“Take these broken wings and learn to fly”

I had the luxury of a day off this past Saturday. It was warm and gray and rainy, the kind of day off that makes you actually want to stay in and sleep all day. I was getting into my car to head home from a class that morning, and I pulled out my phone after I sat in the driver’s seat, and I opened up facebook– because that’s what my generation does anytime they’ve been distracted by the real world for any length of time– and the first thing that popped up on my feed was that one of my friends had announced his engaged.

Now, this is a common occurrence for me– I’m in my mid/late 20’s, and people my age get married. However, the thing that rattled me a bit was that this was not just a friend of mine– and I suppose I couldn’t even consider him a close friend now:

My ex-boyfriend got engaged.

The last person I was in a long-term committed relationship with got engaged.

I know that this particular event has absolutely nothing at all to do with me. We broke up five years ago, and we don’t talk very much at all: a facebook message every now and then, sometimes an email or a text when something really reminds us of the other person. If we happen to be in the same city at the same time, we attempt to make plans to grab coffee and catch up. I suppose it’s your ideal average post-relationship. It’s lovely to be friends with a person you used to be intimate with after you’ve had enough time to heal.

But I found out that my ex-boyfriend, who was the love of my early 20s life, got engaged, and I didn’t know how to react. I recognize that it shouldn’t affect me, but knowledge of this information still requires me to process it, and so here is what’s gone through my head the few times I’ve thought about it since Saturday:

1) I didn’t even know he was seeing anyone! He and I have talked about relationships since the big hole he left in my heart healed. I saw him one night in Austin about six months ago as he was passing through with his band. He was drunk, and I was drinking, and we talked about how stale our love lives were, which did NOT lead to a reminiscent night in bed together, although he did invite me to stay at the hotel where he and the rest of his band were sleeping that night (NOT an ideal sleep situation for me. If my TempurPedic bed is just mere miles away, and I’m more sober than he is, it’s just not happening). I think I’m mostly surprised because I didn’t know he was seriously dating anyone, and even if he has been, it couldn’t have been for very long, only based on the personal information we exchanged one night while he was passing through six months ago. But then again, he was drunk, and since when does anything a drunk person says make sense?

2) He’s confessed to being a commitment-phobe since me. And so I then drew the conclusion that because he’s turning 30 next month, perhaps this is a quarter-ish type crisis resolution? Turn of events lead to a sudden engagement with a long-time family friend. (In her defense, I’ve gathered that she was in a broadway production with a lovely lady friend that I used to share a stage and band with when I first moved to San Francisco. And anyone who has the capability of sharing a stage with this female is bound to be a spectacular human being).

3) What bothers me the most is that I’ve used this event to measure myself. What does this say about me and my slow and many-failed attempts at having a healthy, lasting relationship since him?

Am I losing some sort of relationship game?

Many of my friends from back home are getting married or having kids or finishing med school or a combination of these three life events. I don’t want to go to med school. I want kids, but not right now because I’m vain and I don’t want my feet to swell up or milk to leak from my tits. And, I don’t know about marriage, but I do know that I want someone to love and to be in a committed, intimate relationship with. And I have failed at creating that with every man I’ve been with since The Ex.

Am I losing? Am I just playing the tortoise who is pacing, enjoying the scenery because the end isn’t as important as the journey?

I don’t think that last statement is necessarily a bad thing, and perhaps I even like coming off that way.

A huge part of me felt a competitive urge to show that I am somehow succeeding at something, I suppose to compensate for what I know.

But, one of the things that was wonderful about the relationship I had with the Ex was that there was never a level of competition between him and myself. There never was and there never will be. I loved him very deeply while I was with him, and when we broke up it took a long time for me to heal. But I did. Even if there hasn’t been anyone as lovely as he was to me since him.

I still care about him and I’m glad he’s performing, and that he’s found someone to commit to. I think I’m jealous of him, actually. Of him and what they’re going to create. I had a beautiful and loving relationship with him, and it’s because of that relationship that I believe I deserve another one just as loving and stable and passionate.

I have a lady friend here in Austin who is beautiful and lovely and wonderful– a talented artist and mother and a hard worker. She deserves many good things in this world. She recently got into a relationship with a man-child, and after listening to her stories about how things have gone sour and then sweet again, I told her that she deserved better because I know she does, and that she could do better.

She asked me, “Yeah, but who?”

I thought about it for a second, and when not one single “nice” guy popped into my head, I said, “touche.”

There are very few eligible bachelors are who are willing to strive for something so wonderful and awesome. And even the ones who are in committed relationships slip up.

My main problem is that guys I’ve tried to create something with can’t keep their dicks out of other girls.

I’m not about that. Because it’s not okay.

I guess what I’ve learned from processing this information is that I understand absolutely nothing about the world and human decisions, except that every decision is a gamble, and all we can do is hope for the best with every decision.

I hope for the best. I wish him the best because he deserves it. And, though I know very little about his new leading lady, I know she does too.

And I know I do.

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Swallow it down/ Like a jagged little pill

It has come to my attention over the past few days that I need more girlfriends in Austin.

I live in a house with three respectful, clean boys, all around my age. Two of them are in grad school, and one of them is a Harvard grad who works in urban planning. They are good roommates. They clean up after themselves on most days, and they pay their utilities on time, and we text each other when someone is going to be out of town to make sure the cats are fed. It’s a good system we have, and I rarely see them on most days.

I spend roughly 30-40 compressed hours in a weekend with my bandmates, four boys. Depending on if we’re performing in the same city two nights in a row, sometimes we’ll all sleep in the same room together. We ride in a van together. We set up a stage, and then hang out, killing time before we perform. We talk about stupid and not stupid things together. My band, though not a group that we’ve chosen for ourselves but was somehow pieced together and pulled apart and pieced together in random fragments, is my family. And like any family members do, we get on each others nerves because our conditions force us to be inseparable for long stretches of time. I get home on Sunday mornings, and most weeks, I don’t see them again until Friday afternoon, when we head out to gig again. And I recover, and I spend time by myself and with other people and I eat healthy and I take care of myself.

I had to get a colposcopy done this morning. For those of you who don’t know, a colpo is when your gynecologist looks at your cervix after you get back abnormal pap results, and scrapes out tiny samples from the areas that don’t look normal– potentially cancerous areas. Those samples are then sent to a lab, and in a few weeks, I’ll find out whether or not I need to get these not-normal cells lasered off so that I don’t develop cervical cancer in the future. Or, it might be something that we’ll trust will go away on it’s own. I’ve had a colpo done before. I took a lot of painkillers right before, and it really didn’t hurt that much or take that long. Plus, I’d had the luck of having a female roommate I was good friends with drive me to and from the appointment the last time this happened.

I drove myself to the gyno today. I placed my feet in the stirrups and I scooted my butt down so that my lady parts were in her face. She inserted the speculum and I told myself to breathe, and she had a female assistant handing her tools and helping collect the samples, and dear God, it is a terrifyingly humbling thing to let someone scrape out little pieces of your lady parts. I think it took about 10 minutes to collect samples of all the abnormal areas. It felt like much longer. I kept telling myself to breathe deeply and I felt my face get tingly from potential hyperventilation. I clawed my nails into my opposite arms, as if covering my upper lady parts would stop the discomfort in my lower lady parts.

To be honest, it wasn’t terribly painful. Mostly just uncomfortable– knowing what’s going on, wanting it to be over quickly. At one point, I think to calm my nerves and discomfort, my gyno said “You’re going to feel blood trickling out, I’m sorry.” She kept apologizing. She was doing her job.

I. Lost. My. Shit.

I started bawling. On top of trying to breath deeply and think about things other than what was happening to my reproductive system, I started thinking about the few boys I’ve been intimate with in the past year, and how none of them are in my life anymore, and I started beating up on myself for jumping into things quickly– for being quick to trust, and for picking people who ultimately didn’t want to commit to a relationship with me. And I got ultra self-loathe-y in the worst place to get self-loathe-y at– laying with my feet in the stirrups at my gynecologist’s office– because what I really wanted at that moment was to have someone waiting for me, or, even better, someone in the room to hold my hand while this was happening.

But I don’t have a person. I haven’t had a person in a long time. WHO DO YOU ASK TO GO TO SOMETHING LIKE THAT BESIDES SOMEONE YOU’RE INTIMATE WITH?

I felt very, very, very, very much alone. And neglected by people I’ve loved. Every single negative feeling I could have had surfaced while blood dripped out of me onto that medical table. It was not one of my finer moments.

I wanted to cry to someone after and share this with them– just how disappointed and hurt and how much I hate this hookup culture my godforsaken generation lives in because I’ve listened to my girlfriends talk about their boyfriends– both good things and bad things– and boys that I know don’t talk about their significant others; they talk about girls they don’t have, girls they want and what they would do to them.

It is one of the most frustrating things in the world to me– listening to one gender talk incessantly about the other. We’re just all going to fail and we’re going to keep getting hurt and hurting other people and today it feels like it’s not going to stop. There is a vicious cycle of disconnect from what people actually want.

I want commitment and love and truth. It sounds simple, and even stupid to me when I say it out loud, but that’s what I want. And honestly, I don’t see many of my peers who are capable of all three things, which I want to believe are all tied together.

Commitment is a lost art. Lucky are the people who find it. Even luckier are people who can practice it healthily, and not in a jealous or fearful way.

I want love, like I said. I know I’m not alone. I have a huge wonderful and supportive family. I have friends who are single and friends who are married and friends with kids and friends who are engaged and friends who, like me, can’t seem to find the right person, and friends who, like me, would rather spend time alone than in the company of those who are just trying to get in your pants (And yeah, I will admit to spending time with those types of people, too, as an ego booster).

I’ve been better at cutting the bad ones out of my life faster than I have in the past. I’d like to think that means something.

Back to the boys who are currently in my life: I live in a great house with great roommates. I perform alongside boys that I absolutely adore, and we’ve come to create this magical energy and willingness to bring drunk people nostalgia and gyrating dance music. And it sounds silly, but there is love in this environment– in the van and on the stage and all the other tiny compact spaces we share, I’ve come to hold these boys in high regard. And I am grateful to have found people of the opposite gender that I can spend time with and not worry about the gray areas. I didn’t have relationships like that until I moved here.

As alone as I felt today, I know that I’m not. I could have ended up in a horribly dishonest and uncommitted relationship with any of the boys I had wanted before (that, either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look through that telescope, has become the problem of other women).

I’m going to keep searching. And I’m going to keep singing. And I’ll get the results back from that ridiculously uncomfortable examination in a few weeks, and I’ll deal with it as it comes. And I’m going to keep sending love out into the universe because hopefully it will echo it’s way back to me in the various delightful ways it has already done, and then some.

I can only hope for so much.