Dear (new) Al,
I have to admit that I’m somewhat taking a departure from the previous letters to write to someone I don’t consider a friend. Hell, it’s as clear as day that we are not friends. I must point out that it’s apparent that we were both raised well in some respects, as the last time we saw each other we acted pleasant. We were in the company of good mutual friends in a very public place, and no violence—physical, verbal, or otherwise—came about. Glad it didn’t get ugly; I don’t enjoy ugly.
However, what I do owe is a strange thank you, which links you to my previous letters to friends. Our meeting pushed me to a low point I hadn’t felt in a long time, and I was a man in need of distractions. It led to an interesting 2012.
I’m not really gonna put on blast everything specifically that happened tween us in December but allow me to share what I was feeling before December. For some reason, around the time I believe we really started hanging out (Labor Day, 2011), I was experiencing a bit of loneliness. My bros were all finding smash buddies, and my female friends were happily settling with a bunch of meatsicles, especially the friends I interacted with the most. I was really thirsting for a relationship. Now, I realize I didn’t portray a pretty picture of relationships a few lines ago, but that is actually kind of a sample of how I felt back then—not remotely close to how I feel today about things, mind you. Back then, I suppose I was kinda tormenting myself because I had so many failings finding a good ass chick to just be cool for five fucking minutes. Over and over and over, I was failing. It angered me. But anger isn’t a lasting emotion; it quickly manifests into something other emotion. For me, it was loneliness.
Then we started hanging out—you, me, Duffs, Crabs (terrible nickname for a chick)—quite frequently, and I saw an opportunity to alleviate myself of loneliness. It started with our group’s friendship, but from the get-go, I really kinda paid attention to you the most. On the exterior, you had a lot going on that I could get down with. I’m also a sucker for girls that just beam niceness all the time. Sweet, kind girls aren’t really that damn common, frankly. But you were at least that. That was a start.
Then I told myself at some point, maybe on Halloween night when we dressed as Paper, Rock, Scissors and went out on a Monday night (!), that I really wanted to date you. I really, really, really wanted to date you. This next part is where it gets uncool: I don’t think it had anything to do with you. I was just so eager to remove loneliness from my life and ready to try a fucking relationship out that I just saw an opportunity. It’s incredibly selfish, and so it’s really a good thing that it really never went anywhere. Even if we had been in a relationship for a long time, the same conclusion that came about in December probably would’ve occurred, and it was good that I felt that disappointment in it not happening.
Of course, I didn’t feel that way at the time. There was nothing good about the feelings I had, even right after Halloween. I was so goddamn desperate to not be alone anymore that I suffered spasms from how tense I was. It was ugly. Once again, this really had nothing to do with you. Nevertheless, I wanted to be done with it. Strangely, I’d never felt that way in my life, such desperation. Call it turning into an actor? Call it feeding off the energy of some of my former improv peers? Call it bullshit? Well, whatever you call it, I needed to get rid of it. While a part of me genuinely liked the idea of dating you on the reg, it didn’t come from a healthy starting point.
So let’s skip to January 2012. I needed distractions. I was walking around kinda devastated because I failed so poorly in my goal. I hate failing. I hate fucking failing. I wish everybody hated it as much as I did; maybe we’d be on Mars by now. Winter offered me a lot of time to do primarily do two things: improv and drive around. I think I turned a small corner around then on stage, not coincidentally around the time Stefan came back and became a presence in Damaged Goods. The second thing, driving around, includes a lot of dacing and music via Spotify/Google Play/Pandora. In my car, I took time thinking about my life and what kind of person I turned into at the end of 2011. I didn’t like it, and I didn’t really want to feel ill-willed toward anyone. Therefore, I did what I could to let things go and dedicate 2012 to myself. I was to become selfish, but differently than in 2011—I was going to worry about taking care of myself and making myself into a more mature dude.
It’s not like I dedicated a year to really being alone again, but in order to absolve myself of that spasm-inducing loneliness, I had to be alone and focus on being comfortable with being alone. Was I suffering a loneliness phobia? I don’t know, I didn’t bother wasting my money to go see a shrink to have them tell me what I could figure out on my own. However, it was clear in reflection that I was uncomfortable with being a single man. I used to think of it as something poisonous, that being a single late-twentysomething was damning in the eyes of peers. However, listening to a lot of music, you hear a lot of people singing about love and loneliness. They are things that come in and out of all of our lives at one point or another. I know I’m not in control of it all, but it took me a while to learn that I could be a single man and it was perfectly okay! In fact, I quickly began to realize the freedom with which I could move through my life compared to some of my friends in relationships.
Now, a year and five months removed from the lowest emotional point of the past five years, I’ve met someone, someone very interesting. No, it hasn’t gone anywhere yet; I only met her recently. But you know, I haven’t felt one ping of desperation, one drop of self-interest, one iota of pain in those once-tough regions of my shoulders & back. I learned that relationships are about connections. A relationship is not simply claiming someone to satisfy you. A relationship is a nurtured connection to another human being. That’s as simple as being nice to the mailman, cordial to my boss, chatty with my old lady neighbor, remembering the birthday of my prom date, or talking to the wee hours of the next day to a girl that intrigues the hell out of you. Refusing to live under the weight of expectation probably saved me from many dark days I could have instead suffered rather than choosing to take a more enlightened path & improve self. In doing this, it’s led me to understand the value of a relationship like I used to when I was a young Romeo, and right now I’m looking to connect. Maybe hearing “Shadow Days” on River Road a few many times helped kick-start all that.
So while I can’t say I’ve simply gotten over past disappointments easily, I can say that I can point to that moment when I was standing out in the cold back in December 2011, in front of your house, flushing whatever “good” feelings that had manifested away as the moment that led to this moment. I’m a better man today, and in a roundabout way, I can also thank you for that.
Now go FOAD.