The thing about being fantastically good at being on one’s own is that reaching out becomes ridiculous. It becomes a sign of weakness, not viable. Sitting on my couch, sobbing compulsively, there is no one I want to call, no one who will not be inconvenienced by my sudden need of empathy. Of course they would understand. Of course it happens to everybody. The thing is, when you are the strong one, it is more than counterintuitive—it is unfeasible. The help that I need, it needs to come without me asking for it. I need someone who wants to care and support and carry me when I need it, even if those moments are indeed rare.
One night a few years ago, I got unbelievably drunk. I was having a great time and needed an escape from the stress, from the responsibilities. I ignored that moment, that shot I should not have taken. The greatest thing happened. I woke up utterly unaware of how I had gotten home. I was fully dressed, rightfully tucked in the utmost peaceful sleeping position and gently covered. I thought there is no way I put my own self to sleep like this. If I had come home alone, I would be sprawled sideways, totally naked and disheveled. I called my friend with the ever-so pleasant question: “what the fuck happened last night?”
– Funny you should ask, I’m walking with your knight and shining armor as we speak. Wanna talk to him?
– Yes… Wait, do I? Hello?
– How’s the head my dear?
– Oh, hey Tim*! Thank you so much for last night. I’m so sorry I got so drunk!!! * insert best embarrassed apologetic tone *
– That’s really ok. Happens to the best of us. We should grab coffee later- maybe I can enlighten you on some things.
– Yes, that would be lovely. Thanks again.
It only dawned on me then that I had put a target on Tim’s head half way through the night. I was going home with him, whether he was aware of that or not. Unfortunately, I ended up being the unaware one. He confessed to me later that day we had had great fun. I made him storm the stage where a band was playing, and run out wildly through the fire exit of the club. It was one of those typical Christine kind-of nights. He took me home and I fell asleep in the cab. I was so drunk he had to, as the perfect gentleman, resort to simply tucking me in. It was the gentlest anyone had been with me in a while. It compared with Joe’s hand gesture.
It was a grand gesture, utterly unexpected and exceedingly welcome. We eventually did sleep together, and it was as unpredicted. We had known each other for so long, and it had never crossed our minds before. We were not very close prior to that night, but gravitated in the same circles. He told me he had always thought of me as “so much older and professional.” I will never forget his exact words. He was older than me. I was a bartender. It seemed so unlikely to me that those would be the words he would choose to describe me. Now it resonates with my self-description as the strong one. Yet there is that contradicting side of me that made him do all those things, that person that I used to be much more often when I was younger.
That night I met a girl who would soon become someone very dear to me, Alicia*. She was my partner in crime that night, and so often since. She makes me do shots, even if reluctantly. I bring out the smoker and German-speaker in her. She is my sounding board so often and I will never be able to thank her enough for that. She never judges me. There are people in your life that just comfort you about the state of humanity. She is one of those people. Her support is one I never need to ask for.
I think that is partly why I do not understand people who think they can get all that they need from one person. It just does not seem possible. Love should come from all around you- from every single person in your life. Attention-seekers like me cannot be satisfied by one and only person. I need people like Alicia to ask me what is going on in my life with no agenda. I need people like Tim who are genuinely kind. Your special someone gets a special kind of love, one that is more passionate, sexual, but also more volatile and complicated. That love is the one that can turn to hate. The love I share with my friends is stable as a rock. The simple reminder of this helps me stop sobbing, when I am having a crisis on my couch, strangled by loneliness. I remember my favorite girls and boys and all that they do, have done and continue to do—simply because we love each other. But enough with the cheese now. Love is necessary for life. And so is a big, hard penis when you need one.