Chemistry is weird. In school, we’re shown all these charts and formulas and led to believe that there is some actual science involved in making things do and react how we want them to. May be true with elements on the periodic table, but people? They are only periodically predictable. The rest of the time, it’s a fucking crap shoot, and makes no sense at all. And I love that.
The other night was a kind of magic night. All of the ingredients you can imagine were mixed together in a way that could only have been orchestrated by a divine power, or someone who writes chick flicks. The ingredients were perfect, and NOTHING came of it. I love it.
I arrived early for a gallery walk downtown and had half an hour to kill. The sun was out, bands were playing, people were splayed in myriad manner in a display that was more botanical than human. I convinced myself that my coffee was wine and that I was enjoying the scenery in a foreign country. I stood on the street corner, waiting for the light to change, and a beautiful man came up to me and said, “you’re alone, I’m alone, why should either one of us be alone?” I thought about it for a moment and said, “we shouldn’t.” Right?!
To back up a bit…. Still reeling from a bad break-up, which ultimately got me out of an exceedingly bad – borderline abusive – relationship, and I’m not looking for anything other than a great relationship with myself. But I’m on fire, in a lot of ways, and I think it shows. Like the triumphant survivor emerging from a burning building, backlit by defiance and radiating with new life, claimed rather than given. When I say that this man was beautiful, it is a rare instance of me using understatement. We had actually been introduced, briefly, by a mutual friend a few years ago, and at the time I remarked to my friend that he may be the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. He didn’t remember that, I felt no need to remind him. Meanwhile, elsewhere in my orbit, a few men have captured my imagination, heart and soul, and it feels great, though I am moving with the sloggish and innocent uncertainty of a child learning to walk. And I intend to stay that way.
Okay, street corner. I explain that I am meeting a friend in half an hour. He takes my hand, laces his fingers through mine and we begin to wander in the sun through art galleries and blossoming pedestrians. Conversation is as easy and warm as that first Hot Buttered Rum after a long day of skiing. Our steps align perfectly, we hold hands, make eye contact when we talk – the whole 9 yards. People watch us walk by. We joke about it a bit, because the connection between us was immediate and intimate, there is something here.
But “that” is not there.
Me being me, I have to give it a chance, try a few experiments to see if I can find it. I mean, really, this guy is gorgeous, smart, kind, wise, gentle, successful, I’d be an idiot not to at least want it to be there. I am mostly not an idiot. (Well, 60% of the time, I’m not an idiot, every time.) So, you name it. We are looking at art and he says that he can think of nothing but kissing me. So we kiss. Spectacular lips. All night, he is doing things like tucking my hair behind my ears, running his finger along my collarbone. Seriously, all women deserve to have a night in which a beautiful man treats her like this. To be looked at as if they are candy and listened to as if they contain the generous wisdom of ages. It was perfect.
And nothing. It’s not there.
And that made me so happy. So happy. Even at the time, it seemed to me that there was a hard-earned wisdom in being able to recognize the difference between chemistry and connection. To recognize that just because something looks perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean it resonates on the inside. That I don’t have to seize everything that passes by and horde it because I am not starving and there is no drought of opportunity out there.
But more than that, to have learned that I deserve to have what I want. Yes, it’s lovely to be wanted, my ego needs that as much as anyone’s. But it is not ultimately as nourishing as getting what I want.
And what I want is chemistry. I want to not be able to control my thought patterns and impulses. I want to surrender to the unpredictable froth that bubbles up and creates something new, in defiance of logic, and drips into crevices of my soul that I didn’t know existed, much less needed nourishing.
It scares me. I’ve felt it a few times before, and in every case, I’ve been hurt. I’ve asked myself, “when will you learn?” in the past. I’ve changed the question, it’s now, “what did you learn?” I’ve learned that I want to risk it. I’ve learned that we discover the new things that we need on the boundaries of what we know. People are creatures of comfort, slightly xenophobic by nature. I’ve learned that I would rather risk it, wander on the edges of what I can interpret and predict. I would rather learn from loss than live in fear. I’ve learned that the experiment is a good one, just the ingredients need a little tweaking, I will get it right eventually.
Chemistry involves experimentation and caution. But you have to try things to discover things. And the most important part of “proceed with caution,” is proceed. Learn from your mistakes, redesign the tests, go again.
This man was so beautiful, in every way. But the chemistry wasn’t there. I thanked him for a beautiful, indeed a life-changing night, and said good bye. Then went home and did what I always do. Wrote. To someone I wanted to write to. Intensely.
And let all those chemical reactions run wild inside of myself, not to be shared, but to fuel me along my own process. The smallest spark is all it takes. I am not capable of controlling the things that stir inside of me. And I have learned that to squoosh and silence them causes me pain. Like all these crazy gasses cooped up in a tube with a tight stopper on it, something bad will happen. I would rather let it flow, and glow, and provide the back-lighting through which I appear triumphant and brave, in my own eyes.
It’s just chemistry, that’s all. You can’t fake it. You can’t fight it. And nothing happens without it.