I do a bit in my stand up about the way sex was described to me as a young impressionable Christian boy. The bit goes “In youth group, I was told, that every time you have sex with someone you give them a piece of your soul. That isn't Christianity by the way, thats the plot from Harry Potter 6.”
It always gets a small laugh, I love that joke. However lately, I feel like the joke has slowly turned on me.
Ever since being jettisoned out of the Christian life in my late 20’s, I had a lot to learn about myself, sex, other people, what things meant. It was a lot to take in, and most of the things I used to believe were not helpful in the slightest.
On my way, I tried to make my own code of ethics. I strived to be wiser and better from all interactions.
A lot of this time I have chosen, for the most part, to not be in official relationships. I’m at the phase of life now where people go from dating to pregnancy or marriage faster because they feel the anxious creep of time. But because I already have one big love attempt on my record I kinda don’t feel that. Also, I see so many half assed relationships. I think I’m also a very all or nothing person. Also also, for all of my thirties, i’ve been in an arms race against my self doubt to build a life I can be proud of and recognize as a success.
There is a dumb saying you see on Facebook that says “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. I’ve always bristled at that. My mentality has always been, how about I go far and fast all by my goddamn self?
There is something about being with other people that clouds your priorities. It doesn’t happen in big choices, but it is paid out over time. Until you look up years later and realized you are way off the course of what you wanted to be. It takes a lot of character to be in a relationship and still be who you truly wish to be. I’m not sure I have that strength yet and thats probably why I abstain.
I have had relationships though, and I guess I”m thinking about them this weekend of the hurricane.
Several years ago I was seeing a girl who had recently came out of a bad relationship. We were true friends and of course more. It was interesting because it was in a middle ground between hooking up but also listening to each other’s day. I knew it was not a forever thing, I think we both knew. But in its own way, thats what made it sweet. I cared about her and vice versa.
Then there came a day where she started to fall for a guy she met. I was genuinely happy for her. I encouraged it. I knew it meant whatever we were doing would end and I was ok with it. I knew this would mean she wouldn’t be texting me late or joking about dumb shit and I knew I was going to bow out and make a hopefully graceful exit.
The thing that caught me off guard was how she deleted all memory of everything. We were always on good terms, we cared about each other, I think we both served noble purposes in each others lives. But once the more stable and official thing came, all the files were shredded.
I wouldn’t want my new girlfriend or whatever to keep being best homey’s with some dude she was boning so I get it. Its the kind of relationship that is easy to oversimplify. But I’ll never forget texting her one day about some inocuous shit and she didn’t even reply. This was someone who praised me as the person that helped her out of the hardest of times and now had nothing to say. Again, I wasn’t expecting the same type of experience, but the silence was kinda jarring.
I think there is a part of me that is 100% ok with the fact that this will happen, and another part I’m recognizing as if for the first time is not ok with it. I feel like someone who is repairing the interior of beautiful boats. The purpose of a boat is to travel and move past the place it was repaired. But its hard for me because I honestly try to do my best work wherever I am in a relationship, and I enjoy the repairs that were done with me. I think when you truly care for someone and they for you, there is a lot of restorative energy that is exchanged. Its only unhealthy if it is one sided.
But now that is gone and I am left questioning what my time there was.
I’ll never forget one time a friend of my dad telling me how he was married several times when he was younger. He lamented that he never kept the pictures from that time of his life because his ex’s would trash them after the divorce. The saddest part is him saying that he couldn’t remember what his own face looked like in his twenties.
I have never forgotten that.
I wonder what I will remember from this time of my life. And I wonder what other people will remember from their time with me.
My only hope is that wherever I am, I am carrying my own weight and leaving people better for having known me, even if they take a piece of me with them. I want to be a good man here on the outskirts of love.