Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Distance: Emotional Problems of Nomadism

"You are falling in love, sweetie-heart, this is the issue."
Maybe Moody Poland is right.
"I can see on your face. But why you want to make so much problem for yourself with this?"

I take a gulp of my beer and reflect. A few more gulps and the beer is gone.
"Görüşürüz." / "See you later."

One long sigh carries me on my walk to Sweetie's. I feel powerless against his invitation. When we make love, he brings me closer to god. When we fuck, he reaches so far inside of me that he actually fucks the organ of my heart. I writhe, moan, and scream, high on his drug, the most powerful visceral pleasure I have known.

But our conversations are frustrating. He says things like, "Of course I can't be your friend." Once I asked him why not, to which he quizzically responded, "Because I'm in love with you," with an implied "obviously" at the end. Statements like these are testaments to our future: either he'll hug me so close I can't breathe or push me so far I can't see him anymore. There is no careful in-between -- no part of our relationship is conducted without fervency.

I shouldn't be surprised that Sweetie has been pushing me away. He's been standing me up, leaving me waiting, doling out a chilly minimum of human acknowledgement. Predictable as this was, of course it hurts to see him suddenly act this way. It's as if someone has flipped a switch in his heart, but I don't wonder why.

The reality that I will leave has finally sunk in. When he convinced me to extend my stay, he had hoped I would get a residency visa. Maybe I was lazy, or maybe I just didn't want to, but regardless, I didn't even apply. A tourist visa only allows 90 out of 180 days in Turkey. My time is nearly up and now that my departure date is two weeks away, he's realized that keeping me close is futile: I'm leaving him, as he puts it. True, I'm not staying to meet his parents, decorate a house, or have his babies, not this time around. He probably thinks that I won't come back, or maybe that it won't matter by the time I do. And so the fire that once burned white-hot is now cold and sooty.

Traveling as much as I do, and for the extended periods of time that I prefer, I occasionally see this kind of emotional response. When I'm about to leave a place, the people who have held me the closest are sometimes the ones who quickly erect barriers and become the most distanced. They're trying to protect their emotional well-being, or they don't know how to express their hurt frustration that I'm abandoning them, or maybe they don't consciously realize their motivations, which I understand. However, it hurts me too. It's one aspect of lengthy international travel that I don't enjoy, being a puck on an emotional shuffleboard. But I'm not made out of hard plastic, I'm an organism. I'm beginning to trail a little blood.

What does it mean "to love" -- to "fall" or "be in love" -- to have these things said to you and then to suddenly be left for dead, or worse, buried alive?

Most people in my Istanbul life still see me, I haven't faded into an ghost-like apparition to their sights yet. It's still a little early, but it happens that when you're leaving, people see you as already gone. They miss you while you're still there, right in front of them, waving for attention and love. They've already said goodbye to you in their mind. It's a weak defense against separation anxiety.

There are people I've left back home. They haven't seen me as a relevant part of their immediate existence for three months. Out of sight, not "out of mind," but at least, "out of consideration," which could explain why my boyfriend had neglected to tell me that he got back together with his ex. I didn't find out until I called him up one day and after some casual whatcha up to's it came out that he was at that moment in bed with her. He had taken her out of town, a trip on which he had previously asked me. He said cryptically that there is a lot that he hasn't told me. Worst yet is that since this revealing conversation, he has become unreachable.

How to destroy your intimate relationships in one easy step: refuse to communicate. 

I know that he isn't attempting to play "whack-a-mole" with my heart, but I feel hurt and furious. I feel cheated on and heartbroken, pushed away, replaced, even violated. If these effects were not his intention, I wouldn't know it because he won't talk to me. This is not a happy poly moment.

He says he "doesn't have time" to talk to me about it. How can I believe that when I return he will suddenly have time for me? How could conversations like these not be important to him unless he is trying to push me away? Whether he knows it or not, is he trying to punish me for being away for so long? I hate these thoughts, but as long as his words won't replace them, they persist.

I resent being treated like an afterthought, but if he would pick up the phone and finally speak to me with forthcoming honesty like an adult ought to, I'd forgive him. It seems a little too easy for him to disregard my feelings as long as I'm on another continent. As long as I don't hear from him, I don't know what to think, but this dismissal is violent against my trust in him.

And then there are other people back home, other burning bridges... It's a terrible thing to watch something beautiful you've built with someone that once functioned so well become destroyed, having been ravaged by a pillaging heart.

Communication issues can happen anywhere, but I'm feeling the strain of keeping each foot in a different hemisphere. This kind of compartmentalization creates a unique set of emotional stressors that are particularly challenging to digest. I love to travel, to move around, explore, circulate, but it can be hard. The distance is hard. Not geographical distance, of course, I mean the emotional distance necessarily traversed when one is transient.

Nomadism was easier when I was younger. With the structure of college in place, there was always something definite to return to. These days as an adult, whether I'm about to leave for two weeks or two months, in inevitably seeps a realization: "when I return, everything will be different." Then again, fear of change only strikes when things are good to begin with.

I'm nervous. I don't know what I'm coming home to but in my mind it's a barren emotional wasteland that used to be lush. I'll just have to soak up my last two weeks here in Istanbul with courage: brave the cold winds blasting from Sweetie's direction and meanwhile bask in the rays of my lady Sparky's warmth, Moody Poland's fire, and housemate Hot Chip's quiet approval of my existence while I still can. As hard as it was to leave home months ago, it'll be hard to leave them now too.

The main emotional effect of being a traveler is that everywhere in the world I go, I feel homesick. Even when I'm "home".

Who the hell is Sweetie? Meet him HERE
Boyfriend? What's up with that? Explained HERE and HERE
For unadulterated tales of sexual compulsion, check out SnapshotsThe Golden Cage, and Pets.
For more communication fails, read Disorder and the Cure.

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