I sit on my antique vanity bench and rest my head in my hands, elbows propped up on the bathroom counter. There are two cotton pads next to me, crumbled up and plastered with colors that reek of violence–deep purple and black streaks over a modest nude (violet eyeliner is in this fall, after all, and I’ll jump on any trend that favors the brunette). My face is now clean and bare, perfectly toned and moisturized. Yet I can’t seem to pick myself up off of my elbows and move anywhere–not out of this bathroom, at least.
They say men have “man caves”. What’s the counterpart for women? Is it some functional room purposed for man-approved actions–like the kitchen, for cooking, or the bathroom, for the enhancement of attractiveness?
I think it is, but that doesn’t make me feel guilty.
I don’t want to come out of the bathroom–my man cave–but I must. It’s too suspicious, otherwise. Don’t draw attention to yourself! I must emerge, for fear of tipping off the hunter, making it just too easy for him to really find me, or, in my case, realize something might be wrong. Why else would I linger? My marathon baths are a thing of the past, and it’s nearly ten o’clock.. surely I’m not getting ready to go anywhere. Those late night trips to the grocery store to grab ingredients for an I-absolutely-must-make-caramel-apples-this-instant dish? They too are a thing of the past.
The present is this: I’m staring my total ineptitude square in the face, like peering down the barrel of a gun.
But.. I’ve never been bad at anything. How can this be? How am I so terrible at relationships? I’m actually good at most things! Why not this? Why not the thing that might just be the most convenient, the most important? Why am I disproportionately good at Sally Rand tributes?!
Instead of being good at this, I’m swamped. I’m drowning in doubt and fear and the insecurity of realizing my own relationship ineptitude. I have unreasonably high expectations, and I demand a level of action that I would hate, if it were actual, if it were real, if it were in my life.
My eyes widen as I come upon an even greater realization than that of my own inability: I’m different. I am literally one of oh-so-few who cannot be with another person, who is so difficult that she would never let anyone be with her, who is so obnoxiously caring and heartless all at once that it’s torturous to be around her. I am unique! I am different! Why me? Oh, why me!
Then my wide eyes narrow as I realize how exactly that sounded, even in my head. When has the assumption that I’m different ever proved correct? In high school, Myspace introduced me to an entire world of similarly “edgy” and “deep” teenagers who listened to Saves the Day and wrote freeform poetry. Law school showed me that I’m not the only vegan dancer-writer-cook born in 1987 who had aspirations of working with the Innocence Project for life, living for the hope that one day I might lift an innocent man from death row.
My elbows are off the bathroom counter; I’m making progress. I’m not different. I’m not! This is remarkable; this is everything.
I, too, can wade through the complexities of meshing with an entirely new, separate human being, to whom you’re so close that you feel is a part of you, yet… isn’t. He is… but he isn’t. He pops out from behind doors regularly, just to scare the living effing daylights out of you; he stacks the pots like
He is me, but at the same time, he’s not even the same species. He leaves loose change everywhere–it ends up in the bed, on my nightstand, in the bottom of my cash-unfriendly purse.
Yet when I’m with him, I hardly feel like I’m with another person. He is but an extension of myself, like how your arm feels when it’s fallen to sleep. It’s connected to you, but it still feels separate.
How do I go from perma-independent to half of a whole? How do I stop caring about all the junk he leaves lying around and get over the expectation that I’ll be thrilled out of my mind every time I see him? This is, after all, a partnership. This is not infatuation or a fling.
This is for keeps. So I’d better get good at relationships.
Did you have a period of growing pains when you found yourself in your first long-term relationship?
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