Tag Archives: relationship

Worth Being Won

27 Feb

Couer_BriseLiterature always feels the most sorry for women like me. Years of their lives lost on a love never to be requited. Narratives are built to leave these women alone in rooms with cobwebs, or sitting helplessly by while the man they love struggles with whether or not he is gay. There is a very slight tone of mockery, and heaps of sympathy for one so lost as to perpetually let love for another remain unfulfilled.

Earlier tonight I was on script and said, “I have a sickness, and it takes the form of him.” (Classic daddy issues, never good enough to gain his love, yadda yadda.) But after a few more hours wandering my 700 square feet of hardwood floor over the earth, I was telling my kitchen cabinets, “It is the great romance of my lifetime, loving this man and his sons.” I would say that on my deathbed. (I watch too many really silly, not at all violent, pseudo-dramatic murder mysteries.)

It’s really not that tragic to love and not be loved in return. Certainly my own true New York Friend would attest that Unrequited is a genius for keeping us in the first flush of love for ten years. Maybe I don’t mind being held in suspension. Clearly I’ve chosen this simulacrum of affection over any truth that will flicker and fade.

Because I actually know what was written for me, and it doesn’t involve a fulfilling love. Or at least, not any more of those. I was so lucky to have so many. Maybe it’s okay if I let my mind manifest the script in which I know I’m already riding along. Sitting on a bus, looking out the window, I’m connecting my isolated self to each of the crazy, old eccentric ladies walking by on the sidewalk, usually pulling laundry carts full of random bags. I psychically high-five them. Yes, hey hey, you were loved and lost. Then you loved and lost and decided never to pick it up again. You started believing in some impossible unattainable love, or forever mourned the loss of a great one, to occupy that part of your mind, and then gradually filled in all the empty bits of your life with despair-deflecting activities and routines.

At worst, the patterns slip and your apartment gets messy and people see your lunacy in unkempt hair. But if you can keep it tidy, like my own loneliest mother did, then no one has to know the hollow echo of so many chambers of life left unfilled. Laundry done again and again, meals made and eaten, dishes washed. Motions are to be gone through, and they provide built-in comfort through the reward of endorphin release when each box is ticked.

Everybody on the outside reassures me that my story has a different ending, and that I’m beautiful and, oh, I’ll find someone. But what if I’m Jane Austen minus some novels. What if I’m noble and brave and just decide that the best love on offer for me is an impossible love. Would I really be so much better if I hadn’t ever met this person and we locked in to an eagle-talon-clinging platonic tumble through space? Would I be in a functional romantic relationship? Or would I be in a terrible situation with someone who added little color to my life while I erased his, until we both faded to a pair of patterns clicking along a set track.

I know there is a third option there, an in-between, but I don’t think in-betweenness suits me. You really have to make me laugh and think hard, as often as possible. That’s not in between. I think I’ll take the amplitude of hearing from Unrequited and feeling some happiness that he’ll visit New York, and later sink a bit in wonder about the guy he mentioned who lives here now.

Will I be supporting him in a big, new life? Will that be what finally releases us from this strange death grip of pseudo-romantic love? Thereby completing our terms using each other for whatever healing distraction or suspended animation we needed to repair deepest damage. Because the older I get, the more I know it’s damage that holds me here. And I may be the most enlightened, meditating, self-aware version of myself, but I can’t for the life of me see one tiny sliver of a path that will coincide with another.

I resent the fact that the Beatles are in my head right now. But it proves my mind has a sense of humor even when it’s spinning the oldest piano reel of my disconsolate viewpoint.

You see, honestly, as my teachers and practitioners tell me, love is about how you are together. Not about some list of things in common. But what if the best I am together is with this person who elevates every thing. I cannot feel low in our suspension. We look ever upward for some gesture we can make for others or one another. We hold doors, we make jokes, we return people’s dropped slips of paper, we make up silly narratives for bad pieces of architecture, we carry bags up stairs for strangers, and we never stop adding to the moment while being in it. There isn’t a story like ours. One where I am so clearly a better, more open and generous person for knowing him. And where we honestly have constructed the best humorous devices and philosophical enquirers of this epoch.

I need him. And I would never say that he needs me. But I know in my heart that this gentleman sees the world differently when he’s saving bits to share with me. Sure, I’m a fool, and I am that literary figure who waits and hopes for what she is told to be impossible time and time again. But Tame Impala says it: People change. And hopefully you have a chance in this lifetime to hear that song with your Unrequited while riding in a tiny Fiat Cinquecento over the limestone hills of southern France, only the dashboard light to keep  you company when the engine gets overwhelmed and you have to pull over and hope the car will find the spirit to move on.

And on that dark winter night hillside, you laugh and are calm together, because you operate on this very placid level and you love the story while you’re in it. You’ve both seen things shatter and you’ve both done a bit of that breaking, and now you just want to love every chance you get, no matter what form it takes. Because maybe, just maybe, your script hasn’t been written, and you’re fumbling through the greatest love story of all time. Too many times, you don’t recognize a good love story until you’ve crossed some preordained threshold, or it’s all over. So maybe hang on to whatever this is that’s unfolding around you, because it feels like an intimacy you haven’t known before, and you can’t predict the ending. Or every time you think it’s really over, the engine kicks back on and the music starts and you find you really can lean on this person for gradually more and more things. Maybe it is just a lifelong, beautiful friendship. That tortures you with its perfection never to be fulfilled.

So, maybe you see why I’m stuck. Until someone is bold enough to take the very slight risk of guessing my affection for them (I show it pretty clearly, and you’d have to be a moron or simply a modern-age, “infinite choices are available to me so why should I bother with this intellectually thrilling but sub-par on the attractiveness scale selection” love-resistor not to feel it), and asks me to follow through on a mutual feeling, then I’ll just maintain the status quo. Because I used to be a little too willing to try other narratives that might bring the feeling of this trophy heart… and too often I pushed them most of the way there myself before I realized it’s not the real thing. So, alright, no pushing. I’ll just wait patiently to see what arrives, and in the meantime keep my trophy heart in its glass case, where it’s well cared for and gets a good amount of laughs. 

Romantic Archival Survey #1

17 Jan

tangleSo I finally bought my own copy of the commitmentphobia book, the title of which is too embarrassing to print here. I was unable to read the book these last six months not because I writhed in the pain of recognition every time I read a word (oh no, of course not), but more because I was worried about damaging my neighbor’s pristine copy with my spine-cracking, tears, or angry marginalia. And I’m glad I committed to my own copy, because now I can do the “exercises”.

Here’s a fun one. “Let’s examine the most important romantic relationships and/or romantic feelings (crushes, unfulfilled fantasies) in your past. Try to do this in descending order of importance… Don’t examine your current relationship until you’ve finished with the past.”

Then there’s a series of questions that I must answer, and here’s my favorite part: “Figure that each important person deserves several sheets of paper.” I kind of like knowing that at the bottom of my stack of sheets of paper, there will be a blank page for the “current relationship.”

Here for public consumption are some of the highlights from the files of my broken heart.

Bastard Architect

1.) What were your first reactions to this person?

His head looks like a fuzzy egg with square glasses drawn on. Why is his shirt tucked in to those pants? Oh, it’s too short for his frame, and he’s trying to hide that. Pause. His laugh bounces all around the room in a lovely cacophony that makes everyone feel a little happier. Pause. He knows about hip hop. I like him.

2.) How do you think this person first reacted to you?

She’s hot (he told me that was his honest first reaction when we realized later that he’d tried to pick me up in a bar months before our first real meeting). She’s smart. She’s from a city. She probably hates hiking. All those boys are talking to her, trying to make her laugh. I’ll try to make her laugh, too. But first I’ll impress her with my knowledge of hip hop. I’ll just interject from way down here at my end of the table and tell her a fact about a show I saw last week in Park City.

3.) If you were not attracted initially, do you remember what changed your mind?

The next day, we met up again at a project site. I was there with his boss. He had to measure a space and make sketches. I loved the graph paper, the measuring tape, the insight, the authority, the cold, calculating manner with which he proceeded to size up the room. Also, when I climbed the stairs behind him, I liked the way his jeans fit.

4.) At the beginning were you the pursuer or the pursued?

I was the pursued (good gawd, that was the last time that happened to me). He heard me mention a show that I was going to the following evening. He was thrilled that I knew such an obscure band, and told me that he had planned on attending as well. He offered to pick me up and accompany me the next night.

5.) Was this person appropriate or inappropriate? And why?

He was appropriate. He had a good job in a creative and interesting field. We had identical cultural tastes and ideals. He made me laugh. From that first night at the concert, we discovered a million things in common. He took care of every detail, got me drinks, opened doors. Three days later, we were riding in the tiny cab of his mini pickup truck and I said, “I’d given up on ever finding someone smart, funny, and cute.” He said with a grin, “Me too.” And then he told me to give up my rental apartment and move in with him until I could buy a new place. (I didn’t do that.)

6.) Was this person available for commitment or unavailable? Why?

Even though he invited me to move in with him after knowing me for three days, only two months later he revealed that he had no access to his feelings. “I can never love anyone,” he said. We were having a huge fight. And I decided to keep trying to make it work with him. Because man, it sure looked good on paper, didn’t it? So he was unavailable, and I didn’t leave.

7.) Looking at this relationship from the other person’s point of view, were you an appropriate choice? Why? Why not?

I was good on paper. But he never should have been with someone so emotionally driven. We were polar opposites. Years later, he would tell me when we broke up that I was “too smart for him”. I guess he should have been with someone vacuous and stupid if he wanted detachment.

8.) Were you available for a commitment? If not, why not?

I was available to devote my entire life to this person, but only as a means to avoid real commitment. When you choose to dedicate your every thought and feeling to someone who cannot reciprocate, it’s like hitting a tennis ball against a concrete wall. It will bounce the ball back at you, but not with the finesse of someone who is reacting to your stroke. No matter where you aim, your ball is deflected back at you from an entirely other place. It’s a good way to guarantee that someone won’t love you completely and absolutely, buy a house and put you in it and ask you to marry them. I had just broken up with a man who had done all but that last thing, and broken up with three others with identical intentions before him. Wait, are we supposed to be looking for patterns here?


I’ll spare you the answers to questions 9-45. I think you know where this is going. Next up, questions 1-8 answered for my unrelationship with Unrequited!

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