How do I squeeze into conventional terms a completely unconventional love. It feels a bit like trying to explain to an orange what it’s like to be a shrimp. Regardless, one important note I’d like to make is that I’ll be using the word “love” in this story differently from its usual application. The love I’ll be talking about is not amorous in nature; it is not fraught with romance, physical attraction, sex, vows, obligations, promises, valentines, commitments or hopes of some future together. It is a different kind of love, irreverent, somewhat indescribable and quite punishing in its end.
I ran into J again years later, completely at random. I was around 23 by then. To my Mother’s extreme jubilation I ventured north for a second date with a plastic surgeon, a Jewish one at that. Following our first lackluster outing conducted in my neck of the woods over a salmon kale salad and a hefty serving of decidedly bad jokes, the doctor invited me to join him on a yacht in his lovely homestead of Santa Barbara. It was a kind of a sailing fete hosted by some of his fancy doctor friends and, if nothing more, it meant for me an exceedingly picturesque drive up the coast. Scantily clad in my nautical best; stripes, shorts and of course top-siders, with Mother cheering at my back, I set out on my adventure into proper maritime society with an optimistic hope of, at the very least, a very merry time.
Two hours later I was almost there, driving into town. A car cruising in the apposite direction caught my attention and I spun my head around trying to get a better look at its driver. Although I barely caught a glance of his profile, instant pangs of nostalgia filled my stomach. I thought I saw J. But what were the odds really? It couldn’t have been him, so I shooed the idea away and moseyed on. A few minutes later, I finally arrived at the designated address, parked, hung my feet out of the car door and, as per my custom, surveyed my surroundings. Once again, my heart jumped, this time, unbelievably and indisputably, J was getting out of a car right across the street from me. I yelled out, he turned his head, our excitement to discover one another in this way was palpable. Laughter, hugs and all around gaiety were quick to follow. Our reunion was rousing but brief as we were both en route to other appointments. I scorned him a bit for falling out of touch, he protested, I gave him my email address and we dispersed, filling the air between us with promises of fast reunion.
From day one I knew in my gut exactly who J was. I knew to dispense with all expectations in regards to him, unless I wanted my heart broken and scattered in his wake, along with all the others. I knew this because he was to me what I had on plenty of occasions been to others. He was aloof and inconstant and there was a part of him that few, if anyone, could reach; a kind of karmic taste of my own medicine. Years ago I had taken the necessary, conscious steps of steeling myself against him. Although I wasn’t completely successful at wrangling my attachment, I did manage to will my heart into a formidable check, so his departure didn’t much affect me then. Now i had to once again remind myself, that although he could mean everything to me on one day, he would as easily be gone the next. This had already been lightly confirmed by our history. Furthermore, I had to consider that despite the numerous, excited promises made on that sidewalk, I wouldn’t hear from him again.
But I did, I heard from him right away. Here is an excerpt from that email, it is the only correspondence of ours that I was able to find, luckily it’s just right. It set the tone for J & M version 2.0, our ill fated reboot.
“I’m living in LA and YOU are officially my only friend there— this entails for you a number of abject responsibilities, like hanging out with me regularly and pretending to adore me. My old email address got overrun with vaguely pornographic adverts re: enlarging the penis, shrinking the dating pool, so I abandoned it years ago– guess I threw the M out with the bathwater. I traveled, then I went to Berkeley, then I lived in San Francisco and worked as the definitively MALE host at a transgender restaurant/bar, spent my time preening and flirting and being pretty obnoxious I suppose, indulging in different forms of wickedness… this stint eventuated in something crisis-like and I left the bar and city and scampered back to Father in the Pacific Palisades to be an innocuous, aerobically inclined non-smoker who doesn’t pay rent and eats well… I work for dad flexibly as a verbally adept pseudo-para-paralegal with almost no responsibilities and vast groves of free time. I have been reading more than writing but always with a view to writing– I’m going to take some writing classes at our paltry Santa Monican Alma-Mater this summer, one in fiction, one poetry workshop. In the Fall I’ll apply to PhD programs in literature and, depending on my productivity this summer, maybe MFA programs. Most importantly, I’m in L.A. indefinitely and you simply must be my friend– I’ve missed you (you who stands out from and over a boggled vastness of less resonant memories and persons from my earliest twenties). Anyways, i have to insist that less time separate our last meeting from our next, less time than our custom would have it– if you’re exceedingly busy, too busy for idle socializing, I’ll commission some tennis lessons. Warmly, moi ”
The quickest way to a lonely girl’s heart is through a perfectly crafted sentence that tells her how significant and singularly special she is, how she is not to be forgotten. This knowledge is not to be misused, as lonely girls are an endangered species, and playing with their surprisingly squishy hearts is not only ill advised but also strictly against regulation. To be fair though, no heart should be played with, as most are quite breakable and none, in fact, are toys.
J and I met that very night for coffee, the fire flickered from its artificial coffee house pit, words swam in streams, more fervent than before; we had both grown some and not at all. It was as if no time had passed between us, and once again, against my better judgment, I found myself teetering dangerously close to his edge.