To Flip Or Not to Flip (Part 4 - Final Part)
To Flip or Not to Flip (Part 4)
Journal - May 5th, 2018:
“What of the hunger to know someone and be known? The need to consume a person whole and be consumed? But we, Jenna and I, have fed on each other so much over all these years. Only someone new can really crave any of it now.”
I suppose I had become cynical. But in seeing other women, I was reminded of the feverish need to know someone unknown to me in her entirety. Every part of a mind, a body.
And then the power of the written word.
Understandably, after all these years of being hounded for her opinion about one book as it came into being, and another, and then another, Jenna had only two remaining interests regarding my work: 1) whether it pleased me; and 2) when it was being published. That’s it.
Here were new women, though—in particular, the last, an author of fiction and poetry, a real talent, with whom I was together five months, and with which so much happened through the writing. For, in every line, every word, we tried to tell each other who we were, and to attract and arouse one another. While Jenna and I were far beyond this kind of foreplay. The industriousness of family, the pleasure of each other’s company—this was what we had. Which, to be sure, was a lot. But you might not know it unless it were gone.
“I don’t not want to be with women,” Jenna was telling me for the first time (though not the last). We were on our deck, a mid-summer night. “It would be like cutting off a piece of who I am.”
“Okay, but you know we won’t survive this way for much longer, not with you living one life and me another. We’ll wake up one day, and we’ll be living entirely separate lives. And, we’ll be over."
I wasn’t sure why, after ten months under this arrangement, I was so certain we’d implode, and soon. Not much appeared different between Jenna and I from at the start of seeing other women. But I felt something, yes, and I was about to hear about it; her private mind, that part of the self that must remain silent if the business of life is to go on, was about to grant me a viewing.
She said, “I know, it’s true, we won’t make it like this. But I’m not sure I can stop being with a woman.”
“Are you saying you’re done with men?”
“Well, no. I want to be with you. I do. I love you, and our life. But I also know that to not be with a woman would be very very hard. Maybe even impossible.”
Whatever existential maelstrom Jenna was paddling against, I could see it was in a far later stage than I knew.
“I can’t just turn it off,” she said.
I've been thinking of late about the human need to be seen. Is it not the subject of our time? Is it not, these days, prioritized above all other needs, ahead of being touched and perhaps, for some, even eating and sleeping?
But with those with whom we share romantic love, we require something additional. That is, being seen with fresh eyes. Better yet, eyes that remain awed by us throughout our aging and our many permutations. The alternative? Eyes which make us feel as if we are not vital creatures, that we are closing in on our expirations.
After years together with one person, however, is it possible to feel seen as an object of awe? Is it natural for eyes—eyes that have looked at the same person tens of thousands of times—to fulfill this critical need?
And then Jenna wants to experience herself being seen through the eyes of a woman. Obviously, this is something I cannot do. I cannot give her that feeling she gets when being looked at by a woman.
I cannot make love to her as a woman would, either.
But in time, sex with any one person follows the way of the eyes. So then what's to be done?
I was recently told by a person who’d just lost his wife of over forty years to cancer:
“The key to being with a person your whole life is to hold on and never let go.”
To me, this sounds right. You can hold on. You can not let go. I don’t think this is at all cynical or even unromantic. It’s just a choice. You either choose it, or, you choose something else (or, of course, have the choice made for you, by people, incident or natural causes).
And well, what of holding on too tightly? And what of letting go for a moment? Is it a moment too long? I suppose I’ll soon find out.
There are no villains in this story. Or, perhaps if there is, it's me, the one with the need to write it all down. This has attracted some unfavorable reviews. But I try to live honestly with myself (something which, for better or worse, requires writing for an audience of readers if it’s to happen at all; yes, look at me, so I can help myself better understand myself), and I will continue in this pursuit, faking it only when absolutely forced by circumstance, and avoiding at all costs the awful fate of being misunderstood by those who matter most to me. Thanks for reading. That’s all for now. JT