Twitter is, among other things, a forum for people who think that they have the ultimate definition of life, love, and friendship. Most of those tweets make me sigh and shake my head. Every once in a while, one resonates.
This tweet, which somebody RT’d, is one of them: “The best way to see who your real friends are? Lose your job, lose your BF, lose yourself[...]and see who’s left standing beside you.” — @Ms_Moneypenny_.
In 2010 I lost my job. I lost my girlfriend. And over the course of the next two years I lost myself. And you know who stood by me? My friends. ALL of them.
For two years of unemployment and being constantly on the edge of losing everything, my friends showed me consistent and unfailing generosity with not so much as a hint that they expected anything in return. Loans (of not insignificant amounts) were forgiven, dinners and drinks purchased, groceries subsidized, shifts at clubs found and arranged for me, computers, Scotch, and other necessities and luxuries crowdsourced. My best friend has covered my rent more than once. The very computer on which I am writing this post, and which I use at work, was purchased with money donated by my friends. I posted a link on FB to a guitar I desperately wanted and couldn’t afford, so my cousin made me one.
For two years of decreasing belief in my ability to find gainful employment and eventually get my shit together, my friends have sent me leads, passed on my resume, and expressed repeatedly their belief that I would find a good job, one that I deserve. Even when I wanted to give up, they wouldn’t let me. And their faith made it impossible to give up.
For two years of anxiety, stress, depression, and decreasing buffers from my anger and frustration at my situation, my friends have provided advice, love, patience and comfort. They’ve endured my increasing negativity and what I am sure amounted to quite a bit of self-involvement. They’ve helped me work through various issues with regard to relationships, work stress, money stress and just generally trying to make it through.
For two years of failing to find a healthy, steady relationship with a woman who loves and respects me, my friends have been encouraging, supportive, and satisfyingly outraged and confused whenever a woman decides not to keep me around.
For two years, I have been at my worst and not a single friend of mine has given up on me. On the contrary, their love, support, and faith in me has been nothing less than stunning and humbling.
For two years my friends helped carry me in so many ways without once showing fatigue, frustration, or a desire to drop me and have done.
I know who my friends are. And you know what? My friends are fucking magnificent.
Last night, C. and I came home from the memorial party for Donovan, fell into bed, and wrapped ourselves around each other, seeking warmth, comfort, affection, love. I lay there, forcing myself to be in the moment for as long as I could, and focused on appreciating how absolutely perfect it was: her head resting on my shoulder, my arms wrapped around her, our legs tangled together—like we were puzzle pieces that had been snapped into place.
She eventually slept, and I did everything I could to memorize how wonderful she felt in that moment.
Memorials exist as things or events that help us remember. Monuments, sculptures, benches, trees, parties. They are how we attempt to honor those who have left us behind, how we create ways to maintain a connection with people we can no longer see, hear, or touch. Simultaneously, death reminds us that we live and are surrounded by the living and that we must remember to connect with the people around us, to not take them for granted.
But often the moments we most want to remember are the ones we are least able to capture.
The past couple of weeks has also reminded me how random and stupid life—and death—can be and as much as I want to, I can never assume that such a moment will happen again. That reminder is terrifying; it has made me face how vulnerable we all are when we allow ourselves to love our friends, our families, our boyfriends/girlfriends/partners/lovers/husbands/wives. It has made me face all the ways in which we cannot protect the ones we love. We just have to let them go and hope they come back to us safe, whole, with the smiles, laughter, hugs, and voices we adore. We have to let them go with our blessings every day, and be grateful when they think to let us know they are okay. And we have to do it like it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Most of the time, I can, and do. Right now, it’s incredibly difficult for me, and it will be until the rawness from and hyperawareness of this fades with time.
I kissed C. goodbye this afternoon and sent her off to her cousin’s, and I did it with a smile. But I would be lying if I said there was no part of me that wanted to hold her tight for hours longer, days longer, possibly just forever. It’s just not a part of me to which I wish to succumb. As we all learned from the ever-amusing Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” But acknowledging the fear is as necessary, sometimes, as acknowledging the grief that it follows.
Eleven years ago, there was a person who believed in love more than anything else in the world. More than anything. Love mattered more than anything, and this person was willing to do anything to fight for it, earn it, hold it, nurture it and protect it.
Eleven years ago a fantastically silly movie arrived in theaters, and it was like it was tailor-made for this person. Because it put love on a pedestal and for 127 minutes the audience got to fall in love with love, and adore love, and worship love, and just fucking love love. Above all things, love.
Eleven years ago, this person—let’s call this person “Whiskeypants” for the sake of brevity and clarity—knew what love was. Whiskeypants knew all the facts about love. And how it worked. And how it was supposed to go. The more impatient among you may be tempted to suggest that Whiskeypants was an idiot, and that would be fair, but the more generous and tolerant may be thinking that maaaaybe this Whiskeypants person just had a lot to learn. A lot. A LOT to learn. Maybe. (Hint: YES. OMFG. A LOT.)
And as time passed, Whiskeypants did, in fact, learn. A lot. Fucked up. A lot. Loved a lot. Lost a lot. Lost more.
But never once lost faith in love. Until.
There’s always an “until” in these stories.
I watched Moulin Rouge last night for the first time in…I don’t know. I don’t know how long it has been. And I found myself mourning that person with the enduring, unshakable faith in love and all it had to offer. And I don’t mean any kind of gentle, “awww, what the hell happened to my younger idealistic idiot self” mourning. I mean tears-running-down-my-face-wtf-happened-to-that-essential-core-belief-in-love kind of mourning.
In the last few years I let that Whiskeypants slip away, and I never went looking.
Tonight I pinpointed that moment when I let it happen. That moment when love—my faith in it, my belief in it—stopped being a factor. The moment when that part of me just…separated and went its own way.
And I…I just let it happen.
Eleven years ago I stepped out of a movie theater, blinked my eyes against the sunlight and a world that seemed bleached of color. I felt stunned, I felt vindicated. I was pretty sure that getting on my bicycle and riding home was just going to be fucking impossible, so I went into the pub across the street, closed my eyes, nursed a beer, and loved love.
Eleven years ago I had a lot of necessary and painful lessons and experiences ahead of me. But losing that essential part of me, that love of love, should never have been one of them.
I never went looking.
I’m looking, now.
One of the things I am realizing now that I have begun dating again is that, while my head is in much better shape than it was a year ago, my heart is still pretty badly wounded. I recently described it as being held together with nails and bubble gum and random crap off the street, and I should probably have included duct tape and string. Seriously, you could totally list my heart on Etsy, and it would probably show up on Regretsy within hours. Upcycled heart, vintage nails, found objects, bubblegum that has only been chewed by hungry underprivileged children in Detroit. A perfect accent for your office or nursery!
I thought about that for a while, yesterday, while I was trying not to doze off during the slower parts of a mock trial (for which I was a mock juror). And I realized, I can’t really offer this to anybody. Not like this. It’s all in pieces, and the gum is kinda gross, and there’s the issue of tetanus, and is the duct tape a little grimy? And what is that?
So what to do with this damn thing? Will somebody really want it, as is? If I take all this crap out of it, will it hold together on its own with a little help and a little encouragement? I kinda can’t tell anymore. I know this thing still works (I listened closely and it’s still ticking), and theoretically it’s still good. But I’ve been hurt so much and so often that I can’t really convince myself that I am going to have any other experience, and I’m running out of things to hold this heart together short of encasing the whole goddamn thing in resin. At which point, it would definitely feature on Regretsy.
Also, fuck that noise. What’s the point of having a heart at that point?
Lately, I’ve been absolutely loving Florence + The Machine’s Shake It Out, which I have been informed is about a hangover, but which I interpret more personally as a call to let go of the shitty past and start anew (also, there’s no shaking anything when I have a hangover, unless it’s the bottle of Excedrin to see how much I have left, and maybe that’s what she’s really talking about, there). That is, of course, easier said than done, but still a worthy goal. The line that strikes me hardest is, “And I am done with this graceless heart/So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart.” I have no idea how to do that, or if I should, but it sounds ideal.
Maybe it’s time to rewatch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Good lord, I’m wordy. All that when I could have just said, I’m scared. I’m scared, vulnerable, and every step forward requires a deep breath and determination. But I am moving forward.
I’m finished with running away.
So, not too long ago, I posted this status on Facebook: “In a weird turn of events, I might be about to start dating somebody who actually likes me.”
While to my delight this post received a surprisingly high number of “likes”, there was also some concern (both on Facebook and off) that if somebody were busy making me happy, this blog would become, as my friend Mike put it, “all fluffy bunnies and hearts.”
Gentle Readers, don’t worry.
This fantastic, amazing girl may be making me pretty stupidly happy thus far, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a million things to be angry or frustrated about in the world. Privilege and privilege deniers still abound. Wall Street is still fucked up. The Republicans are still waging war against women, minorities, and the poor. The queer community in general is still comprised of second-class citizens in some way or another. Black kids are being murdered by racist fucks, who seem to be getting away with it. I remain constantly teetering on the edge of being unable to support myself. I still suck at guitar. I still work at two clubs. I still ride public transportation. I am still surrounded by other human beings because the stupid zombie apocalypse is late.
I could go on. But you get the point: This blog will never, ever be all fluffy bunnies and hearts. Or fluffy bunny hearts, because I want to keep the five or six readers I have.
I promise: if I have accidentally found actual romantic happiness, almost nothing will change here. The irritable snark is alive and well at terminallysnarky.com. And while I would find it extremely disappointing, this girl could always decide to dump me in some horrible way that includes kicking me in the shins and laughing while I’m down. It seems unlikely, but for those of you who are still worried about the potential for this blog’s descent into cheerful bliss, you can always hope for the worst.
I am robbing the cradle.
There is no question about it. No leeway. There is no math that turns it into a socially acceptable age difference (she’s old enough to drink, I swear I am not a pedophile). I have a hard time even saying it out loud, sometimes, but that’s mostly because of the reactions I get.
Turns out it’s annoying as hell to tell people about your dating life only to feel judged and receive completely unnecessary lectures.
Turns out, it’s annoying as hell that people forget that you are a ridiculously intelligent and mature adult the moment you explain that the person you are all twitterpated about is some absurd number of years younger than you are.
And while a handful of my friends are quietly letting me make my own mistakes or even being supportive (thank you, either way), a larger number of people have taken it upon themselves to inform me of all the bad things that come with dating younger people. Within this group there are:
- The people who continue lecturing me about it even after I’ve made it clear that I am aware of the potential issues (because apparently the fact that I don’t jump up to dump her when their wisdom has been shared is a sure sign that I am blind to the danger no matter what I say).
- The people who are passively suggesting I preemptively dump her.
- The people who are actively suggesting that I preemptively dump her.
- The people who feel the need to tell me, “she’s going to break your heart.”
Many of these people haven’t even met her, yet. Many of these people forget that my last girlfriend was nearly twice her age (and had half the maturity and discipline of the woman I am dating now, no joke). All of these people have forgotten that the odds of my getting hurt or fucked over by somebody closer to my own age aren’t lower. As it happens, people will fuck you over at any age.
So friends (Romans, country…folk)? I get that you are trying to be loving and protective, but seriously: Stop it. Just. Fucking. Stop it.
If you can’t be happy or supportive about the fact that I’ve found somebody I get to be excited about, even if it ends tomorrow (which it won’t, because I promised her BBQ on Sunday), then at the very least, keep this negative bullshit to yourselves. She may very well break my heart. So could anybody I decide to date. I don’t fucking need you to tell me it could happen when I am trying to share something good with you. Something I am guardedly happy about. Something I am enjoying. I was well aware of the danger when I asked her out, and I didn’t stop being aware when I realized I was more serious about her than initially intended.
But I also know that if I don’t give it a try, I’ll never know what might have been. I know that everything I have seen of her thus far is worth the risk. I’ve never been about playing it safe when it comes to relationships, and I am not going to start, now. And if I get hurt, y’all can say “I told you, so,” but hopefully you will be more concerned with the fact that I am hurt than with the fact that you were right. I guess we will see.
Here endeth the rant.
Some girls get roses.
Others get cactuses, and cactosaurs that have been, after extensive thought and consideration, named “Francois.” (Francois was just barely chosen over a sturdy, loyal-looking buffalo who was obviously named Ted, but it turns out buffalo don’t like to frolic among cactuses like cactosaurs do.)
I’ve been informed that they are both quite comfortable in her new apartment.
Nice! Simple, uncomplicated, not in the least bit stressful. But that never lasts, does it?
However, lately things are looking like this:
For Science: The first part of the post was written after margaritas, a pint of Jameson and ginger, and some number of old fashioned—what the hell is the plural for “old fashioned”? “Old Fashioneds”? I mean, when you are sober. When you are drunk, the plural is something like, “Ol’fashenz”.
Okay, Whiskeypants, let’s reel it back in. For science:
Almost nothing in the title is relevant to this post. But that’s the title I came up with on my midnight walk home from BART, and I’m stickin’ to it. Mostly because I have had too much whiskey not to.
Wait, that’s not true. The crush part is relevant. And the separation part. And the Part III part. But not the church and state thing, ‘cept maybe metaphorically. And the crush bit is not 100% relevant, since this post is mostly about desire—but crushes apply, too.
On the plus side, I just found a glass of cranberry juice I left here Monday morning. It tastes fine. So here’s to hydration.
One of the social skills I have repeatedly refined over the years is the ability to be 100% cool with being friends with women I desire. It’s a more or less invisible social skill that, in my drunker moments, I think is totally underappreciated. I think it is a skill more people ought to develop, honestly. It brings perspective in to the relationships I cultivate because I want, allowing me to realize that I can cultivate them much better because what I want is merely a facet of somebody much more interesting and complex.
That does not, of course, make it easier to deal with actively and determinedly being friends with women I’d like to throw against the wall and kiss until one or both of us just can’t breathe anymore (especially if I already have and can remember what it feels like to do so). It just makes it possible and, in most cases, preferable. When you take a look at the hotness of the women around me [From here on, writing sober:] (and it’s really rather remarkable), the need to separate desire from friendship and to box that desire up becomes apparent. So does the difficulty of doing so. But I don’t think I could be friends with these women if I couldn’t do it. Not and be a real friend.
Which is, I suppose, the long way ’round of saying: I don’t think it’s possible to be a true friend to somebody you also happen to want to fuck if you lead with your dick (real or metaphorical) and not your head and your heart.
So then it becomes a matter of priorities—are you hanging around because you hope he or she will eventually open up to you, or are you sticking around because you hope he or she will eventually ,,open up,, to you? And how honest are you being with yourself about that? And how honest with her or him?
And now the real question:
Have you ever stood in front of some unbelievably gorgeous and compelling work of art and wanted to just stare at it, try to take it in, try to absorb it? To try to make your brain comprehend what you are seeing and what you are feeling when you see it?
I will do that in museums, when I am struck by the vision and talent of an artist, when I feel that there is nothing I can do but just appreciate the hell out of a piece of art. Sometimes, I do the same thing with women.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good stare.
Say you think some individual is totally hot. Like, devastatingly hot. The kind of hot where your eyes want to follow him or her everywhere. The kind of hot where, even if he or she is no longer in the room, if you picture him or her, you still have to brace yourself against something until your blood pressure returns to something resembling normal. And, given the absence of ability to touch him or her (which may be total or may be temporary), you wanna look at that person—as much and as often as possible. You want to take in every detail, every angle, appreciate everything you can. Because regardless of what flaws that individual may or may not have, he or she is fucking stunning.
And if you do get to (and he or she doesn’t call the cops on you for being a creepy stalker, and good luck with that), it’s a bit like being a kid in a candy store. Or even an adult in a candy store. You ever been to Powell’s Sweet Shoppe? You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate it. But that’s beside the point. I think. Mmmmm. Candy.
Sugar is good for you, right?
Anyway, lately I find myself staring. Like, chin resting on my palm, all thoughts gone from my head, eyes like malfunctioning tractor beams, staring. And yes, for those of you keeping track at home, I am talking about the hotness ninja. I’ve been staring, trying to avoid loud, wistful sighs, and enjoying the hell out of the view.
It’s a simple pleasure, and one of which we should all take advantage whenever possible. Gentle reader, if the hottie(s) in your life are receptive, and you aren’t a creepy stalker (<–IMPORTANT) don’t forget to take some time and just stare at them. Watch them move, watch them work, watch them cook or do dishes or reorganize their bookshelves. Appreciate every angle, every movement. Every moment where they are thinking of something, singing, reading, or dancing.
It’s an entirely worthwhile way to pass the time.