I feel unhealthily attracted to a friend that I do not match with.
Just like four years ago, I’m once again running wild with an imaginary reality where my self-worth is defined by a girl.
But maybe this time, I can stop it before it gets out of hand. Will I though…?
I’ll start from the beginning…
About five months ago, I reached out to an ex-college classmate after seeing on Facebook that we lived in the same area. I didn’t (*cou-* don’t *cough*) have many friends in the city since I moved, and we got along in college fairly well. And, admittedly, I was also semi-partially just kinda sorta browsing for potential wife material at the time, and saw that she was single. (It is 2019, after all.)
(That’s my lame millennial explanation, anyway.)
But I was also really looking for friends. Can’t a guy look for both?!
The first time we met up in person, it had been after I’d finished a brutally pathetic Tinder stint; so bracing myself in the case of a scenario where I would again latch onto the nearest female energy pulse, I’d decided that I wasn’t going to date for at least a while, and led early in the conversation with “I’m not dating right now.” (And honestly, I’m not mingling for reasons for another page of word vomit.)
And things were ok. For a little bit.
We were friends. It was exciting finally having a friend in the darkness that is this city.
But then – my lizard brain started to inch its way into the driver’s seat.
I thought I started to feel something. I thought I noticed her turn toward me a little more comfortably during bar trivia. I thought she may have been setting something up by inviting four of her friends who were couples (and the semi-awkwardness leading up to the event when I also invited a couple of my friends). Or our exchange when I gaily offered to share my mac and cheese. Or the anxious back and forth texts that overall felt like we didn’t want to scare each other away. Or our conversation the first time we met up about the impending apocalypse. Or her saying she was afraid I ghosted her when I took so long to follow up on our initial Facebook conversation. Or her asking me if I wanted to ride share with her back to our college town; and me agreeing to do it.
I thought there was a tiny spark of…chemistry. And my mind started to ponder.
Wait…is she cool?
Could I get along with her?
Is this real?
Do I feel comfortable talking to her right now?
Can I relate with her? Am I dreaming?
And then, just like that, like a raft with an invisible leak—POP! *fsssssss…*
Out-of-context fantasy and contrived realities started to ornament my already risky interpretations of our exchanges so far. I was slowly seeping away from reality, into my consciousness once again. Or, to put it bluntly: I let my mind and insecurities get the best of me, substituting my own sense of well-being with pleasurable interaction and fantasy with someone else.
My communication tone changed. I started to text them a little more often, bugging them more about their availability, and overtly opening up my own. The ongoing biorhythm, dance, shifting tides between us – or, whatever you want to call that anyway – started to look more like a one-sided plea for interaction. I revealed a bit of my hand – a set of cards that I wasn’t fully admitting to myself that I still wanted to play.
And suddenly, we’re on the road. Hours of conversation ensued on our way to our college town. And at this point I’m hypnotically doggy-paddling over to her raft, abandoning my own and the leak I had created. The conversation evolves to talk of the future, which of course I bring up.
“Ten years from now, I want a house. And I want a garden,” I say.
What about you? Do you want a garden in a house when you’re older too?”
“No; maybe a small one. I don’t want a house. I want to live in an apartment. Yeah, but a small garden on my porch.”
That’s what she wants.
She sees herself in an apartment, ten years from now.
I couldn’t do that. I ideally would want to start having kids at an age (and in a mental state) where I can actively be involved, and be in great enough physical shape to keep up with them. And that age is within the next ten years. And being active means having a place to be active. Like a yard.
(But if I can’t afford a house I will 10000% do an apartment. Whatever I can comfortably afford. My mom paid for a 3 bedroom house just for the two of us in a nice neighborhood because she’s crazy. So either way, basically the opposite of my childhood. Fuck that shit.)
Point is, it dawned on me – that maybe they weren’t the future significant other I wished them to be in my head. Maybe they weren’t that hybrid mythical creature I have fantasized. Maybe they were their own soul after all.
And I realized that I was so hypnotized by my own fantasy; that looking back, there was never a leak in my raft to begin with.
Indeed, I had created “the leak”. But only the idea of there being a leak in the first place.
Even to this very minute, I hold the fantasy of her close to my chest, while I simultaneously try to pry my hands away from it. Away from this logically impossible present, and foolishly reckless future; yet also so close from this dreamy present, and so contrarily enticing future.
A part of me – the child self (or “puer aeternus,” as Carl Jung would say [male “eternal child”, or puella aeterna for females]) – a raw, real representation of my young woes with all the adult of me stripped naked and bare, is what is behind that vice grip. It is an identity that is me, a part of me, holding on for dear life until the last possible second, hoping that she can be my ultimate solace at an arm’s reach.
“Give me something!!!!!!!!!!” It screams.
“I want you so badly!!!!! More than I’ve ever wanted anything!!!! I want YOU!!!!””
And I do. I really fucking do, on some level. I can’t deny that. And another, more mature part of me knows that it’s…it’s not real. I know it’s the equivalent of falling in love with a celebrity. And I want to cry thinking of how tragic the pursuit is for her and myself now, and everyone involved in my past imaginary escapades.
Yes. That’s right.
It’s not real. It can’t be real.
That image in my head of me dating her? Or the image of me making an advance via text in our tango and regretting it later? They’re not real…
I’m sorry, child self.
But I won’t. I can’t. Instead, I will re-invigorate my platonic ways in real life. I won’t let myself “have” her, if that makes any sense. Whether that’s the fantasy version, or if she actually does end up somehow wanting to date me. I will say no to both, and return to my center. Even if that means a period of no immediate interactions.
Because even if things would work out in reality, I’m not ready right now.
I’m pretty sure they’ve stopped having that sort of interest anyway; that is, if they ever did have any serious inquiry about seeing me as more than a friend. And I’m glad.
(Kind of…see above.)
I’m almost halfway through my twenties, yet I feel like I have gone through this type of story so many times before. And in the moment, it feels like my world always revolves around someone – someone that I’m not even very close with.
It’s not meant for me. These imaginary, powerful dreams I have of relationships with people I’m not dating are just that – dreams. Maybe things like that will happen for me. I certainly hope so. And maybe they won’t. But living life in pursuit of them, escaping life to imagine them, and abandoning my own foundation to get it is not only not right, it’s immature. For myself, and for the person on the other side who probably just wanted a friend to begin with.
What can I dream about then?
I can dream about being a rock star. Or being a comedian. Or a famous musician. A traveling programmer. I can dream about a future relationship. Work toward it, even.
But I can’t abandon my raft.
I will stay with it instead; and keep on floating on my own structure throughout the ebb and flow of it all. I will learn – no, re-learn to love the good parts of me, learn to love the parts of me that I give other people credit for, and learn to care for the parts of me that I give myself shit for.
What if I stopped trying to run from my fear of looking at my whole self? What if I could look at my soul straight in the mirror, and not look away? What if I stay on that raft, and take care of it as if it’s the only thing I got?
Can I do all of that?
Yes. Yes I can. I have to.
this is all I got. right here.
Yet a lot of me wants time to perfect everything I’ve been working on, time dedicated to just practice living itself!!! Ugh…
But I’m never going to stop…living. Not until I literally keel over and die. I have to feed myself. I have to ingest fluids. I can’t wait for that. I have been eating poorly, and turning the other cheek from my health for way too long. And human companionship is not a substitute for actual food.
Well, I guess this is where I conclude this. Incomplete allusions to malnourishment and all.
Here’s to feeding myself. And to using that energy to have trust in myself.