Five Feet, Four Inches

It’s after dinner. I decide the beets in the beet salad I thought so brilliant have forever stained my butcher block. I chase down a crumble of feta cheese and sweep Swiss chard stems into the bag under the sink. Was I supposed to do something with those? No matter. I stick the last utensil in the dish rack, denim-dry my wet hands, and flick off the kitchen light.


In my little journal, my actual journal, I write the day’s date and then: “welp, took the plunge — am officially online dating.”

The trick, I think, is to have very low expectations. I don’t need to meet the man I’m going to marry. What kind of an expectation is that? How can anyone stand up to that kind of scrutiny?


I’m just going to give it a whirl. It’s an experiment. I have nothing to lose, and whether it goes hilariously badly or surprisingly well, odds are I’ll get a good story out of it.

I pick a picture first. It’s of me hiking, looking the way I look the majority of the time. No makeup, face a little flushed, smile big and bright. I’ve pulled my hair back into a ponytail, but if you were to look close, you’d be able to see one of my curls plotting a quick comeback.

It’s not a photo I feel particularly stop-and-stare in, but I like how happy I look. I look real. Real is good.


I have no idea what to write, so I plug in the URL to my blog and move right along. I may wish to undo that in a bit, but for the time being it feels right. Later on, in that hazy hanging place between awake and asleep, I think: Hannah, twenty-four. Not perfect. Not shallow. Not exactly sure, about a few things. This included.


In the privacy of my makeshift home, I tack on: sweet, sensitive, smart. Introspective. Compassionate. Equal parts practical and creative. Morning person. Daughter, sister, writer, friend. Athletic, curvy. Neat. Loyal. Honest. Serious. Five feet, four inches. Growing all the time.

It doesn’t feel right to dismiss people based on photo alone at first, but I start swiping left with increasingly admirable dexterity too. (Damn you, Tinder.) I do feel marginally better about being truly interested in seeing what people have chosen to say about themselves. It’s hard to think about summarizing yourself in five hundred characters or less. I wonder whether or not you’ve tried.


At first blush, it doesn’t seem too hard to weed out the bad bets. And I’m actually buoyed by the sheer number of [presumably] unattached people in the area. I like a dozen people, and nine of them like me back. I’m a little startled to see a few people I know. (Maybe online dating is just a lower risk way of figuring out who is available/interested in real life?)

It doesn’t seem like any of my “matches” are too quick to initiate a conversation, but that’s okay. I have no idea how this thing works. I’m assuming one day I’ll get one of those little notifications that says: hey, somebody has said something. Hopefully it’ll be somebody nice.

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Will you help me remember to trust my gut? I do trust my gut — historically speaking, the little voice that says that something isn’t quite right generally is right. It’ll also help, I think, if I set some boundaries for myself. I’ll try to avoid letting myself get sucked in for more than thirty minutes at a time. I’ll try to resist the temptation to log in on Friday or Saturday night, when I’m likely to feel lonely and low. Who’s on at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning? That’s the person I want to get to know.


I’m going to do my best not to stack somebody up against a sheet of paper forty-five traits long. It’s unlikely that I will find a person who satisfies even a quarter of that list (and also likes me back). But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making a list like that, when you’re alone and unable to fall asleep due to all of the F-U-N going next door. (How dare they.)

It’s good to start getting a sense of your non-negotiables. Mine have evolved a bit since college. I have five of them now. And I feel good about saying it’s cool if their height, hair color, and job description are TBD.

I met a guy earlier this summer who seemed a little too good to be true. I think I should be weary of that too. I was telling a co-worker this week — I want somebody with more wobbly pieces. I’d been thinking physically, of course, but she was astute enough to remind me that everybody has what I called wobbly pieces. It’s just that sometimes you can see them, and sometimes you can’t.



“All I want is someone decent. You know? Kind. Good. Like in all those love stories I’m such an expert on. It can’t just be fiction. It can’t. Those guys are out there, I know it. I just can’t find them.” -Sarah Dessen

“We revisit old feelings for the same reason
 we re-read books — comfort in words familiar
 even though we know the endings.” -Lucy Quin

“Go and do the things you can’t. That is how you get to do them.” -Pablo Picasso

“Wake up. This is your life, for goodness’ sake. It’s time to face up to it. You can’t get anywhere, can’t get over anything, if you don’t let yourself feel anything in the first place. It’s time.” -Julie Buxbaum

“Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other.” -Veronica Roth

“Our job is to love people. When it hurts. When it’s awkward. When it’s uncool and embarrassing. Our job is to stand together, to carry the burdens of one another and to meet each other in our questions. ” -Jamie Tworkowksi

“I just wanted her in my life. I had fallen in love, even if she was still finding her way.” -Randy Pausch

“Accept your own aloneness. And then accept the times when the gap is filled in, when they come. But they’ve got to come. You can’t force them.” -D.H. Lawrence

“Yes. Yes. Yes. I hear. Your silence is loud.” -Anne Sexton

“I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don’t know why, some people fill the gaps and others emphasize my loneliness.” -Anaïs Nin

“Feel good about being the kind of person who loves selflessly. I think someday you’ll find someone who loves you in that exact same way.” -T.S.

“I put my hand on him. Touching him was always so important to me. It was something I lived for. I never could explain why. Little, nothing touches. My fingers against his shoulder. The outsides of our thighs touching as we squeezed together on the bus. I couldn’t explain it, but I needed it. Sometimes I imagined stitching all of our touches together. How many hundreds of thousands of fingers brushing against each other does it take to make love?” -Jonathan Safran Foer

“Some people are good at being in love. Some people are good at love. Two very different things, I think. Being in love is the romantic part — sex all the time, midday naps in the sheets, the jokes, the laughs, the fun, long conversations with no pauses…just the best sides of both people, you know? But love begins when the excitement of being in love starts to fade: the stress of life sets in, the butterflies disappear, the sex becomes a chore, the tears, the sadness, the arguments, the cattiness…the worst parts of both people. But if you still want that person by your side through all of those things — that’s when you know you’re good at love.” -Matthew Healy

“Autumn is the time of year when you can write at any hour of the day and still have more left for tomorrow.” -Ming D. Liu

“Find out what makes you kinder, what opens you up and brings out the most loving, generous, and unafraid version of yourself — and go after those things as if nothing else matters. Because, actually, nothing else does.” -George Saunders

{PDX at night via @jackhulbert, Cup & Bar coffee via @marshallsteeves, Multnomah Falls via @emergingeye, misty lake via @andy_best, coastal scene via @bridgeandburn, sunny road via @robstrok, PDX in the morning via @suddeninterest, Cascade reflections via @bdorts — all on Instagram.}


One thought on “Five Feet, Four Inches

  1. Sometimes the guy who didn’t even come close to what you thought you wanted, turns out to be exactly what you needed. If your flaws compliment each other’s shortcomings it might just prove to be just as good as having matching qualities.

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