Rethinking Marina

It’s been nearly two years since Marina and I came apart.

My time with Marina was unbelievably fun. We cared deeply for one another. Loved one another, if it’s possible for two people who’ve never met, who are separated by a continent, and who have decades between them, to love one another. Maybe a more perspective-ful way of understanding it at this distance might require some other word. I don’t know.

Marina was incredibly giving, generous, thoughtful, smart, kind. Open, willing, interested, curious.

I, on the other hand, was, mostly, psychotic.

We started our long-distance distant buddy thing in the fall of 2019. It really picked up in the winter of 2019/2020, and, by the time quarantine rolled around, we were hot and heavy. We relied on one another enormously to get ourselves through the early days of the pandemic, spending hours of back-and-forth together, with Marina dutifully sending me thousands of photos, hundreds of videos, hundreds of orgasms. We Zoomed together, we came together. We spoke most days on the phone, or via voice notes we exchanged. We were virtual quarantine buddies.

Everything was good and, for the most part, easy, until Marina started hankering for a little actual, live, in-person sex. For this? I was useless. Three thousand miles and a pandemic separated us. Honestly, in another time, I might well have traveled to see her. In this time? It simply wasn’t possible. As quarantine started loosening, as she began to explore the real world outside of the computer and the fiber optic and satellite networks connecting us, things started getting rough. She had sex with a few people, but, most important, with W, a man – a friend of hers – with whom, by the end of her and my relationship, she had taken up in true couple form.

Their burgeoning, developing romance drove me ’round the bend. My jealousy, my envy, my rage, my terror, my insecurity – all were in full flower, and any pretense I might have had of being a normal human being simply evaporated. My demands of her multiplied in number, in complexity, in intrusiveness. And, inevitably, they conspired – with her burgeoning romance – to push her away from me. By the time July 2020 rolled around (or maybe it was August – I’m not sure, and I’m not looking back, at the moment, to see), the fix was in, and neither of us could deny it. I think, in the final analysis, I was the one who finally said, “We need to stop this madness.” As I recall, after weeks of gracelessness, of bullying, demanding, whining, moaning, complaining, I finally, finally said, “I don’t think this is good for either of us, but especially, not for you; I think you need distance from me, and I think you can’t take it, so I’m giving it to you.”

  1. I’m generally not a fan of one person purporting to identify the needs of another.
  2. I think I was correct in this instance.

In the now nearly two years since then, Marina and I haven’t (really) been in touch. She sent me an incredibly thoughtful, honest, vulnerable – and generous – essay some months after we came apart, pondering everything, apologizing for some things, blaming me for none, helping me understand her relationship to our relationship some months later. I responded with a shitty (not cruel or mean, I think; just sort of… phoned-in) voice memo. She responded with a short memo. I responded with a shorter one. And that was that.

Once or twice since then, I’ve sent her a note – “Just thinking of you,” or some such. The digital equivalent of shouting down a well. She hasn’t replied.

I find it… baffling? Devastating? Maybe simply sadly inevitable (or inevitably sad?). That we’re simply not in touch.

Marina inhabits a strange space: I’ve never been that close to someone who then simply excised me from her life. I hate it. I hate it in a selfish, egotistical, narcissistic way. And, I hate it in a genuine way: I am sad. I care about Marina. I want to know what’s going on in her life. Her relationships. I Google her from time to time – never to any real effect. She has a namesake who lives not far from where she lived when I knew her who isn’t her, who swamps the Google results. If I narrow it down to exclude that person, I come up with the slimmest of pickings – a web presence that’s gestural, at best, and that tells me nothing I didn’t know two years ago. I don’t really know how to (or whether I can) fix it.

I mean, the bottom line is, “I’m sorry.” I think in many ways I violated the campsite rule with her; my insanity at the time, my psychotic neediness, was destructive, and may well have done (her) damage that extended beyond our relationship. I feel tremendous regret about this.

In my contemporary relationships, this psychosis haunts me (and others) in a penumbral sort of way. I’m not the insane, controlling, scared, jealous man I was back then; I am nonetheless capable of being insane, controlling, scared, and jealous. For the most part, I keep all this in check. Occasionally, my psychosis emerges. (Just ask Charlotte.)

Marina, though, serves as a cautionary tale to me: If I don’t keep my psychotic anxieties in check, I will lose what I care about. That is a certainty.

One day, I imagine, I hope, Marina and I will become friendly again. I really hope so. I would love to know what’s up with her, what she’s doing, what she cares about, whom she cares about. How she spends her days, the problems she’s struggling with, the thinks she thinks.

Until then, though, I’m left alone with my thoughts about her. Sending good vibes her way. And regrets.

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