As our flat shoes smack slick slabs of sidewalk, we begin setting the stage for stories that filled our days since our last meeting.
New Year’s Even naturally begins the night of girl talk. My girlfriend, Liz and I find ourselves in a large pub just outside Grand Central Station where friends, colleagues, and co-conspirators gather for cocktails and other alcoholic delights either on their way out of or into the city of bright lights.
Pinot Noir. Two glasses. Now.
Our experiences ran polar opposite of each other: sweats and a strapless jumper, food from Whole Foods and an endless buffet, bottles of wine and an open bar. We relish in our differences and embrace how they keep our friendship strong.
Move on to unreliable roommates and the drama that is unavoidable when you live with another living, breathing human being. Unfortunately, Liz made a year-long commitment before I got to give her the golden words that you never move in with your best girl friend. You sign a lease as besties, you leave convinced that the conniving bitch stole your hair straightener.
Oh, the giggles and shaking of our heads that we two share and enjoy.
“Another round?” “Yes.”
As the deep red Pinot Noir continues to flow, we naturally begin discussions of love and relationships. Lizzy brought up a point that I believe every girl faces when she finds herself at the end of a highway that we call a relationship.
We drive along, enduring the bumps and smooth sailing. We pass exit after exit, wondering if we missed our own. Sometimes the road just ends without our knowledge; sometimes you say “Fuck it!” to the highway and veer across the grass to get as far away from that highway as possible; sometimes both the driver and the road become weary and decide the roadtrip should cease.
Regardless of how the road ends, most people who conscientiously get in the car and enjoyed the ride even for just a few miles are left to wonder if you can stroll the side streets after that big open experience, or worse, get on another highway.
Drooping her shoulders and looking demoralized, Liz proclaims: “I was so comfortable with my ex, and I don’t think I will find that again.”
For four years, I had an on-again-off-again relationship with the first man with whom I was truly comfortable. We met one damp and chilly night in Colchester, England, and got on superbly. He was instantly a dear friend. It wasn’t until months later that we decided to have our first kiss. After that, it was history. Or so I thought.
My family loved him. His family loved me. We began building transAtlantic social and family circles. There was a connection between his self and I, his world and mine, unlike I had ever experienced before.
That was until he became one of the most hated people in my world. I felt as though he said things that he thought I wanted to hear, without the heart, guts, and mind to follow through.
Would I ever be comfortable with another man again? Surely, I wouldn’t. Or so I thought.
In a way, I gave up on finding that comfort. I began a casual “relationship” with a younger guy, and from day one, I had no regrets about it at all. It was the first time in my life that I completely surrendered to the feelings and desires I had for a human being without expectations. The previous need for comfort was gone and out of my head.
Then I found him: the comfort beyond compare. The Man has given me one of the bumpiest and most rewarding road trips of my life. He has taught me both how to drive unmapped terrain, and to just trust the road (and let Jesus take the wheel!). In that discovery of my own range of emotions, my true life desires and aspirations, and my own mind’s horizons, I found an unparalleled level of comfort.
I thought I was over after that comfy ex. It’s natural and nothing over which to feel shame. I accepted it for all it was worth, and the powers that be brought me another reason to believe the comfort that we all crave was still out there for me. Liz hasn’t found that yet, but she will.
Appreciate the past for what it brought you. All of the ups and downs, the moments of bliss and despair, all bring about a deeper knowledge of yourself. If nothing else, think of the fact that at one point, teeth coming in was literally the worst pain you had felt. Decades later, it’s, well, child’s play. Losing a comfortable partner and the pain therein is temporary. Maybe you will find someone who delivers the exact same feeling, and maybe you’ll find someone who elevates your expectations, reality, and world.