Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a delightful virtual hour with V. More about that in a moment, but… as I pondered V, I thought about all my various “exes.”
I often imagine that how one relates to one’s exes communicates a lot.
I had two significant exes prior to my relationship with T. And a lot of friends with whom I have a past. My college girlfriend, J (and more about college in a subsequent post), I haven’t been in touch with in years. We like one another. The last time we saw one another, we ran into each other – of all places – on an airplane. Both of us were flying to Chicago for work. We were, as I recall, seated either next to or near enough to arrange to be next to, one another. We had a nice couple hours together. We friended one another on Facebook. (I was on Facebook at the time; no longer.) And we haven’t spoken since. Which is apt. We don’t, truth be told, have much in common. Though we revolved in VERY similar circles in college, I believe that, today, we have precisely one friend in common, a woman who was J’s roommate our first year, whom I currently see every week in a delightful Zoom of 7-9 geographically disparate college friends who meet every Friday for “lunch.”
My post-college girlfriend, S – whom I nearly married, and with whom I lived for several years – lives about two miles from me. I see her a couple of times a year. Her kid’s a couple years younger than mine. I’m not very religiously active, and neither is she. But we both are not very religiously active in the same place. So occasionally, we run into one another there. Or on the street. Or in the park. S? I feel very warmly toward and she feels very warmly toward me. But as with J, we don’t really have much in common at this point. Other than warm feelings and five shared years of memories.
I stopped racking up “exes” for the first ten or twelve years of marriage – although I am still in sporadic contact with a couple of women I paid for sex back in the day.
But since I began this blog, I’ve been racking up a long string of exes. As was true in my pre-marriage dating life, my relationships rarely have come apart badly. Often there’s pain, but there’s rarely anger.
Sofia is the most recent example, and you’ve been reading a little about us. She’s the woman other than my wife with whom I have had the longest relationship. Our relationship was uniquely torrid, and deep. And, we’ve never met – or at least, we haven’t yet met. We’ve broken apart a couple of times, most recently, I suspect, for good (or at least until we can be in the same place at the same time). And/but we, honestly, are good. We like one another a lot. And we are in touch. Just this morning, she sent me a photo of the hills into which she was headed for a hike with a friend. And yesterday, we discussed – as we have been a fair amount – the fucked up politics in our respective countries. In the past – and she and I have been exes previously – we’ve had a tropism back toward a sexual engagement. But in recent times, the remote thing hasn’t worked so well for us. It’s caused us both pain. Sadly. But it’s ok: we both got a pretty fucking hot seven-year run out of it. And I think we both know deep in our bones that the ways in which it wasn’t good have nothing to do with anything other than our respective misaligned needs. There’s no malice, no ill will.
There are other exes, of course. Isabel, the Rockette, Rose. To name three. Isabel and I text innocuously a couple of times a year. Mostly along the lines of, “Just checking in, what’s up?” And we provide the most general of updates. I think I have more of an appetite for connection than she does; or maybe, I’m less consistent with the life she wants to lead than she is with the life I want to lead. The Rockette? I’m pretty sure I saw her on the street, eight or nine months pregnant, near the very end of that period of history I’ve increasingly heard referred to as the “before times.” I don’t know if she saw me; she went a bit… cold… on me toward the end. I honestly don’t know why. But our connection was, truly, never a deep one. It was, unusually for me, almost entirely sexual, and without any real interpersonal connection.
And then? Then there’s V.
I have written more about V than about any other woman, I think. Our relationship spans about as long as Sofia’s and mine, and Sofia always was envious of the fact that V actually got to suck my cock, where Sofia had to content herself with images of it, videos of it, and the occasional face-to-face video call. But V has some of the same thing going on that Isabel does: I’m just. Not. Consistent. With. What. She. Wants.
We have tried. We’ve had drinks together something like once a year for the last few years. Once, I ended up licking her clit on an office couch. A couple of other times, our knees pressed together at a bar, and that was it. And once, a couple of years ago, I traveled 200 miles to spend about 24 hours with her. It was smoking hot (among other things, she picked me up at the airport dressed entirely in clothes I had ordered for her and had delivered in advance). Our sex in that 24 hours was definitely a ton of fun. But there was a… sadness? to the whole thing. There was a context, into which I won’t go, but it boils down to the fact that, for a variety of reasons, we couldn’t enjoy one another’s company with quite the abandon we might generally have preferred. And as much as we enjoyed the ramp-up, and though we never spoke of it explicitly, I think we both knew all along that it likely was going to be the last time she sucked my cock. And that’s never a hot thing. [Happy postscript: she tantalizingly suggested that this was not, is not, something she knew, or knows, when she reviewed this post prior to my publishing it.]
Recently, we had a brief check-in back-and-forth, in the midst of which, she wrote:
I don’t think I know how to be friends with you…and/or I don’t know if I can be friends with you? I keep you at a distance because I know the intoxication and the intensity of letting you in completely. It’s like the most delicious drug and once I give in to my submission with you, our dynamic is so wonderfully intense that it’s hard for me to extract myself.
I want to pursue relationships that meet both my emotional and physical needs, which isn’t really what our relationship has ever done. While you’ve always attended to my emotional and physical needs as a part of our dynamic, your boundaries/limitations given your life/family are incompatible with what I want. I love having a partner to share my life with and that just isn’t something you’re looking for/offering.
So I fumble my way through wanting to email, not wanting to email, sometimes just avoiding it altogether. Finally if/when I do send you an email, I compulsively check my inbox just like old times. It’s a little too hard to read the blog entries as they roll out one by one but I catch up on a few months at a time, hearing the words in your voice.
Anyway I know you didn’t really ask about any of this in my note, but I do feel as if we’ve danced around it a bit since [the last time we saw one another]. I’m glad you’re seeing someone [Marina] and doing well. I hope I can figure out how to be in better touch consistently and figure out this friend zone we’re in. Here’s to trying.
There was another back and forth. I had read V’s message – perhaps pessimistically, perhaps in a way informed by the malaise I suffer in Marina’s absence – to mean, “I can’t be in touch with you.” But very shortly thereafter, she sent what she called “an odd proposition”: “[W]ould you want to talk to me about this weird torture [Marina] you’re putting yourself through that you haven’t quite written about yet? In a friends kind of way? If not, I completely understand of course.”
Say what you will about me, but I’ll never say no to a conversation. Honestly, with anyone. But with a super-hot, super-smart woman who sent me gigs of porn and gave me privileged access to the use of her mouth and cunt for years? No. Fucking. Way.
So, having not seen her pretty face but twice in the last two years, we set up a Zoom. Together, we had a couple of drinks (Scotch for me – Ardbeg An Oa is my current smoky favorite; she drank what looked like a chilled white wine), and we talked. The first ten, fifteen minutes? We talked about Marina. But Marina was just the entry ticket. We talked about the man she’s currently seeing. About our families. About how each of us relates to intimacy, dominance, submission, and about how they all come together – or don’t. I recommended the book Can Love Last?, by Stephen Mitchell.
It was delightful, and I hope we are able to do it again.
It makes me sad that she’s looking for something other than what I have to offer.
Because, well, you know, I really would love to give it to her.*
Alas. That possibility is confined to a different universe than ours.
* In my first draft of this post, I wrote, “I really do want to give it to her.” Which is true. But it read a bit too much like an attempt at seduction. Which I want to be clear, this is not.