Wednesday, February 10, 2010
NUMBERLESS HITCH LIST ITEM: Emotional Detox, or, Semi-Illegally Squatting in an Ex's Apartment (with a non-stalker purpose)
I'm squatting in an ex-lover's apartment.
Okay, well, not entirely. According to the unquestionably reliable pillar of knowledge that is Wikipedia, "squatting" is classically defined as "occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use."
The whatever-he-was knows I have his keys, because he gave them to me. And, before our tenuous pseudo-romance pseudo-ended with all the flaccid fanfare of a cigarette sizzling out in a rain storm, he asked me if I'd mind picking up his mail while he was away on a trip I was not invited along on. (An exclusion that led to the conversation which finally revealed, to me at least, the Munchian portrait of how much he was "just not that into me." Hence the weird psuedo-ending.) So he knows I'm around his unoccupied residential space that I do not own, rent, but otherwise have semi-permission to use.
What he does not know, entirely, is that I brought a suitcase, three different pairs of black suede boots of varying styles and heel size, a blow-dryer, a flat-iron and my laptop, and have set up for an all out affection-detox scheduled to last from this very moment until the day before he returns, whereupon I will slink back to Brooklyn with, ideally, some sort of immunity to him--a resistance to the pieces of him that have, somehow, taken root in the usually un-farmable topsoil that is my emotional commitment to anyone. I figure that if I cannot exorcise the demon of feelings after several days of living among the items of a life he has, almost expertly, built to exclude anyone like me, then the matter is out of my hands and I can go cry to old Joy Division albums without shame.
I'm fully aware that this sounds insane.
Walk with me a moment, will you?
First, lets make this clear: this is not an obsessive camp-out. He is a good man, a post-Alex rebound I knew better than to catch feelings for. I was a rebound he had no intention of ever feeling anything for. And so I am not wandering his halls swathed in a burka constructed from used bed sheets while tearily keening to Vic Chesnutt records. I have no delusions that he will suddenly burst through the door, drop his suitcase on to the floor with a careless clatter and scoop my pixyish form into his arms, pressing my tiny head to his chest while confessing the time apart has made him realize all we could be. His journal, left in plain sight, remains and WILL remain untouched. I've even started to return things he's given me over the length of our purgatorial courtship--the skully I borrowed during an icy, mid-December meet-up; the vintage men's nightshirt he gave me because it made me feel like I was on Mad Men; the palm-sized copy of a book of microfiction passed along with a "you have to read this"--to their original homes. In his actual home.
The thing is, when it comes to the end of affairs, I have chosen the "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" method of healing hurt (with a little sprinting from my emotions tossed in for good measure) for about...oh, 26 years. OSOM is easy, familiar, methodic: box up all photos, ticket stubs, items left behind, gifts given, etc., and discard or hide them. Pull all bands/songs shared as a pair from the iTunes playlist. Carefully remove "we, he, us" and their formal name from the daily vocabulary. And then, as stoically as possible, move forward (punctuating the journey with occasional emotional meltdowns, complete with Nancy Kerrigan-style wails of "WHYYY," that are usually triggered by the door closing on a now tomb-like bedroom).
But this tactic obviously doesn't work for me. Seven years after the first major split of my life, I still can't listen past the first chord of Des'Ree's "Kissing You" without exploding into snot and tears like a cheap tissue. I obsess. I dissect. I blame myself for everything while running as far in the opposite direction of my own bloodstains as possible. And, once the over-analysis and self-flagellating passes, I find myself thinking about the death-blow and executioner constantly, like some ghost haunting her own tomb, seeing only the specter of the fantasy "us" and not the reality of the situation. Burying my head in the sand burns the imprint of loss inside my skull.
So, a new tactic; an experiment of emotional kinetics. Staying still, rather than running. And attempting those fledging steps of detachment while surrounding myself with things I've become attached to.
Toilet paper. Shampoo. His coffee. That couch. I'm injecting these little pieces of infection into my body purposely, until my emotional defenses are armed effectively enough to exorcise them. Call it practical applications of vaccination theology.
I cannot run from feelings anymore. So I'm just going to sit here with them until they run from him...until the fever breaks and I go numb.
Also, his place is 3 subway stops from my office, one block from Whole Foods, has heat and there's a motherfucking blizzard outside. If faced with the same option, I hope he'd make the same decision.
I am a mad, mad, mad, mad scientist. With keys.