Six years ago today I kissed a complicated man. It was my first kiss, and on Friday the 13th, to boot. I like to think that the inauspicious start to my career as a kisser signified only the doom of my relationship with the aforementioned complicated man as opposed to blighting my kisses forever, but I suppose only time will tell.
After that first kiss, sweet and tenuous and light, like spring, he sent me an email saying something along the lines of how refreshing he found me, “like a Pacific breeze for one who has breathed only smog for so long.” Being seventeen (okay, two weeks away from eighteen), and still well into my “Young and Fucking Stupid” phase, I was utterly smitten.
Granted, I had been utterly smitten since the moment I had first spoken with him, while we were waiting in line as OSSM to take the SAT II in December of 2003. He used the word “triumvirate” in the first few moments of our conversation, in context of us taking over the world. I marveled, as we sat together taking our exams, because he could keep up with me. Here was a gorgeous creature who could match the pace of my mind, inductive leap for inductive leap. He was creative, he was funny, he was bloody brilliant; and he was at least as fast as I was, if not faster. I wasn’t just smitten. I was fucking intoxicated.
At the time I wrote,
“He chuckled while I kissed him, which makes me just a touch nervous, but as far as chuckles go it was a very pleasant one. …
Six dollars and a couple of gallons of gas for a kiss and the company of a pretty blue-eyed boy who makes me look unintelligent? Definitely worth it.
I am just waiting for all hell to break loose. Okay, where is it? I know it’s waiting. Might as well throw it at me now.”
As I expected at the time, all hell did eventually break loose. Over the course of the next eight months he proceeded to obliterate my naive little heart.
The night I finally washed my hands of my first complicated man, he had told me that I was not in the 1% of people who were intelligent enough, cool enough, or interesting enough for him to want to know me once he left Oklahoma.
Naturally, having only one sample to go off of, I did not yet recognize the key cause of this disaster, and immediately I bounced off to another brilliant, fast, creative man.
Six years, many small heartbreaks, a couple of big heartbreaks, and at least three complicated men later, I have recognized a pattern. As an ethnographer, I could even say that four similar experiences with men constitutes an emerging theme. Perhaps I am just overwhelmingly fortunate in this regard, but I have found my highly creative, beautiful, brilliant, fast, complicated men to be some combination of fucked up, broken, twisted, manipulative, and arrogant. (One has since recovered from those afflicitions and is now one of my dearest friends.) In spite of knowing, logically, that my interactions with complicated men always end in explosions and burns of various degrees, I am drawn to them. (Moth to flame, anyone?) They are exciting and challenging. The best way to explain it really is “fast”–like takeoff in a small plane, like motorcycles, like sparring with someone who could kick your ass, like speeding down country roads in the dark over hills, like rollercoasters, like Rob Zombie, like an accelerando in the percussion section. It’s a tightening in my chest, an intake of breath, the moment my feet leave the ground. I crave that feeling of becoming airbore. Well, you know. Some people do recreational drugs–I involve myself with complicated men.
The trouble with flight is that gravity will inevitably draw you back into her embrace. And landing, as any pilot will tell you, is the hardest part of flying.
What we desire is often not what is best for us. I am a tornado, a powerful thunderstorm, a speeding train, a hurricane. I am fiery, intense, and fast.
What I am coming to suspect is that a successful relationship involving me cannot also involve someone who is so like me. However much I want the energy, the sparkly crackling lightning power, it is not a sustainable model for me. I probably need the calm to my hurricane, the mountain to my wild, wild wind.
And I know this now, and I have a calm to my firestorm. But sometimes I think it would be nice to supplement it with a little explosive energy. Sometimes I would like to ride the lightning.