Sex and the Ivy

Lena’s Super Awesome V-Day Giveaway

Filed under: Dating/Relationships, Love — Elle January 29, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

TIS THE SEASON TO BE LONELY! Or… not. If you’re single, you may want to tackle every happy couple you see around Valentine’s Day, and I don’t mean in an erotic kind of way. Luckily, you can satisfy all those urges without the messy emotional entanglements of a relationship or the obligation to spend two months’ salary every year for no reason. Public (sexual) servant that I am, I’m giving away a host of eco-friendly, ethically made, all-around-awesome prizes from my gift guide and all you have to do is read this really long spiel and answer some questions (which are only vaguely related to the long spiel, so skip it if you like):

Two weeks before I first went out with Patrick, I met up with a guy named Paul Janka, a Harvard grad best known for writing a guide to getting laid in New York. It turned out that this “guide” was more like an e-book. And by “e-book”, I mean “PDF file”. As for Paul, his seduction strategy apparently consisted of booze, diligence, and a generous interpretation of the word “no”. Nonetheless, I thought he would make for an interesting column; Paul thought I would make for a good conquest. In the end, neither of us got what we wanted. I got much closer to being assaulted than I ever did to selling the story, and I left his apartment wondering exactly what kind of hell my love life had become for me to subject myself to sadistic experiments like this one. Anyway, I volunteer this information not just because I volunteer information about every aspect of my life, but because it demonstrates precisely how dire my romantic mindset was at the time. I was resorting to gimmicks to keep my love life interesting. It’s like what happens when a television show on its way toward a slow death decides to start airing “special episodes”. Paul was a special episode.

I was pretty sure Patrick was going to be a special episode too. At the time, I’d pretty much given up on dating altogether, or at least taking dates seriously. Guys were just around to keep life interesting, and sex was just a reason to get dressed up on weekends. (And by junior year at Harvard, I realized that I didn’t even really need to get dressed up to get laid.) I was starting to date and fuck like a freshman again, or maybe just like a man, and I kind of loved it in this really cynical way. That’s why I had no qualms about ditching Valentine’s Day for a trip to New York with a newly single gal pal. That’s why I figured I might as well go on a date with a known douchebag while I was in town if it meant a potential byline. Expecting nothing from no one was, after all, far better than not seeing a sex scandal coming because you fucked the wrong asshole (see: January 2008 of my life).

The same weekend I met Paul, I had brunch with my friend Julia, who is the Gawker poster girl for the Overshared Life. Talking to her confirmed all my suspicions about why my love life had gone awry. Julia, like me, found that her blog was a death warrant for any blossoming romance. Even if a guy were the first to be interested, even if they had fantastic chemistry, even if the initial dates were perfect, his interest waned immediately when he learned of her online reputation. In Boston, I was dealing with near-identical no-mances. For women like us, it seemed like the possibility of love was laughable at best.

My non-blogger friends, on the other hand, hated my pessimistic attitude. They told me that rejection was a blessing in disguise since I wouldn’t be settling for someone too insecure to date a sexually confident woman. They assured me that I deserved someone who would be willing to handle the complications that came with dating me and that I would certainly be meeting him in the very near future. (Like maybe as soon as grad school! Yay?) But seriously, I wasn’t expecting life partnership here. I just wanted one normal romance that didn’t begin with a drunken introduction and end abruptly after a Google search. At this point, it’d been two years since I started my blog and my longest relationship since then was a two-month affair that led to eight months of stalking and naked photos splattered across the Internet. So what was a Carrie 2.0 to do but to resort to pessimism? Not only was I scaring off my Mr. Bigs, but the guys who I did go out with scared me. It appeared that girls like Julia and me had two options: 1) men like Paul Janka or 2) perpetual singledom. After my brief brush with date rape, I was ready to opt for the latter.

Then a couple weeks after my trip to New York, I found myself at dinner with a guy I mostly remembered for his inability to keep me awake during statistics. Patrick was eight years older, German, and a Ph.D candidate in my department. He also happened to be the most attractive person who’d ever been in charge of my grading me. Over the previous year and a half, my best friend Jason and I took three classes with Patrick, and though I’d like to say that it was because I found him impossibly charming, I was mostly just fulfilling sociology requirements. Nonetheless, I silently rejoiced every time I was assigned to his section, especially after I realized my piece of eyecandy was a rather efficient and helpful teaching instructor and not merely a hot guy with a funny accent. To Patrick, however, I was then just a sleepy student. Statistics, which I got a C+ in, was a particularly harrowing experience. I recall Jason pinching me a lot in that class … and really not much else.

By the time Patrick and I finally went out, it’d been over two months since I last saw him and even longer since he graded one of my mediocre papers. The prelude to the actual date was fairly undramatic. Following a thinly veiled public declaration of my affection, initial contact was made over email and the date was suggested over text message. Well, actually, I suggested hooking up over text message. But Patrick, for some crazy reason I’ve still yet to figure out, thought that dinner would be more acceptable. I was pretty much thinking, “Yeah, this really isn’t necessary. Can we just fuck?” I somehow suppressed the urge to reveal this thought and along with it, my slutty nature. It would certainly be revealed soon enough.

I immediately gloated to Jason who called me crazy more than once and insisted that I was completely misinterpreting the situation and  going to make things extremely awkward with a former TF who we actually might want to take classes with in the future. Basically, Jason had the mindset of someone who wanted to get into law school. I had the mindset of someone who wanted an interesting story to tell at post-grad cocktail parties. I was already getting started by telling every friend in close proximity about the TF fantasy-turned-reality and spent the day feeling rather smug about myself, despite a looming deadline for some mediocre paper I had not yet written. I probably would’ve taken out an announcement in The Crimson if possible. After all, it’s not everyday you get to fulfill a crush three semesters in the making.

Yet somehow, about an hour before the actual date, my excitement over going out with and potentially fucking my former TF turned into total trepidation over going out with and potentially fucking my former TF. What the hell was I getting myself into? I knew next-to-nothing about Patrick, even less about what to expect out of the evening, and I was pretty sure that Jason was right when it came to me totally misinterpreting the situation. By the time I got off the train to meet Patrick, I was ready to get right back on. In fact, I felt a mild wave of nausea, then panic, followed by paralyzing fear. Um, I had a date in five minutes and I was on the verge of an anxiety attack. After taking several deep breaths, I called Jason and told him, “I can’t do this. I’m about to hyperventilate.” Jason, ever so reasonable and probably fearful of jeopardizing his letter of recommendation by association with a whore whore slut, suggested calmly that I tell Patrick I was sick and then go home. Discouragement was exactly what I needed to snap out of it. “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” I declared. “You’re totally useless. I’ll call you when the date is over.”

About 30 seconds after the exchange with my truly unadventurous best friend, I found myself face-to-face with Patrick who looked considerably taller than I remembered and was dressed in decidedly un-academic clothing. He looked hot, and not even in a scholarly kind of way. Given our previously limited interaction and his non-American background, I didn’t have any idea how to read him. Maybe he thought that I’d be an easy lay, but then again, he always seemed so proper in class. No, it was more likely that his intentions were genuine, which was almost endearing. Here was a semi-awkward foreign grad student too culturally unaware to realize that asking out a former student is a mildly scandalous affair. Poor thing. Also, I thought: he so does not know about my sex blog. It occurs to me in retrospect that I was being extremely condescending, but in all likelihood, I probably employed every defense mechanism available to stay calm and feel in control. Surprisingly, as soon as we got into a cab and started talking, my anxiety dissipated along with my theory that Patrick was awkward with women and clueless about American prudishness. We compared frat life at Yale (where he did undergrad) to the final club scene at Harvard and discussed the “athletic” rivalry between our schools. Patrick actually seemed normal, and my stomach seemed calm. It appeared as if I was not going to puke after all.

Dinner was at a South End establishment with live music and dim lighting, the key facilitators to close-up conversation, which is like the foreplay to foreplay. It was a relatively grown-up venue given my recent romps in fraternity houses and dorm rooms, and I realized early in the evening that I felt uncharacteristically nervous. Typically on dates, I acted self-assured and liked to challenge guys by teasing them or being playfully argumentative. With Patrick, however, I couldn’t muster up my usual feistiness. I was so used to viewing him as an instructor that it seemed inappropriate to treat him like a peer. For the first time in a long while, I actually felt flustered. Patrick, on the other hand, was completely at ease which only disarmed me further. When I failed to look him in the eye while clinking glasses, he said to me, “You know what that means, right? Seven years of bad sex.” I almost choked on my drink. My TF just the word “sex” in a reference to me. Thankfully, my nerves were nothing alcohol couldn’t fix. I rarely drank but on this night, I happily chugged glass after glass of wine. Liquid courage along with Patrick’s disarming attitude made for surprisingly entertaining conversation. I was regaining my confidence and ten-fold at that. Two hours and several courses into the date, I put my hand on his knee and leaned in closer. I wanted to kiss him and was too drunk to even be subtle about it.

All in all, the turnaround from initial email to his cock in my mouth took about 24 hours. We had sex that first night. And again the next night. And then he went away to New York for two days, picked up the pair of flats I left at  a West Village repair place during that miserable Valentine’s weekend, and returned them to me first thing when he got back, not even stopping by his apartment beforehand. I spent spring bouncing from my Harvard Square dorm to his place in Beacon Hill and summer bouncing from Kennedy’s Heidelberg flat to his home in Osnabrück. When September came, I paid a full month’s rent for a sublet I never moved into. I cancelled it and have been in Beacon Hill ever since.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t like we went out and it was happily ever after that, not unless your fairy tales include Internet sex scandals advanced by overzealous online stalkers or unprecedented emotional outbursts from yours truly. The path toward cohabitation has hardly been a smooth one, but slowly, I infiltrated Patrick’s life and apartment to the point where breaking up would have been both awkward and inconvenient. And now, here we are today: me, Patrick, Hamlet, and two suitcases of my stuff under the bed! It’s more than I ever could’ve hoped for. And to think, all I wanted on our first date was to get laid.

I write all this because a year ago, I really, truly didn’t believe in the possibility of love (at least not for myself) and it wasn’t just because I was single during Valentine’s Day. My blog was a legitimate barrier to meeting guys, and as the nude photo leak and subsequent breakdown suggested, it was perhaps a barrier to, um, life. Maybe if my friends were different people, they would’ve told me to shut it down instead of insisting that I was lovable, blog or no blog. Maybe if I were a different person, I would’ve listened. I’m glad I didn’t, not just because my friends were right, but because I would’ve always thought from then on that the only desirable version of myself was the sanitized version. The fact that I’m now happily playing house with the Adorno-spouting, bulldog-owning German of my dreams indicates that there is hope for pretty much ANYONE out there. If I can finagle a boyfriend with my reputation and dismissive attitude toward dating “rules”, then love is a possibility for everyone.

Basically, this was a really long and corny way of saying that I know how much it sucks to be alone on Valentine’s Day, even if the holiday is largely a fabrication of the jewelry industry. So ONE of the two grand prizes is reserved for a reader who’s single. Of course, this is totally an honor code thing but I trust that you guys will tell the truth. (And who is really screwed up enough to deny the existence of a significant other anyway?) Now let’s get to the good (i.e. free) stuff:

GRAND PRIZES (TWO WINNERS!)
Njoy Pure Wand with Good Clean Love Almost Naked Organic Lubricant

OR
OhMiBod Naughtibod with Yes Water-Based Organic Lubricant

FIRST RUNNER UP
Stuff Made From Stuff Computer Hard Drive Clock
AND
Good Clean Love Weekend Getaway Oil Sampler Pack

SECOND RUNNER UP
Stella Marie Soap bundle with Mango Glow, Grapefruit Moon, Lavender & Eucalyptus
AND
Good Clean Love Passion Candle

THIRD RUNNER UP
Twin Syndrome Custom High Rise Panty

HONORABLE MENTIONS
CPR Gear Tee
AND
Just In Case Red Compact

To enter the giveaway, send an email to elle[at]sexandtheivy[dot]com with the following information:

1. Your name, age, occupation, and relationship status
2. How you found out about the giveaway
3. Your preference in sex toy if you win (for anatomical reasons, the Naughtibod vibrator is only compatible with ladyparts but the Pure Wand dildo is unisex)
4. An answer to ONE of the two following questions:
a) What is your craziest first date experience?
b) You are talking to someone who has not gone on a date in months. Every time they meet someone, they get their face spat on, their heart stomped on, and their nether regions infested with an itchy sensation. Why should they continue to believe in love?

DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 10TH AT 12AM EST

Entries will be judged on creativity and entertainment value (seriously!). Winners will be chosen and tiebreakers will be broken during a sleepover by a committee of my depressed, single friends who will only cheer up if you infuse them with HOPE a la Obama. (Oh, wait, he’s “change”, isn’t he? Whatever.) Oh, and I’m totally not kidding about this. You will actually stand the best chance of winning if you can make my jaded pals laugh. They were so damn hopeful on my behalf last year that the least I can do is return the favor now. Happy early Valentine’s Day, and stay tuned for the winners!

Fear of Drowning

Filed under: Love, Summer Guy — Elle July 21, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

Part of the reason why I write about my life is because I am scared of not remembering anything about it. I have a terrible memory, no doubt an ironic symptom of childhood bullying that taught me the art of forgetting terrible memories. (Truth: I routinely have problems with recalling things that happened before the age of 12). Unfortunately for me, I never quite unlearned how to forget. Now that I am full-grown and expected to remember things like faces and names, I find myself standing around dumb-founded as all my friends recall events at which everyone but me seems to have been present. I routinely fail to recognize guys with whom I’ve gone on single dates, or even people I went to high school with. It seems I am a spectator to other people’s memories but never the one doing the remembering herself.

And it’s not just memories either. It’s skills like how to use JSTOR (thank you, high school debate) or how to swim (thank you, community pool) that I must relearn because I’ve somehow magically forgotten despite everyone’s insistence that there are some things, like riding a bike, that you remember forever. Well, trust me, if there were ever a person who could forget, it’d be me. In Ibiza, for example, this was precisely my problem. Here I was with miles of unpolluted ocean before me, and I was terrified of wading too far out because I hadn’t swum in years. I was always scared to go into pools as a kid until I braved swimming lessons during early elementary school. Then I promptly forgot and had to learn again, this time during a summer around age 10. I don’t think I’ve really swum again since. Eventually in Ibiza, I gave it a go at a shallow beach but I conceded defeat after several gulpfuls of seawater. This was a performance from someone who used to relish jumping off diving boards several yards above her head.

And so I consider my life history a sort of project. Narcissistic it may be, but most of my writing concerns relationships; and my knowledge of relationships is inseparable from my understanding of myself. It’s too bad my mental timeline starts somewhere at last week. To help myself remember the important things, I sift through blog entries from high school, reread old instant messaging conversations, or simply ask questions to people who were paying attention when life was happening. I am endlessly recording and recalling the details of my existence in hopes that turning my laptop into a life library will offer some permanence to my fleeting memories. Last summer, I even paid a friend $40 to transcribe 200+ text messages. This spring, I requested from Harvard my mental health records from 2006 to 2007. It’d been a tumultuous year, and I thought these logs might come in handy some day, not just for “memoir research” (the reason I cited on my request form) but for … well, me. When I go home for the holidays, I dig up paper diaries of my youth and old notes passed from friends to my middle and high school self. I actually still have plenty, including mean ones that declared me a slut at as young an age as 12 and nice ones from girls who are still some of my closest friends today. I’m the type of person who doesn’t throw things away, despite easily blocking out large chunks of my childhood. I’m pretty sure that none of these habits are common, that I am straddling a fine line between forgetfulness and repression,that I likely appear crazy or self-obsessed or both . (That last one may be a correct assessment, since I am, after all, applying journalistic techniques to research my favorite subject: myself.)

The funny thing about reexamining the past is that I always find something new. I have a hard time remembering, and so the Lena of yesterday never seems familiar. I might as well be going through the personal documents of a stranger. Besides, I’ve changed so much that it’s hard to get a grasp of who I was or wanted to be at any given point in time. It’s a good thing that I do a better job than most of keeping track of feelings and thoughts in the moment or else my account of my life would begin somewhere at 17. Luckily, I’ve maintained multiple blogs for the past five years in which I have a record of everything from my adolescent sexual experiences to college admission anxieties to freshman year disillusionment to first loves and last loves. The girl preserved reads like a fictional character to me. Whoever I was then is always too far removed for me to get a good hold on her now. And it’s sad. It’s tragic that I forget.

It’s tragic because forgetting means throwing out the good along with the bad and though I think leaving behind the latter is a matter of self-preservation, it’s the former that makes life worth living, isn’t it? Besides, there are lessons I could learn from myself if only I had the will to remember them. I must admit that there are some things I did better at 15 than I do now. Somehow, things seemed clearer then, even when it came to what I wanted to accomplish with my writing. There are other things I’ve simply stopped knowing how to do, like letting myself fall in love without worrying about what risks it might entail.

Last night, while trying to dig up resume drafts from my inbox, I found an old email exchange with an ex-boyfriend I dated two summers ago. In it, Summer Guy (his pseudonym on my blog) said one of the most important things anyone has ever told me: “Your writing is beautiful; don’t ever stop.” To which I responded, “I’m more flattered than if you had said I was beautiful. Thank you.” The rest of the emails were about our relationship, about falling hard and fast, about — as I called it then — “love … or its short-term equivalent.” We were writing at the height of our passion for each other, and I found what I said to him remarkable because for once, reading the old Lena brought about a feeling of nostalgia, a sense that I had indeed felt that way in that moment. I remembered her. This hasn’t happened in a long time for me. Recognition of my former self, in place of embarrassment at who she was — or even worse, bafflement — has largely been rare, and yet last night, I could recall what it felt like to love someone.

I don’t love him anymore. At least not in the way that I used to. And though I consider us good friends, I enjoy Summer Guy’s company most from afar … or preferably in short spurts with breaks for good measure. But despite only harboring platonic feelings for him nowadays, recalling how much I once loved him made me smile. It reminded me that relationships are great, and believe it or not, I need the reminder. I’ve been spending the past month trying to convince myself that relationships are the precise opposite of great. Instead, they are emotionally precarious, troublesome, and unnecessary. Maybe I’m clinging desperately to my independence for fear that I will lose some part of myself in the process of falling for someone else. Maybe I simply don’t know how to respond to someone who exceeds the expectations I’ve habitually lowered in light of attached suitors and so-called liberal lovers who later balk at my ideals. Maybe I’m not willing to run the risk of abandonment. But though I’ve been afraid for weeks to make this concession, I must say: by and large, love is worth it. The fact that an email from a former boyfriend can conjure up this rare spark of recognition of the feeling is proof enough.

Love didn’t used to terrify me, and I certainly didn’t think I was scared of it but reading those emails I wrote to Summer Guy made me see how differently I am now behaving in this relationship. Because unlike the community pool, love is more like swimming in the ocean. Once you’re far out, there are no lifeguards or railings, and more often than not, your final destination is not forward but back from where you came. For the girl who used to throw herself headfirst into the water without hesitation, it seems like I’ve taken one too many steps away from the sand to remember that the view is worth it, that drowning is more fear than real possibility, that even those who never properly learned how to swim — or who have long forgotten — are capable of staying afloat.

Falling Into Like

Filed under: Love, Men — Elle December 7, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

Do you know what I haven’t had in a long time? No, not a mimosa, though that’s certainly true and a tragedy. No, not sex, I did the horizontal tango last weekend. And no, certainly not sleep, since I prioritize that over even blogging. What I’m missing is far more fanciful and much rarer than any of the above: it’s a crush.

I haven’t had one in over a year and a half. That isn’t to say I haven’t been interested in people, but I think a crush, in the true sense, is different from your typical infatuation. Unlike most of my romantic fixations which are largely bred by indiscriminate, booze-assisted sexual encounters a la typical college movie, a crush is characterized by a kind of unrequited longing. It has a touch of innocence, a pinch of uncertainty, and it creates an unresolved tension absent in relationships consummated by a date or hookup. You don’t know where things are going and you don’t know what exactly is there, but something most definitely is there. You can’t tell if the other person feels what you do or if anyone’s going to point anything out or whether you even really want this strange tango vocalized and acknowledged, because then you’d have to face it — whatever “it” is — and that would mean the internal speculation would cease. You don’t even know how you feel about that, about losing the running dialogue you have going with yourself. That uncertainty is at once frustrating for its lack of clarity and liberating for its endless possibilities. And you think, you’re pretty sure at least, that you have an inkling of what you’re getting into, but really you can’t be sure until you’re already immersed with the water high above your head, and it’s way too late to break surface for air.

That, to me, is what having a crush is like, and is it any wonder that it comes so rarely, especially here? At Harvard, you’d be hard-pressed to find legitimate crushes, to find anyone willing to cede control, willing to toss the key to their heart over to some relative stranger for a thrill ride that they are passenger to. Here life is defined by order and schedules and rules and things that emotions do not abide by. There’s a reason for that. If we allowed ourselves the luxury of taking chances and fixating on people for no reason other than that they are interesting, then we’d risk the foolish act of leaving our fate up to someone’s whims and getting into a situation where no amount of studying or persuading or networking could guarantee our desired outcome. And that is frightening for people so used to knowing where they’re going, what the best routes are, and when they expect to get there.

I don’t sympathize with my classmates. I empathize. I am no less “Harvard” than anyone else here, though I purport to be fabulously unconventional. Part of attraction is not knowing what you’re in for, but I’ve never been the type of person who becomes interested simply because there’s someone I can’t obtain. Like my peers, hard to get isn’t a game I like to play, unless I’m the referee. So when it comes to crushes, I enjoy the butterflies and speculation, but I could do without its share of wrenching doubt and torturous self-questioning. If there’s anything I can’t put up with, it’s not knowing where someone stands. That’s why when I have a crush, it doesn’t last long. I push for a satisfactory result, sometimes come up empty-handed, but either way, have some sort of conclusion, a peace.

There’s someone I think I could fall in like with, which is partially why I’m writing this entry. He hasn’t yet summoned up butterflies in my stomach, but I have a hunch that it’s only because current circumstances don’t allow for the possibility of us. It’s complicated, inconvenient, laced with the sort of obstacles that tempt me to give up and just choose someone a little easier instead. But I don’t want to give up before we’ve even really gotten started. This guy, he’s different, though Kennedy, my best girl at Harvard, argues that I think all the guys I’m into are “different” from our loafer-clad peers. So fine, he’s far from being a real rebel, but he looks at me and well, it’s not the way most guys look at me. When he talks to me, he gets it, he gets everything: where I’m coming from, how little I want to sign up for an ivy-charmed life, my self-consciousness despite the flamboyancy. And in that sense, he sees me pretty clearly, as much as someone can without having lived with me or seen firsthand what goes on behind my bedroom door. So though we may be completely unalike, there exists between us a rare sort of understanding that people don’t just stumble upon everyday.

And when I finish my papers and exams and when all of this stuff in between and in the way is finally over, when I am a bit more sure and I see him a bit more clearly, I think that I could try. I think that maybe I could forget about the map and the directions and the destination in mind and just hand over my keys and let him drive away with my heart and affections wherever he wants as fast as he wants. It’s been a long time since love, even a longer time since like, and I am finally beginning to fall in the latter. I can’t wait to see where he takes me.

Stalling on Love, Falling for Myself

Filed under: Dating/Relationships, Love — Elle November 21, 2007 @ 4:21 am

I DON’T WANT to fall in love right now. See, I have always bent to the will of others, be they my mother or 11-year-old girls or men who cried love. And this year, for the first time in twenty, is the year of Me. I learned how to say no guiltlessly, do what I want, and care less about what people think. 2007 has taught me what it means to be myself and to be by myself. It is an amazing night at this one-woman party and I am in no hurry to end a damn good time. I love myself too much to compromise on how I want my life to look.

The sexual front is not unlike the romantic. I haven’t had sex in weeks, and the last time was such a blur that I couldn’t tell you what it was like. Drunk on two glasses of wine and more than one drug, I finished off the evening’s irresponsible cocktail with doggy-style and a blowjob. Lips numb and breaths short, we came in the pitch dark on my standard dorm-room twin, first me and then him. I remember straining for it, both of us, but not much else.

My new favorite activity, in lieu of sex and dating, is flirting. It doesn’t really require anything but a casual acquaintance, and I’ve discovered that it’s sometimes the best way to get to know someone. No ulterior motives, no end goal in mind, no games but the ones you make up as you go along. There is something freeing about embarking on a mission to unravel another person, without personal agenda or incentive or even established attraction. I don’t want to sleep with you as much as I want to challenge you for the sake of provocation. I don’t want to kiss you, but I wonder about what it’ll take to get your lips on mine.

This is significant. All of it is significant if only because I am looking at the same life through a different lens in a frame I’ve grown fond of. I used to be terrible at solitude, used to rely not just on men but also on my friends to an unreasonable extent. I was an extrovert because the alternative scared me. I don’t ever want to forget what I feel right now, how I got here, and why I’ve come to like it. I don’t want to forget how to be happy by myself.

THE SCREEN OF my cell phone reads “Just woke up, babe.”

I hit dial at the number. We were supposed to go to brunch three hours before.

“It’s 2 p.m,” I tell him when he answers. My cab is already tumbling toward Center City. “I’m leaving.”

“Man, I wanted to see you.”

“Too late.”

“Where are you?”

“Getting the hell out of here.”

“Really?”

“I’m in a cab. You just missed me.” I am heading to the Greyhound station, rushing back to Boston and to real life. He is barely out of bed.

“Oh,” he says. Then a pause as it sinks in. “That sucks.”

“Your fault, not mine,” I respond matter-of-factly.

“I know, I know,” he says. “Are you mad? You sound mad.”

“I’m not mad. I just don’t like it when people don’t do what they say they will.”

The truth is that I could stay for another day, but nothing — not love and certainly not lust as it is in this case — can compel me to turn around. The previous night, my best friend called and told me in an eerie, even tone that his boyfriend had broken up with him. I almost cried at the news. Fourteen months balled up and thrown out. I have to leave. There are pieces to pick up, a person to worry after.

“When are you coming back?” he asks me.

“Darling, no offense, but Philadelphia is ugly,” I say. “There’s no way I’m visiting again before spring.”

I tell him to come to Boston instead, to be spontaneous. He lets out a sigh, a groan, a whine about how far it is.

“Oh, come on,” I urge him. “We’ll play. It’ll be fun. Just take off for a weekend without a trace. It could be like a movie.”

“Maybe,” he says, non-committally.

“Think about it.”

I hope he seriously considers my invitation, but I don’t expect him to. And I don’t actually care if he comes or calls or likes me or wants to fuck me. I am not even over the Ben Franklin Bridge and my mind is already racing along the Charles.

Out there somewhere, maybe not in Boston or Philadelphia or even New York, but out there somewhere, there is probably true love. Or at least something like it. But this boy isn’t it and even if he were, you know what? I don’t want love. Not the romantic kind, not now, not yet. I can stand to wait. For the moment, my relationship with myself is finally hitting a sweet spot. And besides, if all the movies are right, if there really is a one and only for each of us, then I think I’ve already found mine. She is more beautiful than I could’ve imagined.

In Retrospect: “Can Still Remember”

Filed under: In Retrospect, Love — Elle October 21, 2007 @ 5:29 pm

“When I close my eyes, I can still remember how you smell.

Tonight, I explained quite simply to my friends that I love you. Even though I don’t like who you are at times, I really do love you. You’ve changed everything quite irrevocably.”

– “Can Remember” December 19, 2006

Next Page >>>