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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dating, Fantasy, Love, Travel, Writing

Quick, Hide Your Feelings Behind Some Witty Banter

images-40 The first serious crush I ever had was on this boy who sat next to me in the fourth grade. He had light brown hair, the kind we used to call dirty-blond, and wore a lot of buffalo plaid. Let’s just call him Peterbilt for the sake of this anecdote; things the kid loved included trucks, sports cars, and holding his pencil at crotch level under his desk so it looked like a boner. I thought he was hilarious.

After weeks of plotting, scribbling feverishly in my Garfield diary, and not learning any math because I was busy making Peterbilt tell me he loved me in my head, I had a friend of mine call him into an unsupervised classroom at recess one day. I popped out of the closet wailing with preadolescent lust and kissed him, wrapping my arms around him so he couldn’t get away, nine-years-old and already livid with the need to touch and to be touched. My lips landed somewhere between his lips and one of nostrils, and when I released him and ran he made theatrically exaggerated gagging noises, scrubbing his cheek with his plaid sleeve.

For the rest of elementary school, he kept a safe distance from me, while I watched him creepily from the outskirts of the playground. My favorite song that year: “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. I can’t explain what I found so captivating about Peterbilt; I just remember that his eyes were darker than his hair and that he had all his adult teeth in early and that he made me laugh. I would cry myself to sleep, luxuriating in the adultness of being in love, wanting him to love me back.

Being in love, I remember reflecting, is when you want someone bad enough that it makes you cry.  This would be my functioning definition of love for years to come.

In adulthood, I have developed a weird reflex to this sort of unreturned affection. I can be totally into someone, but if I get no response from that person, I lose all interest almost immediately. It is a strange, self-protective thing, as sudden as if a hook had been inserted into my heart and the infatuation yanked out.   I don’t chase people who don’t want to be caught.  Only at age nine was I tough enough to want someone who showed no signs of wanting me back.   The possibility of unrequited love today is too scary and too painful.

And yet, I’m back in New York now, and I can’t stop thinking about Squeeze and our last night together in Paris. I just love the narrative of it; we first crossed paths near the Louvre, we kissed on the Seine.  I’m already mentally drafting the deeply satisfying story of our relationship to tell some casual acquaintance I will meet in the future. It’s just so different that my usual dating arc, which is usually along the lines of we first crossed paths on Tinder, we kissed on the sidewalk outside my building next to some trash.  It seems only right that this story continues with Squeeze moving to New York, where we can fall in love under the turning leaves. Then, a white space, followed by our wedding in his hometown of Venice.

When I have this fantasy, we’re not actually getting married; in the fantasy, I am telling somebody about getting married. The fantasy is about what an incredible story it would be, as I float off in a gondola with this man I know absolutely nothing about. Not knowing him makes it so much easier to tack all my hopes on him; there is plenty of room for all my projections.

I keep reminding myself that Squeeze is a person, not some actor put here to speak the lines I want to feed him.   We have texted since I got home, and his texts are perfectly nice. He wishes me a safe flight home, for example. Polite. Perfunctory. I do not want these things; with one date between us, I want passion, I want a pet name, I want exclamation marks. I look at his picture so many times that my phone burns out in the middle of the day.

I am burning.

I do not like to feel this hot, this bothered. I don’t want to want somebody this badly. It is too risky. Better to divvy my attention up between three or four men that I will tell people are alright “for now.” I am plagued by the sense that Squeeze is simply too elegant, too worldly, too beautiful for the likes of me.   Insecurity stacks on top of insecurity like a tower of boxes, each housing something I don’t like about myself.

You would never guess the depth of my infatuation from the studied casualness of my texts to him, which say things like: Enjoy your last week in Paris! Try to make it to the Catacombs before you leave. The single exclamation mark is my only concession to the subtext of this message, hidden subtext which reads I LOVE YOU AND YOUR FACE PLEASE COME TO NEW YORK AND BE MY BOYFRIEND.

Hope kind of sucks. Hope hurts. It’s hard to want things.  It feels greedy, to want Squeeze to want me back. It should be enough that I found him, and spent a night with him in Paris. What do I expect? Waiting for him to come to New York, fantasizing about a future that likely exists only in my head, I feel like I am back in the fourth grade hiding in the closet, waiting for the boy I want to come so I can spring out and kiss him.

I do a little Facebook digging, to see if I can find Peterbilt. I want to see what he looks like now, the sort of man he has become. I want to find out if he grew into his adult teeth and if he ever managed to acquire the sort of sports car that graced the cover of his Trapper Keeper.

Instead, I find out that he died the year after high school, drunk, behind the wheel of his very ordinary vehicle.   We don’t always get the things we want, or the endings we deserve. We don’t always get to see people again, and the narrative arc is not always satisfying.   Sometimes it’s just an ending.

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