Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Settling In The City, and The Chains That Bind.

[“So are you a pipe, or are you a diamond? Because pipes burst under pressure, but diamonds are made.”]

Life’s a funny little bitch. Sometimes, just when things are going right, a wrench gets thrown into the works from somewhere unidentifiable, and then you’re left sitting on your ass, wheels spinning in the air kind of uselessly. Basically, you’re wasting time for a bit.

That’s what I feel like I’m doing right now: wasting some time. Perfect is still rather incommunicado, though we did text back and forth a few times yesterday. Knowing that I’ve been getting the same treatment (if not more contact,) than his family and his other friends keeps me even most days. Also, I’m reminded of something Cait said once: Perfect likes to get close and cling to people, and then he likes to have his space for awhile. Admittedly, we were pretty close in contact the week before he left for college—I’m considering this a good time to let that contact a little loose, give him his head (as we say in the horse world), and let him settle in a bit.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing little things: sending him video clips of guys in flying-squirrel suits jumping off of cliffs in Switzerland and coasting the airstreams; setting up play-dates for him and two of my guy friends who also love downhill and free-ride biking when he comes back home for a visit; and just generally keeping a watch on him from the wings. He’s tired; he’s struggling with being back in school already; he’s being run weary by meeting people, commitments, and starting training for the track season. I don’t need to be another burden right now. I’m being the coolest non-girlfriend there ever was—he better realize I’m the shit.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting some interesting developments of my own. I get lonely too, you know. I like testosterone and male company in my life. I love to flirt. And lately, there’s been no shortage of available men. I’ve been bumping into my beautiful Writing Lab Boy everywhere, who apparently saw me everywhere this summer: at the mall, on the beach, at a party, on the street, in the gym. (I am so happy I looked tan and fit and good in my itty bitty bikini this summer. Thank you, lord.) The other day, riding the god-awful-early-morning bus to campus for my 8 AM class, Blowdryer Boy sat next to me. The heat coming off of him along with the smell of his cologne and shampoo was almost intoxicating in my early morning haze. (The Bailey’s Irish Crème that may or may not have been in my coffee also helped with this haziness—both to add to it and then erase it. Yes to starting out shitty mornings the good way.)

Blowdryer Boy is one of those people who exist in my group of friends whose path sometimes brushes up against mine. For awhile last spring, I flirted with the idea of ending up in bed with him. I didn’t, though, and most of the time, I’m sure I made the right choice.

The night before, I had had the shittiest night’s sleep since May. I crammed for three hours with homework, and then was kept up from 12:15 to 1:30 by my roommate’s pseudo-boy and his friend laughing in the living room. I woke up at 6 AM, for some reason thinking I had to take the 7:10 bus, and not the 7:35 bus, meaning I missed out on an extra thirty minutes of sleep. By the time I got around to making my coffee, I was already thoroughly disenchanted with life. Missing Perfect profusely—that was the shitty night’s sleep; the feeling of him being there was gone, snapped like a guitar string—and having Blowdryer Boy so near tempted me into the “what ifs” that I generally like to try and stay out of. Like I’ve said, I’m generally a one-man woman. But sometimes, distance and no word can get to be a little much on my nerves and heart.

So sometimes, like this other morning, I like to think about it. But when it comes down to it, Blowdryer Boy would be settling after Perfect. Blowdryer Boy would just be a waste of time and a warm body to replace the warm body that I really want. (And I’m pretty sure that most of the time, Blowdryer Boy can be bitchier than I am.)

Also, I recently found out what happens when you play with other people’s private property: you get fixed up. Generally, I try to keep my hands to myself in matter like this, but there’s this beautiful sport bike that lives in the same parking garage as my Civvy, and Alli and I recently did an impromptu photo-op with it. We touched it as little as possible while still admiring it and handling it with care, and then I posted the pictures on my Facebook profile, thinking that in my protected and private account they’d be safe from any angry Hell’s Angel owners looking for revenge and a new leather jacket made of my skinned hide for touching his bike.

Well, surprise. Facebook—it’s not that safe anymore, kids, at least not when you have mutual friends with said bike owner. A few days after the pictures went live, I got a comment from a friend who said they knew the owner. The next morning, I got a friend request from the guy. I accepted it, thinking, hey—I played on his bike. Might as well be nice. Fortunately, instead of being a hulking antichrist, the guy turned out to be a stocky senior. Who reverted back to the third-grade playground practice of asking our mutual friend to ask me if I’d be willing to meet him for a set-up.

Actually, it went more like this:

Mutual Friend: “Motorcycle Boy would like to meet you; shall I set up a meeting?”

Me, hemming and hawing about if I really wanted to do this: “I'm kinda figuring things out with the guy I was seeing this past summer, so I feel the need to get that disclaimer out there in the disclaimer of not leading anyone on, but seeing as he (unknowingly) let me molest his bike, I would say it's only fair to be able to apologize/thank him in person. Plus, I love meeting new people!”

I thought I was pretty clear about the fact I wasn’t looking for anything more than a new acquaintance. Apparently not, though.

Mutual Friend: “Haha, he was like "Pam I wanna meet this girl!" He’s a sweet guy, haha. He's leaving in December I think, anyway, so it doesn't have to be anything serious. He said he Facebook friended you, so I dunno if he's messaged you yet or not.”

No, he hadn’t. He’s letting our friend do his dirty-work for him. But whatever. I want to get on that bike, come hell, high water, or a fix-up. I just know to be very up-front about the fact that I am in what I’ve taken to calling a “beautifully complicated and daily-evolving relationship.” But seriously. I want to get on that bike. It’s worth it. And new friends are nice, too.

All these boys suddenly crawling out of the woodwork are making me wonder: could I really settle for one of them while I wait for Perfect? The more and more I look at it, the more and more I realize how easy this whole thing is, really. You are attracted to someone. You let your interest be known. You resist the urge to do the right thing and get to know them or categorize your feelings, and instead, just fall into bed with them. You wake up, get dressed, and walk out. Done. Simple. Over.

Can I do that, though? Could I use one person while wanting another? My heart says “no,” while sometimes, my mind whispers “yes.” Perfect would never need to know; Perfect is probably off doing the same thing with all the soft little freshmen co-eds, and that’s why he’s so tired, my mind whispers to me. Just do it. Just work out your frustration and your lust and your feelings on someone else. Don’t waste time, and youth, and beauty, and your body. Don’t go another year without sex. There’s no reason to.

But at night, at times like this, lying on my bed, the bed I slept with Perfect in, and loved Perfect in, in the same sheets that still, months later, at times still hold wisps of his scent, I think no, no, no, no—I could never do it. I miss him, and I want him, and no one else is going to replace him or fill his hole. To try and do so would be me, settling. And after my many past frog princes, settling is one thing I told myself I’d never do again. Settling was the rut that Perfect saw me in and pulled me out. Settling was what he told me I didn’t deserve.

But, am I settling for this distance between us? The air in this state feels so empty, sometimes it’s hard for me to breathe around the hole that seems to be there; something suddenly missing. It feels like there’s a hole in my Vermont, and you better believe it’s a huge one, because that boy is massive. At any given point in time, I can give you a general idea of in what direction the important people in my life lie. It’s a spider-web of love that crisscrosses the U.S, sometimes even the globe, of what I imagine being thin gold chains running from my heart to the other person’s.

The best way I ever heard this phenomenon described was in Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’s novel, Dedication. (Which I highly recommend, by the way, especially for people who have ever had any interested in the musician/muse relationship.) As Kate Hollis, their main character and heroine, they write:

“…I feel this thing take root in my stomach, this rubber band thing as Jake Sharpe comes back from the concession stand. A twinge tells me to turn around and, sure enough, he has just walked in the doors at the top of the dark aisle. The band tightens as his narrow silhouette approaches. Then, when he slides past I tuck my legs up on my chair and our eyes meet…and it is taut between us. Loosening as he plunks himself at the other end next to Benjy… I slide my hand to the center of my chest while staring up at the screen. This thing is different from living down Jake Sharpe, different from avoiding Jake Sharpe, even different from knowing Jake Sharpe thinks about what I look like. This new Jake Sharpe thing is happening inside me, all the way at the core… I am piano-bench straight, every inch of me realigning to this new state, this Jake Sharpe Compass I have just become” (McLaughlin/Kraus 68-69.)

Like Kate, if you ask where someone is, I can point, assuredly, in a direction after a moment’s thought, giving that little heart-string a gentle mental tug, and waiting to feel in what direction the pull back comes from. It’s how I also know what direction home is. It’s how I know where my roommates are; where my best and dearest and closest friends from home are; the sisters of my heart and mind and soul. And it’s how I can feel Perfect. What once used to be a thick and relatively short gold chain, full of feelings running back and forth this summer is now one of the thinnest links; one that is full of static and loss of sensation and makes me feel empty in the pit of my stomach and heart. There isn’t that proximity. There isn’t the thought that we’re only a less-than-an-hour drive away from each other, if we really needed to be there, standing next to each other, breathing the same air, and sharing the same space, feeling that electric crackle in the air, and then the sublime stillness that I feel when my body is molded seamlessly up against his—weight on weight, cloth sticking to cloth, skin on skin, hands on body, no start and no finish to us.

Instead, I have this three-hundred mile long chain, and a tentative grip on it. I give it a little pull, and wait for it to jingle back in response. Sometimes the return tug is long in coming. I begin to unravel a little bit, but for the most part, I hold strong, using sticky tape and gritted teeth to keep this girl together. I’m tough. I’ve been through worse. I can do this. I want this. I’m a fighter; I don’t just lie down and cry and give in. If he needs his time and his space to settle in and make his life kosher, than I can damn well have the same time and space to use to my own advantage. There’s always more work I can do on myself. Just like whatever is happening between Perfect and I, I am also always a masterpiece in progress, some days darker and more linear, some days bright and effervescent. There’s really never any telling, anyway.

Looking at being part of a relationship like this: he needs his time, I need my time to have no idea what the hell I’m doing and to grapple with feelings—we’re both in different states, at different colleges, leading different lives—how do you try and integrate someone like a significant other into your life like that? How does it work, really? Can two people living in two different circles stay together with themselves as the only constant and shared thing?

[If I never sing another song, another song, another song…can I still sing your tune?]


1 comment:

  1. I facebook messaged you my link! Sorry - i had it wrong.. hehe.
    I'm SO excited that Lauren (L in my blog) started her own! And that you're following her!!! Give her lots of comments... she'll love your point of view as much as I do!!