It’s Not Me.

It’s not me, it’s you.
It’s everything thing you don’t do.
It’s when you keep quiet and sit down.
It’s when you fake a smile when you’d rather frown.
It’s when you lie and pretend,
and it’s when you think of others as a means to an end.
But there’s more to life than dragging others through the mud.
There’s so much about this life that you can love.
So when you walk away blaming me,
I have to think that there’s something in the mirror you must not see.

Author’s Note

 

I do feel obligated to note that this poem is not about any one person or any group of people I know in particular. It’s just a thought that has crossed my mind in these busy writing days of Nanowrimo plus my life experiences. Sometimes when I write poems, the people in my life ask me if the writing is about them or about something in particular, and with a writer – that is not always the case. I would never write something about someone in particular without first asking their permission.

Thank you,

Yours,

–ab

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Time to Open Up

Love is both simple and complicated. People oftentimes think that love demands romance. People also think that sex is a mandated experience of love. And, as with many other generalizations about love, people are convinced that love and sex are so intricately intertwined that they cannot exist without the other. For all the awareness and acceptance that the world preaches, people still can’t wrap their mind around some of the non-traditional relationships that do exist, and will continue to exist, in society.

This is why Julie and Kevin sometimes struggled with their dynamic. Since the beginning, Julie was very open about her sexual orientation. She was asexual. She had engaged people sexually before but discovered no matter what the gender or the nature of their connection – she just wasn’t interested in the activity. Her desire in it was absent and her involvement was indifferent. As such, she made no effort to ever seek out those sorts of experiences. When she came across Kevin and found herself head-over-heels in love with him, well, there was a distinct worry their relationship would fail.

Kevin couldn’t have been more opposite in regard to Julie if he tried, if anyone was being honest. While Julie was more interested in emotional connection and avoiding human contact, Kevin was always seeking out physical affirmation and had slept with more people than he could count on two hands. And that had just been during the month that they’d met! As simply as Julie had fallen for him, though, the feeling was completely mutual. It all started over a conversation on sexuality in a sociology class at university.

When they started dating, it was casual. Julie encouraged him to keep sleeping with women of his choosing and that they could address physical intimacy when their relationship became more serious. A lot of their friends wondered whether or not they would last long enough to see that point. Julie’s friends never questioned her dedication to her asexual identity, but often wondered whether Kevin would truly accept her inability to return physical affection. On the other side of the invisible tennis court, Kevin’s friends constantly argued the probability of Julie becoming jealous of Kevin’s sexual prowess.

The only thing that they didn’t know was that Kevin had stopped sleeping with other people. Maybe it wasn’t right away. In the first few months their relationship didn’t seem very real. Julie and Kevin commented regularly that they just felt like really good friends, in spite of the occasional kisses and cuddles that they shared on late weekend nights when their friends were out partying harder than either of them would prefer. After a year, though, Kevin took Julie out for dinner and shared with her that he wanted to be committed to her and her alone. So that night he decided he would find other methods of sexual pleasure because he belonged to Julie. It surprised both Julie and Kevin’s friends who had not even realized that the two still were in an actual relationship.

It’s been about ten years since that day. Side-by-side they graduated college, got jobs in their chosen fields, bought a house, and even adopted two rescue dogs. Life had been nothing shy of fantastic for the pair of them so far; each step of the way defying the odds in what everyone believed was a doomed relationship. This common mind frame is what made it difficult for Julie and Kevin when it really was time confront the sexless marriage they shared. It all came to a point not when a particular woman caught Kevin’s eye, but rather after attending a family friend’s wedding.

“I think it’s wonderful that they can all do what makes them happy and not a single person in that family is upset by it. They just spent thousands of dollars on a brilliant wedding for Amelia but Kelly marries someone she’s been seeing less than a year! I’m jealous. I’m really jealous of that kind of understanding in a family.” Kevin had started when they got home the following morning. Julie was carrying both suitcases with a frown on her face. Life with Kevin had been difficult over the last couple of months. There was this new gal at work that took an internship with the neighboring department. He’d been talking about her nonstop, even taking lunches out with her sometimes too. It wasn’t that he was doing anything with the intern that bothered her so much as the fact that he couldn’t just admit to her that he was very interested in having sex with her.

So when Kevin admitted a jealousy about the wedding she wasn’t upset so much as exhausted. In secret she knew he agonized over the judgment of others who would look at our marriage and title it a “sham” because of the sexless bond they shared. Painful as it was to listen to him go on and on about a beautiful woman at work; painful as it was to watch a fiasco of a wedding; it was not more painful than watching him suffer silently due to his own unfair expectations. Julie was tired but she knew that this was a conversation they needed to have while the relevant opening existed. Deflecting, ignoring, or brushing it all back under the rug were options for the weak hearted. They were options for someone in denial. Julie was none of those things.

For this reason she replied bluntly to her husband, “The only people that need to be happy in a relationship are the two people in it. Or three, if you’d prefer.” Kevin must have been confused, or perhaps stunned, to have heard her plain reply. She expected he would be, not because he was genuinely surprised, but because he knew he’d been caught lying about something. However, they’d not discussed his sexual prowess since their initial engagement. They’d wondered then if an open sexual relationship was an option but he insisted it would let him stray too far from his wife. Those were his personal values – the personal values of family members that frowned upon her sexuality. They’d never been supportive of their union and it was unlikely a change in their sexual relationship would shift their opinions.

“What does that mean?” Kevin treaded the waters carefully at first, but when she said that a third person in the relationship was an option if he so chose. Julie told him that open sexual relationships weren’t so taboo that individuals could be sentenced to death for participating in such a relationship. At first she saw Kevin’s guilt and denial as he stammered through his questions about why she would propose such a deal – a second time no less.

But within only a few minutes he became more at peace with their reality. Julie painted a picture with her detailed recollection of how Kevin changed since the intern started. Each sentence shaded, contoured, and colored in a man who was no longer the husband he promised himself to be, but rather a man more dedicated to his self-preserved image than what he knows himself to be as a person. When Kevin’s shame dissipated he was able to agree that his closeness to the intern was selfishly motivated by sexual attraction.

“She is a wonderful woman, though. I think you would like her if you met her.” The statement hadn’t been intended literally, but that’s exactly what Julie demanded the instant he concluded his thought. In fact, she listed all of the requirements she had decided upon if he were ever to accept her invitation for an open sexual relationship. Not only must Julie meet his partners in person, but also they must have respect for her and their marriage. His partners were not to be anyone with whom they were close, but it was not to be a stranger who couldn’t be trusted in the event of a medical emergency. As her mandates were announced in planned succession, Kevin seemed to become more and more relieved. It was not long before he resembled the man that Julie had fallen in love with in college.

When she finished her clearly rehearsed speech he simply grinned at her with joy in each winkle on his face, “You knew this day would come, didn’t you?”

“I wanted this day to come because if it didn’t then we’d die resenting your celibacy.” Kevin lifted her up and carried her to the bedroom. For other couples, maybe they would have meant they’d be off to have sex. Not for them. Instead, Kevin carried her to the bedroom so that she could get cuddled under the heater blanket to catch up on her favorite television show. This was what he loved about Julie ten years ago, and it’s the thing he loved about her that day. Even the biggest of decisions weren’t as big as they seemed. Julie did was right and she made it look easier than breathing.

For years going home to Julie had been more than enough. In fact, even with the fresh sexual tension at work, Kevin was still thoroughly satisfied when he came home and crawled into bed with his wife. Having sex with her wasn’t something that he needed, and not having sex at all wasn’t something that he struggled with in any way. Kevin had been committed not just to Julie but his decision to be inactive for her. Somehow over the last decade, something had crawled into his gut and waited for someone to come along and challenge who had become for what he thought was the betterment of his marriage. Kevin was once a man with a gluttonous sexual appetite but until recently it had been forcefully dormant. Maybe he’d be a fool for finally accepting his wife’s offer to open the relationship but the only way to find out was to try. True love grows through the highs and lows, so Kevin would have to defy what he’d always been taught about traditional love once again. Thankfully, he knew he and his wife would work through those changes together.

Diagnosis: Apathy

It is that time of week again! I’m feeling particular inspired this week by two Tumblr blogs! SEEINSATIRE and DAILYWRITING PROMPTS. Even if you don’t have a Tumblr blog – these guys are definitely worth checking out if you’re a writer. SEEINSATIRE is literally one of the kindest and subtly brilliant people I’ve come to know there; and DAILYWRITINGPROMPTS is one of my go-to prompt blogs (outside of my own, which you can find here).

Inspiration for today is:

SEEINSATIRE:  “I just want to be the guy that left you better than he found you. It’s common courtesy.”

DAILYWRITINGPROMPTS:  You can add that to the list of things that no longer mean anything.

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2 Bedrooms, 1 bathroom, big yard; $550 monthly.

I remember when I moved in here with Patrick three years ago. We both dropped out of college and needed something to do – so we did each other. We got shitty jobs pushing carts and serving tables just so that when we came home we could ravage each other for no other reason than to say that we did. There was absolutely no restriction to our hungry passion…

At least there wasn’t. Eventually our work schedules started conflicting. Having sex, smoking pot, and getting drunk transitioned from pleasurable pastimes to inconvenient consequences. Living together on our own meant that bills came in and that money went out. I don’t know if we believed paying the bills would give us satisfaction but the cycle was repetitive. I dare to say that it was not unlike having AIDS. No matter how much we paid out – the disease of debt never went away. It was always there and it killed us slowly.

I can add that to the list of things that no longer mean anything – officially, at least.

Us.

Loving Patrick seemed like something I could do forever until I didn’t. Maybe he knew before I did that my love was gone. Maybe I knew and pretended I didn’t so that I wouldn’t have to find a new ailment in life. Of course, if I see my muses as illnesses then I’m probably the infection. Just another rash of apathy that eventually corrodes through every person that cares for me until such a time comes that there’s nobody waiting in line to be affected. In the end, I’m just another epidemic. Patrick realized it, though; he saw what a drain I am to myself and to him.

I never would have called our relationship parasitic, though. Patrick has the same romantic qualities I do: insufferable, manic depressive, unreliable, and sarcastic. On our best days we were mutually beneficial, but on our worst days a war zone may have resulted in less emotional trauma. Eventually we were bound to his a point of no return. Whoever found it first was going to be the one to solve whatever sick, obsessive problem we had with each other. Apparently the victor was him, and he convinced himself that the cure to our lethargy was to leave. At least he didn’t seem completely heartless when he let me go.

“I just want to be that guy that left someone better than I found them,” Patrick has a way with words that I find arousing and depressing simultaneously. It’s precisely why I fell for him in the first place. When we met, Patrick frantically whined about how high school sweetheart had killed herself after their break-up. As for me, I returned fire with my own sorrows. My parents were divorcing. My brothers were imprisoned for dealing meth, and I accidentally ran over my cat that morning in my moms rental car. So it wasn’t the best of times, but it wasn’t the worst of times either. It just ‘times’ to me. It was hard times if I had to call it anything. Patrick agreed.

Over the years, we found things out about each other. Abusive relationships, violent childhoods, and dysfunctional friends contributed to our off-putting attitudes and naturally offensive demeanors. Patrick got so emotional sometimes he’d repeatedly kick our couch until he couldn’t move, complaining that he’s just a fuck up. In the early days, I’d try to convince him that he wasn’t, but eventually even I gave up because that’s what I do. I give up. Maybe I learned that from my mother. Her resume of infidelity and failures is quite impressive.

Regardless of our fates, though, Patrick was being a man. He was saying what he needed to say, and doing what he needed to do to cure the lethargy in his veins. Maybe once I was a medicine to his aches but even the best anesthetics wear off. I was no better for him than I was for myself and in the end I can only say that it was a good decision.

“It’s common courtesy.” Don’t think I could have said it better myself, actually. Alls well that ends well when love takes an indefinite leave of absence. A trashy suitcase and a duffel bag slung over his shoulders were his only pieces of luggage when he took off. Our shared nothings remained behind and surround me now as I burn through his leftover New Ports. I’ll never know why he chose this brand and I guess I’ll never care either. That’s what happens when things lose their worth, their value – when they lack enough meaning to actually matter.

I don’t know where he’s going. I don’t know where I’m going. Tomorrow is just another day like today. It’ll start with skies so blue that I’ll swear I’m in a dream. There’ll be air so crisp and clean that I’d rather suffocate in the smog of a dying city than live in this shitty country cottage…

“Well this fuckin’ sucks.” I pluck the cigarette from chapped lips and put it out on an old picture of Patrick and me – we were kissing with bottles of beer in our hands. Too long I’ve gone without remembering how exciting that felt. Maybe nothing will ever be that exciting again. I don’t know.

So, maybe I don’t know anything about anything but I am convinced I am spot on.

This fuckin’ sucks.

But I don’t care.