4. How To Fall In Love During a Global Pandemic
the worlds begins to turn on its head
This is a transatlantic pandemic love story based on dozens of journal entries & thousands of text messages. If you’re new to this space, consider starting from the beginning.
Journal Entry, March 2nd, 2020
I still feel sick, and I’ve found myself seeking more and more comfort and tenderness these days. But maybe spring will change my opinion.
This Coronavirus thing is getting serious, but there’s no time for concern. In two days, we’re starting the tour with Caravan Palace. Three shows in the first week (Rouen, then Lille), culminating at the 5,000-capacity Zénith in Paris. Let’s see what kind of life exists on the other side of the stage. And so farewell for now, old fellow. Young fellow, too.
I’ve stayed pretty calm and self-care-y the past ten days, mostly because I feel like I may actually have “the virus,” or maybe it’s just a winter cold? I went to the doctor and told him about my general fatigue, low-hum headache, and lingering dry cough (it’s been two weeks). He told me that it was just a nasal infection, but he also “diagnosed me” within seconds, kept his surgical mask and distance the entire time, and told me that whenever antibody tests become available, I should get tested immediately. “In any case, by that time, you’ll have been through the worst of it,” he said. I wanted to ask him what he meant by “in any case” but he rushed me out of the premises.
In other news, Nina came over last night and she says it’s just one of those Parisian colds everyone gets late in winter. She’s probably right. I hadn’t seen her in three weeks because she’d been traveling in the Middle East. Reconnecting was easy (wine and jazz at home) and the sex was transcendent, as usual, but as John Mayer once said, “Something’s Missing” (he probably still says it, being the forty-something single man that he is). I didn’t voice this to Nina, but I’m starting to itch for a different kind of intimacy, one that can’t be had with casual dating or booty calls. It’s also true that I was probably more wounded by how things ended with Gabriela than I’ve let on, and now I feel like I’m holding back from being fully present with Nina (and Marion, and Sara, too) for the fear of … what? Fear of fear? Fear of rejection?
No. I feel like I’ve gotten past that part of my life, the incessant twentysomething search for validation (“And I’m really over it. I’m not just saying that,” a limbic, neurotic voice says). I feel validated in so many ways—artistically, socially, and especially sexually these days, dating three people simultaneously especially—but I think this feeling of holding back has more to do with questioning how much of my most vulnerable parts I’m willing to discover with any of my current partners. There remains so much mystery to myself in the murky, uncharted depths of my own dreams and desires, and I’d like to get to know somebody who’s truly willing to take the plunge, someone who understands that I’m just starting to investigate what lies at the bottom.
And so, young fellow, sooner or later, I’m going to have to tell Nina and Marion and Sara that despite how pleasant our time has been (and continues to be) together, something’s missing. It’s probably me. Whatever it is, it’s just not it, you know? (George Costanza: “You’re giving me the it’s not you, it’s me routine? I invented the it’s not you, it’s me … if it’s anybody, it’s me.”
So how do I tell them? How do I tell someone who’s kind and interested and ambitious and beautiful that despite the memorable sex that wakes up the neighbors and the morning coffees and the fun nights out in Paris, how do I tell each of them that despite all of it, whatever this is, well it just isn’t it …
How do I tell them? Simple. Just be honest. Go figure. Which, let’s admit, has been my problem as of late: I haven’t been honest with myself, and the truth is after a few years out at sea, I’m getting tired of this whole dating thing. I feel closest to a real level of intimacy with Sara, but she only thinks I’m interested in her because she has a partner, and I’m not interested in trying to psychoanalyze herself or myself to convince us otherwise. She’s not wrong in at least one way: there is a safety in wanting to be with someone who’s unattainable, but I’ve also been honest with Sara from the outset: I love being around her, she makes me laugh, we have a blast together, and I’d like to explore what it means to become something more. And maybe that’s the issue—that she can sense this desire, just like Gabriela could in December, when I was honest with her—because Sara has her other boytoy across the English Channel, too, and maybe she’s playing me, and maybe I shouldn’t be so honest about my feelings. It reminds me of that Billy Joel song, “And So it Goes”: In every heart / there is a room / a sanctuary safe and warm / to heal the wounds / of lovers past / until a new one comes along. Yes. I know the contours of that room quite well. But if I can’t be honest with Sara about envisioning something more, then what the hell are we doing here?
I’m tired of playing games. But being tired of playing games isn’t the same thing as stopping them. So, let’s say it like a mantra, one more time: it’s time to stop playing games with others, especially myself. It’s equally possible, of course, that this desire for a deeper level of intimacy is just a pipe dream. Maybe I’m not ready. Maybe it’s just made for TV. But you know you believe in it, young fellow. And maybe it’s because you’re casually and openly dating three people at once that you’re lonely. Who knows? Onwards and upwards. It’s time to go to bed. As for now, young fellow, let’s repeat the mantra, one more time: it’s not them, it’s me. Wait. What was the mantra again?
March 3, 2020
The next afternoon, two days before Samuél began his short-lived tour with Caravan Palace, Augusta took photos of their rehearsal. She joined the band for drinks afterwards, Samuél walked her to République, and he gave her directions to walk back home. The following conversation picks up after they’ve left, not knowing when they might see each other again.
21:26 - Augusta: Thanks for the directions – they lead me straight to the bridge.
21:27 - Samuél: You're a natural Parisian
21:28 - Augusta: Feels right, can’t deny it. The streets have been kind. Thanks again for everything. Had the best day.
21:32 - Samuél: 'Twas a pleasure, really. Always glad to show people who get it why this city makes me tick
21:33 - Augusta: Well, it’s greatly appreciated. All of it, really. Wasn’t expecting to have all y’all to hang with like this. It’s been great.
21:33 - Samuél: I’m glad to have a new fellow tribe member. I’m gonna see how much of Tarantino’s Jackie Brown I can get through before passing out.
21:34 - Augusta: One of my favorite filmmakers👌🏼 Ciao.
[Samuél texts Augusta back a few minutes later]
21:40 - Samuél: The beginning of this movie is class
21:40 - Augusta: How can u text and fully watch a film. Go focus
21:40 - Samuél: Haha I can't
21:40 - Augusta: Exactly. If my texts are more entertaining than the film, it might say something about the film
21:41 - Samuél: Ya or something about you 🧐
21:41 - Augusta: 🤔
21:41 - Samuél: Enjoy your soiree mademoiselle 🌠
21:44 - Augusta: Ha, who gets the last word
21:44 - Samuél: It's honestly one of those things that can go on for hours. You get the last word, so make it good
21:47 - Augusta: Well now there’s all this pressure when I was simply going to say: Arrivederci and … well fuck, that’s all I got. Good NIGHT, Samuél.
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