The problem with euphoric recall

I don’t know whether it is the moon cycle, or if some planet is in retrograde, or wtf is going on, but it seems that everyone in my life is suffering from euphoric recall right now, myself included. Friends have been questioning whether they really should have have broken up with ex-boyfriends, co-workers are waxing nostalgic about past loves, and I have been lost in daydreams about Tripp and Ex.

Let me first explain what euphoric recall is, for those who are blessed enough to not be burdened with its aphrodesiatic qualities (yes, I did just make that word up). Euphoric recall could also be called selective memory – it is the affliction by which you are only able to recall the good qualities of an ex, or the happy memories of a relationship. All of those negative things which drove the two of you apart in the first place are completely forgotten (for the moment) and you find yourself smiling throughout your day, just thinking about this person and how wonderful everything was. And if it was that wonderful once, then surely it can be again.

If you are caught in it’s clutches, please snap out of it! As a life long sufferer of euphoric recall, I know that no good ever comes of it. I have opened myself up to Tripp more times than I care to remember, all because I got caught up in the fantasy of what our relationship was like. This weekend, I found myself thinking fondly of Ex, and thinking that maybe everything wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was, maybe we could make it work. Never mind that I was completely miserable during our last year together – that was clearly all in my head. It was only when T started telling me about her daydreams of her ex over the weekend that I realized that it was spreading. R had been having some doubts over her break-up, and J had been having some wayward thoughts about her ex. All in all, it was an epidemic.

I’m all for “forgive and forget” but euphoric recall can be a dangerous phenomenon. People break up and move on for a reason. Yes, sometimes they do come back together, and they make it work on their second (or third) try. But more often than not, going back to an ex is the equivalent of “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” If we need help learning the same lesson over and over again, the Universe is usually more than happy to provide us with that opportunity. However, beating your head against a brick wall only hurts yourself.

I (at least temporarily) cured myself of my euphoric recall by remembering something – every time I have lost love, I have been heartbroken and in despair that I will never love again. And each time, sometimes years later, I have found a love that was even better for me, more true, more nurturing, than that which I left behind. So let us not dwell in the past, when there is surely something so much more wonderful in our futures.

And please, whatever cosmic thing is out there causing this to show up in everyone I know, you can stop now.

– Finch

We’re both in the same boat

I have this problem with jealousy. I have such amazing friends, and they frequently live their lives in the ways that I (sometimes) wish I lived mine. For example, R always seems to have an amazing boyfriend who is perfect in every way, and if they break up, then she goes on to date an even more perfect guy. Or J will go out and meet three hot guys, two new besties, and a former NFL player who invites her to chill with him and his wife in Spain for the summer. M just got a job where she is making almost double what I make, and her brother makes over $100,000 and he is three years younger than I am. So it’s not that surprising that I have issues with envy.

Only, R and I were hanging out the other day (pre-SXSW) and I finally brought this up to her. I was telling her how much I would absolutely love to be in her shoes when it came to guys because she always has this bevy of menfolk who crowd around her and worship the ground that she walks on. And they’re not cretins either – these are incredibly hot, employed, all-around decent fellows. I just felt as if she had this streak of luck that I had only ever dreamed of, and it would be nice to know that I could always have a date if I wanted one.

“I can see where you’re coming from, but believe me, it’s not the way it looks from the outside.”

“I know. I am completely aware of that. But from the outside, your grass is not only green, it’s a freaking jungle.”

“But the way I see it, we’re both in the same boat. We’re both looking for that new person, the true love, and whether we’re seeing several different guys or taking time to figure out what we want, we’re still ultimately not where we want to be yet.”

Here’s the thing with R – she is not only one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, she is also incredibly intelligent and self-aware. Which makes her absolutely perfect, which is very hard to live up to. I thought a lot about what she said, and she was right.

Because, here’s the thing. I’m not very good at dating multiple people at the same time, and I’ve never been very good at casual dating. If I’m not totally into someone, what’s the point in continuing the relationship? It’s one thing to say, “Yeah, we’re never going to get married, but this is really fun, and let’s just make this last for a while.” It’s something else entirely to say “We don’t really get along, and the sex isn’t that great, and we want completely different things out of life, but we’re too scared to try something new, so let’s just stick it out.” I think that too many people get caught in that second situation, and I have never wanted that for my life. Plus, I feel like time works in weird ways for me. I haven’t even been divorced for a full year yet, but I feel like I should already be in a committed relationship working towards marriage number two. And it’s probably a really great thing that I am not there – I doubt that that relationship/marriage would last very long if I rushed into it.

As it turns out, my jealousy was pretty misplaced. Do I want the experiences of getting to date several nice, cute, smart guys? Sure. Do I want to go through all of the drama and the game-playing that goes with that? Not even a little bit. Do I want to go out and meet tons of new people and have them invite me to exotic locales? Duh. Do I want the hangovers and the missed connections and the exhaustion? Not really. I’d love to make more money, but I also love the flexibility that I have with my job and the fact that I really do only work 40 hours a week. And let’s be honest – I don’t live the lives of my friends. I have absolutely no idea what goes on in their heads on a day-to-day basis. It’s pretty easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side of the street. But we rarely see the work that goes into that lawn, or what goes on inside that house. Maybe we’d be better off if we worked on our own grass rather than comparing it to the landscaping of someone else.

– Finch

Shock value

I used to be an incredibly big fan of shocking people just for the sake of being interesting. I remember vividly the day I presented a (fictional) research paper that I wrote on strippers for my first year English class in college. The students were completely shocked, and thought that I was a revolutionary or a daredevil. My teacher? She critiqued my continued use of alliteration. Over the years, I’ve mellowed, not because I’ve lost any of my enjoyment in shocking people, but just because I have to actually care about the person to want to shock them. Shocking strangers doesn’t really do anything for me.

So you can imagine my lack of shock when someone tried to pull this ploy on me yesterday. I’ve often noticed that guys will try to show off how shocking and cool they can be to pick up girls. That’s great if it works for you, but it has rarely worked on me since I turned 19. It was my last day of volunteering for SXSW (and wow, do I have some stories to tell you all about that!), and I was so tired and bored and done with all of the obnoxious people that I was ready to go. I was working with a very sweet young girl and a guy a couple of years younger than me who thought he could bring his A-game to the table. After exchanging obscure information about the deaths of great musicians (Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens) and discussing cool movies and shows we had seen over the week, he picked up the movie schedule and began to peruse. A few minutes later, he pointed one out to me.

“Did you see this one?”

I looked to where he was pointing – “Pussy Riot.” Of course I had followed their story since their arrest and “trial” in Russia. I think I even knew that there was a documentary about them. But here’s the thing. I don’t think he was asking because of any cultural interest.

“I pointed this out to someone yesterday and she thought I was trying to hit on her.”

“Well don’t worry, I don’t think you’re trying to hit on me.”

He had this way of talking almost in a whisper, so you had to lean in very close to hear him (which was probably part of his game). It was incredibly annoying. “Yeah, if I was, I would probably tell you about the posters I bought yesterday from Flatstock.” (poster show at SXSW for those who don’t know.)

I just looked at him and smiled, refusing to take the bait. After about 45 seconds, he gave up.

“Yeah, I had bought this one last year that is in the shape of a tank, but it’s a picture of a naked woman, and it has flowers all around it.”

“So it’s a statement about peace?”

“No. It’s just a naked woman. The one I bought yesterday was by the same artist, and was in the same design, but instead of a naked woman, it was a vulva.”

I don’t really know what response I could have made to that anyway, so my silence hopefully displayed my complete lack of caring. When that failed to get a rise out of me, he turned away and tried the same lines on the other girl working with us. Her reaction was much more hilarious: “Um, ew. Please don’t talk to me anymore today.” Then she came over and stood with me while we made fun of people.

I recognize that you have to get people’s attention, and that for some, going for shock value seems the best way to go. But one of the main reasons I gave that up was because you have to keep it going. It’s not enough to shock someone the first night; you have to keep that energy up for the duration of the relationship, whether that relationship is romantic or just friendly. If you are a naturally shocking person, that’s fine, but I think that very few people are inherently shocking. The ones who genuinely have shocking experiences and lives don’t usually brag about it, particularly to perfect strangers. They let the action sell itself, without the need to advertise it to anyone who will listen. And I have often felt that if you had to shock someone to get them to pay attention to you, their attention was too costly a thing. Your plain old boring self was never going to be enough.

So shock-value-guy and I didn’t hit it off, and I left SXSW unencumbered. Probably just as well. I don’t think we have the same taste in art.

– Finch