Tuesday, March 05, 2013

"I want all the things"

Let's start with some common cultural narratives:

  • That people will have a "slutty" period in their lives, especially when they are experiencing a new-found freedom and just getting their footing, like when moving out of their family home to go to college or when they are just out of a long relationship.
  • The idea that even good girls (and guys, but mostly girls) will end up doing something (or someone) sexually that they did at the time because they thought that the person involved cared for them, but regret later when they find out that the person was just using them sexually.

To this, let's add something that I've posted here before, several years ago, during my own slutty period:

I've always been one of those people who, theoretically, wanted to experience everything. Growing up surrounded by mostly conservative and reasonable people, I mostly got incredulous, despairing, or at best slightly weird looks from my friends and significant others when I talked about any of the wild things that I wanted to do. The current truth of the matter is that I haven't done half of those things, partly because reason prevailed and partly for want of a partner to do them with.

But the summer that everyone started to get sick, though maybe out of the desperation felt from my family situation, I did as many wild things as I could make myself do, though mostly in the sexual realm. I had spent the year before that summer timidly exploring my bdsm sexual interests which I had tried to turn off for the five years previously, when I was in a relationship with someone who made it clear that there must be something wrong with me for wanting to do anything of the kind. While I also hooked-up a few times with a secretive douche of a "nice guy," I was still in "sex is for relationships only" mode and not very confident about my sexuality or my body. But I'd lost quite a bit of weight over that year and, with some help, emerged from my cocoon that summer. It probably also helped my confidence that my orgasm switch got flicked early that summer.

I decided to use the above flowchart to guide my choices. Honestly, I don't really regret anything I did and I don't think that the choices I made or the things I did were all that bad, with maybe one exception, though it certainly wasn't any of the hook-ups with strangers. (Yes, if you're reading this and wondering if I mean you, I probably do.) But I did do plenty of things that weren't really all that fun for me. Though most men that I hooked up with were pretty vanilla, I did tons of stuff that wasn't really my cup of tea, for the orgasms that would come with the sex I was hoping would happen eventually and the sense of adventure that I felt. (Yeah, I know, bdsm stuff doesn't squee me out but someone who wants to make out in their car and have me flash a little boob seems really weird.) But I did it, right? That's what you do, isn't it? Despite feeling good enough about my body to show it to strangers, I still felt that, if someone is willing to ignore your weight and imperfections and that you live at home and don't have a job, then you do lots of weird things that they want you to do. What, you mean that's not how it is supposed to work?

So, why am I telling you this?

Though it's taken me almost a full month to write about it, this recent  episode of Girls really struck a chord with me. It aired on February 10th and was called One Man's Trash. Now, I know there are many detractors of this show, and I acknowledge many of the points made. In fact, I didn't watch the first season of the show when it aired, despite all of the critical acclaim, because of the criticisms. But when I watched it, I could relate. In the February 8, 2013, Entertainment Weekly article about Lena Dunham, the creator of Girls, who also stars as the main character Hannah, Melissa Maerz wrote, "People watched Carrie Bradshaw and thought, 'I want to be her!' People watch Hannah and think, 'Oh my God. I used to be her.' Or worse: 'Oh my God, I am her.'" When I watch Girls, I think, "Yeah, I am working really hard on not being her, but sometimes I still am."

Anyway, in this episode, a handsome neighbor to the coffeeshop where Hannah works comes in to complain about the coffeeshop putting their trash in his cans. Though the manager denies it and has an argument with the man, later Hannah follows him to admit that she did it and explain why. In what one recap writer calls a "classic bold-absurd Hannah move," she kisses him and they quickly start to have sex. Played by Patrick Wilson, he is a 42 year old doctor, named Joshua (don't call him Josh), who renovated this beautiful brownstone and is in the process of divorcing his wife who left him because she doesn't like the city. (As opposed to Hannah's 24 year old who has been cut off by her parents, thinks she might be the voice of her generation, and wants to be a writer, but isn't, as of the start of this episode, doing much about it.) When she goes to leave that night because, according to her, that's when you give people their space, he asks her to stay. He takes off work the next day to spend with her. They are shot in soft light and Hannah lounges around either naked or in clothes of his that, like his house, are neutral shades of gray and brown and white. I think this is the most mainstream-tv attractive Hannah has looked in the whole show, both in terms of her presentation and how it is shot. Dr. Joshua even has a little terrace where they both sit and languidly read the paper. It seems so idyllic and the music reinforces that feeling. But after Dr Joshua saves Hannah after she faints from the steam in his huge shower, she starts crying and goes into confession mode (emphasis and transcribing is mine):

"You said nothing. Honestly you didn't say anything or do anything besides just be so great and perfect and ...Please don't tell anyone this, but I want to be happy. [Joshua: Of course you do. Everyone does.] Yeah, but I didn't think that I did. I made a promise such a long time ago that I was going to take in experiences, all of them, so that I could tell other people about them, and maybe save them, but it gets so tiring- trying to take in all the experiences for everyone, letting everyone say anything to me. And then I came here and I see you. And you've got the fruit in the bowl and the fridge and the stuff and I realize that I'm not different. I want what everyone wants. I want what they all want. I want all the things. I just want to be happy. [Hannah sobs.]
And there's all these experiences that I just feel like I've asked for. Things like who in their right mind would want that. You know, like one time I asked someone to punch me in the chest and then come on that spot. Like that was my idea, that came from my brain. And it's like, what makes me think that I deserve that? [...] I think what I didn't realize before I met you was that I was, like, lonely in such a deep, deep way. And, you know, I was reaching for all this stuff when all I needed was to look at someone and go, That person wants to be there after I'm dead, you know?
You think I'm a crazy girl? [Joshua: No, no, I wasn't thinking that.] I mean, if anything, I think I'm just too smart and too sensitive and too not crazy, so that I'm feeling all these big feelings and containing all these feelings for everybody else ....And I just want to feel everything. I just want to feel it all." 
And the idyll is broke. He has to go to bed because he has to get up in the morning. She's brought all her trash to his house and he doesn't want it, though he's too nice to really say so or to just kick her out that night.

Man, oh, man, have I ever been there. The moment that you hook up with an older person, who has all their shit together and you realize that you want something like this, but you can't have it because you are still too fucked up to be really be a grown up. And, unlike all the non-grown-ups you've been with, they're too nice to kick you out or throw that back in your face. Of course, Hannah's fantasy lasted three days before she saw it for what it was and left. Mine lasted three years and I never really did leave.

When I read some of the online recaps about the episode, most people talked about how unrealistic the whole thing was, a hot guy who has it all together fucking this weird, ugly, fat chick that he just met and then letting her hang out at his house for days and days. Well, I'm here to tell you, it happens. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Though I wasn't a complete stranger off of the street when he first had me over at his house, I feel like things went similarly. He was going through a divorce, (I think) lonely and sad, and living all alone in a big house that he had thought he would get to share with someone. He lived much more comfortably than I ever had while living on my own. He had had a stable career path and job since he was 18. He wasn't demanding. He was so much more accepting than anyone that I had ever met, though sometimes, when I was revealing my crazy and my damage, I did feel like I was getting that same "I don't want to react badly but I have no idea how to process this information or how to help this chick" blank look that Joshua has during Hannah's confession. And when I met him, I feel like I was in much the same area of my life as Hannah is.

But being with him changed me. One of the big changes post-him for me is that now I look for someone who is stable, mostly in their personality, but also in their lifestyle, and preferably both. I never thought I would want that. Another big change has been a focus on getting my own life stable. I know I haven't done the best job of that, but it is something that I'm working on. The next time I meet a real grown up that I click with, where we both would like to have a relationship with each other, I would like to be able to bring something to the table that isn't just my sex drive and superior pop culture knowledge.

I know that not everyone goes through this, these growing pains that Hannah goes through on the show and that I see myself in, which is probably why some people love the show and others think that she's a self-centered, clueless narcissist. But I know what it's like to be floundering, to be struggling to find where you belong, to feel like your place is to experience everything only to have that turn out to be not very uplifting things and then have a sexual relationship with a real grown up show you what you're missing but aren't yet ready to have. I also know that I have been just as stupid and self-centered and ignorant to my own privilege as she often is.

Another thing that this guy showed me was that close romantic relationships didn't have to be all those things I didn't like and that I could be satisfied in one. When I was doing my recent thinking about monogamy and had a great first date with a guy who only wanted monogamous LTRRs, when wondering if I could be monogamous, MP asked me if I thought I could have been satisfied and happy in a monogamous relationship with this previous man I'd been involved with. I'd never asked myself that question, because that was never a parameter of our relationship, but I think the answer is yes. And since then I've looked forward to being happy in a LTRR built on honest and keeping each other sexually satisfied, though it is yet to be seen if that involves being monogamous, open, or poly.

Two Fridays ago, I posted an ad on CL to get laid. I had an unexpected day off work, with no plans. I hadn't had sexual contact in months and I'd recently passed the 'year and a month without intercourse' mark. I was also just really horny that day. I fucked one guy that day. Meh. It was ok, but, after the horny was sated, I wasn't interested in him at all. I talked to two other guys over the weekend and into the next week, both of whom wanted friends with benefits, but who I had intensely mixed feelings about, though I ended up meeting one of them in person last Friday and giving it a shot. Ugh. Knowing more about the guy meant I had more to not like. I wouldn't really want to be this guy's friend and the benefits were not good. I'm starting to think that I need to focus on finding another grown up, one who also wants a grown up relationship, now that the horny isn't intruding on everything I do. I just need to find another grown up who's not a racist, homophobic bigot, who can host and doesn't mind that I can't, who's dominant in bed but not in the relationship, who likes at least some of the shows that I do... . Yep, no problem.

(Sorry if I posted this recently to the blog, but it seems kinda appropriate.)

Faith- George Michael
Well I guess it would be nice
If I could touch your body
I know not everybody
Has got a body like you

But I've got to think twice
Before I give my heart away
And I know all the games you play
Because I play them too

Oh but I
Need some time off from that emotion
Time to pick my heart up off the floor
And when that love comes down
Without devotion
Well it takes a strong man baby 
But I'm showing you the door

'Cause I gotta have faith...

I know you're asking me to stay
Say please, please, please, don't go away
You say I'm giving you the blues
You mean every word you say
Can't help but think of yesterday
And another who tied me down to lover boy rules

Before this river
Becomes an ocean
Before you throw my heart back on the floor
Oh baby I reconsider
My foolish notion
Well I need someone to hold me
But I'll wait for something more

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