I’m joking, of course, but in a way, I’m not. I gave my heart a bit of a vacation after S., which is already over a year and a half ago, though it sometimes feels like a week and a half ago. I was still so hung up on him that even though I raced around and went to HappyCorp parties and drank and flirted, I was still so obsessed with him I did everything half-heartedly. It’s really only been recently that I’ve let go of that, though if you catch me in one of my lesser moments, I still might wonder what went wrong. I don’t hate him, and, to be honest, still care about him. It’s good that he’s indifferent, that we say hi at those rare parties we cohabit, catch up on the most superficial of things. It's good for me because otherwise I get too nostalgic, too confused, too back in 2006.
I hardly thought at all about him while I was at my uncle’s house this weekend. Probably because I was staying in a different part of the house, with a different boy. But I didn’t forget, not entirely, checking my email and hearing from him. Flirting while we were both in California, me roaming the Beverly Center on Halloween and wishing I could be with him.
I haven’t been part of a couple in so long that I’d pretty much forgotten what it was like. I’m still single, but for a long weekend I got to kindof pretend I wasn’t, and I liked it. I wasn’t sure if I had made a mistake, and judging by the endless fiascos the trip kept presenting to me, I’m still not, but I liked being with him, and not just for his navigational skills. We had never spent that much time in a row together and that was challenging I think for both of us at times, but it was nice too. It was comfortable, and comforting, and now I’m home and don’t really know what to make of it all. People kept asking me – “Are you a couple? Is that your boyfriend?” and they’re innocent enough questions, but I didn’t really have answers. “Kindof,” I’d say. Because kindof is the truth.
I hadn’t told anyone I loved them in a long time, and when I did, on the phone, it slipped out. It wasn’t some big dramatic pronouncement, but as soon as I said it, I knew it wasn’t a false statement. It wasn’t the grand romantic kind of I love you, though; it’s not really like that with us. I associate that with all the things I hate about “dating” – the formality, the trying to impress someone by being not yourself, the fretting, the future. The things I love about him are the things that are so real and unique and special, the things no other person will ever have in quite the same ways. At the same time, I’m still searching, and reading Mary F. Pols’s Accidentally on Purpose yesterday was very eye-opening.
I won’t deny that reading it, I was jealous. I want her life – no, not the movie critic part, the mom part. When she writes about her son, I can practically see it, can practically hear him say, “I so happy to see you.” Her son, in her eyes, is perfect. His father, who is not her boyfriend, not so much. She quotes Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story saying, “The time to make up your mind about people is never.”
Then she writes about Matt, her baby daddy:
I’d scrutinized him in those first months of knowing him, and I’d found him lacking. I disapproved of him. I disapproved of everything about him that was not like me, and not like the man I thought I might end up with. I’d felt it was up to me to make him better. And when I wasn’t trying to figure out how to make him better, I was chafing against the fact—or rather, my perception—that this was my job.
Needless to say, I get her, yet I still don't know if I'm more her, the writer who wants a baby, or Matt, the perpetual child with the messy home and no ambition. I'm both, actually, in almost equal parts. Of course I'd like to see myself as the former, but lately I've been acting a lot more like the latter. It's not just the letting things go, it's the not caring, the not being sorry. I sometimes wonder if I should try to avoid relationships entirely, to wait until I have my shit together, but then I think I would never leave the house. I’m not really the having my shit together kind of person, though I realize the lack of that has reached fever pitch, and I’ve let it. I’ve watched it happen, watched opportunities fly right by because it was easier than trying and failing. And at the end of Accidentally, Pols has this revelation about her baby daddy. She lets go and stops pushing him around and he winds up living up to her expectations rather than down to them. This character it had been so easy to look down on was suddenly somewhat of a hero.
I know for me, it’s always easier to try to find that heroism in someone else. A lover, a friend, a writer. I shrink away from the idea of people finding that in me, even as I want to be someone the people in my life can turn to, I want to be there for them, but right now, I need to be there for myself. I need to figure out what to “do with my life” rather than who to do it with. And my heart will take care of itself, I know, or rather, I hope. It’s not lost on me, though, that when Pols writes, “He makes me so happy I can hardly stand it,” she is talking about her son. That part of my heart, the maternal part, I think will feel slighted, empty, broken, until I get to the mom part of my life. It’s easy enough to call it a biological clock or baby fever, some cutesy name wrapped up with expensive onesies and fancy accoutrements and yummy mummies. But it’s so much more than that.
I was talking to a friend on Thursday who basically said that if that’s what I want, I have to get my life in order, get ready to be a mom. Basically, shit or get off the pot. And he’s right. I talk a good game about it but don’t actually take any steps to make my life easier for a child to enter into it. I don’t even make it easier for me to enter into it, literally. It’s too messy, too cluttered, which is perhaps why the lost things, the cell phone, the this, the that, don’t seem to bother me. I don’t want them, or at least, I don’t want to want them (I did just ship 55 pounds of books home). I guess I want more than books, more than dumb writing credits, and, yes, more than the kind of love that always feels so fleeting, so easily able to reverse itself. I just have to figure out how to get to that place that I see other people thriving in, other people who from my vantage point seem to have perfect lives. Of course they don’t, but from here, they seem to. I know that’s a way to distance myself from my life, and since I have no more physical distance, no more travel to let me live in some alternate reality, I want to try to face my life in all its myriad messiness, and get to work on…I was going to say “the future,” but I think I mean the present.