Addiction, Awkward Moments, Bad Influences, Boys, Confessions, Girls, Open relationships, Sex, Writing, yoga

How Open Is Too Open?

images-75I never know how I will feel about things until they actually happen.

While I’m no longer chasing an open relationship (as in sex parties, multiple partners, monthly STD tests) I still need an open relationship (as in communication, trust, those other pervy emotional things I’ve only ever heard rumors about), and it feels kinky and dangerous, telling Connecticut everything. Especially this week, when everything includes the stimulating fact that I made out with an epically hot girl from yoga in the bathroom of a Cuban restaurant.

Openness. It’s a theme this week. A few days ago, I found out something about Sketch. I can’t write it here, because it’s a secret. A sad sex secret. His friend told me because he thought I knew already, and then I had to pretend to be cool while we finished dinner with my heart kicking at my ribcage. Nearly fifteen years I’ve been walking around not knowing this grubby piece of information, and when I found out, it felt like when you think there’s one more step at the top of staircase, but there’s not, and for a half-second you feel like you’re plummeting to your death. Sketch’s friend, realizing I didn’t know: Oh. Fuck. Don’t tell him that I told you. I wouldn’t want him to think that I was a tattletale. I fucking hate when someone has a sordid secret and they tell you and now it’s your sordid secret. And I can’t even follow up the way I want to, which at some elemental level would basically consist of me pointing my index finger at Sketch while making disbelief noises.

Clearly, it’s not something Sketch is advertising, so the compassionate thing is to let it go. But I need to tell someone, and so I tell Connecticut, and even though we are talking about my ex, he is able to listen and suggest a kinder perspective than the one I was initially able to take.

This is one reason why I am in love with him. I love you, I say right into the phone, right where he can hear me. Holy shit, I love you, waking up next to him in the middle of the night and realizing that he’s there with me. Texting: I loooooove yooooouuuuuu, because I think it’s funny that I get to say it all I want, after wanting to say it so badly all these weeks.

A relationship of openness. It’s amazing.  Because there are some things going on, and I need to talk about them.

 

images-76And now for a dirty confession: I have a weakness for small, beautiful women.  Back when I lived in New Orleans, I lived in a rented room over a bar, and I would sometimes go downstairs and look for the tiniest woman in the bar. If she didn’t protest too much, I would carry her upstairs where I could kiss her and squeeze her ass a lot in private. Women this small and beautiful and willing don’t wander into grabbing range that often, especially now that I don’t hang out in bars and strip clubs anymore, so I usually am just nursing one crush or another at my yoga studio. I’ve written about it before as being a pastime akin to a dog chasing rabbits in the backyard—it doesn’t expect to catch one. The playful chase is the point.

Well, one got close enough for me to grab this week. Beautiful, tiny, all taut stomach and dewy skin, the kind of shapely legs you want to get your knee between. Gorgeous.   The kind of girl you know will taste good.   And looking for something.   Looking for an experience.

Now, I have to tell you: this never happens. NEVER. N-E-V-E-R happens. But this one time, the thing that never happens actually happens and after a few drinks, there is an invitation to go lock the door of the single-occupant bathroom at the back of the restaurant and make out for a few delicious minutes next to the hand-dryer. Grabbing tight handfuls of this girl, grinding myself against her, touching her body not only on my behalf but on behalf of former Tippy, who I am mentally elbowing. Check it out, I say to my former self. Get a load of this.

She is tight and sexy and tastes wonderfully like girl, but when I head home, texting Connecticut goodnight, I feel a strange emotion that is not my usual acquisitive glee. It feels like guilt.   What the shit? It was just a kiss, and with a girl. To not kiss a girl this unbelievably hot would be like this would be like leaving money on the table. Wasteful. Right?

But the next day, the feeling is still there. I think I might feel better if I could just show everybody a picture of this girl in full-split on Instagram.  I mean, Connecticut and I are officially an item now, but come on. This girl is sex in yoga pants, and I am a sex addict, for fuck’s sake. Who could possibly blame me for wanting to push her up against a wall and touch her body?

So that happened is an expression I sort of hate. It makes it sound as if the events we set in motion are like weather patterns, ungovernable and unpredictable.   When I think about what I want to say to Connecticut about what happened with this girl in the bathroom, I write it just happened, and then cross it out three times.

What did you want to tell me? he asks the next night. He and I are on the phone and it’s late and I’m sitting on the floor. I read him my prepared statement, trying to sound like I’m not reading a prepared statement. I just wanted to let you know what happened, and hear about how you feel, I conclude, increasingly uneasy at the mounting silence on the other end of the line. Men are into this kind of shit, aren’t they?   Don’t they always want the details? I mean, it was a girl, not some dude. Not my ex.

Sexist goddamned double-standards, and I know it, too.

I’m not OK with that, he says quietly. And I know that I have fucked up. And it’s weird, because all I usually care about, ever, is whether or not I am in trouble, whether or not somebody is mad at me. And there’s a lot of that now, but mostly what I feel is horror when I realize that I have hurt him.

And I say all the things: I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, I didn’t know, we hadn’t gotten clear on what our rules were, I suck, I’m sorry.   And still he is hurt.

So basically this week, I told him I loved him for the first time, called him my boyfriend, and immediately went out and cheated on him. I am literal human garbage.

So yeah. That happened. Now I’m waiting to see if we’re going to be OK, and when I wake up this morning at 4:30 because some alarm is going off down the street, I pull the pillows over my head like I want to bury myself.

Giving up, I get out of bed and make my way to the kitchen with a drag-footed gallows walk. And there is a text waiting for me on my phone from Connecticut, from the night before. I’m about to go to sleep and these are things you might need to read in the morning. Breathe. You’re okay, I’m okay. We’re okay and going to be great. I love you.

My goal now is to figure out how to actually deserve this man. You’re okay, I tell myself. You’ll make better mistakes tomorrow. I try to believe it. There is air in the open space between us, and I breathe it, nervously.

 

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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, Bringing Yourself, Distance, essays, Men, Photography, Relationships, Sex, Teaching, Writing

Giving a Shit, And Other Things That Hurt

IMG_3581.JPGThe Eftilou guesthouse where we’re staying is surrounded by hordes of semi-feral cats, needy and squalling, their ears shredded, their tails bobbed, some of their eyes missing. Battle cats: they fight and fuck late into the night in the jasmine-scented darkness. It seems like it’s always quiet in Greece until the cats or the church bells raise a sudden commotion, or some men from the local village start shooting shotguns at an effigy of Judas Iscariot tied to a pine tree. It’s Greek Orthodox Easter, and my friend and I are looked after by an old Greek woman whom I want to jam into my suitcase so she will come back to New York with me and be my new grandmother. She bakes me cookies. She picks me some strawberries.   She enthusiastically wishes me good morning in her thick accent. I love her.

But mostly the first thing I want to do when I get back to the guesthouse is get on the wifi so that I can text Connecticut. It’s a jones, low-level but persistent and distracting, like wanting a cigarette or something with sugar in it. Back in New York it is lunchtime; he’ll be sitting out in Union Square Park, and I can usually talk him into taking a selfie to show me what color tie he is wearing. I don’t particularly care what tie he is wearing, but I love that there is a person who will photograph themselves at my demand, for my personal pleasure.

But the wifi is out in Eftilou; there was a storm earlier this week that chucked rocks up onto the esplanade and swallowed deck chairs whole. It was a day to be relieved that the Coast Guard is turning back the Syrian refugees that are trying to cross the Mediterranean out of nearby Turkey; they wouldn’t have survived the five-mile crossing today. I, meanwhile, am a person whose worst problem is that she does not have wifi, and I am losing my shit. Because I can not text Connecticut, and if I can not text him, I worry that maybe his attention will shift to something or someone else. After all, that is my modus operandi: code name Out Of Sight, Out of Mind.

And now I care, and it is hard, caring. I still remember the way he side-eyed me back in December when I told him, I find you riveting. I’m pretty sure the only way I was able to get this close to him was by being all casual and ambiguous, still ducking out to go crawl under my ex. I got close to him the way you get close to a shy cat: a careful display of disinterest. I think of the battle cats outside, who wind around your ankles, hoping for scraps; the second you make eye contact and extend your arms, they bolt.

And now I catch myself pursuing Connecticut with my arms outstretched, texting him that I want one of his old t-shirts to sleep in because I miss his smell, my stomach lurching when I see his name, wildly swinging my phone around in circles trying to catch a bar. A throbbing cliché. Next I will start drawing hearts in a notebook and checking out his horoscope in the newspaper.   It’s terrible. He has a hundred and ten percent of my attention and I’m worried I’m going to freak him out, because my full attention is scary, and what if he only likes me elusive and disinterested?

So maybe it’s good that there’s no wifi. It might save me from myself.  For all he knows, I’m down on the beach with some Greek fishermen, running my fingers through their beards. This is a country where, to appropriate a line from Bill Bryson, the hottest man you’ve ever seen is blocked from your view by the next hottest man you’ve ever seen. I walk around smiling at people I could easily fall in love with for a week or two, fists balled under my chin. I flirt, but halfheartedly.

All my attention is directed on Connecticut, sunlight intensified through the magnifying glass that is my addict brain. I wonder if he’s puzzled by the change. I’ve been gently nudging him away for weeks, only making plans with him at the last minute, trying to schedule him around Sketch, replying to his lengthy texts with a single, distracted emoji, getting naked with him in the afternoon on days when I know I have something to do in the evening. And then one day I just wake up in Greece and find myself wanting to be this man’s girl, and it’s fucked up. I’ve already told him that I don’t want to be his girlfriend, that I think monogamy is for suckers, that I am not a relationship person.   And this is why you should never make sweeping pronouncements about yourself; you will only need to walk them back later.

How do people handle it? All the feelings? It’s like some rock over my soul just got kicked over, and this is what is underneath. It’s gross, and scary.

There is a smoking hot yoga teacher I know who invited me to go to some sort of girl-on-girl party in Brooklyn. That is what I am supposed to be doing with my life, not this thing where I feel so needy, where I want constant reassurance, where I need to see what color tie the man is wearing just to breathe normally again.

But alas, my phone has no wifi. Also, a few days ago, my phone’s iMessage shit the bed, and now I can’t hear from anybody unless they get me through Facebook or What’sApp (the worst application name ever, by the way. I can’t say it without wanting to punch my own self in the face). So also Sketch doesn’t know what happened to me. For all he knows, the cats got me.

I can’t even begin to think about having the conversation with him about Connecticut, and how this changes things. Every time I try to bring up the subject with my brain, all my thoughts dart away into some bushes, startled and wild. I can’t shake the conviction that this is really it, this time. I’m not going to frame this departure as a date-stamped break, or claim I’m just going to see what it’s like to date other people. I love someone else, and I need to put him first now.

It is a phyllo dough comprised of flaky layers of guilt, oozing with grief and dried lust-fruits. That is exactly the Greek pastry that my relationship to my ex now is.   Something you would feed to the stray cats to get them to leave you alone.

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It’s not Greek Orthodox Easter without this horror show.

I’ve reached my last day in Greece; I’m typing this from the tiny balcony of a cut-rate hotel. Greek Orthodox church bells woke me up at seven, and I came out here to write for a bit, looking up at the Acropolis. You can see it from everywhere around here, it seems like.

Ten days without sex and I feel a little more leveled out. I dreamed about bondage last night and woke up unsure of who had me tied up, Connecticut or Sketch.   Maybe neither. Maybe it’s a symbol or something.

I didn’t do much here. My friend and I came to volunteer with the refugee crisis, but we spent most of our days aimlessly looking for people to tell us what to do in various overstaffed storage warehouses. We folded and labeled clothing donations from boxes where it had already been folded and labeled.  FullSizeRender-22.jpgWe went to the beach up by the lighthouse and climbed down with the environmental crew to help cut apart rubber dinghies caught on the rocks, allowing me to live out my lifelong fantasy of wearing a knife and work-gloves with a bikini, but the work could have been done in minutes with proper equipment.   Everyone here is just kind of waiting for the borders to reopen, and I feel embarrassed when my friend posts humble-brag photos on Facebook. We are tourists here, trying to blend in with the real humanitarians that have been in the camps for months.

We loiter around the gates at Kera Tepe, the refugee camp outside of Mitilini, still hoping to Do Something Good. There’s a power strip at our picnic table, so when a couple of Yazidi men come out to charge their phones and electric shavers, they have no choice but to talk to us.   That’s how we end up having English class with their children and their wives, twenty-five Yazidi in the adjacent olive grove. What words do you teach someone who has no English? (They do know the ABCs, however, everyone including the men singing the song right up to the next time won’t you sing with me part in a heavily Kurdish-accented English) Cherry-picking vocabulary to pass along, I go with members of the family, things that you wear, the names of the things on your face. They take careful notes, double-checking the letters, and teach me Kurdish for the same, but I forget it immediately. I would make a terrible refugee. I am a bad swimmer and my brain is like a fossil in a can.

What these people have been through, are going through, will go through as they petition for asylum in one of the few countries willing to take them, is a bigger and more important topic than I am willing to ham-fistedly tackle in my silly sex blog. But I can tell you that the only time I stopped thinking about Sketch and Connecticut and the whole mess was when a five-year-old refugee girl slipped up next to me as we walked back to camp, and put her tiny hand in my hand. She didn’t ask. She just trusted that I would take care of her. And the only time I stopped thinking about whether I really love Connecticut, and whether I should tell him, and whether I am capable of actually loving anyone because I only think about myself all of the fucking time, is when a Yazidi boy the age of my students at home, gorgeous with his hazel eyes and thick eyelashes, stopped me by our rental car to practice his new vocabulary: I love you.   I lost it for a moment, my throat almost too tight to return the English. I love you too. I mean it. In the moment I mean it.  For now, it’s the best I can do.

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Come to Lesvos!  They supported the refugees and now they need support; tourism is down 85% here.  Also, there are no annoying tourists around being all annoying.  So it’s win-win.

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Addiction, Bringing Yourself, Confessions, dating, essays, Sex, Travel

Brace Yourself For Impact

FullSizeRender-19This is the week I realized, with the dawning horror one feels when one has left one’s wallet in the backseat of a hastily departing taxi, that I am in love with Connecticut.

He doesn’t know that I love him. I hadn’t noticed it myself until a few days ago. A friend of mine, hosting a fundraiser in Astoria chockablock with attractive weirdos, asked me to read a piece from the blog as part of the event. Normally, this would be a cherished opportunity to try to speak my filthiest lines directly at the cutest person in the room, but instead I invite Connecticut to come along to hear me. I contemplate reading something about him, because it would be sort of easier to tell him that I love him through a microphone with a bunch of people around; I could be offhanded about it, love with padding.

But I back down at the last moment, and read something from the archives, making conspiratorial eye contact with everyone except Connecticut. The piece is about someone I really liked—until I didn’t like him anymore. This is the thing that scares me: I don’t trust my own feelings, which blow around like garbage in the street, like plastic bags, ghosts of last week’s groceries wrapping themselves indiscriminately around people and tree branches and utility poles alike. I love Connecticut now, but what happens when the wind changes direction?

So I can’t tell him, but it feels good to stage whisper at you guys, I LOVE HIM. Sometimes I text it to him at times when I know the text will not go through. If the subway was to reemerge into daylight and restore my broadband access unexpectedly, all would be lost.

I ask him, Does it freak you out that I write about you? He answers that he is happy to let me blog in private, trusting me not to write anything that would hurt him. He tells me he loves that I have something that I love. And when I stand at the microphone and read about another man putting the dick to me, I chance a quick look in Connecticut’s direction, and he is laughing along with everyone else. And that is when I know that I love him.

That night I go back to his house, and for the first time, I am able to sleep next to him. We are like two porcupines, so bristling with defenses that it is amazing they can possibly find a way to make more of themselves, yet somehow Connecticut and I have managed to line up our soft, vulnerable underbellies. You’re safe here, he tells me. Sometimes when he talks to me like this, I have to duck my chin like a child confessing to a lie. It’s honesty, not deception, that makes unable to look him in the eye.

He drives me to the airport the next day, just like a real boyfriend. My rabbit is in a cage in his backseat, staying with him for the week. It’s hard to let him drive away without saying anything. “I love you,” I say to the rabbit in the backseat, but really secretly to Connecticut. I kiss him goodbye a little sloppily; the car is triple-parked.

On the plane, there is a video that shows how to prepare for an emergency. Remove any sharp objects from your pocket. Take off your high heeled shoes. Hug your knees and brace for impact. Relationships should come with some emergency instructions too, illuminated arrows to show you which way to go. A stewardess, unencumbered by high-heeled shoes or sharp objects, would tell you which things around you float.

On the plane, there is a handsome black man in the seat next to me; his pecs and biceps fill out his t-shirt exactly the way that I like. But I do not chat him up. I let him have the armrest.   I land in Athens, a city where new things are built around the ruins of the old, and I relate to it. Athens knows it’s OK to cling a little to your past. Your past is important. She puts plexiglass around it, to protect it from the people coming out of the Starbucks next door, and goes about her business. Ten minutes from the Acropolis I pass a sex-video shop, and the monitor in the window is playing a cooking show; langoustines have never looked so dirty.

Everywhere here are men with smiles full of white teeth, and dark, soulful eyes, and beards, and no jobs.  Precisely the kind of men that make my knees part. Normally I would have tried to cram two or three into my vagina by now. But I am thinking about Connecticut, and whether I will tell him that I love him, and how that changes things. I even fly to Lesbos without referencing lesbians every eleven seconds. On the island, the rush of attention from some gorgeous Greek soldiers, any of whom I would ordinarily want to break international laws for, is enough to wake me from a jet-lagged stupor when my friend and I stop to ask them for directions. But it’s not enough to shake me out of loving Connecticut.

It’s fucked up.

I get a long-distance text from Sketch; he’s graduating from yoga teacher training this week, and he has some work in a show. He sends me a picture of himself, standing in front of a drawing of a woman with a flower in her hair. It is beautiful. He is beautiful. And still I love Connecticut.

I want to be like Athens: preserve my ruins, and build around them. Whatever Connecticut will end up being to me, he will not be what Sketch was, and that’s probably a good thing. I don’t need to take all the worry beads out of Sketch’s jar and dump them into Connecticut’s.

When I get back, we should talk about us as an Us, I text him, and then want to grab it back, but it’s already gone. Too late. I drive past goat farms and olive groves, the landscape choked with wildflowers, and I think about Connecticut telling me, I’ve got you. You are safe.

What the fuck would happen if I had a functioning adult relationship where all my needs were being met? More importantly, what the fuck would I write about?

No idea. Maybe I’ll finally start that blog about bathrooms from around the world. I am riveted by weird public restrooms, like the one in the airport in Bolivia that had one giant communal roll of toilet paper outside the stalls.

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Why is the toilet inside the shower, Greece?  Everyone pees in the shower, but you don’t need to be so obvious about it.

I came to this island to try to do Something Good, to think less about myself.  To clean up the beach and try to clean up my karma a little.  To sort supplies for the Syrian refugees and try to sort myself out.  My friend and I buy 300 pairs of women’s underwear for the refugee camp in Moria, because clean underwear is in desperately short supply. The soldiers won’t let us past the first checkpoint, but they accept the panties smiling handsomely, promising to deliver them for us.

And it doesn’t help. It reminds me of my self-centeredness without alleviating any of it. Molyvos, where I’m writing this, is beautiful, but I can’t leave myself on another shore, as badly as I want to. I think about Connecticut, and I silently count all the sharp objects.   I love him uncomfortably, and with five thousand miles between us, I hug my knees, bracing for impact.

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Lesbos.  It is nice and you should come here.

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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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Animals, Awkward Moments, Books, dating, Death, essays, Grief, Open relationships, Sex, Uncategorized

Dig Up Your Pets

images-72My affair with Sketch is the longest, distance-est relationship I’ve ever had. He’s just across the river in Manhattan, but he may as well be ten thousand miles away, living in some place where the toilet flushes in the other direction and people eat with things that are not forks. It’s Distance: things happen over there and I only get the reportorial headlines. His cat died on Tuesday, that skinny black rag of a feline that for a decade jumped up and insinuated itself under the covers every time Sketch and I were done fucking, the cat that served as my favorite metaphor for our weird relationship and as a reason to be glad we no longer lived together. I never could sleep right with it walking on my pillow.

But it is sad, of course it is sad, and I should be there with him, but I’m not, I’m just working, and I get in trouble for using my cellphone before my students have left. After work I go uptown to find him, trying to strike the right balance of sympathy and nonchalance, knowing he will recoil if I overdo it. He’s hurting but I strike all the pathos from my voice, buy him a tuna melt at the diner, try not to cry. I think that the diner is playing all my favorite music, and I amazed that a midtown diner would have such an awesome playlist until I realize that actually the music is coming out the tinny speakers of my phone in my handbag, not from overhead. As with all things, it takes a disturbingly long time to realize this.

I’m planning to go home with him, to help him with all the depressing chores that one has to do after bringing home an empty cat carrier from the Humane Society, but he says he wants to be alone, and so I hug him and leave him on the corner and go back to my own selfish pursuits, trying not to think about the cat.

 

When Sketch and I first met, that cat was a kitten; the length of our relationship was something’s lifetime. But I guess that can be said of anything, even thimages-73e week I was wrapped up with the hot Roman journalist who lives down the street from me. There are plenty of things that only live for a few days.

But everyone’s favorite illusion is that you can find something with someone that will last forever. And there is irresistible sweetness to that idea; witness last Sunday, when I dance with Sketch at a close friend’s wedding. Our knees bump because I am a terrible dancer unless my partner is a pole. I tell Sketch that I love him, my throat a little tight, because I am oversensitive and I cry at sentimental things like weddings or when you put glasses on a baby and it sees clearly for the first time. I like to claim that I never cry, while unconsciously flexing my biceps, but this is a lie. I well up all the time, eyes big and wet, I’m just good at pushing that shit back down.

Sketch and I sneak off to go explore the reception hall, and to our delight we find the room for staged photographs: a fake fireplace with coat of arms, a bridge with mock foliage and trellis, a home with a white picket fence so that one person can pretend to be carrying the other over the phony threshold. I could stay in this room forever, pretending. Pretending that I am only pretending.

A friend sidles up to me after the bride and groom take the dance floor together and tells me, inclining her chin at Sketch, that I need to cut the cord, and I tell her that I can’t.   “He is disturbingly charming,” she admits. I love to watch how smoothly he enters and exits conversations; whatever table he is at, that will be the fun table. People defect from their own tables, carrying their chairs over. I asked him about it once, and he told me it’s because he is genuinely interested in people and people like it when you are interested in them.

The bride, her face so beautiful it looks airbrushed, tosses the bouquet over her shoulder and I stand on the side, out of range, partially because I am mortified when I try to catch something and miss and partially because these are not the things I long for, children and marriage. It’s kind of nice to go home alone and read this biography of Joan of Arc that I’m really into and fall asleep under the electric blanket without worrying that anyone else will dream they are burning to death. Joan of Arc: her virginity didn’t protect her from shit.

This week I will talk to Sketch and I will tell him a little about what’s going on with Connecticut, and we will see what is what. “We’re bad at being together,” Sketch says. “But we’re fucking horrible at being apart.”

What are you going to do, people have been asking me since my last blog post, as if I know the ending to this whole story and am just keeping everyone in suspense.   I do not know what I will do, and I do not know why I am not more bothered by not knowing.   Everything has an outcome eventually, and then I will be just as surprised as you. Maybe someone comes to a dramatic realization at the end while standing on a mountaintop. Maybe someone dies at the end, a person or a cat, or maybe everything explodes. Or maybe it is one of those endings where nothing really happens and you’re left with the sense that someone just got tired of writing about it, and stopped.

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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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