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   I bury the nuance in unpublished footnotes, with all the things that don’t fit my version of events.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


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

–Gloria Steinem

New York, Photography, Writing, yoga

Tippy Rex, Girl Detective

NOIR1_large-194x300I am a relationship detective. Picture me in my good underwear and a deerslayer cap, brandishing a magnifying glass, looking for clues and writing them down.  But that’s not the reason why I’m here. I came here because this is where the man I love lives and sleeps and works;  Sketch’s apartment is a familiar enough beat that I can negotiate my way around it barefoot in the dark without stepping on any cats or introducing my shinbones to the corners of furniture.

Last night, getting ready to go to bed with him for the first time in four months, he pulls out a bag of personal items I thought I would never see again– toothbrush, contact lens solution, hair dryer, clean underwear neatly folded– hidden like evidence in his studio since we parted company last June.  Some things are gone– conditioner, hairbrush– and I don’t ask what happened to them.   We are in the delicious now, with the gerbera daisies he buys me in a Ball jar, with the orgasm that still reverberates through my body like a bell after the clapper has stopped swinging.  We wake up at five in the morning, reach for each other again and after more sex of the kind that I need to live, lay in the dark talking about the news of the day until the light starts to filter through the blinds like smoke.

It can be a curiously empty feeling, finally getting what you want.  Want is the thing that gives my life purpose and direction; I wake up and I look at him, and the want is satisfied, but I still don’t know what I feel.   I question myself, held in custody under a blanket.  Am I angry?  If I were angry, my shoulders would be tighter, and I would not be pressing the keys so softly while I type in the dark.  If I were angry, I would not have gotten down on my hands and knees to feel around for any glass shards I left behind when a tiny bottle of perfume fell out of my hands and smashed on the tiles of his bathroom this morning.  If I were angry, I wouldn’t care who ended up with bloody feet.

Am I sad?   I wonder: who brought over that weird turmeric tea in the Sketch’s teaspoon-sized kitchen?  Whose Neti pot is that on top of the medicine cabinet?  I draw conclusions about the girl who was sleeping here while I was away based on these personal effects.  Someone who doesn’t eat wheat or sugar, who attends kripalu retreats and plays the gong.  Someone who has hiked the Inca trail not once but twice.   I wonder what happened to her.  Is there a plastic bag filled with her items, twisted and sealed off with one of her own hair ties, secreted in the back of a closet?  I don’t know, and I won’t go looking.

Maybe what I feel is afraid.  It’s too much.  I tumble into bed with Sketch with a click of recognition and rightness that feels like putting your own key in your own front door lock.  I climax so hard I cover my face with my hands, trying not to scream, shaking all over.  The man knows how to lay it down. If you have to ask why we keep getting back together, you’ve never had sex like this. Afterwards, he folds me into him, and he tells me he loves me. And it is terrifying, because why do I ever leave?

Maybe the turmeric tea and the Neti pot are Sketch’s.  Things around here are changing, like his body, whittled down from vegetarianism and yoga.  We claim a corner of a class at Yoga To the People, unfurling our mats side by side.  The teacher is a gorgeous Italian I met at my studio in Astoria.   The last time his voice lead me through the postures, I wouldn’t stop leering at him.  Sketch later tells me that he has never had particularly successful communications with this man, whose English it seems is limited to describing the ways you might bend your body if you wanted to bring yourself a little closer to bliss.   Now, during class, my eyes on Sketch and his anatomy as we turn in side-angle, the hot yoga teacher comes over to adjust us, his sexy fingers on our wrists.  “I am glad you two know each other,” he says, right into his headset for everyone to hear.

I don’t know what is going to happen next.  We just had that whole talk about an open relationship, so I guess that is on the table.  Perhaps more strange objects will appear around his apartment, and around mine.

images-55On Saturday, I had brunch with a beautiful writer girl and four hours vanished as deftly as if a pickpocket had come along and unburdened me of them.   She is young and fascinating and I want to suck out all her stories like some sort of narrative-vampire.  When she gets nervous, she taps her incisors with a finger, as if to check on the progress of a pair of fangs.   I take hold of her hand, sweat rolling down my ribcage. I used to be so suave; I don’t know what happened. Now I sweat and I accidentally stab with fingernails.   She is reading The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and she shares a passage with me about the laughter of angels and the laughter of devils, and how they laugh at different things, although the laughter sounds the same; I hold Milan Kundera personally responsible for at least two particularly irresponsible decisions I have made over the last twenty years.  Biking home, I am nearly killed four separate times.  I’m in such a daze I nearly pedal right under the wheels of a car.

Open relationship.  I am still trying to piece together what this means.  I want to sit Sketch down in some interrogation room, turn my chair around backwards so that the rungs are between us like bars, push a cup of coffee his way.  Invite him to just tell me everything.  You may as well, son.  We already have everything we need.  Snap my fingers and someone brings forth the Neti pot in a ziplock bag with the date written on it in sharpie.  Flashbulbs.  Tell me.  Did you love her?

I love him.  Are we open to loving other people?  I know he is like me, falling in love the way that you fall through trapdoors, the way you lean against a bookcase only to find yourself facing a long set of stairs.  Love is easy.   It’s the consistency of effort that is hard.  I love, and I run.   I love, but I also love to chase your back while you beat feet like a suspect, scaling chain link fences and narrowly missing cars, putting distance between us while I yell at you, unable to keep from laughing as I call out to you to stop.