There’s a smiley face on my iPhone screen again. The ambiguous cheer that comes after a compliment and you don’t know whether it’s accompanied by a rosy blush or a distracted sendoff.
I start to get those familiar, angsty, insecure questions: “Was that too forward of me? Doesn’t he want to say “likewise!” or something equally as flirty? Where is he going that he can’t continue this all-encompassing and subtle sexual advance that I am trying to coyly convey from 5, 10, 15, 20 miles away.
I feel like I’m floating in a vacuum and only get the thrill of real human connection when the universe spits another piece of flotsam into my orbit. If ever so temporarily before it’s yanked off into another gravitational pull.
Communication is key and we’re all working around it with combination locks. I don’t have the stomach for numbers. I don’t have a mind for vices.
Though, believe me, I know it’s nice to bury myself in the chest of a man who I may not ever truly know just to shudder for a momentary release of not-so-alone.
So I go out to coffee shops and meet-ups and troll the internets for some sort of ….something that peaks my interest. Some line that haven’t read before. “I love to laugh.” “I love food.” “My favorite bands are…” “I’m currently reading…”
But these aren’t people. These are profiles. Silhouettes. Outlines. Waiting to be colored in. A veritable sudoku in the who’s who of online dating. But I
am already colorful. How can I share that through a one dimensional, backlit piece of transparency? How can I feel connected to something so stark?
Where’s the spark?
When I finally do land a date, I’m SO obvious.
I’ll ask any question, show genuine interest and want to KNOW someone. Even if I don’t feel a flutter. For the precious few minutes that I have in the person’s physical space, I become a sponge. The language of their physical form communicating more to me in those short minutes than an entire laudatory composed under: “What I’m Doing With My Life.”
What I need is something short of romance. Short of love, I just crave
connection. That wired feeling you get when you’re in animated, patter-paced discussion and learning the thought process, following the synapses and neural pathways of a brain outside of your own skull. The basics.
It’s the small things.
What I usually find are people shivering to expose themselves. They’re screaming to share how deeply driven they are to BE themselves. To be wholly accepted as themselves. Just like myself. We are all screaming over each other so vehemently the sonic boom is too cacophonous to comprehend anything that actually resonates. Nobody’s listening, because nobody can hear.
And listening happens with the body first. No, the choice to listen happens first. Then the body follows. Then the ears and then the mind.
Nobody’s listening. Everybody is interesting. But nobody is interested.
So we disappear back and continue the dance from behind the scrim of our computer screens.
I now have a phone and a series of symbols that I can send without taking my eyes off of the road. If I type them in just the right pattern, I can write a code for “I like you” or “I’m thinking of you” or “take a right at the light” or “I just monkey wrenched a liter of coke into a syringe AND lost my keys AGAIN.” Crap! I typed an open parentheses instead of a closed one! That’s totally not what I meant!
We have forgotten how to be vulnerable. We have forgotten that discovering the truth about ourselves through the experience of ourselves by another can be as healing as it is painful and we are inventing new ways to hide from each other. The more naked we make our bodies, the thicker the weave of our shroud becomes that cloak our deepest desire to be loved and buttressed with forgiveness and trust.
Forgiveness. That’s the hardest part. The thing that comes after compassion. Compassion, scaffolded with empathy and sympathy and patience. Compassion that is no longer pedestaled or displayed by any figure in the public eye today. In our rush to become more connected via the fevered sharing of information, we are forgetting to prioritize each other.
With our first models of intimacy from infancy divorcing at a staggering rate, I’m inclined to eschew monogamy. But no matter how inviting and logical this “open love” format sounds, I can’t shake the intrinsic tug of “stay with me.” “Trust that I will forgive you.” “Trust that I know that you are human.” “Trust me when I say “Abandonment is NOT an option.”
When did we stop TALKING to each other? When did pixelated symbols of sentiment on LCD screens take the place of phrases like “Wow, I really like you.” Or “I miss you.” Or “I…am hurt”
I’d like to erase the emoticon from the English lexicon and continue the communication evolution on to a higher plane of interconnection. Take all of our hearts and place them side by side until they start beating in unison.
But with each generation I feel the gap widen. The distance between the vibrations of people in pain and people in love has grown so vast that we think we are the only ones who have ever really felt loss. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who has ever really felt love.
If we spend any more time outside of each other’s orbits, It’s only a matter of time before we stop feeling what one another is feeling. Before empathy and sympathy evolve away from us and all we have are our own experiences. And we forget how to trust. How to listen.
And I mourn for its passing like a dog on his master’s grave just waiting for the rest of my life to pave me back in with her.
Despite how wrong I may be about that. Despite its lack of echo in the vacuum in which I currently float. I am not afraid to say it.
With my mouth.
“I am hurt”
“I am lost”
“I miss you”
~Special thanks to Sara Levine for her expert editorial assistance.