I fear loving you more than I fear hating you. The truth is that the latter is much easier, and temporary. If you walk into and then out of my life, I have no lasting obligation to you, I cannot be fully known by you, I am not given over and over and over again the opportunity to disappoint you. This idea of permanence terrifies me--Ronald's death, for instance, or, rather, not so much that he is dead but that he always will be--I want it to be a temporary state, so that he can come visit me for his 30th birthday after all.
I see the used condoms in the trash, and think that a part of you is here, but also I think of the fleeting nature of physical love. Sex is a failure without orgasm--orgasm signals its end. I wonder about love, and how similar it is to sex. In my experience, love is just as fleeting as the moment of orgasm, a moment in time, the flame-burst of a match. Yesterday, you lay where I lay now, our bodies slick with each other's sweat. Tonight, I wonder whether she will win you back--or, rather, if you will decide to return to her. Will you come to me, after all, and say, your different face but the same old words, "I'm sorry, but..." And then all we will have between us is the one night and the three used condoms I'll be putting out with the trash in the morning. I am afraid that this is the conversation that we will have, you, with a pained look on your face, ironically, as the hurter, and me, trying to act unmoved, as the one being hurt.
We are already keeping secrets; you, of her and what happened when you left here yesterday, me, of the date with my own ex tomorrow night--a pillow to help soften the blow I'm already flinching in anticipation of, not knowing if or when it will come.
Why only date one man who will use you up and leave you when you can stay unattached to several?
How does anyone continue to hope for love, when everything suggests that it is unsustainable? When the men you have loved have consistently disappointed you, how do you continue to believe that the next one, or one someday, won't? How do you cross the bridge from every relationship failing, failing, failing, to one that doesn't? At a certain point, don't you begin to believe that they simply will, and then you've damned them--they cannot survive.
Part of me wants to kill this thing now, before we get too deep. And then I look up at the invitation on my dresser to my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary, and i see in front of me the evidence that somewhere, somehow, my logic is off. Love has to be sustainable, at least in some form, even if I don't understand how. My grandparents have been married almost twice as long as I have been alive. It is not possible that I know more about love. I'd like to think that maybe I know more about heartache, but I don't think that after 50 years, that is possible either.
And now you and I are wrapped together with a thin satin white ribbon, and I'm afraid because, as always, the seeds are planted and beginning to grow, and the ax is never far away, and the longer you let it grow, the harder it is to cut it down. If you did it now, I would hate you and move on, to get my hopes up and be disappointed by someone else and someone else and someone else. But what I'm really afraid of is letting this thing between us grow, to see how big and leafy and beautiful it will get, because always in the back of my mind, I'll know that the ax is arm's length away, that you can never get comfortable, you can never let yourself totally go, you must always keep a part of you to yourself, because if I love you, then when will it happen? After 3 years? Marriage? Children? No. Better to enjoy each other now and not dread the day when the world will come crashing in around us, when we will wonder how we were so blind, when we will realize the terrible people we have become with each other. No, I'll put the condoms out with the trash. You won't have to see me any more.
(written December 8, 2008)