The Universe’s Hickey

The target on my back is starting to get itchy. Can someone take it off? Maybe I’m allergic to the adhesive…

I seemingly have the best and worst luck with men. Best as in, I get asked out a lot. It’s not that guys don’t like me or think I’m beautiful. Worst as in, I am utterly disappointed by the ones I actually like back. They suddenly withdraw or don’t follow through with plans.

I whined through tear-filled eyes yesterday afternoon about how I don’t get how I can’t just have a good thing for once. How I don’t even believe in the Universe targeting people, or bad things happening to people, yet in my case, it impeccably appears that there’s a hex on my love life. Without fail, a guy that I’m attracted to, interested in, or in love with will just up and leave.

My friend pointed out that my energy lately has been placed in all the right areas. Self-love, health, and improvement. Alone time and positivity. It allowed, in the first place, for an interest to even enter the scene.

“Yeah”, I muttered, “but I liked this one. I actually was excited for date number two.”

“Well, the Universe has left you a hickey”, said my friend. “Annoying in the time being, for sure, but a reminder of good things.”

This little bump is a sign that I’m making room in all the right places and someone can even enter my life again in an intimate way.

Didn’t think of it that way, of course, but he’s right.

I’d rather the boy didn’t try to leave a mark in the first place, but since I got the damn Universe’s hickey on my neck, I have to smile in the mirror and know I’m headed in the right direction.

Little Earthquakes

I can’t believe I allowed myself to be in that situation again.

Everything was normal. Fine. Maybe a little too fine. When I first arrived, he was overly eager to give me a hug. Exes aren’t typically overly eager to do anything unless it involves inflating specifics of their life to make things seem better than they really are.

I was standing outside when I heard him say it. She was here.

Immediately, my gut wrenched. My body went into a post-traumatic shock, where all I wanted was to flee. To smoke a cigarette and flee. Against my body’s persistent urges to get in my car and get the hell out, I stayed, reassured by others that they would be there to support me.

Jello shots and whiskey helped ease the anxiety for a time. But only for a time.

“I don’t hate her or anything,” I said to my ex, standing in the driveway and pulling drags of his cigarette without his consent. “I just have zero desire to ever be around her again.”

“The fact that no one thought to tell me she’d be here is preposterous and really inconsiderate!” I added.

The avoider of all conflict reassured me that he would not ignore me or act differently. To please just suck it up for one day.

Let me explain what it feels like to suck up PTSD:

It feels like you constantly want to throw up. Your body is uncomfortable. There’s a littering of egg-shells in every direction you walk. Your mouth is duct taped. Censored. Your actions are bound. Censored. Your thoughts are rampant and sweating. Outwardly, you’re silent. Outwardly, you act calm, collected, and cool, because you don’t want to ruin anyone else’s time, you don’t want to cause a scene, and you can’t let people know how much you are hurting because they won’t take you seriously.

They didn’t feel the shockwave blow a hole through my body when I walked in on him and her kissing on the same day as one of my good friend’s funeral.

No. They could never know how low I felt as I scraped the snow off my windshield at two in the morning, wailing at the top of my lungs, after having an argument with a belligerently drunk dolt of an ex-boyfriend who would not assume responsibility for his actions, which ended in a fervent slap across the face from me.

Only my good friend, who heard me crying and came out to offer support, could know the level of messed up I was. I was actually traumatized. My system had had too much at this point. What with the passing and grieving of a friend, the assumed trust I shared with a man, and the broken friendship that stabbed deeper than any of the rest, I was a total heap of distraught. She had repeatedly told me I was way too good for him only so she could climb into his drunken arms, while I was asleep upstairs, because I was invited to stay at the house so I wouldn’t have to grieve alone after Isaac’s passing.

When I arrived home around 4am, I sat on my bed and drank whiskey straight from the bottle. I had no cigarettes and would have to wait until a gas station opened. I was wide-awake and completely rocked from what my heart, eyes, and body had just gone through.

I would never be quite the same again.

And then, they all just expected me to be okay with this? I know it’s been over a year, but would you bring an ex-infantry soldier to a movie about war?

I don’t really remember leaving, except to ask my ex for a cigarette.

I woke up at 4am with several texts asking if I was okay. I felt anxious, so I took half a klonopin and went back to sleep.

Today is Sunday, and the dust has settled. For now.

My Fight for Love

What is it?

Stringing madness. An inferiority complex. A clichéd, struggled kiss in a summer rain on a city sidewalk. Grandiose? Multi-syllabic.

A truculent desire to rip humanity’s vulnerability from their throats, which persistently mislead with humor and misdeed.

A gentle susurration pressed into my cotton pillowcase. A fear of flight.

No.

My fight for love is not poetic. It does not want to be noticed. It does not need to be spoken about. No monumental or maudlin displays.

It simply wishes to be lived.

How often are we stuck in a purgatory of stagnation? We come up with words like “saudade”, which means we long for something that has been loved and lost; a decaying, former lust. We pray for change. For society to wise up on its own. We plant trees in hopes of new growth. We remain obstinately optimistic.

But optimism and pride never delivered us to the doorstep of truth. Not once.

Words and feelings never have, either.

I’ve done this wrong my whole life. Pleasantly grateful for each opportunity to learn. Degrading my human worth based on the lack of others’ affection or approval.

Love is not about us, while being entirely about us. It doesn’t want to be praised or pedestaled so high it’s out of reach. It doesn’t want to be looked upon by sympathetic and horrified eyes like a beached and bloated creature.

It wants to be lived.

Caviling each other’s motives with complete disregard for their capacity to love. Commending our intelligence when we make decisions that break us from the bonds of romantic or familial anguish. The human condition.

To live love is to be love. Not to find it or create it. Not to write about it or decorate it. It’s not apocryphal like we believe. It is because we want it that we cannot have it.

Love has always been there. It just doesn’t fit the mold of our ego’s view. Askew in our perceptions, it is like the man who couldn’t fathom three dimensions because he lived in two.

It is not a decree of promise, nor recordings of random acts of kindness. Love is only asking that you stop talking about it and start doing it. To cease being a demimonde of lovers and become warriors of life. Proliferators of humanity and the ethereal cosmic entity that encapsulates our silly stories and lofty ideals. Not to be so serious all the time, but to know that the only reason why we all struggle with winning love is because we fight for it all wrong.

We get to choose how and why we fight for love. So many styles, all the while, some are successful, some needlessly tormenting. While love should be appreciated, it never needs to be more than in the moment, radiating floridly, with impression not intent.

If I am love and live like I am love, then I never have to find it. Living love is a fight each day when pangs of animosity and malign atrocities tear up entire cities, render human hearts to tenderized meat, pumping life through us we wish we didn’t have to wake to see.

But there’s bravery in living love, which is why it is a fight for which I will armor myself, will never give up on, no matter how many times I think I might.

A fight is only a good fight if it is done right.

Summer’s Gone

Drops of luminescence beat the ground

After a cold night

In a Spring sun

 

I awoke with frost on my heart

Warm, tired tears

In a sunless, embracing bed

 

We always seemed shocked and angered

by the snow’s fall

After a pleasant day

 

I’m done being fooled by the chill,

by the icy words

that follow a once enchanting summer

Poorly Taken Notes

Last night, I read the words of an 18 year old girl’s personal journal. My hand traced over the sometimes red, sometimes blue or black ink, thinking about how the puerile mind doesn’t fully understand or know how to process others’ actions or heartache—how it barely does now, 15 years later.

Her thoughts trembled throughout the pages, yet agonizingly stuck in a purgatory of adolescent fear. Did he still find her pretty? Why is he suddenly not interested? How will things turn out?

It’s painful to read. Not because this naive girl is being foolish or simple, but because 15 years later, she faces a similar problem and still envelops herself in distrust and anxiety.

She wrote of being “unlucky”, like she, specifically, was peeled out of colorform and thrust into this bleak existence without predictability or smiling faces.

I know now that life is what you make it. That things don’t happen to us like there’s a celestial and surreptitious foosball match, where we’re constantly getting barreled over because we can’t see the ball.

But I don’t believe it. I seem to have shit luck.

That girl—she knew it even then.

She was really pretty. In some ways, prettier than she is now, although she’s more mature, curvy, and experienced. Boys turned their heads, but none ever asked her out. When they finally did, they became infused with the life of her voice and the joy of her effervescence, and then quickly deflated and became uninterested. Was it something she had done?

Probably.

I have made it my life’s mission since I was a teen to right the erroneous ways of my trysts. To figure out how to make things work, and to be a more self-aware and interpersonally involved lover.

And I still have shit luck.

The entry dated September 11th, 2001 chronicled the events of the falling towers, and as hopeless romantics do, that girl told of her own heart’s undoing. The boy revealed to her, while they poured over their scribbled notebooks from chemistry class, that he didn’t want to be her boyfriend, after holding her hand every weekend at every party, and spending nights next to her in bed.

I have never forgotten that day for very obvious reasons, but it was also the same day my emotions were crumpled up like poorly taken notes and tossed carelessly in the trash bin.

The Day You Find out Why

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. ~ Mark Twain

On a beautiful afternoon, while sitting in white plastic lawn chairs in the driveway, my father told me that quote. He said something about it taking him sixty-something-odd years to figure it out–that life is about experiences.

As he continued to pull drags of smoke into his mouth from his cigar, I took a sip of my IPA and realized that after 32 years, we had finally come to a place of real respect and appreciation for each other’s company.

Growing up, my father was always there, affectionate and stern. He was interested in taking my sisters and me to do things like play mini-golf, go spelunking in caves, and visit historical places across New England.

dad & me

Relating to my mother has always been easy, because she is so much like me: affectionate to the brim, understanding, and full of empathy for others. My dad is another story.

After my parents’ divorce when I was 11, the dynamic undoubtedly changed. My dad eventually pursued other women and I was becoming a teenager, disengaging, little by little, from the childhood father who would put me on his shoulders and run up and down the hall, turn into the Tickle Monster, or let me sit on his lap while he watched golf.

We would butt heads a lot, since my dad was probably consumed with the stress of taking care of teenage girls–a subject with which he’s hardly familiar. I was depressed, highly sensitive, and buried in a thicket of misery and emotion that my father deemed as overdramatic and “silly”. But when you’re a 16-year-old girl and your heart has just been broken for the first time, it really is the most massive and unceasing amount of pain you can imagine.

I asked for therapy, thinking it would help. I remember my father saying to me, “We are Volponi’s; we take care of our own problems.” The maddening insensitivity I felt at the time, gaining an impression that he just didn’t understand. He did take me to therapy, and I only went to a handful of sessions before insurance would stop paying.

Strangely, his commentary about self-sufficiency runs through my head all the time…

I am a woman who has grown to take care of herself, imbued with a resilience from where I do not know it came.

After going to college and eventually grad school, I moved out of my parents’ house for good. During this time, my father was beginning to recognize that I was a person of responsibility. I could save money, I didn’t get into trouble, I graduated with two degrees, and I could hold a steady job.

I felt like he was finally proud of me.

See, my father has always been the kind of man who is not very verbally expressive with his emotions. I remember showing him my senior yearbook photo only to get the response, “You look better when you’re smiling, but my girls are not half bad, huh?”

I was reprimanded for things like leaving a spoon in the sink or forgetting to close the garage door when I left. I, often, was not praised for doing extra things around the house to gain his and my stepmother’s approval.

It’s something that’s hard for me to admit, but my whole life I have always wanted my dad to tell me he loved me or feel like I wasn’t being judged for my mistakes. I wanted to feel like daddy’s girl.

In stereotypical fashion, I have constantly sought out attention from men to fulfill this longing of unconditional love that, at the time, I did not think would ever come.

But that’s when this story turns into a beautiful one.

Over time, slowly, we began to mend our relationship. I opened my heart to compassion and continued to try without giving up, and my father learned a lot about himself as the years went by. I can’t tell you exactly when it transpired, because there wasn’t one defining moment, but we began to really like being around each other.

OOB

My dad and I talk about science and movies; we muse about theories of human behavior. I teach him new words, and we share music we both like with one another. We talk for hours, we go to beer tastings, and he has even taught me how to ballroom dance (although I forget them now). We have the same sense of humor; we’re both rational and articulate. We both like to “shoot the shit”, yet always find ourselves in deeper conversation.

One of the most important things he’s ever taught me, however, was when I was much younger. I was upset about the falling-out of a friendship, and at a stop light, he spoke these words, “Not everyone that comes into your life is meant to stay. Some are only supposed to be there for a little while and serve a purpose during that time. Then, someone new comes along.”

It might not seem pivotal or grandiose, but to me it was. It relieved years of pain I was feeling about lost connections with friends and with boys. I was filled with a sense of peace that every connection has meaning and importance and that not one is necessarily greater than the other.

It changed how I impact and connect with people every day.

My father has always been someone I could rely on if my physical or financial world came unbound. It wasn’t until after my break-up with my ex fiancé that I realized how much my father could be there for me on an emotional, supportive level as well.

One of the sincerely most incredible things in this lifetime has been watching my father grow as a human being.

Not only has he become more in-tune with his own emotions, he has empathy for others. He has sagacious thoughts and uses words, now, like “soul-mate”. My dad brings pictures of me on his phone to social gatherings to show them off; he has even gushed to his driver in Italy about how beautiful I am. He constantly reminds me not to sweat the small stuff (a book I had bought him years ago), and he has admirable moral integrity.

Yes, I’m still working on him about killing bugs or wishing nuclear bombs would drop on the houses of people who’ve wronged me, but no one is perfect.

I have always been lucky to have a father who is capable of supporting me if I need help. I am even luckier to have a father who can also connect to me as a person, where I feel the amassing and ever-growing love.

I have never been lucky in romantic love. It is something I fear I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life. Men fall for me and then forget about me. It’s something I’ve never really understood, and it is something that haunts me.

Yet, when I examine what it is that I would like to have achieved in this life, I’ve realized that it’s already happened.

I would like to fall in love and feel that a man won’t abandon my wants or needs, but more than anything, I already have the unconditional, unwavering love of my father.

Some people never find that with a parent with whom they had always felt disconnected. In this lifetime, I get to have that. That knowledge is like an expanding, glowing orb inside my heart, because I feel as though something that was supposed to be accomplished in this life has happened.

So, I don’t truly know if my dad has ascertained why he was placed on this earth, but on his day of birth, I would like to tell him at least one very important reason why.

I would not be the person I am today. Aside from all the wonderful traits he genetically passed along to me, I am buttressed by a bond that has changed the way I view life.

I imagine every parent wants to know they’ve done the job of child-rearing well, and my father has surpassed that. I’m a well-adjusted, loving and intelligent human, but I also have fulfillment in life. That fulfillment allows me to reduce self-destruction, to be proactive about positively affecting other people’s lives, and helps me to love deeper while I am here, waiting for the day to find out why I was given life.

Temporarily Out of Service

Love has always been a cipher to which I’ve lacked the code.

Capturing a man’s heart? Piece of cake. Keeping his interest after the first few months of puppy-love subside? Damn near impossible.

I recently read an article called Why I Love Unavailable Men. The author of the post describes how growing up without a father left her feeling cast out and left behind. In a sense, unlovable. She expresses how she mirrors her own disbelief that she can be loved in finding partners over and over who are simply not emotionally available.

I don’t necessarily believe that is why I gravitate towards unavailable men, but it certainly got me thinking.

I typically end up with one of two extremes: The Overly Ambitious Man or The Waste of Space Man. Both types, although polar opposites, possess this unattainableness.

My first real mature, adult relationship was this guy I met while on vacation in Vermont after graduating college in 2005. I went up with a large group of friends, and he was not there on our first day. The following morning, I came down the stairs in tiny red shorts and a wife beater tank and there was this very good-looking man sitting on the sofa in the living room. It was practically love at first sight for both of us.

The reason why he wasn’t there the first day? He was giving a lecture in Japan. Yeah. We fell in love and dated for six months, during which he moved to California to work on his PhD at Stanford. That guy truly loved me, I believe, but he made it clear that his career goals came first, that he always had to make time for that before talking to or seeing me, and that I would have to be okay with it. I was. Sorta.

Then, I reconnected with my first love as a teenager, and we fell madly and hopelessly for each other. There never was a doubt that he loved me fiercely, but it took him five years to propose, and during those years, I watched him throw his life away and fail over and over. I couldn’t have what I truly wanted, because he wasn’t willing to make the steps. By the time we were engaged, the relationship was pretty damaged and strained. It didn’t last too long after that.

I fell in love again to someone who seemed to be very available. Always there for me, a great listener, willing to bend over backwards for anything I needed or desired. Pretty soon, he won me and subsequently forgot about me. I was back-burnered, I was lied to, I was never told I was loved and hardly told I was beautiful. Such a stark difference from the first few months. He couldn’t get his life together, either, and I watched him sabotage anything positive until it was simply too painful to witness his stagnation and be pulled into the infested pool alongside him.

And now there is another. A completely swoon-worthy man who says the sexiest and sweetest things to me. When we do see each other, it’s explosively passionate. He falls into the Overly Ambitious category, constantly striving to make connections and work ’til he drops of fatigue because of his ardor for the entertainment industry. He’s a workaholic and lives two-and-a-half hours away. I’m not number one. I probably won’t ever be.

A friend, sometime last year, said to me, “I think you purposely seek out unavailable men.” She cited some instances of why she thought this was the case and astonishment and overwhelming fear rolled across my face. My god, I think she’s right. But how can she be right when I never intentionally do it?

I don’t want an unavailable man, yet I seem to attract them every time.

Do I just have shitty luck when it comes to men or am I subconsciously choosing men who can never fully be dedicated to me? Furthermore, why would I do such a thing?

I so badly want to fall madly in love. I want to SAY it. I want to hear it back. I want to live with someone and have children. I just want to be loved, dammit. And each time I find a man who I deem worthy it is because they are seemingly so open to the possibility of it. I’m not making that up. Any man I’ve been with in the last ten years has changed who they were after a couple of months of seeing them.

I always just assumed I was defective and, therefore, unlovable. Men find me very intelligent, beautiful, and inspiring, but it seems as though the luster fades eventually, and I am yet again struggling to keep the man’s heart.

Perhaps it really is unintentional. I mean, think about it:

Falling for the Overly Ambitious Man seems natural, because confidence, motivation, and independence are really attractive qualities. Atop that, they are unparalleled in passion, typically.

The Waste of Space Man will undoubtedly be all about me, because they have nothing else going on. They feed that narcissistic need I possess to be worshipped. I am seen as the independent, inspiring one, and it feels nice.

In this way, I don’t think I attract men that can’t love me or commit to me because I don’t think I deserve love like so many of these articles on the subject suggest. I think it’s simple psychology: Attraction comes in different packages, and often times, those packages are emotionally unavailable.

I don’t think I choose long-distance relationships because I gravitate to unavailable men; I think I like someone and if it’s worth it to me, I’ll handle long distance.

I don’t think I find men who are career-passionate because then I do not have to fear being hurt if I never fully open up to them; I think I find passion sexy.

I don’t think I seek out men who can’t get their lives together because I’ll be the center of their existence; I think I like the attention and want that from any man, but it just so happens that I find people at times in their lives when they are extremely available to me, since they aren’t busy.

Seeds are planted, love and disappointment grows.

I’m not entirely sure how to break free from these archetypes of men to which I always seem to be pulled. I like what I like. I will always find ambition, artistic ability, and passion sexy. I will always like being an inspiration to others.

Maybe I am defective in my reasoning and the only blockade from attaining emotional intimacy in full. It seems more likely that I am the one “Temporarily Out of Service”, rather than blaming the types for which I always fall.

The common denominator in every relationship I’ve ever had is me.