(I’d like to preface this by saying that I really DID try to break this up over several days, but each mini-point bleeds into the next. Thus, I say this: read this in sections if you need to, but please don’t just skip the entry. I’m going somewhere with this.)

It’s been a while, readers. Where have I been? Busy, mostly, filling my days with work and filling my nights with a boy, or going to bed early to make up for not getting any sleep the night before. I have put some miles on my body, via treadmill, and my liver, via vodka.

I sense that I’m back now. There was much I couldn’t tell you, much questions, much boring plot summary that you wouldn’t want to hear. And an endless death loop of “what’s going on here? should I be getting attached or watching my back? Is it too soon to just ask?”

Answers: I don’t know, watch your back, yes.

Some people find the initial dance of meeting someone bizarrely exhilarating. The thrill of the hunt or some such. I do not. I find it annoying, tiring and a little demeaning. Every day is this slow ticktock of over-analyzing every little stupid thing, trying to figure out if some guy likes you or if he’s going to abruptly stop calling. I think that this may be why women are always so damn pushy about defining relationships.

There’s this unspoken rule that, time and nudity aside, if you’re not in a committed relationship, the guy can just walk away. He can hit the previous track button and pretend the whole thing didn’t happen. He doesn’t owe you any explanations because, technically, you’re not allowed to get upset. You were just hanging out, and if you were getting attached it’s your own damn fault. The Dropping Someone Like They’re Hot thing still happens in actual relationships, but it’s a little less likely. At least this is what I tell myself. Otherwise, I’d just buy a Wii and never leave the house.

I understand the rules. I have been guilty of hitting the metaphorical previous track button. I know how much easier it is. Strangely, though, my stupid girl brain keeps going. It wonders what it did wrong. It wonders when it did the wrong thing. It wonders why whatever guy in question changed his mind.

Thing is, the only way to stop all the stupid questions is to ask them and you and I both know that you don’t REALLY want to know the whole truth of the answers. Even worse is when someone is too nice to even say “hey, let’s just forget this all happened.” I learned this lesson more than 10 years ago when someone clearly had no further use for me but kept telling me “don’t be a stranger” and “come hang out.” Instead of seeing a subtextual “fuck you” for what it was, the “fuck you” just took 6 or 7 months and cost me parts of my self-respect I still haven’t recovered. I kept trying because I liked him so much as my friend, but two people can’t be friends when the other person feels rejected. A friendship is between equals, and that poor guy couldn’t even look me in the eye anymore.

In my defense, I was ten years younger and had much less guy experience then. I was crueler than I should have been because I had never been on the other side. I had never been ditched. I had never been the rejected one. The one looking at the floor. That was back when I’d been half-assing my relationships. Once I started whole-assing them, I started being the one slinking away, knife-backed, staring at her shoes. My success rate was so much better ten years ago, when I was shy, skinnier, crazier, younger, and dumping every guy before the 3-month mark.

What happened? I realized that half-assing my “relationships” wasn’t good for me, my life path or whatever poor soul ended up dating me. I blame my cat for this. It’s a ballsy thing to bring a life into yours, knowing that you will fall in love but you will also outlive the other life. Even scarier: HOPING that you outlive the other life, because that’s the only way you can make good on the promise you made when you brought that life into yours. It’s the promise of Forever:

“Even if you get old and incontinent, even if you hate me, even if you claw my couch, I will feed and love you for however long you live. When you die, you will do so in my arms, and probably because I have to put you out of your misery. The last way I will be able to do right by you will be to let you go.”

Murphy taught me about the Forever. Even in my darkest, most depressed days when I wanted to just kill myself, he would look at me with big blue eyes, reminding me that I promised him Forever, which I can’t guarantee if I off myself.

Wait, that wasn’t supposed to be present-tense. I am not currently suicidal, no no. Any suicidal tendencies I may have ever had in my life melted away watching Diah’s mom having to bury her son’s ashes. That was the second time I’d had to watch a mother bury her child, and I have no intention of voluntarily inflicting that on my mom. Anyway, where were we?

Forever is a mighty long time, and I didn’t grasp that until a 14-pound cat sauntered into my life and made me his bitch. I understand now. It’s not about finding perfection. It’s about finding someone who’s worth the trouble. It’s not about someone who doesn’t annoy you at all. It’s about finding someone who annoys you much less than everyone else. It’s about finding someone and realizing that you life would be lessened if they weren’t it in.

Part of me wishes that I’d learned this sooner. Part of me is glad that I didn’t, as the breakups hurt much more when you’ve let someone get a good hard look at what lies inside the castle walls, beyond the dragon-filled moat. The consolation of the pain is knowing that you didn’t half-ass things. You went in with guns blazing, lost the battle, and still lived to tell the tale.