It’s 2 a.m. I’m sober, for once, waiting to catch the C train back home from a friend’s apartment at the Jay Street-Metrotech station. I worked a full eight-hour shift and used my last remaining energy to eat my body mass in Mexican food, so I can barely stay awake. The crust in my eyes feels like lost hope and cornmeal. Just as I am one Cupid Shuffle away from sleepily falling into the subway tracks, somebody catches my eye.
I glance to my right, and sitting upon the wooden, pee-ridden benches (I have a theory that everything in New York has been peed on at least once, don’t challenge me) is a young man about my age. He’s physically attractive, without a doubt — brown skin, light eyes, somewhat scruffy. He’s wearing what appears to be a matching (not to mention dirty) sweatshirt/sweatpants ensemble, with both the sleeves and legs cut off. This leads me to believe he has no regard for his life or well-being — just my type. His shoes? Sk8-hi’s, which visually reads as “I am very sad and I have a Twitter account.” Top this look off with a dad cap and white, calf-high hospital socks, and I am in a trance.
Just as soon as I begin to fantasize about our dysfunctional future marriage and emotionally damaged children, the F train comes. The doors open, he enters, and is gone, back to his real life world where he and I don’t know each other. I go back to leveling up my Pokémon and falling asleep.
The doors open, he enters, and is gone, back to his real life world where he and I don’t know each other. I go back to leveling up my Pokémon and falling asleep.
Being the hopeless romantic that I am, such an occurrence is not rare for me. I’ve turned fantasizing about strangers on the train into a hobby — a strange, psychological sport, if you will. Sometimes, when I find myself riding a babeless subway car, I will settle for an Average Joe and think, “Maybe he’s got a really great personality.” Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with me? And no, I don’t ever expect any of these people to come talk to me, or even notice me, for that matter — but I’m always half-hoping they do.
That’s the problem with people like me: I seek recognition. I’ve got this burning, spicy nacho desire to be the constant center of the universe. When I am paid said attention, namely by an attractive person of the opposite sex, my ovaries start pumping estrogen so rapidly into my body that I grow three cup sizes and belt out kookaburra mating calls. Putting my body in such a Hitmontopsy-turvy state leaves me quite open to vulnerability; therefore, I’m terribly prone to romantic confusion. I never know what I want, so being alone is really the only solution.
Being single is fantastic, for the most part. I love a good chase, and flirting gives me more of an adrenaline rush than doing parkour on cocaine. Plus, I make bedroom eyes at any good-looking passersby on the street at least twice a day, so monogamy at this point in my life feels taboo.
This doesn’t change the fact, however, that I love being in love. Even after stating (quite honestly) time and time again that I don’t want any commitments, I still send that double-text, I still FaceTime at ungodly hours, and I still subtweet with such specificity that I may as well use a first name. Sure, we only made out once at a dive bar, and I’m also seeing three other people, but that gives you no right to ignore my phone calls. Whatever, yo.
That’s the problem with people like me: I seek recognition. I’ve got this burning, spicy nacho desire to be the constant center of the universe.
Liking people is a tiresome feat. That shit is hard. When I meet somebody I like, either I scare them away with my intense, round-the-clock neediness, or they stick around long enough to accidentally wife me up. These unplanned relationships often result in A) me becoming so desperately attached that there is no possible outcome other than disappointment, or B) me becoming so painfully bored that I resort to counting particles of my own snot while only finding sexual satisfaction in McDonald’s commercials. There really is no in-between.
But you know what’s a lot harder than liking people? Not liking them. Like letting them probe me with their Tabasco Slim Jim stick, getting all up in their neck sweat, and then refraining from snuggling up under their pits for the next uncomfortable six hour sleep (or lack thereof). Then, when they give into the sinful act of cuddling, they want to be the little spoon? Are you fucking kidding me? Call me an Uber right now.
Now, in no way do I oppose playing the field or partaking in casual sex. I’m just really, really bad at it. Not only are the threats of STDs, pregnancy and other life ruining outcomes heavy concerns of mine, it’s also just hard for me to remove emotion from intimacy. My inability to keep things romantically neutral is overwhelming. It’s something about myself that I never previously noticed (or refused to acknowledge) which plagues my present sex life. I’m afraid it all somehow relates back to my constant itch for attention. I’ve concluded that, more often than not, receiving attention calls for an exchange in affection. This is the root of all my romantic failure.
My subconscious efforts to remain loved and adored by another person cause me to exert love and adoration towards others, and that’s where I cause problems — because I love too hard for my own good. I love so hard to the point of near exhaustion. I love so hard that my titties start lactating liquid Mariah Carey lyrics. My inability to half-ass affection applies to both friends and lovers alike. When I like you, I really fucking like you. Until I get to know you, and realize, well, maybe I actually don’t.
I know at my age, no one is supposed to have figured out relationships. But frankly, my inability to uphold something lasting pisses me off. Whenever I am left dubbed and abandoned by a romantic interest, I feel like a 12-year-old three-legged beagle at a kill shelter. Whenever I’m not left dubbed and abandoned by a romantic interest, I’m so bored I could braid my own asshair in summer camp lanyard formation.
So, what does a directionless, hopeless romantic like me do when all I can think about is how badly I don’t want to be tied down, but at the same time I complain about how badly I want to do cute, vomit-inducing couple activities with a daddy in a dad hat?
I think I’m so determined to be alone because nobody accessible can meet my expectations, and because the men I place my bets on always leave my texts on read.
Be patient, I guess. I keep telling myself “when you know, you know,” but every time I think I know, I end up divided. I don’t want a boyfriend, but I do want a boyfriend. I want to be in love, but I also want to slide into the DMs of every idiot in a Gosha t-shirt.
I hate pretending that I’m not boyfriend-shopping whenever I’m romantically engaging with another person, but I sure as hell am. Even in my most noncommittal of states, I can’t help whistling doo-wop classics at the first semi-attractive boy that retweets my selfie. I linger on the flirtatious advances of strangers, and then corner myself into romantic situations that I couldn’t scoot my way out of if I tried — I meet people and make shit complicated. Now I’m always trying to avoid that guy with the really annoying voice that keeps trying to take me to art shows on weeknights, or having my heart broken by some turd I met on the internet.
I think I’m so determined to be alone because nobody accessible can meet my expectations, and because the men I place my bets on always leave my texts on read. I know that it’s human nature to want what we cannot obtain, but I’m stubborn; I refuse to settle. I’ve got this fucked up, preconceived notion that romance should be a certain way, and that anything other than my irrational standard would be falling short.
I imagine my unrealistic ideals are the result of reading too much shoujo manga as a youth. Where is my Tuxedo Kamen when I need him? Why can’t he spontaneously show up on my subway route and throw his rose, distracting the evil Negaverse panhandlers from begging me for change? When will my dreamy, F-Train prince and I meet and share our sparkly, floral, anime still-frame moment? Or better yet, when will the boys I actually mess with offer me something other than their sweet plantain?
I’m confident that, when the time is right, I’ll figure it out, but I’m not confident that my romantic future is a bright one. And, unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll know until I get there. Maybe I will meet the man of my dreams, or maybe I will die an old, childless maid with nothing to show for my youth other than a picture of myself on stage with French Montana and a lot of poorly orchestrated tweets. Who can really say? In the meantime, I’ll just keep complaining about how I can’t ever get a text back.