I started with a quarter-pill in September 2018 and bumped it up to about a half a pill during all of 2019. Dating had lost its luster, men their intrigue, my pain tolerance its infinite depths. I was beginning to feel my edges, my limits. Betraying my basic needs to feel seen, heard, and valuable was no longer the course de rigueur, it had become to feel more like the affront to my soul that it was. Then Covid struck the world and rocked my little chaotic, hurting life – and it was the biggest, fattest, juiciest red pill I’ve ever swallowed in my life.
It was also delicious.
I am free of injuries on insults, free of ignoring my inner voice, free of obligation. I have stepped into a sense of myself I have longed for for decades. Interactions with my ex-husband are opportunities to stand in my own righteous strength, my boundaries with my mother are better drawn, my equation related to the world and my energy crystal clear: nothing and no one is greater or more important than my own well-being. Not even my own inertia to destroy myself.
I haven’t been writing because this space originated out of a need to explore and devour and tell the world about it. I’m on the other side of all that consumption and am feeling contemplative and supremely private. I also haven’t been fucking around all that much, so what’s to tell? How every day is like Groundhog’s Day? Work, animals, child, parents. Repeat repeat repeat motherfucking repeat.
I guess I could have been writing about my dating app experiences. I’ve had a handful of little dalliances in my pocket. They’d burn bright with dicks and tits being slung across the ether at break neck speeds then the realities of Covid and comfort levels would crash into us and we’d limp away into the dark corners of our phones never to speak again.
The last time I wrote I was hopeful I was curating something fun and light. I put far too much faith into one so ridiculously young, but oh! how I wanted to believe in the bravado of this young 22 yo man! It puttered out as pitifully as you might imagine. Then there was the 30 yo lawyer whose drinking could have drowned a fish. His open and affectionate manner reminded me of The Golfer in some ways and our texting and sexting was delightful for 6 full weeks. And then he stood me up one Saturday and I ended things on Sunday. No wiggle room, no doubts. I will never, ever continue to see anyone – man or woman – who wastes my time like that.
I entertained the idea that something had “happened to him” for about .3 seconds that Saturday evening when I realized he’d gone MIA. The only reason I waited to tie things off with him until Sunday was simply to see if he’d break the silence first.
I said my piece, he apologized, offered up an “alternative solution” (“I’d be happy to be your booty call!”) to which I politely declined. “I no longer trust you and so I won’t be taking you up on that,” I’d said blithely. I forgot to add that I thought we were booty calls, but by the time I’d realized my omission I’d already lost any sense of giving a shit.
Today, February 1st, is the morning after my second date with a tall, fair-skinned Mexican man. He’s 28, has a graduate degree, and a fetching Spanish accent. He also grins ear to ear and bends over in tickled delight at things I say, which is probably for the best because he can’t see me looking at him wide-eyed with disbelief. Am I really that funny?? Apparently I am!
Our first date was at a coffee shop outdoors in 42º F (6º C) weather with no heat source. I sat as long as my cold butt could stand it then begged off. He’d said he’d be open to coming home with me, but sober and jaded as I was, I demurred. “I definitely want to see you again,” I told him, “but I’m not up for bringing you home tonight.” He didn’t seem bothered and when I asked if I could kiss him when he’d walked me to my car he nodded and blasted a grin at me.
Three weeks and several more failed attempts to see one another later he finally made it over to my house last night. I was observing myself more than him. A hot cup of tea cradled in my hands, minimal makeup, my knees drawn up against my breasts I sat practically guarding myself from him. He sat on the middle cushion of the couch while the dog took up the third. It was cozy, familiar.
He did the grinning, bending over thing some more, told me about his family back in Mexico, his friends, his life. Gushed over how genuine and different I was from any other woman he’d ever dated. I was flattered, but also searching for that connection I had felt at the end of our chilly date. I sensed tendrils of it, but we had been shitty texters in between these two dates. The water between us felt so cold, insurmountably so.
He was closing in on me, shrinking the distance from me to him. I smelled the woodsy scents of his cologne, could hear the crinkle of his leather jacket. “I’m so glad you’re here tonight,” I said looking directly into his beautiful inky brown eyes, “but I feel like some of our connection has been lost these past few weeks because we’ve hardly talked and so I’m not looking to have sex with you tonight.”
He didn’t miss a beat. “That’s totally ok with me. I just really wanted to see you and hang out.”
We talked some more about our desire for a stronger connection and committed to keeping the water warmer between visits with one another.
Eventually, three hours after he arrived all tall, dark and handsome, he said he needed to leave. It was 10:30 on a school night for the both of us after all. I walked him to the door and tilted my face to his and closed the gap between us, careful to press my heavy and untouched breasts into the bottom of his rib cage.
Our hands slowly explored one another. One of his cold hands cupped the side of my neck behind my ear. The other slipped beneath my t-shirt. I tried not to move away from its iciness. I sneaked one beneath his jacket and the other ran through the short hair behind his ear. His lips soft and pliant opened against mine and we melted into one another, a tall dark moon against a short bright sun.
The dog barked at us and we chuckled into each other’s mouths. It was time for him to go.
Later, as I got ready for bed, I felt so incredibly happy. And safe. I felt so completely safe because I had been true to myself through and through and hadn’t done one tiny thing that the whole of me wasn’t behind. The red pill I started to take 2+ years ago means so much more to me than simply seeing the Matrix for what it is. It has also been the gateway to regaining my own trust. Because if I can’t trust myself first and foremost, then how in the hell will I ever be able to trust anyone else??
For the first time in my life, I am feeling truly myself.
I opened my door with an easy swoosh, but my insides were flipping. What was a 22 yo doing on my doorstep?
We’d met a few days earlier on some app, he’d said all the right things, was bold and cheeky with a bunch of respectful thrown in. “Would you like a romance with a younger man?” he’d asked me via text. It didn’t make sense to say Yes to his requests to see me, but then again, What if this miraculously turned into something great??
“I’m open to absolutely anything,” was my answer. And that’s true. I don’t know the prescription for happiness.
He stepped inside and set down a tiny Tupperware container with rum and two blood red cans of Coke. “I don’t know what the open carry laws are here,” he explained when I laughed at his contraband.
We talked for hours. First outside in my papasans, then on my couch. He was long and lean, pale with soft, feathery dark brown hair that flopped over one of his blue eyes. He’s not your average young man. He’s lived a life of a 30 yo, to be sure. Wise, hurt, hungry.
Something was wrong with my clock because each time I looked up at it it was two hours later than the last time I looked. Well past midnight I made my move and put my feet on his lap. I had had enough wine to warm my veins and he’d tapped into my whiskey.
His warm hands held my feet and ankles and explored my bare calves. I hadn’t been touched in almost a year – was this real??
I leaned in and twisted a handful of his oversized t-shirt in my hand and pulled his sweet, pretty face to mine. Our lips touched and I breathed him in, pressed further and felt him melt against me.
I ran my fingers through his silky hair and moaned a little as his warm, wet tongue met mine. Holy shit, I thought, I’m alive. I’m real. I’m seen.
But it didn’t go further.
Despite asking if he could stay the night before he came over, he begged off. It was 2 am and he was tired, he said.
The morning after I felt light and heady, but drained. Covid, 22, ugh. But also: a year.
Sadly, he’s dropped the ball since. He’s said he wanted to see me twice since that night, but never selected a night. It’s a week from our date and he’s been quiet for the last 36+ hours.
Since Covid some things have become clear: I don’t make people do what I want. I wait and see what they do, then I make a decision. That goes for friends, too. With this kid it was a sweet, but singular night. PG. Not even -13. I’m not going to make it more than what it was.
Today is the 3rd of October. I think it was almost exactly a year ago that I met Francois and we had a beautiful, hedonistic week together. One whole year of not being touched, of not being interested in anyone, of not being thought of by someone.
Covid has been a time of reckoning for me, as it has been for so many others. As my country crumbles in the most disgusting, abysmal, terrifying way, so too have my self-annihilating ways. I have no stomach for mistreatment, no patience. I’m not betraying myself anymore. It’s scary to have no playbook.
I look back on my life and there’s all but one relationship that has no substance. The bulk of my life – my sex and love life – has zero substance. Dating and loving men who don’t love me back, who don’t care about me. I’ve slept with so many men, triple digits, and how many have loved me? Maybe two. How many have cared about me? Maybe none.
It’s a devastating realization.
I have lived a life. A big, loud, exciting and robust life. I have done whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I have been fearless and charismatic, eaten up anyone in my path with a hunger that was bigger than me and now, in the quiet of a pandemic, I’m hogtied to isolation for survival. The quiet is deafening.
I planted no seeds to sow, my fields are fallow and I am alone. Naturally.
I have felt like writing many times over the last several months, but why and about what? My personal revolution? How boring – and selfish. Would you want to hear about me finding myself sometimes at the bottom of a bottle or at the bottom of a tea kettle? I can’t even be consistent in my vices – it’s either yoga or booze. Sometimes a combination. Ok, usually a combination.
Not only am I 1000x more boring than I was before, but my boringness means I’m focused on myself – not the dipshits I let in my life – and I’m a lot more private about my own shit than I realized. My traumas that were triggered in September of 2018 with the Kavanaugh hearings have rolled through and over me time and time again ever since. I can’t unsee my own pain and hurt, and most importantly, now that I am awake, I can’t abuse myself with men anymore, either.
It didn’t happen overnight, obviously, but I was already getting there before the Coronavirus hit us. I hadn’t had sex since October of 2019 and maybe only had one or two dates in December and January. I had put out my feelers for men in the London area for Eroticon 2020, but my heart was never really in it. And now here we are. October of 2020 and I have kissed exactly one human and hugged approximately 5 all year. It’s been brutal.
I fear for the safety of my parents and myself and some shitty dick isn’t worth the risk, so I don’t go out. The 22 yo was a total anomaly and seeing as I’m not interested in convincing anyone to be with me I will be alone for how ever many more months it will be until I have the energy and bravery to be with someone again.
I miss you all. I miss the way it was. It feels different now somehow. New guard and all that, totally normal. The old trees die and give way to and feed the new growth at its feet. I used to watch those time-lapse National Geographic videos of a forest that burned down and the green sprouts that would miraculously push up through the dark, rich soil. Unfurling like little dancers in the beams of sunlight that broke through the treetops. It was mesmerizing.
And now I am that little green sprout reaching for her sun, but I’m not sure I’m in the same forest.
I wrote this on Sunday, but my blog has been acting up ever since. Now the post has rebuttals.
So much sleep.
So much fucking work.
Some vino verde.
A little wine.
Probably too much food.
Just the right amount.
Three miles a day.
Nearly 3 miles a day.
Cheers, Worst Cooks in America, Sweet Magnolias (which wasn’t worth my time and I do not recommend).
Not as much of my baby baby.
So many Zooms.
Tense and upsetting conversations with exhusbands.
Dinner outside with The Vet before he leaves in a month.
Curbside grocery pick up.
I ordered too much fucking food.
Hours upon hours of world news articles.
Still hours upon hours…
So many tears.
Very little tears.
Tears for a life never lived.
Tears for the world today.
And a few stolen moments to myself.
Too many moments to myself that they all feel dark and oozing and floaty in a universe of aqua-colored hair gel.
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
I was nearly done packing.
I’d sorted all my toiletries, added thoughtful touches like a scented candle and sparkling water, a bag of citrus and kolaches, lots of sun screen and self tanner. I needed to only pick out which bikinis I’d take, but the thought was close to revolting.
While I lay out tanning my soft, middle-aged body, there would be a hotel full of people there not by choice, but out of necessity and 6 blocks away people protesting for the lives of black Americans.
It just didn’t feel right despite everyone I talked to telling me I deserved it. Do it, go for it, you need it. Truthfully, what I needed was to stay home and be that person.
The person who wept when she watched the videos of people bravely hitting the streets and peacefully protesting get mowed down by mounted police or thrown to the grown by big, muscular men in riot gear, a septuagenarian harassed and left bleeding by callous officers sworn to protect us.
The person who yearns for a world that feels safe. For women, all people of color, every sexuality and every religion, every different mobility and health status, every height and size., every gender identity.
When you think about it, this world is set up to be kind and accepting to very very few types of people. The lane to acceptance is narrow: attractive, tall, fit, straight, Christian, white, cis, preferably male, [college] educated, never incarcerated. That was a very easy list to write down versus the hundreds of other combinations I could come up with that are not that.
My decision made and my heart light, I called the hotel. I explained that with the uptick in COVID cases in the last week coupled with the protests, “It just isn’t a good time now.”
She was perfunctory and efficient in her response and in less than 4 minutes I’d rescheduled my stay for the end of August. Perhaps then it won’t feel so gross.
I texted The Vet. He was sweet. “Want me to come over instead and bring a pizza?”
“Nah,” I replied. “I have a shit ton of kolaches.”
We sat on my back porch, the cicadas drowning out our conversation from any possible eavesdroppers. We drank and talked and laughed. He’s leaving in one month.
I felt tears, but ignored them. We have never talked about our feelings regarding our friendship and what the move will mean for us. He’s happy to be leaving; it’s good for him. I’m happy he’s happy. But I will miss my best friend and I wanted the weekend at the hotel to be a last hurrah for us. Strictly platonic, of course.
At 1 am, fighting the urge to close my eyes in my chair he bid adieu. He stood tall and bald, casual in cargo shorts and a t-shirt that clung slightly across his broad chest.
“I read an article about how to hug safely if you’d like to,” I said. “We just can’t have our faces face the same way and I have to keep my face in your chest.”
He answered by opening his arms and I stepped into them. I turned my right cheek against his chest and wrapped my arms around him. I breathed in the scent of him, his detergent probably, and wished we’d held on a few beats longer.
I quickly stepped away per the safe-hugging instructions and felt awkward, like I’d just been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.
I walked him to the door and said goodbye. My entire night was the right thing to do and just what I needed, and today I slept until I could sleep no more then walked the 1.45 miles to my ex’s and played for an hour with Peyton and a hose and some slippery grass.
I don’t need fancy right now, all I need is simple: friendship, love and rest.
As predicted, today was brutal.
Early meetings bled into late morning meetings morphed into lunch meetings rolled into afternoon meetings like so many cigarettes of a chain smoker. My ass didn’t leave my chair for 7 straight hours and even the cat got bored of me sitting there and found somewhere else to lounge.
Pey wanted to see me again after work, so the second I was done I laced up my tennies, put on cropped leggings so my chubby thighs wouldn’t chafe, and set out with the old, now creaky dog.
I was a little anxious.
My ex texted hours earlier asking that I refrain from touching our baby while he’s in possession. A stupid, illogical request seeing as we have shared custody and yet another maneuver on his part to control his anxiety via my behavior, to, as he put it, “keep isolation intact.” Yeah, ok.
Never mind that we’re swapping every two weeks.
But I guess a hug from me while he’s in possession is much more dangerous than taking him back into his home after he’s with me. I know: it makes no fucking sense.
I pressed Play on my audio book and listened intently to the dulcet tones of Tom Hanks. I passed fragrant, blooming bushes and trees the names of which I’ve never known. One tree with long, wispy branches had leaves like dragonfly wings and orange petals like an exploded firework. I don’t think it had a smell and I didn’t stop to investigate for along the inviting boughs were inch long thorns. I kept walking.
The visit was lovely. More playing with the hose, lots of “accidental” sprays on each other. My ex came out too this time, ostensibly to enforce his request of no touching, but he was mild mannered and we chatted about his family. I honored his need for no touching. Reluctantly.
The Vet asked me earlier in the night if I was up for drinks tonight. I told him I wasn’t sure, but the truth was I wanted to be up for some. For us to go meet at our favorite hang out or maybe a new one before he moves away and to catch up and laugh while serenaded by the chirping, hysterical cicadas overhead that seem to be everywhere at once.
I forgot that I no longer eat meat and ordered a pastrami sandwich to be delivered as I walked back past all the bushes and blooms and their thick, sticky fragrance. I didn’t even realize my mistake until hours after I’d eaten every last crumb. What a shit pescatarian I am. (It was delicious, though.)
I didn’t cry when I got home like I’d hoped yesterday, but I also didn’t stuff my face or drink. One rosé spritzer was all I had. Good job, Hy. I also completely forgot to text The Vet back. I’m just a black hole of nothingness and useless grey matter.
Lastly – and most upsettingly – Sunday night, in a fit of desperation (and hope) I booked two nights at a downtown luxury hotel basically for the price of one. It has two queen beds, a view of the water if I’m lucky, and is walking distance to all the fun, outdoorsy stuff my town has to offer.
But isn’t that the height of grossness?? To be in a luxurious setting while less than a mile away protesters fight against and endure police brutality? I mean, do I go join them before or after I lay out at the pool? Ugh – barf.
It’s in bad taste, right?, to spend money so cavalierly when others are having to skip rent payments to survive during this goddamned pandemic and since when did I become a Have and not a Have Not?
And not only all that, but what if I get sick by leaving the safety of my house? Yet another indecent privilege I’ve been afforded during all of this.
I asked both my bff, Sherry, and The Vet if they’d like to come stay with me.
“It’ll be fun!” I texted, filled with optimism and gripped by momentary insanity. “We can drink, play, paddle, lay by the pool, get room service. Party!” They both agreed it sounded great and would love to come, but what if they get me sick?
They go to work every day and have been throughout this entire quarantine, and apparently that has affected their threshold for mingling. Mine remains – apparently – very, very low.
But hotel sheets, a change of scenery, someone to take care of me. It’s embarrassingly privileged and humiliatingly attractive all at the same time.
The hotel now reminds me of that beautiful orange blossom on that alien-looking tree with it’s misleadingly soft-looking branches – there are big ass spikes all over it, after all. It is not to be experienced with anything but your eyes.
I have until 2:59 pm tomorrow afternoon to make my decision and get a full refund. I wish the cicadas could tell me what to do in their songs.
I’ve been eating my feelings the past two days, which might not be all that notable except that I’ve diligently been chipping away at my weight during lock down and this now feels extremely reckless.
My heart is breaking on all sides – no different than you, probably. I ache for black Americans for all the suffering they endure and have endured. I ache for essential workers who must chose to risk their lives to keep food on the table. I ache for the loss of life as we all knew it and I ache for the unknown future. I ache for my little one who is back at my ex’s. I ache for my loneliness – I miss my mommy and my friends and dates (even the bad ones).
I just ache.
And after Pey went to my ex’s yesterday and we hugged and cried goodbye I threw myself into work. I stared so hard at the computer screen my eyes watered and my back ached. The fat ass cat tore into my lap whenever it suited him to get some attention. It felt like a reminder that I was not actually as alone as I felt.
When my day was over I grabbed a bite to eat – a chicken salad wrap – and took the dog off down the street, careful to suck in my stomach because that’s what middle aged women do, I guess.
My visit was leisurely, there was a hose and some water for all of us, a lolling tongue and squinty dog eyes, hugs and kisses. I walked back home and immediately opened a bottle of wine and made pasta. Ate too much, I’m sure, but didn’t care. Then drank some more wine and ate 4 truffles. I went to bed early instead of eating more because that was all I really wanted to do (eat).
Today, I woke up with Pey’s balled up shirt in my arms. It’s not weird, you’re weird. It was so quiet, peaceful. I wasn’t worried about what my child was doing or should be doing. I immediately felt guilty for the relief I felt.
Work started earlier than usual and I bore down on my day like hungry little bug on a juicy leaf. And boy was I hungry. I ate most of a frozen dinner and then the left over pasta. When work was finished I laced up my shoes again and headed back out.
This time I was met with an admission that there were tears the night before. I was missed. “This is hard.” Yes, baby, I know.
We fabricated rainbows with the mister nozzle setting and turned our faces into it. It was good to see each other. Do you want me to come again tomorrow?
I walked home listening to my audio book (my second ever) and felt guilty for being so removed from all the pain and suffering in the world, for my ignorance of whatever was happening less than 10 miles away. But I’m fucking tired.
I feel like I have been weeping for humanity since 9/11 when I watched in horror as the first tower collapsed. I had just barely turned 26.
I headed straight for my last bottle of wine and ordered some Chinese food. It’d be my third meal of the day – I don’t even remember the last time I ate three times in a single day. I savored the MSG on the sweet and tangy shrimp and chicken and the mouthfeel of the salty fried rice and wanted to melt into my rug for the sheer shame and pleasure of it all. This was what I wanted.
I have a brutally long day tomorrow, so my plan is to indulge to the fullest tonight then be in bed by 10 and sleep it all off tomorrow. No more booze then, no more eating my feelings. I’m going to sit alone on my couch after my visit with Pey and I am going to cry. I am going to cry for everything and everyone and everywhere.
But tonight, I eat and I drink.