How To Embrace A Swamp Creature.


There’s an inherit unfairness in life. That’s nothing new or groundbreaking. I doubt a single person reading this is going to feel as if they just experienced a great revelation based solely on the fact that I just informed them of the inherit unfairness of love but sometimes, the vast amount of injustice makes me angry. Not irate. Just perturbed.

You see, I don’t like love. Love and I are not friends. We never have been and there was a time many years ago when I thought I hadn’t given love a fair shake but no sooner than I decided love was okay did some sort of sick black humor take root in my life in the form of death. You can’t have it all? Try “You can’t have anything that will make you happy ever so you might as well throw in the towel now.” I remember the day I decided to never fall in love. I was nineteen and it was a very conscious decision.  I wanted to be alone.

I didn’t believe in casual dating in high school or college, or after even really, but “after” is a whole different chapter of life altogether. My love life can be divided into three parts, evenly, all centered around the aforementioned game changer of loss in the form of death. These sections of my love life are fairly simple and easy to follow. There’s a “before”, an “after”, and a “post script”, which is what I’m living in now.

Before was boring, marked mainly by my only slightly undeserved reputation in high school and college as a heart breaker. I had suitors. I had gentlemen that would call daily, ask me to dances, bring me coffee to school.  And with each advance, I would spurn them. It was simple enough in my mind: I didn’t want to date. The whole point of dating was to get married, or at least enter a long term relationship, both of which I knew I didn’t want for at least years. So I didn’t date, much to the chagrin of a portion of Detroit’s male population in the late ’90’s. Such aversion to boys resulted in laughable lesbian rumors and, later, the nickname “soul crushing bitch”, which came about when a boy interested in me asked me to have sex with him. I laughed at him, if only for the fact that what guy asks a girl they barely talk to to fuck them in their van outside of a coffee shop in the suburbs? Reportedly, he had had a crush on me for sometime and I imagine his idiotic teenage libido kicked in, overtaking his urge to ask me out and replacing his intentions with the unsexiest proposition of sex ever. After our pathetic encounter, he made it a point to tell a number of my friends that I was a “soul crushing bitch” and use the analogy “You know how a normal person picks up a piece of fruit, says they don’t like it, and puts it down? Amber Valentine picks up that piece of fruit, smashes it against the wall, and then proclaims she didn’t like it.” It remains one of the better analogies I’ve heard a seventeen year old boy say.

Of course, some boy came along and changed my mind, with pretty, sad songs and an acoustic guitar and a wry sense of humor and a shyness that contrasted the mischievous smirk I got to know so well. With him was the first time I felt legitimately understood. And I think, once you lose that, it’s only natural to search for something to fill that void, a replacement of sorts. I didn’t do that, however. Instead, I swore off love. I didn’t want to date. I didn’t want to kiss or be kissed and I didn’t want anyone to look at me the way that he used to, the way that said I was special and that I mattered and that when he was with me, he was home.

There’s no graceful way to say that as a hot blooded female in her early twenties, eventually my resolve gave way to more carnal desires. Such resulted in a string of encounters that would make me blush if I had any shame. I don’t, however, so saying that there’s nary a rat infested alley in Chicago I didn’t make out with is an admission I’ll allow. As is the admission that places I’ve had sex include more public arenas than bedrooms. That lifestyle, however, gets old. And this is where I am:

For the first time, I am genuinely happy. I like where I am and I like who I spend my time with. I like what I do and I like myself and I’m content. So what do I do with it? Do I accept the fact that I’m enough of an undamaged individual now to try my hand at a relationship? Do I forget my disastrous attempt at being a good girlfriend that left me completely heartbroken and do I shove the horrible actions that followed that out of my head?

The great injustice is that there is a boy and I think, were things different, being with him wouldn’t just be a pipe dream but rather a pleasant reality. I met someone I like who I don’t think I’d push away, who seems to genuinely like me, despite my faults and bad habits and fickle nature, and it’s all a charming affair.

Or, rather, it would be if we lived in the same state.

We don’t though so instead, I go out and I drink and I kiss strange boys and they fall in love with me and I break their hearts and thus, my “post script” is starting to look a lot like my “before”, with Amber Valentine cast in the role of the emotionally damaged Lothario.  Only now, it’s a reputation I might deserve.


One Response to “How To Embrace A Swamp Creature.”

  1. Z Says:

    I believe that we all get one, genuine attempt at love. Maybe when we’re 13, or maybe when we’re 30… but if you blow it, it’s an instant game over that typically doesn’t come with any continues. So, after x amount of time through the casual encounter cycle to whatever extent, in an attempt to maybe bastardize the good-things-remembered of heartbreak, or death, or whatever it might have been; No matter who it is now, or how great you try to think they are after someone changed your life enough already in the past, they will always be at least a few states away.

    So yeah, it’s best to be happy with your life and what you do with it outside of what used to be its finer points on a subject that no one really understands these days anyhow.

    Breaking hearts is essential though, and you can’t ever stop doing that.

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