God Save the Bees (god save me)

“The flower doesn’t dream of the bee.
It blossoms, and the bee comes.”
-Mark Nepo

Every time I glance at my phone, which is way too often, this quote stares back at me from behind the squares of apps begging for my attention. I put it there so that every time I scroll through Instagram and see images that that arrange themselves in my mind as ideal living, every time my FaceBook feed shows me the documented “adulting” of all my friends, every time those dating apps offer the promise of me finding a match if I just PLAY, I force myself to read that quote. And I try to just be.

But damn, it’s hard to blossom when the world keeps telling me I’m missing something. That the soil I’m planted in and the petals I’m putting out there aren’t enough.

What if no matter how strong and sturdy a flower you are, the promise of a bee isn’t reality? After all, we’re losing bees at an alarming rate. I have acquired a dark fear from the hot mess of experiences we call dating these days: I’m not entirely convinced the ones who do survive can even find their way to the flowers amongst all the trash and pollution our modern world offers.

I have always been single. And up until recently, I didn’t think anything of it. I focused on academics and solid friendships in middle and high school, watching girls sob in bathrooms, ravaged by failed relationships. Nope, I didn’t want any part of that.

I was young and free, steady and sure of myself, proud of my accomplishments. Surely, there would be a time in life when someone would see that and want to date me.

My curiosity about the world and love of learning propelled me through college. My loves were all lined up on a folding dorm room shelf, always within reach. Writing papers soon became the only reason I stayed up all night. A rush of exhilaration came over me as the clock ticked on until daylight and I knew that yet again, I would be able to push print at the last minute and run to class with my words in hand.

I was learning, learning, learning. And I loved it. I was alive, the world was before me and I had so much time before I needed to think about men.

I moved to a new city and starting teaching right after college. I memorized hundreds of students’ names and favorite colors and mapped out family trees in my head so that reunions in hallways at dismissal became familiar and I could join conversations with updates about cousins. I filled my heart with stories and stress and kindergarten hugs and eighth grade inside jokes and challenge and roommate dinners and tears and growth and hope. My loves were too many beautiful faces to count and the weekends flew by, me catching my breath in the best way I knew how: sleeping on one half of my queen sized bed, under the weight of a down comforter, alone.

I was full, my world was delightfully busy and I couldn’t imagine finding time to think about men.

Sensing a need for change, I moved south and started anew. I was 26 and by this time, I had proudly stood beside all of my childhood best friends as they married their best friends. I had held my niece for the first time and felt a new, inexplicable love that I tucked away, hoping that one day, I too would be able to hold my own love made flesh. I’d watched friends couple off and seen the look in their eyes that meant they knew they’d found something good. I had taped baby announcements, save the dates and Christmas cards of my friends’ new families to my fridge. With each new life announcement, my genuine happiness for friends seemed to sit on a balance, giving weight to what they were doing with their lives, while my side lifted higher and higher, raising the question: What gives my life weight? and the more interesting thought: Maybe I like it up here.

My move pushed me to live life alone for the first time, without the security of the circle of roommates I was used to, who would at least share pizza on a Friday and walk down grocery aisles with me, searching for the best cheese to pair with 3 dollar wine. I liked my new job and the people I met through it. I made lists of things to do and places to explore and most of the time, kept it filed away, waiting to meet someone who would want to join me. I liked this new city and knew that even though figuring it out alone was hard, I had made the right choice to move.

I was curious, willing to jump in the dating game, under the impression that this was my time. I prioritized my personal life, having nights free and space in my mind to entertain crushes and imagine life with someone. I thought that as soon as I put myself out there, it would happen, eventually.

It’s been two years of first dates, getting my hopes up, anxiety, unanswered text messages, relationships that should have been something and then, weren’t. I’ve spent many seasons wishing someone will realize that the person sitting across from them is enough. Enough to stop searching and swiping right and swiping left for someone else like we’re all just taking a ride on the conveyor belt of love and pretending that this is fun. (What does it feel like for someone to only want you?) I’ve stretched my heart and pushed myself into the brave realm of vulnerability and now fear that I’m closing myself off because the only thing opening up invited in was disappointment.

I’ve made beautiful friends here and had moments when the breeze blows my hair a certain way, that song plays on the radio and I feel at home, by myself. That this is exactly where I need to be. But lately, another feeling has crept in too often, claiming that sacred inner peace I, for so long, swayed through life with. That somehow, I have missed the boat. When I go to parties and realize I am the only one leaving alone. When it seems like people around me find love by simply waking up and living their life just like every other day. When I hope that by the holidays, maybe this year, someone will come along and instead I show up to my parents’ house with the same weekender bag of dirty laundry, sleep in my childhood room and wonder if I will always feel sixteen on Christmas Eve.

I am growing, and learning and loving myself. But, for the first time, I feel worried more often that not. And perhaps, I am spending too much time thinking about men.

If there exists a glass vial to collect a certain volume of tears or a number of unanswered texts that are required to unlock the achievement that opens up the world of real men to me, let me know. I’m game. At least then, there is some order to this madness. At least then, my tears are not shed in futility nor my words wasted, taking up someone’s cell phone memory yet pushed out of theirs. Give me something to work with, please.

Things are hard, until they are not. I know this. I have waited, and will continue to wait. I will live full days and take note of this time in my life so I can remember what solitary freedom feels like one day. I will read, read, read and fill my heart with work that gives me purpose and steadfast friends who always, always call me back. I will live with the hope that love will find me while I’m still young. I will do all of this knowing that I am more than enough.

I have one request: God, Save The Bees! (I will save me. I will just be).

Lord knows we all need the honey.