On this night, at this time, I was extremely upset – at her, at myself, at life, at the addictions that felt like they were thrust upon me by some external deity with a grudge, at why nothing made sense like it was supposed to; it wasn’t supposed to be like this. A professional job means money, upwards mobility in all the ways that matter, and the personal life was supposed to follow in lockstep.
I was never much for social functions, especially ones related to work – for a whole laundry list of reasons I wasn’t aware of, and a few that I was aware of, I never felt comfortable in social gatherings even if I could act the part quite well. It all just seemed so pointless to me. When I was “forced” into these situations, and people would engage me in what I regarded as practically sub-human dialogue, I had a negative, tangible, physical reaction to it.
I would sweat a bit because I was nervous that with so many people around, I might be “found out”; that somehow my contempt for everyone and the world at large would slip through the cracks of my industrial visage and be laid to bare for all to see. My stomach would churn, and I would never eat at these sorts of functions; to take a microscopic “stand” by proving that I may have to be here against my will, but I won’t eat your food (even if it looks tasty).
But most of all, I just never knew what to do; like, for real – I didn’t know how to mingle really, and I didn’t really like meeting new people because, let’s be honest, I would find a reason to be dissapointed eventually – it was a statistical guarantee that the longer I “knew” you, the more reasons I had to dislike you. But, in any event, my “go to” move was to find one activity that would “look interesting” to any external observer, such that me engaging in said activity would not arouse more than a passing glance; but it was passably amusing to me that I could continue doing it over and over until it was socially acceptable for me to make up an excuse and leave.
So, to say that deciding to go to a work-related social function, close to a holiday, on an evening where I had been drinking with an ex-girlfriend, and proceeded to get into a drunken fight with said ex-girlfriend, was an out of character move for me would be an understatement. But, at the time, my logic was something along the lines of: fuck her, I will go get drunk “over here” and have fun, so that next time we talk I can subtly remind her that I had a good time after she was such a raging bitch. It’s not something I say with any amount of pride, but it’s an accurate depiction of my self-serving nature at the time.
I had sort of just been hired at this job too – and the owner kind of took a chance on me, so there was some amount of personal debt and loyalty I felt I owed him. A reasonable person may have considered this, sobered up, driven home, and moved on with their life. I don’t specifically recall if I considered it or not, but between those points of getting out of my car and searching for the door to his house, there was no consideration to be found.
It was many years ago, and at that time, as well as many times subsequent to it, I drank a lot; so, I don’t remember specifically the time, I think it was about 10 or 11PM; I remember it being late enough that I was concerned that maybe I was showing up too late and there would be no party left to attend; which is an odd concern, given that I just spent a paragraph or two above explaining why I hated parties. But, in all honesty, the concern wasn’t that no one would be left to party with, it’s that the convenient excuses (read: people) for me drinking free alcohol would be gone.
The apartment was kind of luxury for the city we all lived and worked in, but not so high-end that there was a doorman or anything – but, still, it was a lot nicer than my three room palace about two miles away. I remember walking in the door, and everyone was huddled around on the floor, playing Cards Against Humanity. Now, I had never heard about this game at all – the internet was a thing, and I used it all the time, but I specifically avoided anything that even remotely classified as “millennial”, “pop culture”, or “new” (unless it was of direct relevance to my interests or job). A card game, was not relevant in my world.
Despite having never heard of it, when they asked if I knew how to play, I’m pretty sure I pulled out the social black belt and attacked with my strongest move like it was M. Bison: “Yeah .. but, it’s been awhile, I’m not sure. I’ll remember once I play it a bit.” Nailed it! No one suspects a thing. I’m starting to feel that physical feeling of being uncomfortable at these sorts of events; it’s not because I’ve been here for like two minutes and have probably lied twice; no, I just need a drink to relax and everything will be fine.
To the best of my recollection, I think I started to mill around a bit and pretend like I was checking out the house, because that’s a thing that most people would do, right? Sure, that’s the perfect excuse for me to ask inane questions and pretend to engage in conversation, because that would pass the time, so I could drink more and finally leave. I remember the apartment and the furniture being insanely white; like, white stuff is nice and all that, but the whiteness going on here was like a Klan rally but with furniture and desks and shit.
It’s always been interesting to me how the things that we regard as pivotal moments in our lives, those sort of “epoch” moments that serve as the delineations between “before then” and “after then”, are remembered differently by the people intimately involved in them. And it’s been studied in science, that the mental movies and feelings we recall from many years ago in very important emotional moments are, in fact, not how they happened at all. Distances are different, durations are not what we recall, and in general it’s all quite fuzzy.
In that context, and with that understanding, I can say without any hesitation or doubt in my mind that the following moment was the first or second most powerful, consuming, and armor piercing event of my life. I have this extremely vivid image in my brain of her, sitting on a white couch, legs crossed, in a dress and heels, with an vibe that said something to the effect of “I’d rather be putting babies on spikes.” Ok, maybe not that last part, but I certainly got the distinct impression that she was not digging the event on any meaningful level.
And most amazing to me was that there was no one else really around her. And she was absolutely beautiful – like, aren’t beautiful people supposed to be surrounded by other people at all times? I’d say that I’m pretty good at articulating stuff with words when the situation demands it, but trying to translate the gravity of that moment and what my physical and spiritual senses were transmitting to me, is something I am unable to do. I have tried many, many times to do so, and it’s not just that the words don’t seem to do it justice, it’s that any combination I come up with seems insulting – the very act of trying to describe it cheapens that moment, and that feeling, and it lessens me as a person for even trying to attempt it.
When I first saw her, it was like time froze in my brain, which is something that usually moved very quickly; the inertial shock of my mind suddenly stopping was extremely unsettling to me, and only server to underscore the impact of the moment. I will be honest, I don’t remember anything for the next few minutes. The next thing I remember is playing Cards Against Humanity, and she kept trying to get the card about the cum guzzling Pacman. Definitely my kind of chick.
After that, and I don’t remember how, she and I were talking on the couch (separate couches because depending on my mental state I could be super aggressive or super passive, and I was so unsettled from the moment when I saw her that being aggressive seemed the wrong move). I think we talked about work and stuff, and I do believe we exchanged numbers. This was like … I cannot tell you how monumental that was for me.
All my adult life up to that point, the selection criteria for intimate partners in my life went something like this:
- Are you demonstrably weaker intellectually than I am?
- Do you have self-esteem and self-worth issues?
- Are you engaged in a pattern of self-destruction of everything beautiful in life?
- Do you not want kids, but want to lie to each other about a family someday?
- Are you willing to do all kinds of drugs and sexual shit because I saw that Motley Crue ‘Behind The Music’ episode and that shit sounds awesome?
If they answered yes to all, or some, of those questions, I was in; and the reason I was in was because they fit the pattern of people I could control. And if for whatever reason I lost control – well, it never would’ve worked out anyway because they were too dumb, too self-destructive, or they didn’t watch ‘Behind the Music’. The price of admission was the justification for being thrown out of the venue; and the rationale for being thrown out was the existence of the admission ticket.
She seemed like the exact opposite of everything I had ever been drawn to – professional, dressed sharp, funny, naturally intelligent, strong, independent, and stunningly attractive to boot. And we exchanged numbers. What great and glorious thing had I done to please the Powers That Be for them to bestow such an awesome gift upon me? I don’t even remember that vividly how the party ended, but it did at some point, and I remember being so devastated – and it was especially odd, because it wasn’t really about the free alcohol anymore. For that moment, anyway.
Even for the most cynical bastards on the planet, there’s always a few small parts of your soul that still exist, no matter how much brick and mortar you bury them under. People may never see it, to be sure; in fact, the most vicious people I have ever met are so vicious because they are trying to fill in these corners of their soul, and they cannot. Their inability to destroy the last vestiges of empathy and love inside themselves drives them absolutely mad, and they manifest that anger and vitriol onto the rest of us as punishment.
Driving home that night, it felt like these corners of my soul were lit up; that whatever sustained them throughout the decades of self-inflicted personal warfare had finally stirred from its long slumber; and it was most displeased with what it observed. The first and most poignant manifestation of its dismay was a very visceral feeling that if I had used my “powers for good” and developed along different paths, I could be worthy of the love and affection of a person so pure, so perfect, so .. idyllic. I would change, I would change “in time”, and I would do my best to be the person who I knew I was capable of being, but had never found any compelling reason to do so. I now had that reason, I had the reason, and I now possessed the justification to look any one or any situation in the face, and proudy and confidently say “I did it for her.”
It was the warrior mentality in full force, which I have written about previously. Instead of using all my capabilities to crush everything around me that I felt needed to be dealt with, I would dedicate all of my energy to reshaping myself as a person so-as-to prove myself to her and do whatever was necessary; the more ridiculous the ask, the more proud I would be when I accomplished the task. Personal pain, sacrifice, and suffering would be the metrics by which I would “prove” my devotion; the slings and arrows I would happily stand in front off, an afterthought.
It was probably right at this moment where the separation of her as a person, versus her as a conception in my mind, occurred. Anyone who has been through something similar to this will immediately “get it”, but the general idea is that who she was in reality and who she was in my mind were distinct, but linked. And that’s not to imply any negative connotation – it is to illustrate that I was able to use the idealized, mythological version of her in my head to never have take responsibility for any of her actions because, well, she’s perfect.
And, as icing on the original delusion, I barely knew her at this time! I’d met her literally once, and the impact was so profound that less than a few hours later, I’m preparing to radically alter my life to accommodate an idealized version of someone who I barely know – but, as radical as that sounds, it was and still does, kind of make sense to me.
I cannot possibly overstate the earth-shattering impact meeting her for the first time had on me. It wasn’t just a chink in the armor (which had protected me from every form of attack for many years); it was a deep cut through it and to the actual flesh underneath. And regardless of what sort of grandiose plans I was making with this person I had just met, meeting her created a breath of life into my soul, like a furnace coming alive after being dormant – slowly at first, but quickly it become obvious that the structures built around it would have to make adjustments or fail completely.
I did not immediately turn my life around despite some efforts to the contrary, and despite the passion I have tried to imbue into the words about her, I subsequently betrayed her and myself in all the ways that we say we never will.
I have finally made those changes that I started to feel in that moment, in what seems like a lifetime ago. My own actions, mistakes, and cruelty aside, that moment is still as impactful as it ever has been for me, maybe more so. It was the catalyst for changes that would take years to manifest themselves, for my own personal transformation, and for the positive impacts I have been able to have on others since then. For all these reasons, and countless others, I can confidently say that she saved my life, for the first time, the day we met.
I do think, in retrospect, I was guided to that party which I did not want to attend. That, in some way, it was the universe sending the equivalent of a telegram, being like “If this doesn’t wake you the fuck up, we’re cancelling your subscription” (or some equally tortured metaphor for death).
I will always be grateful for that day, that evening, that party, and for her. The perspective and feelings which have resulted from my relationship with her transcend all definitions of scientific plausibility, and served as a second catalyst for my own spiritual awakening years later. In that sense, she saved my soul, too.
Like Golem and The Ring, she is precious to me.
It is difficult to “end” things that are deeply emotional when I write about them.