***All italicized lines in this article are taken directly from Beyonce’s new album, “Lemonade”, her single, “Runnin” and from Ms. Warshan Shire’s poem, “the unbearable weight of staying.” This is my mixtape.
I recently listened to a podcast that buried my desire to date and re-birthed my imagination. The closest feeling I could come up with is reminiscent to how I imagine Streisand felt in the last scene of the movie “The Way We Were.”
Streisand on the corner espousing her deeply held beliefs, handing out leaflets to passerby’s, resisting.
Redford getting into his perfect car, wearing his perfect J.Crew khaki trench coat, topped by his perfect thick head of hair drive off with his perfect uncomplicated girl.
She pauses. She breathes. Thinking…
Keep your money I got my own.
Streisand and Redford stare at each other for a brief moment, Redford confused, still, by Streisand’s complexity and Streisand rooted in what she always knew: he never really loved her. She understand…
I’m not too perfect, to ever feel this worthless.
She doesn’t recognize the mirage she was to him anymore. So much so she does the final act of love: the letting go. Letting go of the who somebody loved you for,
for the who you can no longer hide,
no matter how crazy or complicated that who is.
…I’d rather be crazy
It’s the feeling you get when your car is packed, your bank account is on fumes and you feel a little like weeping every 20 minutes but you know you only had one choice: to leave. Because,
If I lose myself I lose it all.
When you drive away knowing you know nothing about what is going to happen next. That it was only a few short weeks ago you agreed to get tattoos of each others initials on your ring finger. Thank God you didn’t.
Running, running, running from myself…
You walk into a cold Venezuelan restaurant to order food you aren’t hungry for after leaving and while you are waiting for your food, a woman enters the restaurant and speaks into her phone saying, “I don’t know what to tell you, I only know that this too shall pass.” She pauses, looks at you and then leaves.
I’m ready to face it all.
It’s the moment, you can’t forget when someone really hurts you. When you had a little sliver of hope left, and it is suddenly dashed. Why won’t you stop talking to her? Why does she stay at your apartment? Why does this bother me so much?
Still inside me coiled, deep was the need to know…are you cheating on me?
You hang up the phone, agree its over and you say goodbye to the person who never really loved you, just the idea of you. Your best friend sits silent across from you, stiff almost, amongst the transitioning spring to summer air. Watching someone’s world shift is terrifying and so she says the only thing a best friend can say to you when you told her you would marry him: Whiskey or Gin?
Gin and then a whiskey back.
How did it come to this, scrolling through your call list?
PLAY: The podcast that led me down memory lane was Krista Tippet’s On Being interview with Alain de Botton, Alain wrote the most read article of 2016 for the New York Times on the true hard work of love and relationships.
In the year 2016, for someone to write an article about relationships and to have that be the most read article, amongst a year that I don’t know, if you were awake, was a disaster to say the least, says something, but what? What did he say in this article that could spark such a deep reckoning with our love lives, marriages and dating?
I don’t know when love became elusive. All I know is, no one I know has it.
Or had it already been said:
I think of lovers as trees.
Growing to and from one another.
Both searching for the same light.
Why can’t you see me?
His philosophy begins with the first step of the mating process: dating. And what I find revolutionary about his approach is exactly what has made me stop participating in it. Dating is essentially a job interview with cocktails, when instead it all boils down to one singular question which according to Botton is: How are you crazy? This is the question we should be asking on our first date, if we were going to be honest about our end game which for me is usually: love or a relationship.
Ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks.
Finally the validation I needed in order to fully understand this lingering hatred of fakeness wrapped in wasted time. I have been tinder free for 8 months and I’ve never looked back. I have sat through my loneliness enough to know: A lover must be better than my solitude, otherwise I don’t want any part of it.
You know that I kept it sexy, you know that I kept it fun. There’s something that I’m missing maybe my head for one.
I spent the better part of my most serious relationship to date feeling crazy. I walked away for a good period of time feeling that way as well. The questions never stopped: What if I had just listened to his side more? What if I was less stubborn? What if I didn’t get so jealous and sassy when I’d had too much to drink? What if I didn’t have this gaping hole to be loved? What if I had been brought up in a less white suburban place? What if I wasn’t so middle class?
My newfound jealousy, came from a place I had been told by him was just crazy.
She’s my best friend, Erin.
Yes, she spent the night but she can’t drive home high.
This is your stuff, not mine, you’re crazy.
threw myself into a volcano, I drank the blood and drank the wine I sat alone and begged and bent at the waist for God, I crossed myself in thought. I saw the devil..
And repeated this daily, this torture of loving someone, of asking someone to love the person I was now before him after the shine had worn off.
In the tradition of men in my blood you come home at 3am and lie to me. What are you hiding?
But wait. Now its anger:
THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING. YOU KNOW I GIVE YOU LIFE.
IF YOU TRY THIS SHIT AGAIN.
YOU GON’ LOSE YOUR:
I drove away with my car stuffed with my grandfather’s handmade cedar chest, a giant laundry basket of home goods, clothes, books and the last six beers in the fridge…still unsure if he was right or if I was in fact ignoring the truth. Thanks to social media, months after we had broken up, I found out, no I was right. I’m always right.
I don’t want to lose my pride, but Im gonna fuck me up a bitch.
Or to put it nicer: infidelity. Alain de Botton dives into this topic as well saying infidelity is just a repeat button, in the hopes this new person will be the most perfect and shiny version if you had just upgraded and invested the first time.
You remind me of my father, a magician able to exist in two places at once.
A person who feels too much, too much of the time finds comfort in someone who doesn’t..feel.
I tried to make a home out of you. But doors lead to trap doors. A stairway leads to nothing
“How was your day?” He would ask.
Do his eyes close like door? Did he bend your reflection?
“Not so good. Just a hard day with the kids…she won’t sleep, she keeps crying and waking up, its just really stressful.” Which is really me just asking him to let me talk about it.
Did he make you forget your own name?
“Oh, man” he says, sighing, “yeah that sucks.” Which is really him saying, I can’t relate to this problem, it doesn’t seem like a problem to me. A repeated fight we always had.
“Ok if I watch something on VICE?” he says.
Am I talking about your husband? Or your father?
What luck. What a fucking curse.
But why didn’t I say anything? Why didn’t I ask for what I needed? I look back and understand that Botton was right, I expected him to read my mind.
I pray you catch me listening.
Why didn’t I ask for what I needed?
I pray I’ll catch him whispering.
Why did I just expect this to get better? Maybe I could be the person who was with someone who didn’t need to talk about their feelings?
The answer of course was no: I am not that person.
Nothing else ever seems to hurt like the smile on your face. When its only in my memory.
Baby it’s a cause for concern.
Two years later, I survived the loss of love, the loss of my father and now the loss of my country. And yet, as Botton has theorized we are a people in need of deep connection and a world in need of understanding what it really means to love because according to him, and I think he may be right: we don’t have any idea what we are doing with or to each other. Not yet anyway.
But you’re caught up in your permanent emotions, all the loving I’ve been given goes unnoticed.
Tell me what did I do wrong?
STOP.FAST FORWARD. STOP.
PLAY: A few nights ago I put Botton’s theory into practice. I went on a date with a man who if I had seen on tinder I would not have agreed to date because he is 21 years of age (I KNOW). Swiped all the lefts. But in person, he seemed kind, genuine, naïve and funny. This will be a good story I guess. The date was surprisingly…fun and comfortable but I caught myself in my newfound decision to leave dating for real authentic relationships, however long or short. So after a cocktail or two I broached the subject, the question I had been dying to ask: How are you crazy? Surprisingly he told me. He then asked me the same and I told him the best answer I’ve ever given to this question which is:
Sometimes I use anger as a defense mechanism because I don’t like being sad and anger is easier for me. So I can go off with people I love and I don’t mean it. I’m working on it.
He said, “Oh so you’re a fighter. I like that in a person.”
Sometimes I go off. I go hard.
THEORY TESTED: After our first date we hung out again and then on a Thursday night I put my crazy to good use. He cancelled on me at the last minute, just as my vulnerability was ready to snatch me off of my feet by a man too young for me, too distant, too close. Immediately I texted back that, in the history of my dating record will forever be comedy gold, but to him read as: Wait what? I quoted Beyonce (of course):
You only want me when I’m not there. Better call Becky with the good hair.
Wait? YOU’RE BECKY ERIN. JUST STOP. THAT’S IT LEAVE YOUR MOJITO. THIS CHURCH MOUSE NEEDS TO GET TO BED.
He then calls me. I hit decline. I think about my life choices for a mere two seconds, long enough to hit redial and I tell him the truth, about why I am upset. He tells me that he is genuinely sick, but if I don’t’ believe him he’s going to come over in 20 minutes.
So many people I know that they just trying to touch ya.
“Sorry I just assumed you were lying. Im sorry I’m just..catching feelings..”
“Erin, its ok. I know, me too. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
Every diamond has imperfections, but my love is too pure to watch it chip away.
Nothing real can be threatened
With every tear came redemption.
And then he did call me.
And my torturer became my remedy.
And I did see him again. And whatever happens at least I know, he knows, just how crazy I am.
Maybe sometimes…you prove…that I can trust you.
And now I know the lemonade tastes sweeter when you start from scratch.
Follow my other musings on my B-Vault page. For I was her witness..