"I see myself on my deathbed saying ‘I wish I would have loved less.’
Last night I ran into my old life still waiting for someone at the station, someone who never made it into my new life. So I called up (Felicia) ‘cause she’s my only friend. ‘(Felicia), I don’t know anymore. Every heartbeat needs a reason.’”
—Jens Lekman, Sipping on the Sweet Nectar
At this thing I had to do a few weeks ago, two women asked me a total of maybe six questions in an effort to determine if I truly psychologically identified as a woman and would truly benefit from surgery. One of the questions was, “Any romantic involvement at the moment?”
I smiled. “I’m single,” I said.
As if she was recalling a happy memory, she responded, “I had a woman recently say that she was happily single, that she was just focused on her job and taking care of herself for now.”
Once I might have understood this. Now I don’t understand it at all. I spent seven years alone, single, basically wanting nothing. What kind of life was I living? What can such a life mean? Now everything that is just for me feels hollow. It’s as if one day I felt the weight of all my lonely days and years stretching out behind me and saw before me a montage of meaningless mornings and meaningless nights flashing forward through the years and decades ahead. I realized that even the tremendously self-involved process of transition would have been utterly pointless and meaningless if it didn’t bring me to a place where I was better able to connect with and love others.
An excerpt from Masha Tupitsyn’s Love Dog.
I read Masha Tupitsyn's remarkable (and free) book Like Someone in Love last week and found myself copying lines and passages from it constantly, so much of reading it feeling like it feels when I listen to songs that feel as if they speak directly to me about my life.
And I don’t understand how anyone can want to be alone when we are already so alone. When we can’t really ever know or feel ourselves unless we feel and know others. Unless we strive for this, reach for this, go for this. When today there is less connection, less time, less intimacy, less security, less love. How much more loneliness, isolation, and alienation can we possibly stand, live with, bear, court? Why can’t anyone really reach anyone? Why doesn’t anyone want to be reached? Why can’t we break down each other’s isolation? Why doesn’t it take love anymore? For if not love, then what? Why when people find each other, do they want to go the other way? Not towards, or for. But away. (Like Someone in Love, p. 27)
I’d started using Instagram recently and rapidly got pretty hooked on it. After a few weeks, I realized that often what I was chronicling was my own absence from things, the ways in which I didn’t know how to participate in what was happening around me, how I was behind the camera while everyone else was in front of it. But I’m making a conscious effort to be less alone and less isolated these days, with mixed results, but no disasters.
From Louie, “New Year’s Eve”
Someone kissed me last weekend, someone I love but am not in love with and who loves me but is not in love with me. I cried in his arms afterwards and told him that it was that rare brush against a world of experience that has been closed off to me for so long, that when you don’t have anyone to sleep with or kiss or hold hands at the movies with for seven years, it does something to you, or at least to me, that I sometimes felt unlovable, that I sometimes grew bitter about being left out of all of this. I felt a kind of breaking of the ice, or perhaps a brushing away of layers of dust.
A friend, facing the prospect of being single again for the first time in years, said to me recently, “I don’t have any game anymore.” I’ve never even played the game, not in the sense most people mean. And I can’t see myself starting now, with online website dating profiles and first dates and small talk.
Another friend says I need a fling. I’m so not interested in flings. I’m anti-interested in flings. Nothing is ever primarily about sex, for me. It’s about connection. Connection or nothing. I tell Felicia that I worry now that my heart might stampede into anything, might see possibilities in everything. But really, this isn’t true. Still and always, the number of people I want anything to do with—as friends, as anything—is extremely small. I’d rather be alone than spend time with most people. I want nothing from most people, and everything from a few.
The situation is hopeless when it could be hopeful. This is modernity: We choose to fuck things up. We choose to suffer. We choose to live with lack. We choose isolation. We choose to be without. (Like Someone in Love, p. 31)
I’m a better person and a better writer when I feel something, when my heart is humming or hurting, than when it’s idling, so if I need to spend another seven years single, I at least want to mind the hell out of it. I at least want to want more. I expect I’ll always fall only for people I think are amazing—such people are extremely rare, so my odds will never be good. But when love comes to town, I want to love, whether or not it comes back to me.
I don’t know if what and who I am looking for is even possible anymore, but the need to look and find is in me nonetheless—unwavering and resolute, even amidst the buildup of losses. (Like Someone in Love, p. 11)
In that song up top, Jens Lekman sings “I see myself on my deathbed saying ‘I wish I would have loved less.’” I can’t even imagine feeling that way. That won’t be me.
So no, I told the woman at that thing a few weeks ago. “I don’t think of myself as happily single.”