Many people I know complain that laziness and complacency are their enemies. “I’d get so much more done if I didn’t want to stay home and watch TV”, “I know I should try to cook more, but it’s way easier to order a pizza”, “I went to work today and still didn’t get anything done.” I can absolutely understand this feeling, but I have identified that my enemy in life isn’t being lazy or getting too comfortable with routine.

I come equipped with a built-in sense of restlessness that is rarely ever focused or satisfied. The Zen folks who talk about “Living in the moment” may quit, trying to teach me the art of being “present”. Wherever I am, I’m so often really excited about wherever I’m planning to be NEXT, while also enjoying where I am NOW.

I don’t neglect doing work because I am lazy and would rather do nothing (most of the time.) I neglect work because when I start on one project, my mind wanders, and I end up somewhere else mentally…and I would rather be anywhere but where I am, doing anything other than what I am meant to be doing. I have 70 billion ideas rolling around, and some days, if I try to focus on one, the noise of all the others makes it impossible.

It isn’t only work that is affected by restlessness. On Friday, I had a rare day with no plans, and was feeling tired, so The Guy I Am Currently Dating came over and we were just going to “hang out”. By 10 PM, I was a little bored and wondering what to do with what seemed like endless hours of free time. I have always felt guilty in my various long-term relationships, because somewhere in the back of my head, this seed was planted that “If people are really right together, they’re happy doing nothing.”. I’m a horrible person with whom to be in a relationship. After 15-20 minutes of cuddling, if we’re not doing something or talking, I start thinking about everything else in the world. I start wondering at what point it becomes not rude to want to get up. Sometimes, when I’m considering this problem, I just fall asleep.

I’ve suffered from this problem of “restlessness” ever since I was a kid. I was the one who, three days into summer vacation, was tired of “relaxing”. I was the one who’d insist on seeing and doing everything possible on family vacations, who never wanted to sit still. I drove my mother insane, because she’d happily sit on the beach watching the ocean for an hour, or chill out on a patio to “people watch”. After 20 minutes, I was over it. I wasn’t interested in watching life, I was interested in experiencing it…and when there was nothing to experience, I’d retreat into a world of imaginations. Books, television, theatre, dance—pretty much any form of self-expression and experiencing another person’s story appealed to me, when I couldn’t experience my own.

It is something I thought I’d eventually grow out of, but I haven’t. The odd thing is, I’m not a type-A person by nature. However, there are wheels in my mind that are constantly spinning. The only times this doesn’t happen are the moments when I am really 100% consumed by whatever I am doing, either creatively or activity-wise, or when I am sick and/or tired out to the point of exhaustion.

One of the largest struggles I’ve faced with being ill off and on during the past two years is that I still have the mental and spiritual energy of a teenager. Unfortunately, I do not have a body that will keep up with that. I’ve learned to make the most of things by doing everything I can do to enjoy life during the “good times”, and when the “bad times” hit, when simply riding in the car will trigger a panic attack or I can’t go out with friends without wanting to collapse, it is hard for me. Because, even when I feel at my worst, part of me just wants to break out of whatever is keeping me trapped and *GO*. “Bad times” are often accompanied by very childish outbursts of self-pity and bouts of tears, because I find it heartbreakingly unfair that I don’t feel in control of my life, and that there is no outlet for my restlessness.

It has been suggested to me throughout my life that I suffer from some form of ADD or ADHD, although this doesn’t seem to be the case (my mother took me to be tested as a kid, and I had a neurologist discuss it with me as an adult.) I am actually capable of intensely focusing on things for hours, and grow irritated quickly at any interruption. However, it is often the case that my brain is so overwhelmed by daydreams and things I’d like to do and things I *should* do and all these things that want to be expressed all at once, that I end up doing nothing at all. It’s almost as if I try to ignore the chaos, because it is too hard to organize it.

I have always wanted to live a life “bigger” than my own. I have always had this incredible need for memorable experience, as often as possible, in the way that only someone who has a strong awareness of the inevitability of mortality early in life develops. I am often panicked by the idea of death, not because death in itself might be the most frightening experience in the world, but because I don’t want to run out of time. There is so much world, and so many experiences, and so many people….and such a small amount of time. Especially as you grow older, or start struggling with health, this becomes so much more obvious.

I once had an ex-boyfriend tell me, when he was tired of me looking morose and bored because he was so busy working that we couldn’t go out and do anything, that only boring people were bored in life, because there was so much fascinating about life. For me, the most fascinating thing about the world was being a part of it, interacting with people, going new places, having new experiences, forming new relationships. This ex, who grew up as a very self-sufficient, responsible introvert, could not understand why I was frustrated to the point of tears at being told that my restlessness should be contained and directed towards solitary, intellectual, and creative pursuits. I grew terribly unhappy (and consequently, became a very difficult person with whom to spend time.) because I found it couldn’t. The more my restlessness was constrained, the more it took over everything; I would feel frustrated with and hate everyone and everything.

A decade later, I’m still battling demons having to do with restlessness. The work I do is monotonous, repetitious, and easy. There is no reason I should not be incredibly productive, other than I find myself staring at the computer screen, thinking of other times in my life, other places, other people, other dreams. I have never learned how to enjoy the mundane, or at least, to tolerate it. I’ve read anecdotes about many creative people working in extremely dull, tedious jobs because the nature of a repetitive job helped boost creativity or clarify highly intellectual problems. This is not me. My mind seems to take any opportunity to escape, mentally, if not physically.

The worst thing is when I have all the time in the world and someone asks what I want to do, and I just don’t know. All the answers are unrealistic. I want to do something different, exciting, something that engages body, mind, and spirit 100%. I want to do something I’ve never done before. I want to meet someone who may turn my life upside down. I want to experience really powerful emotions as often as possible. I want to be not here, because I’ve grown tired of here for now, but I’ll probably want to come back in a little while. The kind of life I want requires a lot of money, a lot of robust health and energy, and plenty of willing partners-in-crime. I lack all of the above.

I have packed a LOT of life experience, positive and negative, into the first part of my life. I always thought by now, I’d be happy with the simple things, appreciate living a calm and quiet life, see the value in “alone time”.

Nope. I’m still ready to go. But I know that the $1.25 in my pocket won’t get me terribly far, and at some point, I’ll have to take my medication and want a nap.

It is, indeed, a conundrum. I wonder at what point restlessness will turn into internal stillness and peace. People told me that once I turned 30, a shift would happen, and I’d desire this more. It was true, for about two years.

Now I’m ready to do things, experience things, feel things, affect the lives of others, explore new places, and generally turn the world upside down with the force of being that is Hurricane Alayna. I am ready for more dopamine and all that good stuff. I like when my somewhat fragile body is lying in an exhausted heap, but on the inside, I still want to “go go go”, because it reminds me I am not dead yet. *laughs*

I think I’d rather be lazy and complacent than waking up thinking, “What cool experiences are we going to have today?”…because the answer is usually, “We only do things on Friday, and today is Monday.” :P

On some level, I never stopped being 23. I just drink a little less, my life is much less complicated, and sadly, make less money. My spirit, however, is as inexhaustible as ever. I just wish it wanted to write about lawyers and plastic surgeons on a regular basis. :P

I don’t often cross-post things I announce on my Facebook wall on this blog, or vice versa. I mean, really, since I have mostly the same group of friends, and I don’t need strangers with Google to know what I ate for lunch or where I’m going clubbing on Friday, what’s the point?

However, this piece by Charles Warnke, entitled You Should Date An Illiterate Girl, appealed to me so much, thought everyone should read it.

I absolutely love this piece. Not only does it indulge my overly romantic, manic pixie side by making me feel a bit more appreciated for those sometimes annoying qualities, it makes a statement about the utterly boring, uninspired, conformist culture in which we’re all encouraged to participate.

If you are a guy who is, or was, involved in my life in any way, you will love this. If you are a girl who has read a book, you will love this. If you are a guy who is dating a girl who has read a book, you will love this. If you are unconventional, idealistic, and not willing to settle for the generic ennui of life, you will love this.

Read on.


“When it comes to friendship, some people value quantity over quality. I’m not into that. I know and speak to a lot of people, sure, and I value those relationships, but if we’re able to move past the small-talk phase and really become friends, it lasts forever. That is so much more valuable to me than knowing 1000 people in every area code. I love that when I see my friends, we pick up right where we left off. Deep, reflective friendships infused with magic and positivity: that’s what I cherish.

I used to go out every night, but the older I get, the less I want to do that. For a few years, I’ve regarded this change as a kind of flaw — like I “should” be going out all the time, flitting around, being super-social. But that’s not who I am anymore, and I would rather see a couple of people a week — and have a truly meaningful interaction with them — than have the same conversation a million times a night. Of course, I love to go out and meet new people, but it feels like less of a “need” these days. I’m working on accepting that, and learning that that’s okay.”— Gala Darling

In addition to being bloggers and city-loving chicks who march to the beat of a slightly different drummer (perhaps with a 1980′s goth track to go along with the drummer, Gala and I share a number of things as people. We’re the same Meyers-Briggs type. We share an Enneagram number. We even have compatible astrological signs. We both struggle with a number of the same issues, have some of the same stories to tell about our earlier years, and know a number of the same people. So, when she happens to express something that’s close to precisely how I’m feeling about my life, there’s this moment of synchronicity that says: Oh yeah. That. There’s another slightly crazy human being out there who thinks the same way I do most of the time, but in this instance, said it better.

For those who don’t know, in addition to being a freelance writer and blogger, I run a social group in the Atlanta area. Prior to that, I was on the “board of directors” (and I use that term loosely, because there was absolutely no “direction”) of another social group, which unceremoniously kicked me out due to the generally scandalous nature of my life and the uninhibited adventures that will probably ensue if you know me well enough. Of course, the truth is, there happened to be a few people who didn’t like me very much, and it took them a long time to get rid of me. They had to try REALLY hard. :P So, in the spirit of “I have little respect for any club that would have me as a member”, when a friend I met via that group called me to ask me to take over his social group, I pretty much laughed in his face. Well, I laughed at his phone, but he got the idea. Why in the world would I put myself through that nonsense again?

It turned out to be the best thing that ever could have happened, when he finally talked me into it. It was really kind of a swap; I lived in his apartment, which meant I moved out of my ex’s apartment, until his lease was up. In return, his group was in good hands. I made not only new friends, but people who have been through stuff with me for the past 6 years. I met two roommates, a few romantic entanglements, some really wonderful friends, and the Guy I Am Currently Dating. Saying “yes” to doing something I’d just done and failed at so miserably that it destroyed any sense of peace and stability in life actually helped me rebuild my life at its lowest point, which is quite ironic. (I think. I’m never sure what’s REALLY ironic. Thanks, Alanis.)

In the almost 6 years I’ve run the group, I’ve planned over 300 events for members, and many, many more for my circle of friends. Something that started out with 350 members now has over 1800 members. Couples have met, moved in together, gotten married. It’s been a relatively good thing.

Yet, sometimes, it’s exhausting and I feel like I am simply too old for being in charge of entertaining strangers. Other times, I feel ill-equipped to run a social group; I’m not terribly organized, I’m not always social, I speak my mind in a way that isn’t what one thinks of as “proper”, and, let’s be honest, I’m an extrovert who isn’t always terribly fond of people. I have literally thousands of acquaintances, but I’m very choosy about my friends. Out of every 100 people I meet, I’ll find one with whom I really connect and will build a strong friendship.

Maybe it’s because I’m not out there looking to get drunk and hook up, two of the major past-times in any social group. I left all that craziness behind years ago, probably due to this process I like to call “growing up”. Unfortunately, when I see people who haven’t completed that process (and from what I observe, the process may start all over again once you hit 45.), I’ve found I grow more and more impatient. People that others are amused by based on charm and style have suddenly become those I want to strangle, and be like “Why aren’t you a substantial and intelligent person? And if you are, why don’t you show it?” Back in the day, those were the people I’d date. You can make up for a lack of any personal attribute with charisma, and I know that as well as anyone, so it annoys me that I am the person who now sees through that veneer. People have become more transparent to me over the past few years, and I’ve become remarkably less willing to spend time with someone not really out there looking to connect in any sort of meaningful way.

I used to be a bit of a snob, or as an old friend put it back in the day, “aloof”. It’s an odd quality for an extroverted personality, but the truth is, I read people well enough most of the time to know that I don’t want to know everyone. I want to create an atmosphere where other people will get to know those who are right for them, but I don’t have interest in being everyone’s new best friend. I don’t go to events seeking new kindred spirits, lifelong friends, or romantic connections. I never really have. I’m just me, and if I find that, I do. If I don’t, it’s not going to ruin my enjoyment of life.

These days, my impatience with people who come across in a way that’s obnoxious, creepy, or designed to be charming but is transparently fake kind of makes me a bitch. It’s not the best asset in a person who is supposed to radiate love and joy and that crap at all times.

It’s also become more difficult for me to hide my emotions, and keep the pieces of myself that aren’t all that loveable or appropriate for basic social interaction hidden. For instance, yesterday, I was upset because my telephone broke. The Guy I Am Currently Dating came over with a replacement, and I asked if we could do the phone thing later because the process of getting ready to go out and coordinate a large event is stressful enough for someone dealing with anxiety. He said that I didn’t have to do anything, because he would look at it. It turns out, my phone broke because I misunderstood the ambiguous instructions on the battery and damaged it, and was a complete idiot. Then, to add to my stress, he got mad and yelled at me because I was not apologetic about breaking the battery and it “didn’t seem like I cared”. A huge argument ensued, where for the 50th time, I had an emotional breakdown about dating someone who seems to expect a different way of dealing with the world and higher level of perfectionism than I can handle.

I was sobbing, and couldn’t talk, and trying not to ruin my makeup…but I didn’t want to host an event for strangers. I didn’t want to have to put on a smile and make small talk about life and be the cheerful hostess. I would have been a lousy 1950′s housewife. So often, I have to totally get rid of any evidence that I can’t handle my life and have been known to spend hours in bed wishing myself out of existence. And then there’s always one person in the group who doesn’t like me because I’m loud or snarky or not always perky and happy, or writes a bad review because the event was boring, the venue sucked, or there weren’t any good-looking single people in attendance. (totally not my responsibility.) It’s often a reminder, again, of all the ways I am just not good enough, no matter how hard I try.

Sometimes, I think of that old song with the lyrics, “Smile, though your heart is aching; smile, even though it’s breaking.”

And then there’s the matter of the pictures. I take a lot of pictures, and I share them with the world, because, one day, I will be a cold dead corpse somewhere and I’d like people to remember the lively version of me. I don’t take photos out of vanity, and I don’t use them to present a certain “image”. I actually get quite frustrated with people who say “Can you not publish this because I look bad?” and “Can you not publish this because so-and-so might see it?” and “This picture makes me feel like if others see it I’ll be judged”. I feel like I’m living in a world where I’m the only one out there who didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. I don’t care if people see me drinking, doing something embarrassing, hanging out somewhere, or looking like an idiot. Those are all aspects of me, things I’ve done, and I’m generally ashamed of very little. I don’t care if I look unattractive, or I’m posing with a whip or dancing in a cage. I’ve sent pictures of me dancing in a cage in a see-through top to my mother. She thought I looked cute. :P

Today, I got a very abrupt message from a friend that said “Hi. Some of the pictures you’re posting do not belong on Facebook.”

In my opinion, my life belongs on Facebook, so when someone sends me a judgement, it immediately makes me angry. However, I very nicely replied that if she had issues with any photos, she could politely ask me to remove them. One person’s judgment regarding what I post may be different from mine, and I can’t help but feel it’s certainly not appropriate to judge my actions by your standards. I judge my actions by my standards. (and there was nothing even slightly offensive on there. I actually removed a lot of photos that didn’t seem the most appropriate thing to post, in my opinion, and edited others.) She did then ask, and I removed them, but really….at this point, I’m just exhausted.

I spend so much time trying to make other people happy, and it is (excuse the undignified language) NEVER FUCKING GOOD ENOUGH. There is always someone unhappy with me, all the time, despite the fact I spend a lot of my time investing in other people. There’s always some imperfection, something wrong with me and how I see the world that’s worthy of criticism.

So, I get it. I suck. I will never be good enough for most people, most of the time. That’s why I will probably die single and alone, and never, ever get romantically attached to a person who genuinely loves me, sees a future with me, is compatible with me, and can avoid lying/cheating/being a douchebag all at the same time. That’s why I don’t have many friends, I just know a lot of people.

And that’s why, most of the time, it’s easier and less emotionally exhausting just to stay home. I don’t make myself feel badly about being me, I’m perfectly comfortable with my blunt and open lifestyle, I don’t make racist or misogynistic comments, I don’t think I’m a sucky person to date, I don’t beat myself up when I make mistakes or wonder why I’m just that damned stupid, and I don’t go through phases where other people and things cause me to become emotionally and practically unavailable to myself. In addition, I find myself somewhat attractive, even if I’m old and fat and boring. I like all the same TV shows and bands as myself, and find myself to be an entertaining drinking companion.

So, yes, as Gala noted on her blog, the older I get, the less I feel like going out or dealing with people. Because, no matter what you do, people only seem to notice all the ways in which you’re not perfect or even likeable…and for someone to whom that’s quite important, handling that can be difficult. Feeling underappreciated and misunderstood is hard.

Fortunately, I get me, and I have a ton of books and TV shows I like. This must be what makes people want to become introverts.

When it’s just you that you need to worry about making happy, being perfect isn’t quite so necessary.

I have spent so much of my life being the auxiliary piece to the lives of other people, I sometimes don’t really know what it’s like to feel loved and valued and as if I’ve ever been the priority in another person’s life. Perhaps I have been a priority, of course, but I’ve never been the first priority.

Growing up, I was incidental and feelings were highly discouraged. I was loved and praised for achievement by a mother who was proud of what I had to offer, what made me special, rather than what I was—which was nothing terribly special in the grand scheme of things. At a very early age, I learned my father had wished I’d never been born, as a devoted narcissist can’t stand the sacrifice of self that comes with having children, much less a child that learned at a very early age to steal the spotlight.

As I matured and set out into the world on my own, I always had no shortage of lovers, of relationships and flings and other amusements. Almost every single person I ended up with was either completely unsuitable for me, or broadcast vibes loud enough for everyone on Earth to hear. Universally, they seemed to say, “Thank you so much for the good times, but you’re never going to be the kind of girl I see myself ending up with in the end.” It didn’t matter if I helped people find themselves, nurtured their creative work, opened their eyes to new ways of living and thinking—in the end, I was never good enough to be anything but disposable. It’s as if I happened to be this thing created to help people transform and grow, and then I conveniently disappear, leaving them with memories and hopefully a feeling that knowing me had been a learning experience or something that made life better. And, as for me, I was just left with a little more emptiness inside than I had before.

Almost every single person with whom I’ve had a serious relationship is now married, and many have or are expecting children. I know I should be happy when this occurs, but I’m selfish by nature, so I’m not. I can’t help but feel somehow cheated by life, by an endless parade of men for whom I wasn’t good enough—not deserving of the love and fidelity they offer their much sweeter, duller, plainer wives. Perhaps it’s because I’d rather drink and dance on a Saturday night than go to church on Sunday morning, and the things that are most memorable about me aren’t qualities a respectable man thinks of when he considers qualities of his future wife. I can’t help but feel a little angry than an ex-boyfriend who cheated on me more times than I can count, lied to me daily, allowed his parents to treat me like a piece of garbage dragged out of the dumpster, and didn’t have a single picture of me around his apartment (despite photos of family and friends all over the walls) is now with a homely little Southern girl, and they’re a happy family that goes to church and is expecting a child, and his entire family dotes on them. It’s hard to reconcile that scenario with the same way this person and his family treated me, and it breaks my heart, because I wondered so many times, “Why am I not good enough?”

I’ve had close friendships in my life with people who have claimed to fall for me, to want to make me a permanent (if secondary) part of their life…but in every instance, when something came up that presented the opportunity for that person to choose between demonstrating any type of actual real emotional connection and loyalty to me, or choosing another road, the other road was always more appealing. And again, I cried, and wondered what about me was so defective that I wasn’t good enough.

Perhaps the answers are simple. The Guy I Am Currently Dating has a mother who told me, in no uncertain terms, I was not good enough for her son and would never be part of her family. She told me he dated me because he had low self-esteem and not enough confidence to approach the pretty girls he really wanted. I do know that The Guy I Am Currently Dating loves me, but we’ve been together for what is rapidly approaching 5 years. That’s a large percentage of my life, invested in one person…and while he invests in me in many other ways, I’m aware that if I said “It’s been long enough, and this relationship needs to move forward or we need to break up”, he’d cry and leave me behind to move on with my life.

It isn’t the first time I’ve heard that my flaw is simply not being pretty enough to be adequate arm candy for someone looking for a successful and high-powered career, and unfortunately, I’m almost always attracted to men who are talented, ambitious, or both. I’ve heard that my scandalous past, my determination to live life on my own terms, my habit of speaking my mind—well, these things are neither sweet nor classy, and nobody wants pictures of the love of their life plastered on the internet doing shots off of a bar.

What I’ve heard, universally, is “I love you, but…”, “You’re amusing, but….”, “We’ve had great times, but….”, “You’re a cool girl, but….”

And I wonder when someone is going to look at me in a way that isn’t always followed by ellipses. As a friend of mine would put it, when is the fact that I might have an asterisk attached to me going to be irrelevant in comparison to the fact that I’m a fucking awesome person that may just deserve to be loved.

Maybe I am not, and I would simply like to be that person. There’s really nowhere in my life I can turn to without being reminded of all the ways in which I am defective. I am not pretty. I am not talented, I am not ambitious. Worse yet, I’m the sort of ordinary girl who has never learned how to be a sweet ordinary girl. If I’d lived my life as a wallflower, perhaps I’d be more likely to be the naive and inexperienced ingenue almost all men seem to be charmed by. (I was reminded recently by a fight I once had with a drunk friend who told me, “I might have fallen for you if you hadn’t slept with so many men in your life.”) And while it was simply an idiotic and drunken statement, there’s some truth behind it. It is perfectly alright not to be stunningly pretty, not to be successful at something, not to have any specific talents, if you’re sweet, optimistic, and have that little “Suzy Homemaker” thing going on for you. It is expected that somehow, girls who are not really extraordinary in any other way, make up for it by being sweet and amiable, and not exactly worldly. (I have a suspicion that men are terrified of “worldly” women because it causes them to fixate on their own inadequacies, which your average ingenue isn’t equipped to notice…but that’s another story for another day.)

I never learned that lesson, because in my mind, I was always extraordinary. I was always meant for bigger and better things.

It’s easy to become self-deluded, and before you know it, you’ve been married and engaged and had all manner of friends and lovers pass through your life, but you still spend every holiday alone. I spent Easter eating chocolate and watching television while The Guy I Am Currently Dating was with his real family, and all the admirers who claim I am one of the most fabulous girls they’ve ever met are with their wives and girlfriends and children.

I don’t even have many close friends, living where I do, without a car and without a social circle to which I might belong. I can see why I might truly be “not good enough” for anyone, a rapidly-middle-aging, chronically ill former actress/singer/mediocre writer who has few skills and a knack for offending people by saying the things most other people think, but never say aloud. It turns out, there’s reason people conceal their emotions. It’s “polite”, and it’s done so people can have friendships…or at least maintain the illusion of belonging.

I suppose I’m a cautionary tale. If you turn down too many opportunities in your life, or make too many mistakes, you’ll find yourself a person that everyone you know will tell amusing stories about at your funeral…and some will cry, and lament your absence from the world…and others will quietly celebrate at home. But, a majority of the time, you’ll find yourself alone, while the rest of the world goes on with the quiet, ordinary business of living.

I watch this show called “Smash”, about a group of Broadway people putting on a musical about Marilyn Monroe.

Somehow, I think Marilyn would understand where I’m coming from, even though she had the excuse of being beautiful and successful. I don’t think she ever felt loved, or understood, or knew how to be ordinary. I think she spent so much time being an inspiration to everyone else—everyone else who inevitably walked away when inspiration was no longer needed—that she might have been the loneliest person on Earth.

Sometimes, when I hear about people in my life getting married and having babies, I think of that and I feel that way. It isn’t because I want those things, but because deep down, I have this sense of anger that says “I deserved better. Why do other people always deserve the best from those I love, while I’m the one who should settle for something less?”

I don’t want to be that bitter, angry person, but sometimes I am. I suppose it’s because I’m tired of being secondary, tired of being an inspiration, a learning experience, the road not taken, the “if only”, the “I wish things were different”, the “I might have loved you if you weren’t who you are”, the “Why can’t things just stay like this forever, because this is good enough?”

I want to be that thing someone is willing to give up everything for. Why? Because I’m good enough, and because I am so fucking worth it. And I’m so frightened that perhaps I’m the only person in my life who will ever, ever see that.

Quite recently, I was chatting with a friend of mine about relationships and age differences. While I don’t really have too many answers on the subject, I do have some unique perspectives. Somehow, in my life, “relationship” and “age difference” have always been synonymous.

An interesting factoid about me that most people are surprised to learn is that I’ve never dated anyone younger than myself. Yes, I’ve had occasion to hook up with people younger than myself and gotten myself into complicated and confusing situations with people younger than myself, but even then, I have a 4-year rule. In my world, if you were in elementary school while I happened to be picking out colleges, it’s probably not going to work out.

It’s quite funny, because I’m one of the biggest advocates of the “age is just a number” ideal when it comes to dating people older than myself. On average, most of my relationships have been with those a decade older than myself, although strangely, the ones I tended to see working out for the long run occurred with people “around my own age”. While age may be just a number, the truth of the matter is that people go through phases of life, self-discovery, and maturity, Most people tend to go through these transitions around a certain age range in life (I’ve noticed, with very few exceptions, that 27-28 seems to be a time of chaos and struggle for most people, because it’s the time when your problems officially become “adult” problems. I don’t think it’s coincidental that there’s a “club” of famous and accomplished celebrities who have passed away at this point in time.) The idea of the college student finding himself, the young 20-something disregarding everything in favour of really heavy experience, the 27-year-old realising that she is finally the adult, the 35-year-old realising that he’s not only responsible for himself but for other people, the 50-year-old desperate to recapture lost youth…I think they are phases that happen to most people. If you’re in a relationship with a significant age difference, at some point, someone’s “phase” or growth process will come to matter a great deal.

For me, I think the difference is more pronounced when I encounter someone younger. I don’t have much patience for the shallow or for trying to emotionally connect with people who don’t quite know who they are. I never thought I’d be that person, that someone who was, well—old. I remember being in my mid-20′s, and getting a “here’s why we’re parting company e-mail” from a someone in my life, someone I admired greatly and probably idealised more than I should have. One of the things he said was “When you’re at the age you are now, life is all about heavy experience and figuring out who you are. By the time you reach your 40′s, you’ve already determined that. I’ve already gone through what I’ve gone through. You won’t go through what I’m going through now for quite some time. When you do, you’ll understand this better.”

This, of course, broke my 20-something heart. I’d always thought of myself as “old for my age”–certainly more intelligent, more experienced, more well-traveled. It seemed obvious that’s why I’d consistently bond with people older than me, because guys my own age were too self-centred, cared too much about sex and image, and didn’t know how to behave like the type of man I was looking for. But, in certain other ways, I wasn’t the girl who was ready to settle down, to make commitments, to stay in one place, to stay with one person. I’ve always been the sort for whom my intellectual age and experience surpasses my actual age, but in other ways, I’m exactly like most folks my age (at whatever age that has been.) The older I get, the more I see the person who sent me that e-mail didn’t intend to be hurtful—he was just giving me perspective on a journey he’d already taken, that I’d likely learn to understand in the future.

When I was 17 and in university, I dated a grad student who was finishing up his studies and getting ready to receive his doctorate. There’s something about the academic atmosphere that kind of makes you forget about age, particularly in the world of the arts. There’s a certain change in looks and personality that happens to most people after sophomore year, but for many, it can be difficult to forget there’s any difference between 19 and 29 when you’re working as peers in a collaborative environment.

It didn’t occur to me that I was 17 and dating someone who was nearly 30. It also didn’t occur to me that this happened because, far from being the ingenue, I kind of initiated the situation. I suspect he knew better than to get involved with me, but people don’t always listen to their better judgment, particularly when nobody is being hurt in the *now.*

When I went off to school, a director of mine told me to look up this guy, whom he’d worked with years back and always remembered. He warned me that the guy was talented, brilliant, but difficult in a way that bordered on narcissistic. I’m sure it’s not a surprise to anyone that this hardly dissuaded me from remembering the message. And, although I didn’t actively seek him out, I think the laws of serendipity were on my side, because he ended up in one of my dance classes.

I remember approaching him, introducing myself, and really not planning for any friendship to emerge just because we once worked at the same theatre company. Yet, he was extremely friendly despite the obvious ego, and a friendship naturally developed. It didn’t develop terribly quickly; but I remember going to dance class one day and feeling disappointed that he wasn’t there that day. That’s when it occurred to me to notice, “Hey, maybe I like this guy.”

If I did, I didn’t do anything about it, and neither did he. He started inviting me to parties that freshmen wouldn’t be at. We started hanging out in a group with friends, and never once did he hit on me or make any sort of move. Yet, when I had a family emergency and had to leave for a few days, I was greeted with a bouquet of my favourite flowers, in my favourite colour. It was not an understated, “I went to the Korean grocery and picked these up” kind of move. I’m not sure, to this day, anyone’s ever given me flowers quite like that. It took effort.

Yet, he never asked me out. One Monday, I heard from a friend that he had asked out another girl who was a mutual acquaintance, an anorexic dance major known for her bubbly personality and lack of self-esteem (code for a fragile girl who had no qualms putting out on the first or second date.). It offended me on so many levels. I remember my friend saying, “I just thought you should know, because I thought you guys kind of had something going on”.

We didn’t, but I thought that at some point, we might. I thought naturally, pieces might fall into place. And it offended me that he’d spend all this time and energy on getting close to me, but ask out someone I saw as not even in remotely the same league as me. It didn’t occur to me that I wasn’t sending back the right signals, or the guy wanted to be a good guy by not messing with a 17-year-old girl, or that he might have other connections in his life outside of school and just wanted someone with whom he could have a good time. All I thought was, “I am absolutely heartbroken, because I am so much better than that, and he treats me like I’m special, but I’m not attractive enough for him to ask me out.”

So, in a fit of over-emotional Alayna drama, I pulled a passive-aggressive move that I knew would either work out tremendously well, or end up with me sobbing into my pillow for weeks. I sent a long, rambling e-mail about my feelings, followed by refusing to pick up the phone or staying away from anywhere he might be for days. It was a cause of great turmoil, accompanied by feelings that ranged from “I’m so glad I did that” to “OMG, I’m a fucking idiot, and it’s no wonder I’m going to die alone and without friends”.

Fortunately for the sanity of my roommate, it worked out well. He showed up at my door to “talk”, and the next thing I knew, we were seeing each other, and he’d canceled the date with a now perturbed dance major who didn’t much like me..

We dated for a while, but the reality of the situation was, not much changed. Looking back, I realised I had feelings for him, but didn’t quite understand them. We connected on the intellectual and emotional level I wanted, and we were the best of friends, but I can’t say there was any great passion there. In my mind, we had a relationship because we had a good time together, but I don’t I understood why that “magical” thing I was looking for wasn’t there. Simply put, I didn’t love him. He mattered a lot to me, but I didn’t love him, and he didn’t love me either. It was always as if there were some unspoken limitation.

Around Christmas, I had the opportunity to figure out what that thing was, and what my intuition was telling me. He had his best friend come and pay him a visit from her school in upstate NY. They were around the same age, had known one another for a long time, liked the same things, laughed at a lot of inside jokes, had deep conversation that bored me. I was still immature enough to conclude that she was no threat to me. After all, she was a foot taller and 90 pounds heavier than me. Her fashion sense was what could be described as “I don’t care”, and she came across more condescending than fun. In my mind, she was like a teacher, not like someone I had to worry about as feminine competition.

But that’s when it hit me: She looks that way to me because she’s 30, and she’s an adult. And so is the guy I’m dating.

I started to realise I didn’t want to be the only girl in my sorority who brought someone 13 years older than me to the Winter semi-formal, and when I did, how conspicuous I felt. I started to realise that all the things I found attractive, all the stories about the cool things he’d done in his life, were things I wanted to do and be—and that he would never want to do or be those things again, because he was moving forward. But mostly, I came to realise that the frumpy, condescending girl was indeed my competition.

She didn’t like me, or if she did, she didn’t act as if she did. Mostly, she seemed largely indifferent to my presence. The closest we ever came to bonding was singing musicals together in the car. But, it became awkward to me that when she was in town, my boyfriend would invite me to a party or an event or a show, and it was unspoken that she’d be there, too. I felt oddly like I was dating a couple.

I didn’t say anything about any of these things, and the guy and I were still dating when Easter came around, and his best friend returned for another visit. I studied them very intently; they never flirted, held hands, gave any indication of being a couple. She never seemed jealous of me or put out by my presence. But there was something that upset me, a way they acted that seemed like they just understood one another, that their whole relationship was this endlessly amusing inside joke of which I could never be a part.

One night, we all went to a party, and we all ended up drinking too much. I asked her why it seemed she didn’t like me, and what I’d done to offend her. Her reply was, “I don’t dislike you. I just feel a little sorry for you sometimes, because I know what it’s like when you’re with someone who doesn’t love you.”

It was a painful thing to hear, but not vicious. She was simply a straightforward, cut-and-dried kind of person. It was mostly painful because she said things aloud I’d thought in the back of my mind for a long time. Yet, I never had the courage to ask her the one thing I most wanted to know: “Why are you always here? Why are you this necessary part of our lives?”

One night, on the same visit, my boyfriend and his friends went out to a bar. I couldn’t get into the bar, because they carded, and I was far from either being legal or looking it. Rather than leave with me, he stayed with this out-of-town friend and a few other people I knew. Someone else drove me home. The next morning, we were all going on a road trip, but I wasn’t excited, and I didn’t sleep.

Instead, I just cried. I cried for hours. I realised the simple truth: This guy won’t ever love me because he’s already met his soulmate. I’m just the temporary distraction while they have to be apart. I allowed myself to be the paranoid, jealous person I can be on the inside, and rarely let out. When I called his phone at 2 AM and got no answer, I assumed they were sleeping together.

I’ll never really know what happened, and it’s irrelevant. I know she was at his house in the morning, and had stayed there the night before, whereas they had to come and retrieve me for the road trip. I know I was so hurt I couldn’t even pretend to smile and be amiable. It wasn’t until we got to where we were going, and I met up with other people, that I became even the slightest hint of myself again. People seemed to go out of their way to make me laugh and smile, although nobody asked what was wrong. It was as if everyone knew but me, and I don’t know if I was more hurt by not being loved or by being humiliated in front of others. A good friend of mine was present that day, a guy my own age who got me through that terrible weekend and many other difficult situations over our years together, and I think it was having him there that kept it all together. On the way back, I didn’t even ride in the same car as the guy I’d supposedly been dating, and I don’t even know how much he noticed.

After that, he attempted to act as if everything was fine, and we were great friends and nobody had to be hurt. I couldn’t do it. If I spend a night or two crying over you breaking my heart, we will probably never be great friends. I am still not a big enough person for that. Oddly enough, we never broke up. We simply stopped calling each other, we stopped hanging out in the same groups together, and my friend asked him, “So, are you guys broken up now?”, to which the reply was, “I guess so”. We still had to work together, but we stayed out of each other’s way. I gave a polite smile when we ran into one another. One day, the friend who had rescued me on that horrible trip and I were running around the theatre, attacking each other with newly painted duct tape, laughing like difficult children. We were not a couple, as he was dating someone else, but we were unofficially “sneaking around” in the most unsubtle way ever. Armed with duct tape and laughter, I went into the green room, and saw my ex sitting there. I think there was a collective lightbulb that went off, that said “This is what was always missing, because we couldn’t connect that way”. I don’t know if it had to do with personality or age, or both, but the way we related seemed as if it should be right—yet never was.

At some point, my ex called me up to hang out, and we ended up over at his place. I thought we could be friends again. He’d just broken up with the promiscuous dance major, and was looking for a booty call, which I was still too naive to see. We had a lovely day together, and when I wouldn’t sleep with him, he drove me home. We never saw each other socially again. I think I realised that maybe I could make him a part of my life again if we reconnected physically, but the truth was, nothing about it felt right. I knew I’d miss him terribly, but it couldn’t ever be the thing either of us wanted.

After a few months, things thawed out, and we were cordial again. He graduated with a Ph.D next to his name, as did his friend in upstate NY. They moved to Austin to start a theatre company, and offered me a job if I wanted to come down during the summer.

My junior year, I went into the green room, and looked at the bulletin board that had casting notices, call times, and the like. There was a wedding invitation, and that’s how I learned my ex and his so-called “best friend” were getting married.

I had one in my personal mailbox, as did the friend who helped me through that horrible time. Dignified as ever, I e-mailed them both with congratulations I didn’t mean, and informed them that of course I wouldn’t be attending. I asked them both point blank if they’d been seeing each other during the time we dated, and they both denied it. She actually said “It didn’t even occur to me that I already had what I was looking for until I saw him with what he wasn’t.” (She was always kind of a bitch, come to think of it. :P )

He was far more gracious, and also denied it. Yet, whether they were sleeping together or romantically involved or not, I knew that she was what made him emotionally unavailable and why I could never connect in the way I wanted to. Sometimes, you just *don’t* know, until you do. Other times, you’re the kind of person who is willing to play people. It’s naive of me, but I still choose to think these people fell into the first category. In the last e-mail we ever exchanged, he wrote, “Things just work out better when two people are at the same place at the same time, and want the same things. That would never happen for us. You had to have known that from the start. You’re always going to be too young for me. You’re going to see and do things you haven’t even thought up yet, and when you do, I hope you’ll tell me about them.”

I never did, of course. Although he was right, I couldn’t let him have the last word, so instead of the traditional wedding card, my UPS-ed gift included a sympathy card, addressed to her. I never spoke to either of them again, but I know they’re happily married forty-somethings with all kinds of degrees, living and teaching and directing in Austin.

Ironically, The Guy I Am Currently Dating is around the same age as this guy, which I have no doubt he’d find amusing. Most of the time, I don’t consider the age difference as—well, a difference. Yet, there are times when my irresponsibility and insistence on always going out and doing things and tendency to be a little emotionally draining gets to him, and we have arguments. Likewise, there are times when I know he’d rather go home early or falls asleep at midnight on a Friday, and I can’t help but feel restless and bored. There are times when I recognise that when he was going through early adolescence, I was busy being born. Sometimes, I think it’s necessary for both of us to bond with people closer to our own age, people who can relate to problems and experiences and cultural references.

As you get older, it is possible that age becomes less of a big deal. When you’re a freshman in high school, dating a senior is a big deal. When you’re a freshman in university, dating a grad student is a huge age difference. When you’re 30, dating someone who is 50 is typically a challenge. However, I try to remember that when I’m 63, it doesn’t matter if the person I’m with is 59 or 79. We’re all just going to be old.

As much as I’d like to say age is irrelevant, it’s not. The professors who date their students aren’t going to marry them. The cougars who pick up 18-year-old boys aren’t looking for love and connection. There are exceptions, but as a general rule, people need to be able to relate to one another—and part of that is being on the same part of the path in your journey. Can people of different ages do that? Of course. But I think the age itself matters. Someone who is 21 isn’t going to have a clue who they are compared to a significant other of 31, and it is this growth process, rather than age, that causes things not to work out.

Almost serendipitously, I met a guy from London in a bar the other evening. He attempted to chat me up, and was pleasant enough company, but I had to laugh when I found out he was 21. The friend he’d brought with him was 19. He likely considered it a compliment to tell me that I reminded him of Lena Dunham in “Girls” (note: being compared to an unattractive celebrity is not a compliment.), but I think it’s also very telling that he chose that as a cultural reference we might share. It made me remember that when I was his age, I was watching “Sex And The City”, and he likely has no idea who the hell Carrie Bradshaw is.

I left him laughing, because part of me wonders if in 10 years, I’ll totally be into the idea that a 21-year-old is trying to pick me up. Somehow, I suspect that won’t be the case.

Today, I commented on a conversation with a group of friends and acquaintances in D.C. about the bar scene, and specifically, how to approach someone at a bar, and which “pick-up lines” are worth using.

Personally, I’ll talk to a stranger at a bar if I’m alone and bored, but only when it’s obvious someone isn’t hitting on me. I’ll accept a drink from a stranger at a bar if it’s given as a genuine compliment, and it’s not apparent there are some ulterior motives attached. The first time I hear a pick-up line or anything resembling such, I’m probably not going to continue the conversation.

Here’s what I had to say about dating, and meeting people at bars:

“I haven’t dated anyone who wasn’t a good friend first for the past 8 years, maybe longer. Why? I want someone who is genuinely interested in knowing me, who isn’t afraid to get “deep” or talk about what really matters in life, and is willing to put the most authentic version of who they are out there. I’m disinterested in small talk, which tells me nothing about a person, and I’m even less interested in pick up lines, which often tell me about who a person isn’t or would like to be. If someone’s interested in getting to know me, they’re going to do it the old-fashioned way, through friendship, conversation, and spending time together. If someone wants to get laid without putting too much into it, they’ll offer to buy me a drink and ask what I do. My answer is “What I don’t do is meet strangers in bars, but thanks.” :)

The people who interest me are those who show me they’re interesting people who respect my intelligence and find me attractive, but aren’t plying me with alcohol and bad jokes to get me to sleep with them. I invest a lot in the people in my life, and trust and affection is earned over time. We might *meet* at a bar, but we’re not going to develop a lasting relationship or start a valuable friendship at the bar. You can buy me all the martinis you want, but if you’re seriously interested in me, you’ll have to call me and ask me out when we’re both sober.

I get annoyed with the clear disinterest in other human beings and selfish ulterior motives I see at bars and clubs, and it isn’t a gender-related thing. Both men and women show a huge capacity for being fairly vapid and shallow and not demanding too much in exchange for attention or affection. Both men and women allow how other people treat them, how much attention they get or how many numbers they get, to validate or invalidate a sense of being interesting and attractive.

I like bars. But they’re the place I go to have conversation with friends and significant others and people I already know and enjoy, not the place I go to seek validation via feedback from strangers. I miss the idea of the old 1920′s style bars, which were gathering spaces for artists and intellectuals.

Plenty of them got drunk, danced, had fun, hooked up, had relationships, and met new acquaintances. But somehow, some of the most creative ideas in the world were born, friendships solidified, the drama of relationships and marriages played out, and people had more interesting things to say than “You’re cute, where are you from?”

If I meet you at a bar, I might talk to you. However, your chances are so much greater if you’re a genuine person without ulterior motives. I seriously doubt I’m the only one.

If you’re single or in an open relationship and want to meet people, actually show interest in knowing people. Not because you’re out for no-strings-attached sex, or because your ego has taken a hit and you need a boost, or because you want a drinking partner who isn’t hard on the eyes, but because you’re the kind of person who is interested in other human beings. More than that, show interest in honestly putting yourself out there via real conversation that isn’t interrupted every time another attractive person walks by. It’s just a matter of respect and honesty–you know, the stuff that friendships and relationships are built on. Why would anyone want to go to the trouble of a drunken hook-up with someone who doesn’t offer any of that?

It’s not going to be an experience you remember. It probably won’t even be with a person whose name you’ll remember. Trust me.

Emotional and intellectual connection is hugely underrated, and an hour drinking at a bar with a stranger won’t get you that. If you do go home with that person, you’ll be able to tell you’re spending time with someone who could care less about you, and whom you’re equally non-invested in. I’d rather stay home and watch a movie or talk to someone with whom I genuinely share a bond.

Maybe that’s just me. I’m old, and not much fun. I’ve had enough wild times and meaningless encounters to identify the worthlessness of those experiences, and maybe everyone needs to go through that. Then again, I don’t really think it’s just me. I think there’s a lot of people like me, male and female, who are looking for much more than they’re ever going to find at the bar—but don’t know how to fill that empty space.

There are many shallow people out there looking for shallow things. If you’re not one of them, you have to set the bar high enough that you’re not going to tolerate anything less than what you want, just because you’re bored, insecure, or think you need to “play the game”. You don’t. You need to define the rules of your own game, especially if you live in Atlanta or DC or any other city that is known for being perpetually single, work-oriented, and transient.

Despite the fact that I’m hardly a dating authority, it amuses me that I get questions from both real life friends and readers of this blog whom I’ve never met, regarding the big questions pertaining to dating and relationships. I do hate to disappoint, but I don’t actually have the answers. I just have some viewpoints based on personal experience, and my own unique personality. You may be nothing like me, and find out that what works for me doesn’t work for you at all. :)

Nevertheless, I received an interesting note in the comments section from a young lady who is bothered by the fact that she’s spending time with a guy who always looks around the room whenever they go out together, and wonders if being bothered by this makes her too sensitive.

You’ve come to the right place for advice on this one, friendly blog reader. As it happens, I have a personal pet peeve regarding spending my time with guys who suffer from “wandering eye syndrome”.

Obviously, this habit of looking around all the time, turning the head or body away when an attractive woman walks by, not paying attention to a word you’re saying because the guy’s eyes are staring at someone else, or actually getting up and leaving you to talk to an available attractive female is unacceptable in a committed romantic partnership. However, I find it unacceptable behaviour in virtually any context, and that’s just how it is with me. I’m not going to allow myself to feel diminished by someone saying, via words or action, “I like your company, but I’m going to pay attention to someone who interests me more”.

I shouldn’t have to. Why in the world would I? My company is way more valuable than that, and I know it.

Most girls don’t, so they tolerate it. They worry that demanding more makes them bitchy or “oversensitive.” It doesn’t. It just means you’ve set standards for yourself, so kudos on that. I’ve ended up never going out with someone again or ending a friendship over some of these more extreme examples, because if there’s one thing I don’t enjoy, it’s being disrespected.

Certainly, there are levels of tolerance for this behaviour based on your relationship with someone. If it’s coming from a husband, fiance, or monogamous male partner, it’s way more of a problem than if it’s something that happens when you’re out with a platonic male friend.

However, there are many different types of relationships, and many different situations where “wandering eye syndrome” is a problem. For instance, if I’m on a first or second date with someone, I realise this person is obviously keeping his options open. However, if you’re that open that you can’t focus on getting to know me because you saw boobs walk by, you’re probably not for me. I’m not going to be calling you back, 100% guaranteed.

Likewise, if I am in an open relationship and have a secondary partner or “friend with benefits” in my life, I’m well aware I am not the only female in this person’s universe. However, when that person is spending time with me, I am. If we’re not in a monogamous relationship, you can do whatever you want (as long as you respect our agreed upon guidelines), but NOT EVER when I am in the room. Sorry, but I have to insist anyone I’m involved with, even if it’s not exclusive, or we’re not going to end up getting married and living happily ever after, shows me a certain amount of respect and interest. It’s freaking rude to hit on someone in front of anyone you’re currently sleeping with, and you have all the time we don’t spend together to meet other attractive women. This kind of relationship can be very complex and full of drama, or it can be very simple. I prefer to keep it simple, by having “relationship rules” that work for me. One of them is, “You may be seeing other people, and we may even discuss it, but respect me enough to keep that out of our time together.” If you don’t have the attention span, interest in spending time with me, or level of self-control where that guideline works for you, we’re not compatible, and probably should not have any kind of romantic involvement, period.

Of course, there are exceptions to the romantic relationship rule. You may be in a happily monogamous relationship with a guy who is a hopeless flirt, and it doesn’t bother you…except, the truth is, sometimes it does, but you don’t mention it. You may be in a happily poly relationship that’s going so well that it’s time for your primary and secondary partners to meet, and maybe they just happen to hit it off fabulously. In these cases, you’re just going to have to expect that someone paying attention to others is part of the package. But, for the most part, whether you’re committed, seeing other people, or just open; married or dating; on your first date or your fiftieth, you should expect that the other person has gone out with you to spend time with you and connect with you, not scour the room for other objects of interest. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion. I know other people who disagree, and are apt to categorise my way of looking at things as “high-maintenance” or “oversensitive.”

The place where it starts to get confusing, for many girls, is when it comes to spending time with male friends. I have some male friends I actually used to date or have hooked up with at some time in the past, some that I’ve been attracted to at some point, some who’ve been attracted to me at some point, and some where that kind of chemistry never once entered the occasion—and the disinterest in anything beyond friendship has always been mutual and obvious. So, whatever your past history or current feelings towards your friend, is it rude when your friend stops paying attention to your presence because someone else has caught his attention?

In a nutshell: yes. This doesn’t just apply to male friends, but all friends in general. If I’ve taken time out of my life to have dinner with you, I expect a little more regard from you than “Sorry, I didn’t hear you” because you were staring at something or someone else. I mean, I didn’t have to go out to dinner with you, and I certainly didn’t do so to feel invisible.

Again, there are exceptions. I’ve gone to singles’ bars with single friends, with the express purpose of helping them meet someone, and as a result, had to find my own way home. I invited an ex-boyfriend, a shy guy who hadn’t had luck finding any serious potential dates since our long-term relationship ended, to a party where he didn’t know anyone. He ended up leaving me as soon as we arrived to talk to a girl who caught his interest, and is now his wife. I can’t really fault him for that one. If the purpose of an outing with friends is to meet dating prospects or hook up, you can’t feel ignored, abandoned, or slighted when this happens…even if you have a huge secret crush on the friend you accompanied to the singles’ bar. (and why would you do that anyway?)

On the other hand, I’ve been on first dates where the guy I was with kept looking at the door like he was expecting someone the entire time. This clued me in that either he wasn’t interested, was a player, or was married. I’ve been out at a dive bar with a platonic friend who began rudely ignoring me to talk to a stripper who worked at the establishment next door, leaving me sitting completely alone and out of my element for some time. I’ve traveled 800 miles to visit a friend, who then pretty much ignored me the rest of the evening because he was more interested in talking to another single friend I brought out with me. I’ve gone to visit a friend in another city, attended a party with him where I didn’t know a single person, and had him abandon me for the night because I wasn’t as attractive of a girl as he was looking for, but he met someone who was. All of these were incredibly uncool scenarios where I ended up feeling as disposable and insignificant as the gum stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe, while simultaneously knowing I deserved a little more respect and regard from anyone who called me a friend. And, incidentally, these are all examples of situations that occurred with male friends with whom I didn’t have a romantic or physical relationship. You can imagine how colourful some of the others are. :P

Time is a precious commodity, and we don’t have unlimited amounts of it. I generally look to populate my universe with those genuinely interested in spending time with me. If someone isn’t, is halfhearted about it, or is always putting the potential hook-up above friendship, I don’t know that I’m that interested in keeping the friendship as part of my life. I don’t really spend time going to dinner or having drinks or catching up with acquaintances. That’s just me. I’m kind of hard to get to know on a one-on-one basis, and while I know a lot of people, I’m not very invested in those I know socially. I know I’ll always see them around. If I’m spending time with you one-on-one, it’s because we’ve achieved a certain level of respect, friendship, and emotional intimacy. It’s because, for one reason or another, I care about you or you interest me in a way that puts you amongst a select group of people. Because of this, I tend to develop extremely strong, long-term friendships…but am very choosy about them. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. And if I turn down your dinner invite, it’s not personal. :P

I used to be as bad about disrespecting friends and romantic partners as anyone on the planet. I didn’t have the “wandering eye” problem, but I’d go to a party with one person only to leave with another. I was so inconsiderate that The Guy I Am Currently Dating, before we were actually dating but I knew he was interested in me, offered to drive me to another guy’s house—as well as the other guy—because the other guy was too drunk to do so. I had a friend come visit me, declare his attraction to me, and in order to deal with the uncomfortable situation, I got drunk and made out with some guy I didn’t even know or like very well. I’d have friends invite me to lunch or for drinks, and incapable of introverted communication, would immediately turn the event into something I invited 5 other friends to. It is clear that genuine intimacy terrified the hell out of me at this point in my life, and I went to all lengths to avoid it…but I was really hurtful towards others throughout the process of growing up.

Looking back, I see how reprehensible this behaviour was, and how I generally had no respect for the feelings of others, or concern for anyone but myself. I really was honestly one of the most self-absorbed and callously hedonistic people you’d ever meet, and it took a swift kick in the ass from life to get me to grow up. I think this is why I judge this behaviour so harshly in others, and have very little tolerance for it. I see not just the behaviour itself, but the selfishness and disregard for others that lurks behind it…and no matter what our relationship, I tend to not have space for that in my world. It’s something that’s going to piss me off, make me cry, or leave me confused because I know I deserve better from people, but am not getting it.

So, in reply to the person who came seeking advice about the “guy who looks around the room all the time when he’s with me”, I can only say that I don’t know this guy or what kind of relationship you have with him, but you deserve better, too. If the relationship is romantic or physical in any way, take it as a “He’s just not that into you” sign. If it’s a friend you’re interested in, find someone else worthy of your interest. If it’s a friend who is a purely platonic friend, realise he’s more interested in looking for dating options than your friendship, and take it or leave it as you wish.

No matter what, it’s worth having a discussion about. I once considered not spending time with someone because whenever we were out, his eyes would constantly move around, or he wouldn’t make eye contact, and I’d feel I wasn’t being heard. I finally brought it up, and expressed my frustration. He apologised and explained he had ADD, and sometimes, it was hard for him to sit still and focus on any one thing, task, or person for too long. It isn’t always personal, so if someone really matters to you, don’t just jump ship before bringing it up.

However, if someone abandons you at a bar or a party, or you’re out on a date and you excuse yourself, only to find them elsewhere, talking to a hotter/more interesting/more sexually available person, just move on. If you’re dating someone who flirts with others in your presence, including your friends, to the point that it makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably time to move on. There are enough people out there who will assign you greater respect and value that you don’t need to try to make excuses for that behaviour. It hurts when this happens, but there are many people who will move heaven and earth to spend time with you.

Why not demand that level of value, instead of trying to convince someone who doesn’t see it that you’re worth it? You’ll never convince that person, whereas someone else may offer it freely, just because you’ve put it out there that you don’t intend to settle for less.

When it comes to the history of my dating and romantic life, I’m not really in any position to complain. When I look around at the number of single female friends who are constantly bemoaning the lack of eligible dating partners and end up getting hooked up with people who clearly don’t treat them in a way of which they are deserving, I can both relate and not relate at the same time. Many of these girls come to me for dating advice, because my story is not theirs. It doesn’t make it a better or easier story, mind you, but just a different one.

I’ve never had problems meeting people. Perhaps it is because, as discussed in a different post, I take a different approach to dating and relationships, in that I don’t really invest myself in strangers. It takes work to get to know me, and anyone who is really interested is going to put in that work. Whether that way of doing things means I end up with a good friend, a lover, a committed romantic partner, a confusing yet positive life situation, or some combination of the above, what it does mean is that I don’t surround myself with people who treat me in a way that is less than I deserve. I am not disposable, a one-night stand, an object of amusement, or someone you wouldn’t want to hang out with, regardless of how our relationship operates. I’m pretty happy with that. The result is that I have some awesome folks in my life.

I also tend to be more open-minded when it comes to who I choose to spend my time with. Like everyone else, I have my superficial side, but things like looks, money, what kind of car someone drives, and what they do for a living is rather an afterthought when meeting someone. The thing that’s going to get me to call or e-mail the day after I meet someone is “It was awesome to meet you, because it seemed like we had a sincere emotional connection.”

If I’ve had a downfall in my dating life, or a masochistic tendency, it’s my penchant for falling for unavailable people or idealising impossible relationships. I’m rarely interested in those who actively pursue me with compliments and flowers and e-mails telling me how great I am. I’m appreciative, but whatever inspires someone to spend way too much time thinking about another person, that doesn’t light up that particular switchboard for me.

On the other hand, I have no tolerance for chauvinists who approach women as objects or conquests, people who are too shallow to care about anything other than getting drunk, hooking up, and never talking to one another again, and people who outwardly show disdain or disrespect. They say there’s a fine line between love and hate, but I know where the line is, and I’m not foolish enough to fall for anyone who doesn’t think I’m awesome.

No, my particular downfall is the person I *think* may be interested in me, but I’m not sure. Or, it’s the person I *know* is interested in me “but”, and “if only”. “If only I were single when I met you”, “If only we fit together better on a practical level”, “If only it weren’t impossible to make this work”.

I actually have awesome intuition when it comes to these things. If I *think* someone is interested in me, but they refuse to acknowledge that—because they don’t see it turning into a relationship, because they’re already in a relationship and trying to observe boundaries, because I somehow scare or intimidate them, because they’re playing a game where they’re counting on indifference to get my attention—I’m almost always right. And because I don’t take the most traditional approach to relationships, indifference and uncertainty does not dissuade me. It actually makes me feel more interested and more attached to someone who may or may not be the best choice for me.

A wise friend of mine told me it’s simply because I’m a natural-born huntress; I enjoy the chase, the idealism of a relationship that could be over the reality of a difficult, messy one that actually is. I enjoy the attention of those who are unavailable—friends who can never become lovers, lovers who can never become committed partners, committed partners who may not be lifetime soulmates—because I am at heart committmentphobic, easily bored, and enjoy the thrill of infatuation.

This may be true. For instance, I recall once taking a class every Monday, and looking forward to it because there was this guy, and I couldn’t tell whether or not he was interested in me. Yet, for three hours every week, I was interested in finding out. I wasn’t yet the person I am today, the one who’d just come out and ask, or actively pursue the guy, but I knew how to read people. I knew that if he were totally indifferent to my presence, I wouldn’t bother looking forward to seeing him every Monday. Yet, he never made a direct move. It was like a game, and one I looked forward to participating in every week. (As a side note, we did end up dating for awhile. It’s one of my more memorable and life-changing experiences, but we were far from right for one another. If people who are extremely opposite in personality and approach to life struggle to make it work, people who are effectively the same person struggle even more.)

I have another friend, one I’ve known for many, many years. I really don’t know if he’s ever found me attractive. Neither of us has ever made a move, or asked one another out when we were both single at the same time. Yet, for years, I’ve always been thrilled to run into this person when I do. It’s that weird thing that always makes you smile when you see someone, and you don’t know why. I don’t even actually think I’m attracted to him—he’s not my type, on so many levels. But I enjoy our friendship, and I enjoy the unspoken knowledge of “There’s something a little different in the way we relate than just being friends who get along.” If I *did* know he were attracted to me on more than an intuitive level, it would really create some weirdness and dysfunction and potentially ruin a friendship. Likewise, if I found out that over the many years we’ve known each other, he was never once attracted to me, I’d doubt myself, my intuition, and my ability to read others. Therefore, our friendship will always stay exactly as it is, at least if I have anything to do with it.

I also have people in my life who, in the world of polyamorous relationships, would (or have in the past), become ideal secondary partners. These relationships have oddly been the strongest, least complex, and emotionally fulfilling relationships/friendships in my life, despite by nature being something that should be complex. Sometimes, it’s just easy, and it’s because you know where and how someone belongs in your life, at least at a certain point in time. There is a certain freedom in those relationships that is important to me, and even during my monogamous relationships, I’ve somehow kept what I term “romantic friendships” in that particular space in my life. Yet, if we were both single, available, on the same page and in the same place in life at the exact same time, attempting to have a more committed, exclusive relationship would probably do irreparable damage to all the good things we share.(yes, lessons learned the hard way.)

Not all of the soulmates you encounter in life are those you’re supposed to consider white-picket-fence-marriage-and-babies material. People are in your life for different reasons, and if they’re unavailable to you on a certain level, it’s probably because they’re never going to fit into the convenient little space you wonder if they might—and it has little to do with other people, other relationships, practical obstacles, and whatnot. If someone is the right person for you, you’re going to move the world around to fit them in your life. Otherwise, you should be content with knowing they are meant to fit into your life in some other way…even if everyone’s feelings are utterly confused about the situation.

Knowing this does not keep me from being most interested in those when I’m not quite sure how someone feels about me, or what the possibilities are moving forward, or whether or not life circumstances will be subject to change in the future….but my intuitive sense and simple enjoyment of the time I spend with someone tells me there’s more to the story than “It’s really awesome that we’re friends”. This is a dangerous habit, one The Guy I Am Currently Dating would most likely prefer I did not have. I think I might consider myself a more monogamous person by nature if I did not have this particular tendency, and did not feel consistently energized and intrigued by the emotional uncertainty of these situations. On the other side of the coin, these situations and people always affect me on a deeper level than they should, so you think I’d want to stop developing serious emotional bonds with people who exist in my life as question marks.

The thing that always throws me is that I’m so infrequently wrong in how I assess a question mark situation, and the type of relationship I end up having with someone….or at least, getting some clear resolution on how someone feels about me.

Sometimes, the answer really is “It’s complicated”, and you need to learn to back off, let go, and have a less emotionally bonded, more platonic friendship…which is difficult, if you’ve never really shared that sphere of existence with someone before. It’s like learning to relate to someone in a whole new way, and it’s not easy, and it feels like a genuine loss for everyone involved. But, sometimes, if you treasure the friendship, it’s necessary (which is how I’ve managed to stay friends with a large percentage of ex-es who have moved on and are now married or committed to other people.) Somehow, it’s easier to move on when you know how the story ends than when something remains an eternal question mark.

Other times, the answer is “It’s complicated”, but there’s something beyond friendship worth exploring, and simply ignoring it causes confusion, emotional angst, and has the power to destroy a friendship. At some point, you have to take chances in order to find out what someone means to you, how they really fit into your life. I think it’s important to assess and appreciate all relationships for what they are, not what you’d like them to be, or how they most conveniently fit into your life at any given time. Sitcoms in the 1990′s loved to address this “friendships-that-are-more-but-nobody-ever-talks-about-it” dynamic; we were all intrigued by Ross and Rachel, Jerry and Elaine, Daphne and Niles. While the situation in real life is just as present and complicated, the answers are not always as black and white as in sitcom-land. It’s possible to fall in love with your friends, be friends with people you once dated, have lovers that are amongst your best friends but you’d never want to spend your life with in a monogamous relationship. It’s possible that most relationships are, a majority of the time, a question mark.

It turns out, I’m not alone. Women are, by nature, attracted to and most likely to be seduced by uncertainty. While many men I know have told me they’ve been attracted to me as a result of being direct and straightforward and not flirting and playing games “just because”, I’ve more than likely been attracted to them because they once existed as a question mark in my life, and there was a need for me to be straightforward, direct, and figure out intuitively how someone felt about me before making a move that can’t be rescinded. More proof that, on a fundamental level, men and women are wired differently and respond differently to different approaches by different types of people.

Sometimes, it amazes me that anyone ever gets together…or stays together…or has clear and simple convictions about the nature of relationships. I actually don’t know if anyone does. We’re all pretty much just winging it here.

But me, I’m hopelessly attracted to things in the shape of a question mark. Fortunately for me, most of life is just that. I’m unlikely to get bored with living anytime soon.

One of my favourite creative voices in Atlanta, Melysa Martinez, posted a link to an article that struck a chord with me on her Facebook page today. It explores the idea “Can we be exclusive?”, examining the idea of whether or not our popular culture eschews the idea of exclusivity in relationships in favour of the idea of being “free”,”independent”, “having fun”, or “focusing on your career”….or simply eternally holding out for something better. Even many of those who trade in their exclusivity for the benefits of a committed relationship have one eye on the idea of “trading up”.

You may argue this is a New York/LA/Miami/other large, self-centred city problem. After all, many places in America still think it’s pretty normal to marry your high school/college sweetheart, and live happily ever after. And, maybe it is. After all, the more you see of life, the more options you have, the harder it is to choose what’s right for you.

I posted a reply on this friend’s page (as an aside, like many awesome people, she’s abandoning ATL for a larger, better city in the very near future. Boo.) regarding my viewpoint on the subject. Here’s what I wrote:

“I’ve found this a really hard thing to deal with in life. As someone who has always been in one or more committed relationships at virtually any given time, I’m actually kind of terrified by committment. But I also realise that without it, the idea of emotional intimacy can’t exist. Too many people live lives with no strings attached: I see it when I have a roommate who just skips town with little warning, a dinner party where only half of the guests show up, the fact that people flake on plans 10 minutes before you’re supposed to meet up. We can’t have friendships living that way, we can’t have relationships, and we certainly can’t have “emotional intimacy”. Physical intimacy is easy. It’s like deciding to go to a friend’s club one night or not. You’re probably going to do something else the next day, so, whatever. Investing yourself is hard, and people do it less and less often. There are all these excuses, from other people being “the wrong people” to “being too busy” to “things just not falling into place”, but the truth is we’re a population of people terrified to emotionally invest in anything—especially one another.”

As expected, it didn’t take long before I got a response from a mutual friend via FB e-mail. It basically pointed out that this person was surprised by my response; as someone who has spoken openly about having poly relationships and advocating the idea of “open” relationships and marriages, it struck this friend as hypocritical for me to be commenting on a culture of committmentphobia.

I’ll both agree and disagree. I agree that it’s a little hypocritical for me to condemn a culture of committmentphobia, when it’s a struggle to get me to follow through on anything. I stay too long in bad relationships, and leave good ones because I’m terrified of choosing the wrong thing. I’ve been engaged and unengaged more times than anyone I know. At one point, I changed apartments, jobs, friends, and the like every two years. I show up late for everything, and have an honourary Ph.D. in procrastination. When things don’t go right in my life, my natural inclination is to run somewhere else, and fantasize about me starting my life over again in a tiny little place where nobody will ever know me. On the committment scale of things, I’m pretty much Kim Kardashian.

Yet, there’s also something fundamental about me that builds permanent emotional attachments with people. They aren’t always permanent, and not always easy to develop, but once they’re there, they are hard to shake. I think that’s why, for my many failings, I have a fantastic and fabulously loyal group of people in my life. I’m willing to emotionally invest, once you demonstrate that you’re not going to hurt or abandon me because I happen to care. When I say that I’m going to have a monogamous relationship with someone, I don’t lie or cheat, even though that state of relationship-being often feels unnatural and complicated and difficult for me. However, I view it as a gift I’m willing to give someone else…exclusivity. I may show up late for everything, but I don’t stand anyone up. I don’t forget birthdays or anniversaries or other special events; in fact, I’m the first one to plan a party or make a big deal about it. I don’t necessarily like committment, but I like the emotional intimacy and security that goes along with knowing—unless there’s some unforeseen calamity—someone is in your life for the long haul. I’m not that interested in hosting a revolving door of friends, lovers, and acquaintances in my life. At one point, I think I was. I wasn’t really much into the substantial back then. I was a little careless and selfish and hurt people. Karma got me back big time, and I learned a valuable life lesson. Once I did, I started meeting people that are “substantial” enough that they’re still in my life many years later.

As for advocating the benefits of polyamoury, or “open” relationships and marriages, while also believing in the power of committment and emotional investment, I don’t see any hypocrisy there. Most poly relationships are built on the idea of having multiple committed and loving relationships in life. They don’t all work the same way, and some people have open relationships and marriages just to have the best of both worlds, and think it’s a convenient way to have a loving committed relationship, plus permission to screw around. However, that’s not what I advocate in that kind of relationship. I think that, regardless of your relationship status or outlook on what makes good, healthy relationships, the moment you decide to sleep with someone, you should be making some sort of a committment. Maybe it’s just to treat that person with respect and esteem, or maybe it’s that you’ll be good friends down the line, or maybe it’s that you’ll continue to be lovers for a longer period of time. Maybe it’s that you’re going to date, be exclusive, get married, and make a death-do-us-part committment, but for most of us, most of the time, it doesn’t work out that way. (Imagine if you ended up marrying every person you’ve ever hooked up with!) Regardless, you should be willing to invest yourself in getting to know that person emotionally as well as physically. As I’ve said, physical intimacy is the easy part. Why do it just because you can?

I don’t, anymore, and that’s just a personal choice that’s resulted from growing as a person, and having a hell of a lot of life experience. I require emotional investment, committment, respect, friendship, a certain level of interest and compatibility. I do not require exclusivity, because not all relationships are the same, and I personally don’t know I believe that love and exclusivity have to go together. Everyone looks at relationships a little differently, and if “exclusivity” fits into your list of relationship wants and needs, that’s a good thing. “Committment” and “emotional intimacy” are related but different concepts. I personally value the latter two, and make them a non-negotiable part of my life, in any kind of relationship with any physical/emotional/romantic context. The former is open for discussion.

So, in answer to the question: “Can We Be Exclusive?”, there is no doubt in my mind that of course we can. However, between the number of people who are too emotionally unavailable to offer things like “committment” and “emotional intimacy” to any kind of relationship, and the number of people who see “exclusivity” as an optional component of loving, committed, emotionally intimate relationships, the old relationship paradigm isn’t as black and white as it used to be.

As with all relationships, it all comes down to who you are and what you value, more so than who you’re looking for and what they’re willing to give. If “exclusivity” means a lot to you in a given relationship, and you’re afraid to bring it up because you don’t want to lose someone or scare them away, you’re with the wrong person…or at least, with someone who doesn’t share your relationship values. It doesn’t make one of you demanding and unrealistic and the other a jerk and a player, it just means you’re incompatible on a very fundamental level. While it may hurt to learn that, it hurts more to learn that later, or to hide your feelings about knowing you’re not the only one in your partner’s life, when you feel you deserve to be.

If we could all speak about these things honestly and openly, before getting involved with one another, and during the course of our relationships—well, just imagine how much easier, better, and less dramatic our relationships would be.

Over the weekend, I sent a friend of mine a care package—as I so often do— this one containing a movie that’s special to me. In the course of conversation, I mentioned the film “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”, a movie I hadn’t seen in years. I shared that it was slightly ironic that many years later, people who were important to me at the point in my life during which I highly identified with that movie still felt a strong attachment to me when they watched the movie, or couldn’t deal with watching the movie at all.

It’s a little sad, but since it goes along with the premise of the film, that relationships touch our lives and create memories that are worth holding on to no matter what happens in the end, it’s also somehow appropriate.

Tonight, I decided to watch it, because I couldn’t really remember what it was that touched me so deeply about that movie. It’s a good movie, but it always affected me on a very personal level, and when I thought about it, I couldn’t remember why. I’m sure I saw a lot of resemblances between myself during those years, and the main female character in the film: a very unfocused, reckless, impulsive person who couldn’t stand two things in life: being bored, and not being loved. I’m sure I empathized with how painful it could be to be in a relationship with someone who hurt you and made you feel rejected just for being you, because opposites don’t always attract. Or, opposites sometimes do attract, and then leave one another completely shattered.

While watching the movie, I was reminded of someone I dated at the time. Our relationship was very complicated, very emotionally draining, and in some ways, very toxic. I always felt like being with him was being with someone who’d dismissed the possibility of me being “the right kind of person for him” the moment we met, which is not a kind of judgment I buy into. It just isn’t how I see relationships. If people knew instantly who or what was right for them, we’d have many more examples of positive relationships in the United States today. I’m incredibly intuitive, and I’m the first to admit, I don’t know right away. It takes me some time to “see how things develop”. Sometimes, things develop out of situations I never would have seen coming. Other times, things that make logical and emotional sense and seem perfect on paper just never happen. I don’t know; chalk it up to timing, destiny, whatever.

I am intuitively wary of people who claim they know who or what is right for them based on preconceptions; they’re usually wrong, they’re usually in the process of finding themselves—or closed off to possibilities that don’t fit into how they imagine life working out, which is usually exactly how life works out—, but getting too attached to anyone who judges a relationship before it even has a chance to develop is masochistic. Some people are open to the unexpected, to “you never know what life brings your way”. Other people will do their best to force life and relationships and opportunities into a certain mold, and end up spending year after year looking for the thing they think they want, while ignoring so much of what’s passed through their lives. (yes, I know more than one person who fits into this category. Most of them, unsurprisingly, are still single many years after I happened to pass through their lives.)

Anyhow, this ex of mine was one of those people who knew I wasn’t right for him, and yet, remained in my life in one aspect or another for a very long time. As it turned out, he wasn’t right for me, and I wasn’t right for him, and we didn’t really connect deeply on any level. We could never really bond on that emotional level you need in a relationship where someone just “gets” you, and when it did end, the next person in my life was someone with whom I shared that very naturally. Yet, something kept us together, or coming back to each other, and I don’t think I’ll ever really get it.

One day, I found an e-mail under his bed, one he’d written to me but never sent. I don’t remember what all it said; it was basically a rant about all the reasons he shouldn’t be with me. One of them that stuck with me, though, was reading “How can I take a grown woman seriously who puts butterfly clips in her hair and wears glitter everywhere? How could anyone take someone like that seriously, much less think about marrying her or having a future?”

It was one of the most hurtful things I’d ever encountered in a relationship; finding out the truth about how someone who claimed to love me really felt about me. I don’t really think I ever got over that. It was something else that made me less secure in myself, knowing that even those closest to me were incapable of accepting me and loving me as I am. And, yet, I knew he wasn’t the only one who felt that way. There were at least three people in my life at that time who claimed to have feelings for me, wanted to be involved with me, fell for me on some level, yet ended up with more “sensible” and “practical” partners.

Today, I know that if I have a right person, that person will love glitter and butterflies and my quirky fashion sense and not judge other aspects of my personality, especially my intellect or capability to take life “seriously”, on the fact that I like the parts of me that are winsome, childlike, and want to enjoy the world. People aren’t exactly one dimensional. I never traded in my butterflies and flowers for a business suit, and I don’t think I’ll intend to. I sleep with a stuffed animal every night, and don’t particularly care who thinks I’m far too old for such nonsense. I’ve learned to take being judged less personally, because I know it isn’t about me, it’s what you get when you mess with someone’s conception of how you should be.

In any case, this is not a tangent, but rather, what allows me to experience this extremely personal connection with “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”. Being hurt and betrayed and judged, and going through the hell of severing an intensely personal connection with another person, even if you knew it wouldn’t last forever—well, that’s just part of the human experience. When I think of people who were once central to my life and are now less so, usually romantic relationships that didn’t work out, I don’t have a single person I’d like to erase. I have memories I wish never happened, things that a decade later, still hurt beyond belief and make me realise someone can never again be a part of my world, no matter how deeply I loved them (or perhaps because of it.) Yet, there’s nothing I would erase, or take back, or given the option to never cross paths with someone again, that I’d make that choice.

I know there are people out there in the world who’d probably like to erase me, and have likely done so, as much as possible. But I always hope there are one or two memories that haven’t been deleted, that come back every now and then.

I think that’s why I sob through three-quarters of that movie, and tonight was no exception. I can’t think of anything worse than being forgotten. I think that’s why I take so many pictures, keep so many journal entries…so that one day, if I’m old and all my memories aren’t there anymore, they are still alive somewhere.

I’m strange, I know. I feel too much, too often, too intensely…or not at all, not in the right way, or not in a way that makes sense. But, I have the sort of heart from which nothing is ever deleted. Once you occupy space, you’re kind of there for a lifetime…even if we never speak another word to one another again, even if our paths never happen to cross, even if we don’t particularly care to see one another.

Love is one of those strange emotions that may not always actively exist between you and another person, but the moments when it did can’t be erased. I hope other people feel the same way. I hope the pieces of myself I’ve given to others over the years somehow mean a little too much to be deleted.

I don’t think I’ll watch that movie again for another few years. It still hits me really hard, on a really personal level.