Thursday, June 19, 2014

P'sst. Is it safe to come out now?

It's been 16 days since the publication of Love Sick.  I don't troll Amazon often but at last look its ranking was OK and the reviews mixed.  The Book Mark Shoppe in Brooklyn was kind enough to have me in to read, mingle and drink wine and I've done a little of this and a little that for promotion.  In some ways it seems behind me now, especially because my agent has given me an August 1 deadline to turn in the proposal for the rosary book, which I think I'm calling Oh Me of Little Faith.

The weeks around launching a book are always fraught.  Passing for Thin was months of whirling and Love Sick has been much quieter except that I didn't realize how much of myself I was exposing or how much of my past I was reopening -- old wounds and all that.

That's what I want to try to talk about today and it's complicated and I woke up in a state of high anxiety so I'm doing this under the influence of Klonopin, which was the right decision because otherwise I would have spent the morning in the bathroom.

Someone on Amazon knocked a star off her review because I made such poor choices of men in the book, starting with Dar who is 10+ years younger than I.

I'd like to say that if I was good at appropriate choices and behavior, I'd be thin, have many more books published, would not be on a see-saw of depression and anxiety, would have more money and I don't know what else.  My life has kind of been about a series of inappropriate decisions and actions.  Further, having missed out on the socialization of dating in my teens through my early forties, I don't know that much about men or dating.  Worse than that is the fact that I'm way immature for my age.  I don't, emotionally, feel 57.  I feel about 40.  Maybe.  It's hard to argue with an emotional maturity that I should be dating guys my own age with concerns and preoccupations I have no experience of -- children, grandchildren, careers, owning things like homes, boats, golf clubs.  I gravitate toward men who are still creating themselves because I'm still creating myself and haven't gotten very far.

Someone else felt the book is unfocused.  Maybe it is.  But it seems to me, after rereading for various reasons, that it centers pretty clearly on the search for good-enough, which is exhausting and which is as much about being one's own best date as being girlfriend material.  I was forced to look hard at the men in my life, how they brought me to the age of 53 when I started the book, and who I am in relation to people in general.

Those are the only points-off reviews I've read at this point and I'm not spinning in my chair to go read other reviews.

More important than how people read my book or expected me to be a grown-up, is the fall-out of the book.  So far, no one is mad at me -- or they haven't said so.  Will, who I met in first grade and whom I dedicated the book to, loved it.  So did Dar.

I could have lived without that last information.  It so happens, however, that Dar was in a depression that, he said, made him identify with every line and every up or down in the book.  He read beyond himself and into me. 

And that, my friends, is like a knife wound in the gut.

We had -- I hope/fear "had" is the right tense -- a two-week email back-and-forth in which both of us were depressed, tending to open up, waspish, complimentary in the right ways.  It was stupid of me to answer his email but, frankly, when I first did I was tipsy on champagne cocktails consumed in celebration of the publication.  Later curiosity led me into the chambers of the heart where I never belonged.  I flirted.  It felt like he was flirting.  He's wrestling the Black Dog and if he was leaking bits of that unholy state with me, I felt I had to be there for him.  I also know that we became friends when he needed me, that I've always made friends when people were in need.  It creeps me out about myself, not because I contribute to their darkness or try to prolong it for myself, but because...well, it's nice to make friends in equal daylight.

It's been about 48 hours since I've heard from him on a trivial matter that required a one-word response.
  I've been chanting to myself, "He's not in love with you, he's not in love with you" and actually praying that he'll feel better and forget about me again.  It will hurt -- it does hurt -- but being busy with work, school, family, friends in his own life will give me a brick wall to start retreating from.  And as painful as that is, at least I have 50 years of practice doing it.

The weird thing is, though, that Dar has a gift for friendship that no one else I know has.  Will and I text once or twice a week.  I rarely hear from Kevin any more.  I speak to one friend each weekday morning when I walk her dog.  Even Eric, a.k.a. the Boy from Connecticut, who, before the book came out, I decided to try to be friends with again and have pretty well succeeded (it still hurts but he's crazy in love with a woman I can only shake my head at and grant him to honor of finally having outdone himself in his own bad choices), is only as present as girlfriend and work allow.

So there's a new regret over Dar, this aspect of him that, with the black dog panting hotly on his chest, could get it together to ask how I was feeling.

And I don't know what to do.  I don't know anything.  And I loved him.  And it's as tempting as white cake.