The Art of Giftwrapping and Dating

My Note: I had every intention to write this blog before the holidays, when the red cups start making their way to our every day coffee, the jingle bells start…jingling, and the crazies start fighting over the last cart or last parking lot. Needless to say, I didn’t get to start writing until a few days after Christmas. And now, it’s New Years Day. It’s still relevant, though.

The holiday season brings all kinds of emotions within us – of happy times we celebrate with loved ones, of feelings we feel when we see the lights or smell the scent of peppermint hot chocolate, or of memories we once shared with someone we wish were still in our lives. One of the things I look forward to is wrapping presents. A lot of people despise wrapping gifts. It’s definitely not for everyone. Decisions have to be made at every turn. What kind of gift wrapper do you buy? The design definitely matters. It’s the first thing that the receiver sees. Do you go for the expensive glittery kind, or just the regular cheap paper? Then, do you wrap a ribbon around it and go an extra mile with a bow? All of these to wow the person you’re giving the gift to, to make them feel special and deserving of whatever amazing is contained inside. I actually take time and effort into gift wrapping.

When you’re in the dating scene, how you present yourself is the same as being covered in gift wrap. So much judgement is placed based on how people perceive you. Dating, I’m learning, is mainly how people perceive you depending on their requirements and experiences in life. We all try to present ourselves to be as attractive as possible. Physically alone is a big deal. Let’s be honest, we all judge a book by its cover at first. Is his haircut too funky? Why are his eyes not equidistant to his nose? He looks too much like my cousin.

I just recently watched “The Ugly Truth” on one of those late nights you just can’t sleep for no apparent reason and the only options you have on TV are random movies or infomercials on skin tightening or some cookware. For those who haven’t seen the film it’s your typical cliche movie about bad boy guy who teaches good girl how to date, they go through some crap, there’s a love triangle, and everything smooths out in the last ten minutes of the movie for both to fall in love. There is one bit that really caught my attention as I’m trying to resist the urge to look for ice cream. Katherine Heigl pisses off Gerard Butler, who goes on a short rant and says the following:

That’s crap. They say they want romance, they say they want true love, but all they want is a check list. Is he perfect? Is he handsome? Is he a doctor? For you men who fit the criteria, don’t kid yourselves. Cuz they’re not sleeping with you, they’re sleeping with a carefully calculated set of venal choices. Money over substance, looks over soul, polished over principles. No gesture, no matter how real or romantic will ever compensate for a really impressive list of credentials.

That rant basically hit the core. It’s true. Dating is a carefully calculated set of choices, and the choices we make are based on the credentials of the other person. The other person boils down to nothing but a checklist. Only after they pass with flying colors (or no colors depending on circumstances and desperation) do we learn to look past their flaws as they look past ours. I, for one, now admit to this. I am guilty of doing this. Even with first glance of a person I can see my brain zooming through my checklist to make sure they fit a general criteria I have made up in my head. But, I will say this to defend myself: my criteria, my judgements, my checklist, I can honestly say, are not superficial. Rather, they are made based on my past experiences in being in a failed relationship. The ugly truth is, I am who I am because this is who I became. This is not who I was four years ago. Never would I have imagined I would be this, now.

Funny thing about wrapping gifts: so much time is placed on wrapping the gifts, but it only takes mere seconds to ravage through the gift wrap to get to the gift itself. Then, just because it’s been wrapped ever so delicately with ravishing decorative paper does not necessarily guarantee you get what you want. Such, is the ironic similarity with dating. You never know what you’ll get.


Night Terrors

Share a story where it was very difficult for you to forgive the perpetrator for wronging you, but you did it — you forgave them.

I don’t know how it started. It just did. There he was, and so was I. A conversation was happening like nothing had happened. We were going through the formalities of “Hi. Hello. How have you been?” He said he’s ok. Typical response, even though I can clearly see it in his eyes that he wasn’t. He’s in defense mode to look like he’s ok. “Finals have been rough. Stressful; a lot to do in a short period of time,” he says. That might be the reason behind his eyes. The conversation keeps going. He’s doing well with school, and he’s loving his high school teaching gig. His meetings are keeping him busy. I tell him about my life for the past 3 months. How I’ve been working at 2 different schools. The people I’ve met, and the new environment. He’s being playful. Frankly, so was I. Can’t remember how it happened but we ended up hugging each other.

I remember the touch of his skin, and how his hair feels as I ran my fingers through it. He gave me a little squeeze of a hug, but not letting go. This was my cue to hold on tight, too. I remember his smell. I’ve always told him it was distinct. He was the only one I knew with that smell (although, I have to admit there’s this one exception when a customer at work had almost the same scent as he did and it made me feel very confused). He breathes a sigh – not too heavy – but enough to know that he was content this moment happened and it turned out better than expected. I remember people, oh so many people!, passing by. Somehow we went from being in the privacy of our old room – his apartment – to a side walk cafe where people are just frantically going through and fro. Then, the topics to he and Steve. I have to pry over and over to get him to tell me about Steve. I remember that feeling of hearing the voices in my head battling it out. I know I shouldn’t ask because I already knew that the answer was going to devastate me. Again, I had to know for my own comfort without walking away not know what really happened. Maybe there’s a sliver of hope he’ll say he’s miserable without me, and that he regrets leaving me.

Nope. He says he’s happy with Steve. They’ve been official for a month now, since November. He’s really happy he decided to leave me for him, and that the sex is the best he’s had in a long time, he says. They’ve been spending a lot of time in each other’s house, and he’s really happy he’s with Steve now. He tells me that what we had for 4 years is over, and that he’s become a better person after making so many mistakes staying in our relationship. He’s glad he’s spending the holidays with Steve. He’s not planning to go home to his parents (drama – different story), and he’s glad to stay with Steve in the Bay Area instead. They’re both busy with their upcoming last semester of their Masters program that they both have a good excuse to stay here and not go home to their parents for the holidays. “Did I mention the sex is great?” he asks. “He’s aggressive. It’s like he knows me and does exactly what I want without me telling him anything.” Those words were what my voices were warning me this whole time. The pain is like a knife that pierces the heart. Sounds dramatic, I know. But, at that very moment he said those things I really did feel a tightening feeling in my chest. I guess it doesn’t make sense, unless you’ve been through something similar. Then you’d know. He basically concluded with the point that it was my fault that the breakup happened. That if I had been a better boyfriend he wouldn’t have been tempted to cheat on me the past 4 years. If I had been a better boyfriend, he wouldn’t have been tempted to meet all these guys online, and talk to them and do things. If I had been a better boyfriend, he wouldn’t have told Steve that he was in love with him, and waited to make sure that Steve liked him back before he broke up with me. If I had been a better boyfriend, he wouldn’t have fallen out of love two months before he broke up with me. Basically, I am miserable now because of me.

And then I woke up. Screaming. Shouting. Angry. Sad. Miserable.

There are other details to this dream that I can no longer fit into the puzzle. Like, my sister and a coworker was there. He, of all friends that I have, would be the last I thought would even be in any of my dreams. So random. All I remember is that they are there, by a fruit

stand in an outdoor market, hovering and keeping an eye on me. There was also an African woman, some kind of mystic. She was wearing bright orange clothes typical of African celebratory fashion, with a very bright orange headdress. I don’t know what they’re called. She was a person with some magic or witchcraft, but with eyes that were gentle. She was not scary at all. The only thing I vividly remember is that I am trying to cross this bridge, an over pass that crosses a freeway of some sort. This over pass was crowded, very crowded! People pushing and shoving, carrying their goods to be transported or sold for the day. It was hot and dusty, it was chaotic. Then, a hand grabs a hold of my arm and there she was. The mystic in orange. In that quick moment that she gets my attention she looks at me dead in the eyes, with a firm but gentle look, and she says in a reassuring voice, “Hang on tight. Don’t let go. It’ll be over.” I only remember her and my meeting with her an hour after I’ve been roughly jolted from my sleep at 6 in the morning. I don’t know where she comes from, who she is, or why she’s even in my dream.

I’ve been having dreams about him for the past 4 days. But each day the dream feels more and more real. This last one I can feel how he feels, feel the touch of his skin. I remember clearly his voice. And his smell. It’s so distinct I can clearly remember how it brings up memories of days long gone. It was real. I was there. The whole experience was like something I was actually living. It was his touch that freaked me out. How I can feel his skin. The whole dream was surreal, and unnerving. I thought I was making progress. I thought I was moving forward. But this feels like a major step back for me. A major blow to what little progress I was making in moving on with my life.

There are so many things I wish I could have done, so many things I wish I could’ve said. But there’s no turning back. Closure, they say, helps a person heal. Forgiveness, they say, is an important step to moving forward. That, you can’t really be over that person, that situation, if you can’t learn to forgive them in your own heart. Once you’ve forgiven them then you will find peace within yourself. But, how do you forgive the person whom you trusted the most but breaks it the worst? You give them your heart and your whole and they give it back to you in pieces. The worse part is that you crumble into a million pieces never to be the same person again. I know after this I have a much harder time trusting people, even the ones who are close to me already. There’s no guarantee they won’t leave me or hurt me like they did. And the saddest thing is I know I will not love again the same way. There will always be the hesitation. Always guarded. Always wondering if I’m setting myself up for heartache.

Forgiveness needs to happen. But only in due time. The heart still needs time to heal. Not enough time has gone by. Nor has it gone fast enough. In the end the only person you can trust, the only one you can truly depend on, is yourself.

Now, I just go to bed and sleep. I’m afraid, in all honesty. I can’t take a fifth night it in a row screaming and crying from a vivid dream with him. I’ve been trying to stay awake. I can’t fight the tiredness anymore. I wonder how he’s doing. I wonder if I’ll ever survive this. Time to cry myself to sleep. In the end, I am alone.

Dirty Hot

Work has been busy for me. It seems like I’m turning into a career man to keep myself occupied. New adventures that I’m trying to stay optimistic about. I must admit that’s not how it started out, nor were my intentions for myself. But I’m trying to move on. This isn’t what life has in store for me. I still have a long way to go.
A coworker is going through almost something similar as I am, but about 8 months ahead of me. She’s much better now and actually dating now. She’s my reminder that things will get better. Anyway, there’s this construction worker that’s been on a project at work for a couple of years. He’s not really her type to begin with. He’s usually dirty and covered in dust or paint. But, it’s the ruggedness and dirtiness that makes him look really manly hot. Definitely not your suit-and-tie type, but the get-down-and-dirty-and-sweat-and-build-things type. They’ve just had small talk before, especially since she was married. However, since she’s been single he hasn’t done anything. She’s been trying to hint at things, going out of her way to say hello and try to have conversation with him. She wasn’t sure if she was even putting out the correct signals, or if he’s just reading them wrong. I mean is been forever since she tried dating. And nothing… until the beginning of this week finally. He finally asked her on a dinner date.
She was nervous, of course. But it was a good reminder for her that she still got it. Despite the fact that the last time she was available for the dating scene was 16 years ago, she still has it. She can still attract a man’s attention. This was good for her. A person asking her out on a date in person , not through a dating website. And the best part is – he called her instead of texting. Don’t see that much these days. It’s good to see that she gets attention, and that she’s moving past her past.
I’ll be there soon. I’m much better now than I was before. The holidays will be good to me. Plus, there’s a Vegas trip (yeee!) coming up, which is going to be a very good reset. New year around the corner. I’m trying not to miss him too much just because it’s the holidays. I’m trying to do me. Focus on me and work on me.

Sex and the City with Chicken Soup

I just recently went through a break up, and that is why I am creating this blog. It’s as simple as that. Things were going well at work and with everything else when life reminded me it was there and I have to deal with it. Everyone keeps telling me I need to have a journal. It’s such a good outlet, they say. It’ll help you with your thoughts, they explain. Well, here I am. I’ll outright say that I’m definitely not the next Carrie from Sex and the City. Going through this break up has me riding the rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve been reading other blogs (mainly Chicken Soup for the Brokenhearted) and it somehow feels uplifting that someone else out there feels how I feel: like something that should not have been blended and has now exploded across the kitchen ceiling and floor but is too disgusting that not even the dog would dare taste it (imagine the color of Pepto Bismol).

However, despite the previous statement, I am slowly and surely moving to being better. Definitely, I am far off better now than I was 10 weeks ago when it happened. After weeks of crying senselessly in the shower, in bed, at work, on the drive to work, on the drive from work, and every other waking moment of my day and night, I started feeling better when I was finally honest with myself. After the grieving phase of poor me, why me I was finally able to honestly tell myself, It’s over, and it will never be the way it was before. Get over him. Coming to terms with that fact and telling yourself that hurts more than I thought it would. Ever since then I’ve consciously made efforts to be over him, over the situation, and start living life without him, live life about me, and live to be a better person. Truthfully speaking, there are still times when I stumble and fall. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t miss what we had before. I’ve been reminiscing what we had: the companionship lost, the daily routine, the conversations we have on our long drives to Ivanhoe. I’ve always had moments of missing what had been. But, today is the first time that I actually miss him. Today is the first time in a long time that I actually had that painful feeling of missing that person; wondering how he’s doing and what his plans are for the holidays. I think it’s the holidays that’s getting to me.

Anyhow, I hope to form this blog as an honest outlet of my life and my views. It’s coming from the perspective of a 29 year-old gay man, residing in the wonderful Bay Area, recently single, trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and move on, living life and whatever life throws at me, and a dog-owner. As I’m coming to learn, coming to terms with, it may not be perfect but this is who I am. This is me.