A Recorded Conversation

Me: "Here's my problem: I find it difficult to be in a relationship. And I worry. I do."

LC: "You told me before that you can't see yourself in a long-term relationship right now."

"Yes, I did say that. My parents have been married for twenty-six years. Sometimes, during dinner, I find myself staring at them, listening to their conversation, and watching how in sync they are."

"How does that make you feel?"

"Nothing. It makes me feel absolutely nothing. Though it makes me wonder about my future—alone or with somebody. And all of a sudden, I get seasick with rage and frustration."

 "You do feel something."

"Yes, but not towards my parents. I just want to say that I do respect and honor their marriage."

"Towards what then?"

"One of my favorite artists, Marlene Dumas, once said, "At the moment, my art is situated between the pornographic tendency to reveal everything and the erotic inclination to hide what it's all about." That's precisely how I feel."

"..."

"You know about my passed rendezvous." 

"Rendezvous. Interesting choice of word." 

"Well, what do you suggest I call them? They certainly were not relationships."

"Go on."

"When I'm with somebody, I have this notion of wanting to tell him about myself, my life, my secrets, and the unutterable things I've done—it's that pornographic tendency to reveal everything. Then, when I find myself in that situation, I immediately take fifty steps back and build an imaginary wall—it's that erotic inclination to hide what it's all about...what I'm all about."

"Normally when people do that it's because there's something they don't want to let go of. It is not tangible, it's more of an emotion. What happened to these rendezvous or, rather, the guys?"

"They went on with their lives, much like I did. There was no closure and that's what I loved about it. " 

"Your choice or theirs?" 

"I'm not quite sure how to answer that." 

"That's fine." 

 "What is it about not having closure that you love?"

"For me to need and want closure, IT would have to mean something." 

 "Don't you find that ironic? For it to mean something it would have to be more than a quote, unquote rendezvous."

"I disagree. Have you read my piece Three Days?"

"The one about the French-Filipino guy you met on an island in the Philippines?"

"Yes. Three days. Seventy-two hours. And I wrote bout him and our time together, which simply means IT meant something. Do you see my point?"

"It's not about how long you're with somebody. It's about the moments." 

"Exactly."

"Do you ever get lonely?" 

"I wouldn't say lonely. You know, that makes me realize how fortunate I am to be fully acquainted with solitude."

"Solitude. Let's talk about that. Do you think you've let solitude consume you?"

"I don't know. Is that possible?"

"An emotion has that power. Sure." 

"Ah, but solitude is not an emotion, right? It's not like being happy or terrified or angry. It's not something we can make up nor switch on and off."

"What is solitude to you?"

"An invisible companion. It goes where I go. It wanders beside me no matter who I'm with." 

"I read one of your pieces about solitude. It was thought-provoking."

"Thank you. I've thought about this: to be single in a generation where everyone wants to be conjoined, you sort of become like a rare vintage Tiffany lamp preserved within its glass vitrine. Have you seen one of those at the New-York Historical Society?"

"Yes, I have." 

"They're exquisite, aren't they?" 

"They are. Could it be that the thought of being in a relationship terrifies you because you're fearful of abandoning your invisible companion?"

"I've never thought of it that way." 

"Think about that and we'll discuss it when we meet again next week." 

"I will. You go ahead; I'll finish my tea."