Flavor of the Week: Coming Inside

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:15

    Last Night at the Whole Foods in Union Square I stood behind a couple doing kissy-face while waiting their turn at the registers. I was seized with envy, loneliness and an unexpected homesickness for my life in the Persian Gulf. When my husband and I had lived there two years ago, we refrained from even holding hands. At first I’d hated the restrictions, but after my other half left me because he didn’t “feel like being married anymore,” I was grateful not to see fawning lovebirds at every turn. Knowing I’d be bombarded with images of sex and coupledom, I delayed returning to the States.

    First I went to India to study yoga and meditation, the “new black” in mid-life crises.There I found one lover after another willing to help me scratch the itch of my loneliness from the inside out. Then monsoon season hit and I could no longer delay the inevitable. An old friend emailed; did I know anyone who might want to sublet a one-bedroom in the West Village for $1,000 a month? A dishwasher was invoked. I relocated with head-spinning speed.

    I started working, went to plays and readings and restaurants galore. I was in love again all right, with New York City. When a lover from India passed through town, I realized this had usurped my interest in men. It was the most charmed period of my life. Capping off this era, I got my own lease on an East Village apartment, quite the feat for a freelance writer and yoga teacher whose pay stubs were nothing near the requisite 40 times my monthly rent. Settled into my own nest, I started thinking about men again. A year had passed since my divorce, and I wanted to try actual dating. I hadn’t been on the market for seven years, but I had no qualms about hitting the Internet to look. It wasn’t like I was going to meet someone through work, unless the cable guy turned out to be hot. (He wasn’t.) I could not believe how many incredible men were out there. I started making plans to meet for lunch, dinner, coffee, shows… Hang on. These guys looked good on the page, some even in person, but that did not necessarily make for good conversation. I wasn’t looking for hookups anymore; I was after a real, honest-to-God relationship. Because I in fact did need to make 40 times my actual rent to survive in the city, I didn’t have the time to discover over the dinner it had taken 40 minutes to travel to that I would rather be watching paint dry. I figured much hassle could be avoided if we spoke on the phone first.

    This was when I realized, the last time I’d been on the market I’d barely gotten over the way the star-69 function had made calling and hanging up impossible. Since then, apparently, the telephone had become an instrument of the devil. Men wanted to text. They wanted to IM. But God forbid we talk on the phone. Merely giving out my number was enough reason to end all contact. A few did plunder on, like Chris.

    Totally different from the poor, arty types I often favored, Chris was a Wall Streeter. And we didn’t actually talk on the phone first, he sent a text. But it wasn’t an outright request for sex, as others had been. He wrote to ask me to meet him at a show and it was a concert by a band I actually wanted to see. Impulsive and displaying good taste in music—what was the worst that could happen? It was easy enough to withhold sex all the way up until our third date, we never spent any time alone and I wasn’t about to make out with some guy on the corner.

    Once we got into his apartment, however, I had no defense. It had been months since India, and I was ready, even if we weren’t.

    That was the end of Chris. No phone call, no text, nothing. Ouch. Taking this as another lesson, I decided it was necessary to wait much longer in this online world.These were men, after all, with whom I shared no context. I took myself over to The Pleasure Chest and spent a couple hundred dollars on sex toys for myself.

    Then I got back online. Rob was different for me, too. A former lawyer, he worked in the entertainment industry. Creative and right-brained. Yum. He took me out to wonderful restaurants, asked what looked good to me on the menu, and proceeded to order everything I mentioned. He looked me in the eyes when we talked, said he wanted to see me again.

    And again. And again. Finally I brought him up to my place, where I felt more empowered to explain I didn’t want to have sex outside of an exclusive relationship.

    That was the end of Rob. “Don’t you have a hallway?” a friend and longtime West Village resident asked. Perish the thought. But what choice was there? She was certainly right about how getting into an apartment escalated the sexual tension.

    I was able to make out with the guy I’m currently involved with exactly once by a subway stop before we moved it inside.

    OK, the word “involved” is a bit of an overstatement. The sex is incredibly hot but I’m standing on quicksand. He repeatedly tells me we are not in a relationship, and sport-fucking won’t fill the void for long.With days getting shorter and calls to enjoy the holidays with loved ones getting stronger, I am bracing myself for more public displays. I miss having Christmas and Valentine’s Day come and go without advertising designed to make me feel there is something seriously wrong with the lifestyle I’ve chosen.

    I abhor the idea of taking my affections back to the street, but there’s nothing I can do. Except maybe fine-tune my profile.

    -- Lisa L. Kirchner is a freelance writer and yoga teacher in New York City. She blogs at [www.lisalkirchner.com](http://www.lisalkirchner.com)