Just because Chris and I high-fived over our breakup doesn’t mean it was easy. Except, according to Chris, it kind of was.
Then we hung out for four hours.
Chris is more like me than anyone else I’ve dated, maybe anyone I’ve known. In theory this should mean we can fathom each other’s souls. In practice it meant if I felt a surge of emotion and wanted to reach out to Chris, I’d have to make a pro/cons list by which point Chris would be mid-Amy Schumer YouTube binge, which would get me thinking about how to succeed in comedy, reminding us both of how far away from our career goals we actually were, and then Chris would use the word “fewer” instead of “less” and I’d have to explain why that was incorrect, and after that we’d get competitive over our mile times and Chris would become emotionally unavailable because of a work commitment. Plus we could never decide on a restaurant to order from and I honestly think we might both be bottoms.
But high on the list of what Chris and I agree on (just beneath the importance of list-making): If you care enough about someone to have a relationship with her, you don’t stop caring just because the relationship ends. There are countless ways to “have” someone, and I trust our transition to friendship will go smoothly, mainly because we both keep our emotions in a padlocked box on a shelf in a another room in a house in a different city. I think we’re each hoping for someone to come along and smash our personal padlocks and if this were a movie, the next woman Chris dates will do that and then I’ll have to kill myself, but don’t worry about me, I’m fine. If there’s one thing I’ve learned excruciatingly slowly and with incredible difficulty, it’s not to prolong an unworkable alliance. I’ve lost years of my life refusing to discard expired relationships. No matter how long they’ve sat or how sour they taste, some potent mixture of loyalty, stubbornness and pathological fear of change makes me stay. But not this time.
The day before Chris and I broke up, I spotted a giant-eyed kid riding her scooter down the sidewalk singing “Let it Go.” The icy Chicago wind ruffled her hair and at one point she veered off course and directly into a tree, but she kept singing: “It’s funny how some distance/Makes everything seem small/And the fears that once controlled me/Can’t get to me at all….” The weather didn’t matter. She wasn’t concerned with destination. Her voice rang clear and her words flowed true. Plus she wore pink; obviously she was external manifestation of my immortal soul.
Yes, I thought. Yes, little Idina Menzel or possibly Demi Lovato—”Let it go, let it go/Can’t hold it back anymore/Let it go, let it go/Turn away and slam the door…”
I don’t know whether to feel ashamed that I’m back on the dating scene because of a Disney movie or relieved that movie isn’t The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Either way, I hate myself for using the phrase “dating scene.” But not as much as I hate the people who message me on OkCupid. Not all of them. But definitely the guy who told me he was into “classy, mature, older women.” (I’m sure he’d be thrilled to know I read his message from the studio my parents help me pay for while blowing my nose into a sock.) And the chick who meant to communicate her distrust of bisexuals but instead wrote, “I’m weary of bisexuals.” I told her I was “weary” of people who didn’t know the difference between “wary and weary.”
Actually, I’m not at all jaded about OkCupid. For a writer, it’s a dream come true. Especially if you dream about guys from the suburbs who post pictures of themselves hang-gliding and fill in the part where it asks you to declare what people notice first about you with “You tell me, lol.” But really, give me a keyboard and an Americano and I can charm my way into any lesbian’s cargo shorts. Yes, even you, Ms. All-bi-girls-are-crazy. This crazy has lips Angelina Jolie would kill for and an encyclopedic knowledge of Joss Whedon’s oeuvre. Not to mention enough existential panic to make your heart soar.
So, Cupid, you’re OK by me, however, some quick and dirty advice for your users.
For Guys: Whatever the first thing you think of to say to a “Bisexual” is, say the second thing instead. Also, don’t compare us to unicorns. Or yourself to a minotaur. For God sake, just leave the mythological creatures out of it. Definitely don’t mention that New York Times Magazine cover story on bisexuality—my mother already filled me in. In person, don’t expect me to show up with my identical twin and have a pillow fight. At least not on the first date.
For Girls: Oh, right, you won’t reply to my messages. Funny how when I switch my designation to “Gay” you’re all over my profile. To the few brave souls who do write me, don’t assume I’ll swoon just because your skin is soft. Bi doesn’t actually mean “straight but questioning.” I’ve been at this a while and I’m not easily impressed. OK, that’s a lie, I totally am. But only by a large…. vocabulary.
For Anyone: Once we meet, all you really have to do is smell good and be unavailable and I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth. Or at least the nearest Starbucks. I could really use an Americano.