Addiction, Boys, Breakups, essays, Fantasy, Men, Queens, Want Monster, Writing

The Reformed Werewolves Club

images-78Are you supposed to feel this insecure three months into a new relationship? I guess no one ever looks down until they are halfway up a ladder, and when I chance a look, I feel sick. Because he matters to me now: I eyeball Connecticut, across from my parents at brunch and I wonder I wonder if I look too old for him, and if that is what everyone is thinking, and if it is only a matter of time until he thinks so too, and the whole structure sways vertiginously beneath me.

He meets my family, and at brunch, he gives my parents too much information; they ask how we met, and he launches into the long tale of how he was retired from dating when he met me, had been for a while, and then how things were sort of bumpy at first, and how he had told me on our first night out together that his dentist was hot and from this I had concluded that he wasn’t interested in me.

I can still remember how disappointed I was that first night. That’s how he got the name “Connecticut—“ named after the state he’s from, where people are regular and do not like me. He hates this name, has requested a new one for the purposes of this blog. So far, no dice.

Connecticut is not regular, and he does appear to like me, but still, I never feel like I have a good hold on him. He feels slippery, like any moment he might need to get his teeth cleaned and realize that loving me is a mistake.

With my addict-head thusly jammed up my own ass, I go out to speak at a 12-step meeting in midtown; I was nominated to speak at this fundraiser in October, and there are people there with clipboards sitting in the folding chairs and coffee fug, scoring my story on a rubric. It’s not a good enough story, I know it’s not good enough. It’s ordinary and I stumble over the words. A man with a clipboard makes a notation when I freeze and look at everyone for a long time, forgetting what I’m supposed to be doing and why I am here, my back a run of flop-sweat. When I was little, I was in some performance where I self-consciously pulled my dress up over my head so no one could see me. Stood there hidden, showing my underroos. This feels sort of like that.

When I get home, my apartment smells like grilled vegetables; Connecticut has magically made there be dinner out of the ingredients for dinner in my cabinets. I keep a lot of ingredients in the house, but only he knows how to put them together; left to my own devices, I will eat the same vegan grilled cheese sandwich night after night. While I was out, he hung my mirror; he hooked up my DVD player.

And I don’t know what to do with the certainty that I do not deserve this, any of this. Who sent you? I want to bark. Why are you here? How long, exactly, are you planning to stay?

When I look at him, I feel certain that he will be gone soon. He is like a snowman someone built on my lawn. In June. Inexplicable and temporary. I’m scared to get used to him being there.

Are you supposed to feel this insecure in a new relationship? I do not know. Maybe it’s the thing that keeps me from taking him for granted.

But in the middle of all this fear, I become aware, suddenly aware, of how many other interesting-smelling people there are around.   Deal messages me, letting me know he’ll be in New York soon; I never got the chance to fuck him while I was single and that doesn’t seem entirely fair. Also: I’m going on a field trip today with my students, and one of the chaperones is this sexy divorced father, who I think was waiting until the end of the school year to invite me out for coffee. I go on Facebook and stare forlornly at the long, golden limbs of that hot yoga teacher; she is wearing a bikini, and she is upside down, and she looks delicious.

But I am somehow in a monogamous relationship.

I look at myself in photos on Facebook and think I am unbearably ugly—the way my mouth hangs crooked on its nail, the tendons in my neck taut like rigging. I am old and uneven and I exercise too much. When I feel this way, I usually go looking for someone willing to try to persuade me that I’m wrong. Me, along with a million other girls I see walking around Astoria, all bright lipstick and short skirts and thumb-shaped bruises on our muscular thighs, waiting for someone to tell us we’re pretty enough.

This weekend, Connecticut and I are driving to New Haven, where I will be meeting his family, even though I’m not to be trusted in polite social settings, and even though people from Connecticut don’t like me. It’s a pretty good sign that we’re in something solid. But when he tells me that afterwards, he’s going to drop me back at my place and go home to his, because he’s tired, and is that OK, I tell him that it is. Of course it is.

It’s fine, to be alone on a Saturday night, with incoming text messages that offer me opportunities to feel wanted, to touch and to be touched even if it’s only our emojis that rub up against each other. I’ll be fine. I’m not going to turn into some addict-werewolf that rips her pants off and runs out into the night baying for attention.

Probably. Almost definitely not. I’m pretty sure.

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(Side note: I think it’s impossible for a werewolf-girl to look sexy.  It always looks like a dog in a dress.)

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Addiction, Art, Blogging, Breakups, Consequences of Blogging, dating, essays, Getting Honest, Girls

Still Addicted: The “Ex” in Sex

images-77Sketch calls me. And he calls. And he calls once more.

If your sexy, charismatic ex calls three times, I think there’s some rule that you have to call him back before he appears in the bathroom mirror behind you, right?

In the messages, he sounds like himself: funny, affable, familiar. But there’s something just underneath: hurt and bewilderment and teeming irritation that I can see like something glimpsed moving beneath the ice on a pond.   In the last message, he tells me he doesn’t know what to do, or why he can’t reach me, and that he might just come here.

I live on the ground floor of my building, and I find myself peeping, heart kicking in my chest, out the windows.  Afraid, and also feeling the other thing that I always feel when my ex is around. Over a decade, and my pelvis still tilts at his signal like a satellite dish.

Sketch has never been the type to come battle the bushes to imprecate through the window, so I don’t know what to make of any of this newfound passion. To be honest, I didn’t think he was invested enough to get on a train and cross the East River. I figured in the fullness of time, I would have to explain why I vanished, but I thought I would have  months of head start before I had to introduce him to the new boyfriend.

My new boyfriend, Connecticut: sweet, available, clumsy as shit. He fell in my bathtub the other day while we were taking a shower and scared the fuck out of me. Bruised his ribs. It seems I’m no longer the only one around here losing fights with furniture.

It’s not fair to compare him to Sketch and I know it. There’s no decision here, I tell my friend Courtney. It’s like being asked do you want a horse or a unicorn. Unicorns are amazing but you can’t actually have one, because they are not real. Once I realized that Sketch wasn’t actually an option, it got a lot easier to pick.

Sketch texts me: I read your blog, he says. What’s going on? Who is Connecticut?  

He texts me a picture of a coffee mug I once gave him that says, You are my person. There’s nothing like having your own coffee-mug promises thrown back at you. The guilt feels like I’ve swallowed teeth and they are chattering now in my belly.

I’ve written that finally moving out and moving on from a relationship like the one Sketch and I had feels like watching your childhood home burn to the ground.   But this is worse. This is watching your childhood home burn to the ground with your puppy still inside.

And there is nothing I can do, not without undoing a lot of the things I have already done. I want to go and rescue him, but all I have is this flamethrower and everything I could say is incendiary. How is this possible, I want to ask him. I am astonished by his astonishment. He had no idea, my friend Courtney says. When you told him there was someone else. He didn’t really believe it.

Meanwhile, Connecticut, my someone else, lets me pick what we do on Saturday. Sketch never used to let me pick the thing to do; he’s still upset about that time I made him come with me to see 12 Years A Slave; he rescinded my picking-privileges indefinitely after that one. Which I didn’t think was fair, as we had just gone to see Tim’s Vermeer and that film is literally two hours of watching paint dry.

Connecticut lets me pick. We go to Figment, the big participatory art-fair and weirdo-fest on Governor’s Island. Making our way past a group of people getting married in Midsummer’s Night garb and a bunch of acrobats in body paint and a man driving a giant toad with a throbbing base line, he posits, I don’t think I’m cool enough for you. He is, of course he is, but it’s nice that someone thinks I am cool.

He lets me pick, even though the East River ferry makes him a little queasy and the sun will wipe him out for the entire next day. We eat trendy popsicles on a pair of old-timey porch rockers, and talk about everything and nothing. When we go home, he will make me come until I cry.

It feels honest, which is a great feeling considering the fact that I am a lying sack of shit. I tell people that I told Sketch about Connecticut, but this is a lie. I told him that I was seeing someone, and that I had feelings for the person, and I deliberately omitted all gendered pronouns. I let him think it was a girl; it was the same week I made out with that girl from yoga, and I gave him enough details about that so he would think that was what I was up to.  All the while telling myself that we had an open relationship, and that leaving him with these half-truths would be less painful to him. I am a self-serving asshole, because really it was about making it easier for me to leave. It was about buying time so I could make a slick getaway.

And it was about leaving the door open just a crack in case things didn’t work out with Connecticut. Let me just be honest here, if no place else. It’s hard to look behind you and see that you can’t go back the way you’ve just come. How do I know I’m going the right way?

But there is no other way for me to go now but forward. I read the blog, Sketch said. For months now, the blog’s been all about me falling in love with someone else.

He will never forgive me.

All the guilt is here now, a wall of it, and I can’t face him. This person I have loved longer than anyone– the phone rings with him on the other end and I handle it like a pillowcase full of snakes, carrying it from the room with my thumb and forefinger to go throw it in a drawer.

Eventually I text Sketch, saying exactly what everyone everywhere says when they feel guilty about hurting someone they love: I love you but I need some space. Because I can’t. I can’t talk to him, I can’t see him right now. I don’t trust myself with him, the way I don’t trust myself around someone else’s Xanax. I can list for you all the reasons why it’s bad for me and still want it anyway.

So I hold myself back, and Sketch is at the windows of the burning house that is our relationship, and I pray, hard, that someone else will come soon and rescue him.

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Addiction, Alcoholism, Boys, Breakups, Grief, New York, Writing

Packing Tips For When You Finally Run

imgres-26I’m closing on my new apartment next week, and I’ve been procrastinating hard about putting my old life into these cardboard boxes. I have a ream of them, stacked and folded, and over the last few weeks they have gradually become invisible. I hang clothes off them. I set my phone down on them and that disappears too.

I guess it’s not surprising that this is difficult. After all, this is the apartment Sketch and I shared, and this is the place where he left me. I remember when we first moved in here; I had been living a few blocks away, and I didn’t want to give up my own space because I was still using a little, and I liked to eat dinner in bed vaguely stoned with no one watching. So Sketch and I got a two-bedroom apartment, complete with a room of my own that featured floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a door I could shut anytime I liked.

I shut it too often, and now it’s been three years since he moved out. Apparently, this is how long it takes, for me to stop climbing in my ex’s pants and hanging out there where it’s familiar. After he moved out, I asked everyone how long it would be until I could breathe right again. It felt like my lungs were gone, and I was left to suck air ineffectually into the sour pit in my stomach, and I just wanted a number because it was reassuring to pretend that there was a clock ticking down on grief. I imagined a bell would ring, and I would walk out the door a free woman. Everyone had their own theories, like the people who told me recovery from Sketch leaving would take half the time of the length of the relationship divided by two. I love an arbitrary mathematical formula.

Yesterday, Sketch calls and leaves a message. I missed you this weekend, he says on the machine.   I spent the entire weekend with Connecticut: he finished the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in my bed, and he held my rabbit on the couch. I pulled weird things out of my closet to show him as I finally started packing—a light saber, a t-shirt of pugs doing yoga, an umbrella so oversized you need to stand in the middle of the street to open it safely. What am I supposed to do with this umbrella? It is ridiculous, the size of a swimming-pool cover, too large for me to manage, but it makes me sad, the thought of putting it in the garbage.

I can’t even let go of an umbrella, one that stands in the hall closet smug with the snagged hair and skewered eyeballs of innocent passerby; how am I supposed to delete Sketch from my life? His is the only phone number, aside from my parents’, that I know by heart. He’s the person I always called, if I got lost somewhere and I needed someone to somehow tell me where I was.

I found my way back to writing in this apartment. Sketch and I had stopped all the drinking and the coke (I claimed I just like the smell of it, and wanted to keep smelling it), and we remembered suddenly that we had other things we cared about. Sketch started to draw again, nervously at first: he drew cartoons on the wall and they are still here, keeping me company as I write this. After he left, I couldn’t bring myself to paint over them. Partly because they are his, and I love him. But also because it’s a fucking awesome thing, to watch someone come back to life and do the thing they are supposed to be doing. No one uses the expression finding yourself anymore. But that’s what we did. We found ourselves. It just turns out we found ourselves on opposite sides of the East River.

It was such a close thing, with Connecticut and Sketch. Fucking months of not knowing which one I was supposed to pick, making nerdy Venn diagrams and pro/con T charts in my notebook, and still ending up stuck, because love and lust each have their own metrics. Connecticut has no idea, how close I came to telling him two months ago, I don’t want to do this. I just want to be friends. Because it’s impossible to know the things we don’t know. We can’t feel the things we don’t feel yet. I looked at him, and I just couldn’t see him, because I didn’t know what I was looking at.

If I had known what I know today, I would have given him a name to go with his guitar. But they all seemed ridiculous at the time. Pick or Strum were wrong. I liked Noodle but it just seemed so flaccid. I settled on Connecticut because his family is from New Haven and I have a joke about how people from Connecticut don’t like me. And he didn’t like me. He still had his head up the ass of his own past. He liked some other girl, one who lived far away.

Back in December, before he liked me, I went to see him play a show. It was our first time hanging out, and I thought it was a date, and I wore the tank top that makes my tits look good and leaned over to touch him a lot before his set. He kept scooting his chair away a little, like he was crowding me and that was the reason I kept letting my hand rest on his arm. FEAR AND TREMBLING, the tattoo on his forearm read, residue from a major in religious studies. When he got up on the stage to play, he looked down the entire time, or out at some spot over everyone’s heads, and at some point I gave up.

Now, months later, Connecticut plays an acoustic show with his band at the same bar, and I go to see him play once more. This time we walk in together, fresh from dinner and a trip to a used bookstore where we tried to find the most ridiculous books we could to pose with for a picture. He gave me a quasi-pornographic novel about a robot, and I gave him a book called How to Read a Book and in the picture I’m visibly trying not to laugh.   At the show, he kisses me between sets . I sit in the front, order a cranberry juice and am served it in a ridiculously oversized goblet that I feel embarrassed about. I lift it in a toast when Connecticut looks up from his guitar. Doing the thing he’s supposed to be doing.

I must be gazing at him with great amusement and interest because people keep looking at me and then following my sight line to see what I’m staring at; people generally just watch the lead singer, who has a Civil War beard and dance moves that involve Godzilla arms.

I take it you’re with that one, a man grooving out in his chair near me says. I’m watching Connecticut, and my chest feels weirdly crowded.

Yep. I’m with that one. But there’s still one thing that needs to happen. I need to let the other man in my life know. I need to talk to Sketch.

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I call Sketch on a Monday morning. He’s at work, and I’m at work, and it’s not the way I thought this conversation would go down.   We should be on a luxury steamer that is sinking at sea. We should be climbing a hill to outrun a fire. Chasms should be opening up, entire homes swallowed.

It is the end of an epic romance, only not really. It’s just an ordinary breakup. He keeps asking me to repeat myself, because our connection is bad, and when I get to the part about how this isn’t working, he cuts me off because he already knows. I only get a few words into my prepared remarks before he fills in the rest.

Make sure it’s worth it, he says gently.

It is, but when I hang up the phone, it hurts like someone died. I never realize how big a part of me someone owns until they are gone, and they take all that real estate with them. And part of me wants to call back and say I didn’t mean it, to take it back, to take him back, to keep hoping that he and I will somehow figure out a way to be together.

I feel the way I always feel at the end of a long book series, Tolkien or Larry McMurtry: bleak and grief-stricken at the conclusion of a story that has taken so long to spin out. Horseman, pass by.

And at the same time, I’m well aware that mine is not an exceptional story, or even an interesting one, really. I fell in love with one man who I couldn’t really let go of until I fell in love, kind of accidentally, with another. I may as tell the story of catching a cold or growing older—this is shit that happens to everyone, and it’s only a big deal because it’s happening, in real time, to me.

So now I’m packing to leave this apartment next weekend, emptying closets and taking the pictures off the walls. It’s weird how your own possessions become invisible to you, camouflaged by their ordinariness. I didn’t notice, until I take each one down, just how dusty they have gotten.   There is one wall entirely devoted to taxidermied insects. Sketch and I bought them to mark occasions back in 2004. This Goliath beetle is for Valentine’s Day; that walking-stick marks when I finally made it down to fifty milligrams of methadone. There’s a scarab for when Sketch’s friend overdosed and died on his living room rug; when they found him, he had collapsed ignominiously with his ass in the air, and all the blood had pooled in his face and he was dark in the open casket. If you’re gonna be a bear, be a grizzly, he always used to say.FullSizeRender-25

What do I do with these specimens? I can’t throw them out, and I can’t take them with me. I wish I could just open the shadowboxes and let them go, the stag beetle and the cicada and the tailless scorpion and that creepy horror-moth filing out of this place to go alight on separate windows, fighting and fucking and spreading nightmares. Not ending like this, wrapped in newspaper and hidden in a box like a secret.

I guess maybe I’ll see you guys around sometime, Sketch says, while something in me howls and howls. I let him go. I’d like to keep him pinned in this shadowbox forever, but I let him go. Suddenly there is room, and there are echoes in the vacant corners of our place, carrying my own voice back to me, while I mutter a list to myself of all the things that still need doing.

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Addiction, Breakups, dating, Open relationships, Sex, Writing

What Size Is Average

FullSizeRender-24Connecticut, the love of my life, describes the size of his dick as average, and that’s when I realize I have no idea whatsoever what that means anymore.

My frame of reference is completely bent; I no longer know from normal. My ex-boyfriend Sketch has one of those dicks you tell your friends about in the hushed tones reserved for talking about men who come with a kickstand. The kind of dick to launch a blog over. Big. Too big for me, if I’m being totally honest. I know they say all cars fit in the garage, but I suspect that they are men who’ve never had something rammed against their cervix a few hundred times like a medieval war instrument.

A few weeks ago, back before I decided to stop making the same mistakes, I was over at Sketch’s studio, and he was telling me something I wasn’t particularly interested in, and eventually he asked why I was so distracted. He wasn’t wearing any pants, and even flaccid, there is a lot of him to consider. I told him truthfully that I was thinking about his dick, and he got annoyed. He says I’m too obvious sometimes.

I get home from Greece this week and Connecticut comes over to return my pet rabbit. He babysat her while I was away, because he’s a an actual nice person that you can trust with things. Upstairs, the rabbit does frantic homecoming laps of the familiar furniture, and Connecticut takes me to bed, and we don’t climb out until many, many orgasms later, when it is dark and my hair is a storm cloud, and we’re both so dehydrated that our legs cramp. Is it average to have four hours of sex on a Tuesday? I have a suspicion that the answer is no, but this is exactly how much attention I require. I also need sleep, jet-lagged all the way to my soul, but still we reach for each other, for one more orgasm, begging the clock for a few more minutes. In between rounds, we trade minutiae of the day, swap jokes. Why does a walrus like Tupperware? Answer: he’s always looking for a tight seal. I don’t want him to leave. I wrap my yoga-solid legs around him and squeeze. A tight seal.

He tells me that while I was in Greece, he went out with a girl for coffee. Sort of a test, he says. He’s trying to feel around the outlines of this unconfirmed, unlabeled relationship we have, to see what his own boundaries are. Does he want other people? I just want you, it’s mostly just you, he says in the dark.

I check to see if I am jealous of his coffee date, and I am not. Mostly. Mostly just you. That’s how I feel too. I called Sketch after I got back from Greece, and he bailed on a meeting to come out and talk to me. We exchange rapid-fire news until he has to go back in, promising to call me later. He doesn’t, and that’s fine, because I am in bed trying for a new record with Connecticut. After a certain number of orgasms, it kind of starts to hurt a little. And still, I need his skin on my skin, his body rocking mine.

It’s mostly Connecticut, and we are sliding towards a label here, but I will see Sketch on Saturday, and I haven’t decided if I will sleep with him or not.  I can’t get right with the thought that I may be saying goodbye to his ridiculously outsized penis. Or, of course, to him. When I think about not talking to him anymore, I feel the way you would feel if you had to watch your childhood home burn to the ground. It’s not that I needed to live in that place, it’s just that’s the place where I learned to write my name, where I keep all the totems of my smaller, clumsier self.

But it doesn’t matter. Sketch asked me a long time ago, back when we decided to see other people but to still sleep with each other, to let him know if things change, and things have changed.

I still haven’t told Connecticut that I love him; I may end up telling Sketch first. It would be easier, in some ways, to tell Sketch.

What I have with Connecticut is not an average relationship, but then my average relationship was always purportedly monogamous, the kind of monogamy where you claim someone hard and fast right up front at the beginning, mine, the way some kids will lick an entire candy bar so no one else can ask for a bite.   My average relationship: a chocolate shell of promises filled with a creamy nougat of serial cheating. Greedy and impatient, I’ve cheated on most of the people I’ve called boyfriends. Sketch has the same issue; we told one another right up front all those years ago, when we first met—I’m bad at fidelity.

Connecticut isn’t demanding monogamy. He’s not demanding anything. But I love him, and it makes me want to do things for him that are hard, like go out on epic quests where I wrestle sea monsters, or tougher still, where I don’t sleep with everyone. Behind his back, I secretly call him my boyfriend. He tells me that he told his dad about me, and I am inordinately proud of this fact, that someone’s dad knows my name. We tell each other: you are my favorite.

The things other people call normal can feel strangely subversive. Connecticut comes over on a Monday after work, and takes off his tie while I finish making dinner, and I may as well be wearing a latex tuxedo and a strap-on for how perverted and strange it feels, to do these regular domestic things. Part of my personality looks on in horror and dismay, wondering what is happening here, where I have gone and when I will be coming back, and  also why I am smiling so much these days.

They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same things and expecting different results.   A friend of mine has it needlepointed on a pillow: Make better mistakes tomorrow.

I want to tell you something, I tell him after dinner. But I want to tell you in my room, in bed. I want to tell him in the dark: that I don’t mean it anymore, what I told him two months ago about not wanting to be in a relationship, with him or with anyone.   Things are different now, I tell him. Because I love you.

Is it an average thing, to simply find someone you want to cook dinner for and be naked with, who will tell you that they love you too? Who will love you even after you declare that you are a monster, one who still wants to fuck girls and who thrives on attention from men like it’s sunlight, who hasn’t quite let her ex go all the way, who ruins things, who is crooked and weird and broken?.

Fuck it. If these are average things and wanting them makes me less interesting, so be it. There will still be stories. There will always be stories. And at least I know that if I ruin everything, and if he leaves me, I will write about it until I can breathe again.

 

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Addiction, Alcoholism, Attention Seeking, Breakups, dating, essays, Sex, Sex Addiction, Writing

This Is What Happens When You Leave Me

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My beautiful roommate moved out this week. As any urban dweller who has ever lived with another person out of financial necessity knows, roommates seriously interfere with one’s ability to sloppily consume a sandwich naked while standing over the kitchen sink, staring into space. I also like to eat a salad with my bare hands from a bowl large enough for me to sit in while watching cartoons in the living room, dressed only in my underwear. Basically, a lot of my grumblings about having a roommate stem from sometimes having to put pants on, and not being able to eat dinner like an ogre.

But now she is gone, and all my plans to turn her room into an S&M jail cell evaporate in a vague sense of sadness and abandonment.   Because it’s not all that fucking different from when Sketch moved out three years ago. I had to close off the room he used as a studio, because the echo in there after he removed his canvases and brushes made me sick to my stomach.   If my roommate hadn’t moved in, that door would still be shut, like a museum of dust motes that can only be visited by other dust motes.

It makes me eager to leave this place as well, but I still haven’t closed on my new apartment. I have a ream of cardboard boxes in my bedroom, waiting, but the prospect of packing everything I own makes me so damn tired that I just want to climb inside one of these boxes with my rabbit like a stowaway. Maybe someone else will carry us down all the stairs.

Whether it’s a box or a whole apartment, it’s important for me to have a place to hide.  Sketch used to call it closetability. No one can see you, no one can judge the way you are living. We both longed for good hiding places, and it’s one reason we always got along so well, a mutual code of no-judgment after you shut the door.

I always tell people, You can tell me anything. I don’t judge. But this is an utter crock of shit. Basically, I don’t want people to judge me, so I profess this highly laissez-faire morality with other people when they name the questionable people they are sleeping with or the various ways they are getting over on the system, while I do all my judging secretly, in my head.

One of my favorite things about Connecticut is the way he accepts me. There are plenty of things about me might bum him out, but he withholds comment. I really appreciate that, although I wonder if he is secretly taking stock of my selfishness and whorish tendencies. I wonder if a clock I don’t know about is ticking down, while I stall on making a decision.

I’m leaving for Greece shortly this weekend, and my roommate has always been the one who watches the rabbit while I was away. But she won’t be here, so Connecticut is taking her. I like to picture him, chasing her around his instrument-and-amplifier strewn apartment, trying to wrangle her back in her cage. This image makes me feel all those soft feelings I am unaccustomed to dealing with. You are turning me into a girl, I complain to him, with some fucking emojis for emphasis, just like a girl.

Fucking feelings. This weekend, I brought him with me to Gantries Park, unrolled a blanket, plopped down on it with him in the early spring sunshine, and read a book while using his torso as a pillow. I could hear him turning the pages of his own book; he reads fast. Basically, this exact tableau has been my fantasy of having a boyfriend for pretty much my entire adult life.

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Ugh, I can tell I like him because even this picture of his torso makes me happy.

And it happened, and it was so awesome that I couldn’t concentrate on my book because I was so happy that it was happening. Also, I kept looking at him and laughing, because his shirt matched the pattern of the blanket and it seemed funny to me that he came to this book picnic camouflaged.

He is camouflaged, concealed in the grain of my life, but I’m finding I don’t want him to be hidden. It’s not a secret that I like this guy. I take him with me to go look at a friend’s couch; she is moving to L.A. and I need a new couch. “Are you guys moving in together?” she asks us, making everyone uncomfortable.

By everyone, I mean me. I slept over Sketch’s the night before. Stay still, he tells me, pushing into me. Don’t move. This is all I want sometimes. To stay still. Not to move. Trapped under the sinuous weight of my addiction and crying out love. It’s a motherfucker; when Sketch is with me, I still feel like he loves me.

But the next day Connecticut and I buy sausage rolls and weird foreign sodas from the Irish grocery store in my neighborhood, and we go to the playground and watch the dogs in the dog-run, and make up voices to narrate their interactions, and he makes me laugh. He makes me laugh so hard, telling me about a friend of his whom was once found passed out naked beside a sex-toy ass that he had broken in two, that I fart, and then I sort of want to crawl under a car and hide there forever, but it is also funny, the sudden exposure. “It’s all the anal sex,” I complain, still laughing. “Any involuntary noises are mostly your fault.”

It’s all OK. This weekend I leave for Greece, running the way that I like to run, toward sunshine and good-looking foreigners who do not expect things of me. But the rabbit will be hidden here, with him talking to her in a soothing voice. I look at Connecticut I think maybe. He looks at me, with a gaze so unabashedly warm and doting that I realize: to him, I am Sketch. It’s a lot of responsibility, having someone be into you. It is fucking terrifying. It makes me need home, a door I can lock. But sometimes, I think I might want him on the same side of that door as me, his shoulder to it, helping me keep out all the monsters, lying to other people that I’m not there.

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Addiction, Blogging, Breakups, dating, essays, Getting Honest, New York, Sex, Writing

Is It Love, or Is It Oxytocin?

imgres-24Connecticut is the last thing I think about most nights, and most mornings he’s the first person I text after I wake up. Yet still I warn him, Don’t get your hopes up, dude. I’m not girlfriend material. I can feel his thoughts pull together like storm clouds, and yesterday when I call him he lays it down: he’s not going to be OK with sharing me with Sketch forever.

I’m not sure if he has been reading the blog or just reading me, noting my hesitation and how often I disappear to the Upper West Side. I try to picture not going back to back to Sketch’s studio anymore, and all I see is a bank of gray nothing. Because what would I do without Sketch? For so long he has been the organizing principle of my life; I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have him to chase after, the way who is the Hamburglar if you take away hamburgers? No one. Some sad former felon with no sense of direction.

I am a person who is defined by her wants, and yet when Connecticut asks what they are, I am flummoxed. In an ideal world, what does love look like for you? Not these exact words, but this is how I understand them, and I wish I could remove my entire brain and hand it do him, so he could see how it drips and glows like radium in a cave. Oxytocin kicking through every line, making all my thoughts as loud and unreliable as some drunk asshole at the back of the bar who takes your drink by mistake and wanders off with it to go tell lies.   I wish I could just hand my brain to Connecticut: here, you try dealing with this for a while.

What does love look like? This is impossible to answer, because it’s never the same thing from day to day, and desire flickers through everything like a faulty circuit. There’s a cute blond girl, maybe 23 years old, at my yoga studio, and sometimes I want to push her against a wall and jam my hands down her yoga shorts. And there’s lots of people I look at this way, and so sometimes I think love looks like a tiger stalking through the tall grass, golden eyes fixed unwaveringly on something soft and delicious. Love looks predatory. Love looks like freedom. Love looks like doing what you want to do because you want to do it, and not because someone thinks you are supposed to.

And sometimes love looks like history; there is archaeology to my fifteen-year affair with Sketch. There are ruins. There are motherfucking eras, and within them our inside jokes have grown like stalactites; I would share them here, but it is impossible to report on the private language of couples without it sounding fucking stupid, the way when you break off a stalactite and take it outside, it just looks like a shitty spear of limestone, all the magic lost. But we have our own language, Sketch and I, and if we stop talking again, it will probably be lost forever this time. Or for like six months. Same fucking thing.

But here’s a secret. Behind a private door in my head, love sometimes looks just like what everybody else has. Going to buy groceries together and discussing the relative merits of spicy guacamole vs. regular (Spicy. Spicy is the correct answer). Walking into someone’s house and having someone’s hand to hold instead of it being awkwardly jammed in my pocket or grasping around for a cookie or a cigarette or a drink because I always need to put something in my mouth like a socially-awkward toddler.   Secretly, I sometimes think love looks planning a trip together and then actually taking the trip because you can count on still liking one another in a month or two. I’m sort of ashamed of wanting this kind of love. It’s not very original. And it’s risky, horribly, nauseatingly risky.

When Sketch first left, I swore I was never getting involved in anything I couldn’t get over in a month, not ever again. My dating philosophy: like refusing to get any pet that is not flushable. If I don’t ever call anyone my boyfriend again, I don’t have to worry about a breakup. Because that only happens to people who have boyfriends. Even the word boyfriend makes me blanch, like when you pass by a nail sticking out of a board at eye-level, malevolent and rusty.

And yet my Connecticut likes a label. He confesses to wanting something more conventional, which is exactly what I knew would happen. I told you from the start, I want to protest. But the thing is, I was honest is not an excuse for being an asshole. I knew he would want the normal kind of relationship other people have, and I went ahead and took his pants off anyway. Now I can’t just protest that I warned him, even though I did. I’m responsible.  I knew, and I did it anyway.

I have told him I don’t want to be his girlfriend, but the truth is, feeling secure enough to tell him this sort of makes me want to be his girlfriend. Because I’m a crazy person, but also because I realize that he is the first man in my life that I haven’t lied to. Every other relationship I’ve ever been in has been padded with lies and faked orgasms and excuses about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing and smiles in the places where I felt like screaming. But I have been honest with Connecticut. And that’s what love looks like. It looks like when you’re afraid and you somehow tell the truth anyway.

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Addicted to attention, Breakups, dating, Sex, Sex Addiction, Writing, yoga

Is There Sex After The Friend-Zone?

FullSizeRender-15Connecticut confesses this week that he snuck a look at my blog, driven by a bolt of perverse curiosity, and then he tells me that I’ve gotten him wrong, all wrong.  “Come over here and tell me that,” I challenge.

So he comes over and he sits at one end of my hard little couch, his arms folded over his chest, looking like a bouncer for a nightclub which is in his pants. I’m at the other end in a black minidress, whorish in variety, intended for the bachelorette party I’m supposed to be at in an hour, and I lay back and let my icy feet seek him out for warmth, my palms chilly and damp because social anxiety always goes straight to my extremities. It’s the waiting that always kills me. The waiting and the talking. He tells me that it’s hard for him to make the move, and there are air quotes. “The move.” My heart breaks a little for this boy; I am eight years older than he is and sometimes it feels more like fifteen or twenty. “You can touch me,” I tell him. “You’re allowed to touch me.” He puts his hand on my leg, and then he kisses me uncertainly. His mouth tastes good.

Up until this point, I wasn’t entirely sure I even wanted him to kiss me anymore.   Something about being made to wait: I’ve been known to abandon baskets of carefully selected comestibles at Trader Joe in the long and snaking line, because after a while I just get offended and fucking leave.     And it’s been three months of telling anyone that would listen that Connecticut and I are friends, just friends, friends only, and that I like it better that way. But now he touches me, and the elevator doors of my soul ding open and a wall of oxytocin pours out.

His skin, when he takes his shirt off, is softer than mine, and he makes deeply appreciative noises when I pull my dress off (a dress I will have to put back on, slightly damp, in 30 minutes for the bachelorette party—I set a timer, and make it clear this is not enough time for sex, we’re just scouting things out). He’s been so fucking poker-faced for the last three months that I’m frankly a little astonished by how emotive he is once his pants come off.

Validation. I sigh, an addict with a fresh bundle behind a locked door. He even compliments my choice of underwear: black and strappy. No one ever notices your underwear; it’s usually a wasted effort. He touches me. I had forgotten to turn my all-girl Pandora station off before he got here, and I’m a little embarrassed by the Fiona Apple kicking out the speakers, but otherwise, I’m in a happy place.

A half hour later, the timer chimes and I have to try to reassemble myself for the bachelorette party. Still reeling from what literally just happened, I will squeeze into a carful of beautiful girls in tiny dresses; I will be given a penis straw and a penis lollipop and we will go to a drag show where my friends will be given penis balloon-animals which they will wear like hats. It’s a fever dream of revolving dicks, all to celebrate the fact that my good friend is transitioning to an astonishing phase of committedness called Lifelong Monogamy. And I am in the back seat, behind her novelty wedding veil, thinking about this new person I will be fucking. I text a friend of mine, Connecticut came over and he went down on me because I have to tell someone this or I am going to die. After I hit send, I realize that I sent it to the wrong person, some hapless acquaintance who now knows too much about how my Saturday is going.

Too many people, and it starts to all get confusing. I’m crashing at Sketch’s apartment tomorrow, helping him practice running through the basic series for his yoga-teacher training. He’ll be adjusting me, telling me what to do in that voice that broaches no argument, and afterwards he will come and lay on top of me in sevasna and fuck the ohm out of me. And I love him, I will love him until my ears ring, but I still want Connecticut, too.

Is it OK to want them both? I don’t know. A drag venue full of bachelorettes makes it seem that love is supposed to be one person finding one other person and then unconditionally being into each other and getting tax benefits forever. But mine doesn’t look like that.

I don’t know. I don’t know exactly how either man is supposed to take it either. Sketch and I talked about the okayness of sleeping with other people back in the fall, and we have just been sort of asking each other no questions since then. But I haven’t slept with anybody else. Partly because I’ve been working on other things, but also because I haven’t been sure that new dick wouldn’t feel like cheating.

I’m still not sure it won’t feel like cheating.   And Sketch has told me he doesn’t want a bunch of details, but I feel like the headline is pretty important: Sex Addict Fondles Nervous Man.  As for sweetly awkward Connecticut, whose junk has not been touched by another human in a motherfucking YEAR, I’m asking him to run with an unconventional relationship model that’s not going to make sense to a lot of people.

I want them both, but there is a skeptic in the back of my head telling me that people in hell want ice water, and little girls in city apartments want ponies, and no one ever gets what they want.

But I can try, right?

I know polyamorous people who seem like they were born without jealousy, but that is not Sketch and I either.  We are wholly untested; this whole open-relationship thing has been completely theoretical until now.  How will I feel, hearing about his extracurricular activities with the yogi girls that surround him, bendy and willing?  It’s just hard to break out of the monogamy shape when that is the pose you have held for so long.

In my handbag, there’s a blue raspberry ring pop from the bachelorette party, a corn-syrup totem of marriage. My rabbit has dug it own and dragged it under the bed, and is trying to tear open the wrapper with her teeth. The crunching, chewing sounds under the bed are appropriately monstery, but the real monsters are up here, not in between my legs but in between my ears, in the place where I know what I want but am scared shitless to just ask for it. But at least I know what I want. That’s a start.

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