Tag Archives: relationships

We are inevitably thrifted. (thrift shopping, past loves, and hidden treasures)

So long time no post…because I’ve been moving! Admittedly this has put a bit of a damper on my life. Somehow moving boxes just aren’t super sexy to me.

Look at this trove! Treasures untold! How many wonders can one townhouse hold?
Look at this trove! Treasures untold! How many wonders can one townhouse hold?

I’ve fallen in love with thrift shopping at a little store a few blocks from my new place. My roomates and I scour every room, including the un-airconditioned back room which inevitably leaves us drenched in sweat. We know the volunteers there. They greet us as we walk in, suggesting favorite pieces, letting us keep our treasures in small horde-like piles at the front as we gallivant through the store and peek into every corner.

The things we gleefully haul home have been previously loved, broken in for us. I find myself imagining their past lives as I settle them into my room. A chair in a child’s bedroom in which her mother read tales of talking cows and princesses who save the day, a table on which an old man placed his spectacles and crossword puzzles before having a nap, a throw pillow which has seen its share of pillow fights and secret midnight forts.

Why are the tales of objects’ past lives-that which renders them “previously loved”-enchanting, but in our love lives past relationships make us uncomfortable?

I suppose it might be the “newer model syndrome.” There’s a sense that because we’ve moved on to a new relationship, any mention of a past one implies comparison. There’s no comparison. I don’t need to compare myself to your ex, and you don’t need to compare yourself to mine. My relationship with someone gets to be wholly my own, not marked by my past. But knowing my past and my exes exist is also critical, that they’ve somehow made me who I am…they will ever and always be characters in my story. To erase them would be to erase a part of myself, to skip over the middle of the story which got us to happily-right-now-ever-after.

sebastianAnd admittedly, there are some not so glorious moments in my past relationships and even in past dates. I’ve made mistakes aplenty. But I’ve learned so much about myself and the world in the process. I learned to stay up late and make art and drink hot tea, to appreciate forehead kisses, to set high standards like finding people who will not hesitate to dance with me in the rain. I learned guilt is a weapon, not a tool. I learned to let go of control and how to hold hands best during a movie. I learned to love myself so that I can love somebody else.

Learning about ourselves and the world comes with loving, both romantically and platonically. Whatever level of learning you’re at is beautiful. We’re broken in and a little worn around the edges, and that is hard and scary and wonderful. As challenging as it can be sometimes to face our own and each other’s pasts, we’re the better for doing so. Our lives are the richer for unearthing such treasures.

We come previously loved. We come previously loving. We are inevitably thrifted.

And that’s ok. All we can do is keep hunting for those treasures of people whose stories will resonate with our own lives.


Of Love and Leather (Relationship Role Models, Happiness Loops, and my Gapaw)

My grandfather, whom I called Gapaw, was a leather worker in his spare time. When new rolls of leather would come in, he would spread whole skins wide on the living room floor and let me roll and play all over them to flatten them out since they had been rolled for shipping. I would lie on my back for ages, wiggling happily, soaking in the smell of fresh leather that in the skillful and weathered hands of my grandfather would turn into keychains, belts, and Bible covers. I wouldn’t be content until I’d rubbed my cheeks on every inch of that sweet, pale brown smoothness. I traced the silky edges against the rough carpet, which was so pristine after its regular steam cleanings that my grandmother wouldn’t let me have apple juice in a Care Bear glass in the living room.

The leather seemed like something magical. It was potential made tangible, the stuff my grandfather’s dreams were made of.  Knowing that I was helping in some small way by working the leather after its long journey to my grandparents’ house, knowing that I played a teeny part of his beautiful works, made me happy. Having the opportunity to be silly and loved and important all at once made me happy.

Of all the gifs I've looked at, this moment from Hey Arnold! captures this cycle of happiness best.
Of all the gifs I’ve looked at, this moment from Hey Arnold! captures this cycle of happiness best.

Gapaw just sat there watching in his maroon velour recliner, crossword puzzle in hand, a smile on his face which was so worn with age that it was as soft as leather. He let me be happy, equally thrilled that I was so happy. It was a simple moment. Yet, even now, I can remember how important that happiness felt. It wasn’t that this moment was supposed to bring us joy. There was nothing contrived about it. There’s no script or prescribed plan for such a moment. It simply made us happy, and that made it so earnest and true. Even at age 6, I felt how special this happiness was right down to my core.

Rare are the people whose happiness brings you a joy surpassing even their own. Rarer still are the people with whom you can share a happiness feedback loop, with your elation sparking the other’s happiness, which then increases your own in turn.

The friendships I have that grew from such a loop never fail to leave my heart radiating joy. However, I have yet to find this in a romantic setting. I hear it exists, but I suppose it’s not something one can seek out. I can be on the lookout, but if I hunt, I’m convinced it just won’t happen right. Someday I will find someone who will be happy at my joy at being silly and loved and important, and whose happiness will make me every bit as happy.

I used to look to other people’s romantic relationships to find models of what I wanted out of love. As time passes, I realize increasingly that I don’t want what other people have, even when it seems pretty great. For one thing, understanding other people’s romances feels a bit like trying to explain how something really delicious tastes. You can get the gist of it, but the nuance and the magic are lost in translation.

Instead, I know what tastes good to me, or rather I know what are the flavors I most crave, what’s important to me from my own relationships with my friends and family. You taught me the wonders and nuances of integrity, compassion, earnestness, enthusiasm, and joy. More than that, you have taught me what to expect and request from others, what I do and don’t want, how I like to be treated. You showed me how to value myself, and in turn, what I want others to value in me. You have raised the bar for me again and again.

As I navigate the world of dating and love, I’m grateful for such little moments that have taught me what I want. Someday maybe I’ll find a romantic love that will reflect some of the things that you’ve made so dear to me. Maybe that will be on Tinder. Goodness only knows.

But whether love comes my way or not, the smell of leather takes me right back to that moment of love, joy, and pure happiness, and for now, that’s pretty great.

Happy belated Fathers’ Day, Gapaw. I miss you heaps.

goodbye, good riddance, and get yourself a goddamn furby (or why I’m not a backup chick, you self indulgent jerkface)

I called out Super Intense Tattoo Guy today on the whole badgering me to talk to him text message freakout whilst he has a girlfriend thing. I honestly don’t care about someone seeing/talking to other people besides me. I don’t have any right to give a damn about that after all. And why should I? Unless we agree to see only each other, why would it bother me? I’m a pretty reasonable, sane person.

What does bother me is people not just coming straight out and saying “oh, I got a girlfriend” or “oh, I have something that’s getting serious going on” while still talking to me and trying to keep me on the back burner.

So when I found out Super Intense Tattoo Guy was essentially trying to keep me on reserve by chatting me up (and throwing tantrums when I didn’t respond to his texts quickly enough) whilst he was in a relationship, I got pissed. Here’s how that conversation ended (and note that I generously didn’t compare him to a  “petulant middle school girl” in the first message, as I was tempted to do):

Me: Anyways, good luck with the new girl. And bless her heart, because goodness you seem prone to over reading into communication modes and frequencies and unlikely to give people the benefit of the doubt. Please do lose my number

Guy: I did. And you just don’t know me and what I’ve been through or you might understand better. Some things just don’t communicate well over text. Goodbye

Me: No one magically understands you, and baggage doesn’t excuse poor behavior in the present and future. You’re kind of a self involved (and what’s worse, self indulgent) jerk. Goodbye.

I really do feel bad for this new girl. That was a genuine “bless her heart,” as opposed to the second type of “bless her heart” which is an excuse to gossip/a big old “screw her.” This dude is way too into himself, his baggage, and the idea of what a girl is supposed to be rather than who they are, or at least who I am. I had been content to ignore various red flags because he was nice, but it turns out the red flags were waving for a reason.

Ah, yes, constant communication. So amusing.
Ah, yes, constant communication. So amusing.

Also, I AM NOBODY’S BACKUP CHICK. You wanna keep something as a reserve, go buy some decent wine. You want a toy to keep you amused, buy a goddamn furby. At least that will talk to you constantly, which is what you seem to want.

But here’s what’s the more important issue: we all have baggage. People we’ve dated, people who’ve broken our hearts, people whose hearts we’ve broken, people who’ve cheated on us, people we’ve cheated on, our relationships with our parents, our siblings, our sexual history, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual violence, religious doctrines, loss, etc. are a part of who we are. They made us who we are.

Hopefully that’s for the better. Hopefully we’re stronger, wiser, bolder, more kind, and more generous for these things. But whether we’re handling them or repressing them, whether we’ve grown or regressed from these things, sometimes they haunt us. As time goes on, we start to dwell on things less, but sometimes they just pop up and force us to deal with them yet again.

It’s okay to give yourself some leeway sometimes when it comes to dealing with your baggage. Sometimes you have a bad day. Sometimes the ghosts are everywhere. Some days you catch a glimpse of what looks like your ex out of the corner of your eye and your day just somehow is never the same. That happens. You can curl up, throw things, rant it out, write it out, hide from the world, whatever. We do what we need to do to get by. That’s human. It’s part of what happens when we leave ourselves vulnerable. As much as it hurts and sucks, even years down the road sometimes, if we don’t give ourselves opportunity to grieve for our past selves, for relationships lost, for futures that might have been, then we’re not sufficiently reflecting on our pasts in order to grow and move forward in our present lives and in our present relationships.

Where this becomes a problem is when we give ourselves leeway because of our baggage to manipulate or hurt other people. There is no excuse for that. Period. “You just don’t know me and what I’ve been through” is not an excuse for acting like a petulant child. It’s not an excuse for trying to guilt someone into feeling bad for having not called you sooner. Sometimes our baggage leads us to hurt others accidentally. That happens. But if you’re well aware that this is an issue and you’re indulging, almost reveling in it, while you use this baggage as an excuse to justify your treating others badly that’s just heartbreaking.

What’s worse, it’s letting somebody who used to be a part of your life, somebody who hurt you, dictate the bounds of your current relationships. If you’re aware you have this baggage and you’re okay with letting it shape your current relationships negatively, that’s not okay, whether said relationship is romantic or platonic. No one gets to determine the boundaries in a relationship except the people in it. It’s unfair to the person you’re currently with as well as to yourself. It’s not giving yourself a chance to start fresh, and it’s falling back into potentially dangerous comfort zones. It’s settling before you even really get started. It’s self indulgent and selfish.

And if that’s okay with you, then I am a-okay with you leaving my life.

Goodbye, good riddance, get yourself a goddamn furby. I recommend the classic over the new. They’re slightly less creepy.

I will die alone in a world of octopuses.

SERIOUSLY SUPER INTENSE TATTOO GUY HAS A GIRLFRIEND. SUPER INTENSE TATTOO GUY. AND I AM ALONE. WHAT. WHAT. UNIVERSE. WHAT. AND JESUS DOESN’T DO MONOGAMY.* WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. Seriously, someone just go out with me and talk with me and be a normal person for a whole three hours. Oh wait, just kidding. THAT ISN’T A THING THAT HAPPENS.

It’s not like I’m looking for anything serious or permanent. I have things to do and adventures to have, and to be perfectly honest I’m not a big believer in true love or lifetime love stories. But one of these days it might be kind of refreshing to have someone only want to hold just my hand, instead of my hand and an indeterminate number of peoples’ hands as well.

It’s like they have Octopus Syndrome. You know, “What did one octopus say to the other?” “I want to hold your hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand.” Somehow my hands just don’t seem to be even potentially enough for anybody if we’re already staking the “no monogamy” flag this early on. I’m not saying pick my hand from date 1. I’m saying it’d be nice to have someone potentially be willing to be contented for a while with only my own two dog-bite-scarred, dish-doing, crayon-holding, biscuit-mixing, super moisturized hands.

I’m a really good hand holder, just for the record. Here’s a link for a post entirely devoted to my feelings on hand-holding from a blog I used to run about spooning.

IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME?! Jesus Christ Superstar! Oi vey! AUGHHHHH. My mother constantly tells me I am “intimidating” to men. Great. That’s what every little girl wants to be when she grows up: vaguely terrifying.

Cuttlefish are the color- and texture-changing BADASSES OF THE SEA. Suck it, octopuses.
Cuttlefish are the color- and texture-changing BADASSES OF THE SEA. Suck it, octopuses.

Whatever, octopuses. I’mma go find a nice cuttlefish to hangout with. They’re definitely the superior cephalopod. And even if I don’t find a cuttlefish, I’m going to keep being me, and if no one likes it, then I’ll just hold my own hand. Like a boss.

*(Side note, the monogamy thing isn’t actually a huge issue, but I’m not about to invest a lot of emotional energy/time into something that isn’t ever going to be an actual thing. Been there, done that, got better things to do. He says he’d be open to that changing potentially, that seems kind of iffy for wanting all that feelings talk to go down. And I don’t share well.)