Definition of EXPECTATION
1: the act or state of expecting : anticipation <in expectation of what would happen>
2: something expected <not up to expectations> <expectations for an economic recovery>
3: basis for expecting : assurance <they have every expectation of success>
4: prospects of inheritance —usually used in plural
5: the state of being expected
It was 11:08pm on February 13th.
Despite the exam in the morning that I was incredibly unprepared for, I was at Woody’s with Trouble and Brains, and it was Meat-your-Match Night. This was an annual bar party that may not ensure someone to date for Valentine’s, but had the potential you could at least find someone to wake up next-to on the day.Everyone had a number – I was 254 – the seemingly unsociable guy in the corner, wearing a blog promotional shirt and typing on his iPhone because he felt the urge to write.
Tonight was a rare sort of night at Woody’s – people were actually there interested in communicating with each other. As usual though, people weren’t there to actually speak out loud amongst themselves, instead choosing to write an anonymous (or not-so) message to another man at the bar, based on their number. In this crowd, there was a unique mix between the desperate, the hopeful and those here for a laugh; then me, the intentionally dateless observer in the corner. Sitting with my leg slung over a second (and precious) bar stool, I listened to Trouble’s assessment of the evening so far.
This is like one of those creepy phone-sex lines, but not the same kind of creepy…because I worked at one during my undergrad… more so creepy because you see their faces before you phone it in.
Earlier that day I had heard someone say that Valentine’s Day is the opposite of what it’s sold as – that the true meaning was a small expression of love to someone who didn’t know that you loved him or her already (maybe National Singles Hope Day didn’t have the right ring to it?). Given that the Woody’s crowd doesn’t generally mingle that well on their own, it was unusual to imagine this earlier definition, coupled with Trouble’s observation about the intent of most of the crowd. Perhaps it was games like tonight that encouraged the same crowd’s non-communicative approach outside of this event. Maybe we’ve all trained each other to accept that we can’t communicate without having underlying expectations of each other?
I’d been to this event the year before as well, and I knew what to expect and in some cases who. This year my expectations were different though – I wanted to have a look at how this day of the year worked from a different perspective. There is an analogy at work: when you’re busy stuck doing something, you’re on the dance floor, and when you step away to have a proper look at how you fit into the dance floor with regards to all that happens around you, you’re on the balcony. From the perspective of the balcony you can see where parts of the process need review, and tonight my bar stool was my balcony. I was thinking about how 90datelessdays as a project is about setting a goal and fulfilling my expectation of myself, bit by bit, by being on the balcony above dating. The evening was about understanding my expectations of this for St Valentine’s Day.
February 14th has always been promoted as one full of romantic expectations. For some reason when I think about past Valentine’s, only one day particularly registers in my memory. I remember being so excited about what I thought Valentine’s was about in my first real relationship that I went and overspent on surprise flowers. I was greeted that evening by Golf with a recipe book for cupcakes, and the impression that the roses hadn’t been greeted that well. I guess in retrospect, having different expectations does not mean having lower standards, but potentially does mean being less disappointed by what you prevails.
One thing I’ve wanted to work on as a part of 90datelessdays is meeting new people, and meeting them with no expectations other than friends. Last night I had some really great conversations with a few different people, and was honest and upfront about why I was there. As a result, I got to see about four different, honest perspectives, one of which was that of 灵魂 who it was also a blog writer. As the evening came to a close, 灵魂, Brains and I went to continue our conversation over pizza. As we sobered up, we talked more about expectations – my expectations for moving to Canada, his expectations about moving out of it, our blogs, our dating lives – I noticed a difference in my behaviour. Having been upfront about my expectations of our communication, I didn’t feel like I had to be guarded about my opinions and could be honest – after all, this conversation wasn’t laden with expectations, beyond finishing our food, we were free to make as many opinions of each other as we wished.
灵魂 and I left, headed north, continuing our chat. This sort of interaction, for me at least, hadn’t happened with someone in a long time that I barely knew. Somebody I had set no expectations about, was surprising me with how interesting and intellectually stimulating he was (even if sometimes a bit too much of a realist). After doing another Canadian first (demolishing a snowman in the park…shhh!), we arranged to catch up the next afternoon and talk more.
As it was Valentines Day, and 90datelessdays days has rules, we’d already stated upfront that our next catchup wasn’t a date – it was a chat and a meal. Although the conversation sometimes had moments of similarity to a date (for instance, awkward silence), there wasn’t a date-like quality to the meal. I surprised myself by how easy it was to create a mental segregation between romantic and non-romantic expectations, which I think contributed to my openness. I was coming to realize that today was shaping up as one of my favourite Valentines so far, because none of my expectations for the day were disappointed.
Despite the final exam (which actually went well), a bit of a hangover, and some freezing rain, I woke up with no expectations that today would be acknowledged by someone romantically. I was instead surprised by how much it was validated in different ways by real expressions of Valentines Day – love in the form of small messages or thoughts from various friends. Without prompting or expectation, people had taken the time to express their sentiments, and this inspired a really grateful feeling. Maybe it’s the same feeling one has as they get older and expect no more from birthday celebrations than good company?
Upon reflection of this experience – I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a recent friend better, expressed myself to someone who should’ve been a friend from the start, and shared an intellectual connection with a new person who has a different way of approaching life. So, 灵魂 – even though I’ve posted about you, provided evidence of your involvement as an accomplice in the flagrant destruction of a poor quality park snowman and challenged your opinions today: