Last night I had a Quarantime dream awash in all the human dynamics that are verboten right now. You know–people crowded together, sex with someone new. In it, I was staying in a self-serious commune for adults and Adam Driver and I were grateful allies, complicit amid all that NPR and Park Slope-style overearnestness. Since it was an adult sort of commune, it was well-appointed and well-organized, and we each had our own quarters within the greater shared space.
Adam invited me to his digs and I was impressed by his beautifully arranged pantry, carefully chosen possessions. Burnished wood, 70s turntable, a perfectly gleaming whiskey decanter. Also his long strong fingers, wide mouth and unwavering stare. It seemed clear we were going to come together so I wasn’t surprised when he raised his eyebrows at me in the common dining room and mouthed: “Call me daddy.” I straddled the back of a chair and mouthed back: “Call me daddy.”
Next thing I knew we were in an open, industrial kitchen—rolling on clean white floors, fucking on chrome prep tables–
And it just wasn’t hot. The fact we both wanted to be called daddy should have been an indication there’d be fizzle instead of sizzle but still we kept trying to top each other and everything felt too flat and rigid to be fuckable. Even his lips seemed stiff and as I was climbing him I felt I was trying to mount Rushmore and, oy, just couldn’t find the right level of receptivity and suppliance. Those secret switchy corners.
Instead of surrendering to the moment, a running narrative was playing in my head like a tickertape: I guess I’m really over cis-dudes for the time being. Because Driver is the platonic essence of the kind of guy I used to go for—strapping, self-possessed, passionate–and I just can’t get it up for him. Instead his unsurprisingly enormous cock is spelling out my queerness.
Even within the dream I was thinking, this is not your dream anymore.
Lately I just find straight sex so un-nuanced and uncreative, so proscribed by anatomy and social conventions rather than imagination and free will. Even the good guys don’t really bring it in bed once you’re middle-aged.
Is it because as I’ve shifted more deeply into menopause that I’m leaving cultural and biological hegemonies behind? I’m not sure, and suspect even wondering this will offend people from all kinds of walks of life. All I know is: In my spacecrone power I’m most ignited by all things reciprocal and fluid–you know, wet. Reader, I’ve moved on.
As I floated back to consciousness I started thinking of the TV show Girls. It’s where I first noticed Driver, a welcome antidote to that show’s selfie-aggrandizing aggressive-passive-aggression. Staring at my ceiling I thought about how, by the end of the series, none of the girls were really friends anymore because their bonds were less authentic than circumstantial.
This feels applicable. Life can be so quiet when you strip it of the ego-affirming, “in-agreement” chitchat.
If you can’t tell–and of course you can–I am having trouble connecting with anyone. I’m stony rather than sad, which is an alarming regression since I’m only able to connect when I can feel feelings rather than merely note them. It’s the difference between empathy, which I always involuntarily experience, and sympathy, which sometimes I don’t even afford myself.
Essentially I’m back to my high school modality of registering subtexts like nails on a chalkboard. The gap between what is being said and what is being thought is so irritating I’ll do anything to escape it–even name it. And afterward no one will receive my amends because I have committed the unforgivable sin of naming that which must not be named. Worse, I have done so when my composure has been disrupted, so my delivery system has sucked. (Even on a good day I am a “say it, don’t spray it” queen but so long as I’m tiptoing around the elephant in the unconscious, people mostly find it charming.)
It’s the downside of being intuitive. Given how deeply I involuntarily read others, my exchanges with them always require unspoken allowances, often at my own expense. People clamor for the mirror I hold to their lives unless it reveals how I personally experience their limitations. Then our relationship is never the same again.
Thus I have learned to isolate myself when tired, hungry, hormonal, inebriated, injured, overheated, overextended–in any state that depletes my reserves of patience. Because when my reserves are depleted, so is my filter, and I’ll respond directly to someone’s core conceit–that coping mechanism they don’t even acknowledge to themselves because doing so would force them to own how they rearrange reality and sacrifice others to the altar of their precarious personality structure.
I learned long, long ago that we all have a little Donald Trump in us. And once you yank back the curtain on that kind of shitty selfishness, you can’t close it again.
Very few people grant me the forgiveness that they don’t realize I am constantly granting them. Especially given how much work that forbearance took to achieve given my past traumas, this often makes me feel invisible except in my capacity as a mirror. With most people I feel lonelier than I do when by myself.
I accepted this long ago, which is why I choose to interact with other humans only in carefully curated capacities.
The problem is I’ve officially run out of reserves when not on the clock. The immense stresses of COVID-19, especially as a NYC resident newly embracing her queerness while in the second puberty that is perimenopause, has me constantly running on empty. There’s not enough psychotherapy nor sage to assuage the degree to which I feel overwhelmed and in need of physical contact.
And this chucks my careful curation right out the window. With some people, I’ve simply withdrawn, which is interpreted as selfish abandonment though it’s my effort to save us both. Others are licking their wounds over what I’ve said flat-out. And the fact that they barely deign to accept my apology for the flawed delivery when they won’t apologize for the shortcoming that incited it is difficult to ignore.
Understand I know I’m no peach. Understand I know that others have helped me many times when I have needed help. But when my challenge is one that implicates them as well, that’s a hard pill for most human egos to swallow.
I’m still able to be present and patient with clients because I climb right inside them during sessions and erase my own needs entirely. But when I return to myself, it’s all inflammation–scratchy, hot, mad. The way you feel on an un-air-conditioned rush-hour August subway. Or the day before your period.
Or on the four millionth day of quarantine when you live in a small apartment in an overcrowded city of individualists.
So let’s just say there’s been no zoom invites except for work invites in my inbox lately. I’m stuck in that hallway—you know, when a door has closed and a window’s yet to open. And all of us being stuck alone-together is not, at least in my case, engendering solidarity so much as a painful solitude.
I try to be positive. I pray for paths out of my unpleasantness. But so far I just feel stuck. Writing about it probably only compounds that stuckness but my forever hope is I’m creating a portal where someone else can own up to their own alienating alienation. Solidarity of another sort.
This is so hard. And apparently there’s no iteration of hard that intrigues me anymore.