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Rosa's guide to single life (savoring the wait)

Single Life

     In a sea of long-faced doctors with not even time to brush their teeth—let alone their hair—my friend Rosa stuck out. When she entered the doctor’s lounge, a technicolor character blew into a black-and-white movie.
     Compare this, for example: Have you noticed how actresses in telenovelas wear red lipstick to bed, and chunky necklaces in the kitchen? Have you noticed how women newscasters look fine on the screen, but if you put them next to any other woman, their hairstyles and make up look abnormally perfect?
     Rosa was like that. When she passed by, you had to give her a second look—you could’ve sworn she was someone famous.
     Rosa shared my Latin belief: “You don’t get dressed and wear make up to impress men. You do it for yourself. Because when you feel beautiful, you broadcast a telepathic message that makes people believe you’re beautiful.
     Tall and blond, younger than me, with no children (so nothing to threaten her knockout figure), Rosa belonged to a different league than I did. We coincided as single for a brief lapse, during one of her break-ups with her long distance, New Yorker boyfriend. I suspect she felt sorry for my hopeless situation—me, the divorced-mother-of-four living in The Boondocks. She decided to take me under her wing.
     Someone like Rosa is NOT the woman you want next to you when you’re out in the singles’ scene—men’s eyes will gravitate to her and away from you. But she’s definitely the company you want when you’re quite not ready for dating, and prefer to watch from a distance. She had the world experience I lacked—me, whom in my early twenties married the first and only man I’d dated. During our happy hours, the researcher in me observed her interact with the guy friends and took extensive notes. At the end of our social gatherings, she gave me feedback on my performance.
     “For goodness sake, Diely,” she said one evening. “Don’t mention the four children so early in the conversation! You’ll scare men away.”
     Rosa was my gold standard for a single woman: The woman who was single because she wanted to be. Not for a lack of men drooling around her—but because she’d decided she would not sell herself cheaply.
     “You see, Diely. The key to successful single life is not making men-related decisions out of desperation,” she announced one night at Chilis. “If you allow yourself to go hungry—hungry for praise, hungry for physical affection, hungry for company or love—you run the risk of rushing to accept the first man you meet.”
     I nodded, in awe. Her words matched something I’d recently read from Don Miguel Ruiz. Talking about fostering self-love as an antidote to codependent relationships, he said, “If you’re starving and someone bribes you with a slice of stale pizza, you’d probably do whatever they ask. But if you have a gourmet banquet going on in your kitchen, you’d just smile at them and say, ‘No, thank you.’”
     Rosa continued, “Feeling happy with your appearance is more important than you think—you need to feel you’re a catch. And next, make sure you’re satisfied with your life and meeting your needs—so you don’t end up with the wrong man just out of loneliness.”
     It made all the sense.
     Wrapping her arm around my shoulders—as her second margarita kicked in— she announced (and I paraphrase), “So the formula for successful singlehood is made by four simple elements. Girls-night-outs. Self pampering. Botox. And a vibrator.”
     Wait. A what?
     My Catholic brain short-circuited and I don’t remember anything else she said that night.
     But at least half of it made sense.
     Law of attraction says that we magnetize what’s in our minds. And before you roll your eyes and remind me of all the people who’ve tried law of attraction and failed, hear me out.
     We all have contradictory thoughts going on in our minds. The thought that will dominate will be the more frequent one and the one associated with feelings. You can stare at a visualization board for as long as you want, repeating an affirmation. But if the background music of your day is feelings of doom, and your basic belief system is “a mentality of lack,” it won’t work.
     Feelings of “wanting” and “longing” make us perpetuate undesirable situations. When we’re hungry for love, or hungry for money, we attract more hunger for love or money. If we feel lonely and long for company, we attract—you guessed: more longing for company.
     So the masters on law of attraction tell us to never say we want something. The mere statement of want sends a message of lack into the universe which will attract more lack. Instead, we should focus on gratitude. We need to find whatever is going on in our lives that remotely resembles what we want, and focus our energy in feeling grateful for it.
     So, the beginning of Rosa’s program was spending tons of time with friends. She always had something going on. From margaritas with the girlfriends, to drinks with the happy hour gang, to home-made sangria while we watched Sex and the City reruns in her apartment. (Now that I think about it, alcohol was always present. No wonder I gained weight with all my virgin sweet drinks).
     I could feel her methods working. By surrounding ourselves with friends, I stopped sending the message of lack: “I’m lonely. I’m isolated. I’m unloved.” Instead, the message sent was, “I’m loved. I’m supported. I belong.”
     Next, Rosa embarked in the mission of improving my appearance. I had no hope to ever be as attractive as she was. Unless I opted for surgery, I’d never have her full breasts, or her flat, stretch-mark-free abdomen. I’d never be tall like the models— I’d already shed tears about that at age thirteen when I realized I’d stopped growing .
     Obsessing about what I didn’t have would not help my case. Instead, I could feel grateful for the good things I did have. My full lips, which many women submitted to painful collagen injections to get. My unruly hair, which could be curly if I wanted, or straight if I fought it with a hot iron, a whip and a chair. My curvy hips, which created an optical illusion and made my waist look narrower than it really was. Yes, I’d never have the measurements of a beauty queen, but with Spanx and a padded bra, I could fake a decent hourglass figure.
     So I let Rosa guide me to help enhance what I already had. She took me to her hair salon, for a haircut and highlights. She took me to the back of her closet, for hand-me-down clothes—with her slimmer body and her bigger breasts it was a miracle that anything fit me.
     I laughed the day she mentioned manicures and pedicures. “Come on! Who’s paying attention to those few millimeters of my body surface?” But she didn’t laugh. Manicures and pedicures were considered double duty: not only they were part of the beauty program, but they also filled a quote for touch. “Sometimes what you miss is not the sex, is the touch of another human being,” she wisely said.
     And that was the reason for the “self-pampering” element. Besides the fortune Rosa spent in Botox and injectable fillers (don’t ask), she spent another one on regular massages, complemented by a facial. Together with her manicures and pedicures, she called it her “dose of physical touch.”
     “That’s the need the vibrator can’t fill,” she said.
     Then, I stumbled into the same message, preached by soulmate experts Ariel Ford and Katherine Woodward-Thomas. They called it “savoring the wait.”
     That was what I was doing without knowing it. I was savoring the wait—until my soulmate and I found each other.
     So, when Rosa brought up online dating again, I answered, “Not yet.”
     I was enjoying the opportunity of being single again. I loved going to bed extra late, reading or writing, without fearing my light would bother someone next to me. I’d enjoyed going to Art Shows, and Food Festivals and movies alone—learning to enjoy my own company. I was enjoying my time with girls—discovering I could be a good friend and support for others. I even got to check a big box I had pending to check for years: I went to Europe all by myself.
     Something inside me said, “Enjoy this time. Before you know it, you won’t be single anymore and, in a way, you’ll look at these days with nostalgia.”
     The voice was right. A blink later, I was watching a sunset at the Indian River with David, talking about our upcoming trip to Italy, and a text-message from Rosa came in, inviting me to join the friends at the bar. David and I were still in the intoxication of new love. I still couldn’t get over the fact that my reading light never bothered him—he read even later into the night than I did. I was still unable to conceive having an hour off from work and kids and not spending it with my beloved.
     I answered the text with a, “No, thank you. I’m fine.”
     I suspect Rosa never forgave me for that.
     But that’s another story.
     Till next time.

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