I spent so much of my youth being completely romantically inept around women, I had no idea how much guilt dating would entail.
I think about Erika constantly, though I haven’t heard from her since we last spoke a month ago. On a near daily basis, I look search online for houses and/or accounting instructor positions in Saint Louis. First off, aside from that angry email she sent me, everything else was great. I like to think that was a one time incident, and not an accurate glimpse of her dark side easily concealed by our distance. That said, I’m not sure if I want to be with her our of genuine affection, or if I’m trying to assuage my own guilt. I’m inclined to side with the latter possibility, because I also find myself thinking about Hollie. When I imagine rekindling things with Erika and moving to Saint Louis, my guilt from how I hurt Hollie jumps to the forefront of my mind, almost as if to make sure I can’t find any respite.
The thing is, if I could snap my fingers and make everything perfect, including changing history, right now, I think I would have rather never dated either of them. Hollie was pretty, sweet, and fun, but she and her mom were a package deal, and her mother’s hoarding problem was also a part of that package. Hollie also occasionally smoked, didn’t handle her money wisely, would only eat sushi and chicken nuggets, and had no intention of accommodating my physical desires because she presumed I would change if we got married. She was also a picky movie-watcher. We’d try to find something to watch on Netflix or Hulu, and Hollie would want something that was clean, but she wouldn’t watch anything that would make her cry.
Me: How about “Pete’s Dragon?”
Her: I’m afraid it’ll make me cry?
Me: How about “The BFG?”
Her: I’m afraid it’ll make me cry?
Me: How about [insert any other family friendly wholesome move?”
Her. I’m afraid it’ll make me cry?
Basically, that left us with either Transformers or Lego movies.
Erika was beautiful, charming, and has a great family, but she also had mental health issues, lived beyond her means, and was also a picky eater. I’m not sure if it was my doing, but both of my previous love interests have been picky eaters. Whereas Hollie would only eat two things, Erika’s only requirement was that it be as plain and flavorless as possible, unless it was a dessert. Also, as I alluded to a few sentences ago, Erika also had an issue with depression. I don’t want to sound condescending or elitist, but I’m not certain I’d want to be married to someone with her issues with depression. Doesn’t that require a spouse who’s especially equipped to deal with that issue? I remember one of her grievances she made to me in her angry email was in reference to a few days prior when I asked how she was doing and she responded that she was having a depression attack and asked that I pray for her. I responded by saying, “Will do.” I didn’t mean to sound flippant or detached in my response, but I was also having to go to work, teach class, help students while being sick, and I didn’t have the time or mental & emotional energy to…do whatever it was she thought I should do. Is that something I could handle as a spouse? Wouldn’t I be doing her a disservice if I married her and found myself incapable of addressing her emotional health issues? On a more superficial level, her body was very fickle. When we were physically romantic with each other, there was no pattern or consistency regarding what would make her feel good. Sometimes, it was massaging her face and scalp, sometimes it was giving her a back rub, other times it was giving her a foot massage. She would explicitly ask me to give some attention to a particular area, but she didn’t communicate that she enjoyed it very much as she received it. Her response was that it felt so good she couldn’t move, but I’d kind of wish she was more reactive to being physically touched. She also didn’t like my stubble. Anything other than being clean shaven would hurt her.
In addition to grieving those two relationships, I’m now also grieving breaking up with a hobby. In coming back to Athens, I imagined resuming involvement with my old Tae Kwon Do club with the University. For the past 13 years, I’ve been diligent in regularly drilling my old forms and exercises to stay in practice. It’s ironic that as soon as I return, my left leg would give out. I don’t know if the cartilage is gone or if there’s too much scar tissue from years of training, but I cannot hold some of those stances at all. Just this week, I’ve started experiencing a sharp pain in the back of my knee whenever I bend it. I read that symptom likely stems from overuse, but I worry I’m at the age in which any pain I experience remains with me for the rest of my life. I had an issue with “tennis elbow” several years ago that came about from doing my callisthenic routine. After I altered my behavior, the pain went away. I hope that holds true for this issue.
Also, I didn’t get the chance to write about the following because it happened right as Erika and I were breaking up, but Patches came back! I let my cats out after moving into my new house last September, I didn’t see patches for months. However, last January, she showed up. I can coax her inside, but after an hour, she gets anxious and wants to be let out. I’m thinking, “it’s freezing outside; how can you prefer to be out there than in here.” Nonetheless, she wants out, so I presume she must have somewhere else warm and dry she’d rather be. At least she shows up every morning and evening for food.