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   I bury the nuance in unpublished footnotes, with all the things that don’t fit my version of events.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, 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, Blogging, Breakups, dating, essays, Getting Honest, New York, Sex, Writing

Is It Love, or Is It Oxytocin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Awkward Moments, Blogging, Sex, Silence, Voice

At a Loss For Words: Sex and My Overly-Verbal Life

images-20Sketch and I have so much lust for each other, we speak through gritted teeth under the blankets. Naked, there is just this man, whose body I want to collide with as hard as I possibly can.  In bed, it works.  But we all have to put our pants back on at some point, and when I do, I walk around dreading that it will happen again, this cyclical fucking entropy that he and I are caught in, where one of us sends the other packing. Clothed, there is just the glum certainty that our circle can not hold.

I wake up in Sketch’s apartment, step on a cat by accident on my way to the bathroom.  My ass is still sore from last night, and my neck feels funny; I don’t sleep right unless I’m alone, but I never admit that out loud, not after those lonely months without him. I used to wake up and think I saw him laying there, but it would just be the way the blanket was folded, not actually the back of his head at all.

The sex is great. Our bodies line up perfectly, and when we are in bed it feels like when you bring home a bookshelf you haven’t measured for and it fits the room perfectly.   Our bodies line up, but everything else clashes with misunderstanding. I can tell he has found me irritating all night. Our conversation over dinner was awkward; I kept asking questions about things he already told me about, because I can’t just sit there not saying anything, wishing our entrees would come faster so I’ll have something to talk about, so my mouth will be full and I won’t need to try to spin a story about eighth period into anecdotal gold.

I am exhausted. I love him, and I want him, but by the time we get back to his apartment, sex feels like one more bucket of water I need to lug up the hill, one more rock to break. I am on a relationship chain-gang. He says: I love you, but I hate dating your schedule. I know I have nothing left, but I keep insisting that I’ve got enough fumes in the tank to see me safely into the driveway.

Of course, after the sex, which is predictably amazing, the momentum swings me right into wakefulness. I lay awake wondering how much time we have left, listening to his cat puke voluminously on the bathroom floor, laying booby traps for my bare feet.

Sketch is aggravated in the morning when I want to leave at seven, but I need to get out of there. I want to come home and be in the sunny cube of my own space, putting words into order, watching my rabbit. She has dragged a cookbook that once belonged to my grandmother under the bed and is tearing out the pages with her teeth while I type; I am too tired to try and take it away from her, and I was never going to actually make Baked Alaska or Beef Wellington anyway.

I love Sketch. I do. But sometimes I only tell him I love him because I don’t know what else to say, and I want to fill in the quiet with something.

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I recently dreamed that I met some guy and within a week, he had asked me to marry him, with the stupid ring and everything, and I said yes, because that is the usual narrative and despite my best efforts, the cliché still exerts an almost tidal pull on me, the tug of supposed to. In this dream, I realized of course that I did not want to move in or share a bank account with this stranger, and I called it off, already mentally composing the blog post in my dream. When I woke up from blogging in my sleep, I was disappointed, because I no longer had this thing to write about.

I keep a drafts document with all my essays, open on the computer, but as time rolls on I barely stay ahead. Each blog post feels like my last, like I will have nothing else to write about after I put this one up. Each blog post feels like a miracle, never to be repeated.

I come home from yoga and I open up my computer, and I look at websites to submit work on. I find one called Review Review, a comprehensive catalogue of every single place you can submit your shit to. It is the OKCupid for the literary slut, and I am composing winky-faced emails to editors all evening as the living room gets dark around me. I don’t get up and turn on the lights; I don’t want to stop to make dinner or to put away the groceries that I dumped by the door on my way in. I write things and then I send them out, eating a sleeve of crackers in the dark while I type with one hand.

I didn’t think it would ever be this way. For twenty years, it seemed like I had nothing to say. I used my computer to write email to men who weren’t right for me, to watch porn, to roll around on Facebook comparing my life unfavorably to others. I used to take solice from tales of artists who didn’t get any traction until middle age: Paul Gauguin didn’t start painting until he was 39. Toni Morrison didn’t write The Bluest Eye, her first novel, until she was 40. It’s that same persistent delusion that I have in all things, the one that tries to convince me that how I feel today is how I will feel tomorrow. That this should still be so believable is hard to fathom.

The blog changes the focus. It makes me more curious about what will happen next, because the thing that happen are things that I can write about even if they are terrible things. Especially if they are terrible things.

I didn’t have anything to say to Sketch at dinner, but that’s OK. I have things to say now, and here I am, saying them.

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