I don’t understand the point of dating. It’s become something of an empty exercise, like driving with the parking break up. I don’t really date anymore, so much as move in a series of One Night Stands. People who think sex in New York is hard are mistaken. Sex is easy, waking up the next morning and wanting to make the person coffee, that’s the hard part.
I’m not being fair here. I fell in love with Mel over three years ago, November of 2000. I was in Sydney visiting Bob (the aforementioned hetero life mate), 2 months removed from moving out of an apartment I shared with my girlfriend of 5 years. I was emotionally shorn, sheared, shredded and heart heavy. The one thing Mel had in common with the 2 other women I have been in love with was that stop. You know the stop. If you’ve ever been in love, you remember the moment, the big blinking red light, the green awning in the distance, the phone ringing at 4AM. The stop, something that tells you to pay attention. I wasn’t ready. Not for her. Not then.
Over a year and a half later she came to New York. We’d had phone calls, sporadic e-mails, but neither of us had addressed a damn thing. She was also living with someone at the time, but I think she wanted to know. The first night she arrived I took her up to my roof in Williamsburg, laid everything bare. I wasn’t ready back then. I had to heal. (I’m tempted here to put “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…” Oh wait, I just did.) But I was in love with her, and I wasn’t going to lose a second chance. Even though at the time she melted, it wasn’t what she had been expecting. A year later she told me she had come to exorcize me from her brain. To come, to say hello, she had been in love with me, but didn’t think I was with her, so she was here to get me out of her system. 6 months later she had something of a nervous breakdown, something she is on the verge of recovering from. What has followed since is emotional retardation.
My friends don’t understand my patience with Mel. Why it’s okay with me to have gone through what I have for over a year now. Part of it empathy. You have to have had a nervous breakdown to know what its like, the kind of time you need to rebuild yourself. If you are a house, which you are not, but if you were, you take everything apart; shatter it down to the foundation. Each brick gets examined. You ask yourself, “What the hell is this one? Do I need it? Is it necessary?” The ones that have worn out their usefulness, you discard, the essential ones you put back, the weaker ones you fortify. You stand back and look at it, different, somehow smaller, but stronger, and you know it intimately. Enough of the house as metaphor trip. Mel is somewhere near the end of this, this, this “process,” how close is something I don’t know.
The last year has been brilliant and brutal. I gave up on Mel for a few months and ran back to an ex-girlfriend, the girl who I had lived with. I think it was loneliness, combined with desperation, mixed with a need for reciprocation, divided slightly by watching my friends get married, move in, commit. It was pretty small of me, but didn’t last long. Long enough to hurt her twice, which at is an unforgivable I have forgiven myself for. I’m not nailing myself to a cross, but I regret it, I should apologize, but more I should just stay away from her and let her continue on, which is what I’m doing.
I just got off the phone with Mel. We talk about once a week now, sometimes less. But its still there, that stop, and its something that I’ve decided is worth sitting on the sidelines for till the time comes. You can only put yourself through so much before you resent the person who’s at the source of things. Yes, yes, yes, I know. I’m in control of my own actions. Anyone with any sense of subtlty will understand what I mean. And I’m as comfortable as I can be, being in love with her from this distance. If it comes to it, I will make a decision I don’t want to, but I don’t think I will have to. It’s something I believe in, like faith. Still, that point hovers on the horizon, not terribly close, more of a blur, but out there.
So for now I date. Actually, I One Night Stand. In New York it’s easy to come to an understanding with someone over the course of an evening. This is all there is going to be, we should both enjoy it. Generally, I go back to their place, which I have to commend NYC women for. If you’re going to have sex with a stranger, why take the risk of a stranger’s apartment. You never know what kind of creeps are out there.
The Magnificent Geebs pointed out to me 2 months ago that, “you’ve been something of a slut.” If I was one of those guys who pats himself on the back, notches the bedpost, I would have smiled. But it shook me a bit, and slowed me. Tonight when I talked to Mel she told me that she missed me, we said we were in love with each other. All these things are true, but they take you so far. Something is going to have to happen at some point. For now, it’s more of an ellipses than an exclamation point.