Catharsis in F major

For the last several months I have been patiently seated in om position on a lofty pedestal of standards and expectations, under the impression that I was acting as a receptor for messages from the universe. Messages about romantic harmony and tolerance and a number of other virtues that catastrophe had tricked me into caring about. Don’t worry, this was temporary. When I fell out of the trance, I landed squarely on my ass.

Tonight I found myself on the couch, drinking beer and eating hot dogs out of the package. I was thinking about the Illuminati and how I knew absolutely nothing about them, and my god did they really exist and when did they originate, and what did they actually do, anyways? The library was closed, but there was Google. It was suddenly imperative to initiate a search and dive headlong into a rabbit hole of fascinating, disjointed information about secret societies. I had a date at 9 pm. At 9:15 pm I am still in my underwear, having melted into a conglomerate of smudged mascara and a bonnet of frizz. I blame humidity and enthusiasm. My phone was on silent so I didn’t see all of those confirmation texts or receive that exasperated voicemail until a few moments ago. Oopsie.

During times of great personal crisis, I tend to retreat into a state of social hibernation. And I have been in a state of lock-down panic.

It goes a little like this: adulthood.

No, wait. It’s worse than that: attempting to date like an adult.

Dating that involves guarded but bubbly conversation over moderately-priced meals. Dating without getting shit hell drunk and just falling madly in bed together. Dating aimed at more than taking care of your basic needs and then hoping to god the person doesn’t Facebook stalk you or suggest brunch. Dating that might prevent you from going home to silence and green tea and the luxury of never having to acknowledge that the person you’re fucking does things like take a dump or think it’s ok to put leftover onions and tomatoes in the same plastic baggie.

After about 5 years of long-distance casual sex with a guy I involuntarily fell in love with, I thought I’d had my come-to-Jesus moment of enlightenment. Arrangements like this one tend to fall apart. And this exploded instead of offering up peaceful disintegration. I lost a best friend and a good lay because for the first time in my life, my heart got the best of me. I thought – this is it, Teal – the universe is calling upon you to step up and represent the fairer sex as a lady, not a well-intentioned delinquent. You’ve finally grown out of this exhausting, nonsensical dance around commitment.

There was this moment of exuberance where I was optimistic about transforming into a woman who didn’t feel like she was caught in the teeth of a bear trap whenever she took on the role of little spoon. A sweaty, snoring bear trap, with a boner lodged in the small of her back when all she wanted to do was sleep. I thought hey, I could learn to like that. I could learn to make that dinner. I saw the light, and I danced right toward it.

I felt empowered and sure of what I wanted. I took a vow of self-imposed celibacy and waited for it to start making sense to me that all of my closest friends are in legally recognized long-term relationships. After all, I respect these people and their decisions, and I even really like their spouses. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a single cell in my rotten heart that could personally relate to this inclination.

Yet I kept waking up in my trademark starfish position, smack dab in the center of my heavenly nest of a bed, to discover that I could turn the light on at 4 am and read without anyone grumbling in annoyance, asking what the fuck time it was and would I not just go the fuck to sleep? I’m at my best from dusk to dawn, when everyone else is resting and I can putter unhindered through ill-conceived art projects or think in circles about abstract intellectual things without being asked distracting questions. I have found that cake tastes the best leftover and refrigerated, eaten in the dark with a glass of milk. That Van Morrison is especially moving when there is no one watching you sashay like you imagine a gypsy would move while you listen to it. I consider these important discoveries in the confines of my happy little life. And I’m just discovering that I might like them best undisturbed and unexamined by affectionate tourists.

My attempts at making nice with strangers while carefully evaluating whether or not I want to see them naked on a regular basis have failed miserably. I was doing really well until my vagina started to make these insane demands of me. And then I realized – I know in seconds whether or not I want to sleep with someone. But you start actually talking to them, and holy hell they don’t waste a second before spewing information that undermines whatever aesthetic value they possess. It’s like watching a time lapse of a chipping fresco. He ends sentences with prepositions and then volunteers that his reading is limited to Harry Potter and suddenly that entire, beautiful left bicep is no longer even visible.

An escalating series of these failed social experiences has led me to a new personal philosophy. My romantic fantasy is so simple that it’s impossible. It’s built on logic and reads more like a contractual agreement than a matter of the heart. In the past few weeks, I have synthesized these straightforward ground rules into a list I’ve started referring to as the Ten Commandments. Next week, I’m going to be generous and share them with you. But for now, I fucked my way into this mess and I suppose I can probably justify fucking my way back out of it, too. Cheers to pleasure and indulgence, my friends.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Catharsis in F major”
  1. lincoln56 says:

    Funny. Reminded me of an Elif Batuman piece.

    John Steinbeck, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Kid Rock end sentences with prepositions.

    Tthere is no direct correlation with I.Q. and sexual acumen

  2. lincoln56 says:

    Jesus. * “There is no direct correlation between…”

  3. Chris Carpenter says:

    When I was a young psychology student, I took a developmental psychology class. This class often irked me because it seemed as though developmental psychology is built around the proposition that at certain ages, there is a developmentally normal “ideal” that when deviated from indicated deviance. If you were not acting in a particular way by a particular age, there was something wrong with you that needed to be fixed. This assumption carries into adulthood. When you are an adult, you are supposed to get a career, a spouse, and children. Deviation from this path again indicates deviance or at best, immaturity. Given that there really hasn’t been any point in my life during which I was considered normal, I was offended by these assumptions. The problem is that sometimes people deviate from the norm because they truly are radically different in their psychological needs and sometimes they deviate because there really is something wrong with them.

    The point of all this rambling is to ask you which one are you? Are you skeptical of serious romantic commitment because you have unresolved issues that require therapy or is it because your particular set of emotional needs are drastically different from the norm such that you would be happier living on your own? I think the answer is this: there is a very, very small number of people out there with whom you would be happy in a committed relationship. If you met such a person, you might seriously consider a committed relationship. On the other hand, you are fully capable of being happy on your own. The solution then is to not worry about it, do your late night arts and crafts, and if one day you get hit over the head (metaphorically of course) so be it. If not, get a good job, and occasionally visit foreign countries where you don’t speak the language so you don’t have to worry about talking to them the next morning.

  4. Chris Carpenter says:

    You have a rather curious definition of “next week.” Do you define next week the same way that Christians who are desperate to make Genesis and Evolution compatible assert that “a day could be a million years for God”?

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