I apologize if I’m too scattered. I tried to be elegant here, but I could no longer avoid ambiguity and sometimes declarations need to be made known.
It’s easy to say that whenever I was made fun of growing up, sometimes mercilessly, that I would have learned to never capitulate or compromise myself for anyone.
I hadn’t. Well, at least until my mid 20s. Before turning 28, I’ve planned and taken five trips around the world alone, successfully satcheled professionalism on my back and have become a visible presence for a human rights organization that has wholly changed my worldview on nearly everything. In the midst of finding my confidence through these things — and it was definitely there — I’ve found some of the most nurturing friendships and relationships I’ve felt honored to be a part of.
But not a romantic, long-term relationship.
Maybe it’s because I don’t understand gay men. No really, I don’t. I tend to visit the gay bars here in Louisville intermittently, and only feel most comfortable dancing when I do go with friends, if not to avoid small talk or buying expensive cocktails. I’m not a fan of anal sex, even though I’ve purchased dildos and a starter kit for practice. I’ve also learned that I adore masculinity in its essence, despite my primary attraction to the lure of cisgender men. Queer has seemed to fit for the past two years, along with the attitude of being polyamorous that I’ve now fully embraced.
In the midst of figuring out these tangled fibers of my identity, I’ve been on quite a few dates. And some of them have been bad. Out of respect for anyone reading this, not every guy I’ve met has been a turd. And I have never tried to mislead anyone, although I may have adopted turdy behavior myself from past experiences, mostly out of fear of telling people that I wasn’t really interested or hurting them.
I guess this post really starts seven years ago. I met a boy from my online diary at the time (the irony is crystal, here!). We discovered we both liked cartoons and soon began to really like each other. I went to New York one day. I called him, several times. He answered once, but never again that morning. I was kind of sad. We finally met two years later, but the following two years after that, I called to tell him I was in New York again. This time he never answered. I walked alone in the rain through Manhattan, listening to his voicemail message and eventually getting through but having him hang up on me. But in both instances, I had always let it go every time.
This pattern of indifference continued because I’m generally too laid back; reaching the point of outrage is a rarity for me. Which is maybe why I’ve overlooked tragic dating experiences, most of which were spurred through websites or phone apps. Some of the worst, and I mean the very worst, include meeting a guy at a shitty bar and drinking shitty beer with him and his friends, which led to me spilling aformentioned shitty beer on him due to my own awkwardness. Then there are the guys I’ve met at coffeeshops who enjoy talking so much that they conveniently talk over my questions, yet at the same time astonish me by how they never seem to take a sip of their coffee the entire time. And I certainly won’t forget the one that lied about his age by 20 years, or the others who casually lie about how masculine they are, or the one that “joked” he was going to punch me because I didn’t think he was funny, right before he mentioned that he had went to jail for roughing up his ex-boyfriend. There were also four dates with a gay Mormon, which included a reductive hour-long conversation in his car about how homosexuality is morally unnatural that I won’t get into, because it will make your head hurt, too.
When I came home from Seoul and Tokyo this September, it bolded the thirst for adventure that I’ve always had; my delight in the world was once again renewed and I realized the immensity of the human experience, finding wholeness in a way. But I also realized that this jewel was something that belonged to me specifically; it wasn’t really necessary for me to explain how incredible any of my experiences were, to anyone. I’m notoriously bad at telling stories in general and let my photos and videos speak for themselves, but I didn’t really feel the need to validate or prove this. In lieu of meeting men, this notion echoed quietly until it crescendoed into a scream after another notorious date. The threshold to my own greater liberation and discovery was further cracked.
In this newfound freedom, l hope to strive for adventure in every sense of its meaning. I want to seek the joy that exists in the absence of capitulation and through interests that celebrate and define who I am. And the same goes with dating. Reliability is necessary, but exhiliration what I’m after. If he can only talk about how pitiful his friends are or how much pot he smoked last night, then I’ll gladly submit my pink slip and wish him well on his way. If he’s has a history of talking about his troublesome ex and answers his phone when s(he) calls, I’ll simply delete his number on mine and save him the trouble. And if he’s insistent on spotlighting his own fabulously flawed self, well. We all have to win at something, right?
Maybe “winning” is the wrong idea and the idea of relationships to begin with are surrounded by myths, doomed to impracticality and failure. I’m really not sure. Maybe satisfaction in the belief that there is nothing to be won by being with someone, and that the wonderment in celebrating one’s passions, and at the core, one’s being, is no greater than that found in being with someone, but complementary instead. Whatever the case, I will happily accept that as a prize.