As I hung upside, my thighs balanced on the soles of someone’s feet, while also performing a semi-decent v-shape formation with my legs, I wondered: Is this what a 40-year-old woman needs to do to get a date in this town?
Riverside acrobatics was not what I had ever considered to be a remote possibility for a second date, but this was what I found myself doing a few weeks ago. The owner of the feet above – a very earnest Swede with a fondness for contortionism it seemed – professed to me that since I used to be a gymnast, I would have no problem putting my legs above my head while also balancing on his head with just one of my hands.
Alas, as I tried to tell him while clad in fetchingly tight gym-gear that accentuated my lady lumps and minimised any bulges, I gave gymnastics up in the late 80s and the closest I’d got to any acrobatics since then was usually the result of one too many ciders.
So it was at that very moment, well perhaps a few hours later when I had a monster headache from hanging upside for longer than is ever necessary and certainly advisable, that I decided that dating in your 40s is a ridiculous past-time best reserved for people who actually want a boyfriend.
You see as I head into my final few days as a 40-year-old, I have realised that I, in fact, do not. I thought I’d been single for nearly four years because I was no longer desirable or because I was being more selective that I ever had before. But over recent days, I have realised that that is not true at all. The simple truth is that I have been single for so long because I want to be single.
During the first year of my 40s, I remember this time last year, making a pact with myself to say “yes” more often in a optimistic bid to meet my “person”. So I did. I went bushwalking, learned to love Latin dancing, joined a book club, went to New Zealand, went to Bali, went to NIDA, went to the Blues Fest, had a fling with an Irish man and had a fling with a New Zealand man too.
I went to my first-ever V8 supercar race and watched a man who I am in love with just a little as he speed around the track again and again. I learned that even though I have some killer curves, and have been known to get up quite some speed in certain circumstances, I would never want to compete with the passion he has for racing. I respect that. And I admire and love him for it too.
I wrote blogs about spiders, pet cemeteries and politicians. I wrote about my dentist, my teeth, my hair and giving myself an enema on my birthday. I pontificated about fame, disaster porn and the potential of having sex with a New Zealand man while on holiday there in April (big tick). I wrote about friends who broke their backs, their knees and those who were only ever my friends in cyberspace. But mainly I wrote about love and my search for it. Thanks for sticking with me.
On Thursday, I will never be 40 again. I’m neither happy nor sad about it. I guess you could say I am ambivalent. Over the past year, there have been some wins, and some losses. I’ve achieved some stuff I wanted to, and had shit sandwiches smack me in the face at the most inopportune moments. That’s life innit? I’ve turned down dates with younger men because I didn’t want history to repeat even though my brain was screaming at me to not be such a silly old mole. But this year, my search for love will not be my main focus. No, I have just made just one – potentially two – promises to myself.
After two years of feeling sorry for myself because no one wanted to publish my first book, next week I start writing a fresh one. I know it will be better than the first and, who knows, maybe it will be the one that piques a publisher’s interest. It will again be a black comedy, and no doubt I will be in there too, but I learned this morning when talking to my sister that that is the type of writer I am. And I am finally cool with it. If it was good enough for Hunter it’s bloody good enough for me.
And secondly, since it seems I have finally made peace with this single life I have chosen, if a young man crosses my path on the dance floor (or anywhere really) again, then I will take him up on his offer with graciousness and without fear. But I do suspect that a swapping of names will probably not be necessary.