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On Dating : Removing the Discomfort - kale & cigarettes
On Dating : Removing the Discomfort

On Dating : Removing the Discomfort

When Maddy left last night I felt a burning in my chest for her. I wanted (needed) her back and felt my stomach rotating wondering when I’d see her again. 

In the past, I would’ve considered that a good thing. Falling for someone. But I realize now that it’s more of a hunger to remove the discomfort. A need to bring her close so I don’t have to be consumed by the swirling uncertainties that occupy me all the time while we’re apart. 

Coupling for me is more about control and ease of suffering than it is me actually wanting to be with that person. 

I need to keep fighting that urge with her. With anyone. Pull back and breathe and remember she is falling for me too. That I am still my own person with my own momentum. That it can be sweet and beautiful and if I let it live it will all work out. Then I wonder if it’s what I actually want. If that’s why I’m having these nervous feelings. Because I know I’m going into something that I shouldn’t. 

Am I really going to want her once she shows up on my doorstep with all her bags packed and her hair wet from the commute?


I called a high-powered divorce attorney in San Diego. A referral from a friend. I laid out the situation as evenly as I could, while obviously throwing in a few comments to convince her I was a good, fair guy. 

She told me that it sounded like this could be a good thing. That it was possible, given all the information she reviewed, that I was actually overpaying in the divorce. 

“You could come out of this paying a lot less,” she said. 

Then she provided a visual about putting pressure on her wrists until they were about to snap. At which point, she would beg for a deal. I thought it was kind of hardcore but also exciting.

I hung up the phone and looked in the mirror and humped my crotch forward and flared my nostrils. 

Then I picked up the phone. 

“Hey Kirk,” he said. It was Alexis’s stand-in dad. 

He told me he didn’t know she had done that, come back for extra money. I didn’t fully believe him. He was angling. Which is why I called him because he loved making deals.

I told him about the lawyer, that part of me wanted to crush her. But if she was willing to negotiate I would do a deal with her without having to pay a bunch of legal fees. 

We talked through some terms. He hung up. Then called back. Asking for more. We moved around like this for a while until he texted, “$25,000 and we have a deal.” 

It was more cash up front but I would be taking her out of the business completely and not having to deal with her at all after the year was up.

“Deal.”

Then a text came through from her.

“I always treat you with honor and respect. I hope you know that.”

“I’m just looking out for myself. I never meant to cause you any stress. I’m on my own now. It’s just me. 

“Maybe you’ll unblock me on IG now?”

I started typing that we will never be friends again and to enjoy the money because it’s the most she’ll ever have. Then I deleted it. Not until the papers are signed, I thought. 


All of the progression with Maddy seems nice and, for the most part, healthy and if I was someone with much practice in nice and healthy I would probably leave it alone. Instead, I rotate through thought progressions that include scenes of her finding me weak and boring, me panicking at the idea of her actually falling for me, the logistical nightmare that is my life in two cities, and the fact that people just don’t stay in love so why bother going down this road in the first place. 

All of this typically before breakfast. And then we begin our texting regime of nuanced updates and philosophical insights as to why her boss is so hung up on finding a brand new iPad for reference photos. By midday I am back in a flow with her, inside this micro world we are creating inside a much larger, indifferent one. 

“How are we supposed to decide how much time to spend together? It’s obviously more enjoyable to be lying on the couch and kissing you than going to work in the morning,” I asked her last night.

“I don’t think I have a rule. Like, I can only see you three times per week. For me, I try to go by the flow a little more. There will be things I want to do, like go to the gym three times a week or have drinks with my friends and those things I will commit to. But the rest of the time I am open to spending it together and don’t think too much beyond that.”

“That’s good. I often think of this feeling of heaviness I can sometimes get in new relationships when I’ve abandoned my other friends and responsibilities to pour into it entirely. It’s a bit of a sickness and I know it as soon as it happens. I am currently working hard to stay away from that and I think me going back and forth to California is a real advantage in the beginning because it forces me to maintain a strong sense of myself and my life.”

“It’s the same for me. It’s hard not to go all the way in and become consumed by it. I’m kind of an all or nothing person.”

“Then isn’t it interesting that we haven’t done that with each other? Why do you think that is?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve been trying to approach relationships with a greater sense of detachment and understanding that it might not work and that I should be in a position to be okay with that. And I don’t feel that same kind of anxiety with you.” 

“So we might be doing fine then?”

“Yeah, we might be doing fine.” 

I told her about Paris. I had it in a text earlier – as soon as I found out about the writing workshop in the Spring – but realized I needed time to process it for myself. So I told her when she came over and we were sitting down drinking water after she ran off the train and up the stairs. I don’t know why she ran but sometimes she shows up and she’s out of breath and there is a shine on her forehead. 

“I was thinking maybe you would want to go with me. Since you speak French and have never been. I’ll be writing all day but you can keep yourself busy at the museums. Then we can explore together at night.” 

She smiled and said that could work.

“Is it a lot that I thought of you coming with me?”

“I didn’t take it that way. I feel excited.”

“Okay good.” 

Earlier in the day we texted about going straight to my bed as soon as she got over. The thing is, it never really works out that way. An entire day had transpired and we hadn’t seen each other in a few days and we still don’t really know each other and there is always a warm-up period. 

Eventually, we were in my bed after I asked her bed or couch and she said bed after a moment of thought. 

Maybe it was the weight of telling her about Paris or the fact that she is essentially my girlfriend at this point. Or maybe it was because we put pressure on this exact moment by texting about it before it could come to life on its own. But I couldn’t really get hard so I went down on her.

Her armpits smelled because I put my nose in them hoping they would after she had worked all day and ran up my stairs. But she tasted good. She came after a few minutes. I tried to hold on until the perfect moment between the end of her orgasm and the beginning of her knee-jerking ticklish fit. I think I got close.

Then I went to the bathroom to wash the skin around my lips and pee. I knew I didn’t have it still but went back out there in my boxers anyway.

“We don’t have to do anything else right now,”I told her.

“Oh, did you want to wait until after the movie?”

“Yeah, maybe.”

Then we started kissing and I got a little motion and thought the hell with it.

“You sure you don’t want a blowjob?”

Hard to turn that down. She went to work but it just wasn’t happening. My mind was being stronger than biology. 

“Okay so it’s just a thing that happens sometimes because my brain likes to complicate my life whenever possible.”

“It’s okay,” she said reassuringly which bothered me a little because she was trying to make sure I was okay even though she was probably questioning herself.

“Does it make you feel like it was personal?” I asked.

“No no, it’s okay.”

“I’m being serious,” I continued.

“Okay, maybe a little,” she said as her face retreated under my arm.

“I promise it’s not and this won’t be a thing for long but we just have to deal with it.” 

Inside, I was panicking. Was this it? Was there no chemistry? The whole thing could’ve been over at that moment. 

I tried to put the situation behind us by putting together a great spread for the movie. We had popcorn, tortilla chips, hummus, spicy salmon rolls, red wine, and water. 

“Can I borrow some of your clothes?” she asked.

I gave her my joggers and comfy hoodie. She put them on and looked like a kid and then tied her hair in a bun. 

She sat on the couch and looked content and familiar. I kept reminding myself that it was okay to be flawed and to have had that happen in the bedroom and to think it was possible she was still into me in that moment and not freaking out like I was. 

I looked down and saw a sushi roll was missing.

“What the hell! You stole a sushi!”

“What do you mean? You said it was for us.”

“I know, but you always say you’re not hungry when I ask and here you are sniping sushi when I’m not looking.”

She lowered her face and grinned embarrassed. 

“Oh I get it. I don’t really need to ask if you’re hungry. I just need to put food out and let you graze and leave you alone about it. Cool. I got it.”

She looked up and smiled. 

We watched Love and Mercy. We had both been listening to Pet Sounds in preparation. She told me the other night she loved the Beach Boys and I asked if she had seen this movie. No, she said. What? Okay, we have to watch it next week. 

It was over and she sat quietly. 

“I want to go to California and see the ocean. I haven’t been to the ocean in years.” 

She talked about how the story focused on Brian Wilson primarily and Elizabeth Banks’s character was simplified into this strong, loving woman but there wasn’t enough of a development of her struggles and what it was actually like falling in love with someone like him. 

She asked me what her flaws were. I said something to start the convo but I don’t remember what. She turned her body into mine and sat close with attention like an honors student about to get test results. 

“Well, you can be detached sometimes in a way that scares me a bit. It’s early days and we are protecting ourselves but sometimes I worry that you wouldn’t allow yourself to fully open up to me.” 

She nodded her head. 

“What about me?”

“I’m not sure it’s a flaw so much but sometimes your bluntness and desire to talk about things can be jarring to me.”

“I figured as much.”

“I’m just not used to it. I’m not used to someone wanting to know how I feel about things. And you always want to know and I have to remember that it’s a good thing because I actually have a lot I want to say. I’m just not used to it.”

“The thing is, I find you really interesting. You feel like a whole person. You’re funny and insightful. And the fact that I look forward to hearing your thoughts so much is really important to me.”

“I am a whole person. I’ve always felt that,” she said.

“And you’re so good at explaining your thoughts and feelings.”

“I do enjoy it. I like it a lot, actually. It can just catch me off guard sometimes because you are so blunt and straightforward. I get this internal resistance because it’s unfamiliar.” 

“You can always tell me to fuck off if it’s too much. I’m curious about everything all the time.” 

“I don’t want it to change,” she concluded. 

It was getting late. Nearly 1am and she had work in the morning. I like when she goes home during the week because she stays her own person and can have her work routine without compromising. 

I went to the bathroom and came back to find her lying down on the couch under a blanket. It was raining outside and I stopped at the doorway to see her for a moment. 

“It’s so nice in here at night,” she said as she looked out the window.

“It’s quiet. It’s so beautiful,” she continued.

I laid behind her and put my arm around her and took a breath of her. She put her hand on top of mine and pulled it close to her body. 

She moved her body and made a grimace on her face and I asked what was wrong and she said her back was sore. 

“Where?”

“Here.”

I put some of the CBD oil on her and rubbed it in for a few minutes. She had her eyes closed and a light smile on her lips. 

Then I was hard. I didn’t believe it at first. Not fully. I thought it could be another partial and set me up to be embarrassed again. But it kept going and when we stood up it was unavoidable. 

I took her clothes off. We sat on the couch and I pulled her on top of me and she rode me until I came inside of her while it was raining and quiet in New York. 

“I’m out of towels. You probably have to do a squeeze move and run to the bathroom,” I said as I made a fist to emphasize the squeeze. 

“Right. Okay. I just need a second.” 

We sat there for moments, laughing. The walls of her pelvic floor tightening around me with each contraction. She went to the bathroom. I stood at the window and watched the rain. 

She texted me when she got home. 

“I hope you’ve put away your phone for the night but I wanted you to know I just stood motionless in my room, coat and bag still on, with “I just wasn’t made for these times” Beach Boys playing in my head thinking about the night and how it felt and how much I like you.”

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