I don’t often publish romance. I want to. I write about it a lot. I’m embarrassed I think. I want to be original and it seems too common. But common is connection after all, and connection is what we seek…

The ‘getting to know you’ phase is…fun I guess. In a way. More-so uncomfortable, to be honest. A little cliche. Someone noticing all your aspects that sit in plain view. You seem strong, you are rare, you are funny. I play into their perspective, appreciate their validation, but then a bit of bitterness comes up. Undeserved of course. How can they know that I’m bored of this perspective. How can they see anything else at this point.

We get comfortable enough to banter. Now we are easing into friendship, less acquaintance. Here I can stay for a while. I’m comfortable romping around this territory. A few jabs, a few laughs. This is the way you play at work, maybe. Bantering with clients. Or how you’d ‘yuck it up’ at a party. It is fun for about as long as a lunch shift.

My smile wears thin, I can feel it hanging down at the corners, like the hair I pushed into place for our meeting, which will not last against the pressures of wind and gravity. I must find a way out before I turn into a pumpkin, before I show this friend a side that our baby bond cannot tolerate.

I am ready to go home and collapse into a familiar safe hold. In a comfortable, cozy silence, a book perhaps, a bag of chips, half nude. I find a kind way to walk away, and leave this friend for my solitude. Why do I imagine they will find solitude unattractive.

Solitude, no. Solitude seems strong, independent. Respectable. Walking away elicits admiration.

The other option, however, if I were to stay, is less tolerable. Takes a strong friend. Aware and confident, compassionate and understanding. Are you that friend? Can I trust you to see my turbulent change of tides, flood to slack, vivacious to solemn. It is not a pretty morphosis, something like an alien bursting from a stomach, or a werewolf transforming. OK, not that bad. Like a chick breaking sticky from its shell? No…how about…a squirmy baby settling into sleep. OK, yeah, like that.

I’ve learned more grace with it over the years, especially alone. But I still don’t know how to do it well with others. It takes focus, quiet, and complete acceptance to flow from one state to another. To relinquish fun for depth.

So I have a choice, at this point in our relationship. I can test the friendship hard. I can do what I’ve done up until now, with traveling romances, stuck together for weeks. Bare it all and see what can last. Get it over with. This is who I am, take it or leave it. Or I can take it easy on you and just take my space. Take a break. Leave our acquainting for another day.

Because, although this slow process of showing the sides I want to show, of posting the images I think you’ll like seems a bit like a game, a bit like a manipulation, the ‘take it or leave it’ route is not realistic either. It shows all of me, the years, the processes, crammed into a short, intense trailer, designed to weed out the riffraff. Here is my intensity without any of the background, without much of the levity. Can you deal?!

Who could deal?

And inevitably, I am putting myself under undo pressure, which is not fair. Nor is it more real. It is just a different state, one induced by stress and indignation.

I guess, then, a natural progression of friendship would require a little more patience. A little more ‘sitting with the unknown’, a little more ‘staying focused in my own world’. I am so used to narrow windows, time crunches, and acting on impulse. Life of a nomad.

In everything else I’ve trained myself to live in subtleties. Now for relationships.

Can I enjoy you without knowing where we will go? Will I still enjoy you once I see how far can go? Once it’s not exciting anymore?

So, next phase, day four. I will squeeze some sobriety into our banter. I cannot go on like this forever. I already feel myself starting to fade. I must know if we can go deeper, or if you are a series of three-hour segments. Which is my attention span for superficial. Which is fine. I will still appreciate you for that. I need that in my life too. But I am trying to draw some boundaries.

I know, why boundaries? Why not flow free? Live free. Life of a nomad…

But boundaries are healthy. They define our world, our limits. Maybe someday I will dissolve into an existence with no structure. For now, though, I have not yet transcended a need for definitions.

I ask you about yourself. You share easily. That is nice. I wait for you to ask me. Sometimes you do. That is nice too. Sometimes I share unsolicited. I observe your reaction. Are you aware that I am watching this so closely? My heart is important to me. How I connect means a lot. I don’t take it lightly.

I flutter when I see good things. You asked how I’m feeling, if I ate well. That seems very caring. Then I dip a little when something slips. You ask me for the third time what instrument I play. I wonder how much you retain, how well you listen. I catch myself and refocus on my responsibility to stay neutral. To manage my expectations.

Because you do not deserve my criticism. You did not ask to be the center of my expectations. To be anything other than what you are. That is what I signed up for in being your friend.

So at the end of the day I take my leave, and I go to my safe solitude to feed myself what I do not know how to get from others, or to ask from others. Maybe someday I will learn that too.

I am glad I can give it to myself, at least. Otherwise I would leave ravenous and stay ravenous. Or I would not leave, even when I need to, for fear of the hunger. Hunger for a calm, confident, deep, subtle sense of connection.

I haven’t stuck around long enough to see if that can grow with many people. I keep returning to my own garden.

And sometimes it takes a while to dig it up again. To settle down after a day with others. Especially a day of all play, with no attention to cycles and dips. All at one high pitch. We are not static creatures.

I lay alone, coercing sleep, the silence a wide contrast to the buzzing. I know I need the silence, I crave it. I wish I could, but I cannot stay buzzing. I am a wild animal raging against this transition, a sugar-crashing child hysterical not to go home.

A day spent in banter without the balance of calm, tender love. The safety, the suspension, the peace. And I did not take the time to give it to myself. I fall into a shifty sleep.

And wake up depleted, dehydrated. A hangover of sorts.

Hair of the dog? Call a friend? Jump online? Or get through it?

I meditate, the buzzing is uncomfortable, but it will soothe, it will loosen, and release. I look at the imbalance. It feels like tension in my jaw. A new cramp that touches and triggers all the old ones. All those cravings. To be loved in that safe, certain way. I stay with it.

Until the tension twitches and melts, under the calm presence that meditation brings. With it the block releases, the nutrients rush in, and the craving subsides. Ahhhh, I am whole again. Anxiety dissipated. It does not matter anymore where this new friendship leads. How it will feed me.

I can feed myself. I will be nourished. I will know right connection.

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