Sunday, February 26, 2006

Back at Nothing

[Not sure if I ever posted this...I wrote it a while ago and shelved it. But on a night when I'm feeling wistful in the waning hours of my escape from my New York life, it seemed somehow appropriate to share it now. --EDK] I was sitting there at dinner with him, when I felt the change, like a click of a gear, or my breath stopping, or heartbeat skipping. It wasn’t anything he’d said, or his tone or body language that told me where I was. But suddenly, everything was altered, and not in the way I’d hoped for. My mood went from mirthful to mournful in a moment, and something in my eyes or face must have changed, too, because he noticed the shift. What’s wrong? he asked. Nothing, I said, because nothing was all I had to say. In the beginning, when I think there’s something, it all comes down to nothing. I thought he felt something, and he felt nothing. Nothing ever happens. Nothing is what it seemed to be. Nothing is what I’d expected—nothing but hope, that is, and hope has once again amounted to nothing. And there was nothing else to say. At that moment, I had realized where I was again. Back where I always end up. Wherever you go, there you are and always have been, as I always am, regardless of miles traveled on highways or through occasionally turbulent skies; regardless of the presence of leg or cleavage shown or the suggestive tint of lipstick; regardless of the hope springing eternal and the belief in my intrinsic, still-unacknowledged worth; regardless of how closely I’d listened and how well I’d understood. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Back at nothing is where you are when you realize that you’ve misinterpreted everything at every possible turn. Easy smiles and emotional nakedness do not a romantic connection make. In fact, the recipe may differ from circumstance to circumstance, city to city, but the resulting dish is always disappointment: yields one serving. Once again, I’ll be dining alone. That moment of a hushed eureka was one of pure understanding, pure disappointment. It extended beyond the reach of ordinary silence. There was simply nothing else to say.

18 comments:

Passionate Life said...

Esther,

Those are the most difficult moments. It is when the realization hits us squarely that the hope has been dashed, that is the darkest moment. There are no words to ease the pain of that moment. It is a brutal evocative moment that touches us at our core. Because when hope leaves we have very little left. The world darkens before us and the possibility of light is not visible on the horizon.

That is the painful reality of singledom. It touches each and every one of us at some point in our dating cycle. I wish you much strength in overcoming this dark moment. Know that all of us singles out there are part of this fraternity and in such moments we should all be leaning on each other and sharing our shoulders.

The one good thing about these moments are that they tend to hit us late at night when we feel the most vulnerable. As painful as it is in that dark moment, things really do begin looking up in the light of day.

May the light of hope and love engulf you in the very near future.

P-Life ;-)

Anonymous said...

Someone once said that dating is like war. You get shot, it is piercingly painful ... but then you have to get up and get back to the fight again. Since dating is a numbers game, it is very important to remember that in spite of the pain, we must endure and unfortunately ... the only way to move on is to take the risk of experiencing the pain again and again until we find the one we are meant to be with.

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Chutzpah said...

Someone one told me to think of being back at the beginning not as being back at the same point in a flat circle, but as being one level higher in a spiral. I don't know why, but that seemed to help.

VJ said...

The way that this is described it's almost as if a state of grace has silently fallen away Esther.

In my experience, and those of many guys, this moment is usually absent any sort of gracefulness or silence. It's typically noisy and tumultuous, filled with torment and anguish. Screaming, the renting of garments, and threats are not infrequent accompaniment to any break up. Police might be called to remove you from the premises, even if it may be your home. In severe cases damage to your property is almost a given. Even in the 'good' instances, you lose much more than a future with your once beloved. The TV, the car, the couch, cards, letters etc...

For the 'never quite there' dates, there's the sidelong glance at your humble Ford Escort, the grimaced smile at your threadbare jacket, and the silent addition of your not quite up to snuff possible & expected future earning state. The dull handshake at the end. The not quite bronze medal kiss off. Brilliant conversation just never was all that 'marketable'. Great knowledge of the world beyond just always a bit too 'serious'.

By the end of my dating experience, I was doing it mainly for sporting purposes. By golly, I could Make you interesting, no matter how dull and lifeless you appeared. With enough questions I could find out the most amazing things about people. Your granddad played the Ukulele with Arthur Godfrey? Why do tell! Your Great Uncle went down with/survived the Hood/Yorktown? Great! Tell us all about it!

Ancient stuff I was really good at. I stopped when I found someone else who was also good at this ancient stuff, and who appreciated the talent. How much so? Well on our honeymoon we stopped the car at a local library to look up when Louie Mountbatten had died. I had seen the boat blow up and thought it was 1980. She knew it was 1979. She was right.

So I guess the bottom line here is that I'd recommend looking more for entertainment values rather than enlightenment. With some good chops, (and we know you've got 'em), you'll come away less disappointed, and at the very least entertained a bit.

Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

TM (Jewlicious) said...

You have to forgive me because I don't mean to make light of a difficult moment or situation...but you may have misread that moment. For all you know, he may have passed gas and was a little embarrassed that this happened in your presence.

Seriously, there is no "moment" because he could have gone home and had another "moment" where he thought you're the greatest thing since sliced bread.

On the other hand, if suddenly you become morose because you are second-guessing his "moment," you could end up making him think that you are a morose person or someone whose moods have extremes...and that could kill any possibility of him having that other "moment," the one where he thinks you are God's gift to him.

Anonymous said...

Some very perceptive comments here from TM, but I'm uncertain if they apply to what Esther described. But for about 95% of the guys, it really pays not to over think the issue. Think dogs. Really. Not just dogs as in 'You dirty dog!', but as in mostly simple and basic.

S, Once you're wounded in war, you are rarely sent back to the front, and almost never after several or multiple serious wounds. Worse still, you rarely are sent there of your own volition. This is why humans were not meant to be at war for generations, nor dating for 15-20 years either.

And Chutzpah, That's a thumbnail description of Buddhism, right?
Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

TM (Jewlicious) said...

Hey Esther, I think this article might be worth a review on this site:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200603/online-love

Chutzpah said...

Not into worshipping squat fatman idols VJ...a Rabbi must have told me that spirals are in the Kabbalah.

Men are just impossible to figure out, one minute it's "let's have a baby" and then 15 months later it's "I never loved you from day one", yet I have never misunderstood my pet Shi Tzu over our 14 years together. Panting by the door means "I have to pee", standing by the food bowl means "I want to eat" and everything else means "I'll love you unconditionally for as long as I shall live".

TM (Jewlicious) said...

Chutzpah, how do you know the dog loves you? I mean, he may just be playing the food angle.

VJ said...

All good points Chutzpah. And if you're 'Not into worshipping squat fatman idols', this of course wipes out probably better than 50% of Jewish men your age. (Work with us here...) And no, "let's have a baby" is not mutually exclusive of 'I never loved you', a year later. You really have to sell at the top of the market, just like everyone else. 'Buyers remorse' affects us all, given enough time. And I'm still uncertain if this is what Esther was describing. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

VJ said...

All good points Chutzpah. And if you're 'Not into worshipping squat fatman idols', this of course wipes out probably better than 50% of Jewish men your age. (Work with us here...) And no, "let's have a baby" is not mutually exclusive of 'I never loved you', a year later. You really have to sell at the top of the market, just like everyone else. 'Buyers remorse' affects us all, given enough time. And I'm still uncertain if this is what Esther was describing. Cheers & Good Luck! 'VJ'

Esther Kustanowitz said...

Hey all...thanks for your comments. Dating is war, dating is a game, dating is undefinable, dating is unpredictable? All of these things just indicate that there's no knowing how anyone is going to react to anyone.

TM, I understand your willingness to believe that this moment was a flatulent one, but believe me that was not the case.

Sadly, and inexplicably, there was no follow-up moment in which the person in question suddenly understands that I'm as awesome as sliced carbs. (mmm...carbs). I know it will come. And I know it will have been worth waiting for. All that said, I'd rather not wait another two decades...

Eve said...

you are, without a doubt, more awesome than sliced carbs. and that is just a fact, my dear.

writersbloc gal said...

i SO hear you on all this. To think there's something and to wind up with nothing. And to have all the little details of the past make sense. I'm dealing with the same. My thoughts are with you.

lrklalala said...

Sigh. I' right there with you , Esther, times ten. Why times ten, you ask? Because last week I ventured into the realm of speed dating. So. 10 guys. None of them mean, dumb, even politically incorrect (ok, maybe one or two). And one or two of them even made me laugh. I scintillated and made good conversatio, often out of nothing much. No matches for me.

So I'm subscribing, today, to the theory that every one of those guys brought me that much closer to being with my Basherte. So, my hearty thanks to them.

And then I think "Yes, but this process of elimination has gone on for quite some time now -- can't we cut to the chase?" I could do with fewer "good dating stories for my standup routine" and have more days, week,s years with my husband and children yet to be....

And on the third hand, like you, Esther, I know it will happen, my Basherte and I will find each other, it will be worth the wait.

lrklalala said...

Sigh. I' right there with you , Esther, times ten. Why times ten, you ask? Because last week I ventured into the realm of speed dating. So. 10 guys. None of them mean, dumb, even politically incorrect (ok, maybe one or two). And one or two of them even made me laugh. I scintillated and made good conversatio, often out of nothing much. No matches for me.

So I'm subscribing, today, to the theory that every one of those guys brought me that much closer to being with my Basherte. So, my hearty thanks to them.

And then I think "Yes, but this process of elimination has gone on for quite some time now -- can't we cut to the chase?" I could do with fewer "good dating stories for my standup routine" and have more days, week,s years with my husband and children yet to be....

And on the third hand, like you, Esther, I know it will happen, my Basherte and I will find each other, it will be worth the wait.

ninabeth said...

Esther, you will find your beshert. Just hang in there.

Anonymous said...

So Irklala ... why out of 10 potentials all of whom you readily admit were decent guys ... wasn't there one or two that you could go on a date with?

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