Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

"nakedly human"

Last night, I IMed Joe.  So many times in college I would listen sympathetically as he lamented a relationship ending or pined after someone or whatever, but this time it was me IMing him to talk about processing post-"breakup."

me (8:30:20 PM): Hey there.
Joe (9:14:14 PM): hey there!
Joe (9:14:16 PM): how are you?
me (9:14:39 PM): I'm doing okay.
me (9:14:57 PM): How did your interviews go?
    [brief exchange about the job interviews he had the past couple days]
Joe (9:23:34 PM): how are things with you?

Back in college, he would IM me and say hi and ask how I was and I would tell him and he would kinda steamroll over that to tell me how he was doing.  I got understandably annoyed, feeling that if his purpose in IMing me was to talk about his emo (which I was happy to listen sympathetically to, as I loved him very much) then he should say so upfront.  I did in fact want to know how his job interviews went, but my primary purpose in IMing him was in fact to talk about my own emo, so I kind of loved that he didn't talk about his own stuff much but instead asked me again how I was doing.  (He already knew from a conversation almost two and a half weeks ago -- recall his sending me breakup songs -- so it's not like he's psychic, but I don't demand psychic, am quite happy with intuitive, as really I'm happy to settle for merely attentive.)

Responding to something, he said:

Joe (9:29:05 PM): I absolutely understand that
Joe (9:29:27 PM): it's never a fun situation to be in
Joe (9:31:33 PM): I hate the beginning and end of most relationships
Joe (9:31:46 PM): you know the beginning time when you like someone and you're anguished about how they feel
Joe (9:32:01 PM): and then the end when they want to be selfish
Joe (9:32:09 PM): maybe it's self preservation
Joe (9:32:12 PM): but still...
Joe (9:50:51 PM): I don't know -- relationships are so tricky
Joe (9:51:14 PM): but it's so unfulfilling to go home alone and crawl into bed and wait
me (9:52:00 PM): Yeah, my friend Nicole and I were discussing lame first dates the other day and agreed that we'd have so much more fun if we were wired such that we could do the physical without the emotional.
Joe (9:52:44 PM): haha
me (9:52:49 PM): I was like, "I don't have enough time to see enough of my friends, but then there are those parts that one doesn't get with just friends."
Joe (9:53:06 PM): it's absolutely true
Joe (9:53:33 PM): and I hate to say it but the older I get the more I understand a need to feel...connected...in a way that you can't connect with "just friends"

He proceeded to tell me about a wonderful date he had recently and said:

Joe (10:01:08 PM): I don't know -- I just would rather skip all this beginning stuff and say "listen I like you, you like me, I'm not remotely interested in anyone else at this point....can't we just define some boundaries?"
me (10:01:47 PM): Yeah, seriously.
Joe (10:02:34 PM): and the thing is -- EVERYone says that, but no one actually is gutsy enough to change dating culture
Joe (10:02:49 PM): it's because we're all masochistic on some level, I think
me (10:04:18 PM): And scared that the other person will be put off by the directness.  (I think that would be my primary fear -- since I'm risk-averse and uncertain in my ability to read people and all that.  Even though part of me is like, "Dude, that kind of directness is totally your preferred mode of functioning.  If someone's meant to be with you, surely they would react well to that.")
Joe (10:04:58 PM): I know -- I think the same thing

I quoted him from Nikki Giovanni's "Poem (for EMA)" (which I had excerpted in the previous incarnation of my LJ Bio)
i've not learned
the acceptable way of saying
you fascinate me
i’ve not even learned
how to say i like you
without frightening people
and he sent me this poem and I quoted Rose Walker in Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Kindly Ones
Have you even been in love? Horrible, isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens your heart and it means someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses. You build up this whole armor, for years, so nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They don't ask for it. They do something dumb one day like kiss you, or smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so a simple phrase like "maybe we should just be friends" or "how very perceptive" turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a body-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.
and he sent me this poem and I said

me (10:21:20 PM): Someone mentioned the "love like you've never been hurt" quote (in a totally different context) a few weeks ago, and I've always disliked that exhortation but that time I got it -- it's still problematic, but whereas when I first heard it I was like, "Yeah, I know what it's getting at, but it's so problematic," this time I was like, "Yeah, I still remember the problematics of it, but it's also so true.  Because I'm hurting and it would be so easy to never want to put myself through this again."

[Okay, "always" is an exaggeration, but four and a half years ago -- scroll down to the bottom of the entry -- is still a significant length of time at my age.]

And then I mentioned how I've been singing part of Dar Williams' "After All" a lot recently.
So go ahead, push your luck
Say what it is you've got to say to me
We will push on into that mystery
And it'll push right back
And there are worse things than that

'cause for every price
And every penance that I could think of
It's better to have fallen in love
Than never to have fallen at all
And then I realized that I had never posted something I read some weeks agocatvalente tells this story:
They [kids] seem to me like little bear-cubs. Totally wild and unpredictable, small rogue AIs, in no way in control of their impulses, easily spooked, but terribly sweet at heart. Bad little fairies.

Which brings me to the story I wanted to tell. One of the couples we hung out with a lot at ConFusion had two beautiful daughters. The kind of kids you just know are totally loved: affectionate, outgoing, well-mannered sweethearts who say things far cleverer than their years with fair frequency.

The younger girl, I'd guess about 3 years old, was a particularly fey thing. She was shier than her sister, spoke more quietly, and had a little cut on her cheek, which made her seem all the more ursine. But from the moment I met her, she wanted to talk and to touch the grown-ups around her. She put her head on my shoulder while we were all sitting in the lobby, played with my hair, poked and tickled my belly, bashfully pulled my midriff-baring shirt down since surely I was cold like that. In short, totally adorable and heart-melting. Kids like that make me want to drag justbeast into the nearest broom-closet.

And as we were saying our goodbyes, we all shared the last elevator of the con, and this wee thing looked up at me with enormous blue eyes and held out her little hand.

"I want to touch you again," she said.

"Ok, sweetie," I replied, and held her hand through twelve floors.
She talks about how that stuck with her ever since -- "I want to touch you again" -- and how nakedly human that is and also about the clarity of the request, and she ends:
So if a woman with very long hair turns to you someday and says she wants to touch you, know that she is trying hard to be very brave and very human, very exact and very naked. And hold her hand.
I sent Joe the link, and he said it reminded him of a Salinger story.  I read it, and sucked in my breath at one point (you'll know it when you get to it, if you read the story).  I told Joe, "Interesting (and depressing) connection to make," and told him about the part that made me suck in my breath.  He responded:

Joe (11:21:55 PM): yes...
Joe (11:22:27 PM): but he wants to touch and be touched...
Joe (11:22:42 PM): that's what's so sad about it
Joe (11:24:17 PM): "Bereft of that naked, bare ability to ask for simple contact without background radiation of adult weirdness, weren't we really just holding our arms out to each other and plaintively whispering I want to touch you again?"
Joe (11:27:20 PM): as I told you, I have a new-found appreciation of Salinger
me (11:28:06 PM): Yes, I remember that conversation.
me (11:29:40 PM): I don't love "Bananafish," but that sort of stuff is definitely preferable to Catcher.
Joe (11:31:07 PM): I think you'd get a laugh out of this one, though:  http://www.freeweb.hu/tchl/salinger/heartof.html
me (11:37:19 PM): Oh this is one of the ones you were telling me about!  And hey, it relates back to the conversation we were having about directness ;-)  *continues reading the story*
Joe (11:37:47 PM): absolutely!
me (11:42:33 PM): *finishes*  Yes, I do like that story.
Joe (11:47:37 PM): and a perfect antidote for craigslist missed connections
me (11:47:54 PM): *laughs*


And if you made it through all that, the tradition is to give you a cookie (though Sharon sometimes offers a cupcake: \~/ ) but instead I shall offer you another excerpt from our conversation :)

Joe (10:50:24 PM): making oatmeal, brb
me (10:50:39 PM): k
Joe (10:57:40 PM): best oatmeal ever
Joe (10:57:51 PM): maple syrup, brown sugar, pecans, and raisins
me (10:58:00 PM): Mmm, sounds tasty indeed.
Joe (10:58:24 PM): :-)
Joe (10:59:04 PM): the trick is to add everything in the last 2 minutes of cooking -- so the raising plump up and you don't have big old gobs of brown sugar
Joe (10:59:10 PM): unless you like that sort of thing
Tags: food, people: n: joe, touch is powerful, we try and fix what comes apart

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