Half-life, Half-love, Half

Paula_Abdul_-_Cold_HeartedThis title came to me last night as I climbed into bed wearing the pink and raspberry coloured sweater I had on all day, my busted- up PJ bottoms (which I ‘brought in’ about an inch with a Frankenstein stich on one side because they kept falling down; but now they have a sideways smile to them. I’m still adjusting but they stay up), the large salt lamp emitting its healing pink glow, and my cat Shiva protesting bedtime and our 7- hour separation by making his nocturnal sprints down the hallway. Ah, Tuesday evening. The marking for both of my classes is done, just the uploading and submitting of grades left to do. Many other small-ish things of course, but the end is in sight and so is seeing my family in my beloved home province of Saskatchewan. Saturday can’t come soon enough.

I’ve recently downloaded Hinge, a dating app that requires more input than the usual trinity of Age, Gender, Distance asked for on Tinder, Bumble, and the like.  I haven’t done the profile stuff yet but will because I’ve found Tinder to be woefully under-whelming and little more seems on offer than leftovers. I’m sorry but NO THANK YOU. And those who I have connected with, surprize suprize, all usually live elsewhere. There is a shimmer of promise here and there, but then they stop talking or I get impatient with seeing their inert faces on my roster. WHAT’S THE POINT OF KEEPING THIS FACE WHEN HE DOESN’T TALK TO ME? Honestly: bye, bye, bye. I have only the barebones now and am not swiping that much because there seems to be little to no point. Hinge is supposed to generate better quality and less matches, so we’ll see how that turns out.

Time is our most valuable resource and it’s one of the things we must sacrifice when using dating apps. This is an obvious point and time must also be spent when dating in non-tech-mediated contexts. Things very rarely ‘just happen.’ I used to think that maybe things can and do just happen. ‘What if I fell in love with that man reaching for the eggplant at the market?’; ‘Would he love me?’; ‘What would it be like with him?’; ‘Could it ever happen this way?’; ‘Do people just find themselves in the lives of someone totally new, at the drop of a hat or vegetable, who then becomes their person?’ Secretly, yes, that’s what I like to think. The world is far too bizarre, multi-dimensional, and wise for such events to not be a possibility.

The precarity of dating apps and how people use them often mean that I find myself, consciously, spending very little time and emotional energies on the men I connect with. ‘Don’t go into too much detail about what you do- they will think it’s cool but vanish in 3 days’; ‘Don’t waste time looking for cool ‘good morning’ images on Pinterest, they’ll like it but won’t appreciate me in the end.’  It’s super messed up but I know that they will ALL disappear or sorely disappoint sooner or later. And, I’m sure it’s the same on their end too. I’m not everyone’s up of tea! This doesn’t mean that I’m a cold-hearted snake (Paula Abdul, c. 1988), but it’s an act of self-preservation to give only a bit, hope only a bit. This makes it all such an empty hunt, really.

All we can or should (?) give is half-love, which makes me think of the term half-life. The first association I make with the term ‘half-life’ is radiocarbon dating- once a nerd always a nerd. Half-life (symbol t1⁄2) is the time required for a quantity to reduce to half its initial value. Physicists, archaeologists, chemists, and others use this formulate to determine the age of organic materials. Blah blah science blah blah- ha ha! Anyhoo,in my soupy mystical head I was thinking about how all we ever get and give on dating apps is a half- life, half -love, half. What is the measure by which we determine the meaning of love/lust/ anger/hurt/excitement/apathy on platforms that seem designed to only ever enable us to experience the most distant forms of connection? What does half-love/life mean? Is it better than nothing? Why are we all willing to sit under this plastic sky of 50% and hope that our stars will shoot, cross, and be seen? So many fascinating questions.

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