Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Countdown to Closure

I'm embarking on my last week in New York.

Now that the movers have come to collect everything I own and truck it across the country to my new apartment, all I really need to do while I'm in New York is squeeze in a few good last meals, and say goodbye to a few friends and loved ones.

Not surprisingly, my imminent departure has precipitated some long-overdue reunions. Last week, after I bade adieu to all my boxes, I finally went on a second date I'd waited seven years for. In 2004, my date - a friend I'd known and been interested in already for seven years - took me out once, and then promptly faded away as though our encounter had been random, foreign, blind, impaired. Seven years later, back across the dinner table from me, my date asked me, "So all those years ago, after we went out the one time, I never invited you out to dinner again?"

"No, you didn't."

"Did I say why?"

"Nope."

And then, the kicker: "I'm sorry."

He rattled off reasons of insecurity, instability, stupidity, and immaturity. He told me he was glad he'd spared me the trauma that he'd put his other dates through at the time. He told me how beautiful I am, how beautiful I've always been. And then he told me all about the girlfriend who he's dated for six years, with whom he's lived for three years.

I didn't really feel like I got the whole story from him - it was too easy for him to dismiss the breaking of my heart as the whim of a typical male - but I still felt a sense of closure, not because I heard everything I'd wanted to hear from him, but because I said everything I'd wanted to say to him. I can't explain why I'd waited so long.

I do know that I've spent too much time in my life not telling my romances how I really feel. I tell them what I think they want to hear. I desperately try not to appear desperate. I feign apathy, casualness, and spontaneity, and that's exactly what I get in return. I do not cling, for fear of pushing them away, and they do not cling to me.

I'm leaving New York now, so it doesn't really matter. I shouldn't really care about the carnage of my dating life over the last 14 years, the rotten carcasses, the empty encasements that litter my path like discarded exoskeletons. I shouldn't need to witness them, examine them, goodbye them or revitalize them.

Of course, I shouldn't need to add to their tally either, but I've foolishly tried to love and be loved right up until the very last moment that I'm in town. I've hoped a sliver of romance would be enough to satiate me and quell the loneliness, but, God help me, I need more than a date every seven years.

How can I keep wanting those who clearly don't want me? Isn't my biggest turn-on the powerlessness that a person feels against their burning attraction for me? Doesn't desire beget desire?

There are legions of men who have disappeared on me over the years, many of whom cannot be tracked down to the bar they work in or the band they play in. Maybe I'll see one or two more of the others before I leave. But once I go, I have to hope that my new dates, from now on, will stop fading away without a trace - if only I can express my feelings openly, honestly, and confidently.

You have to ask for the right thing in order to get what you want. If you don't ask for what you want, it's your fault if you don't get it.

Let me never again regret the things I've left unsaid.

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