AMBER LOVE 04-APRIL-2014 A few years ago I was living in Pittsburgh where I thought a classic midlife crisis would solve all my problems. Left my husband, my own condo, my family and any remnants of part-time employment I had been scraping together at that time for income. Before I left New Jersey, my mother and I always shared books. She gave me her copy of EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert which I never read. I don’t know why I didn’t take the time for it because I enjoyed Gilbert’s TED Talk and have often found myself looking up quotes by her on GoodReads.com.
I’m still processing heartbreak of the past year. I’m beginning to think that my brief moments of romantic happiness were a cosmic joke and I’m merely carbon based entertainment for a bored god. I bet if I put all the tweets about my love life together, I’d have a one-hour special on Comedy Central.
“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
I wondered why my mother thought a book about a woman’s journey for romance, joy or self discovery would be a good idea for me to read when I’ve racked up more nervous breakdowns than a young Hollywood starlette. I was afraid to read about how a woman had problems being satisfied with life because my assumption is that by the end of the book, the protagonist finds her happily ever after. I have no idea if that’s how the book really ends but I don’t think I want to read about it.
I’ve been through the audio books of Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch. Currently I’m halfway through Ophira Eisenberg’s SCREW EVERYONE: SLEEPING MY WAY TO MONOGAMY, her memoir as a carefree Canadian comedian that moves from city to city looking for romantic satisfaction. Each book has had something in it relatable. Since I have failed at my storybook ending, I don’t know if I can take something as critically praised as EAT, PRAY, LOVE and stomach it.
Each of these women took life by the balls. When they wanted something to change, they took action to follow what they thought would be their path to a quality life. That’s pretty much what I did as I was sobbing during the six hours from New Jersey to Pittsburgh to start a brand new life. Less than a year later, the only thing that had changed was that I had reversed my GPS and was officially divorced. I tried. I took life by the balls and hoped for the best. I was close to being homeless after I used up what had been a lovely retirement fund and called my parents to come get me, my cat and my stuff so I could move back in with them just as I had done before. I had tried and failed at being an adult independent woman. The economy of Pittsburgh is utter shit, by the way. Don’t ever move there thinking a bigger city would have job opportunities. If you aren’t marrying a famous athlete, don’t move there.
What bothers me to my core now that I’m in my 40s is that I’ve repeated the same patterns as when I was in my 20s. I don’t know if Elizabeth Gilbert had this problem. The only men that I hit it off with end up being married/committed. All of them sputter the same lines: “Things at home aren’t good.” “You’re so easy to talk to.” “I have this amazing connection to you I can’t explain.” And my personal favorites: “I’ll be here for you” and “You deserve better because you’re so special.” Such bullshit. There have only been two in legitimate open marriages who were actually friends with benefits and no further expectations. The fact that those affairs were the easy ones speaks volumes.
“When a man takes a mistress, he doesn’t turn around and divorce his wife.”― Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
I fill a specific role for these other men, mainly it’s their egos. They want a fantasy that turns them on so they can go home and fuck their wives thinking their promises to me are harmless. Good for them and their wives! Thanks for fucking with my heart. Really, it’s okay. Not like I was using it or anything.
When people claim there are plenty of single men out there, especially in the comic book scene, that may be demographically true but that has no bearing on whether I find them the right people to date. My romantic prospects can only be compared to feeling like a straight man in a lesbian bar. I can watch other people have love lives. I had actually found interest in a single man at a convention last year but he lives halfway around the world – the exact opposite coast which isn’t really doable as far as dating goes. And the same exact problem for a friend in the midwest that I’d be interested in escalating to something else but it’s not like New Jersey is any kind of capital for comics people to visit. A half a day’s drive is a burden; saving up for a year to pay for flights just to date is unthinkable. No. I can’t even imagine attempting it which doesn’t even address the fact that I doubt either would be interested.
On Wednesday, I had just descended the stairs in the morning to go through my workday routine of packing lunch, getting coffee, and sitting for 15-20 minutes to watch the news with my mother. I guess the disappointment of the previous night’s conversation with a man was showing on my face. I’m in that “I don’t know what the hell this is but he’s making me feel like it’s over” status of a relationship yet again. In case you were wondering, Facebook doesn’t have that as an option for profiles. I had been making plans to attend a comic con with this latest paramour and when I asked him to confirm our plans, I was told, “oh yeah, I’m not going.” Hey, thanks, now that I’ve put in vacation days for it, two weeks ago you said yes and I haven’t seen you since December.
I was telling my mother all this and said I might just take off for Chicago’s C2E2 comic convention which would mean I’d only have request my days off be switched instead of canceled completely. I don’t care about the show at all. I just want to go see my friend and have some drinks.
I was dumbfounded when my mother asked how much it would be to for “us” to go to San Diego for Comic Con instead; I explained it’s around three grand to go and she was shocked. Besides, my mother is phobic of airplanes. She’s never been on one but has said in the last couple years that she’d consider trying it out. I wasn’t even going to try and explain the hotel lottery and sold out pass situation. Regardless, San Diego isn’t going to happen. I think she was hoping to cheer me up instead of remind me that I’m too poor to travel.
But after totalling all the basics for C2E2 like hotel, flight and comic con badge, I was ready to burst into tears. I can’t spend more than two weeks pay for a weekend getaway unless I’m terminally ill. I’m heartbroken these days but I’m not about to add financial irresponsibility to my list of attempted cures. Maybe a hundred bucks in retail therapy and getting drunk at home is about as far as I’m willing to go. So Chicago isn’t going to happen either.
What happens if I meet someone into comics from New York City six months from now during comic con? A whole lot of nothing actually. I hate NYC. It’s difficult to get there from where I Iive and expensive to cross the bridges and tunnels. If someone was that close, I’d want to see him all the time which would be exhausting to my body, mind and bank account. My daily commute to my job is already unbearable. NYC is not in my spectrum of geographic possibilities. That’s also why some dating sites are absurd. I tried a couple. I put in my zip code and one of the sites only returned NYC profiles. I’m two hours from there. Also, I won’t accept anything near the Jersey Shore because that’s a traffic hell of its own Inferno level.
In the happier scheme of things, I don’t mind driving two hours to date someone as long as it’s not to the east of where I live. Two hours could mean into New York State, Philadelphia, or south Jersey. I think if I pushed it to three hours that opens up Maryland and Delaware. Considering that Maryland seems to be a recent check on my dating failures, I’m none too anxious to try that again.
I’ve attempted long distance as far as Ohio and speaking of that epic disaster, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to him and his wife that I didn’t know about until we were “friends” and “soul mates” for years and the step-daughter he insisted he didn’t have even when he was telling me he needed “space.” I should send them a nice fruit basket.
I guess it’s far easier to be clandestine and hide important details like being married and having kids when it’s long distance and your girlfriend can’t come over and accidentally leave behind a bra that could be found later. If you do gain access to a man’s home and perhaps the wife you don’t know about is out of town, open all the closets to look at the clothes and look for maxipads and tampons because there’s no way he can weasel out of that even though a real douchey guy would try to say they belonged to an ex and he didn’t know she left those behind.
Seriously, if they are liars, people will lie about anything and these experiences of the last two years have proven to me that some of them are sick enough to believe their own bullshit.
Why are you wearing a wedding ring? “Oh that’s just a cover. I’m really divorced and haven’t taken it off.”
Why are you keeping a married Facebook status? “Oh that’s because this one girl wouldn’t leave me alone so I changed to married to keep her away. She’s a stalker.”
Why are people asking about how your daughter is doing? “Oh that’s because I brought a student with me once and I had to say she was my daughter.”
From the bottom of my cold blackened heart – I WANT to believe these lines. All of them. I want to believe there is something so special about me that a man tears down these emotionally mortared walls inside his own heart and wants to share his life with me. The problem is, I have never been right. My gut was right. My heart was always wrong. I’m a fucking idiot that fell in love – again.
I did believe in my own particular version of soul mates. I don’t think there’s only one out there for each person but I do strongly believe specific people are meant to connect and add to each other’s lives.
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
After being called a soul mate a couple of times and having them both amalgamate into the tarball of heartbreak I have, I don’t know if those words can ever be trusted again. It’s been used with such cliche abuse to play me.
I have this crazy party girl reputation I find so hilarious. I have only left my house to go to work, the gym, and I think two trips to a clothing store in the last four months. I got rather good and drunk at the last steampunk event I attended where there was absinthe and I didn’t so much as get kissed by the gorgeously pale Josh Groban clone I was at one point straddling. So in the last six months I have been physically intimate with one person, a new romantic interest. ONE. But… I’m just a party girl that won’t settle down according to my reputation. Too bad because I was ready if he would have taken the time to listen to me.
In these four months of stagnation and winter apocalypse, all I had was time to think. I reflected on my failed marriages and relationships. I did a lot of thinking about my mental health. I thought about my childless freedom compared to the lifetime of caring for another human being. I thought about my own goals in life for a family and a career. I was suicidal way more often than I care to admit. I felt so deeply alone and like such a complete failure at everything.
If I needed to grab life by the balls like I did years ago when I left for Pittsburgh, I thought maybe I needed to do that again. If things aren’t the way I want them to be, it should be up to me to take that first step, right? Well, not really. Not when my first, second, third and a dozen steps are me telling this guy I need to see him in person to have a conversation only to be rejected. I wasn’t even completely denied. It was worse. I was promised it’ll happen each time and it never did. Dates on the calendar would come and go. Weeks and months passed by. No date just to talk about what my feelings are.
That makes me think maybe the Universe is telling me that I was completely wrong in thinking I should settle down. Maybe I’m meant to be that untamed wild carefree party girl people believe I am. Or maybe the Universe is telling me that I’m not worthy of anyone’s real love, affection, compassion or attention and I am simply using up vital oxygen and resources that could be better spent on a more productive member of society.
Instead of EAT, PRAY, LOVE my memoir should be LOVE, LOSE, EAT.