23 February 2009

Flamboyant introvert


  • Feb 23, 2009

Flamboyant introvert




I feel like I want to write, but I don't have a topic.

Actually, that's not true. I have several: adoption, consciousness, short-term dating/serial monogamy, and I doubt I'll ever be satiated of ranting about the injustice of a system that allows unrestricted accumulation of wealth across generations.

But as much as I feel like writing, I even more don't feel like writing about any of that stuff.

So I guess this will be more diary entry than essay.



I talked to a customer a couple days ago, a slightly crazy guy who I've worked with many times, get into heated debates with on the way to his storage space. He was shocked to learn that I make personal stuff public this way - (that reminds me, that's another topic I've been meaning to write about for about 1/4 of forever). He also questioned why I might think anyone would care.
I learned yesterday that someone I had never met or heard of found my website after I drove by in the truck, somehow came across the blog, had even commented once. A friend of a friend. There are 5 times as many views of the blog as my actual business website (even though the business site counter counts every refresh as a new view, but the blog counter doesn't).
I really don't know why. Why are you reading this right now?

Anyway...

I have been mentioning periodically for a while now how overwhelming it all is.
I feel tired, but I am still just as much in awe. I don't feel like I am ever going to be able to take all of this for granted.
I mean ALL of it.
That water falls from the sky periodically. That sex works the way it does. That music can affect me so much. How many people there are. That we are apparently on this giant liquid filled rock hurtling through the vast expansive of nothingness around a giant burning fireball of hydrogen and heavy elements it creates by being, basically, a constantly exploding nuclear bomb held together by the sheer weight of itself. The very fact that matter exists seems unbelievable to me.
I am running a business? What the hell is that? I never had a girlfriend throughout grade school, high school, college. I was not exactly an outcast, but I was far from popular. All my life I was the little skinny guy, the weird guy. Invited to parties for sheer entertainment value. And now I look back on a couple recent experiences and wonder if maybe she was in it as much out of lust as anything, and given how I felt, its like I was used for my body. Me? WTF? Mind you, I'm not complaining. It just seems so unrealistic.

This has been fun. No question. Some of my favorite people I met through the dating process. I have no regrets. I have learned a whole lot about life, people, relationships, even myself. I feel almost no connection to my life from as little as a year ago.
But there was something I really liked about having only ever had sex with two people. Something I liked about only having had one partner and planning to keep it that way. I liked being settled. It wasn't an ideal relationship, but my feeling of loyalty made up the difference, and there was also a lot of genuine good. I'm happy to have been released from that responsibility, but I would like for my next serious relationship to be my last.
Obviously I don't think there is anything immoral or unhealthy about promiscuity, but it just doesn't feel natural to me. Before I had experienced it I never understood the appeal. And honestly, now that I have, I still don't.

I wonder if I will end up abandoning my principal. (I will forgive myself if I do, because I don't really believe in principal. Any principal that doesn't make specific individuals happier in the real life is an invalid principal).
I am not much interested in chemistry. I am not much interested in looks or sexual compatibility. True, I didn't know what I was missing, and finding it was incredibly intense, overwhelming as I have not felt since... well, actually, ever.
And I still say I want - no, I need - a best friend first. I need someone I respect and admire. Someone who can point out the errors in my arguments, who makes me think of things in a brand new way. I need someone I have fun with, and who I feel safe with.
If, having found those in someone who also wants something stable and lasting, if she happens to be hot or we happen to like the same things in the bedroom (or living room and kitchen and occasionally outside), that's gravy. Mind-Bogglingly Delicious Gravy, but gravy all-the-same, and totally unnecessary.

The thing is, I don't know that my intellect, no matter how consistent or insistent, is capable of over-ruling my heart.
I can guide in-love, but I can't control it. I'm a surfer, or maybe a tobogganer, mostly at the mercy of gravity, but I can go a little to the left, a little to the right. And, if I so choose, I can resist - the only possible outcome of which is a dramatic crash.
I know how to make it more intense if I want to. I can focus on one person to keep someone else from getting too entrenched in my heart. But in the end, whatever I do, with certain people, certain circumstances, it's gonna happen.
And mind you, I'm fine with that. Its a big part of what makes life worth living.
The thing is that once I get in, it blinds me. I know that its going to. I even know its happening in real time. And yet I fully believe.
So if it happens and its reciprocal - that's when the problem could come in. Because I won't be able to be objective about it. I won't have any conscious choice at that point. I am bent to the will of in-love.

On my side, however, is that those same things which are important to me in principal, intellectual compatibility, friendship, shared values, enjoying each other, are actually what makes me fall hardest.
On my side too is that the passion can develop with the right person even if it isn't there from the beginning. I think this is something too few people realize in our tissue-paper-significant-other society of ours. This isn't to say I think it could develop for anyone, arranged marriage style, but if the core elements of compatibility are there it can be just as intense, just as real, even if there wasn't that initial attraction. Everyone I say this too looks at me as though I were crazy. Why would you get involved with someone in the first place if you weren't initially attracted? I suppose it figures, since in the end it all stems from the reproduction drive. Somehow actually liking a person for who they are seems a lot more romantic and meaningful to me.

I started writing before work. I just came home. Stopped at my ex-wife's place on the way home. It was our first time alone together for anything besides legal paperwork since the divorce. I caught her up on my experiences dating. She seemed genuinely interested, and it didn't feel in the slightest awkward. It was almost as if she were my friend, instead of my "ex". I feel really happy about that, really encouraged. It has felt like she was very uncomfortable with me until today, and I got the impression she was sure I was uncomfortable despite my assurances that I wasn't. Of course I know - I knew all along - that what had to change for us to ever have a friendship was that I had to let go of the "possibility", let go of any romantic thought or desires. This happened for me a long time ago, but given how strongly I felt before, and for how long, given how dramatic and sudden the shift was, it seems pretty reasonable for her to have been suspicious of it.
I am happy that we might someday be comfortable with being in regular contact because, even though I would never want to be in the sort of relationship with her that we once had, there were a lot of legitimate reasons I got involved with her in the first place, it is hard for me to find people who I feel as compatible with, and it is a lot of my life to give up entirely. I want to keep the baby, though it was really good to drain the dirty bathwater. This may not be meant to be, who knows, but at least the experience opened up a part of me that allowed me to miss her, and even though its an unpleasant feeling, it feels right that I would.

I went for 28 years never feeling more than the most superficial type of connection to anyone aside from whoever I was in-love with at the time. I don't even know what "connection" is supposed to mean exactly. It doesn't seem to have to be mutual. It isn't correlated with lust. Sometimes I can feel it quite strongly even while knowing it will be fleeting. I don't understand it, can't articulate it. But something has been opened up inside me, something stemming from the divorce, learning about attachment disorders, dating for the first time and all of the specific experiences I've had, something has opened and I feel these connections, people feel so special and important to me and I feel I want to get to know a few certain people better, I want to share with them, and I want to feel close - even if there's little or no chance of a romantic relationship building from it. My favorite part of dating, I think, is the friendships that began that way.

Still, a part of me is very tired. I want to be settled. I want to be thinking about planning for the future, for children. I don't want to actually be planning yet, but to be able to be thinking about it with somebody.
I realize that I am a-typical, but I just can't understand how people prioritize anything else over love. What point is there in success with no one to share it with? This is a rhetorical question. I know I will never understand the answer, no matter how thoroughly or eloquently it is described.
The trick is in finding someone who feels the same way as I do. Not an impossible task, but that person also has to challenge me - I don't mean to sound arrogant (and I know I do anyway, and I apologize) - but I don't find that often. There is SO MUCH for me to learn. I just need the right sort of stimulus.
I always thought I had been extremely lucky in finding someone with whom things worked - not always perfectly, but well enough that it lasted longer than anyone else I know of my generation - so young. It was suggested that maybe it wasn't so rare, but just that I hadn't been looking once I found it.
Now that I have been looking, I can say the same thing with more confidence.
A great many people are wary of using the internet as a tool to meet people.
I can't imagine wanting to date someone you meet at a bar, a party, the market, where you mainly just know what they look like. I suspect it goes back to the chemistry/compatibility thing again. You can only gauge the spark in person, with expressions and tone and touch. I can read the words written by hundreds of women and narrow it down, people I might very well have been attracted to in real life (and would therefor have been more willing to overlook certain differences). Narrow down from hundreds and hundreds of people down to a dozen dates. People I knew I had some fundamentals in common with, who sparked interest enough to actually meet. And then only a few that really felt significant in one sense or another. And then none that really worked out as potential LTRs for one reason or another. There are just so many factors working against it, so many ways for it to not work.

I have decided to embrace dependence. I think the idea of independence being something desirable goes hand in hand with the value of freedom. Our economic structure is dependent on a populous which believes that freedom is inherently valuable.
As a customer who has lived in a very different culture pointed out, you don't have freedom if you are connected to other people. If you live with an extended family, know your neighbors, and everyone is directly dependent on everyone else, you have to consider the consequences of your every decision for everyone around you.
Freedom is contrary to community. Independence is contrary to human connection.
What he was talking about was the same as what I was talking about, only applied to family and community instead of romantic relationships.
Besides, no one is independent. We are a social specie. We are only able to survive because we are able to work together. We have made comfortable lives for ourselves using technology which requires specialization which makes us ever more dependent on one another. I said this wouldn't be another social discourse essay - but this is all very personal. Relationships with other people are more than ways to get food and shelter, more than a security net or means of reproduction. I feel, always have felt, like I am supposed to be one-half of a couple. A lot of people seem to believe there is something wrong with that. Of course I am dependent. I think its normal and healthy. In the absence of a life partner I have developed friendships that feel more meaningful than I have had in a long time. I am still not happy being single. I strongly doubt I ever would be.

I remain, as always, optimistic. I have no evidence on my side, but it has been my experience that life works out ok in the end. (I suppose in the end we die, so...)
When you are most desperately out of money, with no idea what you are going to do, that's when you win a new car. It couldn't happen any other way. Malomar is obnoxious sometimes, but he takes care of us. Or of me at least. So I will find what I'm looking for. There may be many more trials ahead, more experiences to have first, and it won't be easy. Fortunately I live in the Bay Area, and there are a lot of amazing people here. This has gotten much longer than I intended. I'm gonna stop writing, and go check on my online dating account.

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