this guy was that he kept insisting that Spunky take all of his eggs, despite her basket having holes in it. She would say “No, we need to take things slower, it is important to me to lay a solid foundation of friendship, I have a lot of trust issues with men who come on too strong” and he would just toss his eggs right in there and keep barreling past her boundaries.
It’s very funny, I think about who she and I used to be and re-read that email we sent him, and it so easily could have been the Farmer or Jen from the West Coast sending it to us. But having been through enough heartbreaks between us (my fiance taking my entire collection of eggs and throwing them against a wall, her ex taking each of her eggs and scrambling them so she doubted her own self-worth and self-reliance) we know better now.
Sure, we still get excited about people. Sometimes I might give away as many as 3 eggs at a time to someone who meets enough criteria because having a good old-fashioned crush is just plain fun. But I know that right now in my Baker’s Dozen*** of eggs, I’m still holding delicately firm to at least 9 of them.
Of course, I don’t think Spunky and I shouldn’t have given our eggs to The Farmer or Jen from the West Coast–they were really important learning experiences for us. The most important lesson was that, in the long run, the person that is going to love me the best and the most is myself. While I know I’ll get engaged at some point again, I won’t be promising all of my eggs to my betrothed. A significant portion, but I’ll still keep a couple to remind me that my commitment to myself makes me strong enough to love and care for everyone else.
*A NYC lesbo bar that is so for tourists I have actually only been to once since I moved to New York 5 years ago.
**I have a future post and a future episode of FemmeCast lined up to talk about how to break up with someone properly.
***I am a fat girl, after all.
All this talk of eggs and I had to include a picture of Macy in a chicken sweater I knitted for her myself.