I’m thirty two years of age. As I write this, I sit at the cluttered desk in my room, my work surface pro at the left of my periphery, and a 32 inch 4k lcd monitor to the right with the profile of a large golden lion complete with hoary mane, typing on my macbook pro, a floor lamp illuminating my desk.
Thirty two years of age.
I woke up with my girlfriend. She surprised me last night by showing up with a birthday cake and candles. I didn’t expect to see her. She said she wanted to be alone, which was strange, because she has never once said she wanted to be alone. I even insisted that I would come to the city, that I didn’t mind that her place was dirty, that I would clean it and cook for her, but she insisted. So I got on the phone with my childhood friend, returning a missed call of his from the weekend, and drove around, ultimately ending up at my favorite little mexican joint to get a burrito. Gabriela called me several times, and I told my friend I’d have to call him back, that something appeared to be wrong. Gabriela asked where I was, and then the sneaking suspicion hit me that she took a lyft here and surprised me for my birthday. I melted. I’ve been trying not to think of my birthday. My existence doesn’t need celebration, or attention. Birthday’s invoke memories of family and longing for belonging, none of which I wish to conjure at the moment. It’s been a few months since I decided to step back, and distance myself from my family. I love them, yes. And it may seem cruel to stop talking to your family, even as they continue to reach out. The thought of distancing myself from my mother is particularly painful. I know she loves me ever so dearly, and always has, despite whatever has happened or will happened. There’s no exact reason for this passive distancing, just a vague sense of otherness I feel, of feeling as though I don’t belong, and I never belonged, unless some conditional circumstances made it convenient, such as the fulfilling the obligations to play family, or celebrate some achievement that a parent would be proud of, such as graduating from college, or winning a competition, or traveling around the world for the sake of manufacturing memories and pictures to share with others that give the impression of close family intimacy and blessing and fortune. Am I blessed? Without a doubt. I count these blessings. I have a family, and we all have a commonality. It’s in our blood, our blond hair, our eccentric dispositions, our shared trauma, from the continual transitions to new towns or renovating homes or coping with radical death when most families are coping with the next holiday. We share that bond.
When I arrived at my apartment to greet my girlfriend the lights were off save a small candlelight emanating from a cake on the dining room table. I walked around the apartment to find her, into my room, into the living room when she jumped from a dark corner and shouted boo! And I shouted an ferocious ARGHH!!! She nearly gave me a heart attack, and my response almost did the same to her. Then we hugged and laughed and melted into each others arms with passionate affection and gratitude. We split the burrito I bagged to go and clinked our bottles of Pacifica and enjoyed our meal. Had I been home, we would have enjoyed the $40 Whole Food rib eyes that have been aging in the fridge since last friday. It would be painfully disappointing if they went to waste.
We then went to the grocery store to get her dog food and ice for her swollen feet. I cleaned a cooler and filled it with water. We cut the cake and sat and exchanged stories about our week, since I’ve been out of town for a couple days. She explained the new choreographer challenging her in ways she has never been challenged, and satisfaction and discomfort this produced, not only emotionally, but physically, as her muscles ached from endless fouettés they were practicing again and again.
She showered and iced her feet on the side of my bed. I had selfishly finished the last remaining two or three episodes of a television series Ozark without her, one we started some weeks ago, and opted instead to read more of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s book My Struggle, first to myself, then out loud as G became more irritated that we were sitting in silence. I insisted that we continue watching the television show, that I didn’t mind re-watching, but she wouldn’t have it. So we laid there until I grew tired of reading Karl’s fascinatingly banal memoir aloud, and picked up a new hardcover copy of Ovid’s The Metamorphoses translated by Allen Mendelbaum. I was excited about this translation since I fell in love with AD Melvilles while picking up the book three hours into an LSD trip, and reading pages and pages of poetic verse that seemed to possess an oracle like quality that communicated universal truths about the human condition that transcended mere words into a sublime rapture of enlightened understanding. Mendelbaum however turned out to be a bit too prosaic, and what the plain speak gained in clarity, is lost in the aesthetic sublimity that poetic allusion and rhyme capture.
G slipped under the covers next to me, nudging her way into the nook of my arm, and I read until I could barely open my eyes and my gaze would blur and I would lose my place. I hazily woke to G tucking me in and kissing me goodnight as she turned out the lights.
We woke this morning and kissed and cuddled. I was still tired, and could feel the deep sleep linger in my bones like a hangover, so I was reluctant to open my eyes and get out of bed when the first alarm sounded. G wiggled and maneuvered through the knotted blankets closer and closer to me, her bare body pressing against mine, and I caressed her soft skin, tracing her cheekbones, gripping her petite neck and spreading my hands wide open as they continued down the back of her tiny lean frame. Her head was positioned under my chin, and with a purse of the lips I would kiss her forehead. She stroked my cock, but the weight of sleep, and the overall feeling of vapid emptiness that has continued to plague me to varying degrees throughout my life was present, as it has especially been the past nine months, overpowered my desire to return the affection with more than caressing and gentle kissing.
I know this bothers her immensely, not only because she brings it up regularly as a deeply bothersome struggle of insecurity due to the lack of my proactive sexual advances, but because she becomes visible upset, and withdrawals into herself, except for the raw frustration that surfaces thereafter, the distant stares into space, the shortness of patience that she reluctantly extends. I am pained by this response, but I understand it, and it pains me, because I cannot explain why I feel hollow between my legs while my heart gushes for her. Its as if my heart has been disembodied, and this zombie corpse that embraces her, feels nothing sensual, only spiritual connectedness. While is counter intuitive and contrary to my rational understanding of love as a perfect union between two bodies and souls.
It feels wrong to defend my desire for her, my attraction, which is perfectly preserved. She is the ideal beauty, perfect in every way: the almond eyes that coyly seduce upon every glance, the luscious lips soft with desire, the cheekbones, the dark flowing curls that unfurl to the bottom of her waist, her petite frame, erect and proud posture, the endless feeling she greets every moment, sensitive to every soul she greets, every act she meets.
The alarm rings for the dozenth time and she sits up and climbs over me with her naked body and heads to the bathroom where she begins to shower. I continue to sleep, but mostly dream, wonder, thinking about the day. I see the beginning of birthday wishes populate my messages, texts from friends, and from family, from mother and father and sister one and sister two. I shut my phone off, and let my mind expand into space, diffuse into peace, and let the images flicker into flames of feeling and dreams of alternative lifetimes.
G returns to the room and fumbles through the clothes on the floor, pulling out various outputs and sizing up what to wear for the day. Her body is etched with beauty, lean lines shadow the contours of her body like a marble sculpture, her breasts hang like ripe fruit just above the outline of her sharp obliques and abs. She is a perfect specimen of beautiful, an embodiment of power and grace.
I reflect on my own form, now soft and bulging, and how far I’ve fallen, and continue to let myself fall, from the ideal of health and fitness that I prized for so long. I reflect on the causes, the same causes I attribute to my overall lack of libido and energy, and how I explain the absence of sexual desire, that I ceased injecting exogenous hormones after six years of steady use, and sometimes abuse. Sometimes that ideal seems so far, as if it’s almost beyond reach, something that was realized through drugs alone for so long, and was attainable without drugs, but doubt weighs on my body’s ability to ever fully recover, and the hyper physique I attained may have forever altered my expectations of a healthy body. But I know this is not true. I am young. My only problem is myself, and my excuses, the lack of resolve to begin habits, and persist through the struggle of physical exercise without the aid of performance enhancing drugs. Either way, the problem is me, and my lack of self respect, something that I’ve struggled with long before drugs or my girlfriend. It’s just something I’ve always been able to cope with through other means which lend the appearance that there’s no struggle at all.
We lay in bed and she begins to cry. I reel, and begin to kiss her softly, all over her neck and cheeks and forehead, kissing her moist eyes, and ask whats wrong. She is stressed. She says she’s late for class and she hasn’t eaten, but I know she feels rejected, and that I’m responsible for her pain. My heart seizes and melts and I cover her with my caressing hands and lips, and watch her face rest motionless on the blankets, inspecting her delicate features, while tears slowly form at the corners of her eyes, under the long thick eyelashes, until they pool and pour across the bridge of her nose and drip silently into the covers. My heart aches. I continue to kiss her forehead, and try to reassure her that everything is okay, that ballet class and rehearsal will be great today, asking what I can do to help, but she just apologizes, and insists its just the emotional pressure of a long challenging week.
I have a psychiatry appointment at 8:45, which I mistook for 9am, only to find out when I arrived late, so I reminded her that CalTrain or Lyft were the only options. She gets up and calls a lyft and begins gathering her belongings, packing her bag, stuffing her purse, and collecting her dogs travel crate. I secured the velcro of a tiny pink puffy jack around her small little dog. I was wearing sweat-shorts and a sweatshirt, and slipped on sandals to follow her outside. The driver arrived and I kissed her goodbye as she ducked into the car and pulled away.
I went back upstairs and took a shit and shower. I felt better after that. I checked my phone to gauge my time for the doctors appointment.
I was reflecting on the conversation I had with my grandparents yesterday. We spoke for two hours after I called them asking them to tell me about their lives, about my fathers life, about their childhoods, their parents, growing up as a kid, the dynamics of family life, the joys and struggles.
Life is long, and short, one of the many irreconcilable paradoxes we are forced to live and cope with.