Monday, January 28, 2013

Epilogue

The last time I published here, I would not have guessed that I was actually writing a prologue to my own break up.

& so I'm able to answer my own question: what do you do when it's lost for the other person, when you can't polish things anymore?

The answer I know now is:


  • you'll ask if they're sure; whether they're tired, whether it's the distance, whether it's something you can fix (and they'll say no),
  • you'll feel angry and betrayed when they ask you to be their friend, even if it's a sincere sentiment, and subsequently when they don't seem to be hurt/don't beg you to come back in the following days,
  • you'll go on a date with a weird kid from school who will take you to a restaurant where the former owner was murdered by bow and arrow, and you'll want to go running and screaming back to your ex when your date makes you read their blog,
    • you'll realize that, in the world of euphemisms, though you did fall off that horse, it was too soon for you to get back on and you probably should have just laid on the ground a bit longer to give yourself the opportunity to fully appreciate the experience,
  • you will cry. Sometimes at the bottle of wine you were saving for their next visit that sends a piercing chill into your heart and makes you feel naive. Other times, for the moment you go to take down their pictures and realize you aren't ready to;
  • you will be angry with yourself; because you know they did plenty of ass hole, jerk, shit person things to drive the relationship towards its demise, but you still feel like you would accept full responsibility if it meant restoring things (and you'll feel haunted by the things you didn't do that could have made a difference);
  • And ultimately, you'll realize that all that is left is to say good bye, and hope that if proverbs are true, having set something you love free, if it's meant to be it'll come back. Or whatever. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I am Ryan Gosling.

It was the first three day weekend in a long time where I had nothing to do.
Love Solo and his company though I may, there are things I miss doing when we're together.
Things I typically do alone.

& so, this weekend, I resolved to do those things;
sleep in late,
stay in bed after sleeping in late and read,
watch romantic movies on netflix.

& with these plans in mind, I watched: Blue Valentine, Like Crazy, and Take this Waltz.
These were not the romantic films I was expecting, instead, they were realistic conversations about what happens to relationships over time.
That reality is: they become stale.

There's a scene in Take this Waltz that I feel really sums up the central concept I'm getting at.
The central character is a married woman who, though she loves her husband, is intrigued by a budding flirtation with a neighbor. This character has attended an aerobic swim class, primarily frequented by elderly women, with two other young friends.
When the class is over, the three young women wash themselves at the opposite end of the community showers from the cluster of older women. The three young women are talking about marriage, and talking about the feel of new relationships. One of the women says, "I like new things, they are shiny." An older woman across the room says, "New things turn into old things." & the camera pans between the young women showering and the old women showering, the movie-watcher can't help but draw a paradox between the young bodies and the old bodies.
I should mention there is full frontal. Not because I liked it so much as because I want to warn anyone who might think, "What a cute movie to watch with my parents/grandparents/children I'm babysitting."

Anyway.

I don't want to ruin anything for you if you are planning to watch any of these movies so I won't say too much.
I will say: as the central relationships in these films struggled, I found myself rooting for reconciliation.
"They're made for each other, they have to work it out!"
& that's when I realized something; I am a hopeless romantic.

It's a secret I've always been ashamed to admit not only out loud, but even to myself: my whole life I've been looking for the right guy.
& while you're sitting there judging, you filthy shit person (& my apologies if you weren't), understand: I am fully aware that the right guy isn't going to complete me. I believe that feeling complete comes from within. I don't think my life will be better or perfect or that I'll somehow be better simply for having found the right guy. I just want to find him, for whatever it's worth.

Of these 3 movies, I really felt a personal connection to Dean from Blue Valentine (played by Ryan Gosling--hence, the title). He is a character who falls hopelessly in love and is willing to give anything for it. He is someone looking to polish his tarnishing relationship. & the movie asks the viewer: what do you do when it's lost for the other person? When you can't polish anymore & polish is all you want to do?
I wondered whether I watched the movie whether I wanted to find someone like Dean or whether I felt like I am Dean.
In particular, I've been turning this quote from Blue Valentine over in my mind:
"I feel like men are more romantic than women. When we get married we marry, like one girl, 'cause we're resistant the whole way until we meet one girl and we think, 'I'd be an idiot if I didn't marry this girl; she's so great.' But it seems like girls get to a place where they just kinda pick the best option... 'Oh, he's got a good job.' I mean they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then they marry the guy who's got a good job and is gonna stick around."

In what has become a vicious cycle, I've been obsessing about whether my propensity to try to polish relationships, my desire to make things work, makes me the kind of girl described in that quote.
Where do you draw the line between compromising and settling?

I have no idea, that's why I've been twirling this around in my brain for so many days.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

To love a Narcissus

The title is not an error.
Though I could easily have called this post, "to love a narcissist" and would have retained all the same meaning.
But, I'm building up to a metaphor here & so the distinction was important.

To love a Narcissus is to sometimes find yourself exasperated and wonder how anyone could be so self consumed.
But to love them anyway.

To love a Narcissus is to be Luisa Contini and dare someone to keep taking and taking. And while Luisa is not part of Ovid's myth,
there's a parallel.
Luisa says, take it all and recognizes that Guido can't see he's taken so much that someday there will be nothing left of her.

To love a Narcissus is to worry that your beautiful one will never notice that there's nothing left of you,
that, like Echo, you've disappeared.

Monday, January 21, 2013

An Ass Out of You & Me

When I met Agnes, it was my first day of law school. In between classes, I sat out in the school court yard alone. I was trying my hardest to look nonchalant, like I didn't give a fuck that I was sitting alone when I saw Agnes out of the corner of my eye.
It was August in San Antonio, Texas.
Which meant that it was fucking hot.

Agnes was wearing a fur trimmed blue jean jacket and glasses with transition lenses.
Her jeans flared at the bottom and reminded me of that year in middle school where I exclusively wore bell bottoms.
She sat alone at the table nearest me. Her back was to me but I noticed she kept looking at me over her shoulder, out of the corner of her eye.
I felt in my core that I did not want to be friends with Agnes but didn't say anything when I saw her turn towards me. I didn't discourage her or get out of my seat when she sat at my table.

For a time after that first afternoon, it seemed like I could not shake Agnes, she sat next to me in all my classes, she made plans with me that I did not try to get out of.

& one day, to her detriment, we played a game.
I so rarely tell people that I am good at reading strangers.
It's not like a psychic sort of thing, it's that most of us feel the need to tell others about ourselves; it's our hair, clothes, shoes. It's so simple what you can know from someone just by giving them a good look-over.
When I was small, my dad would take me out to play.
We'd sit on park benches and my dad would ask me, "What do think that woman over there is like?"
I didn't realize until much later that my dad was teaching me how to profile.
This, to my dad, is among one of the most important skills a person can have.
Somewhere in a completely ordinary conversation, I casually mentioned my special skill.
I did not mention that I was professionally trained by an officer in the military.
Agnes asked me to profile her.
& so, I did.
Agnes felt angry that many of the things I'd said were true. She did not want to be placed into a box, did not like feeling defined.
This moment put a long-standing strain on our relationship.
From that point on, Agnes avoided me and more than that, would often look for negative things to tell me about myself.
Despite the fact that I had not wanted to be Agnes' friend, no one likes to hear mean things about them self.

Shortly after I got my medusa tattoo, Agnes stopped to ask me what it meant to me.
& I told her about how I felt I was haunted by other people's mis-perceptions for much of my life.
Agnes told me that she imagined my life differently. She thought I'd lived an easy life as a popular girl, maybe even a rich popular girl. She told me that part of the reason why she was so hurt by the things I'd said to her two years earlier was because they came from who she thought I was; she felt like she was being bullied.
Agnes apologized for mis-characterizing me.

To say that our relationship has changed since then is an understatement.
Agnes became warmer towards me, & one day, I realized Agnes & I had many of the same interests.
I spent most of today with Agnes & enjoyed myself more than I have with so many other people.

Very recently, a significant friendship I had with someone crumbled.
When I met this friend, I was drawn to them because I believed we were similar kinds of people.
I put this together based on things I observed about them during class.
& one day, after several bitter arguments, I realized that the things I believed we had in common were superficial and that, even those were failing.
We have next to nothing in common.

& so, I'd like to believe that I am on my way to becoming a complete person because I've realized this:
no amount of profiling can tell you what kind of friend someone will be.
A fur trimmed collar on a blue jean jacket doesn't tell you how someone will sit next to you in a movie theater and hold your hand during a scary movie.
Transition lenses can't tell you that someone will laugh at all of your jokes.
Bell bottom blue jeans can't communicate to you that the person wearing them is someone you can trade books with.
There is nothing about the way someone looks that can tell you about the friendship you're going to miss if you discount them.

Agnes was wrong about me.
I was wrong about wanting to be her friend.
& we're both asses for assuming we could possibly know anything about each other without taking the time to ask questions and listen.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Something I've lost

"Ay, girl! Come here!" What passes for a pick up line in the community I grew up in was shouted to me from the opposite end of the gas station.
"I can't," I called back. The car this guy was in erupted with laughter as all 5 of his friends, packed into the sedan they were driving, delighted in watching their friend get turned down.
"Ok den, I'll come over der," he was making a conscious effort to replace his thah sounds with d's. The guy, a typical specimen of what young men in my home town look like, began coming towards me. His ability to walk quickly and normally were impeded by starched blue jeans, belted around his upper thighs. He was beginning to grow dreadlocks and wore a dental grill (I've obviously included the word dental so to avoid any confusion that he was somehow strapped into a hibachi or George Foreman).
I began pumping my gas and as he slowly made his way towards me, I recalled how at one point in time, and having been trained by my community to appreciate these characteristics, I would have thought he looked cool.
When he was finally four feet from me he asked, "whacho name is?"
"Lauren," I noticed his eyes fixating on my Aggie Ring.
"Oh, I see you're married," he said gesturing to my ring.
"What?" I realized he was mistaking the bulky school ring on my right hand for an engagement ring. "No, I'm not married. This is my school ring." You obviously didn't go to college, my mind silently finished the sentence for me.
"Oh, so can I getcho number den?"
"I'm not even from here, I'm just visiting."
& at that precise moment, we were interrupted by a disheveled elderly man in military fatigues.
"Got any change you could spare?"
"Naw, man," my suitor dismissed the veteran.
"I might. It's not much, I'm not carrying cash. I just have loose change if you can wait for me to fish it out of my bag." I'm always afraid of giving homeless people change; I've come to learn that many people feel insulted when you give them change instead of cash. Once, while visiting my dad in Washington, DC, a man yelled at me for putting a quarter into his change cup. "TWENTY FIVE FUCKING CENTS?!" I can still hear him shouting at me every time I offer someone change.
As I scrounged around the bottom of my purse, feeling pennies and gum wrappers and bobbie pins graze my fingertips, the veteran asked me, "Are you studying law?"
The veteran was examining the school parking stickers stuck to my back windshield.
"I am," and as I continued collecting loose change and lint from the bottom of my purse, the man began telling my suitor and I how he was once a lawyer who went after George W. Bush during his time as Texas Governor.
"That's how my life ended up here; you can't beat city hall." The veteran's story began spiraling; he was becoming visibly and audibly agitated, and he was cursing. My suitor was not phased.
I handed the veteran a fistful of change as he concluded his story, "And that's why now I have to stand outside this FUCKING GAS STATION AND BEG YOU ASSHOLES FOR CHANGE EVERYDAY!" He climbed onto his bicycle, "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU ALL!" And he rode away.
I watched him ride off. My thoughts were swarming--at my school, I work for a legal clinic where many of our clients are homeless. It's strange to want to help someone but simultaneously be afraid of what they are capable of; so many homeless people (in Texas, at least) are mentally ill and pushed out of state hospitals due to a lack of funding.
I'd forgotten that my suitor was still standing there until he broke the silence, "Dat man is a crack head. However much change you gave him, he gone buy crack wid it."
"He could be, but I doubt it."
"Naw, he on crack."
"Listen I work with a lot of homeless people and--" my suitor's eyes glazed over as I lost his attention and interest, "never mind." I smiled and the gas pump clicked to tell me my tank was full.
"So, can I getcho number den?"
"No, I'm sorry, I have a boyfriend."
"But whatcho boyfren got to do wid me?"
"He's not keen to strange boys calling me," I smiled again as I replaced the pump.
"Well anyway, I stayed over here because you can never trust no crackhead. I'm glad I did, too."
"Thank you, that was very kind."

As my suitor walked bow-legged and slowly back to his car full of friends, I realized I'd lost something.
I was embarrassed at myself; I'm in my final semester of law school.
I believe every one deserves an attorney, no matter who they are or how much money they have.
And yet, I was afraid of this man; someone who could so easily be one of my clients through the clinic, someone who may someday walk into my office looking for help.
What right do I have to be afraid? How can I claim to want to help people like him if I'm afraid of them? If I don't trust them?
& I realized, too, that somewhere in the last seven years since I left my home town, something else had happened: I had a built a barrier between people like my bow-legged suitor and myself. I know I'm not better than him, I know that I am where I am because I have encouraging and supportive parents who are able to support me while I'm in school. I know things could have been different if I didn't get on birth control as a teen, if I didn't end certain relationships, if I hadn't been so advantaged. And I know that whatever the circumstances of my suitor's life, many of them couldn't be helped. But somewhere I knew that I would never date someone like him.
& I was ashamed of myself. I was once connected to the homeless; I volunteered for them on holidays and collected for them during my breaks from school. I once exclusively dated boys just like my suitor. & somewhere I lost that connection to who I was without even noticing, without even missing it.