I was saving the other side of the bed for someone who might come occupy it. In New York, I'd gotten used to someone sleeping over there on and off, and always hoped he'd return. When he didn't, I tried replacing him with others, all temporary tenants, renting the spot by the hour, maybe for a night or two, just so I wouldn't have to be in that bed all by myself.
When I moved to LA, I'd hoped that the other side of the bed would be occupied by someone I'd been seeing out here during my regular, repeated scouting missions throughout the year before I actually moved. But it turned out he'd started seeing someone else, and after six months of waiting, holding out hope, it became clear that he wasn't leaving her anytime soon, so I gave up. I started turning over onto the other side of the bed.
For a while, it was still the other side. I felt like I was sleeping in someone else's spot, borrowing it, renting it, ready to give it back, waiting to give it back.
A year and a half later, there's nobody I want to give it back to. I want to keep it for myself, and make it all mine.
I don't merely turn over onto that side anymore. Some nights, I start on that side, positioning myself next to a pillow which occupies my usual spot.
There is no other side of the bed anymore. It's all — the entire thing — my side of the bed.
I don't know what changed. I had a visitor last August whose visit made me feel like I was ready for my close-up, whose departure made me miss feeling like a girlfriend. A week with him made me desperate to date again, sending me in pursuit of some other guy who I deemed my intellectual equal, an adventurous companion, but who, ultimately and unfortunately, turned out not to be my emotional equal.
I tried dating him for a couple of months. I tried liking him for a couple of months. I tried making him like me for a couple of months.
But as I suffered through teary loneliness while sitting across the table from him, on opposite sides of a large diner booth, turned away from him while clinging to the edge of his bed, he against the wall, scrolling through his cell phone, I just couldn't wait to be alone again.
And most of all, I did not want him intruding on any part of my bed.
And now that it's over (after he unceremoniously stopped contacting me, much to my relief, though also to my insult), I don't want anybody invading my side of the bed.
Perhaps — in my older age, with my slowed metabolism — the need for sleep prevailed. Now, if I get late night calls or messages, I ignore them, preferring a restful night so I can get up the next day for whatever I have planned. I no longer wait for the phone to ring; I dread it.
Everything associated with dating and sex feels like a huge bother. I'm selfish. I don't feel like listening to and supporting another person's illnesses, financial woes, and job stresses if they're not going to support me in mine. I don't care to hear the same stories over and over again, with the glaring absence of any questions asked of me.
I want to be told I look nice. I want to be kissed in public. I want to be prioritized. I'd like an occasional orgasm.
But I just don't want to beg for it.
A coworker recently asked me if I was freaked out about turning 40, a doom that awaits me in 2015. "No, not really," I said, "Because I figure my time has already passed. I mean, I live a very full life, but it's pretty much over for me." After all, I've been looking down the barrel of 40 for a while now, breathing down the necks of the 40-somethings that surround me, who, 10 or 15 years ago, would've seemed so much older.
In fact, I told her, I'm kind of looking forward to my 40th birthday, an excuse to do something (else) crazy. I went skydiving for my 30th — what adventure can I concoct for my 40th?
I'm still grieving the loss of my youth, and the missed opportunity of love and companionship, but I'm advanced enough in my grief to vacillate between Depression and Acceptance. (Actually, I think accepting it is what depresses me. I don't like giving up.)
I have lots of things to do, and no desire to be weighed down by or make compromises for another.
I have lots of sleep to get, and can't be exhausted because someone's snoring kept me up all night.
I'm glad I'm alone now, because everything that's mine is mine.
If I ever change my mind, I'm sure it'll be too late. And that's something I'll have to accept.
But I think it's already too late. So I might as well be happy the way that I am.
The Other Side of the Bed