Archive for February, 2010

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The Universe Is Not Against Me

February 25, 2010

It  just seems that way sometimes.

So, some background.  With the exception of a couple one night stands in ’05, ’06 and ’08, the entirety of my romantic successes occurred in 2007.  I’m sure astrologers would have some fruitcake explanation about my This being in retrograde or my That being in full moon or something. For whatever reason, 2007 was my year.

On the stage of The Chosen Year, I played three major parts: The Other Woman, The Untouchable and The Rebound.

The roles of The Other Woman and The Rebound are probably self-explanatory.  As The Untouchable, I met the only  man I’ve ever truly fallen in love with, who, unfortunately, was in a serious long term relationship.  Conveniently, we were cast opposite one another as husband and wife, so I got to pretend for a while. The problem was we kept forgetting to “get divorced” when the curtain fell each night, which resulted in an intensely emotionally intimate relationship, which could never be consummated.  It made for great sexual tension on stage, made for incredible heartache offstage.

So about two weeks ago, I’m not really even sure what possessed me, I decided to look at the profile of the man for whom I played The Rebound. We are not “FB friends,” or friends of any kind for that matter. Before I clicked on his name in the search results, I had this gut feeling that I was going to open the page, and it was going to say he was married. And, sure enough, up pops the profile and he is “…Married To…..”

This wasn’t easy to swallow.  When he told me he “just wasn’t ready to be in a relationship again,” I took him at his word, until he was with someone else – I believe this same woman he’s now married to – a month or so after we went our separate ways. So, yeah, I was hurt, and I’m still hurting. It happens. And to see him married to this person was salt in the wound.

Then, two days later, I had to go onto the page of my counterpart as The Untouchable (we are, in fact, still friends of the general and FB variety) to look for contact information for a mutual friend of ours, and, lo and behold, I get to his page and HE is also now married.

Awesome.

I won’t go into details, but you can imagine the scene wasn’t pretty.

Then, about a week later, at a party at the home of my costar in The Other Woman, I learn that he, too, is married.

Fuck you, too, Universe.

As my therapist said, it’s gotta stop there, right? Things happen in threes?

Now, I’m not saying I want to be married to, or even be dating any of these men. It just puts a big white wall up behind the big black hole of my romantic life, outlining a crisp, sharp contrast.

My superego is eating it up.  The Itty Bitty Shitty Committee is having a field day, reminding me over and over how this just illustrates that love is a game everyone else gets to play and I’m just not good enough to get on a team.

I shudder to admit this, but there’s this odd feeling of sadistic pleasure my body feels just typing that. Not that it actually feels good to tell myself that – in fact it feels acidic, demeaning and incredibly painful – but there’s this comfort to it. It’s the story I know, the one that particular voice has been telling me over and over and over since I was in middle school, and kids started pairing up all around me.

A good friend of mine recently made the incredibly brave and courageous decision to finally seek therapy, and come out as a parental domestic abuse victim.  When we were talking about therapy, I mentioned how storytelling – the ability to claim your path as your own and talk about it – is a uniquely human gift.  Animals don’t get to tell stories, but we have this bizarre frontal lobe and language processing center for some Darwinian reason that allows us to speak of our past, extrapolate on our present, and fantasize about the future, which can be used for any intention, but I think the most noble of which is investigating one’s own life, and being willing to talk about it.

However, this invention can also be co-opted by the parts of us that have been patterned to self-loathe, self-demean and harm, and storytelling can be a dangerous tool in the wrong hands.  This story I keep telling myself – you’re not ever going to find someone to love you, it’s going to be the life-long wrench in your otherwise functioning machine – is a hard one to turn off after years and years of hearing it.

If you started reading Babar the Elephant to me right now, I’ll probably recognize it immediately, and feel comforted by the story I recognize, having heard it repeated numerous times. In the same way, even the most painful stories we repeat to ourselves about our inadequacies bear an insidious level of comfort in their presence, and wallowing is often far easier than standing up out of the mire.

I’m trying to write a new story; trying to recognize my field as fundamentally narrow – there just aren’t a ton of single straight men in New York who don’t really drink – and recognize that it’s a choice to stick to that field, and, as my therapist says, it only takes one.  Writing a new story is proving to take a colossal effort, but until that time, I’m trying to stop seeing my situation as some omnipotent practical joke, and instead just a function of Right Now.

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Take my peel. Please.

February 9, 2010

People seemed to be a fan of my subway story from my last piece… from what feels like months ago now.  Conveniently, shortly after I wrote that, I had another great subway experience, though this one is more pedestrian, I still think it’s neat.

I was sitting in a moderately full 6 train headed to one of my Upper East Side jobs, eating citrus of some sort – could have been a blood orange, could have been a clementine, could have been a grapefruit. This time of year I can usually be found with something Vitamin-C-ish in my hands.  Simultaneously, the fellow across from me – a very well dressed, business-suited, shiny-shoed, neatly coiffed Asian lawyer type – was eating a bagel out of a white paper bag.

We both happened to finish our respective meals at the same time, he left with his bag in his hand, me left with my peel.  I noticed his bag, and had the thought, how awkward would it be if I asked him if I could put my orange peel in his paper bag?  I mean… is it rude to ask a stranger to take your refuse from you, if they’re holding a refuse container?  I settled on yes. Definitely. And probably even giggled a little at myself that I had thought to do so.

But maybe a stop or so later, Mr. Lawyer caught my eye, waved his bag at me and asked if I would like to put my orange peel in the bag!  I smiled my usual talking-to-strangers smile, put the peel in and thanked him.  I was going to just let it go, but I couldn’t help myself.  After a few beats I looked up and said (startling him, in the way any New Yorker knows you can be startled even when a harmless looking stranger like me talks to you), “you know, I actually thought about asking you if I could do that, but I thought it would rude to ask a stranger to take my trash.”

He just sort of chuckled and went back to his reading, but it was the laugh I got out of the seemingly dozing lady sitting next to me that really nailed the experience home. The nature of the laugh was completely clear in its intention – she had thought the exact same thing. She had observed the 5 square feet of shared space the three of us maintained in this car, and made the same assessment we all had – that orange peel should go in that trash bag, and there’s no easy way to breech the subject.

Though when the lawyer got off at his stop he didn’t give me the “have a good one” or similar that I was hoping for – to really seal in this odd connection – I still got off the train beaming at the whole experience.

A favorite meditation teacher of mine, Sylvia Boorstein, said something at the last retreat I went on with her that immediately popped into my head after this experience.  We spend all this energy in life considering the big question, right? “What is the meaning of life?”  “Why the hell are we all here?” “Why does anything exist at all?” But in moments of connection with other human beings, those questions slip away. It’s not that they’re answered, they’re just not really there, they don’t take any mental prevalence anymore. The interpersonal connection matters enough, if just for that instant, that the big questions don’t have to.

I’m not saying this is any grand, spiritual occurrence, or that there’s any more meaning to it than a stranger being nice, I’m just saying comfort in this suffering, confusing, absurd reality can be found in small moments.  When the conductor of the G-train smiles at me as I wait for the F (two poles down from the bench, perfect location for F-to-6-transfer. Obviously.), or when the ladies at my laundromat tell me “yah yah. Just leave it, we know you, ready tomorrow, ok ba-bayeee,” or when someone I barely know at AA tells me she really likes my presence at the meeting, the other shit – if just for a millisecond, drops away.

We are interconnected beings. Everyone, everywhere has an effect on everyone, everywhere else; and no one anywhere doesn’t effect everyone.  This is an esoteric concept, but when compassion and kindness come close even briefly, I think that interbeing is the resonant force that brightens our suffering – if just for a fleeting moment.

But what do I know? I want to give my trash to strangers…