When I first went to college, I had a single room. I decorated it in part with the names of all the boys I’d ever kissed/dated/cared about up till that point: I wrote the names in outline, then filled them in with markers, and they filled a corner of the room: Blue, Charlie, David, Pete, Tim, and more. When I left the room, the marker had bled through the paper onto the wall, and thus I left their names behind.
About 10 years ago, my friend Ruth told me that she visited a cemetery in Germany and the young man who was manning it was so cute that she developed an instant crush. I thought, “Oh, no. You mean that even when I’m in my 70s like Ruth, I’ll still be getting crushes?” I’d hoped I’d outgrow them.
I’m in my 50s now, and the crushes still come. Current crush: Justin. Why? He’s kind, friendly, intelligent, and musical. What more could anyone want? I’m also twice his age, which means it’s safe. I don’t have friends or relationships beyond the superficial. I help them, and that’s it. Except that when you have a crush, especially one based in reality (e.g., we have real things in common), your imagination takes you to fantasy-land where you’re sitting next to this person at a classical music concert and you’re in sync as you watch it; or you’re making love to the guy, and it’s a meld of music and intertwined bodies, and your bodies twist, melt, and become one.
Meanwhile, there are the real pleasures of being invited to go Christmas caroling two months before Christmas; playing in the pep band; working with sectionals; sharing political views, music and YouTube videos. As long as he never gets to know you, you’ll always have the possibility of being friends. So why tell him anything real? Why explain how you can’t walk into your back yard, and you can’t go to concerts or plays because fear prevents it, but you can hike. Why? Because he bakes you bread and brings you glazed doughnuts once a week? Because when you’re talking in a group, he’s always facing you? Because he tells you lots of things, from frustrations to triumphs? Because he tells you who he’s dating, and how the dates went?
I need to keep it in perspective. He’s just Justin. He’s helping me pass the time for the next 3 years until I can check out. I told my former therapist that I couldn’t have any relationships because I become too obsessed, then I end them, and he said, “If you were dying of thirst, wouldn’t you be obsessed with water?” Well, yeah. His analogy meant that since I’m dying from lack of human contact, I shouldn’t worry about my obsessive nature. I’ve never thought that a physical need, such as the need for water, was analogous to a psychological need. No worries. As much as I want Justin, I’ll stay away. I’ll keep him safe from me.