One of the things I have always struggled with my entire life has been that need for connection. I am not a fan of birthdays and other holidays because they just feel like another day that reminds you how little other people know you.
The other day, I was in a Barnes and Noble and a woman was talking to her little kid about Father’s Day. “You know what would make your dad really happy? A Barnes and Noble gift card. Your daddy loves books!”
It was nice to hear that someone still reads, but what kinda bummed me out was how she just phoned it in with the gift card. If I buy someone a book, it’s because I’ve poked around and found out what they like, or what they might be interested in. I’m sneaky like that. I ask questions. I use subterfuge. Why is that? Because for fucking once, I’d love it if someone put in the work to get me something I wanted. It’s not hard if you listen to someone. And I love that look on their face when you have gotten them something they love.
I’m sure the dad will be happy with his $20 gift card. He’ll probably buy something he wants. But wouldn’t it have blown his socks off if they got him exactly what he wanted? It’s the connection that is the gift. Not the gift itself.
I once dated a woman who gave me a $30 gift card to King Soopers (the local Kroger franchise) for Christmas. Why $30? Hell, I’ll never know. What did I get her? An illustrated copy of The Rhime of the Ancient Mariner and the Atlas Obscura. One book was something she mentioned she used to teach and really loved, and the other was something to help her push her comfort zones. Her gift to me required almost no thought. When I asked her about it, she said, “You’re always complaining you don’t get to go anywhere. I thought you could buy gas with it.” When I filled up my tank, it cost $37. It didn’t even get me a tank of gas.
It’s always been like that.
I’ve been lucky enough to where I’ve gotten gifts that did mean things. My last serious gf spoiled the hell out of me. She would buy me Dutch Bros. tumblers, hoodies, cigars, scotch, etc.. The next woman I dated…ish, would randomly send me Dutch Bros. coffee. Birthdays, Father’s Day, or just because. It was sweet, but I never had the heart to tell her the reason I loved the DB merch so much was because of Leslie. It helped me stay close to her even though she was gone. It’s why I still try to go every month. It reminds me of happier times. One of the rare times in my life someone actually listened to what I liked. But, I think the moment that charmed me the most about that one was when she ordered my coffee and remembered that I like Americanos with three raw sugar packets and one cream.
I remembered that she loved Van Morrison, Dave Matthews, and nobody had ever bought her flowers before when they weren’t trying to make up for mistreating her. So I bought her flowers. Daisies, because they were some of her favorites. The last thing I bought her was a hard cover copy of the Princess Bride. I gave it to her on Christmas, even though I bought it as a birthday present. I knew things were ending, and I couldn’t stand having it in my house for another three months.
‘Ere the bonny boat was won as we sailed into the mystic…
I’ve walked away from friendships that just made me feel lonely because they only saw who they perceived me as, but never took the time to get to know me. I’ve had a lifetime of that. I have no desire to waste anymore time on surface connection.
Lately, if someone flirts with me, I just phone it in. I’m not there. I know how to make the words, but my heart is no longer in it. I do it just to lose myself. They don’t know me. They only know this facade that I’ve put up. This shadow of someone I used to be. He’s gone. He died a little while ago. He dies a little bit more each day. Eventually, I’ll forget where the bones were buried. He was for someone else. It’s not fair, but sometimes I have that glimmer of hope that I will be able to feel something. Anything.
There’s nothing left though.
I keep seeing TikTok videos that talk about “Where are all the good men with beards and dad bods and tattoos?” Some people blame women for screwing them over and they have given up. I think for me it’s different. I opened myself up too many times, sometimes to the person I knew wasn’t right for me, but they were better than nothing…which is almost always what I’ve had. I just don’t think I have it in me anymore. I’m tired. I am tired of learning favorite colors and middle names and all of it just for it to disappear again and for us to become strangers. I’m happier just remembering the perfect slope of someone’s nose or those smoky eyes or the adorable way they sneeze or getting lost in their kiss.
It’s lonely up here in the mountains, but I’m here for good reasons. Nobody is going to fix me. Nobody is going to carry me. I’m here to do that on my own. In opening myself up, I also know that I rely on others too much. I’m happy to let a version of myself make it look like everything is fine when it’s not. This experience is a spiritual journey to become a true version of myself who no longer wants that.
Maybe one day, someone will come into my life again who rekindles that fire in my heart to find a companion. Right now though, I’m not good for her. I know this. And what if no one ever comes again? That person who gets me and I get them? The person who matches my energy and my values? The one who isn’t afraid to be loved passionately, unconditionally? Women ask where all the good men are? Where are the women who will be vulnerable enough to be loved like that again?
Maybe in another life. When we are all young again and not calcified by all the damage we’ve hardened ourselves against.
I guess I miss those few times someone actually got me. Or cared to try. Like I say, I don’t write happy stories.
This clip comes from one of my favorite bands. In a weird way, they are hard to watch because the lead singer looks very much like my former gf’s sister. Seeing her reminds me of the first night we all met. It’s another one of those bittersweet moments that won’t mean anything to anyone one day. I miss them all. I live in the past, it’s true. The past has carried me through some of the toughest times. I trust it more than I do the future. I guess it’s just one of those nights.