It was not my first time at the rodeo that is the Hamptons, tagging along with friends to stay with distant relatives or friends of friends because we sure as hell couldn’t afford to summer there. But this time, I actually went to a bar and mingled with true Hamptonians. My friend’s friend’s dad owned the bar, which was highly convenient for our drinking. So when the man I was to date came up to me, I can’t honestly say that I remember much about it. I do know that I was wearing an extremely short dress, that somehow evoked childishness. And I was with my most childish friends, acting most foolishly.
Which isn’t to say that he was pedophiliac or anything. We met at a bar, which clearly showed that I was over 21. I simply didn’t understand what would attract such an established person as a Hamptonian to an immature freeloader like me.
The wealth disparity was quite evident on our few dates. When he talked about the management costs of an architecturally exquisite building, I was staring at an out-of-place whitewashed wall a few rooftops away. When he talked about going boating, I squinted my eyes and wondered if he was kidding. And when he mentioned the intramural softball league he was a part of at work, I smiled condescendingly.
It was an interesting phenomenon that I thought I was better than him. He and I had intelligent conversations and he had a wonderfully maintained body and his apartment made it very clear that he did well for himself, and yet… I think my superiority came from a sense that he was out of touch with what was truly important. Maintenance costs on a building you aren’t even considering is not worth the time or effort. He didn’t even properly summer in the Hamptons, he rent shared! I just felt as though he was striving for things that were still out of his reach, in a way that reeked of unhappiness.
Although perhaps he lives in that building now and the maintenance costs are actually relevant. I hope so. And I hope he still puts lotion on his feet before he puts on his cashmere socks.
Even I saw the value in that habit.
I’ve been back in New York for about a week now. I’ve found it rather lackluster, to be perfectly frank. Perhaps that’s because I had to go to a wedding. I am not a fan of weddings. Remind me to elope.
I am also acutely aware of how much I suck at keeping in touch with people when I’m abroad. And then fitting myself into people’s already busy lives is difficult when I’m here.
I’m also stressed out about the stupid storage unit that I have here, which I’ve finally decided to get rid of. It is an extremely annoying process and just thinking about it creates a knot of anxiety. I need to stop procrastinating it, but I honestly don’t know how to deal with it most efficiently.
This is supposed to be vacation, damn it. No stress!
It is always disconcerting when I see pictures of him with our mutual friends. Or worse, when I enter a party and see him sitting there on the couch like it’s no big deal. I always momentarily freak out, before I compose myself and act like an adult.
I feel bad about dating him, which is probably why I want to erase it. I wasn’t ready to date. I was still so sad about having broken up with my ex. I would have dated anyone. So of course I choose someone with whom it didn’t work.
I remember sitting with our drinks, overlooking the water. And he was so enthralled with my wit and intelligence and humor. And I was pleased at the attention. But I didn’t feel any emotions toward him, just pleasure with myself.
I remember sitting waiting for the movie to start. And he was so disappointed with my inability to be witty or intelligent or humorous. He kept wanting to know what was wrong. And I was so furious at the attention. But I wasn’t even mad at him, just furious at myself.
I remember being in his house and realizing his mother was also there and being horrified. But he didn’t seem to care. What a different breed of Arab, to be so nonchalant about his mother knowing he brings women home. And she made us sandwiches, so kindly, although I made sure she never actually saw me. I couldn’t be nonchalant about his mother knowing I go home with men.
I felt so volatile with him. But none of my emotional turmoil stemmed from him. I never felt any real attachment or feels about him. He was just another one of the many men I’ve dated…
I went to Istanbul for the first few days of my summer vacation because why not? I saw two mosques and a former mosque, the Hagia Sophia. It was under construction and sorely in need of the renovations, which I found ironic considering it charged an admission. Other mosques that didn’t charge admission had far better upkeep. I asked the friend I was with what he thought the money went towards, and he gestured towards the metal detectors and admission booth and security. Amusingly, I think he was probably right.
Istanbul as a whole was quite cute. Winding, narrow cobblestone streets, up and down the hilly coast. I ate kofte every day. People spoke Turkish at me sometimes (my ethnic look is malleable, I’ve learned in my travels,) and I literally had never heard anything like it before. It sounds like no language I have any knowledge of and if I were to mimic it, I would just make gibberish, garbled sounds. Sometimes when Turkish people spoke English, they kept the garbled sound and it was difficult to understand them. And none of the signage was in English, so I was extremely thankful I was with friend who knew their way around, and that we had the Internet to search for everything before we ventured out. But if I had been born a Turk, in that picturesque coastal city, I think it would be quite an enjoyable life.
“But I thought we were going to get married.”
Those were his words when I told him that I was leaving the country. I had nodded in sad agreement. It had only been three months together, but we clicked in that long-term kind of way. We spent almost every night and day together that summer. I was temping and he was half-employed and we had all the time in that world of three months to know everything about each other.
“You’ll get a new girlfriend in no time!”
I had insisted that cheerfully, to assuage the loneliness that would immediately pile in him when I was gone. He had disagreed, but I knew him. He was a serial monogamist and loved women and wouldn’t be alone for long. And I had become a serial monogamist too, thanks to him. Relationships were good and helped one make the right choices in life. Leaving America was the right choice, despite the loss. It was the most adult decision of my life, and I couldn’t have done it without him.
“We’ll keep in touch.”
He had insisted that was what we would do. I had agreed, but half-heatedly. Neither of us was in any way interested in a long distance relationship, and a platonic long distance friendship wasn’t really appealing to us either. Turning our relationship into anything other than what it was would immediately kill it. We didn’t keep in touch.
“You were right.”
He said, when we met up a year later. He had gotten a new girlfriend in no time. I had gotten a new boyfriend in no time. Neither of the relationships had worked, but it was amusing to reflect on them together. He lamented his ex’s inability to be laid back. I lamented my ex’s inability to be stable. We lamented our new relationships’ inabilities to be like ours had been.
“You guys were just fucking around though.”
The words of his friend, not him. And we had looked at each other with panic, to assure ourselves that was not at all what it had been. And he had changed the subject to tell a story from his past. I interrupted halfway through to finish it for him, laughing at the ridiculous antics contained within the tale. And we smiled, assured.