Plus Ca Change…

I’ve been single again for two weeks now. It’s weird and complicated and my emotions rise and fall like roller coasters surrounded by signs that scream “Not for the faint of heart or stomach.”

That simile works especially well because roller coasters are designed so that you end up right back where you started. The tracks are unchanging, and if you’ve ridden once or twice or seventeen times you learn the bumps and jolts.

I didn’t think I’d been here before. I thought that this was a new kind of heartbreak, accompanied by a new kind of disappointment and a new feeling of foolishness. Reading over my posts from my last round of life partner auditions just shows that I don’t learn from the mistakes I make. I fall for the same people – ones who excite me enough to think I can fix them, or bore me in ways that makes their inevitable rejection hurt less.

And I don’t know how to change that.

My breakup with Eleven can be summarized by quotations I’ve already written on this blog:

“At the time, I was living with Harold, and we were doing the typical things that couples do during the slow death of an unhealthy non-monogamous relationship. That night involved coming home after having eaten separately, lying on the bed and spending silent hours on our phones until either bedtime (when we’d each decide if we wanted to have sex), a stream aired a west-coast basketball game or one of us would pick a fight.”

or

“Spare me the self-flagellation, Catch. You wanted to ignore something until it went away and it’s not working out very well for you. The people in my life ALWAYS do this; the “I acknowledge my obviously shitty behaviour, point to a personality flaw upon which I can hang everything, and call myself an idiot before doing absolutely nothing to change my behaviour” thing. The men in my family PRACTICALLY INVENTED that crap.”

That might be the saddest part of all of this. It’s not the loss of the future I imagined where somehow Eleven worked as hard for us as I did. It’s not the loss of his wonderful family, or that he knows everyone and will have no trouble moving on because no one will hold him accountable.

It’s that I’ve had enough power to take myself out of these situations before, and I didn’t this time. I was so unhappy – we broadcasted what Carly Lewis calls, “the sort of chic pseudo-polyamory that conflates dishonest promiscuity with ethical non-monogamy and seems to propagate my peer group.” Meanwhile we were loveless and sexless and desperate to hide it, as if we cared what others thought. Eleven resented that he couldn’t act single while benefiting from all of my emotional labour, and I resented that he kept moving the line of what *I* had to do to satisfy him. Still, I stayed. I didn’t even PLAN to leave. I usually have backup plans upon backup plans, and the explosion two Mondays ago was especially devastating BECAUSE I was had no recourse.

What is it that Chvrches sings? “I never promised you anything I couldn’t do, and you never promised me that you would see things differently.” Lauren Mayberry, the goddess she is, says we should “Bury it and rise above.” I assumed the chorus was about putting a toxic relationship in the ground, but Genius claims otherwise.

Sorry to my fellow Scottish feminist princess, but I am sticking to my interpretation. This relationship is six feet under (and I can grieve as much as I need), but the lesson is the same: I bury it, and I rise above. I just have to fucking learn from it this time.

007: For Your Eyes Only

Almost immediately after my most recent big breakup, I started sleeping with a friend of mine. I don’t care that it might be a bad idea, because every rebound bingo card needs a “Greatest Hits” square, and (though I hate to rank former flames), as far as sexual connection it’s been 007 and Harold (my most recent ex), a deep chasm, and then everyone else.

007 and I met half a decade ago through a friend who’d been infatuated with him in high school. We went home together the night we met, and though it’s been years since we last kissed I always had vivid erotic flashbacks to showering together or the way he’d roll my stockings down while undressing me. It lasted only a few months (and we both got hurt in the end – it inspired the friend who introduced us to write a song!) but I’m sure everyone I’ve dated since my dalliance with 007 could tell that I was comparing them, and that they usually came up short. We stayed friends, though. He tutored me through the entry exams for my program and let me pay him for his troubles in baseball tickets and food specific to his dietary needs. He quit drinking and has been a solid dude to me for many years.

Sure, our New Years kisses would linger a little too long. And we’d *like* every vaguely scandalous social media picture. And his friends would say things like “Tinderella is no stranger to dick blindness – she dated 007, after all!” but that was our deal. We kept our hands to ourselves. I will always defend him, because I adore him.

It wasn’t what I intended to happen when he invited me to his climbing gym one Sunday afternoon shortly after I gave my ex the boot – I just let 007 teach me how to scale lumpy walls the way I let him teach me math, or how to kiss. When I’d slip off, he’d catch me, even though the mats would have broken my fall rather adequately. He stretched me out at the end and we’d blush at things that weren’t necessarily sexual (“Whoa one of your hips is way more flexible than the other, T!”) We grabbed falafel and he invited me to watch a movie.

After we watch all of Beauty Day, I say “Hey 007, what are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking about sex.”
I sit there, blinking. I’m thinking about sex as well but I expected to have to tiptoe around it. “I don’t know how to respond to that.”
“Forget it,”
“No. I just… it’s really soon. But I want to. With you, I mean.”

I am the most awkward person alive.

We put on Adventure Time, and I snuggle closer.

“It’s been a while for me,” he confessed.

I kiss him. We are frenetic. He carries me over to the bed; I’ve forgotten how strong he is. No, I haven’t. I’ve willfully ignored how strong he is until right now. That willful ignorance was the only thing keeping me from losing my mind when I couldn’t touch him for years. I can’t get close enough. It’s exactly as good as I remember, if not better.
“I forgot how…” he starts, panting.
I cut him off with a kiss. “I didn’t.”

The next few hours are a blur. Everything we try works. We fit. We are sweaty and sticky and we’re down for whatever the other suggests.

Every subsequent sleepover date has been just as satisfying… to the point where I get aroused even seeing a new iMessage from him, because an iMessage means he’s thinking about me and wants to know what I’m up to and maybe wants to know what I’m doing later.

The few friends who know are very hesitant, and have expressed concern. I understand why. This whole post (keeping it from our friends; my need to justify it; the GUSHING! all in spite of our past) is a long series of red flags.

But for all the sexual experiences I’ve had since my breakup, ones with 007 are the only ones that don’t feel empty; where the conversation doesn’t suck and the sex is challenging and constantly changing.  Other partners make me feel like we’re only together until something more appropriate comes along, but I have no expectations either way about this.

It’s what I need right now. I don’t need to be loved; I don’t need to be romanced or plied with drinks. I especially don’t need a bunch of men I don’t know sending me dick pics (so no, I will not add you on SnapChat, random Tinder bros). I need a laugh and a handful of volcanic orgasms, but maybe if it keeps going I’m also going to need a way to tell our friends without them freaking out.