June 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
She softly shuts the door behind her, numb to everything. There’s a roaring white silence deafening her ears and a lukewarm fogginess blurring her eyes.
She pulls out the squeaky swivel chair at her desk and slumps into it, unaware, for once, of its awful creaking. Nudging herself around by lethargic toes, she stares at her laptop where it lies still and shut on her desk.
The evening flashes briefly in her mind, and she squeezes her eyes shut as if in pain. As if? No, it is painful. She wishes that she could just purge her mind of the memory even though she knows full well that erasing it will do nothing to change the reality.
Ignorance is bliss, they say. Ha. Only until all that reality that you’ve tried so hard to ignore, deny, turn a blind eye to, comes right up to slap you in the face. Repeatedly.
She stares at her laptop, lying peaceful and unruffled by that reality.
Seized by a sudden hot burst of anger, she violently flips it open and logs in. Whipping out a new document, she’s stopped by the perverse blank whiteness with its annoying blinking cursor before starting to type hesitantly. Her vision’s still a bit blurry, her ears are still roaring, and her mind is still frozen but somehow, somewhere, words are plopping out like the reluctant few drops at the end of a drink.
I don’t know who you are but I hope you don’t find me terribly rude or selfish or attention-seeking or lacking some aspect of character for what I’m about to say. Or rather, dump on you for lack of a better resource.
In short, I’m about to whine and rant and complain and snivel and cry and yell and all sorts of unpleasant verbs that entail some sort of emotional release of negativities. Please bear with me, and I apologize in advance.
She pauses, reviewing what she just wrote. Then inhaling slowly, she continues to carefully tap the keys.
Anyway, I’ve concluded that I am romantically doomed. Yes, yes, I know, it sounds like the usual annoying snuffling of a young woman who’s having trouble in the dating department, but it’s not about that. At least, not directly or mainly, though I guess I can’t completely promise that it’s out of the picture.
She pauses again, unsure of where to go next. Her fingers hover, trembling slightly, above the keyboard.
Geez, I don’t know where to start. I’m a young woman in her early twenties. Though I have gone on a couple of dates and kissed a few guys, I’ve never had a relationship, much the less slept with anyone, whether casually or romantically.
She thinks back to the few times she’s said yes. The first one was a foreign exchange student in high school. Was it sophomore year? They went to see a movie — she remembers clearly, too, which one it was, and it upsets her slightly that such a nice movie should be associated with such an awkward memory — and during it, he somehow scooted her into his lap at a very uncomfortable, cramping angle, and kissed her sloppily. It was even worse because he had an overbite that kept clinking against her teeth. And god, all the saliva.
Shaking her head, she moves on to the second one. She met him at an indie art theatre event that her friends dragged her to, the kind of thing where people dress up in outrageous scandalous costumes. She herself was in her “nice” matching pink lace bra and panty set, over which was a white crop blouse and a really short red plaid skirt. According to her friends that dressed her, the idea was “naughty school girl”. They were waiting in line for the midnight showing when one of her friends started talking with the guy in front of them. Blonde, tall, and kind of cute. He sat next to her during the show and at some sort of cue from the actors that she missed, he started making out with her. Yes, it was that kind of event. Normally, she would have pushed him away, shocked speechless, but with the atmosphere of the event being as it was, she just fell into it. That, and well, the guy was an incredible kisser. She still blushes at the memory alone. They tried going on a few dates after that but to her profound embarrassment and horror, she found that she wasn’t actually attracted to the guy at all, and let him down as gently as she could after the third date.
Another time, she was in Japan and visiting a couple of friends. One of them wanted to grab lunch with her so she agreed readily and cheerfully. Not only did he pay for her lunch but they also ended up spending the rest of the day together with him taking her to all these places because he heard that she was “interested in these sort of things,” which included various anime and adorable clothing stores. Partway through, it started to rain like Niagara Falls, so he bought an umbrella they could share. That soon proved to be difficult though, so he bought another one for her. She had a lot of fun, but being the dense blockhead that she is, it didn’t occur to her till she came back from Japan that the whole thing had been a date. Which lead to the very mortifying memory of when she confessed her crush to him through a letter some number of years back.
She sighs. After that, she just gave up on the dating scene altogether, turning down every guy that asks her out.
The thing is, my initial crushing never lasts long enough for an actual relationship so I’ve just stopped acting upon them. Now, whenever I start feeling attracted to someone, I question it, I run away from it. I don’t want it yet there it looms, demanding all of my attention. Crushes are annoying; I can’t think, I can’t focus on my schoolwork or my friends or what’s important to me, and it would be fine if I had the confidence to act upon them, to have one half of the equation stable and secure, but I don’t because my crushes usually fade within a week to a month after confessing. And that’s just incredibly unfair to the guy, not to mention incredibly awkward and embarrassing for me.
Romance is just so incredibly awkward, and my dominant attitude towards it even now is that it’s just too much trouble.
Nothing significant of a romantic nature happened to her till she entered college. There was that one guy she made out with at the sponsored rave. She groans and pinches her nose at the memory; the guy was pretty hot but a dickhead, and she should have said no from the start. At least, she said no to anything further than kissing.
Then there were the two times she was confessed to, both by a friend, though fortunately they don’t know each other. She felt awful because the one asked her out to dinner and she said yes without realizing what he meant. He actually paused, looked at her, and said, “You do know I’m not asking as friend, right?” Eyes wide, she stammered out an apology as she turned him down.
The other one, she still feels awful about even now. One of her closest friends confessed to her, but with the addendum that he knows he has no chance, has listened to her when she angsted over crushes, and that he just wanted to let her know in the get-it-off-his-chest kind of way, but that he’s completely fine with being friends. That he doesn’t want to lose her friendship. And she felt awful because she would have loved to love this guy in that kind of way, they get along so well and share so many interests and personality traits, but her brain chemistry was just like, nope, no beef, and continues to remain that way. She loves this guy in every other way possible, though.
It’s so incredibly awkward and troublesome yet there are times I wish I had the confidence to seek it out.
This is ridiculous! I probably one of the most outgoing people I know! I’m a Leo, born in the year of the monkey, and an ENFP (if you know about Meyer-Briggs). Every single one of them talks about extroversion and being a “social butterfly”. It’s just layers and layers of friendliness on the cake of gregariousness. Social confidence! I can strike up conversations with strangers in the most random of places, like a bus, train, line, or store.
The faces of all her friends flash before her eyes, all smiling and laughing. She never considered herself ‘popular’ until some friends told her so. When she argued vehemently that she wasn’t, they just smirked and said that just not anybody can become famous campus-wide and know as many people as she does within their first year of college.
Her mom also told her that she was quite famous among teachers, students, and parents alike at her small high school. But that’s because it’s so small so no one can really make an argument out of that, could they? Though, yes, everyone knew her by name, and always exclaimed, “Oh, you’re her mom!” whenever her mom introduced herself.
She chews her lip. She’s definitely not shy about making a name for herself or meeting people, that’s for sure.
Yet here I am, terrified of romantic relationships. There’s my problem of shallow affections but on top of that, every time I think of dating, it always carries, like a smelly shadow, the idea of marriage with it, that every guy I date could potentially become “that guy”, the one I give my heart to, settle down with, and live the rest of my life with.
And that just scares the fucking crap out of me.
Having only ever experienced shallow feelings, how could it ever be possible for me to have such a level of affection that would enable such a long-term commitment? It’s just not possible, in my eyes.
Not possible for her, but not impossible in general.
I know that there are successful marriages but from what I can glean from news and media portrayals, those are more on the uncommon side.
And it’s even rarer to find such an ideal marriage like my friend Loraine’s. As cliched and cheesy as it sounds, she literally has a loving husband and two gorgeous children.
Seriously, though. The older one is all porcelain skin, straight platinum hair, and piercing blue eyes, quiet, intellectual, and artsy, while the younger, who’s full of bouncing energy and loves sports, has golden skin, curly honey-brown hair, and warm milk chocolate eyes.
She hasn’t seen them in years and wonders how they’ve grown. The older one should be close to graduating high school, either in his last or second-to-last year, while the younger one is either end of middle or beginning of high school.
Also, the relationship between the parents couldn’t be more beautiful.
She remembers when she visited their home, Loraine and her husband would openly kiss and cuddle in front of everyone. And she didn’t believe couples actually did this, but the two of them would also argue about the well-being of the other, like criticizing overworking and reminding the other of the body’s limits, etc. And the way they would look at each other; she felt like she was trespassing onto some intimate and holy moment between the two so she would always look away. Except when she does, Loraine would tell her, “You don’t have to look away. There’s nothing embarrassing about love.”
You’d think I would choke on all the sugary cheesiness of it all but it’s not sugary or cheesy at all, somehow. Call me what you will, but I always tear up a little when I think of them.
That, and there was always a tiny bitter sting of envy.
She once asked how Loraine and her husband met. Loraine simply answered, “I went to a restaurant with a friend, saw the waiter, and said to her, ‘I’m going to marry that man.'” When she gaped stupidly like a fish and asked how she knew, Loraine just said, “You just know.”
She narrows her eyes at the screen. If only life was so convenient for her. How the fuck does one just simply know? People say that all the time yet it’s the most unhelpful piece of garbage ever! It’s a truth that can’t be fact.
She wishes she could just know with each of her crushes rather than dithering over not whether the guy likes her back or not, but rather if her feelings are true this time around or not.
What she needs is a way out, some way she could just leave without any messy complications like a divorce. Something like an escape route, just in case.
And then there are people like that one thespian couple. I don’t remember their names but I think they’re from somewhere in Europe. They’re not married but they might as well be; if I heard right, I think they’re longtime partners, and they even have children, but they have no plans to get married anytime soon.
Once, she had said that marriage was overrated. Her (recently-married) teacher had heard, and told her that were certain legal benefits that came with getting married. She had frowned at the time, and wonders even now if those kind of “legal benefits” are the only things necessitating marriage. Though, granted, she doesn’t know the nature or magnitude of these benefits, but still, marriage doesn’t seem important in the areas that count, like the emotions or intimacy. Maybe it helped with the commitment part, but that shouldn’t be a problem if the other two are strong.
I find their relationship beautiful, too, though, because their heartstrings are strong enough to keep them connected without the influence of a legal contract. It’s like they’re saying, “We don’t need something like a marriage to prove that we love each other unconditionally.”
If I get the chance someday, I would like to ask them what such a deep level of love and affection feels like.
Commitment. Depth. Love.
That’s what it all boils down to, isn’t it?
I guess, no, I’m pretty sure the reason why I’m so romantic-phobic is due to my parents’ relationship.
It could be worse, I’m always aware of that. It could be worse in a multitude of ways, like alternate paths through a dark wood.
They don’t fight
Memories whir through her mind: Her dad chasing her mom and slapping her with a shoe, her dad throwing a step ladder at her mom one time, her mom screaming tearfully at her dad about how he never cares about the family, about her anymore. There was this one memorable time in Japan where she went to dinner with her parents at a fancy restaurant, and some guy recognized her dad, “the famous surgeon of so-and-so show”. The rest of the dinner, her dad chatted animatedly with this guy, completely ignoring them, while she watched her mom stew in increasing frustration. The tension between her parents stressed her out so much, she had to sprint to a restroom on the walk back to the hotel. Her dad had followed her, deeming it dangerous for her to go alone, leaving her mom completely lost and utterly bewildered as to where they went. When she and her dad returned to the hotel, her mom screamed and cried and sobbed, slamming her bag against the floor as she yelled at her dad for caring more about his superstar reputation than their family. Grimacing at the memory, she remembers how she had retreated to the bathroom until it sounded like her mom had calmed down.
Her dad doesn’t beat her mom till she’s broken and bleeding on the ground, though. There’s that, at least.
They don’t fight in any way that causes extreme alarm, and they’re still married at least. My dad still supports us financially, and we’re well off, socioeconomically.
But that doesn’t change the fact that my parents’ relationship is quite horrid as it is.
I don’t understand it, not one whit.
How are they still together when my dad treats my mom like utter shit?
She struggles over which bit to type in. How her dad is never home, always on the go. She’s lucky if she sees him three times in a year, and those “times” can be anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days. They live near an airport so her dad often “pops in” if his layover is long enough. Though that entails that her mom battle airport traffic four times within the span of a day to cart him between the house and the airport.
It’s ridiculous how her dad always expects her mom to jump at his every beck and call like some sort of fucking dog. She does all the cleaning, laundry, and cooking while her dad lazes at the couch, flipping the channels. And since he’s a technology-illiterate, he’s always asking her to change the channel or find this program or why is it muted? He also has a bad hip, so she has to fetch him a new beer every time he asks and she cooks him beer snacks if he gets the munchies, and sometimes, he’ll just fall asleep and not eat the dinner full of his favorites that she spent all day grocery shopping and cooking for.
Their marriage is something out of the medieval ages, a misogynistic travesty. The kind that was browbeaten out of America with feminism and women’s rights movements and stuff like that.
He’s never home practically, leaving my mom to do everything alone. I grew up mainly under the care of my mom, and it actually feels awkward when my dad is home, as if some stranger has stopped by for a bit.
Sometimes, her family will attend conventions for surgeons. Her dad is great at playing the picture perfect host, genial and cordial and friendly to all guests, cracking jokes with the guys, flirting lightly with the ladies, playing briefly with the kids. Her dad is very animated and friendly with the ladies, especially the pretty ones, but she had just brushed that off as the aesthetic discrimination her culture is prone to (and kind of encourages). Though she disapproved of the way he would ignore her mom during these conventions, that, too, she had rationalized as he was just really busy accommodating all the guests.
And there times when there were weird phone calls that sounded like a lady at the other end or the occasional photo of him at some sort of evening out with his colleagues — there was even one of him and the guys at a Hooter’s restaurant — but those, too, she just saw as part of his working world. Clients and letting off steam with fellow surgeons, etc. After all, he was so busy that he couldn’t come home much, thus deprived of the usual family comforts, he found other ways.
It’s just, those other ways were not the other ways she was thinking of.
Oh, how naive she was. She wishes she was still that stupid.
Despite all that, I could still call him dad. Still regard him as my father and respect him because after all, he is paying for everything, literally.
Here comes the painful part, the betrayal of this evening.
Until today, that is.
Today, my mom went in for her check-up that she was long overdue for. She came up HPV positive when she wasn’t before. HPV (not HIV) is particularly dangerous for women because it can lead to cervical cancer, and there is a strong history of cancer on my mom’s side.
And how does one contract HPV, you ask? In short, it’s a fucking STD.
The roaring in her ears is getting louder, crowding her head and giving her migraines.
“I always knew,” was the only thing my mom said. “And now I have irrefutable proof.”
“Proof of what?” I ask, still in denial.
“That your dad is an adulterer.”
“Huh?” was my brilliant response.
“What’s more,” she adds, dry and brittle. “Is that he says he can’t remember where he might have contracted it from.”
So not only is her dad a cheater but a serial cheater.
And the absolute, most ridiculous, full-of-bullshit thing is that my mom admits she had enough evidence to divorce that lying, cheating, chauvinistic asshole AND get boatloads of money from my dad here on out, yet she fucking won’t because, oh this is rich, you’ll laugh your ass off, she still loves him.
I kid you not, those are the words she said. “Despite everything, I still love him.”
What the actual fuck.
She pauses, wondering if she should end it there. Her hands keep moving though.
How the hell am I supposed to develop a healthy view on relationships if the one I grew up with is such a shithole?
I’m scared of relationships because of the subtle level of commitment implied, and I’m scared of that commitment because it suggests a level of trust but I’m too scared to a trust a guy with my heart in that way because well, I grew up with a shitty model.
I can trust my friends with a lot of things, my closest friends with pretty much everything. Yet there is a difference between your closest, most extremely trusted friend and the one who holds your heart in their hands.
And that’s why I’ve concluded that I’m romantically doomed. Because I feel, deep in my being, that there will never, ever come a time when I can trust someone so deeply that I would willingly give over my heart to them. And to me, as sad as it sounds, that is one of many truths about my life.