I want to tell you about the date I had that taught me I was a “Specialty Food” and how liberating that was for me.
This was during my self-proclaimed “slut era.” I was a Late Bloomer. I didn’t start dating til I was 19, a Junior in college. I didn’t sleep with my first love the first time we dated and didn’t have sex with anyone until I was 21, already in Law School. At the time I was very stressed about my lack of dating and sexual experience. In hindsight that was FANTASTIC.
Everything is always unfolding for my highest good.
I got into my first long term relationship at 24 and they were my like 4th person and then I was in back to back monogamy so by the time I was at number 6 I felt like I was missing out on something.
Enter “slut era” to make up for lost time and learn whatever it was I needed to learn by dating a bunch of people. I learned a lot! I wrote a lot of this blog in the early days about those lessons.
I got good at dating but I felt kind of like a fish out of water because I had such a hard time feeling casual about any of my connections.
Dating for me is connection and learning someone, how they think, what lights them up. (I’ve learned a lot about the distinction between dating and courtship.) I was also still pre-Al Anon recovery so very codependent and not focusing necessarily on whether something was actually a good match. Anyway, onto this date that was such a turning point in my self-awareness.
In the aughts I attended a feminist camping festival every summer. We had an online members forum that we used to connect with each other, swap packing lists and tips for living in the woods for a week.
About a month before camp started in 2008 (I was 29 years old—still deeeeeeply Saturn Return energy*) I noticed a message in the personals ad thread from someone I had noticed before at camp from afar! My type to a T at the time, a fat, queer, punk rock, butch, dreamboat chef.
*If you don’t know what a Saturn Return is! When you’re about 27.5 Saturn returns through the sign it was in when you were born. Saturn is “form” energy / taking responsibility. Imagine if your crone self, all the wisdom of this lifetime cruised through to evauluate the decisions you’re making and your behavior. And that crone self instigates circumstances for you to learn from. Saturn Returns can be a doozy.
The Dreamboat linked their MySpace page** and I rolled into their DMs before people called them DMs.
**Before Zuckenberger opened up Facebook to people not in college we had a website called MySpace. Frankly, I miss the energy of the songs embedded in our profiles and bling gifs. Seriously how has all of this stuff changed so much in 14 years?
They were down for a date with me! I have NEVER anticipated a date that long. A month was an eternity back then. Long before I learned that patience is an action!
I spent a lot of time in my pisces south node dreamy anticipation about how hot that date was going to be. I lived in Brooklyn, I walked and took the subway listening to my lil iPod shuffle.
I played “Anticipation” so frequently. To this day when I hear that song—even as I might be warbling along to the lyrics “Anticipation is making me wait” thinking about whatever at the time is requiring my still developing patience—my mind still crosses this date that first time using that song as a coping mechanism.
I was in agony waiting on this date. I scheduled it for Tuesday which would give me Monday to arrive, set up camp, have a full night’s sleep, a good meal and a shower before the date. They were working and would have already been set up.
BUT if I got to go back and whisper advice to me I would have said to make the date for Monday of that week. I was so inflexible and focused on my logic mind back then I wouldn’t have heard intuition otherwise.
(It’s called a “gut feeling” for a reason and I believe some of us IBS cuties were given chronic digestive stuff so our bodies could get us to listen to our intuition.)
Okay, so date time comes and back then there was no cell signal in the woods. I haven’t seen any notes on the note board from them making any changes, so I assume all is well and I just sit and wait in front of my tent.
To this day my favorite date (especially first date) is a campfire. Someone you’re meant to be dating is someone you can have at least a few logs worth of conversation and good cheer together. I was hotly anticipating our campfire hang out and hopeful make out.
They were late and honestly I have no idea how late. My perception of everything when I was 29 was extreme and I never got to the point of thinking they weren’t coming but it was like late enough that I was getting anxious.
I don’t remember what I wore on that date specifically but I feel certain I looked incredible.
They had a great and tragic excuse for their tardiness—there had been a car accident and only the first information had started to trickle in through the grapevine since we were in the woods and no phones. So on their way to meet up with me they get this news with partial tragic information but don’t know who is in the accident. It was a lot to process all at once before going on a date.
I’m actually grateful they showed up and were honest with me about it. Less emotionally mature people might have ghosted because that would have been easier for them, or have shown up and not told me what was going on making me wonder if it was me that was throwing the vibe off.
I held space for that reality and enjoyed our chat a lot! I’m really intentional about holding space for whatever the person around me is feeling/experiencing because I prefer honesty over performance every day of the week.
Okay, so here’s the life changing perspective part of the date:
They were talking about the type of person they date and they said, “I’m really a specialty food. I’m not ‘for’ everyone.” And I pondered that for a long time.
Truthfully they were TOTALLY my aisle of the specialty food store. But it made me reflect a lot on my uniqueness.
Of all the things I’ve healed about my experiences with other people, processing body rejection was hard, but I’ve also had a hard time feeling okay being unique.
We hear a lot these days about what an asset uniqueness is in start-up culture and creativity. But when we are socialized that our belonging is held hostage to our conformity, being one of a kind is dangerous to our nervous system! Belonging is a human need!
I’m still working on loving my uniqueness and feeling safe no matter what!
But hearing this person I thought was so desirable talk about the variability of that experience with the confidence of someone who knows that there are folks for whom their speciality food existence was a delight… It got me thinking I could shift my perspective around dating and not be so hard on myself that I didn’t like being casual. It took years for that to really land for me but wow, what a potent moment on a date. A kind of throw away comment that is still teaching me lessons.
Being a speciality food applies in friendship, jobs, marketing, artistic promotion, being an aerobics instructor.
Someone once told me that Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics is a lot of new emotional paradigm to digest in the first ten minutes. I trust that the folks for whom the experience feels warm, safe, nurturing, curious, and fun are the people that specialty food is for. Cannot be replicated because I’m one of one.
The delight of someone getting it, and loving it, the delight of a date connecting and good conversation sparking! It’a worth all the folks for whom the specialty food is more of an acquired taste. And that’s cool, but that’s not who I’m prioritizing my strong connections with.
Even after anticipating that date and possible sexy times for over a month, nothing happened other than good conversation and a walk in the woods. At the time I was disappointed but in hindsight it’s all good! I love the germination of a good idea exchange! And I didn’t realize how scarce good campfire dates would be in my dating herstory!
May the thoughts of you as a specialty food, brought here on earth just for the people you’re here for. Find the people who delight you, who you admire, who feel safe to be around. Spend more time with those people! Learn from them and become more and more YOU.
It might level up timelines!
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