I'm not gonna claim that I like it when people I care about are sick, but it does bring out a bit of my nurse fetish (not my nanny fetish, ahem). I say "fetish" the same way I talk about my dishwashing fetish or office supply fetish. Some would argue that these are more "interests," and in the strictest sense, no, I don't "need" them to get off. In fact, most of the time they aren't even all that sexual.
The nurse thing is totally tied in to my maternal instincts too, and when it's someone I'm dating or involved with romantically/sexually, it all kindof merges together. That's why it's really tough to, say, have a fuck buddy who's sick. I don't even know if that's what you'd call the situation I'm in, but it made me realize that I don't really want the kind of friendship even where I can't offer to come over with soup or movies or magazines, or, most of all, me. I like that feeling of just being there for someone when they're sick, even if they're grouchy, even if they get me sick, even if all I can provide are sexual favors. It makes me feel useful, and much of the time I feel really selfish and lazy and useless, like I'm just shuffling along, waiting for tomorrow, waiting for next week, waiting for something to happen rather than doing much of anything. Even when I am doing things, sometimes it all feels pointless so when someone asks me a favor or when I can be a connector or give someone a book they'll like or, especially, help them when they're sick, I feel better about myself.
Of course it's totally selfish to the core. I'm not talking about a latex nurse's outfit kind of fetish. I mean the real thing. I know I'm not really ready, even though I'll be dressed in white at love hard, to actually love anyone all that hard at this point. As much as it makes me feel immature, I know I'm still not totally over S. I try, and for the most part, I don't go there, I don't let myself deviate down those really bad mental paths that lead to me crying myself to sleep. But sometimes I just can't help it. It all seems to cycle back to that and I'm probably the only one who thinks that, but it's there. As much as some people think I'm so open about everything in my life, so much of that relationship for me was private. It was all these little things, little moments, things I hadn't had in so long I'd forgotten I even wanted them in my life. That's what I miss way more than sex, that's what feels kindof empty about not wanting to offer to bring dinner and pajamas. He was sick once and I bought him these vitamins, cause I take about 10 vitamins a day and thought he could use a multi and maybe that should've been a sign cause he was almost horrified. "Why do you think I need vitamins?" he asked me all accusingly.
For that brief sliver of time, though, I was able to delude myself into feeling wanted, needed even. I liked that, and I hate admitting that because it makes me weak, it means I'm not as self-sufficient as I'd like to be. Clearly I'm not because I feel really pointless of late not even making any pathways to becoming a parent. I guess I am in the big picture, doing my work, paying off my loans, trying to be an adult, trying to learn from my mistakes and grow but sometimes I just want what so many of my friends seem to have and it is in part because I want to feel needed in that way, but it's also because I know I'm good at it. I'm gonna be the mom who has extra snacks in her bag, who has extra everything in her bag, the one other kids call when their parents can't pick them up.
And it's more that feeling I crave than the whole slutty nurse thing, but I can be a good slutty nurse. I remember one time in San Francisco the guy I was seeing was sick and I came over and tried to make him feel better. I don't think his cold or whatever went away but he was happy to see me and that was all. Maybe I washed his dishes.
On the other hand, when I'm sick, I want everyone to go away. I burrow way under the covers and pile on the blankets and eat french fries and sleep. I don't want company and I don't want people to be nice to me, unless they have some magic cure that will make me feel better. I know I'm grouchy and don't want to subject other people to that.
I feel like this all sounds wrong, like I'm saying I want people to be sick or helpless or whatever so I can take care of them, and it's not that. I do it in other ways, in interviews and information and all the little things that perk up my days and people totally do it for me too. But this weekend wasn't all that easy. I still have these weird deja vu twinges, and have trouble seeing people for who they are apart from him. I see us at that dinner, where apparently everyone else was nice and normal and smart and interesting and decent except him. At least, the people I know.
I can't help but come back to the question of why our paths even had to cross. I would've been so much better off if they hadn't but they did and that's the kind of puzzle that will irk me, that will wake me up at night trying to figure out what I did wrong so I can not do it again. Because of course I know what he did wrong, I'm sure he does too, or maybe he doesn't, not really my problem. What my problem is is picking that guy again and again, the guy who, not to a letter, but enough that I feel like a walking cliche, is just like my dad. The one I grew up with anyway, the alcoholic. All those traits, including the ones I share, are so familiar it's scary. The dark, dark, dark side so well hidden. The closedoffness, the aloofness. It's not an exact parallel, of course, but when I read Caroline Knapp or any of that kind of writing, I realize how easily I could go there too. And how seductive that is and I wonder if picking people like that is my way of self-destructing, my way of escapism.
It's not just how much I gave of myself, how I really took it all at face value, it's not just that. It's how I let myself believe what I wanted to, and how I looked in such a cursory manner for the darkness. I did look, but then I saw all these really positive signs. I researched, I googled, I bookmarked all the people he told me about. I always thought he reminded me of someone who now is all upstanding and for all our drama, I'm past that, but the more I think about it, the more he reminds me of S., maybe worse. That is drama I really cannot resurrect and have finally moved on from but there is something to that way of behaving that maybe I'm not meant to understand. I don't want to understand it because I feel like if I really got it, I'd be like them. I'd be them, and I wouldn't be me, I'd be in their world, not mine, and I like my world. But sometimes I don't know, there are just too many reminders, too many people and names and moments that I can't seem to erase him from. I was downloading my photos to my new computer (which is now adorned with a "Reading is Sexy" sticker I got from Marissa Walsh) and realized I don't have any of us, which is fitting. And fine, truly. But I could get rid of all the physical objects that remind me of him and he'd still be there, in my head, and especially in certain social situations and as much as I know I'm 31, sometimes I really don't feel it, don't feel like I'm handling this the way a 31-year-old would.
I'm sure I'll get over him eventually. And this was supposed to be about my sortof underutilized nurse fetish, which is sad. But okay because I really have no time to be nursing anyone between now and SXSW and then cramming when I get back and then Oregon. Still, I would even learn to make chicken soup for the right patient. I already know how to do the sexual favors part.
Maybe we can talk at SXSW about blogging on the first date...and way, way afterward. Even if that second part's just for me.