I am crushed under a cruelty that is only a simulacrum of what must be going on inside his head. I know this from first hand experience – even if he has no filter, there are so many layers of his mind that strip down and soften this entire experience of – of what? It’s not cruelty in the purest sense, but I am starting to sniff out a lack of sympathy. Which I know has nothing to do with me – I’m just here, and it’s not my fault that I am standing downwind of someone in pain. I came here of my own volition, knowing full well that I would encounter more than a few moments of joylessness. Sure, it’s all balanced out by the good times. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t. But moments like this? The spines on the monster that live beneath his skin are starting to poke out. I won’t run away. It must be uncomfortable to be a dragon crammed into human skin. Of course it gets hot in there. So I run to the kitchen and bring him back a cup of water, hoping to ease all of this for just a few seconds. That’s the best I can do. I guess what bothers me is – what are you supposed to do in the face of someone else’s insurmountable pain? Of course I would like to fix it. But I don’t know how. I have asked him many times how can I fix his pain – it is his pain, and he is the only person who could know how to fix his pain, but he still hasn’t told me yet. So instead I am absorbing it in little ways, like tiny glass shards against bare skin. I have to sit in shit if I want to be here with him, and I want to be here with him, so I am sitting in shit and smiling. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I can feel his pain from across the room, across the city, across the state – so I hold myself here, and I do not run away, because running away would be the expected thing to do, and the expected thing to do is boring, and I am not boring. I hold him in the night, and I hope that it helps, and the next morning there are burn marks on my skin that hurt me, too, but I hold him tight anyways.
I’m ashamed to admit it, mostly because I’m a writer, but I forgot how to read books. I noticed it about a year ago – I kept on buying interesting looking books, but I wasn’t able to finish a god damn one of them. This is embarrassing. I realized: I’ve forgotten how to do this. My brain can’t complete the task. Reading an entire book, start to finish, is daunting.
I had grown accustomed to scrolling through the news feed and glossing over headlines and photo captions. Entire paragraphs? Occasionally. But more than twenty pages at a time? Oh, fuck no.
So I set out to accomplish a task, and I did it! I recently reread my favorite Camus book The Fall, and, oh, man, talk about revisiting the book that made me into the asshole I am today. There was something thrilling about rereading the words that made me realize that society is a sham and morality is subjective. The first time I read it – what a visceral experience. The second time – there was comfort in the chaos of those underhanded ideas. I remembered why am I the person I am today.
I revel in the beauty of ideas. The ability to corrupt. To break open fresh minds and pour a splendid yet splenetic type of poison into them. I can remember, now, why I want to wrap my hand around the throat of society and watch it suffer in silence as it slowly asphyxiates. Revelation, in its darkest form, is its own kind of ecstasy. Decimation is elevation, and I am ready to burn my way into heaven.
Won’t you come with me?
He’s drunk again.
I let out another sigh. I try to avoid admitting this to myself, but maybe I should just suck it up and say it out loud. He’s an alcoholic. And I’m in love with him.
He’s not my boyfriend or my partner. We’re not building a future together. We’re not in a relationship. He’s just my friend, and we fuck all the time, and it’s been that way for months. Or years.
I tell myself that I’m smart enough to never get into a relationship with another addict ever again, but as I’m standing there, watching him thrash around in a drunken semi-stupor, I realize: isn’t my name on the lease? Aren’t those the keys to my car? Didn’t I pay for the bottle of vodka? God, I’m doing girlfriend shit for someone who will probably evanesce in six months or less. I must be bored. Am I bored? I don’t have anything better to do?
We fuck, which makes me feel guilty because why is he always drunk or high when we fuck? I feel cheap and desperate, being totally sober and still into it. I disgust myself. As I’m sitting on a blanket on the floor surveying the scene filled with empty liquor bottles and dirty dishes and the lonely lines of coke on the plate. I guess it’s come to this.
So I do the only dignified thing I can think of and drive home where I get drunk alone, too. Because this is true love. Or, this is true love for me. I cringe in my memories and wonder when I’ll figure out how to fall in love with a nice man with a good job who wants to build a future with me. Am I even capable of that? Am I capable of wanting that?
I brush those thoughts away with ease and think about him, tooted up and twirling around an empty apartment, completely naked, bottle in hand. In my mind, it’s a beautiful sight. In reality, I tell myself I will never go back there, but who knows what tomorrow holds.
I should stop hating myself because of the people I love. It’s counterintuitive. I’m still locked up in this idea that I should be dating the type of man my mother approves of: rich, old and white. As though those attributes make someone more worthy of my love and affection.
I know that it may seem like I’m punishing myself with the people I date, but that’s such a boring and simplistic way to look at it. It’s more that I grew tired of dating people who were a laundry list of checked boxes full of socially acceptable qualities that make a person worthy of love. Why do we believe that the more money a person makes, the more that person deserves love? Fuck that. I hate that. Why do we believe that the greater a person’s ambition or the more success they’re likely to achieve means that I should want to him fuck him more?
I’ve fallen into the trap that has made me believe I need to be perfect in the eyes of society in order to attain happiness. Similarly, I have allowed myself to believe that anyone I love should likewise be perfect. But I’m not perfect, and he’s not perfect, and I’m sick of hiding my flaws in shame. I will never be the perfect person I pretend to be, and I’m fully content with that. I would never wish the curse of the pursuit of perfection on anyone else. It’s a fucking rouse and a burden.
He makes mistakes, and so do I, but I’m sick of running from the mistakes. Love is pain, but so is loneliness. Just because he’s flawed – it doesn’t mean that loving him is a compromise. It doesn’t mean I’m quietly losing in the game of love because I allow him to be human. It just means that love is a flawed solution, but I love him with all his flaws, so in its own way love is the perfect solution.
Although, I get it – you, dear reader, might not put up with these flaws. These flaws might break you, but they don’t break me, so that’s what matters. My love for him doesn’t have to be right for you, nor should it be. This is my love on my terms, and even though I am being eaten alive by self doubt, everything is going to be fine.
Why am I so bad at wanting what I want? Whose fault is that? It’s not his fault, and it’s not my fault. It’s your fault. Which is why I rush back over to that empty, dirty apartment and sit on the floor while I wait for him to get dressed so we can go to the bar, and I tell none of you about it. If I want to kill myself, I will do it quietly, and if I choose to live, I will slink off into the sunset any way I see fit. The rest of the world can burn for all I care.
Baby, I’m in love.
We’re not supposed to be here. I realize this quietly as we drive from here to there, and I try not to dwell on it too much. I try not to talk about it either, lest we backslide into another dialogue on why we don’t want to be here and how much we’d rather be gone and how we would do it. I can’t let myself slip back into thinking like that, lest I slip back into wanting to do something about it. Lest I slip back into doing something about it.
Every time something bad happens, he tells me, “Well, I didn’t die.” Which is supposed to make me feel better, but I know that those words carry a different kind of emotion: disappointment. Not gratitude. Disappointment. Which is starting to worry me, because falling short of death isn’t cause for a celebration. There are so many horrors that fall just short of death, and I don’t want him to endure those, either. But I don’t know what to say. I rarely know what to say.
I remind him that we don’t get to leave this place. We’ve tried so many times to get out, but we’re still here. He sighs in frustration when I suggest that maybe we should just make the best of it in the meantime. He doesn’t like that. He wants to leave. Now. But life isn’t letting him leave – and for this, I’m so grateful.
I’m glad he’s here. I try to tell him as often as possible, even though saying it out loud seems to only be a reminder of the fact that he’s still stuck here. I’m trying not to build resentments, so I try to think of a better way to say it. I can’t think of anything clever, but I can think about how devastated I would have been if he hadn’t made it this far. I wonder if he would have been devastated if I hadn’t made it this far either, but, then again, I’m trying not to dwell. I’m trying not to camp out inside of my morbid fantasies. If I become too comfortable here then…well. I’m not thinking about that right now.
I’m trying to have a good time while I’m here. Or at least make it look good. This life that I have very little interest in. This life definitely doesn’t feel sacred, despite what they say on the news. I look at all the other lives that have crossed paths with mine – all these decimated, decaying, faded lives. Why do they want to be here, and if they want to be here, why do they make it look so dull? If I have to be here, I’d like to be swathed in beauty. I want decadence. I want the best that life has to offer me. I deserve the best, and I don’t want to try at all – I think that having the best for free is a fair consolation prize for being forced to be here against my will. I’m not going to live a half life while I’m here.
I do not love life, but life loves me. I tell him, “Life loves you, too, baby. You don’t even have to love it back. All you have to do is love me.” He nods his head. I don’t know if he heard me, but we bury ourselves back in bed and booze. I am determined to win this game with minimal effort, and I hope he’ll win with me. Probably not today, because we’re not leaving the house, but perhaps tomorrow.
I realized this the other day: my life is better because of a very small group of people who have influenced my life to be better. I wish I could type out that list and give credit where credit is due, but unfortunately I will never talk to some of those people ever again because fuck those people. Which makes me pretty sad – the mix of emotions, the split between gratitude and loathing, is confusing.
I guess falling outs are inevitable. They happen some time, and if I’m going to think about the positive impact that certain people have had on my life, I’ll take it. I can dwell on the negative later.
Although, the people that matter the most are still a part of my life today. So I’m going to take the time to tell them to their faces: my life is better because you’re in it. And I would like you to be here with me, always.
Actually, I can’t tell you the secrets to effortlessly and effectively black balling people you don’t like. I can’t snitch on myself like that. All I can really say is: power is a beautiful thing, but be careful how you wield it.
In other news, I was recently informed by someone I used to, uh, “be involved with” that he had stopped talking to me because he thought I was trynna set him up and rob him. The shock! The horror! Who? Lil’ ol’ me? Rob someone? I would never! I have no idea why he would think that of me. I’ve been nothing but gracious and courteous this entire time.
Along the same vein, I was walking home from the grocery store the other day when I noticed someone across the street and down the way who looked remarkably like a man that I used to, oh, how do I say this … “fuck.” I thought, “It’s either that dude I used to fuck, or it’s someone who looks like that dude I used to fuck, and, eh, I have a type, so might as well scope it out and do a casual walk by flirtation.” I thought if it’s him, well, maybe we can say, “Hi” and that will be cool. Just some simple, cordial acknowledgement.
As I walked closer, I realized, yes, it’s that dude I used to fuck, definitely. But as I neared the restaurant he was standing outside of, poof, into the restaurant he went. Which means, perhaps…did he run away from me?! Huh. That’s weird.
Whatever. People I used to fuck but no longer talk to can do whatever they want. I’m having a great time without them, so who cares.
In an effort to not be another problematic straight, I thought about all the great ways in which queer culture has richly enhanced my life. The list is pretty long, but the first four things that come to mind are 1) wow, I would dress like shit if it weren’t for the LGBTQ crowd. Yes, I recently watched Pose, and, goddamn! Talk about a constant reminder that I will never, ever be that fashionable, which is fine, because there are certain times in life when the pupil must admit that they will never out do the master, and fashion is definitely one of those arenas. Thank you for your never ending effort to make the world a more fashionable place. 2) Would Catholic art even exist without gay people? What would my parents hang on the walls of their home if not for gay artists? Yes, the hypocrisy runs deep on this one, but would the straights have done anything innovative and beautiful with Catholic art if left up to their own devices? and 3) we all know that straight women aren’t the ones writing cheeky blog posts about how to take it up the ass, and, also, I have a sneaking suspicion that straight women didn’t pioneer teaching other straight women on things like how to ask for oral sex, how to receive oral sex, and how to masturbate. I’m a straight person, and I’m pretty sure my sex life would be boring as fuck if it weren’t for gay people. 4) Feminism.
In conclusion: thank you, LGBTQ community, for those four things, and all the other things that I haven’t listed here. The world would suck without you, my life would be so boring without you, and I’m sorry that people have been mean to you. I love having you here! I couldn’t imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t grown up five miles away from the epicenter of gay culture, but I’m definitely a better straight person because of it. I can never repay you.