How The Hair and I dated for as long as we did, I’ll never know. Well, when I say dated, I mean broke up and got back together like 47 times within the space of one year. This was probably because we had zero to none things in common. He was a Jew from Louisiana who was a high school dropout, worked in tech and had crazy ADHD. I was drawn to him precisely because of what a complete mystery he was to me and everything I knew about the world. And, he rode a motorcycle. So. Obvs.
By the time I met The Hair, I was 29 and while I wasn’t running around like a maniac every weekend (I had found this thing called yogging), I still had mornings where I emailed things like, “Connecticut and I were just meeting for dinner, and it spiraled. Went to a Thai place in the Burg and then her friend met us, and we drank wine at the Thai place, then Connecticut wanted dessert so we went to The Counting Room and drank more wine and then ended up at the Whiskey Brooklyn with picklebacks and a bowl of bacon.” NB: this is verbatim from an actual email in my archives.
To say that drunkenly freebasing pork by-products was not The Hair’s MO, was an understatement. He was older, and while it wasn’t a huge difference, my 29 was definitely a lot more
immature free-spirited than his…38? Let’s call it 38. I don’t remember our age gap, but I do remember the whole “We’re not in the same Life Stage blah blah yawn get over it old man” thing was frequently cited as a reason for us not to be together. (I mean he was 100% correct but whatever, rude).
See, the thing with meeting people online is that the whole Process is such a dumpster fire that everyone just says Yes! to everything. Initially. You ignore things like age, sartorial heinousness, how many trains it’ll take you to get to his apartment, alcoholism, oh you have a cat I hate cats and am highly allergic who cares I’ll pop an Allegra and let’s grab a drink — and then at some point have to do the very inelegant dance of
ghosting extricating yourself from a very obvious Haha Oops No Thank You situation.
So in spite of being Not a Match, on paper (lol and in actuality), The Hair and I began dating. The beginning of our relationship was halting and polite. It felt like actual Dating, and not the garden variety get hammered and meet up somewhere “dating” to which I had grown accustomed.
I lived in Williamsburg and The Hair lived in Long Island City, so Greenpoint became the DMZ from which we would, after dinner, stand awkwardly in the G station hemming and hawing about if we should have a sleepover and
if he decided yes if so, whose apartment to go back to (always his). Nothing was ever A Given with him. There was always an early morning meeting or a friend crashing or a debilitating inability to open up to anyone or a hangnail that could derail our plans, and leave me disappointed, walking alone toward the Graham Ave bound track.
On one of our first dates we braved the frigid frigid night to check out a new pizza place that had just opened. In the only starting to be colonized Greenpoint, we found ourselves in a turn-of-the-century carriage house that was about to be the newest hipsteryest pizza place, Paulie Gee’s. Word had not yet gotten out about the transcendence of their pizza, and there were maybe two other tables seated. But, as the place would soon become known for, Paulie walked around all night drinking who knows what out of an Oslo Coffee cup, schmoozing each table, telling nonsensical stories and showing terrible dad-taking-pictures-on-an-iPad photos of the renovation. With the bill came his homemade shh it’s a secret and I’m not supposed to serve it but I like you guys limoncello and some more rambling conversation. The Hair and I bantered with Paulie, and each other, and it was one of the rare times we were actually in sync.
When The Hair and I were On, our relationship felt Important and real and fun and adult, and I’d be all like omggg This. Is. It. Register us at Cabela’s and teach me how to make jambalaya because here we goooo. But, yeah, no. When you are young and craving connection, searching for meaning, the most non-committal “We should check that place out sometime” or smallest smile across a table can feel like a Costco size bag of breadcrumbs leading you into the false sense of security fantasyland, from which you eventually have to Hansel and Gretel your way out.
After the initial phase of courtship passed and it no longer felt compulsory to meet at a bar or restaurant as an excuse to hang out, we mostly hibernated in his huge, illegal loft. A commercial space, he ran his business out of the ground floor office. On the second floor, he had slapped up some sheetrock and created two bedrooms at either end of the space. In between, a cavern of cement and cinder block acted as living room, kitchen, home gym and office.
Ten years ago, Long Island City was one shitty bodega, one boring bar and one mediocre Thai place. The rest was intersections of elevated subways and highways, yards of defunct trains and industry in varying states of abandonment. It was like the scary New York from Ghost and literally no one lived there. So, it was completely unsurprising that he lived on the set of Law and Order SVU’s SWF Gets Murdered Yet Again episode. The first time we went to his place after a dinner, I had to remind myself that if he was actually going to murder me, he probably would have done so already. And, he had a female roommate, who was as yet unmurdered so it was all probably supes kosh.
The Hair’s roommate was completely uninterested in me. She was tall and cool and tall and edgy and tall. She worked for some music/culture website, which made her even cooler (and taller) and she did things like juice cleanses which I did too if you count just drinking wine for dinner. IT COUNTS. The Roommate was also from somewhere Southerny and had known The Hair since they were both young and scrappy and in K-holes at warehouse parties and making it in the Big City so they were all bonded and something heartwarming like that or whatever and I was not at all the third wheel and not at all jealous ok.
Our nights fell into a pattern fairly quickly: They would cook something and I would watch, we would eat and I would attempt to chime in, we’d settle down on the couch for some kind of Alaskan Klondike Tundra Haulers show and I’d feign interest and enjoyment. Then we’d (only him and I jeez it’s not that kind of story) go to bed, have great sex and fall asleep with nary a concilatory spoon in sight.
Before you’re all like wow this is très depressing EMG, he so did not meet your needs (except in the bedroom amiritehighfive) and sort of sounds like a
dick curmudgeon, I should just say — you’re right. However, while The Hair was defo a bit of a curm, I also had none boundaries and advocated for myself 0⁰ times. NB: One night he cooked me an elk steak. As someone who has had an on-again off-again relationship with meat for most of her adult life, my v whatevs this is a toats normal meal for me omg yummm honey such a mountain man grrr yasss more rare elk pls approach to the whole dinner was a true testament to how much I did not want to give him any hint whatsoever as to the fact that we were one thousand percent not meant to be together.
Just in case he himself hadn’t figured it out.
I was in a moment of my life where I was really trying to figure out who I was and really was just along for the ride. From Go, I was extremely insecure in the relationship and my own Enoughness. Rigidity can come across as confidence and at the time, I mistook his inability to be inclusive or flexible as him being
withholding and snobby Cool and Grown Up. Here was someone who owned a business, had disposable income and made artichokes with béarnaise sauce (gawd gross) for dinner at 9PM on a Tuesday. Surviving my life on credit cards scotch tape, shoe strings, microwaved Amy’s burritos and an adjunct salary, I was immediately intimidated.
This is not to say I wasn’t sort-of happy in the relationship. He was gentle and caring when his attention was focused, and would send me home with homemade jambalaya or make giant pancakes for us on a Saturday morning. On a random Saturday he would text and tell me to put boots on because we were taking the motorcycle out to Jones Beach. The Hair was one of those people you really had to earn your laughs from, and the occasions when he favored me with one of those from the toes, eyes deeply creased in the corners Laughs, were moments I would bask in and hold on to.
So, I was not miserable, I just wanted More. More of his attention, more of his time, more than a random weekend or an embarrassingly predictable “What’s up?” text that came every Tuesday night when I was at St. John’s, letting my night class out early because I knew the text was coming, and even though I swore that every Tuesday I would not respond, there I was hauling myself from the ass end of Queens to Long Island City, cursing train delays or missed buses because our time together was already so limited.
Every few weeks I would psyche myself up and tell Best Friend that tonight was The Night. I was going to go over there once and for all to demand things for myself and give him a piece of my mind: more consistent communication! keep a toothbrush at his house! I hate Arctic Crab Hunter Intervention! your friends should know who I am! please stop making bernaise sauce!
You know. The ūsezh.
The only time we ever had a real conversation about us, about what each of us wanted, was after we had broken up. I had, you are shocked to your core to hear, started a blog to process my feelings about him, about dating, about feeling so EFFING FED UP with the entire deal. In some
v painfully obvious thinly veiled attempt to reach out and be like Hi I still exist and am cool and don’t need you but like if you happen to read this and want to reach out or whatever I might maybe answer your text and come right over, I included The Hair on the mass email I sent out announcing my new creative endeavor.
One awkward text led to another and we found ourselves sitting at No Name Bar on Manhattan Avenue, having, for the first time, a very real conversation about very real things. We talked about Us and life, and our families and what we wanted for the future. We both probably knew it was never going to work out, but there we were single and
wanting to jump each other’s bones feeling more connected than we ever had, so duh, we got back together.
This was maybe November’ish? We had a blissful little honeymoon period of being Together As An Actual Couple, you guys. I even went out to dinner with his friends and everything. And, because apparently, this is my thing, we threw a New Year’s Eve party together. It came together pretty spontaneously, but it felt fun and like a Real Couple thing to do. So much of dating when you’re young (and with the wrong person) is performative coupledom. It’s like here, let’s plan A Thing. If we make this thing together maybe we can convince ourselves that we’re actually in this and this is real and I don’t have to be single again. And, it’s cool and all but eventually ends up feeling hollow.
New Year’s Eve was a miserable miserable weather night, the kind of pouring rain that makes a mockery of umbrellas and dashing to hail a cab. My friends, being loyal and amazing people, made it out to the wastelands of Long Island City and we had a really fun night. The Hair and I threw a great party and took some cute Hipstamatic pics together. For some reason the pictures from that night are all blurry. But, in a way, that seems fitting because as a couple we were never really in focus, never really nuanced.
A couple weeks into the new year The Hair and I broke up again and this time for good. While we liked each other and both were craving connection, we had to finally admit that we just weren’t It for each other. Connection doesn’t come from work or hanging in there or
making yourself completely invisible at the expense of your sanity trying to like what they like. Connection just Is.
I wanted affection and spontaneity and someone who would leap with me. I wanted a little glimpse of that marrow sucking sense of adventure that The Hipster and I had.
A few months into that year, that’s precisely what I got. And what a fucking mess that was.