Posted on June 4th, 2019

The Geography of My Mind – Out of Touch

One of my most distinct, if unobservable, qualities is my “wanderlust”; so defined as a strong impulse for wandering. It is both literal and figurative for me – I am physically and spiritually nomadic, and I also leave the reservoir of the present in my mind multiple times a day. One of the main ways I do that is when I think about women. Now, now, I’m not talking about lust and sex, per se, but my unrealistic imaginings about what some woman might hold for me in a future version of myself, something I’ve touched on in this column before (or the other one, who really knows anymore). Along with that daydreamy optimism grounded in unrealistic, and often unattainable, desire, comes the power of the jinx – yes, while not a superstitious person in large part, something I cannot help but feeling vexed by. In this case, it is when I think about what my time with a certain woman might look like in the future – us together – and how quickly that almost seems to unravel any chance I might have ever had with her (or more realistically I never had any chance, but at least it was nice to think about for a little while…). Yes, it’s the kiss of death, so it seems, for me to envision the evolution of a relationship, for more often than not, when I do, the relationship goes off the rails quite quickly. This, of course, is not always the case, there have been a few scattered successes, though to be fair, those obviously never measure up to what I envisioned at their very embryonic stages – otherwise they never would have ended.

I was talking to a friend about another mutual pal (let’s call him Frank) and we were discussing Frank’s crush on a certain girl – he was gaga over her, smitten beyond belief. And lo and behold, this prevented him from ever “having” her; to be sure, they spent a lot of time together, but as “friends,” that dreaded word we all want nothing to do with when our heart is after another’s. He would drive her to the airport nearly an hour away, help her run errands, you name it. But he never got what he was after, though I don’t think he ever stopped thinking it was possible, even when the lady started dating someone else…

I’ll meet a woman and assess her, I’ll get to know her casually, I’ll start to develop a little crush; in many instances, she’ll reciprocate, and all signs point towards a good thing. And in some instances, it is, for a little while. In others, it is doomed from that first thump of the heart. There are many possible reasons for this: sometimes, I imagine, I start behaving differently, trying to promote (or protect) some false image of myself, errantly-calculated to win her over, but in reality playing against me; sometimes I simply embolden my default setting of cynical blowhard and that breath of death wipes out the flowerbed of our future; and other times it may simply be a misread – or an overread – either flat-out wrong from the get-go, or a hand of cards played fast and loose, causing me to have to walk away from the table without any chips.

So, as you may have inferred, it happened again, recently. In fact, it is happening while we speak. By the time you read this, it will have happened, and I’ll be crushed once more. You know, right now, it is kind of like scripting a car accident that hasn’t happened yet but will soon. It’s like when you see someone driving too erratically, and there’s a horde of stopped traffic ahead that there is no way they’ll be able to stop in time for; that’s kind of what it feels like, I mean, it’s happened so many times I can predict it. And it never gets any easier, but it always deadens the soul a little more. Until the next one. Flowers sprout on the graves of the dead, you know, so I guess I should find hope in having my heart continuously ground down into fertilizer. Maybe one day a tree will sprout and grow strong for 200 years. But I have no reason to believe that now; that would be an act of bad faith, especially if history has any say in the matter.

But because you’re here for entertainment, or simply out of boredom, let me illustrate this particular crash-in-real-time for you: I saw her around, several times, I always found her attractive, but there never was any good way to go about it. I’m not much of a cold-approacher, and frankly, at first, aside from her beauty, there was nothing she emanated that suggested I should even fret about her – until, eventually, there was. One casual interaction involved her mentioning some music she was listening to; I was piqued then. Not only am I huge fan of music in general myself, but this obscure band, well, that we shared that in common had to mean something. Right? Sporadic and short conversations revealed more in common, a few texts and emails shared some playlists, but it never moved into the physical plane – until, eventually, it did. We made plans to meet up; maybe for a beer, maybe to take the dogs out, but timing, it’s always timing, got in the way. I was at a busy spell in work, she was changing careers, I was headed out of town; it was a recipe for right place, wrong time, and I was watching it unfold in front of me. And all those things that get in your head (well, maybe just in my head) came rushing in; just how would I blow it this time?

But we did meet up, and we did have a good time, and it was very close to what I’d hoped it’d be. And we met up once more, and I began to feel a natural comfort, the kind that you wait to cloak you in place of that awkwardness that covers every set of first interactions. Yet, I was still wary of the point when I would divulge too much, say the wrong thing, present myself as not what she was looking for. In some capacity, that will haunt me until it surfaces. If I’m lucky – I never am – it won’t, but I’ll always wonder about when my “demons” will expose me. I’m guilty, in this situation, of having a vision of what I want and then hoping she’ll fit into that mold, even when I know that is foolish at every level. I’m also aware enough, thank god, that this too shall pass, because every time it has before. Whenever I come down from a crush, I’m always left wallowing in the gutter, but it’s happened so many times, I think I’ve numbed up a bit. Just like the song says, “Novocain for the soul,” indeed…

So, by the time this hits the press, she’ll likely be out of my life – I hope not, but I imagine so. I’ll wait, at times patiently, more often than not, impatiently, for the next passing bus, the next opportunity. And all the while, my vision of the future with “her” in it (whomever she’ll be) awaits. In some ways, it extends further into the future every time I dream it – which is ironic, because every dream is comprised of one day, or one week, or one month less of my life, already spent, waiting, so it seems. This isn’t to say that I think you find happiness through someone; I don’t believe that at all. But I do believe you can find happiness with someone, but you had better find it on your own, first. I think I’ve got a handle on what that might look like, for me, now I just need to work on editing that future down to what I can control; but how does one control their wanderlust? I think I’m out of touch…

Marco Esquandoles
Wanderlust or wanderlost?

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