I shouldn’t have poked my curiosity. I did anyway. Watched more than I wanted.
Boiling rage. As cold as the setting of that last piece… How dare your character be revealed as so incredible, so sensitive, yet you act like this.
I exit YouTube, leave the magic, shut out the idealization, feel the futility wash over me as I realize I must get over you. And I am defeated, because the rhetorical weight of wanting to be with you has finally made me collapse.
My success ratio for connection is not high, but I keep trying anyway. Everything is input — for the stories in my head that I can write someday or have already written — everything is backlogged in my memory. Every interaction is sacred and important. I can’t small-talk to save my life, but I will always talk to save a potential meaningful conversation.
Someone curiously meta-asked me if I can ask anyone questions, and if most of my conversations are deep. I thought about this. I mean, yes. I win my bread by asking others questions and having a good way of expressing it/myself… but stories are just that. Explanations of events. Unlocking their meaning is not something to be done aggressively, but teased out, slowly but surely. I’m always using questions to dig to the core of someone’s soul, thus only some give me answers that truly satisfy. Only a few and brave open the cavities of their hearts and let me have a brief glance in.
Oops, sorry if I treat hangouts like interrogations. It’s just that I am searching… searching for an “aha!” moment where I can tell my soul and the other’s is on the same page and we are gazing at each other.
Most people are taken aback when they hear me ask after them so aggressively. Some are flattered but still frazzled.
And then there’s particular — rare — times where I sense that someone was anticipating connection before I even opened my mouth. I can tell from the way their eyes shine as they answer with yearning, like they were wanting someone to care, someone to be worth opening up to… and it is just so refreshing because that’s what I always seek too. They are perhaps shy, but still ready, as the way the words pour out of their mouth makes it clear it’s not a familiar sensation of being understood or understanding, but one they’re ready for.
And then that’s where the floodgates open. I feel comfortable asking about your dreams, your mother, your bewitchments, your search for truth or meaning — and TELLING YOU ABOUT MINE —
Ask me the right questions, and I let my guard down and give real grins. I even feel comfortable telling you I like the way you started caressing my leg under the table. And I want, figuratively, to keep feeling this way, as our hands find each other, you gaze into me while throwing your arm around me like old times and we walk together holding on into the night.
It’s been a while since I saw you, but I couldn’t ever forget you. I’ve never stopped thinking about the stories you’ve told to countless audiences. I was curious one day, when I heard a tale of your famous elite troupe in a taxi in New York City, and I had to see for myself. And I watched videos from years ago, your hair cut differently, your skin a little smoother, but the man pouring his heart out was the same who’d danced with me like Mia and Sebastian. And everything clicked.
What was brought to light was an endless curiosity about you I’d already experienced every time my mind drifted. The pondering of your existence on the plane back from Vegas, the metro in DC, the streets of New York, a library in Boston, the beach in Mexico, the pier in LA.
I wondered where your quill has taken you — if it’s a beautiful tribute to the words that have gotten you far, or a painful reminder of the words that have been left unsaid because of the scars that haven’t healed. I wondered how many people have asked after your quill, and how many stuck around to hear the answer. And I itched to know. I spent the first few months wondering how to start a deep conversation over text, wanting to ask you more, probe you deeper, but being limited by social propriety. For on the surface, we were just two kids who met at a club. And since this year started, I fear we seem bound to be just two kids who once met at a club.
Now, I resignedly don’t expect to hear from you ever. Soon, I’ll live, work and play in the same city as you, the one others had also suggested I consider for my career, the one you welcomed me to but left me in, the one that shatters dreams just as it creates them. I’m excited for the future, one without self-imposed exile. Although I am afraid even if distance didn’t divide us, you’ll continue to not be around. You’re in your bubble. You will be the MIA Mia to my Sebastian after one date. I guess my introduction to full-time disillusionment in the city of stars can begin with this heartbreak.
To me, our brief interactions always felt anything but casual, so intimate that it scared me I was delusional. And could it be you could want me too? Because what a rare feat it was in my travels befriending so many to even happen upon you, with a voice like honey and eyes that smolder and a soul that’s open for all to embrace, like you were out of my dreams. No matter how I’m upset with you, still you’re the kind of person worth crying about, with or without my idealizations. The pain of uncertainty about you is a privilege.
And goddamn, it was scary. Goddamn did I not want to like someone at this crossroads where my life was rocked with uncertainty. But I did. I don’t know how I acted, for half the time I felt I stuttered in your presence and the facade of smooth Crystal had fallen. I fell for you, in a way I never knew I could, and I wanted all of the adventures that come with being with someone like you — even if the timing was wrong, please someday. But now was way too soon, too painful to think about actualizing too early, for we lived in separate worlds as I went on trying to build my life while you solidified yours. I worried and feared and drilled into my head to not care for you, who had his life together already, and did not likely seem interested in joining another’s scattered scraps.
But I had no choice but to be honest with myself — I wanted to be with you, who brought me to tears with his transparency, something I thought only I dared to engage. I always assumed this kind of feeling would elude me, maybe for decades. Finding it barely out of college made me worry that maybe you wouldn’t wait around for me to show up in your path. And as time goes on, that’s unfortunately what’s more realistic right now. And I have no choice but to withdraw interest in watching your life go on through social media, yearning through pictures and statuses, hoping I’ll randomly bump into you this winter… taking action to set boundaries in the here and now, hurt by passivity. It’s not healthy for me, while I’m trying to find myself, to want someone as badly as I want you with no guarantee.
But I can’t help myself anyway. I can’t stay angry. I still watch those videos where you pour your heart out, your intimate confessions curling in my ears, your shaky passionate voice captured on tape, and I’m pained by how much I want to gather those feelings firsthand. Precious they are, though I’m afraid that part of your life was limited edition and only accessible so long as others were watching. Maybe what I want is now a ghost, a Christmas present past, or something about to be claimed by another more worthy. But still I drank in everything about you, accidentally making you my prince – wondering if, like the people in your stories, you thought anything beautiful about me too – wondering if you’d ever want to share again with me, an audience of one –
But I can’t judge you because I don’t know you, not in the way that counts. And I can’t want you because it’s not a good time, and it’s not fair! I know my life, with its transitions and situational depression, isn’t set up to be with anyone at this very moment either way. Which is such a damn shame, because I wish with no strings attached to know you now. Is there some way? If I had to, I would’ve traded getting to see your peaceful sleeping face or feel your hands stroking my hair if it meant I could hear you tell me the entire history of your broken childhood and the entire 9 yards of your producing dreams. I would’ve traded my physical moments, if that were the price of hearing the depths of your soul from your actual mouth. God would I have given anything to go to another diner with you and get even one night more.
Still, I got my hopes up that this brief fling was not my imagination. That we are kindred spirits – that we do have a connection – that I see an important part of your true personality. And the kinds of pain you write about – your dad, your boys, your grandma, your ex – meant you also weren’t interested in living a life continuing the same mistakes. That you wanted to challenge yourself harder even as pain got worse. And I began, like Rachel Dawes, to hope…
But the man I want to see isn’t beneath the mask. You’re not Batman, dreamy, principled and out to save the underdog. You’re far away, tending to your private world of pain, and don’t intend to be near. You’re busy with your affairs trying to be the hero you deserve and need, with no room to take a chance on another sad little person. Maybe that means one day you’ll be a less psychologically damaged Bruce (for he never took care of himself emotionally). But as for me, I don’t know where to begin, because accepting this fact inspires emotion I have not felt in quite some time. Fear. Sorrow. Regret. Unworthiness. Perhaps I expected too much from the universe after the last person I cared about died, and I wanted the next man that touched me – although between the sheets, more so in my VERY SOUL – to be mine.
All I have now is your words to inspire me, metaphysically, because the speaker doesn’t seem to want to matter right now. Never I have cried and pined more for such a man who I don’t have confirmation exists, because maybe this situation made me accidentally wonder about love itself. Wanting you to do something you’re not going to – or may never – do. At least not now.
How pitiful. Do I take it to heart that there’s silence, because everything else in my life also feels fragile and unanswered? Maybe. I blame me. I want so badly to not be average, and I’m so lost right now, that I assign meaning to everyone else in my life. That means implicit expectations of how people should or shouldn’t be in my life. It’s okay if you don’t ever want to be. You had the misfortune of being the object of my intense affection. Forgive the pressure, and the candor. But in case this is only a temporary tie-up…
“I don’t expect you to do anything, I just want you to know I want you.” I am someone who cares. And I am not bitter, and I trust you are doing what’s best for you.
I think of how you poured your heart out to others without having to make direct eye contact, and the validation of that applause was enough to make you feel like your feelings are worth something… I relate. I also talk too much, and do too little. Visceral emotion is easy when there’s a mass and faceless readership here. It’s much safer than talking face to face with a live person who might reject you or laugh at you… or silence you. Here, I feel like I can dwell on the soft and sad things that my day job doesn’t let me feel all the way or that I don’t think my day friends would want to hear. And my creativity, so unfiltered and vulnerable, is safe here. On other blogs, it’s the “Feels” section or the “Forbidden Zone.” Here, it’s just a part of me, words scribbled late at night to the tune of Studio Ghibli soundtracks.
You and I, we’re more alike than you think. And that’s what’s so counterintuitive – I have always attained connection with most people, but the one I want to connect with most would rather avoid me. My whole life, I’ve struggled with expressing things that could make me pathetic. I keep it casual in person because it’s easier for everyone. I’m sociable, well-liked, but my connections are fleeting. Being vulnerable feels like a curse, for what if I’m revealed to be bothering others? Intimacy feels like a gamble I don’t want to lose – I could win big by admitting aloud how I feel, or I could look clingy and repulsive. Confessing someone makes my knees go weak makes me want to vomit. Months ago, I would’ve never told the faceless audience that I was suffering from unrequited love, the biggest cliche in anyone’s book. But now I’m okay with just being. I’m learning to take an L. Boy has it been hard to view that as a blessing – to push past fear. But now I’m content…
It’s been hard to let go of you. But while my life keeps moving, I harbor no resentment. Because, like Rachel Dawes said, maybe the person I want to see is still out there, somewhere. Maybe some day, when you don’t have your mask on and maybe I’m right that someone who yearns for connection lurks underneath, I’ll see him again.
And when I wake up in the morning after a late night of writing, I always send up a prayer of gratitude for all the other wordsmiths out there, that whatever art they’re stirring up today makes the world I live in that much more meaningful, and I also send up a prayer that they’ll do well and feel nurtured and satiated as they are now. You stand out among that group. And you stand out in my life, whether you’re here or not. And by mentioning this in the most declarative of ways, Modern Love essay columns be damned, I have truly let go.
So I hope that quill and the stories you write with that arm are making the best of where you are now. Because one day, months, years or even parallel universes from now, I plan on finding you in the streets of La La Land. I’m going to open my arms, throw you my biggest grin, and to your actual face shamelessly bellow a soliloquy I penned myself about how much of a shit the world should give about what you have to say. And then, maybe in this lifetime, maybe you’ll lead me in person down that street afterward to the sound of my urging you to never stop telling me your stories, the memories inked across your brain, forever and ever. And this is the wish I have, on the stars, that I’ll get to see you again through serendipitous means. And you’ll smile that dazzling grin on me again, and make my knees weak in the way I crave. Bet.
In the meantime, you’re just another dude.
Then why can’t I sleep at night
And why don’t the moon look right
The sound’s up, the TV’s on
And it’s a great big world