After The Terrible Thing, I spent the later part of my twenties in the kind of relationships that would only confirm my sense of loss. I lost a lot of good men to the night, to holding myself apart from them. Fear of the known can be much more potent than fear of the unknown, and true intimacy was a thing that had carried the worst and most weighted consequences into my life. So instead of fully immersing myself into the experience of another, I learned to hold myself aloft, observing and weighing and judging and decimating the interactions of every would-be lover. It was a way to feel something, without actually having to feel it. I still find myself doing this sometimes – like in the beginning, when I tell myself to write all down so I won’t forget it, which is really just a mechanism to draw myself away from the heady intoxication and overwhelming intensity of all that lusty dopamine – but mostly, as a practice, I don’t. I sometimes wonder if I’ll regret not keeping a more detailed account of my current relationships for prosperity’s sake…but I’ve come to love both the privacy and the decision to experience it as a fully-engaged participant, instead of a note-taking observer.