The other day I was asked why I’m still available. At first I was confused. Because the word “available” made me think of a line of customers at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx, a stream of people awaiting their turn to hear that computerized voice and directional sign announce “Register three is available.”
“Wait, do you mean, like, why am I still single?” I asked as I rolled onto my side, glanced at the alarm clock and adjusted the phone against my ear.
“Yes,” Alaska answered.
It’s rare he asks me to reveal myself. Usually it’s the other way around. He’s the quiet one. He’s the guarded one. I’m the person who blabs my secrets to the stranger sitting next to me on the train. I’m the person who publicly admits my foibles and downfalls for the entire world to read, to judge, to embrace.
“How long have we known each other? Four years?” I asked.
“Four and some change.”
“Okay, well, I spent the first two or three years believing we’d end up together.”
I added a few more random statements that simply circled the initial answer. And then we somehow transitioned to a discussion about men and the fact that most of them have no clue about how to give good head.
When the call ended, I set the phone on the nightstand and turned my gaze toward the window. Through the wooden slats of the blinds, I studied the sliver of a moon and the dark night sky it hung against. Then I turned my attention to the ceiling and watched the fan blades slowly spinning like a tired propeller. It was almost three o’clock in the morning when I finally fell asleep.
The following afternoon, just shy of leaving the office, I started writing Alaska an email. I wanted to let him know I had downloaded the app necessary for me to kick his ass in Lexulous. But mostly I wanted to elaborate, give the full answer to the question about me still being available.
I confirmed that my original statement was correct. But for the balance of knowing him, for the last two years, I have been struggling to get my footing. I had dated someone else in early 2008 and, though my heart wasn’t broken, I came out the other side of that relationship overwhelmed by how easily I had been manipulated. My vulnerabilities and weaknesses had been blatantly exploited. And so I have spent the last two years trying to understand how I played a part in that debacle and then finding ways to alter my behavior, my thinking, my wants.
“I feel like a player without a playbook,” I noted in my email before clicking send.
I didn’t say any of that for Alaska’s sake. I shared what I did because, for me, owning your truth, being able to articulate who you really are, is the only way to fix the flaws. Otherwise you’re just dancing around a reality that in fact dictates where you place your feet and who you partner with as you waltz across the dance floor.
Alaska didn’t respond to the email. Instead, I received a notice on my phone that he had played a move in Lexulous. Using the C from my first word - COOP worth 22 points - he built CREATIVE. It was worth 50 points. It was a nice start that quickly put me behind. But I wasn’t intimidated. You can’t let one play knock you out of the game.