Posted up on a bar stool, I noticed the instant he walked in.
Blue eyes beckoning. I was listening. Hard.
Liquidly courageous, delightfully obscure and entertaining,
I bewitched him in conversation.
Filled his empty pint with my pitcher of Yuengling.
Stealing and donning his sweaty hat.
He had just finished art school.
I was studying journalism.
He kept finding reasons to touch me.
Blocking me from human traffic.
Keeping me close and safe physically.
At one point, some drunken, oblivious, d-bag tried to holler.
He moved between, cockblocking.
Unwavering in eye contact and speech with me.
I can’t remember what we talked about, only how it felt.
He got my number, and we stayed until the bar closed.
And as all the carbon contents poured into the back alley,
he grabbed my hand.
I remember the sweat and energy on his slender fingers.
He was pushing past palpable trepidation.
And in the midst of a hundred swarming,
he yanked my hand toward him and kissed me.
People started cheering.
It was perfect.
Except, I freaked.
Froze. Stopped breathing.
Pulled away as far as his hand would allow.
He reeled me back in for another try.
When I brushed his lips, the panic devoured.
So I pulled away harder, breaking free from his fingers.
Fleeing, scurrying through a sea of drunken bodies.
I shimmied like a silver lure dangling in his face.
Then shot him the-****-down. Twice.
He never called me. But pocket-dialed me the next day.
Left an unintended voicemail. Heard him bemoaning, *I felt SO stupid…
Called him back a few minutes later. Didn’t leave a message.
I could have called again. I didn’t. Ever.
I thought about him every day for months,
inspiring one of my better poems of that era:
A Roller Coaster Ride Ending in Derailment.
Years later, I friended him on MySpace, sent a generic message.
He didn’t recognize me. And I never said anything.
Like a ******* coward.
How is it possible to excitedly charge in a cardinal direction,
only to smack abruptly into:
I’ve had a little time, say 14 years,
to reflect on what made me me run,
and I think it was this:
as soon as he was facing me,
with unadulterated adoration,
all I could feel was terrified and ugly.
It was so good. Far too good for me.
I was afraid. Afraid he would eventually see.
That I was hideous. He wouldn’t want the real me.
I didn’t think I could live up to the look in his eyes.
When he saw I was only a spunky, confident model on the cover,
and an insecure shitshow amidst contents inside, he would leave.
A fragile little girl so afraid she is unlovable, unworthy, ugly.
When he saw how uncomfortable I could be in my own skin,
he would let go.
I didn’t like me, so why the **** should he?
I ran from connection that night, after tilling it for hours.
Hauling *** with windows down,
I slammed the brakes and careened. End scene.
He reeked of bliss and impending heartbreak.
So I abandoned him before he could leave.
I’m frightened of anyone who truly stirs me.
It makes me feel big, scary feelings. They straitjacket hug me.
Skewing all my outward signals. I come off standoffish.
Pushing away the very thing I want and need.
I’m not good at expressing intense feelings in real time.
Except in ink. And bed.
I get locked up inside. Feels like I’m gonna die.
A fight-or-flight ignition by erroneous head triggers.
I project my unlovable feelings onto others,
in the face of blatant evidence to the contrary.
I’ve done LTRs, just not with the required equipment.
I know the gears are sabotaged out the gate,
but I go for it anyway. It’s safe (or so it seems). And empty.
I crave intimacy, but I’m terrified of showing up entirely.
In front of someone with eyes that can see.
I quickly sense who is capable of meeting me,
and thoroughly **** it up for myself,
by not feeling free. Not authentic. Not open. Hiding.
Editing. Hot fish, cold fish. Rotating masks. Blockades. Running.
Constantly scanning the environment for signs of rejection,
that I’m not enough, indeed. To validate my own self-worthlessness.
I wanna be right.
I’ve only done long terms where I can remain alone, bored and/or dead.
No real intimacy. No full disclosure. No BAMF duo status.
No seeing to the back of each other’s skulls.
No blasting through the cosmos.
I freeze and evade in the face of what I crave.
Shunning delicious plates I’ve just ordered and ravenously drooled over.
I have more examples, but this is the most concise and blatant...
Except, this one time:
I told my gut to shut the **** up,
while I cosigned utter inner *******.
Denied the eyes of my own soul,
as it floated into my periphery.
It took all of my focus just to breathe.
He didn’t turn around,
just looked over his shoulder.
At me. Up, then down.
And drifted away.
Electrocuting my cosmic antennae.
Leaving me reeling. Still tingling.
I almost called your name,
but doubt surrounded fear mountain.
Plus, I thought I was jus straight trippin, err, trollin.
Going crazy. Weaving my own alteration atop reality.
Pretty pro @ that yuh know...
We push and pull and run and chase,
because it feels safer pursuing what’s out of reach.
Until it turns around.
Or looks over its shoulder...
With eyes that can see.
maybe we need a few less chairs, as we have some mutual guests: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emily-wilcox/the-pushpull-relationship_b_8241126.html