“I’m never gonna say I’m sorry”

The title of this post was inspired by the immortal artistry of Ace of Base.

Sarah wrote about sex & guilt for Feministe the other day, and it goes me thinking about love & guilt. Because, in all honesty, I have a harder time with the second topic.

“I’m in love” is a phrase my friends are used to hearing from me. I fall in love all the time. I can fall in love with the way a particular Moscow roof looks at twilight. I can fall in love with the ghost of a dead playwright and short story author, and make a pilgrimage to his museum portrait. I can even – gasp! – fall in love with a living, breathing man.

I’m fond of sending Sarah neurotic little messages on Gchat – “OMG SARAH WHAT AM I DOING” or “why, WHY do I feel this way” – but even as I type the words, I know the answers to all of my questions (answers that tend to be confirmed by Sarah). I’m doing what I want to do. I feel this way because there is no other way for me to feel.

For a person like me, living in the moment is actually a radical concept. I’m always looking at a present situation and trying to gauge how I should write about it later. By extension, I try to gauge how I should feel about it later. My mind is not a river, it’s more like dripping amber. As such, I feel required to constantly be ahead of the plot.

I think that people who have a hard time living in the moment also have a hard time with being in love. I think that women especially fall into the trap of “needing to know better.” Men can’t be held accountable for their behaviour, which is what every wise woman apparently should know. In most contentious emotional and/or domestic situations, women are expected to take the blame for the actions of men.

“She should have known better!” A relative and good friend once scoffed to me, discussing a cheating incident which involved her boyfriend and a (now former) friend. “He’s a man, he just wants to get laid – but she actually betrayed me!”

Of course, men are uncontrollable sex-beasts. Women, on the other hand – why, we might just be baby-making machines, but we damn well better be refined baby-making machines.

I say I don’t buy into that dichotomy – I say it – but it’s hard for me to actually practice what I preach. I hold myself to ridiculous standards, and have to constantly keep reminding myself that no, actually, my life is nothing like a Jane Austen book, happily ever after is total crap even if you do find your soulmate (because there’s a good chance that – guess what? – you might lose your soulmate, and then, like, have to go on with your life, and get up every morning, and fry the eggs, and blend the smoothie, and not forget your umbrella and not go insane), and the original Sleeping Beauty myth reads more like something out of a crime brief on date rape than a fairy tale. That weirdness is OK. That not knowing where to go next is OK as well.

In her post about feminism & talking to teenagers about sex, Isabel noted the importance of allowing people to be themselves and pointed out that positive talk around sex can sometimes have the unintended effect of confusing and alienating young people who may not be on the same page. It’s something that I, oddly enough, relate to – because sometimes, I find myself unable to relate to the standard line about how intimacy should be, above all else, joyful. Sometimes, I don’t value joy as much as the other stuff – intensity, for example, or even drama.

What can I say? Maybe I bore easily. But then again, I didn’t detect any sarcasm in my ex’s voice the other day, as I stood on the sidewalk and listened to Moscow’s Garden Ring thunder in one ear, and to him as he said the following words in the other:

“You kept things interesting.”

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