By now, you’ve probably realized that Sean and I are together. Married actually. He’s mine/I’m his in the sense that we are both totally autonomous individuals who happen to want to build a life together and have made a legal contract that has very little to do with our actual relationship. He’s not the Romeo to my Juliet but he is the Augustus Waters to my Hazel Grace Lancaster even if he does light his cigarettes.
By whatever metaphor, we are a team and also friends and lovers.
But did you know that there were people I was involved with before Sean? I s**t you not. Also kind of weird and amazing for a person whose primary self defense strategy is to withdraw utterly. That would be me, not Sean.
Anyway, at some point soon I would like to tell you about the impoverished and bedbug-infested thing that was my courtship of Sean, but today belongs to the almost was, the could have if only, and the oh god what was I thinking. Today is about my history, romantically.
Try to still respect me in the morning.
First off was… Actually no, we should go back further, deeper, harder.
When I was a kid my best friend was Steven Universe and we were kind of like peas and carrots, except not disgusting. Or at least that’s how I remember it. When my family had to move because reasons (reasons here means money) I had him over to our new home the next summer. As we were swimming in my grandmother’s ancient pool (literally older than I was by decades) he asked me if I ever considered dating anybody.
“Nah,” I said. “That still seems like something other people do.”
He nodded. If there was strong emotion attached to the nod I did not notice. I wouldn’t have, being me.
We continued to swim and soon after that we lost contact.
It took years for me to put two and two together and think maaaaaaybe I was being asked out. Whoops!
We eventually did reconnect somewhat through the magic of the internet. Like me he has a whole life of his own now and it looks like he’s doing great.
Now on to the first. Because Steven Universe notwithstanding (sorry, bro), I consider Faramir to be my first in basically all the things. Please understand I spent most of high school trying my hardest to make my friends laugh until their drinks came out their nose. We all got very good at this and I got not so good at anything romantic.
So in college I started hanging out with Faramir. We had been friends-ish in high school and he even asked me out once but I was not into it and he let it drop.
In our college years he seemed cooler or maybe I was just looking for an easy mark? I don’t know. I know I thought I was freakish for not having any kind of romantic interaction when my sister had boys literally lining up on our doorstep once. And he had cool friends and he was so into me, which is a huge attraction when you have no ego of your own. So I asked him out and we started dating.
He was my first kiss and the first person I had sex with. He was utterly kind and respected my needs always. But here’s the thing, me and my counselor are still working on me knowing my needs. No way in hell I had a clue then, and Faramir had only me to go on so… Basically we were doomed but damned if I didn’t drag the thing out. For. Years.
I don’t think I handled breaking up with him well at all. In my defense it was also my first breakup. He was badly hurt and, not because of him but for other reasons, so was I. It took a long time for us to become real friends again, and I would be an idiot to think there’s not still some history to be careful of there. But I really love Faramir. And so does Sean. I think there are alternate universes where maybe I was a bit less f****ed up or maybe started dating him after I worked on some of my own issues and in those universes I think we might still be together. It was a close thing.
After Faramir I was a huge douchecanoe and started sleeping with a huge douchecanoe after only a few months. Considering me and Faramir, who we are as people, a few months may as well have been immediately.
Why was sleeping with Huge Douchecanoe such a douchecanoe thing to do? Because he was our housemate. So I still lived with both Faramir and Douchecanoe, broke up with one and started sleeping with the other.
Ladies liked Douchecanoe. Everybody liked him. To this day people still tell me, “I miss Douchecanoe.” And then I tell them he’s dead to me but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
I’m part of everybody so of course I liked Douchecanoe. And I was getting into my recovery, starting to feel my own feelings for the first time in my life, so I experienced the kind of all-consuming infatuation that most people have and get over in high school. But I got it in my mid-twenties because if my life has something to do with anything, dignity isn’t it.
At the same time Douchecanoe was emotionally damaged himself. Lots of what me and many other ladies thought was simply having feelings for him felt weird and gross for him in a way I won’t even pretend like I really understand.
So Douchecanoe and I wound up having sex, but we weren’t together. Sometimes I would try to define things and we would become JUST friends for a while, and then he would initiate an intimate relationship again. And I was stupid, and I Loved Him, and so we would somehow abuse each other again.
Meanwhile he would lament “Why is it that every girl I get with goes crazy?” This is why, Dochecanoe. You play get-away-closer and we all go nuts.
Many years later, after Sean and I were an established THANG and had moved to a new state to further his career, Douchecanoe saw fit to send me some hate mail via the internet. I was neither the first nor the last woman he did this to. I don’t know why he does it. I have some guesses but they would be unfair without input from him. Anyway, I was told an explanation would come “soon.” I waited three days and then said f**k this s**t, and posted the letter, names omitted, publicly.
To the best of my knowledge, I AM the only one of his hate mail victims who’s done that. But as he wound up doing the same thing to at least one other woman later, I suppose he didn’t learn anything from the experience.
My favorite part, though, was his girlfriend telling me that, as said hate mail (which was vile) was privately sent, I should “keep it private.”
Yeah, nah. You attack me, I owe you nothing. But this level of self-actualization took years and a strong influx of Sean to achieve.
My infatuation with and recovery from Douchecanoe overlapped some other romantic (to some degree or other) relationships. And two of them meant so little to me that I can’t actually recall which happened first.
I have actually forgotten his name, though I remember his OKStupid handle. One-Up was what I called him at the time because he was a much needed boost and One-Up he shall forever remain. He had messaged me on OKStupid but I passed him up then. But, weirdly, he was the guy who fixed the machines at the laundry factory I worked at for a while (look, my apeshit crazy career is a whole other post), and so we eventually hooked up. He let me drink his Makers Mark, which I eventually replaced and also one time bought some crazy ass bright green shit that got us wasted as hell. His penis was finicky but he was a good kisser. Like really good. He was a decent conversationalist.
One weekend he didn’t set up a date for us. The next I texted him and we had a breakup date. He had already told me he was a serial monogamist and “If we keep seeing each other, this is going to turn into a relationship.” I cried for a day but he meant very little to me and I was soon over it. The only thing I would have done differently is I would have not given him that butter dish for his birthday. Serial monogamist shit coulda kept on keeping his butter in a box in the fridge like a heathen. But all in all it was a good experience for me at a time when I needed it.
The other one was Cocky Artist Boy. Another OKStupid find, I could probably recall his name if I try. (Especially as I think we are friends on Facebook. When one has cocky art to promote, one must be friends with as many as possible on social media I suppose.) (Sean: Hey! I make cocky art and promote it on social media! Mackey-purple: The irony wasn’t lost on me…) He was really really pretty and loved to talk about his projects. The place he lived was awesome and though I think we would agree about giggly, silly sex now, at the time I was a sad sack and could not appreciate it. He introduced me to peanut butter and bell pepper sandwiches but I prefer peanut butter and dill pickle. He faded out and came back a couple times before I asked him not to contact me anymore. Even if we were simply friends, I needed more reliable affection than I could get from him. Years later I unbent enough for distant Facebook association.
Towards the very end of my getting over Douchecanoe there was this one MAGfest. MAG is a video game and music convention a bunch of my friends go to every year. It is amazing and if you can ever go to one you absolutely should. At that MAG I was single and helping a good friend, Frank Jager, to promote a project of his (If I had the confidence then that I do now, boy could I have been a lot better at helping promote! Oh well, lost opportunities) and so he spent the weekend calling me his executive assistant.
At this same con was another young man by the name of Ness. You know the trope of the hot girl who doesn’t know it? Ness was/is the guy version of that. I had already seriously considered asking if he wanted to date, but I also barely knew him. That plus the long distance and his military career made me decide against it, but there was still that what if? looming there.
Now, as sometimes happens, we found ourselves drunk together at a room party.
“Ness,” I said, “I feel like there’s some sexual tension between us, and so I have to tell you that I don’t do convention hookups.”
And he made the most brilliant move in the entirety of my experience. “How about we just make out then?”
I dunno, maybe you had to be there, and be me. It was so candid and hopeful and, I probably really needed it, so we totally snuck off to his room and made out. Eventually one of us fell asleep. (What? We were really drunk.) To this day I still feel a little crushy and fluttery about Ness. Like there’s business that could have been finished but won’t be.
I headed back to the party in time to be the executive assistant who helped Jager try to climb several flights of stairs before giving up and taking the elevator to his 12th floor room.
“Mackey,” he told me, “Just go be where you want to be.” He’s got this ‘gotta look out for my buds’ thing. That and the ability to kick your ass are among his best qualilties.
“Where I want to be doesn’t exist.” I told him.
When we finally got to his room we cuddled for a bit until he drifted off. No shenanigans, just drunk friends sleeping it off. Midway through the night I made my way back to my own room. It was a MAGfest of much sneaking, for me.
The next Magfest was, I think, the first one I brought Sean to.