[Pre-post-script: none of this unfolded as I imagined it would, as I hoped it would. More on that anon.]
She‘s coming to my town. I’m both excited and girded for disappointment.
I’m excited because we will have a meal together. She’ll dress to the nines, will look tremendous, and we will eat well, and have easy, comfortable, fun conversation about a wide range of topics.
Athena’s (current) configuration will not, likely, lead to either of us having an orgasm in the presence of the other. I can see clearly how much fun we each might have together. Shit, she can see it clearly. The issue, though, is that what she seeks is very different from what I offer. And vice versa.
Athena wants desperately to collect the evanescent feeling of power that comes from a man willing to do anything to stick his dick in her. Athena is selective. She’s not a slut. Or a whore. Rather, she’s a beautiful woman who somehow came to believe – in the way all of us addicts believe – that there’s something she needs to counter her internal, bottomless sense of emptiness. For Athena? That “something” (or rather, one of those “somethings”) is an attractive, successful man who would move heaven and earth – and betray people or principles or both – to have a taste of her. Athena melts more than a little in the face of that situation.
Add to that: Athena is in something mighty close to “love.” She’s had a boyfriend, now, for a period of time better measured in years than in months. Yeah, she’s not been perfectly faithful. (See above.) But she’s allowed herself to be more vulnerable, more exposed, to this guy than to anyone else, ever. She truly loves him, and desperately wants not to hurt him.
At the same time? She’s scared.
Their relationship, soon, will face the kind of challenge – one of those “we are from different cultures, thousands of miles apart, and neither of us wants to abandon our own culture forever” kind of challenges. Her gig in his land comes to a close sooner rather than later. He won’t move here. She won’t stay there. While she might wish he would move here, she also feels relief at the knowledge he won’t (and maybe just a tiny bit of fear that, at the last moment, he will).
Intimacy terrifies. Distance protects.
And, she loves him.
They both, surely, will hurt, but all of Athena’s life experiences have taught her that the best way (or one of the two best ways) to defend against emotional pain is to collect chips at the poker table of sexual desire – a table at which, for better or worse, she consistently holds a strong (unbeatable?) hand. Athena will feel hurt when she leaves her boyfriend. He will hurt more, lacking, as he does, her superpowers, her defenses, her commitment to maintaining a steely invulnerability. She mostly is able to uphold this commitment. Only very occasionally – and alone – does she allow it to drop, momentarily.
I’ll buy Athena a lovely meal. Drink in her beauty, and her intelligence. (She has both, in spades.)
And I’ll pay the price of having seen her vulnerability, her weakness, her self-doubt, just a little too clearly, a little too close: I’ll hang out deep in her friend zone, hearing her tales of sex – sex less interesting than what I might offer, with men she respects less than she respects me.
Because that’s how she feels safe.
Part 2 of this post, for some day:
The dates we would have, if I were able to conjure them.