Wherein Tony meets one of the Great Ones

I met a girl, you guys. A woman. Don’t applaud because it’s not a happy ending — although I guess in a roundabout way it is. Indulge me.

Emotional expression has been a constant struggle in my life. The positive emotions are the tough ones; I can project anger or spite or sadness super easily, but I never did well with love or affection or happiness. Typing those out is making me cringe. It’s really bad, dude. Dark jokes are my favorite, and I’ll get indignant or sometimes even outright angry at people who embrace the joy and love in their lives. I lash out, but mostly internally. Or in private with like-minded friends. “Look at this asshole volunteering and hugging sick children” is something I’ve said before. I guess my gut reaction is that people who project to the world (through social media or just their demeanor in real life) that they are happy and fulfilled and love people are either blind to the true mechanizations of an unfeeling universe, or have sinister ulterior motives that drive them. That’s really a subject for another essay; the point I’m making now is that I embrace the darkness in a lot of ways. And even then I keep it below the surface.

So I meet this girl on Bumble and she is the total package: intelligent, witty, beautiful, incisive. That last one is something I didn’t know I wanted in a girl. She asked me a lot of questions about myself that I knew the answers to, but never really processed. My regrets, fears, feelings. Aspirations, desires, beliefs. One day I just opened the floodgates on her. That’s not quite accurate: I imploded the dam of my emotions and a torrent of me came rushing at her in a wall of text. She was very receptive and encouraging, which I also never expected. That’s most of the reason why I never thought to do that before. She also mentioned Medium and convinced me to fire up an account here.

In a week’s time I processed a lot about myself and initiated a lot of positive changes. She was very reassuring to me about a lot of my insecurities. Oh, that’s another one: I’m very self deprecating. People tell me I have good qualities and I will counter it with a bad quality or just flat out refuse to accept it. Who doesn’t just accept compliments? This guy. And, in spite of my flaws, we went on a date. I was manic. Talking at a machine-gun pace, about everything. Stuff you aren’t supposed to talk about on a first date. She seemed to dig it — our conversation was an endless back-and-forth covering every topic imaginable. I had a great time. And I was drinking her up. Every curl of her hair, every detail of her face, her neckline, her jewelry, the clothes she was wearing, the way she gesticulated when she was making a strong point or telling a fantastic story. She made an impression.

I texted her the following day to tell her I had a great time, and she responded likewise, but with a but. My heart sank when I caught the but, and my hair stood on end. There’s usually a but in texts like that, but it’s an implied but. Not an actual one. We won’t be having a second date, and here’s some constructive criticism. I can deal with that. Well, I have some options for how to deal with that.

  1. I can ignore the self-actualization that I’ve been going through for the past week and regress into my little emotionless shell.
  2. I can embrace the garbagey high-school emotions that I’m feeling and work through it and move on.

So far I’m going with option 2. Writing this is helping. I’m remembering the last time I let a girl effect me like this, and it was absolutely in high school. The feeling is familiar but alien and I am thrashing against it. But I can’t just bottle it up or ignore it — that’s no way to live, man.

We wouldn’t have worked out in the long run. She told me things about her life and how she’s chosen to deal with them. She mentioned that she chose to focus on the good; the good in life, in people, in the world. She didn’t say it, but I had a feeling that my dark humor and constant focus on the negative side of things was not something she appreciated or would have wanted to be around. It’s ingrained in me at this point, and if I’m going to try to change myself for the better it will be a long arduous journey. But I’m a pragmatic person; a lot of the negative things that I focus on are just real things in the world. You can’t block out the bad shit; the bitterness and selfishness and resentment that fuels so much of human interaction. Everyone is selfish, even if they won’t admit it. You can’t pretend that doesn’t exist.

Maybe lately I’ve let the pendulum swing too far over to the ‘dark’ side, but I realized that letting it swing too far over to the ‘light’ side is just as bad. I need to balance the light and dark in my life, and in how I perceive the world. The real important part is that I need to let it out. I’m going to let people see me being happy or sad or worried or terrified or thrilled. I’m going to open up myself to healthy kinds of love and hate. You need to hate things sometimes, that’s why evil exists as a concept. Evil is something that “good” people are allowed to hate. That might be another good essay topic, so lets hold off on that one.

Anyway yeah I kinda got sidetracked there. Oh! Right! So, I was talking with one of my best and closest friends about it, and he said “This girl is going to be one of your ‘important girls’ in your life.” And he’s right. We had a brief relationship, mostly through text, but she opened me up in a way no one ever had before. She laid the groundwork for the next girl to actually get to experience the real me. That’s not for nothing. In A Bronx Tale Sonny says you only get three of those girls in your life — the Great Ones, he calls them. I think this one was my first. I don’t know when the next one will come along, but I’m thrilled by the prospect.

Watch this space!

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