ColumnOur love and relationships columnist weighs in on winter, women, and welcoming the come-what-may.
In my late teens, I stumbled (clumsily, with the fevered passion of a young person just learning to sniff out the pheromones of the opposite sex) into a relationship with a dark-eyed boy who had the fullest lips and strongest biceps of anybody I’d ever seen. We empowered one another in our young, exploratory passions, and he left my body crawling with unabated animal urgency.
A few years down the road, came another man whose muscled legs and vast mental catalog of the world’s literary masters mesmerized me. There was overlap, the shameful but giddy awkwardness of an affair, and the new guy and I ran away with one another from Austin, Texas to San Francisco. A few more years down the road, came another one with a globe-trotting music career and emotional intelligence on par with some wizened, bearded ascetic. I was hooked and promptly moved into his apartment.
At some point, however, this lifetime of love was too much for me. I’d been lucky to have taken up with adoring and kind men. But a cloying sense of – I don’t know what – took root in me. After parting on compassionate, amicable terms with my latest long-time boyfriend, I packed a week’s worth of clothing in a small suitcase and bought a one-way ticket to Berlin.
Ten years after all this sometimes selfish, always delirious shacking up, I now come home at the end of the day to a child-sized single bed in a completely empty room occupied with nothing else but the contents of the aforementioned luggage. My habitat is quiet, my heart is crystalline in its clarity, and my mind is no longer buzzing with white noise. It’s just me, my professional ambitions, my new friends, and an abiding sense of silence.
In the past, I felt sorry for people who were single. They must be so lonely, I thought. I was, of course, wrong. What I have lately lost in constant companionship, I have gained in self-examination and access to something much bigger than my previous shelter of endless dyadic reflection. It took me months to start dating again, and I’m glad for the time I allowed myself to simply be. It’s astonishing to understand just how little I knew about men and women, love and dating.
Six months ago, when EcoSalon’s editor Sara Ost invited me to launch this weekly column, I had no idea what was in store for me as a woman, as a writer, and as a contributor to a cultural conversation about modern love. This gig was a serendipitous fluke, and in the intervening period in Europe I have found myself occupying what is, at least for me and in my own small way, a brave new world–next month, I have my final visa appointment to become a long-term resident of the E.U.
It’s something to grow up, have boys hurt your heart, and to wake up one morning with the discovery you’re really you. For the first time in my life, I’m just me, with no other identity markers than those of my own self-reliance and a completely new community of my own making. I’m grateful for my friends. I’m buoyed by my family. What’s more, I’m floored by all of you who have been generous enough to encourage – and challenge – me along the way.
Thank you for sending me letters, friending me on Facebook and, most importantly, opening up and sharing your experiences with me. The more people make contact with one another, the fewer strangers there are in the world. We can all be anchors for one another, and it’s a supreme honor and gift to share the love.
It’s nightfall here in Berlin, and already the weather is cold – with the beastly, Northernly winter already beginning to slink through the streets here. The forthcoming season will be endlessly dark, uniformly gray, and chill me in a way I’ve never known. I welcome it.
Sex By Numbers is an ongoing look into the emotional and sexual lives of the modern day woman. Follow Abigail Wick weekly here for insight and inspiration as she explores the “sex” of women and the terrain they must travel.
Image: le xav