~On the Nature of Love and Affection. And, Let’s Be Honest, a Fair Amount of Lust As Well Because Love and Affection Are All Well And Good, But Sometimes the Evening Needs To Go In A Different Direction~
[Quick note: *Casey is actually the person who wanted me to put up my natterings for her perusal. Since apparently others have stumbled on this little niche blog, I figure this is a pertinent piece of information. Now, if I ever actually give her the link to this damned thing — it’s been a year and counting — I’ll probably delete this intro before doing so because it would just be odd for her to read this. In any event, as always, the asterisk indicates it’s not her real name.]
[Quick note 2: This is likely to undergo significant revision at some point. I’m not sure I’ve gone nearly as in-depth as I should have]
[Quick note 3: As always, there’s no great lesson here. Indeed, there’s even less of a great lesson than usual. I’m just thinking about *Casey because I was busy texting her today and, well, I figured it was time to write a bit about how we got together instead of working on what I was supposed to be working on. I’ve been working on a couple things about her in my spare time, but this one was the easiest to just finish up.]
Love, the truest and most fatuous love alike, will always find time to be a strange and fickle beast, just to keep you on your toes.
Sometimes you find love through diligence and the occasional expensive lobster dinner. Sometimes love finds you, usually through blind stupid luck.
And sometimes someone just tells you that you’ve been in love for a while and you, being the clueless idiot that you are, never noticed. So you nod thoughtfully and decide that it’s nice not to have to worry about the hard work of figuring that sort of thing out for yourself.
No, really. That actually happens. It’s a glorious moment for those of us too lazy to think for ourselves.
It was nearabout the end of October, approaching that spooky time of year when candy manufacturers worship odd marshmallow gods at chocolate fountains while otherwise stolid adults irrationally decide that the time has come to wear inappropriate clothing that emphasizes all the body parts they spend the rest of the year keeping on the down-low. A magical and giggly time, pregnant with all manner of nascent naughtiness and picaresque peregrinations. That time of year when leaves are changing colors, the drunks are falling, and the Christmas ads are poking their jingled heads out looking for a shadow that means 8 more weeks of wall-to-wall toy commercials.
Spoiler: they always see a shadow. Always.
So it was almost Halloween, or maybe it actually was Halloween night itself. I can’t recall exactly, and it doesn’t matter. It was a Halloween party being held during the appropriate season in the appropriate sort of place, and *Casey Dee and I were there, though not dressed appropriately. That is to say, we were dressed appropriately for normal times and places. I’m pretty sure I was actually wearing a turtleneck, because the creepy malingerings of Grad School Disease1 can sneak up on even the most anti-establishment of us. But this was a gay Halloween party, and appropriateness takes on many and occasionally disturbing forms at gay parties. And some of these defy any attempts to slap the label of ‘appropriate’ on them no matter how laissez-faire and loosey-goosey you get with the language.
I’ve always been quite fond of my gay friends – they have been, without exception, awesome people – but there’s really no way to ignore the fact that when they have reason or opportunity to dress up in costume, they don’t generally do it by half-measures. When it comes to sillyfuntime, I’m not even sure they possess a ruler capable of marking out anything less than 3.14 measures. Sometimes you get the sense they’re trying to live up to expectations, even amongst themselves. Nevertheless, they manage to genuinely enjoy the process of doing so, in the end.
When you leave your stupid preconceptions and ideologies at the door and just accept people for who they are, it’s really quite a nice experience. How many racists, misogynists, and homophobes have missed out on genuinely happy moments because they reject people out of hand?
The problem with generalizations that you like is that reality sometimes muddles things up.
In this case, for instance, a majority of those in attendance were actually dressed more or less in street clothes. This was the post-grunge world, so take the descriptives ‘more or less’ and ‘street clothes’ how you will. Mixed in, however, were a few Gay Halloween celebrants – army butch, fishnet drag, obscure (and occasionally obscene) fuzzy-wuzzies, and one sizable purple prosthetic penis on a pear tree. Well, no, it was just a gaudily dressed man who seemed to be celebrating a half-dozen Halloweens and their attendant costumes simultaneously. But the costume quite festive enough to rate its own carol. Festive enough that though I only saw him once, heading for the backyard, I remember him perfectly when all the other attendees have faded into the recesses of my memory.
The costume was, in a gay word, fantabulous.
(My spell-check, incidentally, has no problem with that last word. I can’t, and would never try to, explain why this pleases me no end.)
For the most part, though, the party itself was basically just a normal house party with some Halloween trappings. *Kathy and *Ginny, who neither dated nor coordinated outfits, to the best of my knowledge, were dressed as standard military-surplus butches, olive t-shirts and camo pants and black boots. To my untrained straight-guy eye, this get-up looked no different from their normal mode of lesbian attire. So I honestly had no idea if they were in costume or not. *Silas was…I have no idea what *Silas was. He most likely didn’t know himself. He lived a far more disassociated life than most. He seemed content, though, and I was as happy for him as I could be given that I never really did understand him past the basics of spontaneous hugging and an endless supply of blueish-purple pills he popped like plum-flavored Tic Tacs while refusing to identify them for the rest of us poor sinners. At times, I suspected he himself had no clear idea what they were, choosing to just enjoy the mystery. And the high. Definitely the mystery and the high. They made him about as happy as someone who had no idea what was going on could be. Not that I’m knocking it. Knowing what’s going on around you can be a depressing bit of business at times.
So there we were, *Casey and I. I’d brought her here just as a friend, albeit a friend I’d already gotten as far as 42% of the way to first base with. Maybe closer to 34%, taking into account the metric conversion rate, the current price of silver, and the ambient temperature of North Carolina in the autumn. Somewhere in that general range. At the time, she was still very much my tutee. A more impertinent tutee than most, to be sure, who had little patience for what she considered pointless rules governing the behavior of two legal consenting adults. Yet still someone whose connection to me was subject to the extensive rules in the University Code of Conduct regarding proper relationships between T.A.s and undergrads.
Somehow, though, I couldn’t bring myself to agonize too terribly much over this minor detail. Funny what a pretty girl could do to a fine, upstanding, practically saintly beacon of humanity like me.
As noted, we weren’t properly dressed for the occasion. Or, judging from a couple of the costumes, properly undressed. The hosts graciously let our lack of participation slide because, well, it wasn’t the sort of gathering where people actually cared that much about such things. Guessing conservatively, a third of them were likely on drugs, and that’s a Mississippi politics-level conservative estimate. Another third was buzzed from the booze and possibly doing unspeakable things with antipsychotics borrowed from their roommates. The last third must have left early, because pretty much everyone at the party appeared to be high or buzzed.
In retrospect, I suppose it would be less confusing to just refer to the high/buzzed groups as two halves. But I didn’t and I stand by my choice.
We mingled, we chattered, we moseyed about. All the usual sorts of things one does at college parties. Noticing a young lady give *Casey an appraising look, I fought the temptation to work out something beneficial to all three of us.
My self-restraint has never been legendary, but it eventually managed deeds too heroic and inspiring to capture in song or myth that night, because I somehow managed to refrain from suggesting anything overly inappropriate. Our history of reaching 34-42% of the way to first base didn’t seem sufficient to be proposing such endeavors.
Besides, I was enjoying her company. Why would I wish to share her with some woman we met at a party?
Don’t answer that. I’m just going to pretend I didn’t even ask that.
So we chattered some more, we wandered through the kitchen, out back the house, back inside where the lovely assortment of alcohol resided, and finally ended up in somebody’s bedroom with a couple other somebodies, doing exactly what one would expect to do in a bedroom at a boozed-up party.
That is, lying down on the sizable, if somewhat careworn and possibly bodily fluid-infused, bed looking at but not actually watching the TV while sharing muted conversation.
To clarify: well, yes, there are other things people do in bedrooms. I’ve known about that sort of thing for years, now, thanks for asking. But, generally-speaking, people don’t do these things with complete strangers or idle acquaintances in the room.
To clarify the previous clarification: more accurately, generally I don’t do them with complete strangers or idle acquaintances in the room. I can’t speak for other people in this regard.
To clarify the clarification of the initial clarification: there have been a few exceptions in my life where I can, in fact, speak for certain other people who have been perfectly happy doing these things with complete strangers and idle acquaintances in the room. That’s neither here nor there, though.
One last clarification: one of my favorite memories from my undergrad years was visiting someone who, in true sitcom style, allowed his friends to just walk into his apartment without knocking. Since I was counted as a good friend, I did precisely that one June afternoon, only to discover he wasn’t in his usual spot on the couch, drunk and grinning like an idiot. So, after looking about and not finding him anywhere, I knocked on his bedroom door. No response, so I figured he was asleep. I was there to pick him up because we were due somewhere shortly. So I opened the door to go in and wake him up. As discerning readers have probably already guessed, if for no other reason than I’m telling this anecdote in the wake of my above comments, he was in the throes of sex with his girlfriend, her on top, him lying there grinning like an idiot, though perhaps a little less drunk than usual. Not actually sober, as such, but we can’t expect miracles from men like him. As I opened the door, filling the room with light from the afternoon sun through the patio doors, they stopped momentarily to look in my direction. Before I could back out muttering apologies, the girlfriend waved and said ‘Hi, Random!’ My friend then added, “Be with you in about 15 minutes.” Without so much as missing the slightest beat, the girlfriend, still looking at me, rolled her eyes and said, “More like five.”
To this day, I’m unsure whether she winked, but the look of unanticipated embarrassment on his face has been a source of many happy memories to comfort me in dark times during the intervening years. I cracked up, further intensifying his embarrassment, and left with a polite wave. If all bedroom activities involved someone like this girl, I’d spend a lot more time bursting into random bedrooms unannounced.2
I wish I could be certain of her name, though, just for posterity
But I digress. Meanwhile, a couple years later, back at a Halloween party in North Carolina….
After all this time, I can’t actually recall whether I had been drinking. If I had, it wasn’t very much. A beer or two at most, because I would never have allowed myself to get drunk, or even buzzed, if I was driving *Casey home again, especially since the drive back took 40 minutes, give or take, even at that hour of the night.
Besides, I’ve never actually driven drunk. This isn’t some sententious public service announcement, just an observation that I decided long ago that no matter where I needed to go or when I needed to be there, drinking would never be the best way to get there speedily, accurately, or alive…ly.
I drowsed a bit, though, a murmuring lingering endless endless slipping through surreal evenings of smoke and alt-rock sort of drowsiness where parts of the evening seem like bits of dream in retrospect. There was a rhythm about the smoky evening, a lingering beat as the world outside this place, this time, became background noise as I lay next to *Casey, whose presence and voice I was acutely, if somewhat drowsily, aware of. One cannot fall asleep when adorable parts of the waking world demand your attention.
I no longer recall exactly what brought the discussion about. It doesn’t matter. The process is almost always a lot less important than we think. Determinism is just a word. Whatever ad hoc universal machinery set these things in motion, it became trivial long ago. All I’m talking about here is the culmination.
We were lying on the bed with another couple, talking amongst ourselves while assiduously not watching the TV. The other couple eventually moved away (out of the room? I can’t recall for certain) and *Casey and I took absolutely no advantage of the newly available space to scoot apart as we kept talking about this and that and possibly the other. Somehow, the conversation veered off and, in response to something I no longer recall – and, as I said, isn’t important anyway – *Casey explained to me that I was in love with her.
Let me be clear here before I continue. *Casey was (and is, even if she seems a bit uncertain on that point nowadays) lovely as leaves limned a summer sunset, smart as a snap-brim fedora, and as fun to hang out with as…as….well, I’m drawing a blank. As fun to hang out with as a lovely, smart woman? A rich Irishman on a bender? Either one works. Regardless of my stunted capacity for comparisons, never let it be said I don’t have excellent taste in women.
Every single one of my girlfriends has agreed on this point. Every. Single. One. While some people of tawdrily suspicionating nature might argue their assessments of my taste in women were biased, I think it’s presumptuous, and not a little rude, to accuse them of such unsavory motivations. But, then, I’m a true gentleman.
But it honestly never occurred to me, at least not consciously, that I was in love with her. I was never the sort to just jump straight into that particular emotional cauldron. Patience, while not always one of my virtues, was certainly one of my vices when it came to committing to such things back in the day.
I like to think I can do much better with commitment now. But I also like to think the world is secretly run by naked mole rats with a lot of love to give, so who knows?
At the time, *Casey and I had known each other approximately two months. Given that I hadn’t fallen in love with girls I actually dated a lot longer than that, it seemed reasonable that I hadn’t pondered my feelings on the matter too deeply. Pondering my feelings inevitably leads to imbibing excessive amounts of caffeine, after all, and given that I already imbibe excessive amounts of caffeine, I reasonably avoid finding reasons to add even more caffeine to my daily routine unless absolutely necessary.
She was assigned to me at the start of the semester, and it was her freshman year. So we had from late August to late October to get to know each other. Mind you, I’m not completely immune to being smitten. I’ve known the sting of unexpected and pleasant smiting (not in the kinky British sense, get your mind out of the filthy Thames) on rare occasion. Still, in all honesty, I’m generally not the sort to go head-over-heels at first sight. Or second. Or third. Once I thought I was head-over-heels at fourth sight, but it turned out I’d merely tripped on a curb.
My first thought was, and I remember this perfectly:
Didn’t see that coming
I blinked, slowly. Then:
Another beat. Another blink.
I should say something. I wonder what.
A hint of mammalian diving reflex deep inside, just to keep me grounded and cogent.
Okay, you know what? That makes a lot of sense.
In addition to never letting it be said that I don’t have excellent taste in women, never let it be said that I’m not tres par excellence in all matters of bemused self-realization. Especially when said self-realization require someone else prodding me into the realization after my own brain fails to make a basic logical leap.
The fact that she was pretty as hell and I had already caught my brain and other organs sneaking in certain untoward thoughts in certain untoward directions didn’t hurt at all. I do not deny this. If it makes me shallow, I’m pretty sure I can live with that. Still, I’ve had enough dating experience in my life that I’m perfectly capable of telling the difference between love and lust.
So, with lust and love in their proper places, my next thought:
Hmmm. I like that idea.
Glancing at her face, which somehow managed to be beautiful, insouciant, and kind of annoyingly smug all at the same time, I finished with:
Yep. She might have a point.
While I was thinking these things, I examined at *Casey with a newly piqued (and apparently loving) interest.
The fact that she was informing me what I was thinking and feeling didn’t even get me het up.
Normally it would have, because I am quite clear about deciding such things as ‘my thoughts’ and ‘my feelings’ for myself and tend to get ornery when someone tries to do it for me. Lucky for her, though, she happened to be right. In light of this unfathomable correctness on her part, I couldn’t even give her an Annoyed Look. At least not if I wanted to be fair.
People who speak fairly and honestly should be treated fairly and honestly. If I subscribed to any easily codified philosophy, and I don’t, this would be a major tenet, just below “People who own Nissan Cubes probably shouldn’t be treated fairly or honestly.”
Though I have not, as of yet, been made privy to her feelings about Nissan Cubes, *Casey otherwise deserved fairness, it seemed,
Hate it when that happens.
*Casey wasn’t necessarily my first love, though she might have been my first real love. I honestly don’t know anymore, if I ever knew at all. I thought so at the time and nothing has changed to make me doubt it. Still, as I said at the beginning, love can be a strange and fickle beast, and the more I’ve experienced it, the less I’m convinced I know anything about it. Anything at all.
Occasionally, in an idle moment, when the mind wanders and eyelids drift shut, the sense that I’ve never actually known much of anything weasels its way into my thoughts, leaving me a bit bemused in its wake. Because I’m very odd sometimes, I find this sensation pleasant. I like thinking that the world will always be a strange and uncertain place with all sorts of interesting things to learn.
In retrospect, this suspicion that *Casey was my first real love seems to fit in the topology of my psyche. It sounds authentic enough. Or at least sounds like it should be authentic. When I said I’d been there before, what I mean is that I’m now pretty sure I’d felt stirrings of love – at least as I understood the concept, which wasn’t very well – in relationships before *Casey. I wasn’t necessarily certain of this back in the day. I know that I tried to be in love with girls I knew before *Casey. The obligation to return proffered sentiments like love always lurked about every encounter, buzzing in my ear, telling me that I really should honestly validate the other person’s feelings. If not for my sake, at least for theirs.
I might even have succeeded in my attempts at reciprocation. Who knows? The answers are only as reliable as the one answering. Given that I can’t even recall the surnames of a few of the girls I dated before her, my memory might not be the most trustworthy indicator. I’d check my proverbial little black book, but I don’t remember where I left it. And I’d be worried if I did remember, because I’m pretty damned certain I never actually had one, black or otherwise.
Also, I must emphasize, once again, that one of the great lessons I learned from that Halloween night is that I’m not necessarily the most self-aware person in existence.
Occasionally, apparently, I’m not even the most self-aware person lying on some random stranger’s bed watching some forgettable static of a show on the TV. Oddly enough, I’ve learned that particular bit of wisdom on more than one occasion. I’m okay with that, though the tale of the other occasion will have to wait for another day, or perhaps another lifetime.
Any life lesson you manage to escape from alive, right? Statistically-speaking, though I wouldn’t wager money on it, I must have learned at least a few life lessons over the years. Damned if I know what they are, but I suppose that doesn’t matter just so long as my subconscious takes them to heart.
But when I told *Casey I loved her, I meant it. My impulse to flee like a banshee (do banshees flee? doesn’t matter, I like the rhyme) only nagged at me a little before I told it to hush and let me enjoy this.
And enjoy it I did. What can I say? She made an intelligent argument for sticking around. You know, for a blonde.3
This is the nature of things: the universe slowly pivots and spins on a wobbly fulcrum, with each dip, each return, each shudder as unpredictable as it is inevitable. As creatures of memory and the moment alike, we never move through life along straight and steady lines.
*Casey wasn’t my last, or greatest love either. And yet, with one obvious exception, she might be my favorite ex-girlfriend.
Almost certainly my favorite still living. Like Forrest Gump, though, that’s all I have to say about that for now.
I’ve learned something about love over the space of many a year and the bosoms of many a lovable woman, a couple of semi-lovable women, and one talented young woman who was a damned good erotic masseuse when she was in the mood:
Each new love is necessarily a reevaluation of every old love.
It’s not necessarily deliberate. There’s no sterile pattern analysis, no lengthy formulaic breakdown of the data. Instead, it’s predicated on the undeniable truth that life and relationships inevitably tend toward similarities. Sentimental moments must eventually mirror old sentimentalities. Each new kiss with each new person echoes other kisses with other people.
We can only say ‘I love you,’ in a few ways, after all. Language and sentiment both have limits. The murmurs of affection and promises of the future are repetitions on a very old theme.
There’s no hypocrisy or lie in this, not really. We believe because we want to believe, and because the truth changes along with you. If you’ve ever seriously dated more than one person, you recognize this question of how to rationalize past declarations of true love against current ones. By nature – and tact, for that matter – we tend to gloss over old loves and old lovers. They become names, still photos, ghostly memories that fade to outlines as the substance of your relationship recedes into the past. Usually, we even convince ourselves that the past was nothing more than a prelude, a series of events that had little other purpose than to lead to where we are now. All love becomes determinism if we try hard enough to believe in fate.
This series of rationalizations is completely understandable. We want each new relationship to be the one that matters, the one that will justify the long and winding path we took to reach that moment when we tell our newest partner that we love her or him. It may feel like an insult to the ones who came before.
It isn’t, though. The present can never change the past.
When I look back, the inevitable truth is that, no matter how much I loved her at that time and in that place, and how much I still love her as a friend, *Casey was never meant to be either my last or greatest love, if such a declaration means anything coming from someone who doesn’t actually believe in fate.
Not because I didn’t genuinely love her. I did, very much. She assured me of that and I have no reason to believe she was lying to get at my private stash of Halloween candy. If she was, she certainly committed to the façade far longer than would seem strictly rational. I mean, once sex and shared appetizers get involved in the equation, you have to ask yourself if you’re really taking the most efficient path to the goal.
And, besides, I would have given her (most of) my candy4 had she but asked, and she absolutely would have. That’s just how she was. She possessed few – if any – qualms about making her wishes and desires known.
This straightforwardness was always part of her charm.
Her somewhat unsettling charm, granted, but charm all the same.
Also, she was really cute when she was being unsettlingly straightforward.
Perhaps the reason I remember her as my first real love so easily is because I never had time to doubt it.
In college, people tend to be in all kinds of hurry, no matter how hard they try to affect a casual outlook toward life. Even at their stillest moments, a sense of urgent energy growls restlessly behind the cage doors of their psyches. Because of this, new friendships and new relationships alike lurk on the threshold of some half-frantic goal, as if they know this new freedom has a shelf-life and they want to pack everything in as quickly as possible. Or they’re trying to fit in all the things they never got to do freely for the first eighteen years of their lives.
Either way, the future seems so open, so broad, and yet also seems so imminent that the slightest motion will send them stumbling forward into decisions they aren’t yet ready to make.
On some semi-abstract level, I honestly get that. And I certainly benefited from that attitude. More than one late night, after the bars and parties and shared joints and endless philosophical circles in smoke-filled rooms, ended with friends and acquaintances peeling off one by one until there were only two of us left to take this fledgling relationship to a natural conclusion by adjourning to the first convenient bedroom in the general area.
And, on one memorable (if cringeworthy) occasion, adjourning to a balcony overlooking a sidewalk crowded with late-night drinkers after a big football win. For reasons lost to time, weed and really cheap beer (Old Milwaukee, if I recall correctly, and given the nature of that particular beer, I probably don’t, which makes no sense but I’m okay with that), we overestimated the amount of privacy widely-spaced vertical bars no thicker than our thumbs would afford us. We soon realized our mistake. Suffice to say, and what I say will have to be sufficient because this is all the detail I’m sharing, I heard far more vocal encouragement of my lovemaking technique than I was used to hearing. As did she. Some of it involved language that would scar a sailor.
So I’m not criticizing or judging the inherent restlessness of those years in those places where all the world is young and truth on only the occasional slippery tongue.
But when you’re experiencing real freedom for the first time, it’s difficult to see the unfolding of life in a proper context. Your bird’s-eye view lacks sufficient scope because you simply can’t attain a sufficient height, not yet. Every avenue, street, roundabout, deer trail, and Appian Way all seem like an escape of some sort.
From what is unclear. To what is even less clear. People might say, The mysteries of our mutual recondite past or the dolorous mundanity of human existence or even all the lies and perambulations of our moribund existence.
They might use less pretentious language, though I doubt it. Dolorous philosophizing requires the most obfuscating language you can muster without literally speaking in the Pig Latin variant of some long-dead language. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there, friend. I’ve been there.
In any event, all of these can be true; none of them specifically are, not exactly.
You can slap these rationales (reworded, of course, just for the convenience) on the bumper of that old Freedom VW Bus and carry on without much problem. That doesn’t mean you’re correct. Just that the actual reasons aren’t actually important in a practical sense, so you can take whatever comfort you want in whatever philosophy makes you happy. We know the world grows older by the passing femtosecond. There’s just nothing to be done for it, no matter how hard some people wish there was. So reasons fall behind, and, in the end, or well before the end, for that matter, they’re never quite as important as they seemed at the time.
In her way, *Casey embodied this compulsion, this drive toward meaning, more than any girl I ever dated. Though she knew how to relax and have fun (more the latter than the former), she also couldn’t wait to find out where she was going. Or at least find out how she was going to get there. Ambitious, smart, and possessed of more energy in any single one of her body parts than I’ve ever considered having in all my body parts combined, including certain parts pretty damned predisposed toward eager action, she approached college, and life, with a restless verve that I found fascinating in the same way I find intricate poetic imagery fascinating.
(Sometimes I marvel at the fact that she settled down, with three kids, one husband, a live-in au pair, a querulous attitude toward incompetent academics, and probably a favorite sexy dessert recipe that you can make from the contents of the larder of a rural Canadian wendigo habitat. When I think on it, learning that things worked out so well for her might have been one of the best moments I’ve had over the last three or four years. I don’t care what the cynics say. Sometimes there needs to be a happy ending to balance the unhappy ones.)
I compare it to intricate poetic imagery because it all seemed like it meant something. I wasn’t sure what, but I was certain it did if for no other reason than the serendipity of our lives intersecting for a little while.
Most of life means very little, if anything. People want significance. They hunger for it, especially when they’re just starting out. They thirst for some purpose, some reason to be in a hurry. They tie together threads and build patterns so they can look at what they’ve made and feel like their lives haven’t been wasted. Most of them never realize that the only real meaning in anything is what you choose it to mean.
So, in retrospect, I definitely believed it all meant something to me. What it meant to her, if anything, is entirely up to her. That’s not only the way it has to be, but the way it should be. We choose our own meanings by ourselves because we have to bear the weight of those meanings by ourselves.
It meant something in the moment, though, not in retrospect or in comparison to other loves. It didn’t mean anything eternal, of course. Eternity is the domain of physicists and metaphysicians. But it meant something in that time and place and through the lingering season or four we shared. On that cool October evening when she slipped her hand into mine as we wandered the State Fair, or on those warmer evenings when we walked across the campus with neither destination nor purpose in mind, or on that afternoon at her house when she played her recorder as I laid my ear against her breasts and listened.
Had she not told me that I loved her, we might never have been together as anything other than friends with a side of tutor/tutee, so it meant that sometimes life hinges on such moments as gay Halloween parties in large rumpled bed. Life wobbles about, pushed by the tiniest of circumstances and moments you never thought would be memorable. It meant that I was capable of being surprised, both by myself and by others.
And because each love is both a new love and an old one, and because some partings are inevitable, it meant that we were never meant to last. For all that we had in common in terms of social mores – that is, neither of us much cared much for the conventional wisdom of social mores – our paths forward were radically different. I know that. I knew that even before we broke up, though how honest with myself I was about that truth at the time might be a wee bit less certain. I certainly never said any such thing to her on the very rational premise that just because the end is inevitable, that doesn’t mean I had to be in any hurry to actually suggest we get it over with or anything. We got along great while we were together. Plus – and I cannot emphasize this enough – I didn’t mind the sexual stuff either.
Just because we weren’t meant to last, you see, that doesn’t mean we weren’t meant to be, if only for a time. Nothing in life is ever so simple as mere On/Off. And who would want it to be?
There’s no great wisdom to be found here. You slip into a long season, your arm around an adorable woman you’ve fallen in love with, find a way to make it last just a little bit longer, and, if you play your cards right, you’ll get to see her quite naked, ready and willing.
Yes, that’s really how I’m going to end this. I’m pretty sure she would approve.
1) Grad School Disease: symptoms include sweater-vests, square glasses, a preference for loose tobacco over pre-rolled cigarettes even if you don’t smoke, and the use of a ten-syllable word when a one-syllable word would be more appropriate and total silence followed by a hasty exit from the room would be even more appropriate. Also, cold sores.
2) Also, I think I fell a little in love with his girlfriend that day. I wish I could remember her name. Tracy? Stephanie? Susan? Sarah? Sarah. I think it might have been Sarah. It doesn’t matter, though. She’ll always be Perfect-Burn-Bitch to me, the snarky One Who Got Away Even If I Wasn’t Actually Pursuing Her. Plus, while I’m not certain about her name, I do remember what she looked like. She was, in fact, a small cute blonde, just like *Casey. Cute and tart – a good combination even if, *Casey and a couple others aside, I’ve generally tended to gravitate more toward brunettes. And the occasional redhead, because life needs a few redheads in the mix, if only for the battle scars you can proudly display to your eventual grandkids.
Just kidding – those battle scars will be in places you shouldn’t be revealing to your grandkids if you ever want to be allowed to see them again. Trust me, though – it’s worth your time and pain. I speak from experience.
Incidentally, my tendency toward brunettes isn’t because I discriminate — hair color is only a peripheral trait — but because that’s just how it’s turned out.
3) Just so we’re clear, I will only give her a link to this once I’ve established that I can outrun her if it becomes necessary. Or outwit her, which shouldn’t be too hard because she’s, y’know, blonde and all.
4) Not the Reese’s Cups, though. Those are sacred. Any preacher, priest, mullah, or guru would back me up.