Monday, June 04, 2007

Settling Down

Walking down the street, walking dog Milo, in Montreal, last Monday, Shelley said "I feel all asunder."

"Asunder?" I repeated.

"Well, maybe not asunder."


"I was thinking akimbo, but that's not right either. I mean an a-word, but I don't know which one."

We didn't come up with an answer.

Walking down the street, in Ottawa, on Thursday, in front of Dundonald park, I thought "I feel all asunder." Because even though it's not the right word, it's the perfect word.

In the weeks leading up to Shelley and Steve's departure, I did not think about them leaving. We talked about the details of it, but I was very good at pretending it was happening to people who were not the backbone of my social life here.

I managed to do that until very late in the game. There were a few tears when we said goodbye in Montreal, and I kept it together for the car ride back. And most of the day. But I felt increasingly off my game for the rest of the week. Friday, our yoga day, I was a fucking wreck. Sitting at my computer randomly crying.

When I am off my game: I am teary, I am irritable. I say fuck a lot, generally in situations that don't call for it and normally would not provoke that reaction from me. I am oversensitive. To everything.

Like relationship stuff.

For me, in the first few months of a relationship, I can hardly believe the other person exists.

How can you be so amazing? You're *perfect*! It's not possible that you could have always been this amazing and lived two blocks away from me and not been in my life. You must not have existed before I met you! But wait, that must mean that when you're not with me, you don't exist! You must be a figment of my mind! Sad! Sad! But wait! Now you're here! It's the best present ever! That's right I remember! You're amazing! And you're looking at me like *I'm* amazing! And that makes me like you more! And it makes me want to put my hands in your pants! And my mouth on your stuff! Right now! All the time!

And it feels like that feeling will last forever. Forever, however, seems to last about about 4 months.

That high is just not sustainable. Not for me anyway, not for anyone I know or have talked to. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of time, and eventually, you come to realize that the person you have fallen in love with is either 1) someone you are not actually in love with, or have any business building a long-term thing with or 2) someone who is indeed incredible and someone with whom you should build a long-term thing, but is also not a figment of your imagination.

Both have upsides and downsides. In Scenario 1, it's better to realize at four months than four years that you're not suited to the person that you're fucking. Sad that it didn't work out yet again, and it doesn't feel good, but them's the breaks.

In Scenario 2, it's amazing that you have found someone who is actual and smart and funny and nice and hot in the sack and who makes you smile when you think of them. But now that you really like them, what if they leave you. What if they don't feel the same way? What if you like them more than they like you? What if, in 3 and a half years, you're on the phone to your friend, wailing "When do I get to matter?", and knowing that she's thinking, and rightly, "When you dump him."

You take a bet that you've learned from your mistakes and that this time you've fallen for someone to whom you do matter. That you've raised your standards and thus attracted someone who can meet them. But you can lose a bet. And that is a scary proposition.

My four month-iversary with Eric fell in the same week that Shelley left. It felt like karma. That's a lot of change to two very significant relationships.

In both cases, I don't have real fears that I will lose either of them. If I stop and do some three-part breath I can hear a calm sure voice saying "Yes, they're there."

Overtop of that, though, my lizard brain has been skittering about saying things like "He didn't email you right back, he's getting bored of you," and "You're going to lose her in Halifax, she'll be too busy," and blah blah blah. Skittering scared. In the end, my lizard brain was just coming up with new ways to voice that universal keen: "What if nobody loves me?"

Luckily, both Shelley and Eric are kind, lovely, loving people. I was able to say that I was scared to both of them and they both were very quick to reassure me and my asundered akimbo lizard brain that settling down is not the same as settling and not all change is bad and sometimes, when you make your bets smart, you win.


Amanda said...

it's wonderful when you can be honest with the people you care about and they accept you and all the times you use the word fuck.

i think this feeling of x can't be real is common. i know charles and i went thru that at the beginning of our relationship too. i kept memorising every moment for fear it was all a dream.

i wish you and eric the best. sending good vibes your way. looking forward to hearing you (and seeing you!) at westfest.

shelleyt said...

it was asunder, or i was asunder and still am..