As I scroll through the headshots of men and women I squeal in horror to see my own face sat amongst a set of individuals bartering for a rendezvous with a stranger. This shouldn't have been such a shock given that I was the person who wedged my face there in the first place. However this is the first dating site I have signed up to in my thirty-year existence and the reasons for not doing so until now are readily revealed in this first endeavour.
Firstly, I don't like my photo being there for all to see. It feels like I am selling my soul through the shop window that is my face, given that the configuration of my eyes, nose and mouth is 99% of what will make a potential buyer stop and virtually handle my merchandise. Secondly, I have unwittingly checked the box that states I want to meet both men and women and my activity is 'anything in a group'. What will my mother think?! And thirdly (and most importantly) I am not actually in the market for a boyfriend or person with whom I could potentially do rude things with after a portion of Linguine ai Frutti di Mare. Albeit I am very much single, at this present moment I simply want to meet new people, not new lovers.
The thing is, when I signed up, I genuinely didn't realise that this was a dating site. I honestly believed (honestly!) that 'DoingSomething.com' was simply a place to meet new people and do novel things. This is after all the key driving force behind my current hobo adventure. For twenty-nine and three quarter years I have done everything in my power to avoid change. The problem is, the harder you try to escape change, the more fervently it hunts you down with a blowtorch. Thus on my thirtieth birthday I decided it was finally time to confront this fear and cut off it's air supply.
Eight weeks ago I emigrated from west London, an area I had lived for the last ten years, and moved east to a warehouse in Hackney, an area I had never once visited, to live with five people I had never once met. Six weeks later I moved to my current dwelling on Columbia Road, again to a completely unknown house with three completely unknown housemates. My risk-averse nature has been plunged in at the deep end and held down with a brick.
By moving home every six weeks, not only am I forcing myself to experience ever-changing environments and thus feed my heavily malnourished writer's brain, I am also meeting new people whose current focus is not simply the creation of another human life. Not that I remotely begrudge friends who have found happiness in building a family, simply that at this present time, marriage and procreation is not an aisle I am ready to roll a pushchair down.
In less than two months I have met tens of new people; experienced wonderful dinners, raucous nights dancing and evenings in the kitchen chatting till the early hours. I have been enlightened, shocked and inspired. And I still crave more adventure! I want to do things I have never done before. So how can a single girl like me get her kicks without the aid of hardcore narcotics or random bedfellows?
I posted this question on Facebook and it seems to be a subject others would also like the answer to. Having spent the last few weeks researching, there looks to be a plethora of options. You simply have to be a little bit creative, keep an open mind and be prepared that some events might not be exactly what you signed up for.
I have now booked into the following experiences; A Bio Energetic Workshop (your guess is as good as mine), Shoreditch Sisters Women's Institute (apparently they still enjoy a good knit but the average age is now thirty), a Front Line Club talk on Iraq (I'm not only about the laughs you know), laughter therapy (may however be required after the former) and a bondage weekend. Ok, so the latter isn't yet confirmed but my friend George is keen that I give this a go, so it's on the list. Other planned adventures include an amateur electricians workshop, Asian cookery school, day out with a white van man, Jewish festival celebrations, a weekend farm stay and life drawing class (the latter firmly behind the easel). These will happen alongside my six-week house moves so I am pretty confident about meeting new and interesting people in fun and creative environments.
However as I type I am also spying my page on the Doing Something website. Since setting it up a week ago I have received five emails telling me that I haven't filled in my profile properly and that I'm never going to find a man if I don't state what my favourite biscuit is. Under duress I spend forty-five minutes answering questions about my alcohol intake and exercise regime. I feel like I'm at the doctors. I sit back, review what I have written and cringe. I feel sick. I don't like it. I'm clearly going to be judged for being a complete wazzock. I take the cursor to the top of the page and delete my entire profile. There are some things this risk averse hobo is not yet prepared for and dating sites is one of them. Goodness knows how the bondage workshop is going fare!
Then again, nothing ventured.....