Monday, November 28, 2016

Love, A Bad Thanksgiving, and Whatever Comes Next

I’m on vacation this week from the library and it’s given me enough space from Mr. Makout Music to really think through what our flirtship means/meant. Of course, there’s the simplest meaning, that it was a sweet attraction that didn’t work out and is now awkwardly in the process of becoming whatever’s next. The meaning we share is straightforward, kind, and a little sad, but my own side of things feels more complicated.

It’s hard in times like this to not get annoyed at my heart, at my romantic imagination, even at the sex drive I worked so hard (and only somewhat successfully) to embrace. It’s hard not to feel like we lost parts of what was nice between us because I just had to try and make things progress, but maybe things just progressed on their own, the way things tend to do.

A few months ago when he first suggested a too-emo-for-the-library-playlist song, I really did try not to let the song’s feelings run away with me. When he suggested I look up The Internet while I was doing my data entry in the basement at work, I ended up so swoony/squishy that I could barely walk up the stairs to my department. I thought I should probably try to stem the tide of feelings sweeping in with the lyrics, and I did try not to think he was telling me something with the songs. I know what music does to me, how it accelerates the heart’s processes and wakes up not-wholly-earned devotion. But sometimes, I just have to let it.

He told me once that he likes romantic music because he has a hard time expressing his feelings, that songs help him do so. He looked in my eyes when he said it, and after that I let the music take me where it wanted me to go, where I wanted to go, where it turns out I’d really missed going.

Still, I tried to be so careful this time. I asked and re-asked what he meant by things. I asked for as much definition as I reasonably could. I asked if the attraction was mutual before we were ever alone together, and he said it was. I hope it really was, that he didn’t just say it to be kind or to please me. I’ve found the best way is to take him at face value, to just try and straightforwardly believe what he’s told me. It’s hard.

My peer counselor at the local LGBT center has urged me through all of this to focus on facts, to concentrate on What Is. By that measure, he’s showed me hours of care and affection, given me so much without expecting anything in return. I appreciate the vulnerability it might take for a shy guy to come find me almost every day, to share some of his deepest stuff at work, in front of the kids and everybody. He said to me once “I want to hear all of your stuff and I want to tell you all of mine.” What a sweet, open thing to say, and I so much hope it might be true again after the awkward simmers down.

Yet in spite of What Is, I struggle not to see myself as somehow coercive, as an ugly, fat someone who was romantically deluded to think that someone like him could be attracted to me. My mind is so ashamed of the Stupid Delusional Crush Girl story that I superimpose it over every situation, though there are of course different reasons behind every connection and not-connection.

If I hadn’t been fighting the story so hard, would I have been in such a hurry? Would I have given him more space to make the first move and therefore be more comfortable, less pressured, more free? Maybe, but the problem with that line of reasoning is that it’s always going to be sexist to feel bad about being too forward, not just sexist but also counterproductive and counter to the only person I can manage to be—my barreling-forward, enthusiastic, soaking-wet-underpants self.

I know that the man for me is probably bolder, more available, probably more experienced by a lot, but right now I don’t want some stranger. This is the begrudgingly-go-back-on-OK Cupid phase of getting over someone, resenting them all for not being him, even though I know the next guy will feel equally best and equally-only when I’m with him, just by the virtue and magic of attraction. I know that when the next ones come along, the tide will come in and things will shift into place just as easily and emphatically, because bodies and hearts know what they’re doing. They’ll take us where we need to go.

Like most of America, I had a very hard Thanksgiving. Things aren’t good between my mom and me, and I was unable to keep great gusts of election rage from screeching out as pie was being served. As I drove home in the middle of the night blasting Arcade Fire and Frank Ocean, I couldn’t wait to be back safely in my city, in my apartment. I’m thankful that I’m amazing at rage driving.

My life is entering a new phase now and it feels both lonely and spiderweb-strongly connected. Friday night phonebanks at the feminist bookstore three doors down, marches as often as I want to go, a community art show to make a sanctuary for anyone made afraid by the election results—these things are home, who I really am, and I want to leave my tragically Trumpified family members behind long enough to settle back into who I really am.

I know that I’ve partly been focused on Mr. Makeout Music because crush-sadness is easier to deal with than election sadness, but the best thing I can do for both sadnesses is to take care, to find a way to appreciate myself as I really am. In that self, there’s anger and loss and a divorce I haven’t yet managed to finish. There are unsettled hurts on both a national and a personal scale. There’s an ocean of rage and an ocean of joy.

            But there’s also this simple and sheepish-making fact. I love Mr. Makeout Music. And I also love his “no.” I want to be as close to him as I can but also respect What Is, his real life and my own. I want to step back and let him be where he is, respect and support his goals, be someone accepting and unconditional. I want to let myself move on and find the enthusiastic, mutual, available love that I really do know I deserve, but I haven’t yet let go of the thread between us, of those suddenly-deep conversations, of the safe space his presence made for me right here in the middle of pussy-grabbing America.

            It is a hard time to be (STILL) trying to learn to connect with men. Part of the reason that I get so attached is that deep down I really, REALLY miss them. As independent and strong and spinsteriffic as I am/want to be, it feels like part of me is missing. I am happier with a man to love, and I really hope I get to feel what it’s like for a man to love me back someday. The joy I felt when he and I were so near to being a thing, it was beautiful, a breeze of relief in my heart, that magical unlatching that happens sometimes, that seduces me so. It was wholeness, it was being myself. Even as I try my best to let him go, I want to believe in that joy, to feel like I deserve it, to take the light with me even as I walk away. It might take more bravery than I have, but I’ll try it.

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