It’s been so gorgeous out these past days, I’m behind in writing. I’m sharing a bit from my novel, Facing the Odds, One Man at a Time. Sometimes fiction perfectly mirrors real life.
Complicating matters on the dating front is the place I live: Alaska.
Arguably one of the prettiest states in the union, Alaska is also one of the most rugged places for a single woman to live. Despite the fact that I live in Anchorage, the largest city in the state with nearly 300,000 residents, it’s not uncommon to have a moose or a bear traipse through my tiny patch of a yard in the summertime. Once in the winter the snow was so deep I got high-centered in my car and had to wait for a neighbor to rescue me. Light all night long in summer and dark all day long in winter (which begins in October and lasts until May), the combination of snow, cold, and darkness here can transform a sunny personality into one miserable human. It’s startling to see how much of my energies are fueled by the sun and sapped by the darkness.
Because it’s the Last Frontier, Alaska seems to attract a unique brand of men. Men who love hunting. Men who love fishing. Killing and carving. Men who mount the heads of their deceased on their walls and call it art.
I once met a Sudanese immigrant at a friend’s house who diagnosed the problem of dating in Alaska with surgical precision. “Alaska attracts strong, educated, and independent women. And it attracts men who fall under the ‘let me hunt and fish, smoke my pot, and beat my wife.’ The two genders don’t combine so well.” He’d laughed at this.
By my estimation, he was spot on.
In rural Alaska, the men have long outnumbered the women by five to one, so Alaskan women can recite the phrase “The odds are good but the goods are odd.”
It’s not an easy place to find a partner, even when you’re young. And I’m not young anymore.
Back in my twenties, I was thrilled when a man offered to take me anywhere. Denny’s? Perfect! Any departure from my established routine of eating the girls’ sandwich crusts while clearing the dishes was welcome, even if it meant I had to stay up all night catching up on my homework.
But somewhere in my mid-thirties, I began to get pickier. Was it because I was layering my full-time work with the girls’ sports and events plus graduate school? No doubt that was part of it. But the other part was based on experience.
My dating habits over the years have mirrored my eating habits. I diet. I diet. I diet. And I binge.
The same is true regarding my social life, I am alone. I’m alone. I’m alone. And by the time I realize that I’m more than alone, I’m painfully lonely, I go full-throttle to try to meet someone. I jump at the first morsel that comes my way, and because my vision has been dimmed by loneliness, at first our together-time seems sweet and full of possibility.
Then it hits me, a familiar feeling of frustration and claustrophobia. It’s hard to narrow down what exactly pisses me off. Needy men. Aloof men. Pregnant-looking men. Skinny men. Men whose teeth skim their forks as they eat. Men who recite the highlights of all they have learned on Fox News. Humorless men. Men who tell dumb jokes. Men who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet (and yes, I am careful to listen for the water running to make sure it gets done). The list goes on and on.
It’s not like I think I’m such a catch. I know my weaknesses well and there are no shortage of them. I’m intolerant. Disorganized. Occasionally foul-tempered. Claustrophobic. Entirely neurotic.
But I’m also fun. Creative. Loyal. Funny. Practical. Fit. And I’ll just say it: attractive. Eclectic, verging on eccentric. Independent.
And I hold out—believing against all probabilities—that one day I will meet someone who can see fit to love me, in spite of, and maybe even because of it all.