200547133-002.jpgSBF ISO . . . A New Life
Being thrust into singledom is never a pleasant experience.

Especially after a few heated exchanges of words (and the influence of that dangerous species known as the hoochie-from-the-club) took a five year relationship and turned it into a distant memory.

Reeling from the break-up, I spent an entire month indulging my sorrow. My friends, while well-intentioned, were consumed with their own relationships. Since I was no longer a citizen of the state called “Couple,” their get -togethers no longer included me. Fifth wheels tend to be awkward.

Many people suffer from post-breakup loneliness. When we are in relationships, both men and women tend to let their friendships lapse a bit, spending more time with their partner than they do with their friends. Their friends, in turn, move on and find other people to hang out with or end up in their own relationships. After a break-up rocks your world, you end up with a newly empty social schedule and hours of time in the day to fill.

In exile and bored, I turned to the only refuge left to me—the internet.

It started innocently. I started wondering where people went to have a good time, that wasn’t a restaurant, club, or a bar. I wanted the urban lifestyle I had seen so often in movies and on HBO reruns. I wanted to be the impeccably dressed girl at the art gallery, holding a glass of Pinot Grigio and intelligently discussing art with interesting, artistic people. I yearned to go to the art house theatre, and watch engaging movies imported from foreign lands with subtitles and existentialist themes. I fantasized about staking out a lounge with my equally fabulous girlfriends, sipping cerise colored cocktails and sharing our dating exploits.

I pulled myself out of my fantasy world for a few minutes. Where in the world was I going to do all of that? I live outside of Washington DC, not New York! I couldn’t even get my friends to commit to drinks at a local bar, much less a night out on the town. I spent the next week miffed, and contemplating relocation.

Then, I happened to stumble across a feature by the Washington Post (my local paper) that highlights where to go out and what to do in the D.C. area. I was excited by the prospects unfolding before me. I quickly called all my friends and invited them out to a hip-hop showcase.

“Oh, sorry . . . can’t make it.”

“I kind of have plans . . . ”

“I’m too tired.”

Bitter, I spent another weekend alone in my apartment.

Eventually, it dawned on me—if I wanted to do something with my life, I was going to have to do it alone. The prospect of going to an event solo terrified me—what if I looked desperate? What if no one wanted to talk to me? What if I ended up bored and by myself at the bar?

At that point, cabin fever was setting in. I was seriously in danger of going out of my mind if I didn’t leave my domicile immediately. This was it; I had to go do something. I checked out the next interesting art function and sent out an email to all my friends.

As usual, no one could make it.

Undaunted, I made plans to go alone. I picked out a casual but fabulous outfit with the ultimate care, and packed a notebook, digital camera, MP3 player, and magazine. If worse came to worse, I could put on the MP3 player and look at the art—no human interaction necessary.

On the day of the event though, I was browsing the Craigslist “Rants and Raves” section when another heading caught my eye. Strictly Platonic, I thought to myself. Couldn’t hurt to browse it.

While I had dabbled in online dating through some social networking sites, I ultimately decided against the whole process. People often represented themselves completely differently than they did online, and more than half of the email exchanges never materialized into an actual face to face meet-up. The process was frustrating. Plus, that fact that I was a black female did not help matters much. Scrolling through mainstream personals sites, it seemed to be pretty obvious what men didn’t want. After seeing hundreds of personals ads where the guy was searching for anyone but a black girl, and getting tired seeing the same faces on all of the black personals sites, I had my fill of online dating.

I had never thought about using the internet to find friends, though.

Optimistic, I started browsing the section.

Apparently, I was not alone. Thousands of people were looking for the same thing—activity partners and people into the same things they were. I quickly pounded out a quick ad, detailing the event I was attending and asking if anyone interested in modern art wanted to meet up.

Within minutes, I had three responses.

This could work . . .

After trading a few emails with cool people, I told them what I was wearing and what time I would be there.

At 6:00 p.m., I clocked out of my job and headed downtown to the Hirschhorn Museum of Modern Art. Stepping into the courtyard, I instantly knew I had made the right decision. The scene was full of the young, cool, and artistic. The art installation was wicked. Everything was modern and fabulous, with the piece de resistance being a multi-colored duct-tape installation on the museum floor. That night I met four other like-minded people, grabbed a glass of wine, and discussed art while a DJ played trance/house music until midnight.

I learned three things that night:
1. I don’t like pinot grigio

2. The art gallery scene is the new hotness.

3. This is exactly the kind of life I wanted.

After that, I was fearless—I canvassed the local papers for cool events, and searched Craigslist to find people I was compatible with. I spent the summer out, literally spending almost every night out in the city. I was having so much fun befriending people I stopped trying to date. I was just enjoying life.

For their own part, my new friends were cool. One friend is artistic and poetic. Working for a non-profit by day, he dreams of opening a music and arts center for underprivileged kids in the city. Through him, I experienced the spoken word scene in D.C. and discovered a wealth of underground poetry. Another friend is an aspiring fiction writer, avid reader, lover of indie rock, and works for a non-profit specializing in anti-gentrification tactics. Yet another friend I met is a Latino punk rocker, a vegan, and an independent film buff. Through my friends, I got to experience new parts of the city I call home, learned hundreds of new things about art, travel, and wine, and had hours of deep—and not so deep—discussions in coffee houses, over brunch, and everywhere in between.

Securely entrenched in my new literati clique, I barely had time to blink, let alone think about dating.

Little did I know my next greatest love affair had just posted a note on Craigslist…

[To be continued in part two…]

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  • shoefetish

    Great article!!… When friends aren’t available, I’ll go WITH myself, never one to shy away from striking a conversation with others. You will be surprised how many people are simply out just to have a good time and enjoy the company of others. NO strings attached.

  • This was so motivating for me. Even if summer’s over and I’m back on the grind, I plan on taking some (baby) steps into just exploring the city I live in and meeting new kids to see it with. I’m ridiculously shy but I don’t want to regret it later on in my life.

  • Me Be P!

    That was a really interesting article. I often find myself longing to go out with friends and just like the writer, they’re never available. I’m a shy person so the thought of going somewhere like that to entertain myself is quite scary. I hope I can muster up the strength and just do it, myself. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Yanna

    this is so great. i dont have a problem doing things alone, although doing them alone at nite is a little threatening to me. my self-confidence hasnt yet reached its fullest potential. lol. but i will most definitely consider the craigslist option. many of my friends here in chicago often fake me out, especially for their boyfriends. now i can find wing-women who are interested in hanging out just like me!

  • z

    Getting ready to move to DC! will be browsing every where for new friends. Awesome article!