Thousand Mile Shuffle


Met some East Coast boys in the hot tub the other night. They were going to hit the bars on the Hermosa Pier that night, then drive to Las Vegas for a weekend at the Hard Rock, then to San Diego for a few days, and then home again. There were presumably some girls in their party (I know this because I heard girl voices yelling, “Come up now!” from the second-floor balcony), but most of them seemed happy to pretend otherwise. They were doing the California/Las Vegas thing, and they were ready to pick up chicks. (I know this because they invited me bar-hopping. I declined.)

Instead, I went to a party with my friend Nadia, who had just returned home from the Honduras bringing a souvenir named Tom. (This is why I love Nadia: Where other girls will come back from vacation with a sunburn and a new bathing suit, she’ll come back with a 23-year-old commodities trader named Tom.)  Nadia had met him at a party on an island named Utila, which apparently is best-known for whale sharks, free diving and raves.  Tom was nice, but somehow, even though Nadia’s only 26,  he seemed way, way too young for her. (Maybe because he brought us to a kegger? I dunno…)

Then I went to San Francisco, where I met up with a very nice guy named Sam who’s been trying to woo me long-distance for a few weeks. And it was fun! I hung out for the weekend with my sisters. Our friend Remy came up from Santa Cruz on Saturday and we all went out dancing. While at the club, Remy also acquired a souvenir named Tom (strange coincidence, but I’m not making it up). Her Tom was from New Zealand, and apparently is a Fulbright Scholar, though I did not verify that. (What I DID verify was that he was pretty damn fine.)

Looking back on the past week, a couple things strike me.

First off—I can really see how all those settled-down, domestic people have a reason to be envious of singles. Our lifestyle is so incredibly free. We’re flying around, checking out places, checking out people, having adventures. And yes, it’s pretty damn cool.
But second—Is that, perhaps, part of the problem these days? I mean, freedom is great. But too much of it seems to lead to a somewhat fragmented life. I mean check this out:
East Coast Boys –Already have a circle of girls to hang out with, but aren’t paying attention to them, because they’re out in hot tubs and bars, trying to meet other girls. And if they do? Then what? Bring ‘em back to Jersey?

Nadia – Cannot set foot in a foreign country without immediately bumping into an eligible man who wants to hang out with her. But meanwhile, back home, has been in the same yoyo relationship with a “close, no cigar” guy for two years.  Her life is full of confusion, cultural questions and male pen-pals.

Toms – Ah, you young traveling boys. I can understand why you’d want to hook up with a hot girl at a party. I can definitely understand why you’d want to go home with her. What I can’t understand is why, so much of the time, you try to extend it beyond that. You start long-distance relationships. You show up in her hometown. Why? Don’t you understand, you’re supposed to be the one in this situation that says “So long, and thanks for the dirty photos.”?

Sam—Says he loves me. Lives 400 miles away. In the country. I love the city. Has never met my friends, been to a work event with me, had to deal with my horrible sense of directions, or tried to make me do the laundry. So how can he even know me? Let alone love me. I am confused about this.

Remy—The magician. She can be walking through a club, down a city street, through the freakin’ jungle (yes, she does this sometimes), and an amazing guy will fall in her lap. Five minutes later, he’s in love. A couple weeks later, she’s gone. I’ve seen it more times than I can count.

Writing this , I see one pattern that runs through everyone’s thread: Which is that the boys and the girls are separated by hundreds—sometimes thousands—of miles. We come together briefly, by chance. We hook up, we pair up, we talk about love…and then we go back to our separate corners of the world. It’s unbridgeable. It’s impossible. It’s fun!
But here’s my question: If everyone’s so busy flitting around the world having impossible flings, how will any of us ever be able to focus on a down-to-earth, real-live relationship with someone in our own reality?