When you first started, you only knew how to pine from afar, even laying awake in a single bed mere hours before your parents’ divorce, actually crying because you knew there would be no way Helen from the musical would ever kiss you. They were gothic, Russian, romantic crushes on girls who didn’t know you were alive because you never told them.
Later, the first kiss occurred after tortured months of happenstance meetings in the dorm, labored-over messages written with black marker on doors. It gave you the wrong impression, namely, that love was a spoken act that could be acquitted through words, and you were always good at that.
You were rejected only two times: once in a throbbing nightclub in downtown Los Angeles in 1988; the other on Vance Street in 1995. This was mostly because you chose well, and you were relentless. When Jay said she was “out of your league,” you bloody well seduced her and spent the summer in her black Honda, just to show who was out of anyone’s league.
And as the words kept coming, and the machinations revolved, you got further and further away from what was really love, until it became a chalky substance you needed like the drug, no longer enjoyed, but desperate for nonetheless. St. Exupery said that you were responsible for what you had tamed, but the thought filled you with horror once it got that far.
One lesson unlearned happened the last month in North Carolina, when you unleashed a tirade in front of someone, hoping it would actually repel them; yet after two weeks, you were together. Did you ever really have control? Or were you just walking into situations that were already decided?
They never wanted the words, they just wanted a semblance of what they’d seen on TV, read in books, and you did too. Your endless dialogue was close enough, even though they didn’t want you to talk, they just wanted the feeling of what you were. Great protagonists never talk, they just wait for you to project your feelings onto their pale skin.
It took years of pain, nights contemplating suicide, a relinquishing of control, before you got close to the real thing. You just hadn’t earned it yet, baby. God may punish you by answering your prayers, but he gives you anything you want once you stop caring.