Sunday, September 07, 2008

Ticket To Ride

Hi again. Two posts in one day? It must be the apocalypse.

I normally don't talk about myself on this blog; that is to say, I don't make it a diary or soapbox or psychiatrist's couch to talk about my personal feelings and level of depression or anything like that. The blog is generally just a forum to share the creative stuff I've done with the few people who are interested, or to mention something I find particularly amusing or useful that I think my friends might also find amusing or useful. I'm not really one to talk about what's going on in my heart or my head on public forums, and rarely in private ones as well.

But suddenly I'm in the mood to do a personal entry, so here it is. Most will probably want to skip over the rest of this--it's more something I feel I have to write for myself rather than one for public comment. Maybe it's something I'll look back on later or maybe it'll just be catharsis.

I haven't been a particularly social person in my life; I'm more comfortable alone or with one or two good friends. As far as romantic relationships go, I was quite the late bloomer, not having a girlfriend or anything close until late in college. I was shy, unsure, and didn't really think I handled myself well around the opposite. I've always been a bit awkward, a weird mix of being raised ultra-liberal and wanting to treat women like any other people, and being raised in the South and wanting to treat women like special princesses and be the gentleman and all. I'm also the type of person that wants to give other people their space and value their opinions, and don't want to impose my desires on somebody else. When I did start having romantic relationships, those two conflicts resulted in the relationships in question not lasting particularly long, maybe three to six months. And then I was also always one to believe in love as an important and rare thing, so I never did what I think most do, which is to jump right into another relationship or another fuck or whatever. I took myself too seriously and took romance too seriously and would go for months or years without another relationship. After all, it took quite a long time for the first one, so I was used to life without that sort of companionship, much as I wanted it.

Anyway, I've told two women I loved them. The first was a girl named Dee McQuade, who I met interestingly enough while ordering digital video hardware from one of those big computer catalog firms. We chatted on the company's 1-800 ordering line, and clicked immediately. We talked for hours every day and ran up quite a phone bill on both sides before we finally decided to meet. She lived in Connecticut, so it was a pretty ballsy move to fly up there to meet someone I had only talked to on the phone. We hit it off quite nicely, thank you. She was the seemingly perfect blend of naughty and nice and funny and intellectual and tough and girly, and she ended up flying down to see me a few weeks later and I even introduced her to my mom (!). But in the end, the distance was trying, and she had been seeing somebody else who she fell in with once more, and we broke up. It was very hard for me, as she was the first girl I said "I love you" to, and that meant a lot to me. But though it hurt, and I thought I was heartbroken at the time, I came to realize that I wasn't. I had just met someone I really enjoyed being with, and it didn't work out, and that sucked.

I went a long time before even seeing anybody again, hooked up with somebody for a week at a party my friend Larry threw, then another year or so, and then as the bug caught me, I met a person in some chatroom or somewhere that I ended up seeing regularly. The same sort of double-conflict that was mentioned above came into play. I tried my best to be the greatest boyfriend ever, and she even told me that I gave her the best birthday she ever had, but I think my tendency to not speak up for myself and impose my desires ended up with her wanting someone more demanding and less giving, and she started seeing somebody else at the same time. Funny thing is, when I did find out about it and broke up with her, she ended up calling me one night to come get some of my stuff, and since I didn't really care for her anymore, I ended up being more relaxed and we had impromptu growling animalistic sex that night, which probably would've saved the relationship if I had been that way all the time.

Another year or so passed, and I met a really nice girl who I had a lot of fun with, but we seemed to obviously be better suited as friends, even friends with benefits, than a true romantic couple. I was really happy to hear a few years ago that she had gotten out of her abusive relationship she had been in for a long time, and escaped to a much better job in Charlotte where she met the boy of her dreams. Last I heard, everything was great for her and she was smiling and happy and having a dirty good time. (Hi Dawny!)

Time passed, and I did what I had never thought I would do: put up a personal ad on one of those dating sites. (Turns out it's not so bad; I know two absolutely decent people who met the mate of their dreams on that sort of thing, and they're not losers or anything!) Anyway, I had a date or two, and nothing came of it. There are a lot of weirdos on there. Then I got a match with a girl named Leesa. Leesa Meagher. She lived in Greensboro--geez, that was a long way away. I don't recall that she had a picture either, and that usually spells disaster in these sorts of situations. But she had dark hair and she was short, and for me, that's worth an email at least. So we got to chatting, and after a while decided to go on a date. (I think this was the first real "date" date I had been on!) So I drove the hour or so out to Greensboro to meet her and go to dinner.

I remember the first moment I saw Leesa. We had agreed to meet on the steps of the library at Guilford. It was drizzling a little, and as I turned the corner around the building, I saw a tiny figure in a hooded jacket sitting alone in the middle of this huge staircase. She heard my footsteps, and turned towards me while at the same time pushing her hood back to reveal a nervous gaze and long jet-black hair. It felt almost like a cinematic cliche--the whole thing seemed to happen in slow motion. The rain stopped for me, and I saw the most beautiful girl I had ever seen in my life. Doe eyes and rounded lips with the hint of a downturn to them to betray her own nervousness. She stood up and met me for the first time, and I think I loved her at that moment. She was small in both stature and presence, and I wanted to take her in my arms and protect her from the world. At the same time, I knew from our conversations that she was a tough, independent woman and had proved that she could hold her own no matter what life had thrown at her. Sound familiar? There was both the "treat her like a princess" and "treat her like a human being" thing going on. I already thought that perhaps I had met someone that could be both those things for me and understand what I meant by both those approaches.

So we went to dinner, and I felt like a king. When she excused herself at the restaurant to go to the bathroom, I felt like everyone was looking at me and either thinking to themselves "wow, that guy is one lucky bastard" or perhaps "what the hell is a woman like that doing with a guy like THAT?". Anyway, I had one of my bold moments when I did the right thing at the right time, and ended up kissing her in my car. She sighed against me and I was hooked.

Long story short, I fell deeply, deeply in love with her. I frequently told her she was my dream girl--beautiful, fun, sexually tantalizing, and a woman I felt I could both worship and hang out with. I really did want to protect her from the world and show her that life could be so much better than she had experienced thus far. She had grown up as a baby from Korea brought up in America by a conservative white family. She never could recognize her own beauty, and always dreamed of being 5'9", blue-eyed, and blonde-haired. A tragedy. She had grown up with a chip on her shoulder, always having to prove herself, always rebelling, and fell into a life of heavy drugs and abuse. Her previous relationships were usually based on both of those, dating pushers who would flip her skirt up and finish off without a thought for her pleasure or her emotions. She had had a hard life, and I wanted to give her everything.

I had asked her what her fantasy was, and she said it was to get a massage in a candlelit room. On one of our early dates, we ended up at my place and I asked her to wait outside for a minute. She was never used to trusting anybody, so she wasn't sure, but she let me go into the room alone and close the door. When I opened it again, the room was lit solely by candles and I had prepared a place for her to lie down. She asked if she needed to get naked, and I said whatever she was comfortable with. She asked me to wait outside this time, and a few minutes later she shyly came to the door wearing just about nothing. I was very careful to give her a massage without making it sexual, trying to show her that someone could care about her for her. Later, when she made it clear that she wanted to be more physical, I went down on her first, and she tried to pull me back up, saying that I didn't have to. I told her I enjoyed it, and continued. Then she got worried and told me I could stop, as she couldn't orgasm that way, that she never had anyway. Well, that was just encouragement to me.

Over the next few months, as we learned more about each other emotionally and physically, we had the most amazing sex either of us had ever had. And I had a deeper relationship than I had ever had. The distance between Chapel Hill and Greensboro was a barrier, but whenever we were together, we could just *be* with each other, and it all seemed *right*. We could watch a movie, cook, talk, shop, or just hang out. It felt comfortable, and I felt relaxed and special around her. I wanted to let her know how special she was to me as well. She loved Snickers bars, and every time we met I had a different kind of Snickers for her. I tried to make the special days extra-special for her. February was a smorgasbord, as her birthday was the 9th, Valentine's Day was the 14th, and the anniversary of our first date was the 22nd. I tried to make each one a memory for her. Every once in a while I would do something that would really touch her, and her face would break out in an honest warm smile that came directly from her soul, bare of any of the armour or walls she usually had erected around her. I would make any gargantuan effort necessary to see that smile, to have her slip her arms around me as she became my little kitten.

There were problems, of course. The distance thing got in the way, and even when she eventually got a car, it was hard to get together. And her lifetime of bad experiences and lack of trust was a barrier. She assumed that the moment she left my house, I was out getting laid with some other chick. I don't think she ever understood how much loyalty meant to me, or how focussed I was when I really cared for someone. And I didn't just care for her, I truly loved her. She was used to men using her and moving on, only returning when they needed a lay or some weed. So why should I be any different?

Then there were my own shortcomings as well. Too much to fully cover here, but the aforementioned double conflict has its problems. I wanted to put her on a pedestal, and so sometimes treated her as if she was breakable. At other times, I treated her as I would anybody else, when what she probably needed at that moment was someone to stroke her hair. And I did stroke her hair. I loved to run my hands over her skin and soothe her to sleep. I think another problem, strange though it may seem, is that I wasn't demanding enough. I sort of alluded to this quality in myself earlier--I tend to want to make other people happy. I don't speak up about my own wants very much, and would rather find out what the other person desires and help them achieve it and enjoy it. In trying not to impose my own will on someone else, I can come off as a bit of a wuss. And thought the liberal side of myself loathes to say it, in my experience, women want a man to take charge at times. And while I myself do love to take charge at times, it seems that at the times I really should take charge the most, my worry of offending the person I love and crossing a line seems to have prevented me from doing so. In antiquated parlance that I can't really explain in a better fashion, I wasn't "a man".

Anyway, Leesa and I ended up going out for three years. The longest relationship I had had before that was six months (if I count generously). Now, she and I broke up for a month or two a few times in there, each time her breaking up with me because she didn't believe I could remain faithful to her. We always ended up getting back together once she had a few rebellious flings with other guys and realized (I think) how much I meant to her, and hopefully how much she meant to me. She was an angry girl, wronged by life, and was impulsive and had to erupt violently like that and break up the relationship. The weird thing is, that just made me love her all the more. She could be difficult, bratty, unreasonable, unable to trust, and argumentative, but all of that was part of her and all of it came honestly. All of that was part of who Leesa Meagher was, and I accepted that and loved all of her, both her virtues and her human failings.

The beginning of the real end was when one of our breakups was initiated by me. The first time it was initiated by me, actually. We hadn't seen each other in a few weeks, and our phonecalls tended to revolve around her job and how busy she was and how much she hated it. I tried to give her what advice I could, but it didn't seem to sit well. She was coming up towards the end of college, and I know the stress on her was huge. She would call me up and read some of her papers to me and ask what I thought. She wrote pretty well, and was really pleased when they would come back with a good grade. I tried to be supportive, but was feeling like she wasn't thinking about me a lot, and that I was giving more support than I got. I'm afraid I may have chosen to be a bit more distant as a result, hoping she would recognize it and pull back closer to me.

In any case, my birthday came and went, and she completely forgot it. I got upset, and said maybe we needed to take a break from each other. As she tended to do in such situations, she just said, "fine, whatever", and we broke up. I think I thought this would just be like the other times, that we'd get back together in a few weeks once we noticed how much we missed each other. It wasn't, though. I think that it was more final for her this time since she wasn't the one who initiated it. I think she felt that once someone rejected her (as men had done many times before) that it was utter rejection of her and who she was and there was no coming back from it. I tried emailing her to check on her as I had done in the past, sending out feelers to see if she wanted to talk, but got nothing. Then in January, the day after New Year's, I think, I got an email or a call or something from her. She was at her mother's hotel up in New England somewhere. She had gotten drunk at a party, and some guy took advantage of her. Wasn't the first time it had happened, but I could tell this had upset her more than the other times. We talked, and over the next couple of days, she decided she wanted to see me again. We set a date for her to come over when she got back to North Carolina, and she even started to get really happy about it, looking forward to seeing me again.

Then two days before that Thursday when we were supposed to meet again, I got an email that said "sorry, I just can't do it. I just can't see you again. I'm sorry." I'll never really know why there was such a sudden turnaround in her mood. Maybe it was because she really didn't think we'd work out. Maybe somebody convinced her that if it was over, it needed to stay that way. I think it may have been that she was seeing somebody else at the time, and things were getting better or appearing to get better with them. The only reason I think that is that a few months later, I was still feeling bad and sent out a mass email to everyone on my address book asking for a little support. I sent it to everybody really as an excuse to send it to her. A few of my friends sent back nice messages. From her I got a cheery email asking how I was doing and saying she was engaged.

So the reason I felt the urge to type all of this rambling today was for a couple of reasons that all sort of converged. Yesterday the Beatles song "A Ticket To Ride" popped up on the iPod. I've never really been one to listen to lyrics and interpret them; I just sort of blindly sing along. Well, yesterday those lyrics suddenly made sense to me, and I applied them to my own experience with Leesa. Plus, she was always a big Beatles fan, the loveable little hippie. She did get a ticket to ride...she met someone who she believed was better for her, and she moved on. She had a lifelong experience with people moving on from her, so she could move from relationship to relationship pretty easily. Fool that I am, I tend to attach a lot more meaning to relationships, and that can be both positive and negative. I took a long time after Leesa before I even went out with another girl. I had a couple of dates, a shallow relationship for a few weeks with somebody who announced on our first meeting that I would be her "summer fling", and a short session with somebody who ended up taking me to parties as a sort of ornament where I felt uncomfortable.

In the end, the first girl I said "I love you" too was somebody I fell out of love with, if I ever did love her in the first place. With Leesa, I know I really, truly, deeply loved her. Because I never fell out of love with her. When we were in bed together going at it like animals, I loved her. When I was kissing her cheek as she slept, I loved her. When she was mad at me and told me I was an idiot, I loved her. When she had broken up with me and started sleeping around with other guys, I loved her. And a few months ago, when she tracked me down on Facebook and emailed me, telling me her name was Lisa Lacsz now, and had just had a baby, and wanted to know how I was doing....I loved her. And that meant I couldn't talk to her anymore even though I wanted nothing more than for her to reach out as she was doing, nothing more than to hear about her and her baby and her happiness, nothing more than to just hear her voice or see her words. I couldn't have anything from her...because I couldn't have her as my own. And I wanted her still. Because I loved her still. And she really didn't need that kind of person in what her life was now.

That first girl I loved didn't break my heart. Leesa did. In many ways, really. I was hurt, and I felt lost and lonely and depressed. And I developed a physical problem as well. There's a family history of something called a mitrial valve prolapse. It's a problem with a valve in the heart that makes it beat irregularly and makes your blood pressure explode. My heart developed one after that first week in January when Leesa apologized and said she couldn't see me again. It's not a huge deal; the doctor said it's not a risk of heart attack or anything--I just need to calm down when it happens. But it's a broken heart nonetheless. And finally, I think my figurative, romantic heart is just plain broken now. I've tried going out with different women, but just have felt weird doing it. It may sound pitiful, sad, and completely stupid, but three years later, I still feel like I'm cheating on the woman I love. I *know* it's pitiful, sad, and completely stupid, but I still think of the little kitten of a dream girl I once had, every single day. It's gotten to the point where I don't get depressed when I think of her, I don't get weepy and forlorn, but her name and her memory still pops into my head every day, even if just for a moment. I don't feel depressed about it, but I do think I feel a little dead inside, and I don't see that getting any better. I think it's just what honestly, naturally has happened, and the type of ridiculous romantic I am at the core of my being, I think that's the way it's going to remain. Now, I'm not shutting any doors. They say that when you least expect it, that's when someone will come into your life that's perfect for you. So maybe that will happen. I have a feeling that that has already happened to me though, and that she's moved on.

So today I was cleaning out my closet, trying to sell things on ebay to make some money to build myself a little audio/video studio. Up on one of the shelves, way in the back, I found a stack of picture frames. I took a very brief glance at them and realized they were pictures of Leesa and me back when we were both at the height of happiness together. I didn't really feel anything other than a bit of regret that things couldn't have been a bit different. That, and I felt sure that I should just throw them away without really looking at them. So I did.

Yeah, we're turning off the comments for this post for sure.