Every year, on the anniversary of my divorce, I light scented candles, listen to Morrissey, cry, and play with myself.
That’s not true, silly. I just wanted a snappy opener. As boring as it is, I don’t indulge in any bizarre, ritualistic behaviour on D-Day; but ironically, for the last two years, I have found myself on the other side of the world, ensconced in a romantic entanglement of sorts.
It’s Groundhogian. Last year I was making a u-turn across Europe to meet a Kiwi in Amsterdam, this year I found myself with an overly affectionate Italian. Let’s call him Titto- as was his request if I ever spoke about him on the blog. And, fuck-me-gently-with-a-tent-pole, I really hope he doesn’t read this.
Because this is the story of how I fled Titto.
Fled sounds melodramatic. But ‘made a impulsive decision to leave one morning after things began to get particularly intense’ was too verbose.
When Titto and I first met, I was, embarassingly, wearing nothing but a Bonds wifebeater singlet and a pair of bright red, Wonder Woman underpants. Before he knew my name, he had seen more of me than most first dates do. Amazingly, despite being confronted with the sight of my big, white ass, he began to chat to me and, amazing-er-ly, we clicked.
Our travels plans differed- I was heading to Cuba and he was starting work in a hostel in Acapulco. We swapped Facebook contact details and kept in touch. A pocket of time appeared in the week after Day of the Dead. We could meet up again. He started to organise the details, seemingly spending hours on Google. Links were sent via email, clicking them furnished my screen with magnificent-looking beaches. ‘What do you think?’ he’d ask with an emoticon wink. Apparently, the only thing I had to do for our spare week together was show up and be adorable.
Plans changed when he had a fight with his boss and had to leave Acapulco immediately. He asked if I wanted to leave Day of the Dead before the main celebrations and travel to Guatemala with him. I did not. I was disappointed but I didn’t want to chase a dick down a rabbit hole, so I did what any normal girl would: I dealt with it. I booked a hostel at a nudist beach and figured that if we were meant to meet up again we would.
As fate would have it, we met again. Titto was unlike any man I had ever met. Aside from the affectionate, macho, chivalrous Italian blood that pumped through his veins, he was completely open with his feelings. It was a novelty. Australian men aren’t like that- being courted by an Aussie is a subliminal game of chess. You don’t listen to what they say, you watch what they do, you think three moves ahead, and you endeavour to entrap them in a checkmate.
The whole situation was fantastical. Surreal. Laying tangled in a hammock watching the sun set, eating fresh guavas for breakfast, long slow make-out sessions on the sand followed by hair-pulling nights beneath the mosquito netting as the waves crashed outside our cabin window. We hitchhiked. We held hands and strolled along the coastline. It was like a tampon commercial. It certainly wasn’t reality- no reality that I know, anyway. That’s the problem with holiday romances. They exist in a dream state, a realm where you are unfettered by the mundanities of life. As a result, they will never, ever last beyond the trip- believe me, I have tried. The only way it can work is if you choose to stay at the party forever- if you kiss the nuances of reality goodbye and live in the Wonderland of travel. Titto asked me to do this on our first night.
“Would you ever leave Sydney and stay in Mexico?”
I struggled to explain the relationship that I have with my loved ones without resorting to saccharine statements like ‘they are my heart’. I explained the deep bond we share, fortified by time, laughter and pain. “I can’t leave them,” I said finally. “I’d miss them.”
He didn’t agree and argued the point. “But friendships don’t last forever.”
“Neither do most relationships,” I fired back. “But my friends and family have been more of a constant presence in my life than any man has. They are always there for me and vice versa. I don’t want to leave them.”
Besides, am I alone in thinking that this is a particularly intense question to throw at someone after twenty four hours together? Isn’t this the Holiday Romance equivalent of “How do you feel about getting married in Fiji” on a first date? Perhaps he was just harmlessly discussing the future and I am simply cementing myself as an emotionally retarded Fem-bot, but when said hypothetical future means that one of you has to give up everything well…no. Sorry, but that’s too Romeo and Juliet for me. Plus, I have shared more major life events with my Sydney comrades than I will with any man who comes into my life. Don’t make me choose between you and them. Just don’t. You won’t like the decision that I make.
And what happened to enjoying the moment in the moment without worrying where it’s heading? Why force it? If something is meant to happen, just let it happen. Yes, that statement crosses into the sticky realm of Fate and Destiny, but it’s my limited experience that no matter how much you want something, trying to mold life into your plans never works. One of the hardest things that any of us will have to do is let go of something we really want and trust that, in one way or another, it- or something better- will come to us. I don’t believe in pushing an agenda; partially because I am painfully aware of the type of female that does, and partially because I try to enjoy the show without peeking behind the curtain. If life has a plan different to the one that you have in your head it’s frustrating as hell, and there will be many nights that you pout into your pillow at the injustice of it all, but at least you won’t frighten said reality away. If you relinquish control, things you want may never come to you, but at least you know that you didn’t fuck them up- they were just never yours in the first place.
Says the emotionally retarded Fem-bot.
Actually, that whole fucking paragraph sounded like a tampon commercial.
Anyway, it was enough to vanquish my fragile emotions. With that conversation, hairline fissures began to appear in my rose-coloured lust goggles. ‘Affectionate’ became ‘Stifling’. ‘Macho’ became ‘Domineering’. And ‘Wow, he’s so open with his feelings’ became ‘Do we have to fucking talk about this again for the love of chocolate just shut up and stop acting like a god-damn woman’. My skin began to crawl. I became infected with Seeing The Future as well, and I didn’t like what I saw. It was suffocating. I was in a locked cage that he perpetually carried, periodically sticking his fingers through the bars for affection-attention?- the last lights of my freedom fading away as he carted me across Central America like a prized parrot.
I know. Poor, poor CC. She finds herself a devastatingly attractive man who appears to be crazy about her and she isn’t happy because it’s just too much. I should dry my tears on sex stained sheets in my fucking beach-side bungalow.
Relationships are delicate in the beginning. You need rose-coloured glasses when you look at your beloved because you are often discovering all of their idiosyncrasies. The fluffy bubble of infatuation acts as a talisman of sorts. When you are in lust, the fact that they are chintsy, over-protective, or a nocturnal lip-smacker, doesn’t bother you; and you need that to progress beyond the first stage. You need absence, too. To miss them, to think about them. They have to exist in your dura mater as a fond memory for affection to grow. And this wasn’t happening. Titto was poisoning me with his presence. The ‘Leave Sydney’ conversation gave me an urge for space. When he didn’t give it to me, the urge became a compulsion to mentally point out every tiny shortcoming he had.
The decision to leave was a lightning bolt. My poker face is not my strong suit, and he knew that something was up. I politely asked him to leave me alone, which he did- albeit furtively glancing at me from the top of his laptop all morning. When even a silent gaze felt suffocating, I figured that getting breakfast in town by myself was a good idea. I knew that I had to snap myself out of my foul mood, so as I moodily stomped to the main street, I indulged in the sort of practical, reasonable self-talk that every chick does to stop herself emotionally overreacting to something.
And it didn’t work.
The more I thought about the situation, the worse it felt. Finally my brain snapped in a characteristic moment of CC impulsiveness: ‘Fuck this, I’m leaving. Today.‘
And I did. The hotel in Puerto Escondido was booked as the banana/chocolate crepes were shoved into my gob.
Sounds selfish? It felt awesome.
Freedom is a drug, man.
As is chocolate.
I dreaded telling him. With good cause. He reacted as every man does when their ego is bruised- he became a petulant child: “I knew it, I knew something was wrong. Why do you want to go? Why are you leaving me?” he whined.
What I hoped was gentle came out clichéd: “This isn’t you, dude. It’s me. You have to understand, I have been single for two years. I like my freedom, and to spend a consistent 48 hours with someone is too much. I want space.”
We argued. Why didn’t I go tonight? We could have dinner. Why did I have to leave him right now? Why?
I felt helpless. Cunty. To try and make an awkward situation less painful, I tried throwing money at it. That usually helps, right? “I’ll give you the money for the accommodation.”
He didn’t appreciate being turned into my low-budget rent-boy. “I don’t want the fucking accommodation.”
“I’m only trying to help.”
“I have no reason to stay here without you,” he said sulkily. “The only reason I came here was for you, and now you are leaving me.”
It was a cheap shot that didn’t register. I wanted to say ‘I’m a psych nurse, buddy, and I’ve been through a divorce, if you want to hurt my feelings, you have to try harder than that.‘
But I didn’t. I acted like an adult. “Well, you can have the money, anyway.” I rose to pack.
He followed. “When did you decide this? Why can’t you leave tomorrow?”
The more he talked, the more my resolve strengthened. I bid him farewell and waited for a taxi to the bus station.
“You really should take a collectivo, instead. It’s more economical.”
I glared at him.
He sighed. “Do what you want.”
In defiance, I paid for a private taxi to drive the hour to Puerto Escondido. From the backseat, with the wind of the highway relentlessly massaging my face, I worked on feeling horribly guilty about what I’d just done.
So, what’s the point of it all? I’m sure there’s a lesson hiding in this, but what? That I’m emotionally unavailable? I have ridiculously high standards? That I’m just holding out for a six foot fireman who can bench press a fridge? Preferably one who volunteers at an abandoned kitten’s shelter in his spare time. Maybe I should just give up and buy some scented candles.
How about this for a lesson- no matter how many times you make my toes curl, if I begin to feel even the slightest bit trapped, I’ll run like a flock of seagulls?
Get it? “I raaaaannnn, I ran so far awaaaaaayyyy”?
Anyway, if nothing else, this experience has strengthened what matters, which means I’m probably Fem-bot Version 2.0. And while I can’t wrap it all up in a neat bow, I can give you a moral- You never chase a Y-chromosome down a rabbit hole.
You only ever chase a white rabbit with a pocket watch because he has the magic mushrooms.