Friday, January 4, 2008

W4W and Me: You Defy Description

This past year, after each of two tough, but very different break-ups, I found myself turning to Craigs List as daily habit in my life. The first time, last March-June, I scanned the local Missed Connections forum daily, enjoying the distraction and entertainment, hoping to see myself reflected through another's desire (it's been a fantasy since I was 17 or so), finding solace in the hordes of other people lonely and hurting and strange and spewing. I don't own a TV, don't really consume any media except books and the two free weeklies (I am a bit embarrassed by being so poorly informed about current events and the like, but have yet to find a regular relevant source of clear, unspun news), wasn't watching movies, and no longer drink or smoke pot, so Missed Connections became my little escapism fix.

I almost never look at Missed Connections anymore. This time, it's the W4W section, which I've mentioned before. My roommate got me started on it and now I check it, generally several times daily, as a fascinating microcosm of the local gay/queer/lesbian/bi/trans communities. I examine the writing styles, and have learned general trends about what kinds of people write what kinds of ads, who is most likely a man trolling for sex pictures (a hot though amateur pic of a young, very femme girl in lingerie looking to hook up and exchange pics....NO MEN!-generally a dude), how more than any other category W4W is used as an online community/info center beyond just personals, and marvel at how much queers love passing judgement, policing each other and giving each other shit. Irene calls DVDs of HBO shows her "stories" like a grandma at home with Days of Our Lives, and W4W has become my stories. Oh right, and as of 2007, I occasionally get dates from there, though often when I'm not really trying.

When I was actually actively dating the last ex, I rarely perused W4W, and if I did I was usually looking for ladies who fit one or another of our fantasies, in the hopes we could find someone to fill out a particular role or gang up on. But despite, or perhaps because of all the trivial petty shit, name-calling and sizism and trans- and bi-phobic attitudes, beyond all of the ways it's so much like everywhere else in all the most mundane and embarrassing ways, it perfectly feeds my brain's craving for bite-sized pieces of fluffy, arousing, informative and occasionally soulful information.

And, I realize while writing this, although I often mourn the lessening of quality connections with empathy, compassion and sensory satisfaction between people that this world of cell phones and instant messenger and MySpace and blogs is weaning us from, I guess that the W4W forum also gives me the sense of belonging to an ersatz community, without facing the scorn of the Lex or running into my ex's or feeling invisible because of my generally femmey, weirdo presentation and male-oriented history and expansive desires. Being actually invisible can give you the freedom to be exactly who you are with confidence. It can also dehumanize people, inspire new heights of deception, and without accountability, bring out the worst.
Funny, that.

So this evening during my casual scroll, I came across a thread about a well-written ad. I love following the threads especially, they are a bit like anonymous exquisite corpses. So I went back and found the "OP" which is original posting in CL speak, and discovered it to be not only well written, but really resonant with many of my own feelings. So I emailed the poster and asked if I could re-print the ad here. She gave me her blessing so here it is for your reading pleasure. She is quite a bit older than me, and felt the age gap too significant to date, which was fine by me. But I feel the ad to be very apropos to what I am looking for.

My notes would be these:
1. I may put more importance on looks and interests than the author, though I have a very wide spectrum of what I find appealing in both those arenas.

2. I consider work to be anything on which you spend time, energy and hopefully some passion. In my (very privileged and also creative) world, work and finances are not necessarily corollary, though hopefully there is some of each.

3.Although I have practiced polyamory (much more difficult than the piano, which I gave up years ago) for about eight years, I am imagining my wife to be probably single. While I envision a poly marriage, with perhaps some periods of monogamy to help through rough patches, I want to get involved with someone who has the room not only in their hearts, but also in their bits and schedules to really fall deeply in love and intimacy, sometimes quickly sometimes slowly. To me this indicates someone who has had good practice with poly life, but happens to not have any super significant (in terms of romance and time commitment) partners at the moment. Perhaps some very casual, or occasional out-of-town lovers, but no relationships that would make her feel not single.

And here it is:

You Defy Description

Your looks and interests don't preoccupy me. What matters to me are your experiences, perceptions, and states of mind.

You know idiocy. What it is for you to completely screw up. Lose a chance. Miss a deadline. Blow a fuse. Lose your mind. Slip on a peel for real. Wound a lover. Lose your star. Sign a contract you know you’ll pay in blood.

You know many kinds of love. Romantic and silly. Unyielding and loyal. Coarse and exquisite, jealous and forgiving. Stirring-the-oatmeal love. Ancient, deep, recognition-love. Unrequited and tearing.

You know loss. Lover, family, goddamn body part stopped working, whatever it was. Crying in the shower. Getting through the days. Wincing away from the photographs, years later.

You know bliss. Music finding the heart of your ears. Touch. Image, sculpture, and narrative in visual motion. A glance, a smile, the simple phrases that wing the heart and make it sing. The body pushing against gravity to a great pleasure, to a finish line, beyond pain to submission, through silence to a timeless space of luminous ground.

You know surrender. To accept, in the big ways, that you’re not who you thought you were, or wanted to be, or thought you would become.

You know work. A steady hum. Combat and loyalties, crisis and crap, and even so, getting things done.

You know nature. Not just the elemental joy in rivers and mountains, kinship with that doe in the woods. Now, Being unconceals itself everywhere, you feel rapture in the concrete at Bush and Van Ness, a lost button, the rusty car hood.

You know connection. So you find it odd and hard to feel so much a-part-of-things -- not important, not unimportant, just a infinitesimal part of a whole -- in a culture peopled with many (not all) peripatetic, disconnected individuals, subjects who feel like objects, many of them scared and unhappy with who they are and what they’ve (not) got. You know you can’t hug total strangers, but sometimes you want to.

You have a job, a life, a family you talk to, friends. You have problems, you’re not perfect. You’re single. You’re thinking about “dating” and maybe in some moods you’re reluctant, in other moods optimistic. You’re more cautious than you used to be. You think if you meet the right person, something will click, there will be an opening of a sort. This frightens you a little but you’re willing to be open to it.

Me too.

If this post describes you, I have lots to learn from you. And maybe I have something to offer you. Though who knows? We'll never know unless we meet.

-A.J Waterborne


... said...

I'm spreading the word to all of the European potential wives I come across. You really need cards. Also that is a lie, you totally looked at w4w all the time during your last relationship, even if it was just for entertainment as usual.

I bet your wife has missed connection fantasies too.


Sadie Lune said...

Sweet. Really? I don't think I did it daily, like part of my routine, though, which is the state things have gone to when I'm single or casually dating. I guess beyond frequency though my intention with W4W has slightly changed; its hard for me to feel compelled to meet people from the internet because I am very busy and sense oriented, so while I have a sweetie it's pretty pointless (except for the joint fantasy fulfillment thing my head is full of her) but while I'm single it becomes slightly more plausible.

Laura Lynn said...

Wow, that is a hell of a CL post. It's specific without being petty, loving without being vampire-style clingy, and wide open with no hint of desperation. That gives me hope, because usually CL posts get me down for destroying all those balances. Knowing there are people out there who can write (and hopefully live) something that balanced is like a shiny light for the new year.