Tuesday, May 7, 2013


"Do all of your friends date each other?"

I have to think about the answer to this question, because I'm not really sure what to say. Does it seem like this from the outside? Probably. Is it hard to explain to people who live primarily in the straight community? Very.

I cough up a long-winded answer. "No, not all of them. I have many friends who are just that and have never been more. My girlfriend jokes that we make friends by sleeping with other people. It's common in the queer community to keep friendships with ex's though, so a lot of my friends have dated each other. But I think that's a testament to friendship. I don't look around and think of my friends as simply "people I used to date." I think of them as people I have had intense and amazing friendships and relationships with, people who I love and respect enough to want to keep around. Friendships I didn't want to lose when the romance ended."

Her response is quick. "That hasn't worked for me."

"It doesn't work for everyone. And there are some of my ex's I'm not close to. It sort of depended on how things ended. There's also a cooling off period, I mean, you don't usually jump from a serious relationship to an immediate friendship."

"I just... She wants to see me, she called me to say she was cleaning her room and found something for me. I told her that she knows where I live."

I feel my big sister side coming in. "You're leaving the country, possibly for years. Give her a chance, find some closure."

"I don't need closure."

I try not to be condescending, but it probably comes off that way. "You don't? It sounds like you still care. You telling me this says to me that you still care."

She looks off in the distance and rolls her eyes. "She went to Brazil for study abroad, and she was supposed to find herself, learn something, and she came back just as ditsy and flaky as before. She accomplished nothing. She had all that time to find herself, and she blew it. It's like she doesn't know how to learn, how to grow up."

A thousand thoughts at once. I want to respond to her accusations, but the truth is it's her pain, anger, and frustration that is speaking. To love someone and not have that returned, to know someone and realize they have so much potential and yet aren't using it, to miss someone. "I miss you" might be the hardest three words to say, right up there next to "I'm sorry."

I look at her and I hear myself, and I want to go back and not say the same things she's saying. I'm hundreds of miles and years too late. I want to scream, "I SAID THE SAME THINGS, AND I WAS AN ASSHOLE." I railed against my ex, too. I did it because I missed her. I did it because I loved her still, and I couldn't say that, so I coughed up every criticism I could find.

Instead I take on her "finding herself" accusation. "First off, the idea of going to another country to find yourself is so class-related it's horrifying. And personally, that's a life-long journey. I've had so many times in my life where I had to check in, where I had to check out, where I had to see if I lost my left tit under the couch. Seriously, though, it's not that easy. It's ok to be lost. I'm not sure the idea of 'finding yourself' is even possible. And you're not in her head. You don't know what she learned, what she didn't. Maybe she didn't learn the things you wanted her to learn, but that doesn't mean she did it wrong."

She not a big fan of my response. "Well, there's definitely a learning curve, and she's behind it."

"Well," I try not to bite back, but I am, "We're not all on the same timeline. And yes, some of us get to be behind the curve."

I leveled this criticism at my ex, too. Fuck. Nom, nom, nomssss eat all my words. She totally made me eat shit years later, when she jumped way ahead of the curve and I found myself "behind."

I start again. "Are you going to see her?"

"I'll see her at my friends' weddings."

"What does that mean?"

"I'll come home when my friends get married. She'll inevitably be there. I'll have to see her even if I don't want to."

I think of my best friend's death. I think of a good friend's recent car accident, which has hospitalized her for a recovery that may take months, if not years. The friendships I still regret walking away from in anger. I remember the week before high school and college graduations, when I was riding on a high of getting OUT, being DONE, forgetting that the post-grad diaspora would spread my friends to the winds. Forgetting that we may never be in a room together again.

I know what it feels like when anger makes me righteous, and I also know what it feels like when guilt and pain make me regret. I have a feeling I will learn these lessons over, and over, and over again. She will, too. She'll probably learn them in different ways than I will, and maybe she won't miss her ex's the way I miss mine. Maybe she won't miss lost friendships, maybe she'll chalk it up to the past and move on. And maybe her ex will come to say, "I'm sorry," and she'll cough it up, too, because missing someone hurts.

The landslide will bring it down.

Monday, February 18, 2013

They Told Me to Take a Streetcar Named Desire

This is incredibly interesting, and I definitely think she is on to a lot of good stuff here. If you've ever struggled with balancing sex, romance, and security in a long-term relationship (see: everyone who has dated someone for over a year or moved in with a partner), then you can benefit from this.

It Rode Us All the Way Down to New Orleans

My favorite things in the NOLA interwebs as of late:

"New Orleans on Saturday night, the Big Easy at her best. Her French Quarter shines all the way to orbit." 

-Commander Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, currently living in space aboard ISS as Flight Engineer on Expedition 34.
(Photo taken from space, shared on Twitter)

Anonymously posted on Facebook, and reshared more times than I can imagine. The bead tree on St. Charles during Mardi Gras. 

The Marine Corps band in a parade during Carnival 2010 getting crunk. This video has been recirculating!

That which is made of comedic gold.

You Could Run a Red Light

My lips are buzzing with the friction of pressing against hers. I wish I hadn't stayed so late. I feel the pull, the need to write. But it's freezing. I hate the cold. I hate the idea of going home without her. I hate the idea of waking up without her.

The lights on front porches wiz by as I drive down Carrollton toward my drafty house. 


I feel her hand slide around my waist, and I catch myself as I trip on the brick sidewalk. The cymbals crash only a foot or two away. We slide quietly behind the crowds lining the street for the parade. In the dark glow sticks light the street in random places, interspersed with porch lights. She leans toward me as we stumble awkwardly as one. "I'm not used to asking for what I want."

"What do you mean?" Something about the inflection in her voice tells me that this conversation isn't an easy one. She's been toying with this thought, trying to decide how to say this out loud.

"Like, sexually. I'm not used to voicing the things I... that I want. What I think about." 

I want to coax this conversation in the right direction, but I'm not really sure how. "I get that. Did you have something specific in mind?"

"Yes." I have no idea what thoughts this nerd-themed Mardi Gras parade could have possibly brought up. Ha. We have just seen every Star Wars character, along with characters from Dr. Who, Star Trek, a pile of horror films, some fantasy films, eh... Alien, Men in Black, you name it. So whatever she has in mind, it's probably interesting. 

But as I often tell her, I have no doubt that anyone who reads as voraciously as she does has an (over)active imagination. I just have to find the key to verbally unlock her fantasies. 


"I left that relationship, and I had an identity crisis. Everything I loved, everything I poured my heart into, had gotten wrapped up in the toxicity of us. I heard over and over again that the things I most cared about were the things about me that repulsed her. And we did so much damage to each other. There's a million things I never should have said, never should have done, and so much trauma that she inflicted, too. Our sex life became a fucking mess. At the time it didn't feel so bad, but looking back, it definitely was. I still feel like a lot of things about me are broken, and I hate that. It's not your job to fix it, but I can't help that you will run right into it sometimes."

She stands up, shifting off the couch to open the door and light another cigarette. "I know, baby. We all have our baggage. And when my ex and I split, I was the least sexually confident I had ever been in my whole life." 

"I just... I don't want to make the same mistakes again. I think I have hesitated with you in so many ways. I liked you too much." I look up from my dead focal point on the wall, right into her eyes. "I still like you too much. And I've come to fear my own sex drive, the damage I can inflict. I've come to fear how strong and brazen I crave to be. I never wanted to overwhelm you." 

She blows the last of the smoke away into the cloudless sky. I pull the blanket tighter around me, hiding from the cold, hiding from myself. She pushes the door shut and sits next to me, and I cradle my head into her lap. 

"Talking is hard." I'm trying so hard not to cry.

She laughs, and I look up to find her smile. "I know." She takes a piece of my hair and twirls it through her fingers, making a single curl. Her voice is gentle. "And I've definitely found some of your triggers."

I'm genuinely curious. "Like what?"

"Well, sometimes you apologize profusely for coming everywhere." I flash back to the first time I did this with her, and the pain is fresh again. I hate myself for criticizing my ex for doing the same, and I get that my response furthered her trauma instead of healing it. The mistakes I made at eighteen are painfully the ones I am destined to repeat at twenty-five, except this time, I'm on the other side of the fence. Christ. I have a feeling I know how the conversation would go if I called her up out of the blue and told her this. But I have enough self-loathing for the both of us. As my girlfriend is quick to remind me, most of the pain we inflict on others is not intentional, but it is pain nonetheless. It is too late to change my mistakes. I can only heal myself, and that starts with learning to communicate.

"That wasn't her fault. That's mine." I don't know why I'm defending someone who isn't even there to hear it. 

She twirls the hair the other direction. "I figured it was just a part of being self-conscious."

"It is. There are certain positions that will always trigger me. I don't do them well because I will always be too self-conscious." 

"Like what?"

"Like sitting on someone's face. For some reason, I find that intensely vulnerable  and I hate it. I may want it, but I lose the desire quickly because my self-consciousness will win out over my desire."

I can see her filing away this information, silently but carefully.

"You know, I didn't realize how much I was holding back until Max came into town. We were talking about relationships and sex and dating, and it just hit me. It felt really overwhelming. But it was there, in black-and-white, and I think having to really admit that out loud was the first step to figuring it out."

It's funny, this may be the absolute sexiest conversation I've had with her in eight months. And yet, we are fully clothed. I remember something I read recently about sex in long-term relationships, how it is a balancing act between the need to feel secure with a partner and the need to be surprised and stimulated by the same partner. I need to go back and read that. I think it's also a process of balancing your fears and inhibitions with the desire to explore and experiment.

I realize that every serious conversation I have with her, I start with my heart so intensely sitting in my throat. It feels like I am choking on the words, coughing up nonsense and fear. But instead of falling, instead of flailing my arms as the abyss rises around me, she pulls me in to catch me. 

I hope I do the same for her, but the truth is, I'm not sure I'll ever know. 

I do know that this is the right door to walk through. Confessing my fears to her has never left me regretful -- only relieved. It takes a lot of fighting through the haze of fear. But I'm getting it. I will get better at this. It will get easier. Maybe I will make fewer mistakes this time, or at least, I will make different ones. That's probably the best I can hope for. I'm not under the illusion that fairy tales exist or that love cures. But I have to believe I am capable of learning and change.