These nights have been happening more and more frequently of late. A random call; an unexpected text or maybe just walking into the right place at the right time.
is finally living up to its potential or maybe I am living up to mine. New York
Tuesday night it was a birthday event for a new friend. One of those souls you have known forever but who resides in a body you have just met. The person with whom the sentences are finished before they are started, the experiences of each other’s lives both similar and complimentary. Even better, the whole group was this way. The singer; the incredibly intelligent guy sadly unemployed; the “younger one” and one of my best friends—who was my pathway to the group. The conversation moved in huge gentle waves, lifting from topic to topic, maybe depositing one rider out for just a minute- but then, shortly after, lifting everyone back up into one fold of ex’s; drunken nights barely recalled; places we have all been; and places we dream of going.
It continued-- long through the oysters and the cheese plate and the inevitable “Am I allergic to that?” concerns. Steaks that totaled 80 plus ounces were delivered and devoured in what I would imagine a medieval feast felt like, only we were missing the sword, the dragon, and a requisite number of paupers. The Oatmeal stout, even with its bitterness, was liquid gold and the experience grew more rich by the moment, aided by bottles of wine and the revelations of unknown connections between us.
It was a miracle night.
“So what’s the problem then?”
The right side of my face twitched in surprise, anger, frustration; and resentment at the question. It came from the direction of the youngest member of the group. Who really doesn't look as much like Jake Gyllenhaal as I first thought, but he's an impressive guy none-the-less. This person didn’t know me well enough to know that the look I returned is normally interpreted by the more knowing as ABORT—NOW. Instead he explained himself. The hunter having landed his arrow in the deer never bothers to explain himself. I guess it’s a function only required when we mortally wound fellow members of the human species.
You’re a good looking guy………. You’re smart……..… You’re funny…. I like you… Why……then……are……you…………………………..………………………..single?
I checked myself for visible tumors first, then for some foul odor that I had not previously noticed. My first reaction, of course, was to go inward. Immediately consult that list I keep of my failures. Annotated, and stored in some Devil’s Card Catalog, run by a librarian of the damned. Happy to explain exactly why St Peter hit "no sale" upon your arrival to the Pearly Gates. Right back to day one I went in an instant—all those faces flooded my mind—the names like news in time square—an endless ticker tape of horrors that I would never believe had I not lived them. Had my jaw not taken two years to heal. Had my last New Year’s night featured one come to confession. As though hearing of his trials in life after me would make me feel better or happy. Focus Damn it. Focus. I searched for a way to explain all that they had taught me. I tried to present my side of the case—searched for the evidence that I could use to get this person to understand it wasn’t me. It really wasn’t. But it was me. I needed to learn those things.
Be in the same relationship… be true to myself…. Compromise often but not on the core things… love… trust… all things at some point fatal to one relationship because of their invisibility… but now as essential as air. For myself and for who will be my next one. The list was only 2/3 of the way done I was almost back to equilibrium when the follow up came..
I nearly choked on my tongue. Put myself out there? HUNDREDS of dates—relationships from DC to
Toronto to to NYC. And that was just one week! (Kidding…. Sort of….) The summary of failure and my truths ground to a halt. Ohio
For that moment beaten...I used my lifeline. Across from me someone who has ridden nearly every wave. Who has seen the successes and comforted the failures. And as soon as I called out, and repeated my charge, I didn’t have to wait for a reply to know I was not guilty. I could see it in my friend’s face and I felt it in my soul. The search for a romance to make me whole was revealed for what is always has been—more than it ever should have been. That this evening with these friends-- even ones who don’t know me that well—are a sign of the good—not of the bad. I will serve no jail time, and I don’t want anyone else too either. I have learned from all of them, no matter how short, nor long. Every tear was a chapter and now, just now, I am thankful. For being single, for having friends who know the stories behind the scars, and for being ready for the one when he does arrive. But till then I will not hide my head in shame. For where I am now is not a mark of failure in my thirty-seven years—but of hard earned, hard fought success at learning to understand just what is important—in my friends—in my partners—and in myself.
I simply smiled then. Looked at my new friend and my old one. Then I took a nice long breath. The answer came from someplace I cannot know or see, but it is someplace I am fortunate to have…
“What makes you think something is wrong?”