Chaos Attraction

Pillow Talk

2004-03-22, 8:38 p.m.

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More relationship musings today. I had yet another sleepless Sunday night (let's just say that being nice and letting the cats sleep in my room? Dumb idea) and have been crabby. Plus I read this column and I had to say something about it. All quotes in here are from it, though I'll warn you now that they're out of order. Go read the whole thing at some point, will ya?

This one really fits in with the Eternal Sunshine thing from the other day...

"We should have stayed 15 forever. If we had stayed 15 forever, everything that happened to us would be this wonderful new experience that we appreciate unconditionally, this thing that we can't believe is happening to us. We would have history, no cynicism, no reason to doubt. We would take everything at face value, and it would all be beautiful."

I read this bit below and I, well... let's just say I relate all too well, in a sense. You'll see what I mean.

"I used to make out with my pillow when I was 15. It was not a sexual thing, or at least not that I remember. I would just lie alone in bed, late at night, and hold my pillow and kiss it and tell it how important it was to me. My fantasy at 15, when it was late and it was just me, was not of fame and fortune, was not of large-chested women covered in oil, was not even of playing catcher for the Cardinals. My fantasy was having a woman I could hold and tell her how much I loved her.

That's what I did to my pillow. I would caress its imaginary hair, and rub its imaginary back, and whisper into its imaginary ear. I would kiss its imaginary lips, tenderly, no tongue, just soft light touches, my mouth moving so slightly, like I'd seen people do on the television. Sometimes I would pull my pillow on top of me, and it would nuzzle its imaginary head into my shoulder, purring, content. My pillow was so happy to be with me. I was my pillow's world, and I never disappointed. I even let the pillow sleep on the same side of the bed every night; I knew it didn't like to be pressed up against the wall.

I think I told my pillow I loved it every night for a year. And I did love that pillow. I really did.

When I was 15, all I needed was that pillow. That pillow had no history, and neither did I. That pillow was whatever I wanted it to be. It could handle that. It was very easy for a pillow to simply be what I wanted. People are not so flexible. And neither am I."

I have empty bed issues, which as previously mentioned before, is why I have never caved in and bought a bed for two. These days when I sleep alone, I have a lot of pillows in- 2-3 at the head, couple of body pillows. I don't make out with them, it's more along the lines of warning if I'm about to roll out, but still, I relate.

I relate mainly because I like the idea of the pillow being whatever I want it to be. It doesn't have issues with me, or issues of its own. It's just there. And that's what sucks about relationships: they involve people who DO have issues with you and with themselves. And that's often what makes it go to hell.

It's easier for me to ignore my own problems when I'm single. So I have commitment and domesticity issues, who cares when you're alone? So I put my parents first, that's fine and dandy when they're all you've got. So I bitch myself out when I've really fucked up. Those things don't bother me.

But when you are coupled, those personal problems of yours suddenly become BIG FUCKING ISSUES to the other person. Issues so big they wish you'd go into therapy about it, because they are so bothered by it. Issues that very well may drive them away.

Much to my confusion, I find myself with fellows that tell me it's fine if I don't want to be domestic, then they ask me to do their laundry and cook for them. Hell, the last two kinda whined and begged at times for me to make them a meal. Everyone's already heard about the nasty holiday fights of the last two Christmases, so I won't go there. And Dave sometimes went kinda ballistic on me when I'd fucked up. "STOP INSULTING YOURSELF! YOU'RE A GOOD PERSON! STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!" And I'd be all, "Uh, I just really fucked up here, I'm supposed to be singing self-esteem songs about how wonderful I am? Okay, so I don't suck all the time, but right now I do. What is your problem with me saying that?" There's another one that never got "resolved." As far as I was concerned, that was just me and he'd have to suck it up and deal with it, because I wasn't going to have a personality change and become Smoochy the Rhino in some areas and tell my parents to fuck off in others. You get the drift of what I mean here.

Likewise, I had big fat problems with his friends being idiots, with his lackadaisical work ethic, with his parents being hot and cold, and with his being perpetually poor. He had issues with most of these things too, but not nearly to the extent that I did. At the basic level of his being, he was fine with things being like that, and he wanted me to just accept it and deal with it, because he wasn't going to have a personality change and become a middle-class college frat boy.

So there we went. Which is fine. We're both stubborn in our own way, there wasn't going to be resolutions that the both of us could deal with. Love does not conquer all, and we were nave to think it could. (Hell, I think it could very well be rewritten into "Love doesn't conquer much of anything.")

This bit, to me, may be the best thing Will has ever written.

"People often ask me how I could be so foolish as to get engaged at the age of 20. My response is simple: Only then was I so devil-may-care about the whole thing. I was in love, she was in love, of course we were gonna get married. Isn't that why any of us are doing this anyway?

Years have passed now, and I don't feel that way anymore. How could I? I have scars now. Everything is in the gray area now; every decision must take into an infinite amount of variables.

Isn't it amazing relationships happen at all, considering what must go into each of them? You have to find two people who, first off, have to be physically attracted to each other. Then you have to hope they're in the same mindset in regards to the value of relationships. Then you have to have them interact with each other on a day-to-day basis in ways that don't make them want to kill each other. Then you have to make sure their real-world goals intersect in a way that won't make one partner more dominant or more satisfied than the other one. Then you have to hope that past experiences haven't made either partner slow to trust anyone, or at least too slow for the other person to put up with it. Then you have to be certain that both partners actually want to take the step of devoting their life to the other person, usually at the exact same time. And you have to make sure that both people consider themselves equals, lest the insecurity virus infest the whole thing.

Oh, and then you have to make sure that all these factors stay locked in place for about 40 years."

Sounds impossible, doesn't it? Anyone who can have a good relationship that lasts that long should be bronzed and put into a public square so that they don't go bad.

It's all issues with me, every step.

* I'm hardly ever attracted to someone, and I'd still say that most people are likewise not attracted to me. (Okay, so a few 3WA guys may find me cute, but if they knew me in person, perhaps not.)

* Mindset: I tend to think that the guy is looking for longterm, maybe marriage someday. This worked with Malk, albeit he jumped the gun on the marriage stuff. Previous ex, on the other hand, assumed he'd fall out of love someday, because he always did. Ditto high school ex, I think. I, naturally, was too dumb to pay attention.

* Day-to-day not killing each other: Actually, this is the least of my problems. Easy to work out when the girl avoids fights at all cost.

* Real-world goals...that's never even been close to working out with anybody. I've always been drastically far apart from the fellow. HSE was a workaholic, I was still in high school and soon to leave town, so that was doomed. Dave, well you know that already. Previous ex and I were the closest as in we were both in school, albeit he was graduate and I was undergrad. But even then, I actually made progress towards a degree, and him...not so much. And then even apart from that, I have major fear of being dominated careerwise in a relationship, so I feel safer with slackers. I've never attracted anyone with major smarts AND major ambition, though. I suppose it hasn't really been an option?

* Past experiences and trust is a major one for me. I don't know if anyone would be willing to put up with it all forever.

* At the same time...well, hah.

* And as for equals? I don't think that's ever happened either. Usually dating older guys automatically puts you on the down side of the scale, and obviously I was the one on the pedestal with Dave. Equality can't exist when there's some fundamental drastic incompatibility somewhere.

And forty years? Bwahahahahahahahahahaha. Yeah, right.

"Whenever I've had problems in relationships before, people often tell me, "Well, if you're having this many problems, you're probably better off just ending it. When the right person comes along, all that other stuff won't matter." This theory seems like horseshit to me. The right person, if this person exists, won't make all my fears and worries and doubts and guilts and everything else go away. If I were to meet a person who enraptured me so completely that I no longer thought about all my reservations and peculiarities wouldn't I want to run away from that person, and fast? I am me, after all, and if someone is theoretically so wonderful and incredible that I throw all everything out the window just because they are so wonderful and incredible, aren't I doing both of us a huge disservice? Because I'm not always going to find them so wonderful and incredible, at least not at such a high level of intensity. And what happens then? Because I'm still me. I can push that aside for a while, in the name of love, but eventually, we cannot hide from who we are.

When I was 20, I had little idea who I was. At 28, I'm all too familiar."


When you think about it, the odds are against you that a relationship can even work out. At least the pillow is all about you and your imagination. It's a lot more reassuring and there for you on a long-term basis than a real live person with a personality that doesn't mesh will be.

Yay for pillows!

Two semi-related comments to finish this off: talked to Mom last night, and she said Auntie Dolores asked about Dave, so she had to break the news. This apparently managed to shut Auntie D right the hell up. I am much pleased. No nagging about wedding rings and babies next Christmas!

Also, I first read this column while I was on the phone with Mom, and I read her bits of it. She wanted to know if Will was single. I was all "No, and he lives in New York. It ain't ever going to happen, Mom!" Not that it would be likely to happen if either of those factors were different, I think, but best to curb her instincts in the bud. Alas, I think between reading her this column and telling her I like John Mayer, she has NYC on the brain. She wanted to know why I never thought I'd go to New York someday. "Uh, because going there for a weekend would cost at least half of my monthly paycheck? I can't afford to date New Yorkers, even if I wanted to!" Parents are strange.

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