Friday, December 31, 2010

Walls people build

Some chick once said we don’t build walls to keep people away, but to see who are the ones brave enough to climb them. I believe it’s the other way around. The simple logic and basic functionality of fences and walls is their ability to separate. Man from the cold, garden from annoying neighbors, town from invaders. To keep away. Now, the only place where trespassing is portrayed as acceptable and even desirable are fairy tales. Like when Sleeping Beauty’s prince goes through all that trouble to get inside the castle to wake her up. Or when some Prince Charming fights the monster to save his princess. (I may have a thing for underdogs, but I sometimes cheered for the monster. Nobody asks them why they steal beautiful girls. Maybe they’re lonely, maybe the chicks dig their bad boy attitude. I see the symbolism, but in real life there are more than monsters and princes. Sometimes you even get both in the same package. But next time on fairy tales.)
The thing is, we need these walls. They are a natural protection against all evil. The more trauma, the more walls. Some people are so damaged, they have multiple-layered walls. Out of steel. Some have pretty walls and towers and all, in order to be inviting to passer-bys. But always being advised to tear them down is just stupid. In order to let people in, humans have invented these interesting things called doors. There is a name for climbing up the walls in order to get in, and that is invasion. You want in, stand there, in front of the door, let yourself be seen, knock and wait. Social protocol was designed for a reason, it’s supposed to make our interactions easier and decrease the risks of conflict. So the way I see it, walls should be cherished and boundaries respected. To those who have built them, they bring warmth and safety.
And when you are allowed in, there’s so much to discover that was not visible from outside. Sometimes we like what we find and we move in if invited. Sometimes we even make alliances and exchange keys. Sometimes we walk around for a while but get bored and on to another adventure. Sometimes we are terrified by what we see inside, run outside and never come back. We may come visit from time to time, we may be there just once. We are individuals, and individuality comes with boundaries. Getting to know somebody will always happen on their territory and the other way around. Being too invasive might make them feel threatened and show you out. Being stubborn about meeting them on neutral grounds will only allow you a short glimpse of what’s actually there.
So when you are invited in, take the chance. Even if only out of curiosity. And when you want in, do it the right way. Knock. Wait. And when the doors have shut behind you or might never open, let it go, move on, the adventure is probably elsewhere.
I’ve tried for years to bring my walls down and I’ve been pushed to do it so many times but now I believe those people were just lazy. Or had no understanding of what walls are made of and why. Stone after stone makes us who we are. From an early age we learn to see ourselves as distinct individuals. The songs we sang, the little pleasures and scars, the people who’ve stopped by to help us put on another stone, that’s how we build. We don’t just build to keep away. We build to stay inside. A place from where we can observe the world and try to make sense of it. Of course we go visit others as well, we travel, we explore. But we always need a place to call home. And I believe we like to have friends over. And lovers too. So trust me, people who want you over will keep the doors open for you. It happens sometimes that they’re taking a bath or singing (more like shouting) to the Rolling Stones in their pajamas and can’t hear the door bell ring. But check your pockets, you might have the key.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The one that got away

                              Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet. (Andy Warhol)

Things we wanted badly and never got have an underlying power of growing in our minds up to where we see them as perfect. So do people, especially those who play a temporary role in our lives, but leave us with a sense of missing out on something bigger. At some point, we all have in the back of our heads the one that got away. That one person who would have been perfect for us, who none of those we actually had can compare to. The one that got away is our standard for perfection and our hallmark of nostalgia.
I met mine when I was still pretty young but not that innocent. I had known him before, when he caught my eye, but it was only a few months later that we actually met. He was supposed to entertain me for a few hours while I was transiting a new city. Maybe it was the sunset or the soon-to-be-summer weather, maybe it was just me and my soft spot for really smart guys, but it took a couple of minutes and I was hooked. Our sense of humor blended perfectly and we were amused by the most random things. We talked for hours and I wished it would never end. We saw each other two more times that week and it did feel like it would never end. But then I went home and e-mailing just didn’t do it. I never even held his hand, although I dreamed about it for months. In the end, we both fell in love with other people and let it go.
But every now and then I keep wondering whether I could have transformed that story into a love story. Whether we would’ve been great together if it wasn’t for the distance. I now dare to say it’s better the way things turned out. We all need that hope that comes with knowing you had that perfect thing right in front of you and you let it go out of not wanting to spoil it. That hope that makes us believe giving up is not always a bad thing.
I don’t believe we search for perfection in our relationships, I think we all look for a match, a match that would fit our own flaws, one that is insanely wrong and feels so good. We want things we can eventually let go of, not life-changing indispensable love. That kind is left for our imagination, for that amazing place where all the magic takes place.
So while keeping the wonders of meeting the perfect man in the back of our heads, let’s celebrate the other ones. Let’s raise a glass to complicated and weird and sometimes annoying, to the ones we have to learn to love and the ones we have to forgive from time to time, the ones we want to murder now and revive the next minute. Perfect is great, but wait until you meet the damaged. The real deal.
The one that got away will always be that one thing we wanted from life but never got. We might not think about it every day, we might even forget for a while. But one day, when we’re grandmas, we’ll open a box and look at a postcard and the whole skip a breath feeling will come back to us. Because fantasy love never leaves us. Never having to end it has made it part of us. Never even doing it has given us the power to write the story of what could have been in our heads over and over again and living it in our imagination protected it from all the darkness and dirt it would have faced in the real world. So we do live our own fairy tales, and Neverland is not as far as you might think.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh, young love!

Back when I was young, things were different. Boys didn’t text you, they wrote you letters. They didn’t pick you up with their ride in the middle of the night, they walked with you hand in hand in the sunset and then showed you the moon rising. They bought you flowers, not drinks. Yeah, when I was young, things seemed so much easier. Just that they weren’t.
As time goes by and we get jaded, we forget what it was like to be in ‘can’t breath without you’ love. How we spent nights dreaming about one look or touch of the hand. How our knees went soft and suddenly we grew butterflies in our stomach that move chaotically. But how did we get jaded? Where did we cross the line where we can laugh at the guy who says ‘forever’, where writing our names in the sand is corny, where just catching a glimpse of the other doesn't tingle all of our senses anymore?
I keep saying to myself whenever I get nostalgic that things were never as complicated as they are now. And it’s never true. Let’s be honest, suffering like a dog because a boy who didn’t even know your name had a new girlfriend was just plain stupid. When you were lucky enough to have him return the feelings, neither of you knew what to say or do and most of what happened in that relationship was just in your head. Not that things have changed much in this area ever since. Oh, and when one of those blitzkrieg loves came to an end, it brought weeks of tears, guilt trips or crushed self esteem, “omg, my life is over, I will never love again”. It wasn’t easier. It just seems more exciting from where we’re standing now.
But there was this particular thing I really miss. And I sometimes feel like I don’t have it in me anymore to go there. It’s summer romances. That amazing feeling of freedom you get on vacations, the arousal brought about by the smell of salty water or pine tree resin, all that energy you’ve canned for a while burst into these wicked fireworks of passion. It’s funny how the first few times we think it’ the real deal. We’ve met the man of our dreams, “but dammit, we have to go our separate ways next week”. That can only happen to pure spirits, those who still believe that letters can patch up a real relationship, to young souls in search of love. I know people have them at all ages, but I’ve grown to like things plain and simple and summer loves are a different cup of tea.
Young love has its perks. At least for a while, you can go guns blazing into something and not fear the consequences, because you are sure that this is it. You can say the big words and not choke laughing. You can be just as crazy about somebody as you can without the risk of being considered the stalker kind or a hysterical bitch. And most of all, you can give it all. After you’ve taken a few punches in the face from lady love, you’ll never be that open again, never invest as much, never confide as much in its power.
Of course we all fall silly in love from time to time, some for years, some for days. We may not be able to sleep or eat or think of other things, we’ll itch to get it over with. But we’ll invest so much less every time, because we now know what we didn’t know then. That there is no such thing as forever, our hopes and dreams are not safe with him and we’re eventually bound to lose one way or the other. I guess the only thing left to do is remember that feeling of invincibility from time to time, to lose the grip just like we used to and to learn a little trust in love and the ways in which it makes our lives better. If it does.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The grass is greener...

In my long trip through the forests of singleness I’ve come across so many stories about relationships I can’t help wondering whether they were lessons send by the universe to learn at the right time. So I thought I’d go through some of the things I’ve learned from people from the other side of the tracks.
First of all, I’ve learned never to assume. People may hook up with someone and give it a week or think it’s the love of their lives, but you never know. Treating every relationship with the care and respect it deserves is something we owe to ourselves. Of course those first few weeks are amazing and all, but infatuation does not guarantee success on the long run, it’s a battle and we should never forget it.
Talking about battles, it’s a hell of a tough one to get to know the other. And one thing we should learn when being with someone is that we are two different views on reality that meet. And that don’t have to merge in order for the thing to work. I’m so tired of seeing people trying to tailor their partner in order to make him or her be just what they were looking for. People have a past and it might come to shatter the current relationship. Or it might just help us better understand the person next to us through the lens of their life experiences. Those we say we love deserve to be appreciated for who they are and not an image we have in our heads.
A third thing that’s always coming up in conversations is cheating. People cheat whether we like it or not and it’s not that easy to predict what leads them to that. They can cheat while holding our hand and they can cheat and we’ll never find out about it. I now believe it comes to happen when people start looking for excitement outside their relationship. It does not mean they may not still be in love with their partner. It means they want something else for a change. It sounds light, right? Well, it’s a lot more complicated than that. As I’ve noticed lately, commitment is about being able to make plans with the other person, about being able to assume they’d be there for you in certain situations. Now people say cheating wrecks trust, and I think it mostly wrecks that certainty that you can count on your partner. Of course, there’s also our ego and it would never accept other puppies eating from the same bowl. Just like in the case of having a hard time accepting the other’s romantic past, fear of cheating feeds on the ego. And it transforms people.
Another thing that transforms people is distance. Distance freaks us out because it increases this uncertainty that is incompatible with commitment. Because we feel it increases the likelihood of cheating and because we start fearing that we might become less and less relevant to the other. Distance changes people in that it makes their ego inflate and with it all those slimy parasites we call jealousy, fear and anger. I’ve known amazing couples who can fight it. It’s usually patient people who have come to terms with how they can make it work. As for the rest of us, we can barely keep the boat floating when we’re together.
And when that boat sinks, we may spend some time asking ourselves what went wrong. But breakups are a power race. And somebody gets left behind. The funny thing is some of the champs may eventually regret it. And remember taking things for granted was a retarded thing to do. I met this amazing woman who was crazy in love with her boyfriend and they eventually broke up due to some of the reasons above. And now she’s fighting to get him back, but he’s stringing her along because there is no guarantee he won’t get dumped again. One thing I’ve learned from most of my “coupled” friends is that taking things for granted is the wrong way to go. Whether you take for granted that that person’s always going to be there or the fact that you are bound to be cheated upon or left, relationships are just as complex as the people in them. I must set these words aside and read them when I’m with somebody, because we so often think in a box about our relationships, we pretend we know so much about where we stand and what we want from them that we forget we’ll always be scared little children in the face of love.
Oh, I almost forgot about love. Or what we may call ‘coup de foudre’ or at least infatuation. Now this is a lesson I want to pass on from this side of the fence. It’s an incredibly rare thing and it makes people so fragile and yet gives them this crazy strength to outdo themselves. Of course we could talk about it forever. But what I’m saying is, when you’ve lost your head, enjoy the weightlessness, because pretty soon all those other demons I’ve been writing about will come to bite you in the ass.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just friends

When I was a little girl my best friends were boys because all the chicks on my block were whiny little bitches who always ran crying to their mommy if I tried to show my infinite appreciation for them by throwing dust to their faces or tripping them and what not. Boys were always more of my kinda guys. They lived dangerously. Climbed trees, jumped off swings in motion and build forts out of carton boxes or snow. However, I knew then what I shouldn’t have forgotten now. We can’t be “just friends”. One of my closest playmates was this adorable little boy who would walk around pushing my doll’s toy stroller and talk to me about how we would get married when we grow up. Almost twenty years later, that perspective still freaks me out.
But I keep forgetting. And I start the same old creepy dance over and over again. I meet this guy who’s really cool and I could talk to him for hours. However, I have no romantic interest in him and I convince myself he doesn’t either. Which is likely to be true, but not to stay that way forever. So then I’m like hey dude let’s hang out, I love it I can do shots with you and not worry I’m gonna end up in someone’s bed the next morning, cause you’re such a good friend who’s gonna care for me. I invite him over to watch movies, share my heartaches with him and keep asking what’s wrong with guys and why don’t I have then figured out by now. He’s never going to provide an answer to that. Moreover, he’s soon going to be the reason I’m asking it.

I used to think there are barriers that can’t be crossed and that would keep things between us at the “just friends” level. Having a girlfriend or a wife does not stop your friends from eventually hitting on you. Neither does being friends to your ex-boyfriends, ex-boyfriends of your friends or being your own ex-boyfriends to whom you’ve made it perfectly clear there’s no sexual anything left between the two of you. Explaining to your friend how messed up you are or how you’ll never fall for him will only give him more reasons to become infatuated with you.
Spending a lot of time with the other sex is bound to eventually create tension. Especially when you’re hot and all of your friends are at least fairly attractive. Although, after the right amount of time, I believe the mermaid effect takes its toll on each of us. This is one of Barney “Awesome” Stinson's of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ theories and it says that no matter how uninterested you may be in someone, after the right amount of time, especially when you’re “on dry land”, they begin to look really attractive to you.

So now I’ve done it again. I think it happens to me quite often, and it’s mostly because I always remember the good times of crashing toy cars and crossing wood swords with my childhood friends and I keep forgetting what terrible tragedies my friendships to the opposite sex eventually bring along. You’d say I’m exaggerating, try explaining it to those girls whose boyfriends not only whine to me about how they’re bored in their relationships and how they cheat and how maybe they’d leave it all behind if I gave them a chance. And then to those really nice fellas who’ve waited for me to jump on board until they got rejected in a really unpleasant manner and eventually grew to hate me. Or to the ones who at least figured it out on their own, never had the balls to say anything, eventually ended up with some girl who makes them miserable and every now and then they ask themselves “what if”.
I’m not saying it never happened to me. It’s hurtful and annoying and it makes you ask yourself what’s wrong with you if that person likes you but not in that way. It’s something nobody deserves being put through and especially not someone you consider a friend. So next time I feel like I’ve been spending too much time with a guy I’m not really interested in, somebody should come over and remind me that boys and girls cannot just be friends. I give exceptions their fair “hats off”, but as far as rules go, it’s safer to stick with this one.