Posts tagged ‘my life’

June 25, 2015

New Thoughts on Old Friends: Reflecting, Not Yearning

Have you ever had a good friendship end, then find yourself thinking about that old friend out of the blue? That happened to me. I hadn’t thought of this friend in a long time (looking back, it feels like I forgot about him for a while). And then, out of nowhere, he appears in a dream.

In the dream, we’re in a skyscraper with only stairs. No elevator, no rooms, just stairs.  He’s always just out of reach, one or two flights ahead of me. And just as I’m about to reach him at the top, he starts to go back down again. I find myself sprinting, throwing things, screaming to try to get his attention, but he’s always just far enough away. It’s maddening.

So I gave up.

I sat on the steps and cried. It felt like I cried forever. But after some time, he was sitting next to me. He wrapped his arms around me in a warm, reassuring hug in the same way that he used to. He held my shoulders, kissed my forehead and said, “You can stop now.”

When I woke up, I came to a brilliant realization about my former friendship. Something that I haven’t quite come to grips with over the years:

Our friendship ended. And that’s good.

What we had was good. We learned from each other. We grew with each other. We were there for each other. We were really dear friends. But it ended and that’s for the best. We can’t go back to what we had, even if we wanted to. We’ve grown up. We’re not the same people we were when we were friends. We probably wouldn’t get along in the same way as we did.

But maybe it’s better to remember old friends the way they were while you were in each other’s lives. People are constantly changing, learning, evolving. Chances are those old friends aren’t the same as you remember them. You’re likely not the person you were before. That’s how the world spins.

But that change shouldn’t taint your memory of them. It should make it more meaningful.

It’s beautiful, really. That in this universe, for a millisecond in the grand timeline, two completely different people, both still evolving, still moving on their separate roads through life, were able to cross paths and form a bond for even the briefest of times. And even though two straight lines only meet at a singular point in space before going off in different directions and never meeting again… that point in space is special. It’s completely unique. No other point on either of those lines will ever be identical to that; nothing will ever match that intersection in space.

Life is full of those unique intersections in space. It’s silly to yearn for that same experience a second time because the singularity of that experience is what makes it special. We can look back on those moments with fondness, but we need to realize when the moment is over.

I’ve spent a lot of time hoping for my friend back. I’ve spent time chasing down that friendship that meant so much to me, wishing it would just go back to the way it was. But it never will. I’ll never have that friendship again. Even if my friend came back into my life somehow, it would be a new experience, a new intersection in space. It will never be as it was. And therein lies the perfection.

I’m okay with being at the end of this moment. I realize that what I had was meaningful and special to me. I am grateful for the happiness that this friendship brought me. I am grateful to have had the chance to know this person. And most importantly, I acknowledge the finality of it all.

Now, I have the opportunity fully engage and embrace the next unique intersection in my life. And just like all the ones before this, it will be perfect in its peculiarity.

December 11, 2013

Emasculating Men: A Fiction Packaged as Fact

No, we’re not talking about castration. If that’s what you’re here for, I’m sorry to disappoint you. This is about the other definition for emasculate:

emas·cu·late  transitive verb \i-ˈmas-kyə-ˌlāt\
: to make (a man) feel less masculine : to deprive (a man) of his male strength, role, etc.
: to make (something) weaker or less effective

Despite how many of us women were raised, it’s not our job to make accommodations in our lives for the male ego. I see it time and time again, where an otherwise powerful and independent woman feels this pang of obligation to let a man do something for her that she could very well do on her own. 

You see women feign weakness so that a man can open a bottle for her. Women walk slower so that men can get to the door first. Women resist the knee-jerk reaction to reach for the bill at dinner. You even see women pretending to be more drunk than they actually are so that men can feel like they have more self-control. But why? Why would anyone put so much effort into something as silly as this? When I ask men what they think about this practice, even they are stunned. “Why would you want to make yourself look like an idiot?” 

We do it because we’ve been taught to. Because many of us have been conditioned since childhood to give men opportunities to feel superior to women. We’ve been taught how to constantly look like we’re in need of assistance. Somewhere down the line, it was decided for us that in order for a man to feel normal (AKA to feel “like a man”), he needs to always have something to hold over a woman. Strength, power, influence, money. And we, as women, have been told that if you treat a man with the respect that his male role entitles him to, then he will in turn be gracious enough to use his strength, power, influence, and money to your benefit. 

Essentially, women have been taught to do one thing over another (far easier) thing, for fear of emasculating her male counterpart.

This reminds me of an interesting conversation I once had with my father. I was probably only seventeen at the time and we were at a family friend’s house to watch a boxing match. My family – including my father, mother, younger sister, and partner – were all in attendance. My partner and I were talking to some friends and I brought up an anecdote about my partner getting really, really scared during a horror movie. Everyone laughed and enjoyed the story. But moments later, my father approached me and asked to speak to me in private.

We moved away from the group and my father said to me, “You can’t do that.” When I asked him what he was referring to, he said, “You can’t tell everyone that he was scared and you weren’t. Do you know how emasculating that is for a man? You need to apologize.” 

I looked at my partner from across the room and he seemed perfectly fine to me, smiling and laughing away with our friends. He didn’t seem betrayed or embarrassed, so I was confused as to why my father was so concerned.

Later that week, I brought it up with my partner. I asked him if I made him feel embarrassed when I told that story and he said no. He said it was funny and if the tables had been turned, he would have told the same story about me. “We pick on each other because we love each other. That’s just what we do,” he said. 

That was a really defining moment in my life. And without really meaning to, my father changed the entire dynamic of our father-daughter relationship. Because in that moment, I felt that he put protecting the social construction of masculinity and the role of the man over the contentment and happiness of his daughter. He essentially drew a line in the sand, saying, “These are the things you cannot do if you want to be a good woman for your partner,” and dared me to cross it. 

The fact of the matter is that there is no one-size-fits-all for interactions between men and women. There is no single right way to do things. If your significant other wants to pay for your dinner and you want them to pay for your dinner, that’s great. As long as the two of you agree that that’s the way you want to handle the situation, then it works for you! And that’s awesome!

But you should never feel like you have to sacrifice your authenticity to accommodate for someone else’s feel-goods. Whoever decided that was okay was – in my opinion – an idiot. In a truly great relationship – romantic or otherwise – both parties should feel like they contribute equally to the success of the relationship. If one person constantly needs to feel superior to the other, that should be a big red flag that something needs fixing. 

July 19, 2013

And you will never know / Just how beautiful you are to me

I always thought that when two people are in love, they love in the exact same way. That everything is equal. I’d subscribed to that mindset through the first year and a half of my current relationship. But then I moved away and I learned a very valuable lesson:

In every relationship, there will always be one person who feels that they love more.

I’m not saying that this is correct, though for some people it very well could be. But it always feels that way for one or both parties. Because love is so confusing and multidimensional and traumatizing. We feel this way because people just show affection differently.

I guess the best way to illustrate is to tell you about my relationship with my partner. He and I have been together for four and a half years. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve fought through scary situations together. We’ve been there for each other through death, depression, inexplicable fear, you name it. And he’s perfect.

God, if I took the time out to describe this man to you, I’d run out of space… and time. He’s gorgeous; it’s like looking at the fucking sunrise. He’s so smart, too. He’s good at everything that I’m bad at and he always makes me look like such an idiot. And he’s got these adorable freckles all over his back. And that’s why I love summer so much; because I get to see them. Kissing him is like a religious experience. God, it’s fucking insane. And every time he cuts his hair, I go into this state of mourning and I don’t even know why because it’s always perfect, no matter what length it is.

I love everything about this guy. Like, literally everything. Even the things that drive me insane, like when he can’t put down his fucking phone when he’s car shopping. Or how every trip, no matter where we’re going or why we’re going there, ends in us looking at fishing lures. Or that I’m always the one to apologize first, even if it’s not my fault, and he just loves it. If he didn’t do those things – the things that make me want to scream at him – I’d feel like something was missing from him. He’s just so… complete. He’s so perfect and flawed and irritating and beautiful.

And every time I want to tell him how much I love him, I stop. And I revise. And I tone it down. Because there’s always a nagging feeling inside me that says I love him more than he loves me. There’s that little voice that says I should really only go about 75% of the way, or I might scare him off. That maybe I should wait for him to say “I love you” first this time. Every time I get the urge to buy him a gift, I wait and think about whether or not it would be too much. That maybe my gift-giving intervals should be longer? I write him a letter nearly every day, but I almost never send it to him because he’d probably think I was crazy.

I like to think that I don’t love him more, that we love each other pretty equally. I think we just express our affection in different forms, in different waves. For me, showing him that I love him means writing him poems and painting a picture and buying him a puppy and paying a pilot to write “I love you” in the sky. And for him, it’s a lot quieter.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel his love, because I do. It may not be as out there as I’d do it. But all it takes is a kind word or a stupid voicemail on my birthday (that I never delete)… and he’s got me hooked all over again.

Sometimes, I find myself saying, “He just doesn’t love me the way that I love him.” But then I think about how stupid it is to expect an entirely different human being to think the exact same way that I do when it comes to love. That’s such a ridiculous expectation, right? That almost seems cruel to ask that of someone.

No, I don’t think he’d risk getting arrested to hop on stage at an Ed Sheeran concert and proclaim his love to me on both knees. That sounds like something I would do, sure. But that’s not his style. He’s the kind of person that would say it in the way he kisses my cheek while asking me to get out from between him and the stove. He’d be the guy who would hold my hand for five of the six hours on the road to Idaho, even if my hand gets sweaty. He’s the one who goes and gets waffles because I say, “Waffles sound delicious right now.”

We’re not the same, and we never will be. But the way he says “I love you” makes me really happy. And I think that matters a lot.