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   I bury the nuance in unpublished footnotes, with all the things that don’t fit my version of events.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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Addicted to attention, Confessions, dating, essays, Labels, Sex, Writing

Relationship Status

IMG_3792Connecticut has a lot of female friends. All those sexually tense months before he finally reached for me, I thought I was the only person getting witty text banter, but that is not the case.  There is this woman he’s close to, and if I was uncharitable, I would say that he’s been leading her on; she clearly likes him, and he hasn’t told her that I am his girlfriend.

I get it. I do. I get it from both their perspectives, but it profoundly bums me out, that we’re still a secret to some people.

The Facebook relationship status is a pretty good indicator of willingness to go public. My friends list cuts across a broad spectrum of people I know and have known, many of whom have had their genitals in my mouth at some point, some of whom would be upset to learn about my new boyfriend through fucking Facebook.  And then there’s Sketch’s friends and family: I haven’t deleted any of those associations yet, and I am friends with Sketch’s mother, and she is only friends with twelve people, and it feels mean to unfriend her. Or Sketch’s sister-in-law: I’ve played with her daughters, Sketch’s nieces, since they were babies. I used to crawl drunk into their play-tent. I used to give them hazardous, galloping piggyback rides down the stairs.

You never get to break up with someone else’s kids—you just completely vanish on them and they are left with further proof that adults are as unreliable as mirages.

I like seeing these people on Facebook. And I like seeing Sketch’s friends. It makes it feel less like a whole piece of my social circle just got sheared off and flung into space. Even if it’s just assigning a like to a post, it feels less like exile.

The habits of being single and hoarding crumbs of attention, like an orphan or a refugee, are hard to break. So I get why Connecticut is hesitating to tell this woman about me.

Is it important to you that I tell her, he asks. And I don’t want it to be my decision, so I tell him to do what he wants, but there’s no way to tell someone to do what he wants without sounding petulant. She’s moving to Southeast Asia in a few weeks anyway.   This woman is alternate reality Tippy, traveling and doing cool shit while dragging around feelings for Connecticut. That’s the way it could have gone for us, too. I could have gotten a lengthy email from him, explaining a new relationship, and I would have wanted to kill him and then myself even as I kept my voice level.

I walk around the next day feeling insecure and uncertain, and hating it. I didn’t have any of this to deal with, back when I was splitting my time between Connecticut’s bed and Sketch’s; if one of them was too busy to pay attention to me, I just called up the other. I always had a back-up plan.

I hate this, I tell Connecticut. I hate feeling this way. Jealous, and scared, and insecure. It’s the first time in our relationship when I have ventured a look down, and I don’t care for the view. It all feels like a preview to a plummet.

He goes to see this woman, who is getting ready to move and thus selling a bunch of her shit, and he comes back with a pair of creepy lithographs and the news that he told her about us. I told her about you by name, Connecticut says. She and I know each other, peripherally, from around the neighborhood; she told him that she was happy for us.

That weekend, Connecticut and I go to the movies to watch superheroes punch the shit out of one another and I pull snacks out of hidden compartments in my bag. My life is full of hidden compartments and trap doors, it seems like; I love a hiding place, even if I’m not hiding anything more subversive than carrot sticks.

Connecticut checks in on Facebook, tagging me as being with him. He writes: FINALLY. As in finally going to see this movie that apparently everyone else has seen already, but to me, it’s finally, as in finally time to just come clean with everyone, and with ourselves, that we are together and that we love each other and that there isn’t anybody else.  It’s kind of a moment.

Our check-in gets seven likes.  I’m not sure our friends get the significance.

We are in bed that night when I look at him and tell him, “You are my person.” Followed by a flood of remorse and feelings of disloyalty. Because Sketch was always my person, and that’s what I called him, especially once I could no longer call him my boyfriend. My person. The human that goes with me.

It’s hard, in the new relationship, not to use the vocabulary of the old. Because that is all I have. I am trying hard to write something new, but when I look at Connecticut, I sometimes think that his eyes crinkle like Monster’s, and that he is smart like Kick, and that I love that he reads books, like Bunny. He reminds me of the men I have loved already, and so I know how to love him, but he is also new, and unknown, and frightening. It’s the fear more than anything that makes me realize: holy shit. I am in a relationship.

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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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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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Addicted to attention, Addiction, Bad Influences, essays, Sex, Texting, Want Monster, Writing

Return of the Want Monster

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Connecticut is going to IKEA with a friend this evening, and I ask him to please text me pictures of pieces of furniture he would like to do me on. He complies, and then sends me an actual dick pic (not shot at IKEA.   That would be insane). A dick pic! What have I done to this shy person? Just last month he was still hugging me like we needed to save room for a Bible, and now he’s documenting erections and one-upping me on the filth I send him on my lunch hour.

He also sent me a text a few days ago in which he thanks me for reconnecting him to his humanity. I think by humanity he means getting blow jobs, but I am glad that this is working for him and that so far I am not making him miserable. Suddenly, after months of chasing him, he likes me; I can tell he likes me, but it feels like someone just handed me something heavy and valuable and slippery, and I’m nervous.

Getting Connecticut in my bed doesn’t feel like I thought it would. I thought I would finally feel contented; I thought it would be a break from the tireless want that constantly ruins everything like a spoiled child pointing at things in a store and yelling. But this doesn’t feel like contentment. Instead, I feel dizzy and glutted, like if you drank wine with bourbon or ate a fistful of gummy bears with piece of cheesecake. It’s too much sweet. It’s too much.

Also, there are scheduling problems, already. I go to see my parents for the Easter weekend, which just leaves Friday, and this is why it’s tough to really be involved with more than one person. Because sometimes you only have one night free, and then it becomes painfully clear who you like best.

It’s Sketch, it’s always Sketch, Sketch forever.  I go uptown to see him and put my phone on airplane mode so Connecticut can’t text at an inopportune moment, and Sketch and I walk across Central Park to go see the Edvard Munch exhibit at the Neue Gallery. I identify not with “The Scream” but with “Puberty,” Munch’s painting of a round-eyed, naked girl sitting on a bed, an enormous phallic shadow menacing the wall behind her. And walking home Sketch makes me laugh and I can’t stop admiring the way his shoulders fill out the back of his shirt, a back I want to climb up on like a raft, but there is this thing that’s going on in my life now and here we are not talking about it. And it makes me feel far away from him, like his voice is coming at me through a tube. In the morning we will have coffee at City Kitchen with three of his friends, two of whom want to sleep with him. One of the women calls him sweetheart. A long time ago she was the mistress of someone famous; she has the best ass I’ve ever seen. When she tells him goodbye, she tells him that she loves him, and I know I have forfeited any right to be jealous, but I am, and he’s not even sleeping with any of these people, at least not that he’s told me.

He doesn’t belong to me, and I don’t belong to him, and no one belongs to anyone, and I take my phone off airplane mode so I can see what Connecticut has texted me, and I kind of feel better for a moment until I realize that this is what coping looks like.   I am getting enough to get by, but this is not what I pictured for myself, not at all. My friend Jocelyn asks me over dinner, “In an ideal world, who would it be?” Something I am learning is that no one can handle your lack of monogamy, and I’m finding it hard to even talk about Connecticut with people, without feeling sort of apologetic and sheepish.

Time is limited, and energy is limited, and after a long holiday weekend with family I just want Sketch. I change the sheets before he comes over, because someone else has been here, and it’s impossible for this not to make me feel profligate and seedy, and he gets down with me on my new rabbit sheets. Some of the rabbits have sweaters. One is a wearing a scarf. One is turned the wrong way.

Am I turned the wrong way? I’m not even sure what the markers are for the wrong way, but I am being reminded this week that getting what I want is not necessarily the thing that makes me happy. Getting what I want doesn’t stop me from wanting something else, something different.

The next day I have one of those 12 step meetings to go to; I’m impressed that I’ve made it through the last few days without getting into my mother’s Xanax or turning up at some bar with my wallet and my bottomless supply of want, and so I can hardly begrudge the time I have to spend in church basements to make that happen. But because the recovery rooms are basically high school, I’m in a fight with someone there and now I don’t want to go. Connecticut goes with me and sits on my left and my leg drifts in his direction until it finds him, warm, on the other side of my jeans. He found a book of weird John Shirley stories for me at the Strand. It is a specifically thoughtful gesture, precisely the correct gift for me.

The argument rages inside my body about whom I am supposed to love, where I should be spending the energy that I have left, and the most convincing argument for Connecticut is that he is there, showing up next to me when I need him.

And Sketch is far away. The messages I get remind me of the texts I sometimes get from Lovesick, in Paris. Lovesick messages me this week, and we compare the states of high terrorist-alert in our respective cities this week. It’s raining in New York, I tell him. It’s raining in Paris too, he reports.  Sketch sends me a message in between art school and yoga, but when I call him, he does not call me back. It’s a good thing I like his back so much. I can see it now, retreating.

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Addiction, Boys, Breakups, essays, Friendship, Sex, Writing

This is What Passive-Affectionate Looks Like

images-70I’ve been leaving hidden messages for Connecticut in the blog just in case he is reading it. This feels both cathartic and cowardly, like whispering your darkest secrets to someone while they are sleeping, and I know it’s some passive-affectionate bullshit, so last Friday I finally just text him some love directly.  I write that he is the first thing I think of in the morning, and I hit send just as the sun is coming up. It’s the closest I’ve been able to come to telling him what’s actually going on in the spooky, haunted space under my hair. Connecticut’s response: That’s nice to hear. Have a good day. The unenthusiastic punctuation alone makes me picture him giving me the side-eye while scuttling away, one hand protectively over his penis like I am going to eat it.

I think he’s scared of me.

It’s OK; somebody has to keep it in park, because I have also been feeling closer to Sketch than usual, hiding out more often in his apartment. I’m in the process of buying a co-op, by myself, without a husband or a partner to blame any bad decisions on, and apparently a mortgage is Magic-Grow for all my fears and resentments.   Historically, I’ve always been a renter, one that wanders away from said rental unit after meeting a man I would prefer to sleep on top of. I’ve never attempted to get a security deposit back or do any of the things that regular people do, and all my belongings have gotten left behind on more than one occasion; I’m on my fourth toaster for no reason other than that it has seemed like a lot of trouble to dump out the crumbs and wrap up the appliance safely.

It ‘s hard to think about shutting down my apartment, these five rooms I split with Sketch until he moved out three years ago. I didn’t change anything after he left, although I know you are supposed to. You are supposed to repaint, fuck somebody new in the kitchen, burn sage. Instead I just let my books colonize the spaces on the shelf he once occupied, gradual and inevitable as an oozy spill, and left everything else the same.   People come in and they ask me about the murals Sketch left on the walls, and I try with limited degrees of success to explain my ex-boyfriend to them.

Sketch. Every time I see him, I wish I had extra arms to wrap around him. On Saturday we press our foreheads together for a while, so we both look one-eyed to the other person, and then we walk arm in arm for forty blocks to some vegan restaurant, trading the details of our week and talking over one another. I confess to him how terrifying it is, the whole buying-an-apartment thing. I keep waiting for someone to come and tap me on the shoulder with that Are you fucking kidding me shake-of-the-head-and-accompanying-thumb-gesture that used to greet my entrance into certain New Orleans bars I had been 86’d from.   The fuck out of here. It’s ridiculous.  Sketch has been feeling the same disoriented way, going through his 200 hours of yoga teacher training.  This week they had a trauma workshop in which they were asked to supply all of their uncried tears, and they had to traverse the studio on all fours pretending to be elephants.  This from a man who once stared down a life sentence from the confines of his cell.  It’s weird, how two lives can be lived in the same life.

“It’s crazy,” I repeat for the tenth time over mounds and mounds of kale.   Sketch has been buying all the dinners lately so I can save the money I need for my down payment on the co-op.  We’re supposed to be going to contract this week or next, which is crazy. I don’t feel like a real person, I feel like three monkeys in an overcoat trying to impersonate one.  And one of the monkeys is in heat.  “I mean, I was a homeless person.

“Right? You lived in a car. And now you’re the opposite of homeless. You are homeful.”

The next day I wonder why he brought up the car.  I don’t generally talk about when I lived in the car.  It’s not my favorite memory.   However, I did just write about it in “Sex and Driving.”  Has Sketch been reading the blog?

I wonder the same thing about Connecticut.  They could both be reading this, at this very moment, a thought that slows me down in mid-sentence in Sketch’s apartment, naked but for his hoodie, listening to his broken shower head drip and trying to get something down on paper before he wakes up.   Sometimes I lay in bed with Sketch, and I text Connecticut, checking in on him because he’s had a rough week.   Selfishly, I need both these men.  With Sketch, it is all sex and history, geologic layers of inside jokes and comfortably grooved conversations that you only get from knowing and loving and fucking someone for almost fifteen years, and with Connecticut it is still the rapid-fire exchange of texts and phone calls that you only get when you’ve known someone for eight weeks and you want to hear their whole story and they’ve never touched you.

Connecticut and I are friends, but I also love him, a thing he wouldn’t know unless he’s reading this.  In which case, just kidding.  But not.  And Sketch I love and I want, and I tell him this too much, I repeat it like a losing but passionately believed argument, one that’s too hard to elucidate.

I feel connected to both these men, and I fantasize about them working out a schedule with me, like parents, who has to take care of me when.    Between the two of them, I have the perfect boyfriend.

This is ridiculous, of course.  I don’t need anyone to take care of me.  I am a grown-ass woman.  It says so on my mortgage application.  I went out for a driving lesson yesterday and I picked up my friends, who trust me enough to get into my rolling murder machine and chat and laugh in the backseat.  My death count is still zero, and I’m getting better at changing lanes; I’ve almost got it figured out now, how to look in the mirror, but also look forward at the same time, trusting myself enough to roll forward. And if either of the men I love are reading this, feel free to give me a clue; I’ll be watching for a sign.

 

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