Destination: Evergreen Chapter 9 

Recap of Chapter 8:

Haze realizes that she misses the company of a man, but just when she aches to get out in the world and mingle with people, COVID-19 makes it impossible. Not only that, hair salons, clothing boutiques and day spas are all closed, so she can’t get the pampering she desperately needs. How could she have known that all the time she spent being holed-up in her art studio would prove to be squandering her freedom? Complaining, Sydney suggests she try online dating.

Haze sat staring at the computer screen. She thought she was ready, but now she was having doubts. She had jumped through all the hoops—created a profile, answered all the questions, chose a photograph, and now the only remaining thing to do was to hit the button to make it all live. She had sat poised and ready to commit several times and then retreated. What if she liked no one? What if no one liked her? Putting herself out there was scary. But if she didn’t take a step, she wouldn’t know what she was missing. So much emotional back and forth. Never before had doing something at the computer felt so personal.

She couldn’t believe it had come to this. She had never gone trawling for men. Well, not technically true if you count dressing the part and going out to bars with friends. But really, that was just to dance and flirt. She had never begun an actual relationship with anyone she had met in a club setting. Relationships had always just happened. She usually met someone by being thrown together somehow. She had dated fellow students in college, fellow volunteers at events and fellow artists or art dealers. In retrospect, since she was currently single, her methods hadn’t really yielded the results she hoped for. Finally, she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and pushed the button. If Sydney could do it and countless millions of other singles, she could too. She could do this online dating thing.

Immediately after making it official, she was flooded with doubts. She went to her profile, obsessing over her answers. She was truthful about everything—her height and build, her age, she even posted a photo that was recent—less than two years old. It was a shot from her last good vacation in Mexico. No way she was taking a selfie right now—not with zero access to the hairdresser. She was careful not to be too broad in her interests. The last thing she needed was a clutch of golfing dates or concerts that made her want to stick a pencil in her ear. The trickiest part was describing what she wanted out of online dating. If she was being 100 percent truthful, she would just plaster a big banner across her photograph that said, “Wanting Me a Man.” After all, it was the wanting that prompted the search in the first place. No, it was a colossally bad idea to focus on that in this forum. She recalled the backlash from a badly worded online search years ago. For art research, she went looking for some pastoral scenes with human figures (women sitting on a porch swing or standing by a barn in the sunshine), so she typed in “farm girls.” What came next was months of very disturbing photos of naked girls inexplicably hanging out with farm animals popping up everywhere on her computer. She shuddered at the memory.

Wisely, she said she wanted companionship, dating and a relationship. And she did. She really did want to share her life with someone. It had been too long being alone. She wanted double occupancy on her picnic blanket for concerts at the lake. She wanted to take walks in the woods, holding hands. She pictured sipping wine and cooking together in her kitchen. She sighed at the beauty in the thought. And yes, she wanted a physical relationship. Again, Sydney, at her age, should not be getting more man action than she.

As she sat there obsessively going over and over what was already done, up popped a message. Someone was interested. Really? Just like that? She sat bolt upright, gripping the edges of the desk. “What do I do?” she said out loud. She popped up and dashed for the kitchen. She poured a glass of wine, not artfully—just watched it glug into the glass. Whoops! She poured way too much. It was already 10 pm. She shrugged. It wasn’t like she had anywhere to go in the morning. She returned to the little desk nook she’d carved out in the living room, scooped up the laptop and plopped down on the couch. She curled her legs up, grabbed an oversized throw pillow for her lap, took a big gulp of wine and squared her shoulders. Back on the site, she was astounded to see that she had 10 invitations to mingle. Ten in just a few minutes? She gulped wine and opened the first profile. It was a guy named David. He was good looking in a mainstream kind of way. He was 36, so age appropriate, and he listed art shows as one of his interests. Hmm. Not bad. She opened the next one: Mark. Mark likes dogs and posted some fetching photos of him and his four Great Danes. Wait—four Great Danes? She moved onto the next, then the next, then the next. Meanwhile, more were coming in. Haze spent a couple hours sipping wine and peeking at the men who were interested, and finally called it a night. She had contacted no one and went to bed more confused than ever. Confused, but also with a spark of hope that she may indeed find a connection through online dating. As Haze climbed into bed and turned out the light, a saying that her dad used popped into her head: “Who woulda thunk?”