It feels like a really time ago that I packed my stereo up again to digitize my seasonal mixtape at Victor’s, so I could send it off to its recipient. For this tape for Dash Lewis, I really wanted him to have it by the vernal equinox; that felt important to the activation of its magic. He ended up being out of town when it arrived, but the tape being where it needed to be on time was enough for this sonic spell-caster.
This one really was a spell. A spell that worked, until it went sideways. Just like in the Juana Molina song “Paraguaya,” which appears on this tape in a punk version. I thought more than twice about whether to put that song on, knowing that my mixtapes have these ways of manifesting the future, but I put it on anyway. Why? I don’t know, because it makes something that is actually painful and horrible sound like a fun game? To include the idea of love being a kind of game, one that we often lose, to accept that as a risk of playing? Because, according Co-Star, I am “addicted to romance?” (An app has never come at me so sideways in my life.) I think it was really because I wanted to communicate explicitly that I was casting a love spell–a powerful one!!! But I also literally included a sample of the words “I wanna get hurt,” so who can I blame but myself for the outcome of this tape, really? Let’s go back to the beginning.
So, during the last Mercury retrograde (which was also a Venus retrograde), I ended a relationship with someone I’d been dating for six months. Things had been weird and waning for a while, so I had pretty much processed it being over. I was more frustrated at the time I had wasted than I was sad. I cried myself to sleep, but in the morning I woke up feeling deliriously empty. Truly clear of the past–my trauma, my grief, my anxiety–and very ready for love and happiness. Music was just coming to me out of nowhere, songs I hadn’t heard in many years. The first two songs that came to me formed the backbone of this tape: “Love Trax (Happyness)” by DJ Pierre and “Get On With Your Life” by Stina Nordenstam. With the arrival of these two songs, I knew the central themes of this tape would be about moving on from trauma and grief and clearing space for love, happiness, and desire. As I built the narrative, other interlocking themes became: time, memory, healing, spring (of course), opening (eyes, hands, mouth) like a flower, growth, perseverance, getting unstuck, cycles (esp. of water) both in the environment of the planet but also within our own bodies, victory, willpower, determination, strength, getting up/out of bed, being sick/needing a cure, and patience/belief in seemingly impossible things. There’s a bit of a war going on between being ready to go and needing to slow down or take a step back, and being stuck between these two impulses, especially on Side A. Side B is mostly all gas until the end, which is also how the whirlwind romance this tape manifested played out! A romance which was officialized on the vernal equinox, as I had planned, kissing to Sun Ra for quite a long time at the park.
So, from there we had this great romance which peeked around my birthday. I swear that I wasn’t doing that thing I always do where I get too excited and start leading the other person towards the intensity that I want. I followed his lead! I followed his lead towards being in a relationship and being very in love, 100% absolutely. Then, about a month in, after basically working himself to death over the course of two weeks because he is incapable of saying no to people or communicating his needs, he told me he needed to slow things down. I replied very lovingly and attentively, saying I would be holding space and thanking him for communicating his needs, since I had figured out that is something that is very hard for him. And then I never heard from him again! It’s been…a little over a month.
But this is kind of what happens when you date, right? At least in this app-based century? I haven’t dated much for most of my life. I’ve been afraid of a lot of the possibilities of dating my whole life: the possibility of more traumatic experiences, the possibility of not feeling comfortable holding my ground or communicating my needs and desires to strangers, the possibility of falling very in love with the wrong person or in a way that destabilizes my subjective world I have worked so hard to strengthen and maintain. And those are all extremely legitimate things to be concerned about, but the problem with operating out of fear of these things is that, for most of my life, I have settled for people and relationships that didn’t really serve me or meet my needs because those situations felt safer than having to continue being out alone in the world, having to be bold and brave, having “one night stands with my future,” as my friend Rosy once eloquently advised me to do exactly nine years ago to the day I am writing this. I feel like I am just really getting around to this now.
And this romance really did require me to grow in a lot of ways. He was younger than me and he didn’t seem like he was ever going to make a move, so I had to learn how to talk about my feelings and express desire and be a Lead Flirt, not just a Respondent Flirt. I literally was watching YouTube videos made by teenage boys advising girls on how you can communicate interest in guys and find subtle ways to touch them for the first time. I was like, “I’m about to be 35!! I’m not going to steal his hat!!!” I really had to grapple with the fact that I am becoming a middle-aged person, but I’d avoided ever having to do any of this my whole life. A fact which also means that I have only ended up with the people who were willing to do this work for me, because I was afraid of doing any of it myself.
My healing and growth were also really evident in how I took the relationship ending. I talked to my ex I am still friends with about it and he said he was so impressed by how I was handling it…that it absolutely would have levelled me when we were dating. And it’s true, it would have. So, as an exercise in cycles of sadness and joy, and measurements of healing…this was still a magnificent success. I was very brave in this romance, I showed enormous resilience in bouncing back, and I’m still 100% absolutely ready for love and happiness. I’m just going to be a lot more careful about who I even let sit at the same table as me, because I have done a lot of very hard work for a very long time to be here and to be as amazing and in control of my life as I am presently, and there are a lot of spineless motherfuckers out here who do not deserve to sit at the same table as me, much less be in my absolutely marvelous orbit. And absolutely none of them are allowed to destabilize my chariot.
I’ve been trying to think of this person as a great birthday present: something lovely but temporary, that wasn’t meant to last…like a really hot and exciting human version of a balloon, deflating over time. In addition to making a time that is often hard for me one of the greatest I have ever had, this experience helped me grow and strengthen in my knowledge of what I need and what I need to do. And like all relationships, it also gave me more information about what I want to avoid in the future, what to look out for, and what I won’t tolerate.
In one of the last songs on the tape, Purple Rhinestone Eagle sing “so close you feel the heat/so close to something sweet.” For the past year, I’ve had this strong intuitive sense that I am just around the corner from this enormous happiness. But every time I have met someone interested in dating me, I have become convinced that this is the variable I have been waiting for which will finally activate the happiness once and for all, or take it to some other level. It’s such a stupid idea, but it’s so deep-seated inside all of our subconscious minds. The reality is that I have been very actively working towards my own happiness for years–that I am the happiest I have ever been and it is all the result of my own work and attention. The only thing preventing me from actualizing it fully is the belief that it has to be activated by someone else to reach its fullest potential. I think ultimately this stems from what is a positive desire–the desire to share the love, happiness, and joy I am so full of with someone else, to share my whole wonderful subjective world with someone else. Like Eartha Kitt says, “I fall in love with myself and I want someone to share me with me!”
Ultimately, though, I must reconcile with the fact that I have way too much to share with just one person. When this person disappeared, I poured that desire to share my world into mixtapes for lots of people, averaging 2-3 a week for the last month. Those people all really appreciated those tapes, whereas the person I was dating didn’t really have time or energy to engage with all of my world-sharing. No one person does; I contain so much. The best thing for me to do is keep my chariot strong and striding and find ways to share all of the love, joy, and inspiration I gather with people who would appreciate it along the way. We are all responsible for our own healing and our own happiness and not everyone is ready to take the reins of their chariot and “stop getting tragic” about their life. But I am very pleased to share with the world the fact that I definitely am through yet another extraordinarily fire mixtape. And I’m even more pleased Dash reports back tonight that he treasures this tape, that it arrived when he absolutely needed it, and that it helps him each time he listens to it. ❤ ❤ ❤
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