Is this really the end?
~ This is a continuation of Dating for Martians: The Trail of Gentlemen Callers ~
I should’ve known I didn’t really want to meet new people. More than anything, I should’ve known that you could write all the ingredients you want, but the computer isn’t going to cook up some man to make you forget all other men — the ones from your past, and the ones from your present.
It was December and I was about to leave for New York. I had recently reactivated my online dating account.
“I don’t know why I thought I had the time or desire to meet anyone. I’ve had to turn down offers for drinks, coffee, tea, opera, Malibu hiking, motorcycle rides…” I said to Man Friend.
“I don’t see you in a relationship,” Man Friend said. “Have a fling.”
“I don’t do flings.”
I tried once, a one-night thing that turned yearlong.
I’ve been in fact, a serial monogamist since the age of eighteen. I’ve had several excellent, five-year relationships followed by several excellent ex-boyfriends who remained in my life.
To the outside world, they probably come across as regular people. But to me, they are exceptional. I can’t imagine my life — or myself — without them. Even S., who is gone, is an active force. I still break down over his death once in a while, which I imagine will always happen. He is after all, the one who was with me when I was a surly teenager, and in the sense that I grew into a kinder adult because he was there for the transition, he never left. He knew my heart before I knew it.
“You are loyal in an unusual way.
It can confuse people.
But not the important ones.”
He said that to me a couple of years ago, leaving me with quite a lot. Thank you, beautiful Shane Dunne. I’m glad I put his name in print. I should have done it sooner.
How to get back to the online dating conclusion… In truth, I’m sick of these dating posts. I don’t want Gunmetal Geisha to be about a subject that was meant to be a side note.
The day after posting The Trail of Gentleman Callers, I woke up in a dark mood and lacked any desire to bother with the final Martian Dating installment. My head was under the covers and I didn’t know whether it was day or night. The ceaseless writing had put me off my sleep and eating. I slept no more than four hours at a time and I skipped classes, grocery shopping and meeting with friends.
The crazy tree branching in my head had to be out of me before I could get back to my life.
I almost hoped to collapse from exhaustion, hit my head and get amnesia so that I could be done. A writer friend said he admired my monomania, and this made me disgusted with myself: Did I come down to being a person obsessed with her blog?
That particular day, I lay awake in bed thinking as I do, feeling the thoughts like a horde of chomping mice in my head.
Why had I felt the need to do the I am bad, I am bad dance in the “gentlemen” post? Why was I intent on sending some message of I don’t deserve your love and attention? Didn’t my existing guilt subject me to enough mental punishment without having to add phrases like I had left a trail of carcasses?
In December, I set the location to New York on the dating site, and accepted one meeting.
The way I see it, first meetings ought to be light on obligation, such as over beverages or a walk in the park.
In this case, he offered a Vespa ride through Christmas-lit Manhattan and it happened to be a glorious 65-degree winter night. I recognized him because he was holding two helmets as I walked out of the building.
He visibly took back a step when he saw me. Later over a drink, he told me he’d reacted that way because for a second he wondered if he was being pranked. You walk out in jeans and barely wearing makeup, but you have this movie-star quality, and I think, what the fuck?!
Men can be so good at compliments.
Of course, they know some of us eat it up.
You have class, he kept saying, so much class. And when I took out my six-year-old phone that had four push buttons lost like missing teeth, and a few more curling off not unlike rot, he hugged me. You’re so cool! He exclaimed.
There was just no losing with him, and I was grateful. Having gone to New York emotionally tattered, I found his warmth kind of healing.
We were the very definition of simpatico. We laughed a lot and didn’t run out of conversation. It’s not unusual for online dates to talk about the dating site, and he was particularly experienced with it. So instead of making assumptions about my interest based on our rapport, he asked me straight out if I saw us going anywhere romantically. My appreciation of him grew.
I looked him in the eye, already fond of him, and gently shook my head, “no.” He took it with grace, a nod and a sigh.
“I’d still like to invite you to a Broadway show tomorrow night,” he said. “It won’t be a date.” Was he like me, capable of putting aside romantic notions and still enjoy good company? I accepted his invitation, and learned that yes, he was.
I will never forget him.
I returned to Los Angeles about a month later, regenerated and whole. The inhabitants of New York — my niece, her mother, my brothers, my parents, my best girlfriend, and A. (my ex-boyfriend) — had healed me from my winter wounds. For the other, profound Shane wound, we all put together a New York memorial.
Gone was that cavernous yearning in me that I always confuse with the need for passionate love.
You’d think it was at this point that I took down the online dating profile. But instead, I set the location back to Los Angeles.
People seeking partners assign guidelines for the potentiality of spouse, home and children. Perhaps by not setting those limits, I have too many options. Adding the fact that I maintain unconventional relationships with my exes, I’m left with both the luxury to deconstruct the nature of relationships and the reluctance to give up any freedom.
“Your dating posts are an H. instruction manual,” said Man Friend. I’m of course, H., but the manual is for my own instruction more than anyone else. And then I understood. It isn’t so much that I’m obsessed with my blog as I am navigating my psyche.
Before I shut down my online dating account for good, I met the Perfect Man. That was two months ago.
But I stopped seeing the Perfect Man romantically.
Yesterday he inquired after my well-being. I texted back, playfully asking if he thought I might’ve received death threats after making a lot of male readers hate me with the “gentlemen” post. So he made a joke about murderers amassing outside my building as he nursed his own wounds. I told him to hush and wait, that I hadn’t even gotten into the “Perfect Man” story yet.
“That’ll be when the women turn on you too!” He wrote.
I laughed. He might be right.
It’s probably supremely narcissistic to think of someone as your personal angel, but that’s how I see him. All he’s ever done is make me feel good.
It’s no surprise then, why I grapple with guilt.
I want to keep living in the world I’ve created, the one where I get to make my own rules, like in the Star Trek holodeck. It’s rarely, if ever, about sex for me. I’m deeply affectionate, but the wild child in me is sometimes like a high school virgin.
I have to live with constant duality. I think I want a non-traditional relationship but then can’t imagine anything other than monogamy. I vacillate between flitting social butterfly and cave-dwelling bat.
I reach inside and shake hands with the interior of a person, cramming the getting-to-know process into several intense sessions in a row. Some people expect it to always be that way. But in the end, I’m a person who retreats into her alone space.
Those in my circle get it. When people know you, they understand your inconsistencies. Like Shane understood. But when they don’t, they get hurt.
Yet I tell their stories, like when I pay tribute to the man with the Vespa. I hear their tales in my head and repeat the words like incantations. I’m Scheherazade and live another day because of the people whose stories I tell.
Or maybe, all this talk is a different delaying tactic, Penelope weaving the shroud and keeping her suitors at bay. Until the return of Odysseus.
The truth is, I don’t know. And it’s taken me five installments and nearly ten thousand words to reach this conclusion.
- Navigating the psyche is no easier than the seas in the Odyssey.
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