End to a Non-Beginning

“I can never be in a relationship with you,” he said. “I’ve never been in a relationship with another guy before and I don’t know what it’s like.”

I lit a cigarette and looked at him, slightly incredulous, slightly confused. “But you’ve been in a relationship before, yes?”

“Well, yes. But that’s different.”

“Different how, exactly?”

He was silent for a while, returned my stare for a millisecond before looking away, “Well because there’s no point, is there? Gay relationships don’t go anywhere.”

I looked away as well then; looked away yet kept him in my peripheral vision, his sitting form slightly blurred. And now, looking back, that’s how he always was: there but not quite; an unclear, uncertain, sometimes unnerving presence somewhere around the periphery.

“I love you, you know.” He’d finally said.

And I just sat there, silently blowing cigarette smoke, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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Class is in Session

Welcome to Impossible Relationships 101. A class where I keep failing to learn anything from and am therefore doomed to repeat ad nauseam.

***

Lesson One: “You’re bi? Oh. Bye”

The Universe’s sense of humour has apparently deemed it amusing that I, an out-and-out gay guy who finds the idea of hiding my orientation and sexuality other than the sole reason of one day cashing in on my inheritance (if any) exhausting and ridiculous, am not only bound but destined to keep on attracting bisexual men with sexual identity issues. Yay! Not.

Now, I don’t have a problem with bisexuality in general; sexual freedom and all that. I just don’t fancy the idea of having to be jealous of both genders. One is tough competition in itself, thank you very much. Who needs the extra work? And plus, it’s not like I can compete with females anyway. Hello? Differences in hardware is number one. Followed by what these differences entail: Women offer the possibility of marriage and children and what society and religion and Indonesian law deem a ‘normal, healthy, and stable future’. Three adjectives that don’t exactly come to mind when I am the subject at hand (those would be ‘tattooed, pierced, and apeshit crazy’).

Yet in my infinite hopefulness (read: innate stupidity), I keep plowing on, always with the thoughts of ‘it may just work out this time’ and over-romanticised ideas of ‘love will conquer all and last forever’. Riiight. Here is the deal: in the course of my life, I’ve lost track of how many bi and gay Indonesian men I’ve met whose sense of religious guilt as well as social and familial responsibilities clash so badly with their sexual orientation and inclination. One example was at a dinner several days ago with the Hobbit (more on him later) and his friend where a discussion of my ‘lifestyle’, as they called it, culminated with the remark, “Well, the difference between you and us is that you actually have a choice.” Such hopelessness took the wind out of my sails so much that I didn’t even voice the response that in almost every case there is always a choice, and that they just don’t want to face the consequences of making a different one.

***

Lesson Two: “If you’re taken, don’t come knockin'”

Ah, yes. Another of the Universe’s potty little pranks. As often stated in my posts, I am as obsessed with fidelity and faithfulness -whether sexual or emotional – as any avid romance-reading, love-song-listening, and rom-com-watching person is. I am also of the firm belief that if you’re capable of cheating on and leaving your current partner whom you’ve vowed to love and treasure for as long as you both shall live, whether the aforementioned vow was said in a wedding or commitment ceremony, whispered on a bed as you’re laying together staring into each other’s eyes, or screamed during the throes of an orgasm, what’s exactly stopping you from doing it to me if I ever agree to take his or her place? And no, I’m not a fan of being on ‘the down low’ or ‘kept on the side’. I prefer uppers to downers and am not an order of french fries.

Yet they do come. Yet why? Is it simply basic human nature to never be satisfied with what you have? Is the grass always greener on the other side? Are we cursed with the affliction of wanting to have it all? Have fidelity and faithfulness become obsolete in modern society? Is monogamy, in fact, dying if not dead and rotting in a forgotten, unmarked grave somewhere? An example of this would be someone I like to call the Hitter; a widower in his mid-30’s who’s been in a relationship with a guy for several years up to now, and who despite his confessions of having sexual liaisons with multiple other guys has professed a supposedly heartfelt, genuine, and sincere intention of, and I quote, “settling down and being in a serious relationship” with me.

Great. Now I’m depressed. As flattering as the attention of others is, the attention of partnered others most often leave me disheartened and pessimistic of ever finding my pot of happily ever after at the end of that rainbow flag.

***

Oh God. Give me break time already.

L

I’m staring at blue. A blue of swirling memories of yesteryears, when you were still here. My legs in short shorts, your laughter across the room, drunkenly driving you home without a license in somebody else’s car. You loved me, didn’t you? And I loved you. Dialysis machines and chilling air conditioners, slices of smoked beef on wheat with chili and mayo, the sheets of flowing green silk you fitted on me. For a blink of eternity’s eye we had a spot in space and time. Not quite an us, not quite apart. Audrey Hepburn’s unforgettable face, Bette Davis’ cigarette smoke, Almodovar’s quirky movies. You didn’t care that I was different. And yes, you were different, too. Arby’s gooey melted cheese, Silverbirds waiting in the front lawn, insistently calling me Spikey even when my hair got curly. “No one’s ever done that for me,” you whispered after glasses of chardonnay. Years later you confessed that no one ever did again. Nights of foosball, of salsa music, of endless conversations and punchlines and wishes and dreams.

And now you’re gone. And there is only memory.

And this is for now, a goodbye.

Fidelity is a Four Letter Word

It gets harder to write lately.

Yea, that was a lie.

I suppose I just don’t know what to write about.

That was another.

The truth of the moment is that I’m just too lazy. And not even in a pleasantly complacent, blissfully ignorant sort of way. This laziness is the by-product of my scatter-brained, distraction-hunting, if-I-don’t-think-about-anything-then-it’s-not-real escapist tendencies.

It’s a mess all up in my head. And as much as role-playing thrills me, the mood to don a maid’s uniform and start cleaning up is yet to come.

Although…

I have been thinking about something. Nothing significant, just a little thing which caught my eye a couple of weeks ago. See, I was at Apollo Bar and Lounge for the opening party of QFF (Queer Film Festival), an annual event in Jakarta and several other cities showcasing LGBTQ-related films, exhibitions, and events. It was just another typical Friday night at a Jakarta gay club, with typical Eurotrashy music you can sing along to and typical men and boys standing and walking and dancing around trying to pull off looking inviting and aloof at the same time.

And of course, there were the gay couples.

Whether they were insta-couples who just hooked up or actual couples who have been at it for some time, a swivel of the head in any given direction granted a look at (depending on their degree of inebriation and inhibition, but not necessarily in this order) hugging, kissing, cuddling, making out, groping men. Which is all fine and good. Despite being single and undersexed, I’d like to think that I’m not as embittered as to envy other people their happiness.

Yet.

In any case, they were interesting to watch. Or maybe the lack of any mind and/or mood altering substance from my system demanded that I be interested in something or risk death by boredom. Whatever. Point is, watch them I did. And it wasn’t long before I saw something that piqued my interest:

From time to time, I’d see this look. It was on their face, in their eyes and body language. A slight stretch of the neck. An almost imperceptible glint in their eyes. A glance or stare that lasted a few seconds too long. Even with a man/boy/hybrid in their arms, they were looking. Still. Whether it’s for their next great love or another hot body to explore or yet another pretty face to obsess over and fantasize about, they were definitely looking.

And it got me thinking.

Promiscuity is prevalent in the gay lifestyle, to the degree that it is not just accepted but expected. Yet at the same time, infidelity is one of the most common reasons for the demise of a relationship. Here lies the dilemma: What do gay men want?

“The thing with gay men is, we want everything.” Tara said over the phone. “We want it all. We want the relationship, but we’ll be damned if we let the opportunity of hooking up with a hotter, better-looking thing pass us by. It’s selfishness is what it is.”

“But that’s… pathetic. The concept of having it all is just so overrated and ultimately pointless.” I returned hotly.

“Of course it is. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’d still want it.”

And that pretty much says it all.

In a culture where men pretty much get to do whatever they want and freely set the norm for ‘acceptable’ sexual behaviour, the gay sub-culture consisting of only men takes it to new heights. As an acquaintance once said to me, “We can’t get married. And if we can, what’s the point? It’s not like we can make babies anyway. So why not just have fun?” He then elaborated on how fidelity and sexual exclusivity are values belonging to a heterosexual society and as I listened to him going on and on, I couldn’t help wondering if in our attempt to escape the confines of moral values that society imposes on us, we have somehow, somewhere decided to scrap them altogether.

What then, about love?

“What’s love?” Tara asked me between drags on his cigarette.

“Well, at least for me, when I love someone that means I want him to be happy and therefore I try not to do anything that might hurt him.” I replied carefully.

I could hear Tara inhaling and blowing cigarette smoke on the other side of the telephone. “Take W and M for example. During the last two months they have broken up four times. Four. All because W had action on the side and M found out. And yet they’ve gotten back together. W says he loves him.”

“How?” I incredulously inquired.

After a short silence, Tara said, “I don’t know. Maybe what they mean by love isn’t the same thing you do.”

And there you have it.

Apparently the road to happily ever after is not only long and winding, it’s also uphill.

Four of Cups

I have two very close friends. Two very close friends whom I’ve written about. Two very close friends who are dating each other for almost three years now. Two very close friends who, even with the love they feel for each other and the things they’ve been through together, seem to be hitting yet another bump in the road. Mind you, this is not a new bump. This bump has been around for a long time. They’ve hit it, gotten shaken by it, finally gotten through it, and yet still hitting it again.

Why?

Most people in a relationship need to feel that it’s ‘going somewhere’, whether it’s something solid such as living together or marriage or having children, or something abstract like achieving a sense of comfort or settling down into a sort of stability or developing each other’s characters and personalities as part of a couple. The point is, the relationship simply has to evolve or risk boredom, ennui, and the impending breakup that inevitably follows. An old cliché says that ‘nothing lasts forever’. The way I see it is, nothing lasts forever as it is. Whether we like it or not, change will take place and relationships that work are those which realise that fact and not only anticipate it but even generate it when necessary.

And what about my two friends?

They’re hitting the bump because they’re going in a circle. The same circle. Over and over again. Because discussions end in resolutions but not resolve. Because issues, whether deep seated ones or those floating closer to the surface go unspoken. Why do I write this as a blog entry, you ask? Well, as much as I want to sit them both down and play relationship counsellor, there are limits to what I can do. Mostly I play good listener and enthusiastic discussion participant because JR gets territorial whenever I meddle too much. So I do what I know how to do, and write. And maybe, just maybe, for them to read the written words would help make better sense of the whole thing. So here goes:

Tara wants JR to stop being so caught up with his self-image of having to be the ‘perfect boyfriend’ because all it ever does it create resentments on JR’s part and other unspoken thoughts and feelings, which then causes him to be sullen and withdrawn, which at the end only irritates and annoys Tara. He would also like JR to be more communicative and not be so defensive in discussions and to let go of the image JR has of Tara which, over time, has proved to be inaccurate anyway. Being successful and ambitious, Tara also wants JR to have a sense of direction in his life, especially in his career because after all, this girl needs someone she can look up to and be proud of. And last but not least, although this relationship may not last forever, Tara would like to make the best of it while it lasts and wishes JR would do the same.

JR wants to make the best of it while it lasts as well because, like Tara, he knows that this may not last forever but sometimes he gets caught up in his own thoughts and feelings and it gets hard for him to communicate them because they don’t always go along with the self-image he has of what kind of boyfriend he should be. He doesn’t want to be sullen and withdrawn but he can’t help it. Old habits die hard and though he tries to break them he often slips back into the same old pattern. Not because he likes it or he wants to but because he’s too used to it. And as far as a sense of direction goes, he feels he has one but he moves in his own time and sometimes he does get sidetracked by some other concerns. And sometimes, sometimes it all just feels so grown up and he just doesn’t want to.

So there you have it. They might read it. They might not like it. But hey, what else can a nosy busybody with a blog do?

On a Slow, Long, Dark Night

Thinking too much, feeling too deep, and never doing enough. Those words are probably best to explain me right now. So much, in fact, that I’ve succumbed to micro-blogging way more than actual blogging. It’s easier. The way my mind flits about and my emotions sway whichever way they want, constructing sentences or (horrors!) paragraphs seems too much to handle sometimes.

Or maybe I’m just lazy and I’ve gotten so good at psychobabbling my justifications.

Anyway, it’s sure been a while, huh? Judging from my Plurk posts, which are automatically passed on to my Twitter and Facebook, it was not due to the absence or shortage of random thoughts and feelings or occurrences to write about. Like I said, it was most probably caused by my unwillingness to follow through. Admittedly, even if I wanted to try, arranging the contents of my OCD-ADD-bordering-on-bipolar infested head can be an overwhelming feat. These three short paragraphs you’ve been reading is an excellent example of poor management and writing. They’re stilted and convoluted and awkward. (insert long sigh here)

But moving on, let’s see if I can choose a topic and stick with it and make it somehow – however remotely – interesting.

But what?

Oh I know!

***

I listened to a song tonight: Diamond Ring by Bon Jovi, which is practically the only Bon Jovi song I’ve ever liked. The first time I heard it sung was by my best friend in high school, who also happened to be my biggest crush at the time. I can practically see him now, strumming on his acoustic guitar, his eyes closed during the high notes and occasionally looking in my direction. As if to check if I was paying attention. As if I had a choice.

He was beautiful. Still is perhaps, though I wouldn’t know. We lost touch years ago when he moved to one of the smaller provinces to become a priest. Imagine that. The nunchaku-wielding, motorcycle-riding, multiple-girl-dating, exhibitionistic-masturbating guy grew up to become a priest. Who knew?

He was taller than I am, lighter skinned, brown eyes to my raven ones. As muscled as I was lithe. We balanced each other out, whether physically or emotionally or psychologically. The yang to my yin. Always attentive, always considerate, always flirtatious. What choice did I have but to fall? And I did. Hard. The thing was, though I never hid my homosexuality, it was not something I discussed either. At least at the time. So I never said anything. I was too afraid to lose him and too pathetically grateful for whatever we had to risk it. God, I was a walking cliché.

Still, we were friends. Close friends. Really close friends. He picked me up and took me home before and after school. He’d ask me to sleep over in his room some nights. People sometimes mistook us for brothers when we were out. Those kind of friends. And I still never said anything. Not even when he dated several of my girl friends. Not even when he dated my sister. Not even when I finally met a gay guy and started dating and came out of the closet with a bang to my family and friends. Not even when he took it well. Not even then.

I wonder how he looks now, what I will say if we ever meet again. Last I heard he got married rather quickly. I have no idea where he is, though. I lost his number and changed mine. Different boys who grew up to be different men living very different lives. Maybe we wouldn’t have much to say to each other after all.

Honestly, for someone who says he doesn’t believe in regret, I’m having a serious case of should’ve, could’ve, would’ve. And it’s not like I’m expecting that if I’d told him he’d take me in his arms and we’d kiss and ride his motorcycle into the sunset; nothing like that. I just hate things left unsaid, especially when you realise you might never have the chance to ever say them. As I do now.

So I listen to the song and sing along. Remembering his brown eyes and the lopsided smile playing on his lips, fingers strumming his guitar, holding it like a lover, singing to me singing to his memory.

***

Well, there you have it. I tried. It sure felt good, even if I’m an emotional mess at this point. Reliving bittersweet memories, though sweet, is apparently bitter still.

Ding Dong, the Sex is Dead

I just got off the phone with one of my dearest friends, discussing a certain bump in the course of his relatively smooth relationship. Come to think of it, the smoothness is pretty much the bump because they are stuck in a rut; emotionally, mentally, and sexually.

The telephone call followed a flurry of messages on Messenger where he confided that his lover complained the other night because he chose to sleep than to have sex. Now, I’m a believer in the importance of sex in a romantic relationship. Frankly, if the sex ain’t that great, let’s just be friends. Used correctly, how much you want to have sex with someone can be the measure of just how much you are into the person. And from personal experience, if I’m fully into someone, no amount of fatigue or sleepiness will stand in the way of a sweet roll in the hay. Hell, I’ve done it while delirious over a fever; but then again I’m a freak so, kids, don’t try this at home.

There are things I find crucial in a sexual encounter. First off, the person (duh!). Second, there’s the scenario (which includes location, situation, and setting). And the third is the memory (whether I’ve ever done it with the person before and what it was like or is this the first time around). Now, applied to a relationship where the people are the same and the scenario seldom changes complete with copulation-by-numbers and emotional baggage, what do you get? A recipe for disaster.

Comfort is nice. And familiarity is comfortable, therefore it is nice. But nice can be boring. In one of his fables, Aesop once said that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. Perhaps he was also stuck in two-year relationship and not getting any. In a relationship, familiarity can be the enemy of romance. The problem is, most ‘mature’ relationships eventually settles into something established, stable, and well.. mature and the roaring flames of passion eventually settles into a cosy warmth. I’m not saying that warmth is bad. Warmth is good. But only warmth all the time can be bad. If there’s one thing about human nature that can be guaranteed, it’s that most of us always want more. It’s a concept born in the 80’s and it has stayed on, with only slight adjustments. So, like the James Ingram song goes, How do you keep the music playing? How do you make it last? How do you keep the song from fading too fast?

Well, to begin with, we must realise that relationship is something we must work at to maintain. Yes, I said it. Even with my dreams of love at first sight and true love, I realise that happily ever after needs one hell of an upkeep. I told my friend that with all that sugar (fat-free, glucose-free, fun-free sugar, mind you), perhaps they need some spice. Take weekend trips together somewhere. Be spontaneous. Be daring. Be sensual. Bathtubs. Massage oils. Candles. Music. Do elaborate scenarios indulging in fantasies. Silk scarves. Furry handcuffs. The outdoors. Costumes. And even dialogue. The possibilities are endless – or at least as endless as your imagination will go and inhibitions will allow.

And again, as the song goes, “With any luck, then I suppose, the music never ends.”

p.s. Please note however that I do not advocate bringing in someone else. An open relationship is not a relationship in my book. It’s fuck buddies with co-dependence issues.

Letting Go

I’ve finally reached the place where I can look at my emotions calmly. Listening to India Arie’s soothing words, I’m finally fine. Life’s too short to be filled with regret and anger. Whatever happened happened and I’m a better person for it. Yes it hurt but it’s a lesson well-learned. Love is pain but only if you let it be. Through it all, I’m grateful for the experience and the memories. I have gone the full circle and come back to me.

I’ve been trying to live without you now but I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
And all the things I thought I’d figured out, I have to learn again
I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak and my heart is so shattered
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

Heart of the Matter – India Arie

Just Enough for Me

You came over tonight for the first time and we started talking. About things. About your past and mine. About you. About me. About the impossibility of us. I’m slowly learning you and in the process am slowly learning me. You looked at me. I looked back. You asked if you can hold me. I asked you why. You said because you really, really wanted to. That was a good enough reason for me. So I let you.

We continued talking and laughing and smiling and you kept looking at me and I kept looking at you. I kissed your cheek and you nuzzled my neck. And we laughed some more. You were suddenly on top of me, looking down on me. I’m not used to it but I liked it. For once I’m not in control and I should be scared and I was but I liked it.

Your phone buzzed. Must’ve been your girl. We both turned our heads to look at it then back at each other. I asked if you wanted to pick it up. You reached out your hand then changed your mind and held me again. You kissed my forehead, my eyelids, my cheeks, my chin, deliberately missing the one spot that wanted your lips most. You’re good, so good at this and it’s even more obvious why you’re bad, so bad for me.

This is all it can ever be. I’ll never be yours and you’ll never be mine. For once I’m not wanting, not wishing, not asking for more. You made me feel again. At least for tonight, that’s enough for me.

In the Heights of Heaven and Depths of Hell

Here we go again. I’m back at the place that I desperately try to run away from and secretly wish to come back to. Love. And not just any kind of love. This is the overtaking, paralyzing, and overwhelming kind. All I want to do is listen to you and speak to you and see you and miss you. And constantly think of you, wondering what you’re doing, where you are, and what you are feeling and thinking. My ego is fighting a battle with my heart and I’m caught in the crossfire. Love is both heaven and hell.

Why is it you? We both know that you’re wrong for me and I’m absolutely not the one for you. Are we simply each other’s distractions from what and where we should be being and going? Why did I feel the way I felt when I met you the first time? Why did you? We both know this can’t possibly go anywhere. This is not lust. This is not desire. This is not what I’m used to. But I am undeniably, inexplicably in love with you.

You belong to someone else and it’s not someone I can or will compete with because I can’t possibly offer what she can. I’m a mess, a train wreck, the human equivalent of a headlong collision. So I’m not even going to try. You deserve better. And though my ego writhes as I write this, that is not me.

So what is there to do now? Control this feeling? Suppress it? Kill it? I can and I will if you ask me to. But I’ve already said that I don’t want your heart or even your body. All I want to do is just to love.

This is NOT a Love Story

I met someone tonight. He was a friend of a friend and 8 of us went to the karaoke together. At first I thought he was interested. Then again if I can read men that well I wouldn’t be single for so long. Then again maybe I would. Anyway, we started talking about things, in between taking turns at the microphone and listening to the others singing. He was interesting. And it wasn’t long before my own interest was sparked.

I’m back at home now. As usual I’m feeling my way in retrospect and I don’t like what I’m finding. I hate the fact that I let myself feel this way about someone. It’s too risky and ultimately pointless. I’m no longer interested in the games that people play or to be susceptible to expectations. I hate myself for being affected by his pushing my buttons and his questions and his judgment. He shook me and I am left shaken.

I seriously hope that I’ll get over this when I wake up in the morning…

To Be or Not To Be. Loved.

Yesterday, an ex-boyfriend of a friend posted a question on his Facebook status which said, “Do you believe every human has the right to be loved?”

To me, it’s interesting because it’s one of those questions to which most people would give an automatic affirmative answer without even the glimmer of a second thought.

I’m not most people.

So I asked him, “And to be loved means?”

And he answered, “To get/receive love.”

I was hoping for a more elaborate answer but, eh, I’d run with what I can get.

And I asked him again, “And what is love?”

And he answered, “Bigger than like, more beautiful than care, and more passionate than lust.”

Awww… How sweet. And ultimately meaningless. From experience, a poetic definition to an abstract subject is just an easy way out. And I know because I’ve done it countless times. It’s an attempt to end discussions in a flurry and tangle of words, the linguistic equivalent of octopus ink.

Yea, like that’s going to work.

So I asked him again, “Would you love Hitler?”

And he answered, “Yup, he’s still HUMAN.”

Interesting. I asked him again, “So everyone deserves to be loved simply by being human, disregarding character and action?”

And he answered, “Yep, even Hitler deserves to be loved. I’m not saying that I’m the one who will love him but he deserves it. Just like you, me, us, human.”

Now, that stopped me in my tracks.

The thought that to be loved is a right implies that it’s someone else’s obligation to give that love. For me, and maybe also for you, if someone does something simply out of obligation, it tends to decrease the profundity of the gesture. I’d much rather someone loves me because he wants to, not because he has to. Furthermore, I’m not someone who can say “if you love me, take me as I am”, because “as I am” is a loaded statement. When I love someone, I try to be the better person that he believes I can be as a token of gratitude for his loving me. Of course, I’d expect the same thing from him. Because for me, to be loved is not a right. It’s a two-way street which takes two to navigate, that involves a give-and-take unless you plan to crash and burn.

I think as a human being I have a right to be free and to love. But loved? Like Benjie Franklin once said, “If you want to be loved, love and be lovable.” So no, for me it’s something I strive for, not deserve.

Once More

I didn’t see it coming, didn’t realise that I would be feeling so much so soon. Against my better judgment I let my heart overrule my head. What began as a lighthearted touch that wouldn’t have meant anything became a kiss that shouldn’t have happened and ended with a request I couldn’t refuse.

And here I am now, suddenly swirling in the undercurrents of emotions I haven’t felt for so long; the happiness and the fear, the sweet sensations of being in love and the bitter aftertaste of doubts that accompany them. Somehow I end up back at the place that I’m longing for yet so afraid to return to.

Relationship, Sex, and Butterflies

It’s interesting to observe that whenever I bump into an old friend or an acquaintance I haven’t seen for some time, I get asked a similar question:

“So, Micha… Who are you with?”

To which I shake my head and answer with a blunt, “No one.”

Naturally, most don’t stop there and press on, asking why I remained single for so long (9 months of no relationships and/or dates – but who’s counting?).

Usually I just shrug, laugh it off, and say that I just haven’t met the right one yet. Of course, to avoid further probing, amazement, or general disbelief, I neglect to mention that not only have I managed to stay single, I don’t have sex for months at a time.

The thing is, living as an urban gay boy with a typically gay urbanite lifestyle, an active sexual-romantic life is not only commonplace but even expected. In a way, the city is a cafeteria and it’s insane to not sample delectable items on the menu – or at least want to. People around me fall in a plethora of categories, several of which I’ll mention.

An extreme example of this would be my friend MJ, who is currently romantically involved with five different men at the same time in three different cities and still has time and energy to cruise the Net for casual sex (the insatiable gourmand who is more or less trying to compensate for something).

Or if a particular item is not listed on the menu, you can always substitute it with something else; like Tara, a friend of mine who although is inexplicably managing to stay in love with a straight (and presently married) guy for 10 consecutive years, is still maintaining a steady diet of booty calls from his ex (in diet terms, he’s on Atkins but bingeing on chocolate).

Or you can skim the menu until you find something that catches your interest and finish a whole course before moving on; like yet another friend of mine, JF, who persistently and actively sought out potential boyfriends at Heaven every time we go clubbing; creating an illusion of being alone while throwing glances and smiles to increase the chances of being approached by anyone interested. He’d meet someone, be madly and blindly and completely head over heels for several weeks until he realizes that he’s not the one after all, be depressed and drowns himself in a pool of tears before he starts looking for the next Mr. Right and repeating the cycle (a bulimic in denial – aren’t they all?)

In which terms, I suppose I would be an anorectic.

The point is that sex and relationship are extremely attainable. You can have it anywhere, anytime, and (depending whether you have the Big 4 determining factors of utterly shallow yet applicable elements of appeal: face, body, money, size – superficial, I know but I don’t set the world; I just write about it) with anyone you want. If desperation hits or you yearn for no-strings-attached impersonality and discretion, prostitution’s aplenty.

So smack dab in the middle of all this, why am I still single and overwhelmingly undersexed?

The answer is that it is a matter of choice. My ultimate answer whenever having to deal with the incessant queries of others is that I refuse to settle for less. And it’s not like I have a perfect idea of a perfect man in my head or an ex-boyfriend that embodies everything that I could ever want in a man. It’s nothing like that. I have no specific characteristics of his physical appearance or even his personality. In fact, in the end nothing even matters because the standard that I ask – no, demand – is to fall in love.

I do not know how, I do not know when or where, I don’t even know who, and I sure won’t know why but I’ll know when it happens; because for me love is not love unless it overtakes me and possesses me completely. Therefore I can never plan it or force it or make it happen; and although I can fake it or fill its absence with flings or substitutes, I don’t. All because I refuse to settle for less than the real thing. It’s like carrying a faux Vuitton. People might not know it’s an imitation, but you will.

And in regard to sex, I’m not someone who views sex in its own right as something sacred. Although it is a valid expression of love (and is oh-so-much-nicer with the person you love), I understand and accept that sex is also a primal drive and the need for sexual contact along with sexual release is a part of human nature. Yet casual sex without an element of conquest, exploration of new heights, the materialization of fantasy, or a deeper underlying meaning is just too boring and predictable. Casual sex for the sake of sex seems sort of a paint-by-numbers with the human body as the canvas, paint, and brush; creating nothing but an imitation of a piece of art and just as soulless.

Besides, I’ve always had a higher esteem on intimacy: the kissing, the cuddling, the late night chat about whatever, the touching, the staring into each other’s eyes, the sleeping in someone’s arms, the fondling, the stroking; basically the prelude and the afterglow. Unfortunately, wham-bam-without-a-thank-you is so much more in fashion.

So here I am. Alone. Waiting. In the last words of Posner of The History Boys, “I’m not exactly happy, but I’m not unhappy about it.” It might happen tomorrow or it might not happen at all. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’d rather be alone and lonely than to ever compromise my dreams.

 

“Some people are settling down, some people are settling, and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.”

          Sex and the City – Carrie Bradshaw

It Must Have Been

I sat silently as the cab made its way through the clear Sunday afternoon traffic to the airport. Staring at the passing sights outside my window, I found myself wishing that it didn’t have to end. Disquietingly, feelings started bubbling to the surface and threatened to spill out the corners of my eyes. I quickly slapped on my shades to avoid the inquisitive eyes of the driver in the rear view mirror and leaned my head back, inhaling deeply, trying to calm whatever turmoil my melodramatic heart was putting itself through.

After all these years I’ve never learned how to not wish for the impossible, always wanting more than what was probable. Hope is always lurking somewhere, creating illusions of probability when there isn’t any. I promised myself that I would only love without expectations but it’s not an easy promise to keep. Despite my careful attempts to protect my heart I end up breaking it, again shattering it to pieces with dreams that would never come true.

The taxi came to a halt at the terminal and so did my reverie. After two days of escape, a plane would take me to Indonesia, back to my life, to reality. Funny how at times dreams feel more real to me and how often I wish that I could stay there forever.

After checking in, I wandered aimlessly until I found a smoking area and sat myself down, emotional baggage and all, lit a cigarette and let my mind wander in the midst of the smoky haze, wondering about life and the directions that it takes, about dreams and promises and every heartache in between.

He held me close last night as I clung desperately to his body, unable to find the words to say what I was feeling inside.

“You know I love you?” he’d said.

I nodded slightly in the darkness, holding him closer and wishing that time and space would dissolve somehow. But morning came too quickly and withered my fantasy with the first beam of sunrise.

A voice came through the speakers calling passengers to the boarding gate and for a moment, for the slightest moment I considered going back where the Intercontinental would be waiting and so would he.

“Stay.” He’d implored as I was packing my overnight bag. “Just for another day or two.”

I shook my head and mumbled something about work, avoiding his eyes because I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth; that I was looking for forever and happily ever after.

Hoisting my bag onto my shoulder, I made my way among other passengers until I boarded the plane. True to life’s tragic-comedy sense of humor, I was seated next to a couple. After they sat down, the man kissed the girl on the cheek and she giggled. Then they glanced at me with the broad, lighthearted grin of people in love and I managed a weak smile in return before turning my head away.

I closed my eyes as the plane started to taxi, and once again I saw him standing there as the cab pulled away from the hotel, looking at me looking back. As he disappeared from sight my mobile phone beeped an incoming message. I fished it out of my bag and read the text:

“Missing you already.”

I stared out the plane window and searched the blue skies for an answer. Somewhere among the drifting clouds is the life I’m supposed to be living. If only it were that easy to just leave everything behind and walk away. I closed my eyes as a single tear finally slid down my cheek. Then leaning back, I went home to my dreams.

 

“It must have been love

But it’s over now

It must’ve been good

But I lost it somehow”

                It Must Have Been Love – Roxette

Last Night…

Last night someone told me that he loved me. He told me that I was beautiful, wonderful, perfect. He promised that he would never leave me, that he wanted me to belong to him and that he belongs to me. I should’ve been happy. I wasn’t.

As I watched his sleep and listened to his breathing, I started to wonder about his sentiments and the feelings they caused. I held his sleeping body close as tears fell silently down my face. I cried for my memories, for every unfulfilled promise and broken heart. Would they keep me from ever trusting anyone again?

I sat up slowly, careful not to upset him. Reaching for my cigarettes I light one and watched the smouldering tip moving in the dark. If I can just let myself be happy in this moment and not worry about forever, things would be so much easier. If only I could.

I tiptoed to the bathroom and closed the door behind me. Looking at my reflection in the mirror, I wiped away the tracks that tears had left behind. Staring hard at my own face, I try to figure out just what it is that I want.

To have a relationship is very much like a gamble. You can speculate and calculate and anticipate every possible outcome yet nothing in it is ever absolute. In the end, all you can do is throw the dice and hope for the best.

I pondered this analogy as I took a drag of my cigarette and blew smoke onto the mirror. Problem is I’ve never been much of a gambler, only betting when I’m sure of winning and even then never a large amount. Therefore in the case of a relationship, in which I put my heart on the line as the biggest bet I can make, I need to be absolutely certain. Yet how can you expect certainty from something that is never certain?

I stepped out from the bathroom and closed the door. Trying to find my way in the dark, I walked quietly back to bed. I gazed at his sleeping body under the faint glow of phosphorescent stars on the ceiling, still wondering how to tell him that I love him yet can’t trust him and therefore will never be his.

I wish the sun would never rise and that the night would last forever. If only tomorrow never comes and we could stay where we are, untouched by time. I wish I could close my eyes and listen to his heartbeat, safely protected by the comfortable darkness. But tomorrow will come and the sun will rise again.

In the morning light two hearts will be broken.