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Apologies

10 Feb

I am in no way, shape or form mature enough for this.

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The Boys I Have Loved, pt 2

21 Jan

Three years post high school, I was very briefly but very crazily in love with Andrew. This was short-lived and obsessive, and of the times I’ve been in love since Junior, this reminded me the most of that relationship.

Unlike Junior, who had grown up with me and had very similar personality and goals, Andrew was nothing like me.  His family was unstable and flaky, and I had come to use mine as my strongest support system. His sister was crazy; mine were my best friends. His aspirations included becoming a personal trainer. He was obsessed with working out. He thought my strong ideas about feminism were admirable. We laughed over him being a stay-at-home-dad.

He loved how smart I was. He loved that I wanted to become a doctor. We met on a cruise, and we spent most nights staring at the stars talking deeply about politics and family and our values and dreams. The sex was fantastic; in such a short amount of time, with no idea whether you’ll get to see each other again after this week, every time is impassioned and reactionary and indomitable.

He beat me at a drawn out, drunk game of shirtless, human-sized chess. I remember him standing there, in the dim lighting of the cruise at night, the dark water behind him. That moment might have been when I fell for him. Instead of holed up in small rooms with our friends, we spent most nights lying on large lounge chairs together on the cruise deck, talking and napping until breakfast came and we would wake up our friends.

He lived very far away, and he came to visit me for a week some time later and we had planned for me to visit him as well and, as it can be expected we fell out of touch. We did not fare well, together, in the real world; merely in the fantasy life that vacation allows to temporarily exist. In the few ways we were similar, neither of us was patient. We both demanded instant gratification. And we were both easily made jealous. Long distance did not suit us well. Even short-distance, long term would not have suited us well. We eventually, slowly, fell out of touch, with the exception of the occasional drunk text – which became fewer and further between as we each graduated into our own very different worlds.

Despite Andrew’s interference, Oaklan was the love of my undergraduate college career. He was a quarterback on Lehigh’s “fantastic-for-our-division” football team; he was six foot four and a lefty and had the best abs I’ve ever had the opportunity to lick. He was from Tennessee, and had a slight accent to prove it …he was also a complete ass, only slightly masked by his drawl. And I loved it.

We had a volatile, demanding love that went unnamed for the majority of our three and a half year relationship. It took me two full years to figure out (or admit) the feelings I had for whom I had previously considered merely my fuck-buddy.  He did not love me… not in the same way I had fallen for him, and – if he did at all – certainly not for as long. It was most certainly not healthy; he was rough, and severely emotionally unavailable. At the time, of course, these things were sexy and adventurous.

I met his family in Maryland; I stayed there overnight with him once. I spent many nights in his small flat. I pulled all-nighters studying for poly-sci finals I would not be tested on; making mnemonics and flashcards and snacks.  We spent hours in my car, talking about what I could only imagine this stone-wall of a man did not share with anyone else – his broken family, trust and relationship issues. His childhood. His ultimate, probably unachievable goals.

We stood taking pictures for an hour in a cemetery on a snowing day in January. He came with me to my Rugby formal, even when he had a girlfriend back home. He did a lot of things with me, even when he had a girlfriend back home. He took me to his football parties, explained plays as we re-watched game tapes. Pushed me into a concrete wall where I scraped my arm once when he was very drunk. He made attempts to befriend my friends … once or twice. Bruised my hips and arms where he grabbed me.  Met my family for dinner before graduation.

It took the separation of graduation – and 800 miles between us – to gain the perspective I needed. Or the perspective, at least, I pretend to have gained in the year and a half since. We have spoken only intermittently; less so, since I bailed, last minute over Christmas, on visiting him.

I dated Russel for an entire year during my Master’s program. I was living at home and commuting into the city. I spent many nights at his apartment in a crappy nearby neighborhood. I probably was not in love with Russel, so he might not fit into this list as well. I cared for him very much, at the time. Russel, however, was very much in love with me. We spent many days doing what I wanted to do – driving to the aquarium I had to see, attending fancy fire-fighter dinners, spending weekends away. The relationship was always on my terms, which I (arrogantly) felt was only fair, since I was the one compromising myself; he deserved to compromise in mostly everything else.

My family disliked him, mostly because they knew I would never be happy with him, I’m sure. He didn’t fit in with my friends, and I spent a laborious year trying to appease both them and him. He was jealous and angry eighty percent of the time, which he was forced to hide because I did not altogether care very much. This was not a relationship where I grew; it was not a relationship I was constantly happy in.

It took me a year to break up with him, which probably wasn’t fair. I knew after three months that it wouldn’t work out, but I was reluctant to so deeply hurt him, as I knew I eventually would. This was the first (named) long term relationship I had been in since high school. Russel taught me, unfortunately, what I didn’t want in a relationship – which was, truly, a shitty position to put him in. I used him to make me feel great about myself, which also wasn’t fair. And while I feel good about helping him become a better person, I deeply regret the year I spent wasting both his time and my opportunity to really spend time with my family for the last time.

I have been loved by five boys, maybe more. I have thought I have been in love with five.

I have not been in love in a very long time. Perhaps it is broken. Or perhaps, as you grow up, you forget how to love innocently, how to love wholly – subsequently, with every time you are hurt. With every kiss you gave and did not mean. With every person you, in turn, have hurt.

What does it mean to be profoundly lonely? It’s the sense that you’re watching something that could be perfect, and it falls through the cracks. It is the sense that nothing is good enough; and that, of course, must stem from the common denominator: that you, in turn, are not good enough. It’s watching your closest friends find relationships that satisfy them, that they grow through.

It is noticing, as the five boys you have loved get listed in black ink on a white page, that none of these would provide a sustainable or happy future for you.

It’s the realization that, unless you want to grow old with seven cats swarming around you, something has to change. Perceptions have to change. Motivations have to change: after all, cats are aloof, snotty creatures – and they are attracted to defeat. And they make most people sneeze. You don’t want to be surrounded by them.

Invalidation

21 Jan

Sometimes, when you listen really closely, you can hear the sound of a moment ending. It’s a tinny-faint-crashing sound beneath the silence; a ringing so far into your ears it could just be your imagination. But you can’t rid it. It is persistent, and it aches: from your ears to your throat down to your vacuumed chest and gripping the edges of your stomach, curling in on itself.

Daddy Knows Best

6 Dec

When I was young, I once told my Dad that if I was ever going to bet on sports, I would put money on the team I didn’t want to win. That way, either my team would win, and I would be happy — or if they lost, at least I would win some money — and still be happy! It was a no-lose situation!

My decision-making for the rest of my life would be shaped by his response.

“What’s the point in that?” He said to me in the car, shaking his head. “That’s like half-assing your life.”

He probably didn’t say ‘half-ass’. To this day, neither my mother nor father really curse in front of me, unless they’ve had a few glasses of pinot grigio or Jameson, respectively. But you get the idea.

What he meant was, when all of your eggs are spread out in multiple baskets, you don’t win big.  You’d be playing it safe, sure. You’d never be left wondering if that last chip was going to fall to the right or the left; you would know your routine, day to day, you would probably get married early, have a tolerable career and two-point-four kids. White picket fence sold separately.

But by living big .. dreaming, big – that’s where the yacht comes in. That’s how you end up winning on the poker table. That is how you end up driving twenty-four hours straight to Chicago at three am with your three bestfriends sleeping in the backseat. This may not be true for everyone, I realize. But for me … being so fully invested in something – anything ! – and then seeing it pay off is what true happiness stems from.

That is not to say that I have not made my fair share of mistakes. All your eggs in one basket often means that, on many occasions, shit will hit the fan. Hell, I’d say the mistakes I’ve made in the past twenty years might outnumber the ‘outrageous successes’ 3:1 easily.

There was the mistake I made hitting the bar a bit too much in my undergraduate courses. I once put a kiddie pool in my sophomore-year housing that could have expelled me. I picked Wino-Wednesdays over Writing-My-Thesis-Wednesdays on several occasions … but, through all of this, I made some of the best friends in the world – true kindred spirits, people I would do just about anything for during these debacles.

I drove to see the play of a boy I barely knew – twice in one weekend – only one of which he knew about. I licked rum-punch out of a boy’s mouth … a boy I did not know very well, for that matter. I puked rainbow jello shots in the living room of a boy I liked very, very much. But over four years, I learned what I was worth; and what kind of guy I deserved to wait for.

I went out drinking so much the night before Mother’s Day with my best friend that we had to pull over so she could puke out the side of my car at a gas station. I frequented Happy Hour in New York City, befriending the cute bartender, during my Master’s program rather than applying to Medical Schools for the following year. One Christmas, because I insisted on wearing high-heeled boots instead of snow-boots, I slipped on the ice and squished every dessert from the expensive bakery for our Christmas Eve Party that evening. But I learned the love of family; and the bonds of friends who become family.

The really big wins … those happen when you’re fully invested. When you’ve thrown your heart and soul and every damn egg you’ve got into the baskets, you’ve made sacrifices. This is worth something.

And, for me, that means everything.

Patience

20 Nov

I am exceedingly impatient.

I always have been — instant gratification is my forte. In second grade, I would trade in each gold star I received on my spelling tests for a first tier prize, usually some sort of sticker, rather than saving them until the end of the week for a third-tier smelly-eraser. In ninth grade, I started dating my (ill-compatible) best-friend because I knew him already and could skip all of the boring, get-to-know-you talk.

There was an undergrad course I took – senior year, working on my English Degree, called Canterbury Tales. I slacked off royally for the entire class – during which we learned how to speak Middle English, and dove into the most interesting and eventually influential book I have ever gotten my hands on.

But I skated by, for an entire semester, much to the dismay of my professor and advisor. I barely tried; I was already heading to grad school and my English grades wouldn’t get me very far as far as Medical School was concerned. In my senior year, I was concerned with partying; with my friends; with that boy.  Throughout the course, the professor tried to push me; I was having none of it. She eventually gave up, I think – many cases of senioritis are irreversible. And then, finals came around – and all the material suddenly clicked that we’d been working on all semester. I handed in my final in-class essay, extremely confident with the results. A week into December break, she told me that “was the best final Canterbury Tales essay she’d ever read.”

The potential is there; with enough pressure, we’ve got ourselves a shiny diamond. But the discipline; the patience to quietly hammer out the details and iron out the wrinkles; that’s what’s lacking. The perfectionist quality many have … well, ‘good enough’ has always worked for me. Passionate and sloppy is my trademark. And, once in awhile, the hours of training click in and everything falls right into place.

I’ve always known that being ‘passionate and sloppy’ stem from always wanting to get done as much as humanly possible in as little time as possible; stretched to my limit, just barely being able to get everything done, ‘good-enough’ is what I settle for in order to be this all-encompassing, extraordinarily well-rounded person. A jack-of-all-trades.

And my impatience stems from an overwhelming desire to constantly be in control.

It’s not about settling, as you implied, oh study partner of mine. I’m not settling into these casual relationships with boys because I don’t believe myself worthy of something better – because I don’t want to be rejected by someone “better”. You say that I am settling for them, but that is simply not the case.

I am not settling for these boys, because in truth many of them are leagues above me; they are kind, and generous and sweet and vulnerable and I am none of these things and I will never be any of these things. But these relationships are ones that I am in control of. I am not a tongue-tied fool when they talk to me; my stomach is not fluttering when their hands brush my shoulder blades. I do not fumble over simple questions and make awkward comments when they are around. My lips don’t smile without me fully intending them to do so; my heart rate doesn’t bounce around in my chest when he sits next to me in lecture.

I am in control. I am impatient, and passionate and a bit bored and undeserving of the attention that I do get because of my lack of investment in it. But here, having the upper hand, is and always will be where I will be the most confident.

Plans

16 Nov

I have a new plan to overcome the whole “you-not-talking-to-me-for-no-reason” thing. I’m going to become SO goddamn irresistible (with my sparkling personality) that you’ll have no choice but to fall in lust with me again.

That’s a brilliant plan, right ?

Letting Go

15 Nov

For the first time in probably eighteen years I didn’t tell you Happy Birthday.

You might think I forgot, being so busy in medical school. More likely, you didn’t think anything about it at all.

But I need someone to know: I didn’t forget.

 

…In related news, I recently threw out a Coach clutch given to me by my first boyfriend seven years ago.