That’s what one of the headlines on my homepage said when I opened my computer and turned it on. I didn’t read the article, I don’t want to know what it says. I just like that statement. I believe it to be true. It’s IS closer than you think. All of it.
I’ve been thinking about dating lately, and gender, and attraction, and crushes, and also talking about those things with other people, kind of beating the horse to death, the endless horse that never dies. Sometimes I feel like if I talk about it one more time, from some new angle, I’ll uncover some great secret, and everything will suddenly make sense. But instead it’s like those stars you see that you can’t really see if you look right at them, and you have to look a little to the side. They don’t like to be stared at directly, in the face. Or they disappear. So I talk about crushes, and gender, and dating, and sex, and I end up just feeling more confused and bewildered than when I opened my mouth in the first place, and all of a sudden it just feels like too much work, and I’m glad I’ve decided to be single forever, and never date anyone, and never have sex, ever again.
Sometimes I think straight folks are lucky. The socialization is just so simple- this is who you date, this is who you don’t. This is your gender, this is your partner’s gender. This is what courtship looks like, this is how you have sex…
Sometimes I just feel like I’m over it. I’m bored with queers, I’m double bored with straight people, I’m bored with every single person on earth. I just want to hang out by myself and read my book.
And then every once in a while I’ll see someone/talk to someone/look into someone’s eyes and an attraction will flare up, sort of a residual response to something I’ve forgotten about. And for a moment it’s fun to entertain a thought, like what if we… made out? Wrote letters to each other? Went walking in no particular direction? Made up stories? Created an alternate universe? Had sex? Slept over?
And then what?
And then… and then we sleep badly (because everything is so exciting), and in the morning we’re tired, and then we make breakfast but the day is getting late and we’re a little short on kale and we both feel a little out of sorts for having put off our usual solo morning rituals, drinking black tea and checking email and putting together an outfit and whatnot. So now the day is halfway passed and we part, a little groggy and confused, biking home solo like What day is it? and Why is the light so dim? and one or the other of us is more proactive in encouraging the other to make plans to hang out later but there’s already the Going Out Dancing once a week and the Working At The Job and the Sitting Alone, Staring Off Into Space, Contemplative, and where is there room, at the end of the day, to pencil in one-on-one hangout which is supposed to be “fun” (a stressful expectation, to be sure) and you have to look hot and be attracted and talk and talk and talk and it’s not acceptable to have low blood sugar, and what if you just want to hang out alone in fleece pants and go through your old letters, slowly, because you’ve been meaning to do that for some time?
We cannot transcend the mundane. We cannot turn into balls of white light and transcend the mundane. And the mundane, everyday parts of life are not something that I want to share with anyone. It’s MY mundane. It belongs to ME. Life is not hot, thrilling, sleepless and exciting seven days a week. Life is not a non-stop riot of color and fireworks. We cannot speed up time, cut out the ordinary bits (low blood sugar, biking in a rainstorm, petting the dog on the couch) and sew the rest together into a manic quilt of boundless joy.
I mostly like things that aren’t exciting, with some real thrilling bits mixed in like marshmallows in a box of cereal. That’s why riding freight trains is so perfect for me. Train riding is 95 percent waiting in the bushes and watching the sun make dappled shade on the leaflitter. A whole day, just watching the shadows of leaves. Maybe picking up a book, putting it down. Eating a can of beans. And then, at four a.m when all is dark and quiet and you’ve finally entered REM sleep in your sleeping bag, KABAM! YOUR TRAIN IS HERE! And you’ve got to get that train, you’ve waited three days for it, and it all depends on the speed at which you can stuff your sleeping bag away and tie your shoes and run down the ballast, stomach burning in your chest. And then, when you’re on the train, guess what? All you’ve got to do for the next three days is lay back and watch the sky.
Some of the fiercest romances I’ve ever had happened while I was traveling with someone. Even when I’m just traveling with a friend, I start to feel sort of romantically about them, like “We’ve created this whole world together and we’re the only two people in it and you are the only one who understands me and nothing ordinary exists anymore.” And in a way, I feel like the sort of romance that would work for me could maybe only happen while I was traveling with someone- because when you’re traveling there IS no routine, every day is a boundless sort of journey, and you’re free to live in the world in which you’ve always wanted to live- the one that exists in your head. And when you’re making it all up, you can throw socialization out the window. It is YOUR world, after all, and you ARE the only two people on it. When the trip with a friend is over and we got to our respective homes, I usually go into a sort of withdrawal from this person, as if we’re in love. I want to call them up every five minutes and say, “remember that one time on our trip that thing happened? And then that other thing happened?” because our newly created world is slipping away. And then, eventually, I get over it.
Space- it’s closer than you think.