Sunday, January 15, 2012

Being taken Seriously: Thing of Beauty #44 1/2

I'm not sure, but I think that Jon-El Williams and I are heading toward becoming Lovers.  It's disconcerting.  I've been trying to figure out the difference between Boyfriends and Lovers, and I can't come up with anything more specific than it seems like boyfriend/girlfriends see each other more regularly - in an ordinary sort of way.  For example, Velvet and Cupcake are always meeting up and doing stuff like errands, or going to the movies or hanging out with friends.  They're an established couple and get invited places together.

The Man from San Antone and I were like that, and I suppose it was like that with Buzz Kill, too.  I must have had other boyfriends - but I was so focused on getting married back in college that guys who weren't marriage material never lasted more than a few days.   And if they were marriage material, we got engaged.  I liked being engaged to Ed who went away in the Peace Corps - at least until he really went away in the Peace Corps.  Then it was a drag to be engaged to someone who was clear across the world.  I still think I got engaged to Jack, who reminded me of the Poor but Honest Farm Boy on Sesame Street, just to spite the Man From San Antone.

A few days after I got engaged to Jack, the Man from San Antone asked me to accompany him to the Bahamas.  When I told Jack I was going off with The Man, Jack made it clear that he thought girls who are engaged to one man don't even entertain the idea of traveling with another.  I told him that was provincial nonsense.  The next thing you know, he was back with his old girlfriend and I was hanging out with The Man from San Antone although we didn't really travel together for a few more years.  We were only 19 or 20, after all.  We were engaged twice, me and The Man, first in 1980 which led to my realization that I was much more interested in a big party and a new dress than getting married.  That realization turned into a series of major acid parties that became known as The Annual Bluebonnet Cotillion.  Then in 1986 or 87, he asked me to marry him in earnest.  He gave me his big old University of Texas class ring, but after a few days, I turned him down.  As it happened, after I ran off to New York City to be with Buzz Kill, The Man picked up a woman in a bar, and once he was asleep, she stole that ring and Then Man's big old honking Rolex too.  He alleged that she slipped him a mickey.

I got engaged to my high school boyfriend pretty much because this girl in my Humanities class got engaged during Senior year, and I wanted a ring too.  Plus I was anxious about going away to college, and being engaged to Billy made me feel more secure.  I kind of hated him, though, because he popped me in the chops once when he thought I was mouthy -  and once when he was playing Frisbee with some other guys, he slammed into a tree because he wasn't watching where he was going and started hollering at me for not warning him.  Notably, he was a devout Christian who attended services at the local Church of Christ and was terminally annoyed because I refused to take communion with him.  It was a stupid relationship, and I would have broken up with him after a month or two except that when some of the guys from his auto mechanics class saw me kissing a delightfully bad boy with a leather jacket and blond hair falling into his eyes, the code of the west compelled them to reported it to Billy, who was compelled to chastise me thoroughly for being a Ho.  After that incident, it was generally known among all the boys in that countrified environment that I was Billy's girl as per the Code of the West.  If I wanted a date to the prom, I was stuck with Billy so I dang well better get a ring.  It was only a hundred dollar aquamarine from Foley's, but it still counted.

I must have been traumatized because of that episode with my Uncle Jennifer, the incestuous pedophile.  And besides, I had been popped in the chops by my dad a few times and figured that occasional displays of power were part of the male/female territory.   Once I was a little older, I learned that real men don't smack their girlfriends or try to fuck their nieces.  I'm pretty sure I learned it from Oprah.

The Narcissist claimed we were Lovers, but I told him that was impossible because he was incapable of reaching outside of his own ego to form an intimate connection.  Love is a difficult for Narcissists because they tend to view it as a sign of weakness and are more interested in control than connection - even with their own kids which is sorely fucked up, but that's just the way it is.  In any case, a couple can have a million booty calls and never be Lovers.  I was sincerely attached to The Narcissist but in retrospect, it may have been my first real experience with Co-Dependency.  Whatever may have been fucked up about my relationships with Buzz Kill and The Man from San Antone, I can safely say that we were not Co-Dependent because during my brief hospitalization for suicidal tendencies, I didn't have to attend group therapy for Co-Dependents.

Bradley and I were definitely lovers, and we love each other to this day.  We were entirely too young and dysfunctional to maintain a healthy relationship, though, so it's a good thing he headed to California  the first time I got engaged to The Man from San Antone.   There was always an element of Star Crossed Tragedy with Bradley that suited my adolescent notions of Romance.

The reason I'm pondering all this stuff is that Jon-El and I apparently cleared a hurdle this week.   I was distressed because I was feeling Out of Sight Out of Mind, and instead of swallowing my feelings and pretending nothing was wrong, I decided to address the issue in an email.  He took me very seriously and went out of his way to make sure I knew he was taking me seriously.  He was so serious about taking me seriously that my fears about him being an asshole were instantly put to rest.  He's got his idiosyncrasies like everybody else - but that's just human.  I never see any reason to get bent out of shape when someone is simply being human.  He must have been prepared for accusatory histrionics because he seemed mightily surprised to find that I wasn't going to cause a commotion.  But really, when somebody listens to what you're saying and understands your point, and makes a special trip to put your mind at ease in person - that's a Thing of Beauty.  I'm almost ready to declare it Thing of Beauty #44-101, but I want to see what tomorrow brings.

Apparently, the man values our time together and appreciates my general equanimity.  It's such a novel experience that I'm not sure what to make of it.  The good news is that I spoke up about my feelings instead of stifling myself to avoid potential damage to the relationship.  I figured that if the relationship were worth pursuing, there would be room for my feelings even when I'm miffed.  Thing Of Beauty # 44-101: Being able to take care of myself in a relationship.  Jon-El taking me seriously can be Thing of Beauty #44.5 - 101.  If it turns out that Mr. Williams walks his talk, it will carry so much weight that I'll be up to #50 in a heartbeat.  For the moment, however, I will continue to view him as a man whose domestic situation is such that he is, for all practical purposes, a married man.

After seeing what tomorrow brought, things aren't exactly kopasetic, but I feel okay.  In the comments below, my old buddy Jim, Digital Existence. wisely recommends treading carefully with a man who is in the middle of a divorce - and I'd estimate that this man is so newly separated that he's not anywhere near the middle yet, even though I'm pretty sure he thinks he is.  Anyway - I'll let Carlos Santana (with Rob Thomas) speak for me today

And just like the ocean under the moon
Well thats the same emotion that I get from you
You got the kind of lovin that can be so smooth
Gimme your heart make it real
Or else forget about it

Sadly, despite all my optimism, I'm not so sure we can go there. Divorces don't leave much energy for developing new relationships, and I'm not cut out to be a fuck buddy.


Gail said...

HI TRISH - I love your history and how you "use" it for wisdom as you move on to other lovers/boyfriends. I think each term is true - yup, each one s part of the whole package of the "relationship"
Love to you Texas

Patricia said...

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever." I like how you number yours, there seem to be a lot! How nice for you.

dissed said...

A good man IS a thing of beauty. I figure they're only human, so you have to allow them time to do things like take care of previous commitments. At least he IS taking care of it; I know too many who want to take care of it, talk about taking care of it, and never quite get around to doing anything about it. Sweet Tawk is a Thing of Beauty, too, but it's best when the real work is finished.

Susan Tiner said...

You may have written earlier about his marital situation but I don't recall, is he still living with his wife? Are there children involved as well?

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

I admire your progress in life, P.e. Nolan! Your posts generally make me happy and edified in the reading. Make me remember small stuff too... like what didn't anyone not learn from Oprah (at one time)? These menopausal moments make for a great getting to know you. I'm glad (again) that you and your new beau are doing well and moving down the lane. Good for you Tricia. Damn Good.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

P.S. * was "edified" the correct context? * I do learn through your lessons and I am certainly illuminated! Think so?

Jim said...

I'm way older than you, so I feel compelled to give you "sage" advice. Don't count anything (things of beauty or whatever) until he's completely and utterly divorced, and even then, another year or so for his internal equilibrium to even out some. I know these things. Trust me, I'm an old guy that's been around the block a few times. Feel free to disregard. I know how it is with you younger folk, always know everything! ;-)

PENolan said...

Gail, we have to hope I'd at least some of the vocabulary right after all these years ;)

Patricia, I got the idea from Jennife's blog realia
She started the Explore Beauty Challenge, and I've found it very helpful to my own process. Check it out. She's an insightful writer who can craft a vignette like nobody's business.

Ah dissed - He is a good man. But ending a relationship with one Pissed-Off woman and trying to start one with another woman, whose patience level is erratic - is a difficult thing for anyone.

Susan - In New York, as you may know, most people draw up a separation agreement and file that with family court. Once the couple has abided by the terms of the agreement for a year, they are automatically divorced as soon as they fork over a few more bucks to family court. Jon El filed the separation papers himself about 2 months ago (since he's a lawyer). He hasn't lived with his wife since June. There are two boys - one is a senior in HS, and the other is in middle school. The mother/wife is living with her brother Jon El lives with a friend, and the parents take turns living in the apartment with the kids. One week the mom lives there, the next week the dad. In theory, this living arrangement is supposed to be less disruptive on the kids - but my observation suggests (1) kids are always disrupted so this situation simply gives them a different vantage point from which to watch their parents behaving badly and (2) Sometimes you need the concrete, ritualistic experience of physically breaking up the marital residence to feel fully separated. I believe that Jon El is coming to a similar conclusion and will be looking for a more permanent arrangement soon. Fortunately, when they moved back to the city just under two years ago, they decided to rent, so the real estate issue won't complete anything. I'm not sure if the wife knew when they moved into a rental that Jon El was thinking about ending the marriage. She seems to be handling the situation about as well as anyone whose husband, who has supported her and her children, leaves her for no tangible reason that she can see after 17 years. We can only hope she is not aware that he's getting friendly with a shiksa whore or she'll really go ballistic.

It's one of life's little ironies that I've played a role in the midlife crises of so many men - as either friend or something resembling a lover. More midlife crises than fiancé's that's for sure. It must be in my karma.

GHB, I'm going to hang on to that word Illuminated tonight. I'm afraid that hurdle turned out to be a steeple chase, and now we've stumbled in the puddle. I'm feeling the need for a little white light healing.

PENolan said...

PS to Jim - Hey Dude, I added a song to the post in response to your excellent advice.

Cali said...

I never seem to know what men ARE, only what they WERE.

Mr. Charleston said...

No advice from me Trish as I'm pretty much a total failure at these things. Good luck.

Jim said...

Thank you, dear! It's always been a favorite of mine!

Susan Tiner said...

It sounds really complicated.

Jennifer said...

Everything's complicated. Seems to me you're doing it right (read: slow) and thinking, seeing.

Taking care of yourself in a relationship - yes, beautiful. The best part of the post.

Well the history was fun, sure do love your stories!

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