I can count on less than one hand the men in my life with whom I’ve had so strong a connection that I willingly gave them a piece of myself (whether they knew it or not) without expecting a piece of them in return. They are men who from almost the instant I met them had a pull on me stronger than the moon’s pull on the tide. And before you get all curious whether you’re one of them – if you have to ask after finishing this post, you’re likely not. Some of them are still in my life in some capacity and some have necessarily taken their leave. But regardless of which category they belong to, one thing is acutely true: each one has touched me in a way that defies description, and their effects are still felt months and, in some cases, years later. Funny enough, none of them were the ones who shared their last name with me. Also funny, in the most ironic of ways, is that some of them actually couldn’t have done the whole share-their-last-name-with-me thing because, well, they were already sharing it with someone else. And “some” just wouldn’t because “they’re” a fuckwit.
Let’s be clear, I’m certainly not patting myself on the back for some of my questionable decisions – my moral compass lost its orienting arrow a long time ago. So save your preaching for someone who might give a shit. Let’s also be clear – I don’t regret a single one of these decisions. I’ve had some incredible experiences over the last few years – ones I would otherwise not have had if I hadn’t just said fuck it – and they have undeniably changed me forever. But I’d be lying if I said it was all sunshine and rainbows. The truth is, the emotions connected to these people and experiences were, and on some level still are, gut-wrenching. I’m sure a psychotherapist would have a field day with me: a woman who’s been hurt in her past relationships getting involved with unavailable (for various reasons) men so she can’t commit and get hurt again. Except I have gotten hurt. Profoundly. Partly because I’m an asshole, but mostly because being “blessed” with a creative mind apparently means I feel things on a level most people just can’t understand. Couple this with a Gold Medal-worthy talent for overthinking and it’s a miracle I’m not slumbering in a padded cell by now. On this point, I think Pearl S. Buck (whose historic house is unintentionally but quite comically nestled behind that cock in the picture up top I took a few years ago) squarely hit the proverbial nail’s head:
The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them…a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.
I don’t know if this heightened sensitivity is the chicken or the egg of those gut-wrenching emotions I often grapple with, if I just need reaalllly good meds, or both. What I do know, however, is that for every one of the less than five guys who were the real deal in one way or another (or in all the ways), there were probably five truly amazing ones who offered themselves completely to me and, no matter how hard I tried, (and I tried HARD), I just wasn’t drawn to them in the same way. Adding insult to injury, I didn’t seek out these impossible relationships, which should be more than evident from my social media-documented attempts at finding a “normal” relationship over the last few years. They just sort of…happened. So take that, psychotherapy.
So I guess the real question I’m left with is why? What is it about these people that they left such indelible marks on my soul? Why did they come into my life when they did, or how they did, or even at all? Was the Universe guiding me towards them because that’s where I ultimately belonged and they just hadn’t realized it yet? Or was I trapped in some kind of karmic “Groundhog’s Day” fated to repeat this cycle over and over again until I learned some life-altering “lesson” and course corrected? I’ve spent countless hours (and drank countless vats of Cabernet) trying to make sense of the Universe’s clearly fucked Morse code. And if you’re paying attention even a little bit, it should be painfully obvious that I do not have it figured out. Not by a mile. But I think maybe I’m getting warmer.
As a younger woman, I certainly didn’t possess the same level of confidence I exude today, and my previous dating choices reflected that. I’m told I can be very intense and intimidating, and until the last decade or so, I didn’t fully appreciate that those traits could be desirable to men since, well, most are pussies. So invariably I picked ones who lacked those similar traits, thinking they’d be more apt to embrace those qualities in me – you know, the whole opposites attract thing.
Wow. Was. I. Wrong.
To the objective observer (and my mother, of course), the men I picked to date were just not in the same league. And not only did they know this acutely about themselves, they went out of their way to try and prevent me from realizing it. While I certainly recognized these differences between us, I saw them as challenges – like buying a fixer-upper, gutting it down to the studs and getting to build it out exactly the way I wanted it. It was exhilarating, getting to design what I believed would be the perfect house for me. But when the construction dust finally settled and I got the keys to the foreclosure-turned-McMansion, I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t really like the color I painted the bathroom or the finish I picked for the kitchen cabinets. And the basement had this weird smell…It seemed no matter what structural changes I made or decorative elements I added, I never felt that I belonged living in those renovated houses. It was like staying at a well-appointed hotel with the most luxurious bedding imaginable, yet missing your beat-up IKEA duvet.
And it was during some of these well-appointed occupancies that I had occasion to meet a few of the “few good men.” Though technically innocent at the time, those Open House tours proved to be huge anvils to the head, Wiley Coyote-style. This was the kind of house I’d been looking for all along: an old stone farmhouse with surprisingly solid bones, a fireplace big enough to stand in, mature Hydrangea throughout the yard, and a claw-foot soaking tub. Sure, the gable roof had seen better days and the wide-planked hardwoods squeaked a bit when you walked, but it had a charm and character that were undeniable. It’s where I pictured being on Sunday mornings, cozy-socked feet facing each other on the over-sized couch, one of us reading the paper while the other enjoyed (or maybe even wrote) the latest New York Times’ Best Seller.
It was home.
Unfortunately, with most of these rare people, without some major life renovations of their own, there was ultimately no prospect of a long-term, committed relationship (even when “some” pretended there could be). While surely a pill I struggle(d) to swallow, the finite nature of these relationships had one major advantage over traditional relationships. Because we knew the relationships were basically temporary, we were 100% ourselves, with no pretense or rules or bullshit. A horrendous potty mouth (mine) or a receding hairline (several of theirs) were of no consequence. There was no 3-day wait after a date nonsense or the “who’s going to text next” game. There were no empty promises of blowjobs galore until a ring was slipped on that fated finger, or half-assed attempts at consistently putting the toilet seat down. It was just time spent between two people who genuinely and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company (a lot), and between whom the chemistry was so palpable that those around them often seemed perplexed, unable to reconcile the obvious connection they saw in front of them with the facts as they knew them.
As a result of these experiences, I’ve come to appreciate just how incredibly intoxicating it is to meet people like these few – ones who are not only not put off by the Katastrophe penning this post, but who openly welcome(d) it and might even have tried to keep it around indefinitely if they hadn’t been otherwise unavailable (or an idiot). Spending time with someone who truly gets you on a primeval level creates a sense of peace so intense, you can’t settle for anything less, thereby making finding even a suitable coffee date an insurmountable task. (Floats like a butterfly, Fucks like a bee ) It engenders a stillness in your soul so profound, it is almost euphoric. That is, of course, until it’s gone. It’s like finding out that Santa Claus isn’t real, and realizing that all your holiday hopes now rest in the hands of a Mall Santa who makes Billy Bob Thornton’s character seem virtuous. And while you know you can never look at Christmas the same way again, every year, you leave cookies and milk out for the old bastard hoping this is the year you find out he really wasn’t a fable after all.
As difficult as it has been to accept that these unique people come with obstacles that will likely never be overcome, I quite surprisingly haven’t shored up even tighter the big blue tarp currently shielding my own exposed framing from the elements while I work on some renovations of my own. In fact, I’ve been debating pulling the tarp back a bit near the chimney – you know, just in case the jolly fat man decides those gluten-free cookies are in fact the best damn cookies he’s ever tasted.