Thursday, May 29, 2014

Letter to My Empty Bed, or: on the unbea*rable condition of singlehood, or: To the Asshole (WARNING: mature content)

I was airing my lack-of-a-love-life woes to an exclusively bear-loving gay friend of mine named Patrick who is always casually seeing at least three Josh's and a Jeffrey when he lovingly interrupted me and said,

"If you were a 300-pound man I'd fuck you."

And I guess that's when it finally hit me.

* * *

Recently I'd given up on the possibility of finding an actual romance.  Somewhere between getting stood up one too many times and the coming summer during which I will be far away doing research in Berlin anyway (more on that some other time), I retired my hopes of finding a boyfriend and decided to settle for something more casual instead.  I'm still a human, after all; my capacity for intimacy still hungers.

But after long and dogged days of hunting for even the briefest of interactions to fill the deepening void, I could not sustain even the most bastardized distortions of love.

There were failed attempts, of course: a half-hearted stumble-love with a man I had just met that I had hoped would continue in sweat until summer, a three-quarter-hearted rock-flow of a love with a dear and handsome friend that swam but once before apparently sinking, and a whole-hearted hope-love whose fantastical question never saw the passionate satisfaction of a period.  This last one, of course, was the Asshole.

* * *

Reasons I Should Have A Boyfriend By Now
Reasons I Do Not Have A Boyfriend By Now

  1. I am intelligent. / I am neurotic.
  2. I am kind. / I am clingy.
  3. I am wise beyond my years. / I think too much of myself.
  4. I make meaningful pieces of art. / I am overly emotional.
  5. I go to the gym and it shows. / I don't go to the gym enough.
  6. I am lovable. / I am lacking.

* * *

One year ago this week I was violently thrown into the throes of the suddenness of mutual infatuation, surrounded by little scattered love-seeds sowing themselves about my soul.  The human with whom I shared this attraction grew to be a lover, and then a boyfriend, and then finally someone with whom I shared the word "love."

It was not the first time that this had happened to me but it was certainly the best.  When Vulnerability came calling I opened the door, let her in, and made her pancakes on the hearth.  And I was happy to do so.  Everything was sunshine, even when it was moonlight.

In my final essay for Reading & Writing Creative Non-fiction this quarter, I wrote about the history of a beautiful relationship that unfortunately ended—as they often do—and had gradually grown into a beautiful friendship.  It hurt to remember such beginnings, of course, but that also just means it was all the more worth it at the time.  Said differently, the experience of remembering epitomized the life-mantra that I recite every time Vulnerability stands once more upon my doorstep:

At least I'll have felt.

* * *

The Asshole was a lesson in patience I could have done without. I suppose I should thank him for the few good conversations we shared (and accidentally planting the idea of tattooing myself at some point) and the reminders that I am beautiful—though lately I'm getting better at reminding myself of that—but other than that, he was nothing more than a wish dashed by a couple cancellations and a mysterious, unmerited turn toward the resentful that left me quite content to leave him behind to memory and candid blog-immortality.

When we first met, the crackle that sparked in the inches betwixt our lips transported me back to the last boy who was.  At least I'll have felt, I recited to my Guest as her blueberry breakfast sizzled over the fire, giddy with thoughts of sex and of bareness and of love-seeds.

But when I saw him last weekend, not having spoken since last he had kept me waiting, I was almost comforted to see him treat me as coldly as he did.  For the first time, I was able to remind myself that my love-life-woes are not, in fact, always my fault, as I'm often wont to believe.  I certainly didn't do anything to prompt his unwelcome reception, so it only follows, logically, that he and other people have other shit going on in their lives too, and that he and they sometimes allow said shit to affect us unfairly.  It's easier to self-blame, to I Did This, because with it comes a sense of control, of I Can Fix This.  But life doesn't always work that way: sometimes we must abdicate responsibility to other people's shit.

If only it were that easy.

* * *

Elliot Rodger, recent murderer of seven (including himself), stated the reasoning for his crimes [among other things] to be the following:
"For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I've been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection, and sex and love to other men but never to me."
Although Elliot and I certainly self-identified differently, this part of his message rang true with me.  I in less than no way condone what he did at all; his misogynistic ramblings disgusted me and his actions appalled me.  However, when I watched his final video, I tried to listen hard for any humanity in a monster that was so filled with hatred.

And I found it: amidst all the psychotic fascinations and unshakable prejudices was a person who wanted to be loved and appreciated.  I think we can all understand that much.

But the difference between how Elliot copes and how I cope with the deep wells of loneliness that dug into the undercurrents of our emptiness is paramount.  Elliot exemplified the far end of a spectrum that has tempted me down its path too many times: If they don't love you, if they don't see the goodness overflowing the brim of your personhood, make them see it, make them love you.

Whereas I've been learning otherwise.

* * *

Patrick's comment came at the end of a long rant in which I detailed the specific reasons as to why it was so ludicrous that I had not found even a poor replacement for a boyfriend.  I rattled off the left column of the list above and asked why, oh why, hadn't I yet encountered someone who saw and appreciated those things as more than just a friend?

"If you were a 300-pound man I'd fuck you," my friend said.

He held up his hand for a high five and I stood there over my bike for a minute, in the cold of the street after Starbucks had closed at midnight, waiting.  Deciding it was some sort of perverse compliment in some strange way, I took the high five.

"Only because this is the most I'm getting all week," I said.

Twenty-one years is too long a time to figure out who you are only to then turn around and make yourself overly available to people who really don't deserve the attention in the first place.  No matter how cute my bookish friend may be, I will never be a 300-pound man, so I should probably remove said friend from my extensive list of I-Woulds or Maybe-One-Days.

* * *

People, God bless them, are independent beings who have their own shit and make their own decisions, and the idea that we can somehow control how people feel about us if we go to the gym one more time per week or if we wait x number of days before texting them again is a fairy tale.  These tactics might get us a little farther in the short run, but when the love-climate is right between persons—when the love-clouds pour love-drops onto the love-soil beneath them (nourishing the little scattered love-seeds sown about our souls, urging them, encouraging them to get up and grow)—the love will happen naturally, organically, and it will be good, and everything will be sunshine, even when it is moonlight.

So for whenever the love-forecast next shines brightly in my favor—and I will do my best to be patient and to focus on other things until then—I will breathe, and I will open my door for my dear old Friend, and I will pull out the pancake mix and the strawberry-banana, and I will recite my life-mantra once more:

At least I'll have felt.