I imagine it must be terrible to be a man.
I watched him but I didn’t know what I saw, back then. How scary it must be to think that if you are human, even for one second, the world will end.
Vulnerability brings people close, unless those people are other boys. He must have learned to be the bottom of the pile. He must have learned what the dirt tastes like down there. I know I’ve learned that.
We dealt in different ways, but they’re really not so different. For the longest time, I tried to smile and insist everything was fine, the insults were not really insults, just confetti in my face. A celebration.
I thought, they must not know what they are doing to me. It must be a mistake.
When someone talked over me, or. When someone was cruel. When someone changed my Facebook page to read “she does it doggy style” and that was college, okay, not high school. I got through high school as a particularly curvy Jewess by being a lesbian, which is the same as not having a sexuality, as far as high school boys are concerned.
I only wanted them to leave me alone. All of them.
I thought he was one of them.
Such distinctions are difficult when you are the hunted and not the hunter. Boys grow up and become the hunter but girls never get to grow up, not like that, not really. Never grow out of it. Sometimes we are accepted into the crowd of boys turned men but it is always conditionally. And usually we have to fuck one of them to be safe from the others.
I didn’t want to have to fuck him to be safe from the others, or from him.
That is a terrible reason to be with someone. And I had so, so many much better ones.
I want to be independent so I am no weight in anyone’s life. So I am no burden. I do not want to die, not really. Only. I do not want to make anybody suffer. Not anyone.
I don’t know why I was born this way. Stupid, maybe. Capable of cruelty only towards myself. Except when I’m tired. Except when I don’t realize. Except when I assumed he had to be a monster. Only a monster would pretend to be in love with me.
He was a very good pretender. That’s what I thought, back then. That it was all pretend. What I felt. What he made me feel.
Pretend for him, that is. It was always real to me.
There is a part of my brain that has never stopped. That cannot stop worrying. Thinking, what must he think of me. Thinking, I should have showered that one day even though it was 5 am and who the fuck showers at 5 am just to go climb a mountain, but it was the girl thing to do and I should have done it.
Thinking, maybe if I had been less angry, less thoughtful, less intelligent, less energetic, just. Less.
It is awful, to be a woman. Just like it is awful to be a man.
I suppose men never feel they take up quite enough space. Assume they said the wrong thing or did not say enough. Assume they came off as too intense or too desiring, too much in need. Too much in absence of. Too emotional.
Women feel forever that we take up too much space. That we smell too much like ourselves and not enough like flowers soaked in alcohol, that our eyes only look like eyes and not like exotic/seductive/lust-inducing magic. That we talk too loud, speak too often or too many words, we ate too much. We were too embodied.
I loved him. Whether he took up space or not. However he took up space. Only, I was looking for evidence he did not love me. Looking for evidence he loved someone else, or loved hating women. I found that evidence, of course. I suppose it’s there in every man. But that doesn’t mean hate is the only thing that’s there. Or that it’s the most important thing.
I tried to structure for him the life that I thought he would love best. The life that would please him most.
I was not thinking about what would please me most. I was taught over and over not to think about such things.
The root of magic is in the heart, and I, I have always known what is in mine. Only, what is in my heart has rarely seemed to matter. To the world.
This community of ours, and this society, love him best, and loves him so much more than me. Not his fault, but I am so angry. Not at him, but so angry.
I thought, they could have the world, we’ll create our own. It didn’t work out. I don’t want to create a whole new world. I love this world. I don’t want a new one. But I want to be loved, too.
I don’t want to tear apart everything he knows to be true. I just want the space necessary to have my own truth, and invest in it and believe in it, too.
I love him I love him and of course he did not believe me when I told him so. I didn’t believe him when he told me, either.
But I don’t believe he is a liar. I know that I am not a liar.
I think neither of us are liars.
I think actually that we are not lying. It is only that we have been so lied to. About what it means to be lovable. About how to accomplish this Herculean task.
I love him best of all. I looked for him, and I found him. In the end, I found him. I am grateful I found him.
I went through a romantic comedy phase. So I know that every romantic comedy on earth is not really about trying to decipher who you love, or who loves you. It is about trying to believe you are lovable, just for yourself. About finding the courage to believe that you are, out loud, in the face of all the cruelties and all the traumas there are in this world.
I was crazy, for a while. Perhaps too crazy to be lovable now. I was fighting myself. I was fighting the impulse to run to where he was. Perhaps.
I am still a little crazy. I am still fighting.
I hope I am not hurting him by fighting. I am fighting. For the part of me who loves him. The part of me that is capable of truly loving anyone.
I think that is worth fighting for. Don’t you?