On Being Miserable with JKm

I suppose I’m really seriously beginning to question why I’m still in this relationship. Alone on that kayak in the middle of the lake, I came to the conclusion that I must break up with JKm – I just don’t know when or how. I know in my heart that it should be soon. It should be now. But I am terrified.

I write this as JKm sits across from me, reading. I have come to stay with him for three days. Today was our first. Last night was a whirl of our fulfilling our sexual needs after weeks apart. Today…well.

Small snubs. He doesn’t like my music. He ignores me. He gets wrapped up into sports and doesn’t hear me. He checks Facebook while I talk to him. When I turn inward he grows angry, antagonizing. What’s wrong? he asks, but it is not caring. It is blaming. It is frustrated. He hasn’t laughed in too long. He sighs all day. Nothing is fun that I attempt to make fun. The only thing that is fun is making out or having sex or foreplay. He is tired. He doesn’t want to swim. He doesn’t want to make a dinner. My attempt at a romantic homemade dinner devolves into him cooking and implicitly having me wash dishes while we don’t talk.

I realize we have nothing to talk about anyway.

We fight again – issues that I believe are not worth fighting over because they are given; issues that he believes are not worth fighting over because I should obviously compromise. He pushes, blaming me until I begin to cry, and he backtracks. He is willing to let this one slide. This is the first relationship in which he cares. He says this to mollify me. I cry harder. I will break up with him. There is nothing to ‘let slide’. This is the inherent problem in the relationship itself. He “likes me too much to let this get in the way”. I package away the small fact that he used like and not love and use it to shoot a string attaching my heart to his. For the first time, I push back with tenacity and anger and a sharpness that cuts the bandaid.

I FEEL THAT I AM CHANGING AND YOU ARE RESISTANT. I FEEL THAT I WILL CHANGE MORE AND YOU WILL RESIST EVERY STEP, AS YOU HAVE RESISTED EVERY STEP THUS FAR.

I FEEL THAT WE HAVE DIFFERENT GOALS.

Does it matter?”

The conversation is cut abruptly. Does it matter? Does it not matter? How permanent is this to him?

 

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Reflections on Camping

Two days of silence later and I do in fact have a few things to report.

Camping was a good mix of fun, relaxing, and stimulating, with a healthy dose of isolation and boredom. It was four days of reading and handwritten notes, daily kayaking and canoeing and swimming and floating in the middle of a huge lake, picturesque in its dark, flat water and surrounding mass of green. 

One thing that AM mentioned that really, really resonated with me: after a thoughtful comment on yet another tidbit of my chaotic relationship with my mother, he suggested that perhaps I live my life not by defining, but by defying. And that stuck. What do I do that is defining myself out of the multitude of things I could be? Do I not spend all my energy noticing what others want me to be and rejecting those expectations? Everything I do for the name of feminism. My personality and interests in rejection of my mother: I like the outdoors and being dirty, being uncomfortable, being boyish, being careless and loud, being quiet and reticent and aloof.

The thing is – I’m not sure if I’m in a spot right now such that I want to change that about myself. Ideally, yes – I should define myself and let myself be free. But I don’t know if I’m capable of that yet. And I think I can look at it as an evolution: a year ago, I had no sense of my person. Though the process may be flawed, I am more of who I think I am today. Perhaps in the future. Not now.

As for the silence: it was not quite the enlightenment that I thought it would be. And yet, it was immensely needed. If anything, it put the entire two days in the mood of the spaces of time in a day in which you are alone – perhaps walking some distance to a destination between appointments, or eating a solitary meal outside. Quiet, reflective, and wandering, which no errant conversation to distract thoughts.

A few gems: the sounds of the forest around. Laying on an empty platform and gazing up at the trees of the forest rustle like dominos with each great gust of wind. The lapping of water against the canoe amid the quiet in the center of the lake. Laying in captivated silence at the smoke of our mosquito burners, curling and unfurling into a shaft of sunlight as if they were tangible bits of thread. Eating fresh hamburgers by the fire in fast camaraderie with fellow campers, the lighting so dark that you didn’t know how good the bite would be until it reached your mouth in all its juicy glory. Trudging in the rain to the bathrooms to brush our teeth. AM’s caveman face, staring glassy eyed into the rain as I came out of the bathroom, and bursting into laughter. The strange couple that was terrified of us because of our silence. The Cuban woman whose voice was so very kind that it was extremely off-putting. The sound of the water during the breaststroke: in the push of the legs and the circling of the hands. Singing, belting, alone in the middle of the lake, floating aimlessly in the bright orange kayak. Diving, cannonballing, pencilling off the dock. Meditating on a rock in the middle of the lake. Cuddling with AM. Missing sex with JKm. Eating bell peppers under the light of a hanging flashlight under the downpour. Inside the tent, the light and wind refracting into a vision of flames along the inside. Rilke and writing his notes. Questioning kindness. Over-easy eggs each morning. Laying on the benches in the rain, in silence.

On the moment my path diverged

Today, we have no choice but to live the questions, because the prospective answers have burgeoned. We no longer expect much sense of the world. Deferring to that incoherence can feel dizzying, and there is an urge to simplify, but simplicity is often a mistake: not pure but reductive. Your work is not opposed to your life; you do not have to choose between them. It is only by living in the world that you acquire the ability to represent it. I am addicted to artists’ residencies, to sequestering myself to concentrate, to the vision that comes in silence, to Rilke’s vaunted solitude—but not to the exclusion of the engagement that gives you things to say. Try not to let your words outstrip your experience.

This quote, from this New Yorker piece, is one that I resonate with when applied to music. It’s this sentiment that I am realizing right this second changed the entire course of my life. About two years ago, I saw a bit of classical music clickbait on Facebook that said something along the following lines:

“Never let a young musician practice more than four hours a day, for what will a musician have to say in his music if he spends his life in the practice room?”

It was so simple. Crude, even. Block letters on a picture of Mozart, or something similar. It doesn’t matter – these words had an enormous effect on me. What was I doing? I was practicing hours a day, pushing away friends and family in order to perfect the craft. I worked so hard at a goal that I was not enjoying my daily life, and I was perfectly aware of this. And it was only when I scrolled past that picture that I realized how wrong I was. And although I couldn’t tell you exactly the time or what was going on in my life or what I was playing or who exactly those friends were, I can tell you that exact moment planted the seed that has shaped what I do today, everyday.

It’s not about working towards a goal that you see through tunnel vision eyes. It’s about living freely, living with a constant desire to change.

Am I sad that I can’t play half as well as I did less than a year ago? Of course. But I’ve filled my life with so many other worthwhile pursuits. And I’m glad of the decision I’ve made.

Snapshot

(because I love snapshots and I haven’t done one in quite a while)

Sticky skin, sweat drops off of my chin, hair, nose. Sweat mustache. Praising the invention of the fan. Thick air. Alternating between the freezing AC and the boiling outdoors in 15 minute bursts.

Troye Sivan and Lion King loopers. Flippy purple-ish ponytails. Ironic humor. Armpit hair and leg hair and pubic hair and free the nipple and careless appearances and the obviousness need for feminism.

Melted dark chocolate Reeses. Takeout lunch on the dining hall steps and vicious squirrels. Moving the contents of my table onto my bed because of ants. Slipping in my wet flip flops. Teva sandals and online thrift shopping.

Late nights and jam sessions at the tRaP house, under the arch, in the dorm.

so I went to a party

somewhat reluctantly, but I wanted to get drunk and feel social. So I went.

Humidity seeping into our pores; sweat dripping off our chins as flirted and twirled. Drinking games and balls in cups and the first waves of that lovely tipsy glow. Careless dancing, careless hugs and careless conversations about things more than nothing with people with whom no relationship would develop, but that was ok. The thrill of being desired and liked and fun to be around for once; a perfect dash of harmless sexual energy: just not mentioning that I had a boyfriend until much later, dropped casually in conversation after an hour of laughing and light touches on my arm.

I enjoyed it. I think I needed it.

 

not quite unrequited love

I think I resonate with this NY Times article, but oddly.

The author describes her college boyfriend’s overwhelming love, a heart that “pumped for the both of us.” It’s more resigned than apologetic.

I think I feel that way about JKm. But I don’t think he loves me in that overwhelming way the author describes. What does that make our relationship?