“You can tell your friends you met this crazy Norwegian girl on the Camino de Santiago.” These were Katrine’s words before we parted. She said that we had both accumulated a fun memory from our hike across Spain to tell our friends back home. We had met on the trail and spent 4 days together. I wanted her to be something more. I wanted her to want me more. I thought this girl from an exotic country could augment and make my fragile ego whole. It was illusion obviously.
“I think European girls treat sex more like a business transaction than American girls, which is simpler and less messy than the way many American girls are. Generally, I know every case is different, but this is what I have found on the whole. ” I said.
Katrine nodded along and feigned comprehension. There were times I could sense she was just too exhausted mentally to speak any more of her second language (English). In this case, I sensed that she was a bit uncomfortable with the fact that I liked her more than she liked me.
On our last morning together on the Camino de Santiago, Katrine and I hiked in the pitch dark forest for about an hour in the wilderness with my flickering flashlight that was out of battery. It was serene, seeing the sun come up and the sunlight color the horizon as we enjoyed each other’s company silently. “Here’s a spot where we can do it” she said and pointed into the woods next to the trail. We walked 50 yards into a field with chest high wheat stalks and found a narrow foot path that was hidden. The sex was fast, not longer than 6 minutes, in broad daylight at 7 am. We didn’t kiss. She avoided eye contact. I sensed her hand could have done the same job I did. It’s odd being on the other side of objectification, after all these years of using women as a means to an end. The sex derived its thrill from breaking the rules and doing something mischievous in the woods, but I withdrew during and after and felt robotic and disengaged. We finished and dressed quickly.
“You can be happy after sex, can’t you?” She said, addressing my aversion to smiling.
I grunted back. We had breakfast at the next town and I told her I was going to continue alone. She had clearly had enough of me by that point anyway, so it was mutual. I was her vehicle for immediate physical gratification. I felt more disconnected from everything at that moment than I had been for the entire trip. The elongation and maintainence of our sexual tension was like riding a wave and it was intoxicating and exhausting. The wave would inevitably crash and it deceived me into thinking I had stronger feelings for this girl than I did.
I had let myself believe that a girl could lift my spirits out of a detached equilibrium, a truce with life and my place in at, as mediocre. I had sabotaged myself and firmly placed myself outside of her in-crowd of travelers. A clique. In part this served my narrative of being an outsider, a loner. Something deep inside me relishes this role. I tell myself I know better than all of them and I am rebellious and misunderstood, a man before his time, prophetic and wise. I’m the fool who hears only his echo talk back to him in the jail cell.
I thought that by being in her presence, I could become content, carefree and jovial like Katrine. She had a similar disposition to all the ex-girlfriends I now dismiss as “Psychos.” I have labeled them all as party girls who needed attention like a vampire needs blood and lived life like a telenovela. I am the common denominator among these “psycho ex-girlfriends” though, and should take a look in the mirror. Does it give me a sense of importance? Being with girls who act as if every fight and loving moment is played out on a grand screen, shown to millions?
In my mind, I have thrown Katrine into the bin of party girls that I have been with, that just don’t understand me. We were fundamentally different, I tell myself, just like all the other girls. They become bored of me and need more to stimulate their ravenous social appetite. Via Facebook stalking, I can see she has a large circle of friends and I wonder how can you maintain that many friendships and still be close and authentic with all of them.
My two ex-girlfriends both had not only a million friends, but predominantly guy friends, which I could not handle, thus ending these relationships. I simply don’t have the energy to maintain an excessive amount of surface level relationships. It runs counter to my nature as an introvert. But there is something I crave and covet in the personalities of these “party girls.” I want to be around these girls because they are social, personable and bubbly. These are not traits I have ever possessed. I try to absorb some of their traits, futilely of course, like I am trying to get a contact high off a joint my friends are smoking. I have tried and failed to possess these traits of extroversion and optimism my whole life. I want them so badly, like I want drugs and alcohol. The problem is that its not possible to acquire them through osmosis.
Based on the ones I have known, I think Danish, Norwegian, Swedish and German people have chartered these routes to happiness as if it is a location on a map. “I do this, and this, therefore, I am happy,” as if it is some brain teaser or logic question on the Law School entrance exam. They have their little pet recipes and think they have cornered the market on the good life with quirky drinking traditions and jolly attitudes. They are a product of culture just as much as I am. My view is also skewed because I am a regularly or chronically? depressed person. I hate labels.
I am the arrogant, entitled, ignorant American that is “doped with religion, and sex and TV.” as John Lennon would say. Chalk it up to cultural misunderstanding. My views on happiness and methods to get there are obviously unconventional and far from perfect. I am the failed explorer sketching out maps of the new world for a King and Queen in the French empire, taking their money and chartering ships that would become mass tombs for sailors.
I think its time to get a sponsor to take me through the 12 steps, as I approach 2 years sober in May. I’m just this repressed scrunched up ball of anger, not living sober, but living dry. I’m stagnating, not facing and confronting these harsh truths and character defects of mine in an honest enough way. A “thorough and searching moral inventory” is required with the guidance of someone who has already been through the “big book” and “the steps”. Especially the 4th step where I will write out of my resentments, person’s harmed and ways I have acted out of instinct, letting desire for sex, ego, and comfort direct my actions.