I Adopted Your Ferret Today.
1. Try hard to not feel sad, there’s only one thing that’s missing. Everything else is doing fine.
2. Don’t be upset that you can’t be in Oberlin this weekend, but make a promise to go next year
3. Be glad that you’ve met some people for whom you want to make yourself better. Use that for good, for a change.
My best friend casually announced that he doesn’t have any free evenings until late in the week, because, under orders from his therapist, he is required to date multiple people. His default is to get super attached to whomever he’s dating, immediately, so to disrupt a cycle of destructive events, he’s got to try something different. So, like one does, he put up the bat signal and immediately lined up dates with three other guys, evidently drawn from the infinite pool of men who want to date him, most of whom probably while away their days waiting with nervous anticipation for him to text them back.
This is, more or less, the way I suppose it works for everyone, when it comes to basic things like dating, sex and relationships. My rational self knows better, but my rational self doesn’t have much of a role when it comes to dating, sex, and relationships. It has always seemed that things work out differently for me than pretty much everyone else. Somehow these things always come easier, more naturally, more frequently and with significantly less complication for, well, my entire peer group.
So why I don’t I have a “summon basic adult social experiences” button, like he does? How did I come off the production line without it? In the darkest turns of my life I’ve often wondered about how it is that I came out defective - evidently either incapable of such things, or perhaps undeserving of them. I know that’s extreme, and it’s not like it’s been a total drought, if I’m completely honest with myself. But it is certainly much, much harder, and it still confuses me.
It’s this sense that I was absent when these things were taught. I skipped a bunch of things in school, so it must have been in one of the following: 7th grade American History (probably not); 7th grade Life Science (potentially? But we’d already covered sex ed in Project KNOW in 5th grade); and lastly, all of the 1st grade. That must be it.
Technically I skipped 2nd grade but that wasn’t the practical experience of it. I was in a combined 1st and 2nd grade classroom – why such a thing existed, I don’t really know, to this day. I was reading from the age of 3, so I came in literate and ready to go, and the teacher figured the only appropriate thing to do was put me with the most advanced 2nd graders. At the end of the year, there was no point holding me back, so I advanced to 3rd grade.
But clearly there was a reason I should have gone back. Somewhere, in those piles of huge-print reading workbooks, must have been the answers I still don’t have, the reason I am so incredibly, incredibly bad at attraction. It used to be that I was shy, and never pursued anyone - instead I just ran away. But I got over that, and now I’m apparently only attracted to people unable or unwilling to respond to me or my desire. Maybe somewhere in that year I missed, I could find the reason why I let people I like milk my affections endlessly without ever returning them. Maybe I’d have found the archetypes I need to steer clear of: the guy who freaks out when you touch him during your fourth date; the guy who perpetually apologizes for ignoring you, who you let keep on doing it; the guy who sleeps with everyone but you, but you tell yourself it’s all just fine because he’s your “friend” and sometimes you get to hang out with him for a tightly-scheduled half-hour.
Or it’s just a string of bad luck. A really, really long string of bad luck stretching from the dawn of adolescence to now. If the lesson here is that these situations are explained by 1st grade wisdom, then it’s clear none of them are worth being involved in in the first place. But I can’t help but feel like there’s not something bigger at stake.
Tuesday Morning Motivation
“I haven’t seen you here in forever!”
It doesn’t surprise me that there’s a language of its own between you and me at this point, a code that boggles basically everyone else that hears it. All I want. Diet Coke. Megan Doyle. Intercourse. Truth be told that during all the ridiculous misadventures and detours and plunges my life has taken over the last twelve months, you’ve been one of the few people who’s been through all of it with me, as an interlocutor, commiserator, occasionally a co-conspirator, and friend. And I am very, very grateful. For all the love and loss that’s come and gone, I’m glad you’ve been here to help me make sense of it, laugh at it, distract me with websites full of ferret poems that remind me that it could always be even more ludicrous than it is.
The world we are in, both you I, is on the boundary of absurdity and wonder. That’s why it takes such a hard toll and why the good parts are so, so good. Not a week ago we both lost our credit cards at the same time, in the same place, doing the same thing. In a place full of ghosts for both of us, I was reminded why it’s still worth braving the specters in that haunt, and that in the right company I’m immune to their powers. It was some kind of remarkable magic, and I am sure, as I look back on it, that it emanates from you.
I know you have challenges and struggles and fears and doubts. You also have incredible gifts. I think over the past year you’ve learned a lot about sharing those gifts and hope you see that that is how you will overcome the challenges. I hope the coming summer brings you peace, and calm, and joy, and strength.