I am reading Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild at the present. I borrowed it from dear M a while ago and it came with a warning: “You want to be in a good place when you read it.” It never felt like the right time to read it until now. I have less than 100 pages to go. I understand the warning now. Cheryl Strayed was not in a good place when she set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She chronicles in an exquisitely relatable way – exquisite to me, the non-backpbacker, non-camper – how hiking alone with a monumental backpack was not a regular activity for her. How even though she planned her trek for months, researching gear and packing resupply boxes, she found herself utterly unprepared once she got on the trail.
Theater going is regular activity for me. Producing a show, on the other hand, is not. It is a first, in fact. And while I am not facing rattlesnakes and desquamating skin rashes, I am in a wilderness of my own, terrorized by the vastness of my ignorance. As a scientist, what I do know well is research. Books are my armor. So I’ve been researching every aspect of the play, from Victorian marriages to the War of Currents between Edison/Tesla – because no electricity = no vibrators. A few Google searches in, I found an article by prominent anthropologist Helen Fisher who studies the biological underpinnings of attraction and mate selection. What sparks chemistry? What lets the butterflies loose? The article identifies temperament traits – biological, inheritable traits – that along with character traits shape attraction and mate selection. Relevant to the play? Sure. Relevant to me? Absofreakinlutely.
To learn of your personality type based on Dr. Fisher’s research, you have to use www.chemistry.com, which is free. At the very bottom there is a link for “online dating safety tips. An online dating website. Figures. But Dr. Fisher is the chief scientific officer for this website, so that’s really legit, right? To get to the actual test, you have to fill out a profile and blab about yourself and upload a picture. And there you are, online dating. What the ??? In less than 24 hours I received over a dozen emails with potential matches. One such match sent me an email via the website. Oh but wait: you can’t read the email unless you upgrade for the fee-for-service version of the website. Clever website; silly me. Who would not want to read that email? Me, that’s who. So I did it. I paid money to sit behind my laptop and read an email from a complete stranger. Not sure that’s chemistry, but it sure is some fine manipulation. About 10 minutes later, I got an email from my bank titled “irregular credit card activity.” The bank had emailed to say they detected an irregular charge on my card thatI needed to verify, or my credit card would be suspended due to presumed identity fraud. I called the bank. The disembodied voice at the end of the line informed me that my card had been used by chemistry.com. Did I really want to approve that transaction? My bank knows me so well that purchasing a membership on dating website is more likely to represent identity fraud than my actual life.
Is this a karmic “don’t do it” signal? Or simply a reminder that it doesn’t matter how hard you prepare for a big transition – the hours of therapy, the books, the phone calls to mom, the looped viewing of The Notebook – thinking about dating again after a separation is daunting.
I have a feeling that Cheryl Strayed came out of her journey alright.
So will I.