The Lonely Desert Dweller Club

lonely desert

(W)e humans need to love and be loved. We need and need to be needed. These are basic. We cannot be fully human unless these needs are met.
John Bradshaw

Some time last year I placed a few index cards strategically around the house on which I’d written “Happiness is a Choice!” I’d read somewhere that sadness and discontent can be nothing more than a habit and that like so many other bad habits, we can turn it around through awareness and practice. So I began to “practice” happiness. When prompted by a card, I reminded myself to be thankful for what I have and to actively smile. Research says that through the simple act of smiling we cause an increase in the release of the neurotransmitters associated with feelings of happiness. Similarly, Brene Brown’s research has revealed that feelings of gratitude are actually a requisite precursor to feeling joy. So I began to practice smiling, being grateful, consciously embracing all that is good in my life. And I think it worked, when I remembered to practice.

Then I got sick.

There’s nothing like not feeling well to mess with our best intentions. Whether it’s a new exercise regimen or mindfulness practice, illness tends to halt our progress and cause us to slide back down the slippery garden path to our previous levels of dissatisfaction, whether it be with our waistline or our emotional state. To add insult to injury, my illness meant I wasn’t getting the usual regular doses of adrenaline and other endorphins from surfing and kiting, nor the vitamin D from being in the sun. What was a mild case of the blues began to spiral downward into the dark abyss of deep sadness (I’m reticent to call it depression, as I have no idea what my brain chemistry is doing, and on the one occasion in my life when I experienced true clinical depression the symptoms were much more pronounced, so for now let’s just call this some serious sadness).

I’ve been reticent to admit this, but the sadness I’m feeling is the kind that comes from loneliness, from not having someone to share the day to day ups and downs, the drudgery and special moments that make up our days, someone to join over dinner to share thoughts, dreams, quiet togetherness. I think you’ll agree that one of the things that gives life meaning is in sharing it with the people we love. Not having that special someone with whom to share all these tiny beautiful moments is what I’m missing. Like the quote above says, we need to love and be loved, to need and be needed. These are essential to our well-being, part of our core make-up as human beings. We are social animals. And forgive me those of you who have chosen otherwise, but I believe there is a certain pathology to not wanting to share your life with someone…not just anyone, but someone with whom you “click,” someone who gets and accepts you, wino-tendencies and all.

When I told a friend how I’d had it up to my eyeballs with being alone, he pointed out that I wasn’t leading a life or living in a location that lends itself to “waltzing into the traditional loving situation.” He continued, “You being in the desert is of course metaphorical. Some days, I’m sure, [must be] almost Bukowskian in bleak commitment.” So there you have it.

Current laments aside, I’m not one to wallow. I believe in taking action when I find myself pushing up against something prickly in my life. So when the spines of loneliness began to sting too deeply I acted.

One night a couple of months ago, after hearing from the umpteenth happy couple about how they’d met online and with my inhibitions erased by several glasses of cheap red wine, I bit the bullet and joined an online dating site. [You have NO idea how hard it is for me to admit that.] My actions that night expressed an attitude I’d begun to wear like a mildewed jacket. “What the hell,” I thought. “I’m never going to meet anyone as long as I’m in this place.”

Next morning when I realized what I’d done I felt a surge of fear, horror, and self-loathing rise bitter and acidic – not unlike the previous night’s wine – in my throat. I was consumed by doubts about the process, about putting myself “out there,” about admitting I was at the point where I no longer trusted that it would happen organically. It felt, dare I say it, cheap. And I judged it an admission of failure. Ha! “Yeah,” I reminded myself, “You’ve ‘failed’ to find true love among the illiterate Mexican ranchers, pothead surfers, and retired beer-bellied Ex-Pats that comprise the miniscule population of this bleak Baja desert.”

To say I was non-committal about the process at first is an understatement. My heart sank when I found out how much the service cost – on top of everything else, I was broke. Until I agreed to pay their extortionist fee, all I could see of potential suitors was their first name, place of residence, and profession below a shadowy outline of an “everyman” head where their profile photo would be if I paid up. I couldn’t even read the contents of their profile. To top it off, I’d completed the questionnaire designed to evaluate my personality and connect me with like-minded gentlemen the same bleary-eyed night I signed up, so a question nagged at the back of my mind, “Just how accurate can this thing be?” I figured it’d be my rightful comeuppance if all I heard from were W.C Fields bulbous-nosed drunks.

I posted a profile that I hoped was an honest reflection of who I am, sober, or at worst only mildly hungover. But by the end of that first day of exploration, I began to realize that the Lonely Desert Dweller Seeks Ripped and Ripping Surfer Project would require a significant investment of those precious commodities, time and money. I asked myself once again, “Is this really the solution to my discontent?”

To be continued…

11 thoughts on “The Lonely Desert Dweller Club

  1. Dawn. What the hell are you doing there? Pack up the dogs and go some place else. If that fails, I’m sure there are plenty of free internet hangouts where you could connect with others. My stepdaughter met her current husband online in a role-playing-game Everquest. Come to think of it though, there was probably a monthly fee for that too.
    In any event, the writing is probably therapeutic, so keep it up and I wish you the best!
    aloha from Maui.

    • Mahalo Georgie! You are right – the writing is very therapeutic, so don’t worry about me…it will all work out one way or another. And perhaps all I need is some waves. 🙂

  2. (W)e humans need to love and be loved. We need and need to be needed. These are basic. We cannot be fully human unless these needs are met.
    John Bradshaw
    Having lost my wife of 26 years, on 1-10-2014 these words and the words you wrote really rang in my head over and again..
    I truly hope you find what it is you need in your life.
    Personally, I think your location, geographically, is exactly what I would like to visit again.
    I love the ocean as well as fishing and surfing and the warmth of the sun..
    Excellent expression of your needs, wants, and emotions.. I enjoyed mucho…

    • Clifford, If you need to come down here to heal, you are more than welcome to be my guest. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering you are experiencing at this time. But the sharpness of the pain will dull with time and good memories can take the place of the ache you feel in your heart right now. Try to stay present with the pain my friend…and surround yourself with people who understand and are supportive. I’m sending you a virtual hug and bowl of soup. I know you don’t want to eat, but some warm soup will do you good. Love you my very real friend.

      • Dawn, Your kindness and thoughtfulness are an answer to my prayers.. I have every intention of coming there to where I am free of all that overwhelms me here.. I need the openness along with warm water and breezes to let my mind settle into the calm I am used to.. Thank you so very much.. I will give you plenty of notice in advance and I don’t think it will be till April at the soonest.. Clifford H. Cross II LOVE~>°°°~LIFE

  3. No shame in the online dating thing, honest. It’s the new organic.

    And it is a remarkable education that you just cannot get anywhere else. People will tell you honest things about themselves on some of these dating sites that they tell no one, not even their best friends. They have to, if they expect to find a match that is going to work.

    You get to see how much people know about themselves, or don’t, and then you get to apply that mirror to yourself. It becomes more and more clear what makes you happy and what in someone else makes you happy.

    You can meet compatible people online. Though how ripped and how well they rip may be subject to interpretation and a little IRL discovery.

    I came across someone online who I am acquainted with from work; she is great looking, wealthy, and powerful, a real mover and shaker. And messed up when it comes to love, but putting herself out there.

    If happiness is your goal, how far are you willing to go?

    • I like that! Online dating – “the new organic.” To clarify the “ripped and ripping” comment was totally tongue-in-cheek, but R&D into that aspect of things may prove interesting non-the-less. You make some very good points. Interesting what you say about people being more forthcoming than they might otherwise be and, more importantly, it’s got to be more effective as a result. In my limited experience I have noticed what you mentioned – I thought due to that lack of experience it was a unique situation. I’m glad to stand corrected. Certainly more and more people are meeting and apparently having successful relationships as a result of this medium. My next post will describe a not-so-successful experience. Thanks for your input – I hope you’ll continue to share your insights in upcoming posts.


  4. I agree with you….I think living here is the Baja is much harder for women to find “the right guy”. There just is not that many….but you love it here, and the waves

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