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11.13.2012

attraction and expectation.


Sitting in Court Street Grocers today, a turkey club the size of my face on the table before me, I kicked Kim under the table.

Kim and I have the same taste in men.

Taste: a personal preference or liking.

She looked up from her sandwich to me to then where my eyes were glued. He was tall with dark hair and a full salt and pepper beard.

We've gotten good at alerting one another when we find a man attractive. Gentle nods of the head, not so subtle elbows into ribs, and from there the two of us mostly just stare.

There are subtle discrepancies here and there--where she loves an Italian, I'll lean toward the Spaniard, but often we find ourselves stealing glances in the same direction and groaning as two grown women sometimes do when reduced to little more than hormones and awe by a good looking man.

When the full-bearded-man with his rolled jeans and broad shoulders finally left our viewing area leaving us to the sandwiches at hand, I asked Kim, Do you ever think we've had that effect on a man?

Attraction: the act or capability of attracting // the gravitational force exerted by one body on another. 

On the subway tonight I began to think about attraction--about what it is I'm most attracted to and if that thing--that unnamable thing can in fact be named and conjured and spoken aloud.

And then I began to think about how if I attempted to write (or okay, let's call a spade a spade, blog) about attraction than Anonymous would be sure to skewer me because heaven forbid a woman knows what she wants--physically or otherwise. So we can then add knowing-what-we-want to the list of things women are not encouraged to do, which I'm pretty sure also includes aging-gracefully and the-right-to-vote (which this last one I thought we took care of in 1920 but I came across a tweet today which led to a blog and apparently it's a thing again) and can we then take a minute to talk about how it's women that are holding each other back? How each and every last one of us does not proudly admit to being a feminist is simply beyond me. I am a feminist. This does not mean I burn bras. This does not mean I hate men. This means I think women have a voice and an unparalleled strength and a unique set of gifts. Women have birthed empires. And if you try to use religion on me and start talking about your god versus my god and how it's the Lord's will that women submit to a male authority then I will simply lose my shit. I mean, I will. I will lose my shit right here, right now, right over all that's to follow. Because the whole your god, my god thing is enough to make me end the conversation right then and there--it's entitled and possessive and wholly small in a way that seems so very against the spirit of things.

Hmmm. Okay. So... I seem to have gotten off topic.

Derailed: to have left the rails. 

Attraction.

I went on a date with a guy recently. A lovely guy. Charming and kind. A guy that my girlfriends were convinced would surprise me and sweep me off my feet in a slow moving kind of way. But a guy that I knew after the first date was not the guy for me.

But why everyone asked. And I groped in that language-less land.

Because. Because, because. Because I just know. 

But how do you know?

To Tom I said, because I didn't feel safe and protected with him. And Tom, bless him, knowing when to press and when to simply listen, said, if he wasn't able to convey that within the first date then he probably wouldn't have ever. 

Which is not to say that he was a man who could not convey that for many another woman--he most certainly was and will--of that I am sure.

Feeling: an awareness or impression. 

Sitting next to him at the bar I was aware of his body. Of how I felt it no further than an inch beyond him. And how there have been men in my life I've felt the force and wind of from across the room. Their scope penetrating me in an altogether different way. Attraction. A meeting of small force fields. Some aware of others, some not. Some compatible, some not.

I struggled for weeks to tell him why we weren't a match. And in the end I was not terribly honest and not terribly courageous and I became a very small and ugly version of myself as I tried to push him away.

There just wasn't a spark, Tom said a few days after my fumbled attempt. Where you with that word when I needed it? I replied.

Spark: a quality or feeling with latent potential; a seed or germ.

Spark. It is either there. Or it isn't.

I want to feel enveloped by a man. I want to feel absolutely challenged. Valued for my size and femininity and flagrant feminism. And yes, I want him to have moved past the roommate-stage of life, the constantly-high-stage of life, the video-games-till-two-in-the-morning-every.single.night. stage of life. I want a real, gown-up Man--the capital M kind of man. And I will not apologize for that. I want a man prepared for a life with someone else. Prepared to fight and compromise and sweat till the sun does rise. I want him to know his worth and respect me for mine. And you know what? At twenty-seven I feel like these are things I have the right to want, and to say I want. Because I'm coming to the table as a more fully formed person. Because I grew up by myself, without a partner. Because I've been on a lot of bad dates and gone out with a lot of wrong men and moved past the sort of heartbreak that threatens a forever-sort-of-haunt. And so yes, I have certain expectations of myself at this age and of a partner at this age. Moving forward I have certain expectations. To not have them would be immature and irresponsible.

I might fall in love with a man who is none of the things I say I want. Who is so very much not what I ever expected. But I'm more skeptical of this now, as I age and know myself better. Details may change--where he's from and what he does and if he actually has that much coveted salt and pepper beard--but the core of a man who knows himself is a constant sort of thing.

This desire for a man and the specifics of this desire--of two people meeting and jointing together in a union where neither person loses himself in the other--well it feels like the best sort of attraction.

A feminist's dream.







47 comments:

emilia. said...

hallelujah. thank you.

Alice said...

Thank you for this post. As a single 26-year-old some people have said I'm too fussy, but I still believe it's important to know what you want and what you won't settle for.

Kerry said...

this part: "And yes, I want him to have moved past the roommate-stage of life, the constantly high-stage of life, the video-games-till-two-in-the-morning-every.single.night. stage of life. I want a real, gown-up Man--the capital M kind of man. And I will not apologize for that. I want a man prepared for a life with someone else." that part had me sit up straight, throw my hands up and exclaim 'yes!'. the whole paragraph - the whole piece, really - but that part. every day i want this, every day he remains a boy in his twenties in new york city. but the glimpse of the great man underneath? beauty like i've never known. thank you for this one, meg! love, a voting, swearing, independent, vocal, god loving feminist.

kara lynn said...

I sure loved this post dear meg. Ah I see it too and I so agree. A man. So wonderful what that word truly entails.

look a little closer said...

Wow. So, so good! Loved the part about religion. It's always made me crazy to think that women are supposed to be subservient to men. I once went to a church where the wife of the pastor stood at the pew while he talked about her subservience. It was absurd. Here's to women and life. And to when the spark, feeling, attraction, speeds of communication, operating systems, dreams, and fun all roll up into one awesome thing for you. ;) Here's to love.

Kelle said...

brilliant as usual, meg. guys who are good on paper are hard to let down, because it's not usually anything they've done wrong. but you have to wait for the spark. it's gotta be worth it.

Anonymous said...

You sound very tormented. re the 'knowing' part, yes I agree with you. You will know. deep down you either feel it or you don't. Re the wanting to be made to feel 'safe and protected' - perhaps you happen to be a very strong individual who will take much more to make you feel protected and safe. Had you been more vulnerable, you might have felt safe/protected much more easily.??

Malin said...

God (or maybe not God... Djeez?) this is so damn recognizable. Either there's a spark or there's not. You'd better not settle for somebody if that spark is missing. Cos almighty, if it's not there in an instant, it will never be. Good luck dating :)

communikate. said...

I read that tweet that led to that blog yesterday as well. I was blown away by it too. Your thoughts in that matter sum up mine as well.

As for the rest of it? You are wonderful. And I love salt n pepper tall dark and handsome type too (hello, George Clooney ten years ago).

communikate. said...

I read that tweet that led to that blog yesterday as well. I was blown away by it too. Your thoughts in that matter sum up mine as well.

As for the rest of it? You are wonderful. And I love salt n pepper tall dark and handsome type too (hello, George Clooney ten years ago).

jena said...

amen!

Emily Lauren said...

meg,

i can hardly convey to you how much your words relate. i wish i was where you are so that we could get a cup of coffee and just talk about all of the honest things in our lives. no bullshit, just quality conversation. i feel like i could do that with you. if ever you're in houston or austin...

;)

Stephanie said...

Hi Meg, was thinking of you and your texts the other day when I came across those two articles about being 27 (an age we share) and now it fits your post as well!

http://www.theawl.com/2012/08/twenty-seven

and

http://www.esquire.com/women/ESQ0899-AUG_27yrs#ixzz224lAELif

... really feel affectionate towards this year after reading them ;)

heisschic said...

love, LOVE this.



mmhmmm

carleigh said...

Please, please, PLEASE- write a book. PLEASE.

Heather said...


"Prepared to fight and compromise and sweat till the sun does rise."

love it!

beautifulnest said...

love this!

Katie said...

Oh, you are so right. Knowing what we want is the most essential thing of all. When we don't know what we want we wind up *learning* what we don't want. That is sloppy, heartbreaking, and ugly (albeit oftentimes necessary). Learning what we do want, knowing what we do want, those things are imperative.

Amanda Blair said...

You always nail it. I am printing out this post to put in my journal because it so beautifully describes the things I am so discovering as well.

Tana said...

Preach girl! This is amazing. I am blown away by your description of what you want - I couldn't have said it better myself and I have tried.

Anonymous said...

Amen. I subscribe to this same brand of feminism and, believe it or not, it's my religion that got me there. But we won't talk about religion, we'll just talk about women's voices and breadth of experience and their value!

Suzanna said...

I really love the voice that you have grown into. Good writing.

mary kate said...

That paragraph about wanting to be enveloped by a man. So so perfect!

Rryan said...

I love this blog, this post and your writing. I feel like you give words to feelings I have had lately. Love it!

Shawnee said...

yes. yes to it all. i was just talking to a few friends/roommates about men.. and it's because we're different and i want different things out of life than them, but some just don't understand. feminism. and wanting a MAN. i agree with an above comment - write a book? i'd buy it. this is why i read your words.. brilliant. thank you thank you.

Katie said...

Hi Meg. I recently found your blog through Motley Mama Kate's (so I know exactly to which blog post you are referring and I have to say you articulated much of my outrage in an eloquent and sensible way, so thank you for that). You are a wonderful writer and your blog is a gem. Thank you.

Sierra said...

"I want to feel enveloped by a man. I want to feel absolutely challenged."
Amen to this, sister. Amen to all of it.
xoxo,
Sierra
Oh, Just Living the Dream

Chantel said...

Wow. wow wow wow. I don't think I have ever heard anything so perfectly applicable to my life. Honestly, I want to hug you. Or just be your friend. Your thoughts and expectations are RIGHT on! I've never heard it stated so perfectly and exquisitely. We SHOULD want to feel challenged and enveloped by a man. Thank you for this. Your mind is brilliant.

~BB~ said...

ugh, Meg. You with the words. So seemingly easily and effortlessly putting into words things I feel and have felt but couldn't find the words to say myself. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

"...moved past the sort of heartbreak that threatens a forever-sort-of-haunt"

Isn't that a wonderful place to be? To me, it speaks of incredible personal strength and confidence. Love those words so much.

casey ann said...

this is lovely meg. it always shocks me that one of the most common sayings about expectation is to have none, less you find yourself disappointed. and that is so sad!

to me, there is so much wisdom in believing for something that's not in front of you at the moment..or faith wouldn't exist. yes, there's a reality to all things. but how hopelessly depressing would life be if we didn't write those letters to future husbands (or if you didn't let us read them!)...what would our world look like without dreamers?

in my opinion, dreamers will continually propel the all the non-dreamers into a realm of hope, a state of looking-forwardness that everybody else can't seem to grasp so freely (seemingly).

that dreamer—although not just *ending up* as a dreamer—is the one with a confident sparkle in their eye, who perpetually sees that which is not yet in front of them, a pioneer of sorts who's realm of hope extends beyond the rest of us, and they will never be disappointed. dreaming is not weak and it is most certainly not foolish. and we will always need—yet be highly critical of—the dreamer. and, to me, you are a dreamer dear meg...

Bethany Kemming said...

I loved this. Thank you for your beautiful words. As a follower of Christ myself, I am saddened that so many Christians have advocated this across-the-board submission. The Bible teaches that men and women are equal in Christ, and Jesus was certainly an advocate for women in his day, when they were much more devalued than now. Having expectations and desires is a great thing! Keep it up Meg.

Sonja said...

maaan i love this. you're amazing! so well put.
and i loved the rant in the middle, it made me giggle :o)

Diana said...

Yes! This is pure perfection, Meg! I cannot tell you how much I admire this. And even more, how I agree. I cannot even count how many times I have been told to lower my expectations--be it for friendships, relationships, etc. But you are right in believing that at a certain age (or any age) it is okay to expect certain things, especially if you are also willing to be those very things. I am tired of having to explain myself to people who insist that I lower my standards--maturity, respect, honesty, integrity, chemistry--why shouldn't I want these things? What should I lower my expectations to? I mean, good lord, is it really too much to ask for? I think not! And I am so impressed and relieved to see that someone else feels this passionately about it because people have broken me down for it, and it's a shame. We should never settle. I can't wait to read your love story one day! It's coming!

smallasamustardseed said...

Thank you for this. Amazing.

Kate {motleymama.com} said...

Love.

ginger from the style of being said...

Yes! I worked in women's rights at the UN for ten blasted years and met very few who had any grasp on actual feminism. And then I tell my friends I want a MAN and they say a boy is better because you can mould him into whatever you want...more evidence of a screwy perception of feminism. Gah.

kmm22 said...

also single, also 27, and this completely resonated with me, especially the paragraph about what you want in a man. thank you!

meg fee said...

@ginger: moulding a boy into a man?! could anything possibly sound MORE EXHAUSTING? also what a terrible thing to wake up in 20 years and find you hate the very think you created. blah.

Caroline said...

Yes. And yes and yes and yes. I'm still learning what I want. I took 4 years of marriage and divorce. It's taken nearly a year of another mistaken relationship to narrow it down further. I was deceived by his age, but he still seems to think he's in college. I've also learned that after a certain age, you really need to move away from college towns. Move back in middle age if you so choose, but I'm starting to think it stunts your growth.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I am not yet 18 and this is still exactly what I want.
Maybe the boys I know can sense this and it's why I don't currently have a boyfriend... And while I may be frustrated with that fact, I shall never never never compromise on the fact that I do want a good Man.
Thank you for being a like-minded soul. Meg, you are such a wonderful voice to hear, especially as a not-yet-adult.
Mairead

kate said...

I found my way to that blog you mentioned and wow, I didn't even know there people out there that still thought this way.

I can't even imagine. Truly, I can't, particularly concerning abusive relationships. Makes me ill. It's one of those times that I wish I hadn't learned about a particular "school of thought." It's so hard to comprehend.

Sarah Tucker said...

well i've got chills from head to toe. so beautiful, as always. and i just nod my head, and know you'll find that sort of Man. They exist. and i'm crossing my fingers and saying a prayer he comes quick to your side. sweeeeps you up, fights for you, protects you, values you, and makes you feel like the beautiful woman you are.

and i want to punch this anonymous in the face. if you find her, she's got a knuckle sandwich coming for her.

Krys72599 said...

Incredible.

Your posts about your partner-to-be are my favorites and I think this one ranks up there with your very best.

I feel like a broken record when I tell my nieces and my daughter not to settle, to know what they want, who they want, and to keep on looking until they find him.

Thankfully it seems 2 of the 4 have accomplished that, and I'm hoping the other 2 do soon...

You can find that "one" and you will still have a bad day or two, or several. But the important thing is to know what the non-negotiables are, and stick to your guns.

Lillian said...

Dear Meg, and other readers,

I just want to let you know that such. men. do. exist.

Last month, I became engaged (after a whirlwind 6 months - so that can happen too!) to a man who is THE MANLIEST and most mature man I have ever met. No video games for him. Yale-educated, tall, and hunky, he cooks for me and reads philosophy FOR FUN. He challenges me and we have the best discussions about religion, politics, you name it. And he really, really wants children.

Guess what else? We are both 23.

I did not settle or compromise. And he was abundantly worth the wait. REAL MEN still exist, and they are not all over 60 (as I once thought).

Yours is coming, soon. Til then, keep faith.

Lillian

Colleen K. said...

I had a standard break up line for all those "not the one" men I met when I was in that part of my life; before I met my salt and pepper bearded whole, complete, feminist loving, manly man. I will share it. Refine it. Change it to suit your voice but never feel bad for using it when "he" is not the right one for you, no matter what anyone thinks. First, I would pick up the tab for the coffee or drink the night or day I decided that I'd decided. I would say some version of - "thank you so much for these last couple dates, days, weeks (insert whichever fits). You are an amazing or kind or thoughtful or interesting (insert whatever fits) man. I respect you and do not want to waste your time or mine by continuing to date when I know that I do not feel like this is going to go anywhere beyond where it has. You are going to make someone very happy and I do not want to keep you from her. After that depended in the guy and his response but with a little further conversation we always were able to part amicably. Just hold your position that you don't feel it. You are amazing and should never settle! Good for you for knowing yourself.

Rebecca said...

You are such. such. a beautiful writer. The way you can write everything we've only subconsciously thought and never put words too. This blog is like therapy without even realizing it :)

Scarter said...

Is it possible to have the spark and then lose it? Or, is it that the spark never existed in the first place and we only say we "lost" it to either lessen the guilt of rejecting someone or lessen the pain of being rejected? Thoughts?