Octopus Arms knew how to kiss. Stretching up toward his six-foot-seven inch frame, I struggled to reach him, but did my best.
He found me through reading my stories here and emailed saying he loved the honesty in my writing. He actually quoted some of my words, and I melted into the possibility that he might be a serious contender.
We met on a Thursday. Driving up to the restaurant, I spotted him waiting for me on the sidewalk and almost crashed my car trying to park.
Octopus Arms swallowed me with those rubber limbs that seemed to circle around me twice. His tentacles grabbed on to the part of me that hopes.
With a bubble floating firmly around us, we flirted over dinner as fireworks shot across the room shattering glasses and flower vases.
Over the course of several meetings, I found the courage to reveal some of my sticky parts to him. For weeks, I tripped over my own feet wondering about our compatibility.
In hindsight, I believe I knew from day one that it wouldn’t work, and that is precisely why I couldn’t relax. I foolishly tried to outrun goodbye and prove my gut wrong.
Our brief courtship ended when I finally acknowledged that the octopus and I weren’t a good fit. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; we simply didn’t see eye to eye on some really important stuff.
The problem is, I have a lot of trouble saying goodbye. I still wanted to put my hands on his face and hear his stories. I wanted to bottle the good stuff, and here it comes, “change” the things that didn’t work for me.
Because I’m a grown up now, I know I can’t do that anymore.
My comedienne friend, Katie Rubin, did a bit the other night about her codependent brain. She says, when she’s in her “Co-brain,” she treats the men she dates like the tea she buys.
If she buys a cup of tea and doesn’t like it, she’ll do everything in her power to make the tea what she wishes it were.
She’ll dress it up, fix it, flavor it, spice it, sweeten it, and reheat it again before even considering the idea that maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t like that tea.
She’d rather load the tea with stevia, almond milk, and honey than have to, God forbid, “start all over with a new tea.”
She says when she’s in her “Co-brain,” she’s the same way with dudes. She thinks, “He’s rude, arrogant, and self-absorbed, but he’s here. And I don’t want to have to go out and find another one.”
So are we lazy? I don’t think so. It’s difficult enough to find the courage to reveal ourselves to one person, let alone several. Saying goodbye meant I would have to start all over and let the parts of the octopus I adored, go for good.
For me, loss sometimes gets shoved into the same pot, whether it is a little loss or a big one. It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve read that our brains can’t differentiate.
The hurt goes into the same part of our brain, so we grieve too much on some things that aren’t so tremendous.
The good news is, if we practice reminding ourselves that certain losses need to go in the appropriate pot, the pattern can change. Essentially, the grown up tells the kid inside that this deficit isn’t like the others.
Our final discussion was short and to the point. Octopus Arms didn’t disagree with me or try to change my mind.
To clear my thoughts, I headed from his house straight to hot yoga. Balancing like a monkey on one foot, I let the pain drip imagining our last kiss that accidentally happened on my way out his door. He’s smooth. I’ll give him that.
When I got home, I made an important call to order my favorite carnitas. While eating said carnitas, I watched the season finale of Girls where a dramatic reconnecting of the two main characters ended with the guy breaking a door down to scoop the girl into his arms.
That, I did not need. It made me miss the way the octopus kissed my forehead. It made me miss the bond that almost developed between us.
It made me miss the sparkly thing I wanted to be there, that wasn’t. I missed my fantasy.
With guacamole smeared on my knuckles, I turned the television off and realized everything would be all right.
The difference between Michelle now and Michelle circa 2008 is the younger version of me wouldn’t have let Octopus Arms go.
She would have broken her back morphing into what she thought he wanted, while trying to change the things about him that didn’t’ work for her. She would have poured more sugar in the tea.
I pout when Shawshank Redemption ends, when I have to leave people I know I’ll see in a couple days, and when I run out of those Trader Joe’s cinnamon and sugar pita chips.
I hate loss like I hate that sound mating cats make in the depths of a sweltering night.
But guess what? It’s part of life and once again, I survived the dismount.
Walking through the hard thing did not kill me, and for that I am grateful and stronger.
Image credit: sayhelloshop on Etsy