Originally drafted on 2/19/16, @approx 7:45 PM. Revisited, completed and summarized on 2/20/16 @12:36 PM.
You’re not EVEN going to believe this. Just a whopping 5 days after publicizing our 4-month old relationship, it’s already over. Over, you guys. And tonight is the first night that I’ve been single in the past 9 years. That’s kind of remarkable, isn’t it? Yeah. It is. And how have I chosen to spend the evening?
Quietly sipping on a mocha espresso and drumming my fingers across these shiny black keys (at an average of 140 WPM). I’m relaxing my body into the supportive backing of an over-sized, brown leather couch (which is comfortably situated near the back of the aromatic and lively Seeds Coffee Shop in Downtown Homewood), and contentedly waiting on a friend to get here. When I texted the news to her about an hour ago (Text: “We broke up this evening”), she immediately responded: “Boooooo! 😦 Can I bring you something? Anything? A manly shot of whiskey? A comforting burrito?” I’d already had a burrito for lunch, so I protested. She didn’t care. She’s, adorably and obstinately, swinging by Chipotle now. Footnote (aka, inserted later): In addition to securing a glorious Chipotle ritto, this dear friend of mine also snuck a non-descript, brown paper bag full of various, miniature-sized liqueur bottles into the cafe (namely: Glenfiddich Malt Scotch Whiskey, Jim Bean Honey-Infused Bourbon Whiskey, and Malibu Caribbean Rum). I laughed at her, discreetly cramming the bulging and clanking bag into my Vans backpack. “Tomorrow afternoon,” I thought to myself, “I will host and enjoy a secrete and moderate liqueur-sampling session on the cheerful, grassy lawn at Railroad Park. Post-skateboarding, of course.”
So anyways.. single. Jace is single. Finally. I was Rose, I was 15, and I was still living at home when I began dating David (another sheltered, religious minion like myself), 18 when I moved out of state and married Chris, and now I’m 24, I’m Jace, I’m living in my own home and I am single. I’m done dwelling on the past, you guys. I’ve learned pretty much all that I can from it, and it’s long past time for me to hone in on the present; to feel, see, taste, touch and experience – as deeply as possible – all of the things that I haven’t before. And by that, I mean quit being so preoccupied with labels, boxes, and stereotypes and so damn busy that I’m oblivious to it all.. to everything that’s going on and happening, live, around me. Life. I want to experience life, and I want to – simply – live. Just for a while. I am personally in a place where I scarcely even know how to take care of myself right now. I am, honestly, thoroughly exhausted. Daily – moment by moment – I am burning up the small amount of leftover energy that I fought so hard to preserve, and I am ceaselessly dipping into the dwindling reserves that I tried so vigilantly to guard and maintain. Even in my most clear-headed moments, I’m still barely able to understand myself — I can’t even, for more than thirty seconds, fully grasp the idea of loving and accepting myself as I am, so it’s entirely ridiculous to think that I could exist in a healthy, balanced, and selfless relationship in my current “state.” To think that I could safely carry around the weight of another person’s needs and feelings and be, largely, responsible for their general well-being and happiness is ludicrous. Nope. That’s too ambitious of an endeavor, and completely unrealistic. It’s not happening. It’s just not. I’m not “relationship material” right now and I know it. I’m proud of myself for being honest enough to realize it and for being brave enough to ACT on that realization now.. before things get too deep.
I experienced a profound shift in how I perceive myself, as a person, in early July of last year, and I divorced my 5-year partner later that November. Those two monumentous events IN AND OF THEMSELVES demand that I take some time to sort shit out. #realtalk #gooddecisions #tryingtoadult
I wondered to myself earlier this afternoon: “Is this a really selfish decision to make? Withdrawing my hand and my heart from this person so suddenly? The other person still likes me..”
In response, I answered myself: “Yes.. it is selfish, but it is a necessary sort of selfishness.. and they DO still like you, but you can only offer them a compromised, half-assed relationship right now; would that really be what’s best for them? You know the answer to that. And do you HONESTLY think that the relationship would even be able to make it past this dismal, morbid time period, where you’re nothing but a trembling, wreckish disaster, and then endure positively in the long-term? Likely not. You’d burnt out. And so would they, in response to you burning out. You’d change, and then they’d react to those changes (as well as undergo their OWN changes). You’re already changing again, dude. You’re changing constantly, more and more every single day, and you’re not going to stop. Ever, really, but especially right now. Currently, everything is suspended in a wild state of limbo. Right now, what you need is special time and extra room to grow, identify, experiment and explore without feeling responsible for, or accountable to, another person. A relationship would be too limiting and too constricting for you right now. You shouldn’t have to – on top of everything else – worry about disappointing someone with your movements — of hurting them with the subtle (or totally radical) shifts in your personality, or rattling their core as a result of the ongoing reconstruction happening in your own life as you carve out and build upon this old and new and slightly refurbished foundation of who you are, fundamentally, as a person. Rediscover yourself first, Jace, before you set about “settling down” with someone again. That’s what needs to happen right now: self-discovery. Take some time away from the world. Enjoy being single — unencumbered, relaxed, and limitless.. go to open mics, poetry readings, parks, concerts and coffee shops, without consultation or announcement; embark on these outings as often or as rarely as you want, and enjoy the peace, the quiet, the stillness, and the solace that your new lifestyle will afford. Seek yourself out in the solitude. Let honesty, time, fears and courage all work together in healing and strengthening you. It’s easy to be kind and patient with others; it comes naturally. Be kind to yourself, too, and be patient with yourself. You’re doing fine.. you’re actually doing great.”
A friend shared an article with me recently, and after two pages of motivational reading, the single line that stuck out in my mind was this:
Your relationship with yourself is just as important as your relationships with other people.
So, bearing that in mind, I’m actually trusting and following my own intuition and listening to myself this time. I’m not relying on anyone else to chart my course or to help me make the “harder” decisions in life. I’m taking a year to myself.. maybe even four (heck; I may decide to hang back from the dating scene until I hit 30), and with that “breaking news” out of the way, let’s get down to it.
Kindness: What is it?
Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.
I was pounding the pavement with a girlfriend three weeks ago when a crazy, poofy-haired blonde guy (dragging a blanket and wearing stained sweatpants) intercepted our pathway. We were about five steps away from the coffee shop’s front entrance.
“HEYYYYY,” he drew the word out slowly, “can you guys, like, get me something to drink in there?”
I exchanged a quick glance with my friend.
“Sure,” I offered quickly. “I’ll grab you a drink.”
He nodded, blinked a few times (nervously). “And maybe a ham and cheese croissant also?”
I paused. “Yeahhhhh.. I’ll get that also.”
He nodded again. “And — a coooookie?” He kind of slurred the last word.
JESUS HENRY CHRIST, I breathed inwardly. I’m walking in here to order a simple cup of coffee; I wouldn’t even buy an overpriced, three-dollar cookie for MYSELF at this joint.
“Yes,” I answered him firmly (but kindly). “I will also get a cookie.”
“Okay,” he nodded once more, falling silent and finally appearing satisfied.
My friend and I entered the coffee shop together and then, after reviewing all of the offerings on the menu, I walked back over to the front door, peeking my head outside and spotting our new friend slumped down onto the sidewalk, clutching his blanket around him and staring down into his lap.
“Hey! So what kind of drink did you have in mind?” I called out.
He looked up. “Tea, please.”
“Okay — any particular kind of tea?”
“Anything, but just please make sure that it isn’t from China.”
“K. Will do. And do you have a cookie preference?”
“Chocolate chip is the one.”
‘The one’? I thought to myself, smiling at him with amusement. The fuck?
My friend generously offered to purchase the ham and cheese croissant and, once both of our coffees were ready, we moseyed outside, placing the paper bag containing the croissant and cookie into his lap and handing over the tea.
“I got the orange and lemon-flavored tea,” I offered quietly as I passed the cardboard cup over into his hand, “and I DID ask the lady to please make sure that it wasn’t from China.”
He shook his head up and down vigorously, looking genuinely relieved. “Thank you.”
I offered to shake his hand but he declined. I asked him for his name, and he said that it was Thomas. He thanked us again and then trudged down the street, his blanket dragging along the sidewalk behind him and catching onto pebbles and leaves every few feet.
After the event, I sat down, beside my friend, onto a bench outside of the building, cautiously sipping on my latte and reflecting on his words, his actions, and mine — thinking and considering and processing it all.
- Q: Why did I say ‘yes’ to all three of his requests? Was that really necessary? A: It was a combination of empathy and peer pressure. It wasn’t necessary, no.. but it was kind.
- Q: “Kind”? Would it have been “unkind” to say no, or to fulfill only part of his request? Say, for instance, getting the croissant and a glass of water, or even a croissant and some tea, but gently declining adding on the cookie? A: Not necessarily. As I stated earlier, I wouldn’t have even considered purchasing a cookie for myself. Instead, if a cookie was on my agenda, I would have gone to the grocery store and spent an equivalent $3 on an ENTIRE BOX of cookies and then portioned them out over the course of a week. But in that split second of decision-making, when Thomas asked if I would please buy him a cookie, I thought to myself.. well, if I DID want a gigantic, over-priced chocolate chip cookie inside this cafe — if I really, REALLY wanted it — I could have it. It’s within my power (within my means) to make that happen for myself. This dude literally couldn’t do anything about wanting it, because he obviously doesn’t have the means to buy one — and it’s doubtful that he even has the mental/physical capacity/capability of obtaining the means to afford a simple $3 cookie. Not without some kind of assistance (which it looks like he, sadly, isn’t receiving; I’m sure he’s perfectly competent to do something for a living, but he hasn’t found out exactly what that is, or has but hasn’t been extended the opportunity to try doing it). What a terribly sad predicament.
- Q: If I run into Thomas again next week, and he asks for these three items again, will I fulfill his request? Nope. Not entirely, anyways. If I see Thomas again next week, I’ll say: “Hey, Thomas! Good to see you again. I’d like to get a croissant and a glass of water for you, and then, if you’re comfortable, I’d like for us to sit on this park bench together and talk about finding you a job.”
Processing the event got me thinking about kindness. Does being kind mean giving someone, anyone, whatever they want from you? Hell no. People are, by nature, insatiable. And not everyone is considerate, reasonable, or well-meaning. You have to weigh requests carefully and make sure that fulfilling someone’s request isn’t going to overbook, overwhelm, adversely affect or financially devastate you. Now — is a $3 cookie going to “break the bank” and thrust financial devastation onto your world? Likely not. But if you say “yes” to every person who asks you for a $3 cookie, then.. maybe.
Before I go, I’m going to drop off a brief and pointed quote from one of my most beloved friends: Christopher. Here are some encouraging words that he shared with me this morning regarding my identity crisis/transformation/decision to transition naturally:
the way to do itis how you are doing it:to believe in your identityand go with it.you’ll never need surgery or hormones.you are who you arebecause you believein who you are.
Aun Aqui: The single, skateboarding, and whiskey-sipping bastard.