For Kafka

Kafka

He was no bigger than her hand and just four weeks old, too young to be properly weaned. She chose him for his rambunctiousness – and for his pink nose that was entirely too big for his face and made her smile. She swaddled him in an old towel, flipped him unwillingly on his back and coaxed the bottle between his tiny, razor-sharp kitten teeth. “How could anyone be so heartless as to drown a litter of helpless kittens,” she thought as her new companion settled into slurping the milky formula. She had wanted a kitten for months, but her boyfriend had convinced her to wait until he moved in. Well, that wasn’t going to happen now, but at least she had the kitten – more dependable than any long-distance romance. They would save each other.

R.I.P
Kafka
March 4, 2001 – December 8, 2014

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I SUCK!

You would think, after four decades on this planet, I would have mastered the art of the breakup.  I envision one where we act like adults, say what needs to be said and no one walks away hurt.  Sadly, I think this resolution is possible only in my dreams.  Instead, I took the spineless way out and ended it with a text.  I’m appalled at myself. With my 20/20 hindsight, I realize that I should have at least done it over the telephone; 2.5 months does not necessarily require a face-to-face, but it does warrant more than a 3 sentence text.

Everything I wrote to him and the feelings I have today are more than a little reminiscent of my Ex’s breakup with me.  Am I no better?  There really is no good way to accomplish the task.

This guy SHOULD have been a good catch for me.  He was attractive and fit, kind and considerate, virile and gainfully employed, but I just never fell head-long for him.  I should want to see him the last moment before I depart on a trip and the first thing when I return.  We were apart for 2.5 weeks and I almost canceled on him this Saturday (I had already cancelled twice earlier this week).  I should be begging for him to spend the night so I can wrap my body in his when, in fact, I felt relief when he said he had to go home.  I know the depth of affection I’m capable of feeling – and I just couldn’t evoke it for him.

I realized that it’s not fair to continue – not to him by faking feelings as he becomes more entangled nor to myself but cutting myself off from other possible alternatives, convincing myself that “this” is better than nothing.

Regardless of whether I think I did the right thing (which I do), I still feel awful for having to do it.

You seemed so happy!

“You seemed so happy!”

“Well, I WAS happy.”

“So why aren’t you dating him anymore?”

“Well…”

I’m having this conversation with my 10-year old niece.  She’s asking me about my Ex.  How do you explain to a child that just because one person is blissfully happy doesn’t mean the other is feeling the same – or even if both people are happy, it still doesn’t mean there’s a happy ending to the story?  How do you break it to them that life’s not a fairy tale?

I have a new guy in my world right now.  We’ve been dating about two months now.  I like him, but sadly, I don’t LIKE him.   Always respectful,  I would never lead him on or toy with him, but I’m also aware of this relationship’s limitations.

Casualties of War

Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.
~ James Arthur Baldwin

I crossed enemy lines this weekend, into his city.  I camouflaged myself and my vehicle and infiltrated through a back road.  I kept low to the ground and out of sight, glancing over my shoulder, on my mission to the boutique store downtown, needing to pick up supplies.  I returned to my homeland, escaping back over the border undetected, but not nearly unscathed.  The maudlin minefields were everywhere and they blew me into pieces as I rounded every corner and stopped at every street light, the memories of our time in this city still too fresh in my mind – breakfast there (boom!), dinner here (boom!) and the bar where we first kissed across the street (boom! boom! boom!).

It has been almost six months since the cease-fire and my desire, really, is to become a veteran of this damn war.  I don’t want to lament the breakup longer than we were together.  I want to get on with my life, ending the shell-shock.   I thought I was ready, that I could walk the streets we walked along together and not feel the pain.  I was wrong, again.

The wounds may be scarring over, but I’m afraid there’s shrapnel embedded beneath my skin forever – so that, when I take a step or move just so, that little twinge of pain will eternally make me wince.  Soon, I will stop mentioning it, putting on my courageous face for friends and family, but the slight spasm of discomfort will always be there, silently reminding me of the wounds I’ve suffered – and diminishing me just a little.

The Next Chapter

I’ve been told that I need to close the chapter of my life that included him.  It may not have a sufficient ending, like an unfinished Franz Kafka story, but I must move on regardless.

So,  I turn the page and I stare at a blank piece of paper. What can I say about the protagonist? She’s emotionally beaten and bruised, weary from her struggles (wary as well).  Cynical?  Yes, but there is a little glimmer of hope that sparks within her still.

What does she do next?  The online dating appears to be going nowhere.  She receives emails almost every day but, the men that seem to have fallen for her live on another coast – or even in another country.  The men that seem mutually compatible fizzle out before the first date.  The ones she sees and say, “maybe perhaps,” don’t respond to her emails.

She needs a diversion.  But what?  Her work, right now, is as disheartening as her love life.  And her hobbies bore her. And her friendships are close to nil. What is her next step?  How does she move on?