Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer Blues

The time has come for me to write out my current struggle a bit, because that always helps. I don't want to be self-indulgent, but it IS my blog.

I should say from the outset that I am reading a sparkling novel called Nightingale Wood, (a very witty, very art deco story by Stella Gibbons, all about people falling in real love, despite their classes) which doesn't help.  I have spent the last year or so obsessed with being in a relationship, and all that entails.  A bit more than my normal more-than-generous allotment of relationship energy has been required, due to the fact that me and my fella have vastly different levels of relationship experience.

Having finally come to believe that I am worth it, and having spent years educating myself on how to do it, I am currently more than capable of stating ad nauseum what I want and need.  However, this took me so long to learn, that I sometimes (very often, actually) fall into the trap of mistaking me articulating what I need as my partner delivering what I need.

My needs aren't crazy, or anything.  I just expect the basics from someone that I am in love with, who is also in love with me: when we are apart, call to say good morning, and call to say good night (I have had to face the fact about myself that I will NEVER think this is an unreasonable request, and I need to be with someone who can do this consistently).  Let me know that you are thinking of me.  If you have some news, share it.  Include me in your life.  Want to see me, and do so (one to two dates and two quiet nights at home per week is ideal). Keep your word.  Be honest.  Be faithful.  Communicate.  Make me feel that I am special to you by being respectful and considerate.  Tell me you love me.  In short, treat me the way that I treat you.

I am romantic enough to believe that one and one's partner should get something from each other (besides merely sex) that they cannot get from anyone else.  I think love is a bit rare, actually, in spite of the fact that I have been "in love" many times - two engagements, one rejected proposal, and one common law marriage's worth.  I have no regrets about not marrying, and that has a lot to do with the fact that (as I have come to realize in the last month) I am terrified of being taken for granted.   I have NO IDEA how to stay fully engaged with another person for years on end. NONE, but I am assuming communicating is a big part of it.  No one wants catatonic boredom to be a fixture of their everyday lives, and I am no exception. I mean, what comes between mad, passionate love, and wanting to kill them in their sleep?  And is whatever that is worth all the other?

A further difficulty for me, is that the healthiest marriage I know is between two women who were close friends (from ages 13 and 16, respectively, when they met at summer camp) until their late 30's, when they finally realized that they were in love with each other.  Thirty years later, they are still in love.  I say this is a difficulty, because I have realized 1) that they are my ideal relationship example, and 2) it is unfair to compare my relationship with theirs.

1. They (the happily married ladies, or THML) have known each other for almost their entire lives, which in the post-high-school-sweetheart era, is rare.
1a.  I have known my beau for just under three years.

2. THML have almost all of the same friends.
2a.  Thanks to my nomadic tendencies, and my travel work, my friends are all over the world. Thanks to my beau having grown up in Manhattan, nearly all of his "boys" are right here in New York, and he has an almost mob-like devotion to them. We rarely cross-pollinate.

3.  THML are both women, and therefore, have a better-than-average chance of communicating in a similar fashion.
3a.  My beau is a man, and therefore, extremely unlikely to communicate at all, let alone in a similar fashion as me.

4. THML travel all over the world together.
4a. My beau is forever taking trips/weekends/vacations with his "boys" on which I am not included (not that couples should do everything together, but I have had to face a second fact about myself: I believe that couples should do most things together).  I have finally responded in kind, by taking my own trips, and it feels good.  Still, there is a niggling  unease in the back of my brain that says, if I am always going to take separate vacations (something said beau's father is notorious for), why not just be alone?  One trip a year - a boy's weekend, or a girl's weekend, sure.  But so far, the way we do it is we go somewhere together once a year, and take multiple trips on our own (though many of mine are for work).

5. THML  have always said that from the moment they fell in love, there was no doubt in either of their minds that they would be doing their relationship.
5a.  I would say that I question whether or not I am with the right person on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.  This annoying habit is 50% by-product of my abused early life (don't repeat your patterns, Brooke!), and 50% my beau's lack of relationship experience.

6. THML believe and (remind me often) that when one is with the right person, it is mostly easy.  I think they mean this in reference to the fact that when someone wants to be with you as much as you want to be with them, everything else gets sorted out.
6a.  I think it fair to say that I have spent around half of my current relationship asking to be seen, considered, and called more. I mean, we are a year and half in, and he still can't call me twice a day or see me more than 2-3 times per week.  I would definitely not classify it as "easy," and I am willing to wager that neither would he.

7. THML were both already settled and thriving in their careers when they fell in love, leaving them free to focus as much as possible on each other.
7a. My beau is just beginning his career of choice, and is completely focused on "proving himself" and "making it," whereas I, at this very late-feeling date, no longer have any idea what I want to be when I grow up.

So, is this not easy because of these very different circumstances, or is this not easy because we aren't right for each other?

I used to sort of live by this beloved Ani Difranco lyric:
"Everything I do is judged, and they mostly get it wrong,
But, oh well.
The bathroom mirror has not budged.
The woman who lives there can tell
The truth from the stuff that they say
She looks me in the eye
Says, 'Would you prefer the easy way? Well, OK, then, don't cry.' "

I'm starting to suspect that maybe I would prefer the easy way, it's just that I have only known the hard one.

I greatly admire the fact that my guy doesn't talk about what he needs, he just gets it. In fact, he does whatever he wants at all times without burden of guilt (despite being Jewish), or over-thinking.  And why shouldn't he? He is young, and has never really had to consider anyone else. He is a decent human being, who usually does the right thing, so what's to worry about? I admire his confidence in his decisions, and his dedication to his art.  (As committed as I was to being a good actor, I have yet to be dedicated to anything to such a degree that a relationship couldn't distract me from it, and this is something I truly dislike about myself.)  Also, he almost never plans anything, preferring to just be in the moment.  This ain't my first rodeo, and I recognize that I am attracted to these characteristics because they are so different than my own.  However, the end result is that maybe my pattern (of being attracted only to people who aren't willing to participate as much as I am in a relationship) is being repeated.  I think he has a healthy sense of selfishness - the kind I have taken a decade to learn and implement; however, it sometimes feels like he is just plain selfish, and that the whole relationship happens at his convenience.  To be more specific, I often feel that I am just a component of his life - no more or less important than the other components (music, studio, job, boys, family, etc.) and if that is true, that isn't enough for me.

This review of this relationship and my place in it has come upon me for a few reasons. The first is that aforementioned boyfriend recently demoted himself in his very successful career as a supervisor at Trader Joe's in order to pursue his real love: producing hip hop.  More supportive of this, I could not be.  I am an absolute poster child for pursuing your dreams.  However, I was hopeful (and he assured me) that him working four 8 hour days vs. five 10 hour ones would create a little more time for us. It has only been a few weeks, but that has not proven to be the case.  He has much more time for music, more time for his friends, and a bit more time for his family, but our time remains un-increased. In fact, he has less time to talk to me than before, and when our schedules do allow us to talk on those three or four days a week when we won't be seeing each other, he always sounds as if he is in a hurry to disconnect.

The second reason is that for six months now, we have been discussing moving in together.  Unfortunately, as the time drew near to actually find an apartment and make the move, we both had (and continue to have) our own individual freak outs. Because he (very impressively) paid off his very own recording studio, and now wishes to actually make music in it, I have been asked to leave my beloved Brooklyn and relocate to Astoria, Queens, (where said studio is located) in order to live with him.

This is a reasonable request based on the fact that he has always commuted to Brooklyn to see me throughout the relationship, and wanting to be close to the studio is a legitimate concern. I mean, he's not asking me to move to Alaska, or anything, for God's sake.  However, I just don't care for Queens.  And more than that, I have ALWAYS done the moving/bending/accommodating in every relationship. And not only that, but none of those relationships lasted.

 I find myself questioning my own judgement and having no clue as to whether or not I am being fair to him, me, or the feelings that we share. The only thing I DO know, is that my instinct to protect myself and my independence is too strong to ignore.  Now is definitely not the time to cohabitate - nearly every time we discuss the subject we end up arguing, so it has been backburned until further notice.  And, if you believe in planetary aspects and their potential impact on our lives (which I do), the summer is unlikely to be the time to cohabitate, as well.

So, what to do? Everyone I know is absolutely fed up with one, if not many, aspects of their lives at the moment, and the months ahead have the potential to be challenging for damn near everybody.  I am simply not in the habit of doing things (or not doing them) based on fear and uncertainty, and I have to say that being unclear about the big things in my life is decidedly UNsexy.