Love Is In The Air: 53 Men for Me
By Bekhi Spika
Being single in Central Montana has been described by some of my friends as “the worst thing that could ever happen.” I find it hard to believe that being single here, in the middle of Big Sky Country, is worse than finding out that the saltless peanuts you’ve been eating actually used to have salt on them but the cat licked them off while they were on the table (true story for my dad)...but what do I know.
Oh who am I kidding. When I first moved back to Central Montana in 2014, I was the first and loudest person to say that my life was over because I was single in the middle of Montana. I felt like I’d better just settle in for a life of cross-stitching bitter phrases (like the sweet marriage advice that simply says "Die Mad About It") and day drinking with my cats. I actually remember the day I realized what I’d gotten myself into when I was having dinner at The Mint with my family and did a double take on a super cute fellow nearby. When I mentioned it to my family, I was rudely informed that we were related. (This type of shit can happen when your mom has a big family of cousins that live in the area that you’ve never actually spent time with....)
I’ve been single for most of my time back here in Central Montana, but it’s not like I haven’t been on the lookout. I tried my hand at Farmers Only for a few months, and while I had some lovely conversations (mostly just with myself), my Farmers Only stint really ended with a bang. The last message I got was from a mature man looking for a nice young wife to start a new life with. But when I say mature….
He was literally in his 80s and his picture was of him IN THE HOSPITAL BED with oxygen strapped to his face. Needless to say, that was my last hurrah on the one and only Farmers Only.
There's Gotta Be A Good'N Out There
So yeah, it’s easy to feel...how do you say...completely and utterly hopeless with love, but for whatever crazy reason, I’m still holding out hope that the heart of Montana has a heart for me. I am 100% confident that Montana men are the best goddamn men in the world and I’m not about to let ALL of them slip through my fingers.
Because young, single people are treated like unicorns in this community, a lot of people try to make me feel better by saying “there are just no good ones left here.” This is something I refuse to believe. Why? Because I’M ONE OF THE GOOD ONES, and I’m here, so mathematically, there has to be at least one other “good’n” here too, right??
In an effort to find out how many good ones there actually are, I looked up some demographic data for Fergus County. What I found was that in recent years, there were around 2500 people in the county between the ages of 20-39. WAHOO! These are my people!
A little quick math shows that if you figure out that 50% are female (which, honestly, if the right woman comes along, LIKE HELL I’m gonna say no!), of the remaining 1,250 men, 50% are married, 22% chew tobacco, 6% don’t have a clue how to give a good massage, 9% listen exclusively to modern country music (I’m more of a twangy country/soul/blues girl myself), and 7% are my relatives. That leaves me with a solid 6% — 75 people! — that could be my soul mate. Right here in little ol’ Fergus County! How lucky. Oh wait...I work with 20 of them. So I guess that brings us to...55. Okay then. And I’ve been on dates with two...so 53.
Planting The Seeds
So there are at least 53 men that could be my treasure in this Treasure state. Now I just have to plant the seeds of love and see what grows. I’ve thought a lot about what I require in a life partner, and I only have a few “beliefs” that we need to align on. I'm hoping that out of these 53 people, there might be at least a handful that share my values, right?
How long does your typical hug last? (At least 10 seconds...ideally about a minute.)
What is your ideal date? (The middle of the night in the middle of a field under a meteor shower with spiked cocoa. Or in the kitchen cooking a gourmet meal. Or playing pinochle with my folks on the farm.)
Waffles, crepes, or biscuits and gravy? (No contest - all three.)
And if we align on these questions...the real work begins. As my lovely cousin pointed out to me, “it is equally important to ascertain whether your future partner can tolerate your quirks" (aka my load of BS). Which is really the greatest question mark of all. I tend to blast music as soon as I wake up all the way until I fall asleep. I don’t change the litter box as often as I should. I have no sense of energy conservation when it comes to turning lights off in my house (I moved in last April and haven’t turned the lights off in my basement since then. ...What??? It’s scary down there!). I don’t know what it means to “pick your battles.” These are just a few of the many things I do that could be a deal breaker for someone who is considering if I could be a real contender for love for them.
So this two-way street oftentimes feels like an interstate, one full of broken down cars and cars zipping around me. And the thing is, you never know how long it will take to find the person that drags you out of bed for a midnight walk under the stars, or finds your noisy life to be in sync with theirs, or who wants to stay inside all weekend jamming to Otis Redding while eating crepes and reading musician biographies with you. This type of connection is wild and impossible to predict.
The "Stop Looking For It" Baloney Sandwich
The worst piece of advice I've been told (and people tell me this literally all. the. time.) is that love will find me when I stop looking for it. I'm tired of eating that baloney sandwich, so let me 'splain you something.
The biggest piece of the puzzle that has to come into place for you to be happy is not that you "stop looking for love," but that you put your energy toward FALLING MADLY IN LOVE WITH YOURSELF. I was hoping that someone would enter my life to make it interesting, but honestly, I just got tired of waiting and decided to kick ass solo. And once you're in a place where you are incredibly smitten with yourself and excited to grow and experience life, it doesn't matter if you partner up with someone or not. You're happy with what you've got. This certainly doesn't mean you have to stop looking for someone — it simply means you're more focused with who you're choosing to pursue because you're in no way deficient as a single person.
Furthermore, I would argue that you should start looking for love everywhere! To do this, you have to realize that love and intimacy are not mutually exclusive with having a romantic partner. Once you're able to redefine how intimacy and closeness are realized in your life — whether it be the intimacy of sharing a secret with a good friend, or a closeness you feel to someone fun you meet briefly in the coffee shop — the feeling that you belong and are close with humanity is within reach at all times. You don't have to wait for a partner to fill that part of your life — it's literally embedded in every moment of every day. You just have to open up to the connections and the closeness that already exists.
I've Swept Myself Off My Feet
Love from another person is nowhere near as critical as my ability to adore myself. It sort of reminds me of the Seinfeld episode The Invitations where Jerry meets Janeanne Steinberg and falls in love, and he has the realization that she’s basically him in female form. So he yells at Kramer, “I finally know what I’ve been looking for myself all these years — it’s me! And I’ve swept myself off my feet!”
So even though I’m at that stage of life when all my friends are getting married and having kids (god bless’em), I’m okay with the fact that I am one of the rare little single unicorns that exists not only just in this community, but in this stage of my life. This community is actually a big part of the reason why I've been able to learn how to love myself, so I might even argue that coming back to Central Montana as a single woman has been the best thing in the world for me. It’s good, and I’m just going to let it be good.
Read more about my journey on Farmers Only here!