Addiction, Blogging, dating, essays, Hot Mess, New York, Recovery, Sex Addiction, Writing

Save Me From The Things I Love

restraintwithpen.jpgA woman passes on the subway platform and I eyeball her chest.   Not because of her tits, which are formidable, but because of the slogan on her t-shirt: Save me from the things I love. I mentally collect subtitles for this blog, and that is probably my favorite so far.

There are many things that I love in spite of the consequences of loving them; from difficult men to risky narcotics, my favorite pastimes are the hazardous ones.  Even this blog is dangerous; it’s seeded with some unvarnished honesties, and as my sponsor likes to say, the more you tell the truth, the less people will like you.

I started writing the material for WYSD in 2013, after Sketch moved out.   I hadn’t just been broken up with, I felt like I was breaking up myself, like a voice over a shitty cell connection.    The blog, live since December of 2014, was a basket to put the pieces into while I drifted vaguely around New York humping strangers. When I write the blog, I feel the things that I want to feel in a relationship—honest, real, connected to other people. So I’ve kept it going. Almost five hundred pages of material later, it’s helped me to pin carefully constructed narratives onto a messy series of things that have happened.   It’s cheating, and I know it; the stories I tell are always true, but they’re too neat, too linear, too one-sided.   I bury the nuance in unpublished footnotes, with all the things that don’t fit my version of events.

Here are a few things that don’t fit the story I’ve been telling you: that the person I used to be still kicks to be let out, that I sometimes feel homesick for the fetid, roachy apartment where my ex and I fought and fucked and loved each other, that yesterday I had a meeting in the building where Sketch works and it made me miss him until I felt like sinking to the sidewalk and howling.

I thought if I only could find someone new to love I would stop missing him, but that was a lie.   Yet when I say these things here and hide them from Connecticut, my new boyfriend, I feel like I’m talking behind his back, and I don’t want that to be part of the story. Because this is a story about finally being truthful with someone, and the blog doesn’t fit.  It feels disrespectful, not just to him but to my newly-formed conscience, even as I continue to merrily type, self-justifying with practiced ease.

Connecticut and I are a mess, the both of us. We go to the Astoria carnival and play that game where you punch the punching-bag as hard as you can for points and, ultimately, glory. I have an overinflated sense of my own strength and I drop confidently into a fighting stance and throw a right, but I don’t stand far enough back and the bag hits me squarely in the face on the rebound.   Actions, and their equal and opposite fucking reactions.

Connecticut steps up to the punching bag to avenge me, decides to do some sort of spinning kick in his flip-flops and whiffs it, ends up on his back, bleeding at the elbows.   We have the best of intentions, but we both end up scraped and limping, felled by a children’s game.

We match. I am so glad that I found him. And if I sometimes have doubts about things and if I have fears, and if I sometimes look at my yoga teacher and want to have secrets, the blog makes it too easy to air them, to feed them and to keep them alive.

I don’t want to have things that I am telling everybody but him.

So I am breaking up with this blog.  It’s not you, it’s me.   I want to tell you that this is just a break, but that’s cowardly, so let’s not pretend this is temporary. Let’s just split up and walk away. I loved you, I really loved you. Leaving doesn’t change that. I just don’t think that you’re good for me anymore.

I write this post, and when I get up, I expect to feel lighter, but instead I feel like I’m carrying a dead pet in my arms. Stricken. Lost. I lose my shit and cry on the F train on the way home from school, losing my composure MTA-style for the first time since Sketch left. Supposedly, the train is where most people get their grief-weep on, because there’s nothing else to do while the subway shunts you to your destination, nothing else to look at but those advertisements for summertime breast implants, and you feel anonymous behind your sunglasses. If you drip, no one comments.

I get off at Broadway-Lafayette so that I can walk around the pet store there; my class hamster needs food, and looking at a bunch of guinea pigs and tortoises usually calms me down. But all the tanks are empty, the bowls turned upside down. They must be cleaning them.

I get a text from Connecticut; I told him that the blog is coming down, and he writes that I can always come and post things on his website . I feel sick, like someone tried to take me puppy-shopping with the dead one still cooling.

It’s not his fault, but I need a minute. It’s the distance from awareness to acceptance that hurts like a motherfucker, and I don’t want to tell Connecticut any of this, because I don’t want him to feel bad.   You can’t complain to the person you love about having to care about his feelings; I get to care about his feelings. I am amazed that I even can. Sketch was mortified by the existence of this blog, and I never offered to stop writing it, even though I loved him, and love him still.

Sketch and Connecticut never asked me to choose between having the relationship and writing about the relationship, and I’m deeply grateful to them both, and to all the men and women that I wrote about in this blog. Even that one fucker who threatened to sue me. I learned stuff from each of them, and it was interesting to try to come up with their pseudonyms.   If I’ve offended anyone in pursuit of a good metaphor, if protecting your privacy came in as a second priority to telling the story of how we got it on, I humbly apologize. I’ve done, as always, my best, even as it becomes apparent now how insufficient that really is.

So now, how to turn it off?   I imagine taking off the shovel necklace I have worn around neck for the last year and hurling it dramatically into the river, right here by the snags and rips of Hell’s Gate. But those Viking-funerals always go wrong, rings and photographs and small pets ending up marooned on the rocks along the East River. I think about tearing the whole thing down with my bare hands; I could delete the blog and forget my password and erase the files. But that’s just the drama talking. I think I will let it stand. Besides, the blog is subcutaneous. It’s under my skin. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and the most honest. Writing this made me happy. So thank you for reading it.

But the story here has reached an endpoint.

There will be other blogs. You’re not done writing, my friend Gabby reassures me.  I have a rough time with endings, and always read books from a series in the backwards order. I’d rather end with Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae still alive and fighting Indians, with Roland and his gang still intact and dreaming of the Tower.

And as for me, the school year just ended, and all the other teachers are glad to see the backs of the retreating kids, to get on with their summer travels, but I just feel lost and alone and left behind.

But the bald fact that it hurts doesn’t make it any less right to end it. Because maybe that’s what this blog has been all about, really. I thought it was about Sketch and the breakup and finding love, and it wasn’t really, and I thought it was about finding my way back to writing because nothing sucks harder than being a something that doesn’t do that something. But that wasn’t exactly the whole story either.

Maybe it was really about finding the space to care about another person enough that I don’t need to keep this room of my own open, whispering my secrets to the walls. Maybe it’s a mistake, but love always seems to happen that way, by accident and with plenty of pratfalls, like a punching bag that hits you back on the rebound.   The challenge for me has never been embracing something or someone new. I’m good at that part. The trick has always been letting go of these other things: these things I can trick myself into believing I can not live without, these things that cost me so much. These things that I love.

New York, 2016

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“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

–Gloria Steinem

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Addiction, Bad Things, Blogging, dating, Men, Queens, Relationships, Sex Addiction, Writing

Adulting is Hard

FullSizeRender-26I settle into my new digs like fog, my belongings dustily swirling around me. This newly purchased Queens apartment makes me feel like I’m in that movie where aborigines come into first contact with modern society; I am overexcited by the jetliner flush of the new toilet, and have made a god out of the dishwasher. I’ve always loved the sound of the dishwasher, it’s my favorite white-noise setting when I can’t sleep and need sounds to block out the terrifying podcast of my own thoughts. Now, I stretch out on the couch and listen to a machine wash all my plates. Where I once used the same toast plate and teacup over and over until they were too sticky to lift off the counter, I now select a clean glass each time I want a beverage.  It’s crazy.   I ride the elevator (the elevator!! It’s like getting a piggyback ride for you and your shit every time you want to go to the laundry room!) down to the basement to wash my blankets, and there are signs down here in 400-point font reminding me not to play in the laundry carts. I’m not sure how you play laundry carts, but now that they told me I can’t, it’s all I can think about.

Things are changing, but they also stay the same. Barely 72 hours of homeownership and I drop a decorative conch shell in the bathroom and manage to smash the ceramic toothbrush holder that juts out of the wall. IMG_3801.JPG  I have noted before that everything I own looks ready for a street rumble, dangerous and jagged. And yet it’s quiet here; my one-bedroom place faces the garden and there’s no one out there to fight but this one asshole bird that makes a mating-racket at one in the morning, and maybe myself.

I move in on a Saturday, Connecticut and these four dudes I emotionally blackmailed carrying my furniture down four flights of stairs, shunting everything out of the apartment I shared with Sketch for years and years and into a moving van. I feel like I should leave a message written in all the bedbug powder I’m leaving behind, some kind of warning to the next inhabitants: This apartment is haunted and also bugs live here. I run my hands over the murals that Sketch, my charismatic nightmare of an ex-boyfriend, left up on the walls; I kiss them on the lips. I love you, I tell the paint.   The ghosts, in return, say nothing.

Love him or not, this week I unfriend Sketch and his family on Facebook so that I can make the announcement that Connecticut and I are in a relationship; then I stand back a little to give the Internet the space to react to this weighty news, covering my ears and waiting for the blowback.

The Internet shrugs.

People are busy living their lives. There are adults here in my new complex, busily doing laundry and not playing in the laundry carts, and I feel disguised among them, clearly fraudulent and yet proud of myself anyways. I fix a mortgage over my head and blink out of the eyeholes. No one screams when they see me coming, although I do get a couple of odd looks as I pedal my piece-of-shit bicycle, dead leaves ticking in the spokes and the frame tacky with duct tape, down the sidewalk. My name is on the miniature license plate.

This is important, because this week I’ve been finding that I don’t exactly recognize myself. A week of living here, and this is the first time I’ve opened up my laptop. What if I can’t write here? What if writing was contingent on living in that sticky, haunted walk-up, a punk-rock Miss Havisham waiting for Sketch to come back for me? What if I have unwittingly traded in the place where the writing comes from for a dishwasher and a normal boyfriend?

Connecticut comes over, and the next day we drive to a Target to look at rugs for my new apartment, and I help him pick out a dress shirt for work, and inside, Tippy is screaming that she doesn’t even know what is happening here. Who is this adult and why am I wearing her pants?  I bike past the old place to drop off my keys with the super, who surprises me by giving me a stiff, one-armed Ukrainian hug and wishing me luck, and that’s it; I feel like there should be some ceremony here, some number where the entire ensemble comes from the last ten years comes onstage for a final song. But there is nothing. I look at my phone, because if Sketch was to call me at this moment, I would answer. I don’t know what I would say, but I would answer.

Instead I peddle away, wobbly. My adult self doesn’t quite fit. It’s stiff at the joints. Connecticut drives me to Bed Bath and Beyond, where we shop for a dustpan and a new garbage can. Get me the fuck out of here, Tippy internally rages. Connecticut and I go back to my place and fuck, and I talk him into peeing on me, because I need the bed, the bath, and the beyond. My inner addict and my inner adult duke it out for control, and when Connecticut and I go to Home Depot to buy the shit to hang my pots and pans rack, we also buy anchors for the bedroom wall to properly tie me down as a compromise.

I need to be restrained here for a little while. I’m not to be trusted, I want to tell everyone I pass. You can’t trust me to pay a mortgage like an adult. You fucking can’t trust me not to run. Sketch calls, and I let it go to voicemail, and I talk to Connecticut about the voicemail at dinner.  But I do not tell him: You can’t trust me not to hurt you.  But he does. Foolishly, the people here trust me not to play in the laundry carts, and it’s the trust that keeps me from climbing in and taking off.   It somehow staves off the impulse to ruin everything, before it all falls apart anyway, at least for the fragile moment.

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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, Arguments, Bad Influences, dating, essays, Labels, Sex, Sex Addiction, Writing

Fighting Men and Their Known Associates

images-71I gravitate to violent men. When I first met Sketch thirteen years ago, he was fresh from a ten-year bid at Attica, all biceps and easy confidence, and I could tell from the sure way he negotiated the sidewalk that he could handle himself in a fight. Kick, the last man I loved, or at least claimed to love in an increasingly insistent voice, was a skilled fighter, and everything he did was charged with aggression; he came at me like a suitcase full of bricks, slamming me back on the mattress, my teeth rattling like dice in a cup. The roughness always made me feel like I had his full attention, even though I secretly worried I would end up in a dumpster somewhere with a broken neck. In the end I had to cut him loose: I want a man who is scary but who is nice to me. Like having a pet dinosaur for a boyfriend.

I was just telling Connecticut my whole theory about how you can’t get dumped if you don’t have a “boyfriend,” and that this is why I’m done with boyfriends, and he jokingly proposes a different label for us: associates. I like this, think it sounds appropriately sinister. As in, that guy? Known associate of Tommy the Neck. People with troubled pasts have associates; violent people have associates.

Connecticut did a lot of boxing in college, with a minor in bar fights, and he shows me how to punch, half naked in his bedroom: hooks, jabs, upper cuts. You don’t really make a tight fist until the last moment, he tells me. He shows me how to drive the impact with my legs. But it doesn’t look like it would hurt that much, if he actually hit you.  He’s not scary.

He’s rough, but not in the intense, Tyler-Durdenish way that gets the dysfunctional side of my personality wet. Rather, he’s rough in the unfinished way of a thirty-four year old whom no girl has ever taken through Gentleman 101. He doesn’t think to open car doors for me, or to offer me a drink when I duck into his basement apartment (I am, it seems, doomed to love men who live in holes). When he drops me off late at home I turn around to wave at his car after opening my lobby door, and discover he was already driven away. I mentally compose a note from my killer: Thanks for driving away so quickly so I could get right down to cutting this girl’s head off. I’m into deep throat, but only from the other end. But I don’t text it to him. It seems a little mean to tease him. He’s a sweet person. He’s too sweet for you, whispers a voice, insistent as an obscene phone call in the back of my head.

Maybe I can just tell him. Come on, dude. Be a little meaner in bed. Get your shit together outside of it. Someone has to tell him, because he doesn’t know things like you can’t spank someone like you’re just kidding, and also you need to keep more than one clean towel in your apartment in case you have a guest. But my system is so jacked up with oxytocin that I can’t get it together to explain this to him.

He’s a kid, painfully cute and terribly awkward in equal parts, and I am reminded of the campsite rule of dating younger people, with thanks to Dan Savage: leave it nicer than you found it. And here I am, a camper with loose matches and a penchant for littering, my libido an unleashed dog. If this were a movie, you’d be shouting at the screen for him to get away from me.

He just doesn’t know things yet. He is only 34; when I was 34, I was still shoplifting lipstick from the drugstore, still siphoning pills off the top of other people’s prescription bottles, still lying to anyone who would listen. I still preferred comic books to novels, and I was still wearing enormous patent-leather platform heels and rainbow thigh-high socks to go run errands.   I would routinely commute on the subway with a bearded dragon lizard perched on my shoulder like a crazy person. So Connecticut is doing alright. He’s got more going on then I did at his age.

We meet in Long Island City and go to that amazing ramen place that only has one large table and doesn’t take reservations, and we split the bill. This is always an awkward thing because I never know whether I am unmanning someone by offering to pay my half of the check, but I feel uncomfortable with someone buying me a meal unless they are older or wealthier and Connecticut is neither of these things. Afterwards he stays at my place and I have to fight, every time he makes me come, not to say I love you. It feels like love, but what I actually love are orgasms. I am old enough to know this.

There is deep power in those words. I love you. Magic. I always say it first, and then often. I tell a lot of people that I love them. With men, it’s never about hearing it back. Sometimes they look a little at a loss for words; the worst is when you tell someone that you love them and they thank you.  Ugh. That’s a weird thing; they may as well just say, “I don’t love you, and now it’s awkward.” Every man I’ve ever professed to love, I’ve declared it before the orgasm had cooled off, but I’ve promised myself I won’t do that with Connecticut. I keep my mouth shut tight.

Because I still feel like running. I can’t fall asleep with Connecticut in my bed; he wraps his arms around me until I can’t move, trapped, and I want to tell him, I love you, but can you please just fucking stay on your side of the bed? I can’t sleep, my brain making that whining noise it makes when I’m about to have a panic attack. When I shift into a hypervigilant semi-doze, I’m woken first by a fight outside on the street, and then later by bloody dreams and the vague sense that something terrible and bloody has happened to Sketch.

I love you, I want to say. Mostly because I like saying it, to anyone. But you don’t get to unsay it.   And there are diminishing returns each time you repeat it, because when I tell Sketch that I love him, it feels less and less like magic and more and more like conversational filler. I like it best when Sketch grabs me hard, and there is no more talking.   I like it when he puts his hand over my mouth.

Connecticut wants to talk, and I can feel a big conversation coming. I don’t want to hurt him, but I know that my answers to the questions he has will hurt. Maybe this is the real truth of why I am drawn to tough men; I like people whom I can throw the full weight of myself against, all my lust and greed and momentary love, certain that I will not break them. I’m confident by now that I know how to reattach my own pieces, but I don’t know how to put you back together.

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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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Fighting, Men, Relationships, Sex Addiction

Fighting Words, Saving Face

images-17In any relationship, only one person gets to be Batman. There is only one alpha dog and, with Sketch, I am not it.  It’s just easier to cede territory; I have never been a confrontational person, and my favorite rhetorical strategy for winning an argument is to never speak to you again.   In this round with Sketch, I am lowering my chin and retreating into that familiar silence.  From this, I hope he will deduce that he is being mean when he gets mad at me for canceling dinner plans.  His horrible cat joins in the nocturnal bullying, pushing at my headphones with a paw while I am trying to listen to ambient noise (my favorite track is the dishwasher, with clothes dryer a close second.  I’m not sure what it says about my personality that I prefer the sound of large domestic appliances to an ocean or a campfire or some shit).

Now I am waiting for him to get over it, a patient monk-like expression on my face.  The problem is I want to check in every fifteen seconds.  Are you still mad?  How about now?  How about NOW?  This must be more infuriating than the original infraction, but I can not help myself.

Complicating things a bit is my love of punishment: the sound of Sketch pulling his belt through the loops of his pants undoes some latch deep inside me.  Does the meaning of the recreational ass-beating change when he is pissed because I’m unable to keep dinner plans with some of his friends at fucking Pio Pio Rio on Sunday?   I can’t figure it out.  All I know is that when his hands are on me I fucking dig it, and I am completely into this man, and this is the one time when I feel completely and utterly in the moment.

But afterwards, he is still mad at me.  The cartoon me would have a frown and two big question marks overhead.  Deduction: amazing sex does not buy me out of trouble.  I want to say something, but my jaw feels painted shut.  In the night, his horrible cat pops a single claw like a hypodermic needle through the soft, vulnerable underside of my foot, and he is irritated when my yelp startles him awake.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a say in this relationship, which is probably why I need to get up in the morning, after a night of not sleeping in the smoke and in the cats, to lay the words down for my side with a purr of animal relief.

I try to just keep moving. When I am walking around New York, I sometimes put my foot into invisible holes; one minute, upright, and the next on the sidewalk. My relationship has these hazards too. I don’t understand what I’ve done this week, but I seem to be in time-out. Vaguely disappointed in me about something, Sketch is showing some work this week at his studio, and I somehow get uninvited from the opening. I wonder if it’s because I look weird. My face is still bearing a hard left, a result of a recent bout with Bell’s Palsy that leaves me smirkier than usual. I ask him what he is upset about, but it seems he doesn’t want to give me a talking-to while my range of facial expressions is so limited.   I find I am smiling less, and that this is not a bad thing—I only smile when I really want to, for a change.

The newly paralyzed side of my face is curiously unlined; it would look like pretty badass Botox if only both sides matched. I wear my hair over one half, like a burn victim, and peep out from behind the curtain. My friend Dawn tells me that the people who say it is not noticeable are fucking lying to me, and I appreciate the candor, rethinking my plans to go to some party where that boxing match is being shown. I decide to go anyway, and sit next to a neurologist from Cornell who serves as the fight doctor when they happen here in New York. He tells me about the correlation between yoga and brain injuries, and I feed bits of cracker into the working side of my mouth, wondering if this is something else I’ve done to myself.

I watch men onscreen punishing each other, their faces wet and glove-burned. One man has his shorts up higher than the other; after a certain point, you may as well cut eyeholes in the waistband and call them all low-blows. I have no idea what I am watching, and go sit down next to an attractive curly-haired man who explains things to me. When I lean forward for my seltzer, he puts his hand briefly on the bare place where my shirt rides up my rib-cage, and I feel that Vegas thrill in the part of my brain that needs attention, that needs to be touched. I settle in closer to him, and we watch the fight and trade bits of snark, his hand on my leg. Tom Brady is sitting ringside, and his head looks three times larger than anyone else’s.  Some people just have punchable faces.

I’m not supposed to be doing any of this; I know I’m just upset because Sketch is being distant, and that the fantasy of new sex feels better than the reality of handling the problems with the one I’ve got. My face hurts when I talk about this relationship, I want to tell him. I can’t just smile my way through it; all I’m packing is this half-smirk.

All Sketch and I do this week is pummel one another, and all I want to do is wrap my legs around this curly-haired stranger.   I am tired of Being Good.   I am tired of keeping score. I just want to throw a chair at somebody, grab for down low.

But you can’t escape who you are. I fold myself in close to the curly-haired man when I hug him goodbye, but leave on my own. I will lay awake in bed when I get home, feeling my bruises; I had acupuncture today, although I am coming to suspect that integrative medicine is bullshit. Fix me, I yell to the East and to the West. East and West retreat to their corners, leaving me in the middle making promises to myself that I will learn to swing, wondering what the over/under is on saving what’s left of my face.

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Drew Barrymore, circa my bisexual years. God, I loved this picture when I was twenty.

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