Sunday, May 11, 2014

On Truth in Fiction. Or Fiction in Truth.

I’ve been thinking lately about whether or not this blog is a help or a hindrance.

Until recently, I’ve always believed in the power of the confessional. I’ve been squirrelling away my private thoughts in notebooks, unmailed letters, journals and stories for decades now.  I have always written my way through my own life, making sense of what was happening to and around me through my pen.  Writing was just about the most cathartic act I could engage in, and always left me feeling more sure about who I was than when I had started. 

When I began writing here about love affairs, sexual escapades and various other dalliances, I think the original intent was to find a way to make events that were either confusing, or painful – like breakups or heartaches – lighter.  In this blog, I created a persona that could laugh carelessly at the questionable or disappointing behavior of men and blithely trip onto the next adventure with a little shrug and a sigh.  It was also a space for me to give meaning to what might otherwise seem like meaningless, frivolous encounters.  Who cared if that man never called me again, if I had a great story out of it?  Hell, who cared if five men broke my heart, or made me feel cheap, or were rude to me, or offered me less than I deserved, if that meant five great stories? Ten?  I congratulated myself on my candour, but the confessional was being somehow being subtly manipulated into something else, a kind of armour that allowed me to guard against any hurts I suffered rather than truly write my way through it.  

The problem that this causes for me now is the growing space between the truth of my emotions and what I might articulate here.  Actually, no.  That’s not right.  That isn’t the problem for me.  I think I know very clearly the differences between the person I am, and the heart I own, and the confident, sometimes whimsical girl whose voice I feature here. 

The problem is when the audience is confronted with the difference.  It’s easy to make assumptions about how I feel or would react to a situation based on the character I portray here.  But what happens when the real me doesn’t match up to that girl?  It can cause conflict, confusion, disappointment – in fact, it has done so. Assumptions are made, which I then find myself apologetically dispelling.   

I struggled a bit with whether this just meant I’m a shitty writer.  That I don’t do a good enough job of truthfully explaining who I am or what I am feeling.  I became dismayed that a person reading a post could not separate the fact from the fiction, or discern the reality of who I was in person from the voice on the blog.  But at the same time, I felt that I had been so real and raw in some posts, how could anyone get the wrong idea about how I was feeling? 

Then I considered whether I should ever share the blog, or the fact of its existence, with anyone who might potentially be featured in later posts.  I still don’t know what the correct answer is.  That’s the wondrous and terrible thing about writing:  once I put something out there, it’s open for interpretation, and whether that interpretation matches my intent, or whether a reader will grasp what I was truly feeling, and understand the elements I have added simply as a writer rather than as a subject, I don’t know, and I can’t control.  It might be bravado, in the form of sarcasm or wit, or dramatic emphasis on a particular aspect of an event, but what is becoming clearer to me are that there are sufficient gaps between what I communicate here and what I feel, that – well, I have to decide whether I’m OK with that.

And I suppose it comes down to this:  what is this blog for, and who is it for?  Is it a space for me to share my thoughts without filter or edit, a truly honest and raw account of my life and what I’m feeling, or is it a product I put out in the world, to be a titillating and (often) humourous read for others?  I guess I’m still not clear on where I stand on that.  And which one you, Dear Reader, want to read. 


Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Presence of Absence

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away...

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn't see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away

-  Antigonish, Hughes Mearns

I'll go months and months feeling fine on my own, without a need for a man or romantic companionship of any kind.  And then something snaps in me and I voraciously consume whatever affection I can get from man after man, sometimes for weeks on end.  It seems natural that these hedonistic downward spirals are caused by loneliness, and a desire for connection.  And they are, to some extent.  A kind of distraction.  But they are not a distraction from emptiness, or from the feeling of being alone.  Not at all.  They are an attempt to mask the pain of the absence of the very real presence of an unknown person.  

Let me attempt to explain: I don't know his name, or his face, but I know him.  And his absence, despite his formlessness, is the excruciating pain that I attempt to block out.  I know on some visceral level that I am meant to be with this as yet-unmet person, to belong to him.  And I feel isolated, exiled, to not be permitted yet in his presence.  And because he's unknown to me at this moment, it's an impossible feeling for me to amend.  And so, I do any manner of self-destructive thing, to blot out the hurt of missing that far-off man.  

In some ways it would be easier to feel simply alone.  Loneliness is easily addressed in a variety of fashions - when you are lonely for no one in particular, any company can be sought and enjoyed.  The problem is, for me, there is only this specific company that will do to soothe the ache that I have - and how to obtain this remedy is still unknown to me.  Yes, in some ways to be alone would cause much less pain and a variety of individuals can fill up that kind of a void.  But to be abandoned by a heart you haven't met - well that's a peculiar, inoperable kind of pain.  The only way to soften the ache is to hope that the face that is still hazy will become clear, a name brought about from the silence, a long-held love finally consummated.  That, or to forget him altogether and revel in the relative abundance brought about by confirmed solitude.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Am I Being Played?

The other night I got a message from what I can only assume is a burner POF account.  It features two pictures of a model-worthy man, both professional shots.  In both he's topless to show off his ripped physique.  Candid shots, in one he is sitting, bronzed and beautiful on a beach, working on - I dunno, a ship model of some kind?  In the second, a black and white shot, he's putting a shirt on.  Like, these are serious model shots.  And there's no writing in the profile - only, "Under construction."  I feel like the photos were ripped from Google Images or something, not someone's candid shots.

Anyway, I got a message from him that said:

"You should meet a friend of mine that is here with me. :)
  He liked your profile, but he doesn't online date. 
 He is the perfect mix of what you are looking for, his number is…"

I stared at the email for a while, and then replied,

"What?! This isn't a real thing, is it?!"

He replied:

"LOL!  It's a real deal and thing! :)  Why not?  His name is Ben."

I replied,

"Well, if Ben wants to speak for himself, he can text me.  Here's my number."

About an hour later, I get a text from an unfamiliar number.

"Hey, this is Ben.  My friend talked to you on POF, right?"


"Yeah, he did!  I thought it was a set up."


"I guess I'm supposed to send you a photo."

…and then texts me a photo of a super handsome dude in a suit  Definitely NOT a model shot but handsome as all get-out.

This does absolutely nothing to allay my fears that this is some weird kind of practical joke or set-up.

Anyway, this "Ben," texted me a few more times that night.   And we've exchanged a few texts, which have given me a general idea of this guy, in terms of where he lives and what he does, but no specifics that I can, say, verify using the handy Internets.  

He wants to meet up next week for a date.  I am still convinced this is going to backfire in some way that will be hilarious to everyone but me.  When did I get so gun-shy?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Sneak Attack.

I've been dating JS for about 6 months.   He initially reached out to me via my profile on an online dating site.  We traded thoughtful emails for a few days, spent a long night on the phone discussing music, and then he sent a note: "Well, consider me hooked.  Dinner?"  I didn't have huge expectations, but he charmed me (and somewhat startled me) by bringing me a very thoughtful mix CD he had put together based on our music conversation (what was this, 1999?), and a bottle of wine whose name was a play on my online user name.  He was very nervous, and I was a little too, worried I hadn't lived up to what the wine and CD suggested were somewhat high expectations.

One date became two, one mix tape became two, and by then, and to my surprise, it was evident then that this was a Something.  I was initially wary.  JS dated like it was 1999 because that was the last time he dated, before his marriage, which was now in ashes.  He declared himself thoroughly single.  Aside from those reservations, he was also so different from anyone I had ever loved.  I love the intelligent, creative, somewhat insane and sarcastic artist types (which generally yields the expected results: drama, intensity, passion).  JS was smart, absolutely, a student of pop culture, yes, but not really an artist per se.  More an appreciator.  What he was, was steady.  A listener. Kind.  Funny.  A dad.  A regular guy.  When he met one of my close friends for the first time, she pulled me aside and gleefully declared him the most "normal" man I'd ever loved. 

And I did love him.  In the beginning, he followed an alarming pattern of one of my exes, David, declaring me the most divine creature he'd ever met and wondering out loud constantly why I would choose to be with him - was he the safe choice, he once asked - but once he understood that it wasn't up to him to decide who I chose to be with, and had tearfully confessed to me all his insecurities, and how strongly he felt about me, my guard fell along with my heart.  

It was sometimes hard, as his time was not always his own: shift work, a long commute from my house to his, and his parental duties meant he wasn't at my disposal, but we made it work.  We spent several nights a week together.  I never pushed for more.  Never insisted that I know his kids, until he thought it was time (it never was).  Never complained when he wasn't able to be with me.  Because when he was there, man, was he there.  When I lost out on a great part I had auditioned for, he rushed to my house to let me sob in his arms, smearing mascara all over his chest.  When my dad was visiting, he asked to meet him, even though I hadn't hinted or asked (and assumed he wouldn't want to).  He gladly accompanied me to my work Christmas party.  He sent daily texts about how wonderful I was.  We giggled about everything.  He seemed to have an endless capacity to listen to me talk about work, friends, my family.  We watched Dr. Who in bed for hours.  You know, boyfriend/girlfriend things.  

I follow a pattern.  I am always initially suspicious that I am loveable.  For the few months (usually around 4 of any new relationship), I am waiting for the object of my affection to realize I'm a horrible, ugly person and leave.  I never fully open my heart.  I am always making contingency plans to be alone, to not rely on them.  But by the end of 2013, I was looking forward to a 2014 with JS, confident in his affection.  He was a Keeper.  I kept quiet about this, to pretty much everyone.  I didn't want to jinx it.  No declarations of relationship status, no obnoxious me-and-boyfriend selfies.  He was just "my fella" to those who asked.  

I went away on a family holiday last week.  JS spent the night at my place before I left.  I told him I would miss him.  He smiled.  During my week away, I sent him pictures, we texted about 20 times a day. Things were OK.  I was looking forward to seeing him when I got home.  There was a small amount of weirdness on the one occasion I actually picked up the phone to call him - I just wanted to hear his voice.  He sounded kind of annoyed when he picked up.  I assumed he was just distracted, or I had picked a bad time, and I hung up pretty quickly.  It gave me a twinge, but then we continued our continuous stream of emails and conversation, and it was soon forgotten.

When I landed late on Sunday evening, I texted him from the airport to let him know I had landed.  No reply.   I texted again to let him know when I got to my apartment.  No reply.  It was slightly weird, but I shrugged it off.  He must be sleeping, I thought.   When I woke up yesterday, I had a short reply: "How was UR flight?"  I was unnerved by the polite tone.  Where was the lovey stuff?  Where were the "kisses" we normally texted each other? For no reason at all, I began to have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Work dragged on yesterday as I stared at my phone waiting for him to text.  I checked my email constantly to see if there was an email.  I would text him something funny that happened.  No reply.  I had no idea what was wrong, but something was wrong.  I just knew it, more than I knew anything at all.  

I should have called.  But somehow the call during my trip had made me afraid to call.  Maybe it would be the wrong time again.  Maybe his kids were with him.  Maybe he was at work.  Maybe he wouldn't pick up.  So instead last night, when I hadn't heard from him by 9 pm, I sent him a text where I said how I was feeling - insecure - that for no reason at all I was feeling scared that he was detaching from me, and that I wasn't sure why it had been so hard to reach him all day.  I apologized for being dramatic.  I apologized if I had been the one to be distant during my holiday. 

It took him over an hour to respond.  

When he did, his response was that it had been amazing, that I was an "amazing person in many respects," that he had "never intended to get into a relationship so soon" after his marriage, and from now on, he wanted it to be just him and his kids.  That "this sucked," but he loved our time together, and thanks very much, bye-bye.

6 months.  No fight.  No rough patch.  No drama, ever.  No tears, other than the happy ones.   Ended it with a text.

I never saw it coming.

So, beware the quiet ones.  

In disbelief, I told the Italian Ex (who I met up with in London last month - more on that later) that JS had played a similar breakup card to his own - the "It's not you it's me, I just don't want to be in a relationship with anyone right now" card.  Cruelly, the Italian said, "Maybe that's just the RCC effect.  That's just the effect you have on men."

Now, that might be coming out of the Italian's resentment that I wasn't more "available" to him when I was in the UK last month.  Or, maybe it really is the effect I have.  That's of course how it feels.  Sure, it might be them.  But isn't it also me? Because if I was enough, if I wasn't difficult, or self-involved, or any of the things that I am, or maybe a little sexier, they'd want to be in a relationship with someone.  They'd want to be in a relationship with me. So it is me, in the end. It is.

Anyway, I cried all last night, falling asleep around 5 this morning, then dragged myself through work today, burying myself in paperwork and conference calls to drown out the resounding silence from my inbox and from my phone.  None of my friends, nor my mother, can understand my distress.  Because I was so reticent to discuss the relationship, for fear of ruining a Really Good Thing, they took this to mean that I wasn't invested in the relationship.  But oh, I was, I was.   I'm home now in my pyjama pants and oversize Star Wars t-shirt, sitting on the couch with Raincity Kitty, tearfully eating thai food and listening to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat (with intermittent breaks to watch Tessa and Scott figure skating clips on YouTube and cry about THAT).  It's exhausting and daunting to find myself alone again.  I feel old.  I feel past It - that I've had enough passes sent my way that I haven't managed to catch, and It is giving up.  Who knew that the quiet ones could cause so much damage.  This one is really going to smart for awhile.