Yes? No? Maybe…

I was asked a rather pointed question today; a friend of mine asked me why I choose to go on dates but refuse to date any one specific person? The answer is as simple as it is complicated. I spend a lot of time seeing and remembering the awful things. The iniquitous images of experience. This is not done out of willful recall. In fact, quite the opposite, actually…

The other night I was out for a walk. An act I often partake in before bed so as to satiate the restlessness that lives within. While on my wayfarer’s journey, I was stricken with a flashback. The insidious nature by which this intruder forced its way in is most troubling because I truly have no idea as to the causation of it. What I mean is, I do not know the trigger that gave birth to this horrid visitor of the ethereal.

I’ll spare you the details of what this twist of time and space was of, but let’s operate under the assumption that it was shatteringly disturbing—and remains that way…

So, what does any of this have to do with dating? Well, everything! My eyes are burdened by the bad. Scarred by the horrible. My mind is wounded. Lain on a bed of thoughts that are rusted in stagnation and immovability. Sometimes, it’s just nice to gaze upon something in juxtaposition of all that. To push away the nefarious smells that so anathematize my nares, and instead replace it with the scent of a woman. To remind myself that there is beauty left in this cruel place. It is also a way to remind myself of those more innocent times: The first crush. The butterflys that tickle when making lasting eye contact. The shimmer of a woman’s perfectly kissable lips—intoxicating.

My eyes navigate each strand of hair that falls like poetry from her crown. Her eyelashes become mesmeric. Unblemished skin along with the perfect imperfections drowns the sorrows of my otherwise woeful sights. Dates are the pills that I cannot take… They rid me of heft, even if just ephemerally so.

So then why is it that I cannot date any one specific person? Like I said, the answer is as simple as it is complicated.

Tennyson once said: “’Tis better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.” Well, Tennyson, go fuck yourself! At the microfiber of my sinew, I disagree with this romanticized statement. I have loved, even if it were just the idea of who I thought she was. And I have lost. And that loss creates a cavernous void of biblical proportions. A lesion on the soul and the untainted heart. I came home to find a woman I love sharing my side of the bed with another man. My bare hand unwittingly and unknowingly touched the skin of his chest when trying to take my place beneath the covers. Lights were turned on and bewildered expressions were shared between we three. The first oration uttered was:

“Matt, what are you doing home?”

I never had the chance nor the desire to tell her about the dead kid… That’s why I was home—I couldn’t stand to stay nor think of responding to another call. So, I went home to the one I loved. Trusted. Adored. And found so rudely that I had been replaced by another man.

It was in that moment that I took my trust back. I stayed my tears and swallowed despair instead. A taste that lingers through to today…

Now, I know the argument can be made that not all women are like that and that not all relationships plunder into those depths. But ask me how many paramedics I know and have worked with that are still married… Ask me how many of my veteran buddies remain together with the ones they once loved… ask me…

The answer? Not one. Not even my friend from high-school who married his sweetheart remains together. And the cherry, the topper that sealed my inability to ever again gift my trust to anyone? Bayley. Before moving across the country, I started seeing another woman. A clerk at one of the local hospitals that I would frequent when on ambulance. It all started with an innocuous glance. A serendipitous bond through broken hearts. Eventually, I felt worthy enough to ask her out. She obliged. We went to movies, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. It felt new. Exciting and wholesome. She respected what I did for a living, something I craved from my ex. She was soft, kind and warm. She was also a liar…

One evening, after a shared meal backlit by a roaring fireplace, I conceded that tonight was the night—I was going to sleep at her place. We went back and watched movies and cuddled on the couch. We kissed and allowed for our hands to become tourists of one another’s bodies. Her skin felt like silk. My hands slid along the curves of her architecture. I was immersed within a sea of lust whilst floating atop a raft of comfort and compassion. When it came time, I could not do what was required. I was still bleeding from wounds given to me by another. As such, no sex was to be had. But she was understanding and empathic. We spent the night with bodies intertwined and linked.

Then, come morning, the illusion was eviscerated. Her bedroom door burst open and stood at the entryway was a man of frantic feature. Her husband. In a cruel slight of hand, I had become the other man. She had been lying all along. And it was in that moment that I swore off closeness to another. So, you see, dates are all I can do. My ability to be guarded is all that I now trust. I will never again be “that man” in either sense of the word.

So, what do you think? Want to go out sometime?…

Yes? No? Maybe…

 

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