Thirty years of cool chicks, good love, and bad judgment.

February 14, 2007

I am not so much a slow learner, as I am a hard learner. Easy lessons lack the traction to burr my awareness; at most serving as a hindsight kick in the teeth, post judgement lapse. As a child I got my head stuck in more banisters, and tongue stuck to more icy fences than any child not riding the short bus. As much as I disliked the outcome there was something so seductive about self defeating behaviour.

Every winter [1] I would fall through the ice walking across the river on my way home; and every winter I found myself seeking out the black patches and planning my escape route to the shore. As destructive as the behaviour was, I needed a dangerously broad sampling of the consequences before I could resign myself to walking to a correct path.

As young adult my experiential masochism moved into the romantic arena; though given the collateral damage inflicted there was likely a nasty undercurrent of sadism. I sought out bad love, broken edges, and car crash incompatibility of near mythic proportion. I confused sex with romance, romance with love, love with possession; and all of the above with a disturbed intensity of connection and mutual fascination.

On the few occasion I stumbled into something good and meaningful I managed to worry the edges into a more ragged and familiar form. Aside from my absolute faithfulness, I was an erratic and frustrating boyfriend. Intensely loving and considerate one moment, distant and moody the next; every grand romantic gesture underscored by a thoughtless absence. I could abide warmth and connection, but not stability. And so it went.

As I mentioned at the outset, though I am hard learner… I do learn. Admittedly some of the lesson were of the result “Oh, that’s why you don’t touch the stove” moments. The majority of the maturity, though, came from understanding I don’t exist in vacuum; and realizing self induced tragedy is more pathetic than poetic. Once I got enough perspective to see the real impact of my choices, on myself and others, I was able to patch together a working understanding of functional behaviour. Here is the sum total of the romantic lessons I’ve learned in the past thirty years:

  • It’s better to be betrayed than be jealous. No amount of vigilance and paranoia will make someone a better person, but it can bring out the worst in both of you.
  • You can’t force beginnings, extend middles, or unmake ends. Enjoy the natural progression and let it be what it is. Love is a fluid thing when you allow it.
  • Don’t fight old battles with new partners. It’s not their fault or responsibility.
  • I’m not wired like other people, so don’t assume what’s good for them is good for me. I may never figure out the perfect format, but settling will only hurt us both.

So that is entirety of my romantic wisdom; hard won, incomplete, and flawed to the point of being broken. Despite these failings, or more likely because of them, it makes more sense to me that just about anything in my life. Does it equip me to find sustainable romantic bliss? No, probably not. I’m somewhat of contrary being. It does, however, let move me about the pockets of bliss in a more loving and graceful manner; enjoying the moment and parting as friends. I’m not sure if that’s romantic or unromantic, but I suspect I’m better off for it.

[1] I was around 4-6 years old at the time. I have no clue why I was allowed to walk accross a frozen river by myself.

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29 Responses to “Thirty years of cool chicks, good love, and bad judgment.”

  1. w0rmwood Says:

    It’s better to be betrayed than be jealous. No amount of vigilance and paranoia will make someone a better person, but it can bring out the worst in both of you.

    I 100% agree.

    Having been betrayed once on a pretty epic scale, I made an important decision i have always stuck too.

    There is no better thing to be blinded by than Love, and if the cost of vision is a wary paranoid half-love, than i’d rather brave the darkness.


  2. “There is no better thing to be blinded by than Love, and if the cost of vision is a wary paranoid half-love, than i’d rather brave the darkness.”

    Very well put Wormwood.

    In the land of blind the one eyed man in usually quite bitter.

  3. sabre tooth Says:

    Okay, so much of what you just said and particularly “Love is a fluid thing when you allow it” just tugged at my heartstrings… then woormwood’s comment about braving the darkness made me all sappy.

    Beautifully said guys!

  4. Meatcup Says:

    “self induced tragedy is more pathetic than poetic”

    I LOVE that line (and your writing).


  5. “I LOVE that line (and your writing).”

    Thank for you loving and reading.

    “Beautifully said guys!”

    Grande obrigado, senorita.

  6. engtech Says:

    Damn, this is awesome.

    I really enjoyed it.

  7. baredfeetandteeth Says:

    Never fell through ice…but I did once intentionally touch a stove element that was turned on high.

    Anyway,”enjoying the moment and parting as friends” is about the hardest and best thing I’ve personally learnt to do in terms of personal relationships. I choose to think it’s romantic. Definitely moreso than trying to force something, or getting hung up on wanting what isn’t.

    All of your lessons, as well as wormwood’s comment, seem to focus on laying back and letting things be what they be. I think, for people to foster genuine connections, it’s imperative that they stop trying to control life and let life control them for a while.

    Lovely post. The whole thing makes me want to squidge something soft and fuzzy until it suffocates…
    *eyes engtech’s cat*

  8. dame Says:

    What a great post. I giggled. I wept. I looked for a Barry White cd. Thanks for nothing.

    But really, well done, and excellent writing.

  9. dame Says:

    p.s. i’m sending this to all my friends who have declared all men insensitive thugs

  10. Esmerelda Sconeflinger Says:

    “I confused sex with romance, romance with love, love with possession”

    In the words of Neil Young :

    Love is a rose
    but you better not pick it
    It only grows when it’s on the vine.
    A handful of thorns and
    you’ll know you’ve missed it
    You lose your love
    when you say the word “mine”.


  11. Also in the words of Neil Young

    I want to live,
    I want to give
    I’ve been a miner
    for a heart of gold.
    It’s these expressions
    I never give
    That keep me searching
    for a heart of gold

    And I’m getting old.

  12. Esmerelda Sconeflinger Says:

    this one`s for you, AJ *strums guitar*

    When you were young
    and on your own
    How did it feel
    to be alone?
    I was always thinking
    of games that I was playing.
    Trying to make
    the best of my time.

    But only love
    can break your heart
    Try to be sure
    right from the start
    Yes only love
    can break your heart
    What if your world
    should fall apart?

    I have a friend
    I’ve never seen
    He hides his head
    inside a dream
    Someone should call him
    and see if he can come out.
    Try to lose
    the down that he’s found.

  13. engtech Says:

    Lovely post. The whole thing makes me want to squidge something soft and fuzzy until it suffocates…
    *eyes engtech’s cat*

    Ah, he would surely suffocate you.

    That isn’t a competition you want to get into, my friend.

    He looks tiny, but that’s only because it’s a big box he’s sitting in.

  14. thekenji Says:

    Great post. Wise words.

    I feel that love is primarily about trust and faith. Love is like what religion should be. When you trust your heart to someone completely… with that kind of faith, one almost appears to be enlightened. What better thing to have blind faith in than love?


  15. “Ah, he would surely suffocate you.”

    If by suffocate you mean “Hide under the bed as soon he heard a stranger” than I agree with you. And your Cat ain’t fat until he’s wider than he is long.


  16. “Love is like what religion should be”

    Giving yourself over to higher, and potentially vengeful and capricious, power. Yeah, I can agree with that.

  17. thekenji Says:

    Yeah I agree it makes one vulnerable and open to betrayal… but it’s like many things in life, you need the extremes to truly understand.

  18. dame Says:

    A.J. Valliant Says:
    February 15th, 2007 at 12:17 pm
    “Love is like what religion should be”

    Giving yourself over to higher, and potentially vengeful and capricious, power. Yeah, I can agree with that.

    ahahahahahahaaaa! god himself couldn’t have said it better

  19. Rebecca Says:

    “I sought out bad love, broken edges, and car crash incompatibility of near mythic proportion”

    If I ever start a cock rock band “Bad love and broken edges” will be the name of our first album.

  20. Herb Says:

    Great article. Thanks for the advice. I think i’m the same way.

    Great writing style too. I hope to be that good someday.

    I linked to you on my blaug.

  21. seekr Says:

    Interesting read… it begs investigation of the dynamics of romantic love in relation to love’s many other forms.

  22. thirtyplus Says:

    I like the poignancy of this.

    Of course, my years of experience have brought me to somewhat different conclusions ;)

    But thank you for sharing yours.

  23. alice Says:

    “enjoying the moment and parting as friends.I’m not sure if that’s romantic or unromantic, but I suspect I’m better off for it.”

    I sense bitterness.

    Love can be held high if you want it to but it’s yourself who places a shield for anyone to love you and you’ll only receive a reciprocation of that.Your love has a limit.Be it giving or receiving.You wouldn’t receive or accept even if there is. You’ll refuse it as much as you can For you are most afraid of hurt.

    Never better off that way honey. You deserve better.


  24. “I sense bitterness.“

    Not a drop, Alice, though I can understand how it would be read that way. I see it more as a Taoist recognition that we are not static beings who fit perfectly together forever; we are situations and tendencies that joyfully intersect, but ultimately take their own path.

    “Love can be held high if you want it to but it’s yourself who places a shield for anyone to love you and you’ll only receive a reciprocation of that. “

    You will have trust me on this because we are stranger, but I have more love in my life than I can readily give thanks to. Amazing family, warm connected friends, any healthy amount of the sexy lady type romantic stuff. I allow love unconditional, and that what keeps it flowing.

    “Never better off that way honey. You deserve better.”

    Things are good, but you are quite nice to be concerned.

  25. "anoymous" Says:

    what lousy internet, respect… etc.. toward Esmeralda (is that a david firth allusion? because if so…), and I meant abject, I’ll drink a bottle of champagne by myself and post to the internet if I damn well please…
    topics of discussion:
    1) porn
    2) boy on boy policing
    3) girls supporting girls
    4) the six other kinds of love (agape, etc)
    5) why our best friends our hot
    6) homophobia is for pussies, even Vice Magazine agrees
    7) Important Miscellaneous
    8) Words of wisdom from kurt vonnegut

    p.s. if you don’t respond i won’t be the least bit offended because I have my own web following but imagine the faux vitriol, mmmmmhm, faux-vitriol

    p.p.s. Your poignant postings are pretty awesome… I hope the sentiment suffuses the rest of the world and not just the virtual one, which doesn’t deserve…I digress and Kenji, thanks a lot, now I have a crush on Amy-Sue,way to go.

    p.p.s.s. Moderate.

    All the best, internet persona 1179.


  26. Esmeralda is my love, so all our exchanges are thick with respect and admiration intertwined within the playful bantering.

    “p.s. if you don’t respond i won’t be the least bit offended because I have my own web following but imagine the faux vitriol, mmmmmhm, faux-vitriol”

    I believe Faux Vitriol is a rather expensive bottled mineral water from France.

    “p.p.s. Your poignant postings are pretty awesome… I hope the sentiment suffuses the rest of the world and not just the virtual one, which doesn’t deserve…I digress and Kenji, thanks a lot, now I have a crush on Amy-Sue,way to go.”

    Thank you kindly, and we all have crushes on Amy-Sue; long may she reign.

  27. Rox Says:

    Tag your it.

    A.J. wink. It’s time you sought me out on the internet and we should share our hard won wisdom and make the opposite of collateral damage. (I mean that sincerely, no irony, I would happily read a hundred essays about the abuse of irony and satire. And I have nothing but abect humility


  28. “A.J. wink. It’s time you sought me out on the internet”

    Well, my stalking skills aren’t what they used to be, but I’ll give it a shot ;)

  29. max Says:

    You just sound like a Texan.


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