I know this is strange, and probably rambling, but most of my posts are strange in some way or other, and definitely rambling anyway, and I’m taking writing inspiration from wherever I can get it at this point. (Come on, 12-15 year old vaccines! We just wanna go do SOMETHING and feel safe about it…so I can remember what it’s like to keep a satisfied soul.)
Anyway, my brain connects weird stuff a lot. I’ve read this is a sign of ADHD, when your brain rapidly moves from one seemingly unrelated thing to another, and the stops all make sense to YOU, but if you tried to connect all the dots for someone else, they’d just look at you like…
But alas, I don’t think I have ADHD (I’ve taken a few self tests, and I don’t have any of the other symptoms, it seems), so I think I’m just weird, and I always try to explain my long-way, back-road route to people when I write and the connections are weird. So here we go…
I have a friend in Ireland who sends me links to Hozier related stuff occasionally, because she read this post I made a year and a half ago. The link sharing is silly and fun (which we can all use all the time, especially now, I think). But she sent me one this morning, and my mind jumped to that post I wrote a year and a half ago (which is not silly, really), and the man I referred to at the end of it whom I know in real life.
What I didn’t say in that post is that he is probably, other than J, my most serious romantic connection. I have dated a dozen-ish guys in my life, but I’d really only call 3 of them significant in any way…my very first boyfriend (who was lovely, really)…That Guy I mentioned in that post about Hozier’s music and how it helped me write one of my fictional romantic heroes (who is the OPPOSITE in nearly every way of That Guy)…and J (whom I obviously adore and am wholly committed and faithful to, and who is clearly an amazing bad ass in many, many ways…that is why I married him).
In that second linked post, and in this one, I talked about guys who wanted to hide their relationship with me. That Guy was one of Those Guys. And I talked about guys who pushed me to go faster with physical intimacy. That Guy was one of Those Guys too. He was actually the first guy who broke up with me because I wouldn’t have sex with him…when I was a 16-year-old virgin on the asexual spectrum (although I didn’t know what that was at the time). The reason he came up in the first linked post at that dinner with my dear friend, L, was because L actually wanted to get a ‘good ol’ days’ type of small group together to meet up, but it ended up being just her and me (which…let’s be real…I was kind of happy about). When we thought it would be maybe 5-10 people, though, J and I had offered our house up as a meeting place (after all…these were old friends…we are introverts, but we do still love people and welcome our connections into our home when that is a safe thing to do, normally…and L lives far away now, and she didn’t want to impose on her retired parents with whom she was staying to throw a party). I asked L who she’d like to see while she was in town, and among the people she listed was That Guy. So I said, ‘J and I still want to have folks here if we can work it out, but honestly…we’d rather not have That Guy over.’
And then L remembered that That Guy was…That Guy. She needlessly apologized for adding him to the original guest list.
And then today, while eating breakfast, some show we were watching mentioned the 1942 film, Casablanca. And then my friend sent me the Hozier link. And those two strange floating neurons fired in the right sequence to get me to think about That Guy. And to think about how looking back, as I’ve become more experienced and more self-aware, a lot of the things That Guy did that I thought were really amazing in the moment with him were actually very calculated and manipulative.
I love Casablanca.
Again, I’m sure everyone’s minds are blown that I like a black and white, classic romance where the parallel plot to the love story is defeating Nazis. No progressive, yet still somehow old-fashioned, idealistic, wannabe romance writer would like this movie. <insert hard eye roll here>
In addition to the painfully obvious, it’s also a movie I watched for the first time with my grandparents, whom I still adore and miss a great deal. I told this to That Guy when we were dating (my grandfather had only passed away a little more than a year before). I knew he paid attention, because he picked me up from my coffee shop job with one red rose, and told me we were ‘going out with people who’d seem familiar to me’ for a date, and he took me back to his house, and we watched Casablanca (which he had never seen…he rented it on VHS…I know…I feel appropriately ancient).
At the time, I thought this was like…peak romance. I admit I was impressed. I thought he set up something I liked that he wasn’t really all that into himself. He was more of a Tarantino/Kevin Smith film guy, and the only black and white film he’d ever voluntarily watched before that date was Clerks (not that I don’t love Kevin Smith…I actually do…but you get the picture). We stayed in, and he liked going out. I thought he had done something old-fashioned, and quiet, and romantic, and made me feel nostalgic love for my grandparents, and I thought he had paid attention and done those things for me…because of how much he cared about me and wanted to see me happy (that is why J does those types of things…it’s kind of a lesson my godfather taught me about love…it’s why everyone else who cares about me does those types of things…it’s why my friend from Ireland sends me Hozier links…).
But really, it was a performance. He was playing the long game to get what he wanted from me, and when he didn’t, he ended the connection.
And therein lies the difficulty in romance and in human connection in general. So much of what we are socialized to believe is romance is really some form of manipulation. So much of what we see in other people is what we want to see…and I wanted to see sincerity. I wanted to see That Guy as caring and attentive and romantic because he desired my happiness, when he really only considered his own. As time goes by, I wish I could say it’s easier for me to spot performance and manipulation in my relationships with other people, and maybe it is, a bit, but…there are still a lot of people who put on a good show, and I still have the tendency to want to see sincerity, so I often do, even when there may not be as much as I see, or any there at all. A lot of people see earnestness as cringe-worthy. Maybe I’m cringe-y. Maybe the stories I write are light and fluffy to a lot of people because I don’t load them with suffering and I try to emphasize clarity in communication and healthy, faithful relationships instead of using a lot of dramatic plot devices to drive them. But I’m going to keep doing that. That’s how I fight boredom and hate and injustice and everything else that’s wrong with the world and imperfection in human connection. I’m still sincere, and I still want to see the sincerity.
Despite the all the set up in my past to be a fighter, and even despite my reputation as one, I’m still a lover. And the world will always welcome lovers, as time goes by. Right?
Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.
(Thanks for reading all my rambling stuff, including all the parentheses and ellipses and links.)