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On Dating : Do You Want to Read What I Write? - kale & cigarettes
On Dating : Do You Want to Read What I Write?

On Dating : Do You Want to Read What I Write?

Waking up to a different world than I knew yesterday. When I went to bed all was uncertain but we were still talking so it was uncertain but we were together in it. 

Now we are apart because she is taking time to process things and I am left to wonder what any of it meant in the first place. 

I now know it was a mistake to share that chapter with her. We’ve been dancing around it since the beginning when I shared an article I wrote about our first date. She liked it, but feared what effects it might have on her: would she start to act a certain way if she knew it was being written about later or worry that I was only doing things to get a story out of it? 

She came over to watch the Oscars because I made a big deal about how into it I get and how I curse at the TV and how dumb people are when they announce Green Book as the Best Picture. Oh, I would love to see that, she says. 

I put out a spread so she would feel like the night was special and different from other things. We had frozen cheese pizza, tortilla chips and hummus, cucumbers, red peppers, salami, turkey, swiss cheese, and homemade pita chips (burnt toast). I made a specialty mocktail comprised of ginger kombucha and ginger beer with large ice cubes for the real effect. And for dessert we had cookies and cream vegan ice cream from Van Leeuwen with chocolate covered pretzels and peanut butter for scooping. She smiled as she ate and I took that as an important thing. 

I’ve told her several times about the time in my life when I had two girlfriends and carried on with it like it wasn’t a bad thing. She said that she didn’t mind. And then she jokingly said it made me possibly more dangerous and attractive to her. I think she was just saying that because honestly who would prefer to be with someone who could do something like that? 

Having her read about it was a different level of detail that she wasn’t ready for.

“Do you want to read my query letter?” I asked her. “It talks about the male psyche and pulling the curtain back on the cheating mind so it’s not exactly a puff piece about me.”

She just finished asking what I was doing this week and I let her know I might start reaching out to agents for the book.

“Sure. Let’s see it.”

I handed her the iPad and she dug in. 

“Wow. The male psyche. I guess that’s true, we never hear about it. That’s really quite intense sounding.”

She looked distraught and I could tell she was trying to keep it together by the way her inhales exposed the lines and veins in her neck because they were too sharp and too labored to go unnoticed. 

“Do you want to read the first chapter?”

Later, I would ask Mark, Ashley, and Ang if they thought I was testing her. She would also ask me immediately after reading chapter one. 

It was hard to get her to talk much after. I told her before that it was graphic, sexual, and probably the worst thing I had ever done. She took the iPad anyway, not without some reservation. 

“Why do you think you shared this with me?”

“I guess because writing is how I understand myself. It’s a big part of who I am. I write about everything, not just stuff that makes me look good. I stopped writing in my last relationship and I don’t want to do that again so I want you to know what comes out of me.” 

I feel most myself when I am writing observations about my life and then publishing them. It’s a perfect loop that connects me deeper to my experiences every single time. It makes me whole. It brings me life. And, most of the time, people write to tell me that it was relatable or helpful or honest. And that’s worth even more. To feel like I can connect with people in a real way. Sometimes, those are the only moments in an entire day that feel significant, with the rest being the superficial motions we are all trained to go through.

It also causes other people discomfort at times. Some people respond to my writing negatively, saying it’s an invasion of privacy or they can’t believe I would talk about something like that publicly. I don’t really care about those people much. My writing simply isn’t for them.

The trickier part is that most people I’m dating don’t really want their lives to be broadcast on a public site. I make the argument that there is more freedom in this than pretending these things don’t exist. But for people who don’t write, it’s a lot to swallow.

Which means I’ve often taken the quiet route. The compromise that isn’t going to cause anyone else discomfort. And people might say this is mature and necessary in a relationship. But I wholeheartedly disagree. Because it’s making me smaller than I am. Causing me to contribute less than I can. I shrink and I become unhappy and incapable of being a partner that can bring life into a relationship because I’m just simply not myself. And, in that way, my partner will still suffer. Because they are only seeing a diluted version of me.

I want to be myself and be with someone at the same time. Often, I’ve viewed the journals as a test for that capacity. I’m looking for someone who can be in it with me. Otherwise, I can’t share the thing about me that is most me. How can I ever get to know someone?

I want to bring Maddy in. 

Alexis read the book and the entire second half was about her and about how I slept with other women after she friendzoned me and how my life was finally starting to become my own when she sent me that record and that note that told me she would never leave me even if I got old and sick and I had to call The Girl From Houston and tell her we wouldn’t be talking again because the person I’ve always loved is finally ready to be together. 

Even writing that gives me the feels. More feels than what it probably felt like in real life. I need these journals because without them things aren’t enough and they aren’t real. 

You can either read through them and be a part of that process or we can separate it and always wonder what’s really going on inside the person you are with. Alexis elected to read it. She even edited. She was such a good writer and having her involved meant a lot to me. I just wonder what it meant to her. 

“It’s going to be very difficult for me to get these visuals out of my head,” Maddy continued. 

Probably the line about tying one of my ex’s up in a hotel room and having her scream fuck me fuck me while I went down on her. Or the getting out of bed in the morning and kissing her cheek while I went for a walk to call my other girlfriend in Madrid. 

It sounds bad reading it back now. All this happened over 10 years ago. In a way, writing and sharing was a benchmarker in my own development. But I can see how another person, reading for the first time, wouldn’t have all that context to help with processing.  

Mark told me this morning that I have to activate my attachment system in order to feel. Comfort and security are boring to me and unless there is a little drama I’m not going to interpret feelings. 

“That sounds problematic,” I said.

He laughed. 

I tried to talk with her for the next hour after she set the iPad down. We eventually settled back into a cuddle on the couch while Parasite was rightfully named Best Picture and I predicted the major awards with almost perfect accuracy. 

“Do I feel like a stranger to you now?” I asked.

“No,” she said quickly. “A little,” she said more slowly. 

That sent my paranoia into a frenzy because she too felt like a stranger and all the conversations we had to that point were just exercises in some simulation where we plucked ourselves out of the universe and pretending to be these people who cared about each other. We don’t know each other. We know nothing about each other. And we still go on kissing and fucking and talking about our feelings.

She’s never seen me in action, in my own world. We only exist in this bubble where I am in New York giving her all my attention and listening to everything she says as we walk through galleries holding hands and watch the sunset and moonrise over the East River after eating turkey clubs from diners in the Upper East Side. My arm around her feels real. Being inside her and kissing her collarbone feels real. But sitting with her on the couch last night hearing her tell me I was a stranger turned it all to dust and there was a black hole between us that we might not ever be able to pass through. 

She sent an email this afternoon. Which was a nice gesture I thought. Until I read it and realized it was kind of mean and called me a narcissist which is one of the most hurtful things to say to me because everyone has taken that route when trying to bring me down since I was in fourth grade. She also said I am just like all the other men. 

She told me to read it with a clear head and said that it was harsh so I suppose I was warned. Just as I warned her last night that what she was going to read was graphic and probably a lot to handle. 

Shots were still fired and targets were still hit. 

A lot of what she said in the email had to do with her image of herself and how my writing made her feel insecure. That was turned into some accusatory language directed at me.

Mark summed it up nicely by saying she was starting to attach to me and reading that indicated to her that I wasn’t safe to be with and that I was bad news and would hurt her and she should put up her walls and blow the whole thing up. I said as much to her at the end of my email and said that I am sorry I made her feel uncomfortable and unspecial but none of this has been for the sake of art and our time together is important to me and talking to her makes my life better. Beyond that, there wasn’t anything I could say or do to make the rest okay or not okay, that would be up to her. 

I called Ashley after working out and said I was having this urge to go to Maddy’s work and be there when she walked outside standing in the rain under my umbrella. We would hug and then kiss and then cry and she would share her insecurities with me and I would tell her how special she was.

“Yeah of course that’s what would happen. You make whatever you want happen. It’ll literally be whatever you want it to be.”

“I guess that’s why I’m a narcissist then,” I said.

“No, you’re just a good communicator with a lot going on and people would rather attach to you than deal with their own shit.”

“Maybe she could talk to someone about what she was feeling…” I added.

“She definitely could. Most women don’t want to deal with a boyfriend who is public facing and putting a lot of stuff out into the world. It’s hard when you’re really attracted to someone and they are sharing things with other people. She needs to be up for it.” 

Maddy texted a few hours later and said we could talk tonight when she was off work. 

I suggested that I come to her but since I didn’t know where she was at emotionally I was happy with a phone call.

“I was thinking the same thing. I’d rather talk in person,” she responded.

“I can come to you or we can meet at my apartment since we are both comfortable here,” I said.

In the back of my head I was anticipating the sex we would be having after a good cry and deep conversation. Then I wondered if that’s what a narcissist would be thinking about. 

“Yes, I’d like to come over. I’ll head over after work around 7,” she said.

And the scene ends with me looking down at a partial erection. 

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