The Love Lagoon (continued)
Kissing The Loch Ness Monster
Until I started college I only had one real girlfriend. My first kiss was three days after I turned eighteen. Eighteen! That is not normal. Well, maybe it is the reality for many shy people. But still, it felt like an embarrassment.
Junior year of high school I found a new way to seclude myself from the world while still making myself believe that I could be social. I spent hours every day talking to people in Internet chatrooms. I got to know girls, develop crushes on them, tell them we should “date” over the net, and then ride that until it fizzled out or I ran away from it. It was so easy to pour myself into these relationships because they gave me a sense of social interaction and feeling comfortable with myself without the risk of face to face rejection that I would have at school. I went through a series of stand ins for real relationships before actually finding somebody. This Internet chatting is how I met the girl who would become my first real girlfriend.
After meeting in a random chatroom, then talking a few times, we found out we were both from North Dakota, and lived only about an hour and a half apart. It seemed too good to be true. We talked on the phone or net, daily, for a year and a half before we met. This gave her a chance to know “the real me” without having to deal with my lack of in person confidence. We liked the same movies and music — a lot of small dramas and indie rock. She was cute, nice, and thought I was really funny. We spent a lot of our time talking about school, how our day had been, what we were reading, and what we were working on. But we went further than that — becoming comfortable enough to tell each other secrets that no one else knew: the depression we sometimes felt, how we thought our parents expected us to be the perfect smart child, the awkwardness we felt around relatives and classmates, that talking to the other made us feel safe after a hard day, what we wanted for our futures, how she she had nightmares that made her think she’d been molested as a child. She was from an even smaller town than me, and understood the isolation of growing up in the country where you’d known the same people your whole life and knew you couldn’t date them.
One night my senior year we decided to meet in her little town. This was it; either a year and a half of buildup was going to pay off, or I would blow it and have to reset my love life again. For once, something was on the line. I left at three in the morning, managed to get lost several times, and almost hit a deer, but I did eventually find her. Her name was Vanessa. At the time I called her Nessa, but now I call her the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie for short.
I pulled up to the church we agreed to meet in front of and saw her waiting in her car. That was the first time I’d ever felt butterflies. I tried to park, and then reparked because my car ended up at an awkward angle, jutting into the road. Things weren’t starting off great. I pulled on my hair a little, took a deep breath, and got out.
As I came up to her car, she rolled down her window to say hi and I waved.
She got out of her car. I didn’t know if I should hug her or not, so I took a step back. She wore a low cut black shirt and jeans. She opened up her back door, crawled in, and I followed. She smelled so good. We sat close, but weren’t touching.
“How was the drive?”
“Pretty good. Sorry for taking so long. I took a wrong turn at Fargo, and then when I got here a deer jumped right in front of me.”
“I’ve only been here for like a half hour. I told my mom I was meeting you.”
“What did she say about that?”
“Oh you know her, she was excited, told me not to get pregnant the first time that I met you.”
We both laughed and then she stood up to adjust the radio on the dashboard. I noticed that she had a little bit of a booty, and that it was ridiculously cute. When she sat back down she snuggled herself against me. I put my arm around her and we sat that way, snuggled, but facing forward. Her skin was so soft and being against her made my body tingle. The green light of the radio shone on our faces as Beck played and we thought of how to go forward. She got a blanket and put it over us. We held hands, talking about how cool it was to finally meet.
She snuggled her head against my neck, and I rested my head on top of hers. She was my new pillow.
“So, should we kiss?” She was incredibly forward for a self professed shy girl.
“I think so.” I was nervous but excited.
We had to readjust ourselves and snuggle our faces together before anything happened. But then it did. Our first kiss was a mismatching of lips, an awkward amount of pressure, and a complete failure all around. Better than a kiss from your dog, but worse than a kiss from your aunt. Was this really what I’d fantasized about and felt frustrated over missing for so many years? Neither of us had kissed anyone before, so what could we expect? We looked at each other. I didn’t want to give up after eighteen years of anticipation so I said we should try again. And so we did, and then again, and then I slipped off my shoes, and then again some more. Every time she kissed me my face tingled and the feeling worked its way down through my body. We ended up fooling around for several hours as the sun rose, and almost got spotted by some early rising farmers riding by in a tractor and grain truck.
Not to undermine the fact that this was one of the most self affirming nights of my existence, but from that experience I realized that I can come to one philosophical truth about life and that is that I absolutely love butts. Firm, round, beautiful, smooth, a treat for the fingers. My fingers went a lot of new places that night. It was incredible.
I was with her for about three hours. Between making out we’d sporadically stop to chat. Sometimes about what felt good for the other, sometimes about simple things like the song playing, what we were going to do the next day, the best way to cuddle in the seat. When it was time to go we both got out of her car and stood in front of mine.
“So, are you going to come down and see me again?”
Despite how great it went, how natural I felt around her, it was great to hear these words. She had enjoyed herself.
I wiped the hair from her eyes and said “I want to come back as soon as I can, Nessa.” We kissed again.
As I drove off we waved, then I watched her in my rear view mirror for as long as I could.
Nessa told me the next morning that she made her friends smell her bra, which apparently now had a man scent, and from that they guessed that we’d met and fooled around.
We decided to date. It’s fair to say that by the time we were officially going out we were in love with one another.
Or at least we thought we were.
Since this relationship was my first it was kind of an exploring ground, figuring out just exactly what a relationship was, what you do in it, and how you make it work. We tried going out three different times, not including the times where we weren’t dating, but still messing around.
I was always so selfish in thinking I could have her body without commitment, without continually surprising her by bringing new excitement into her life. We lived roughly an hour-and-a-half apart, so we only saw each other about three times a month since we both had school during the week. I always drove down to see her, though she did come up once by surprise to hang and jump on our trampoline.
We spent most of our time together pretending to watch movies, or be off somewhere in the country driving around looking for places to make out. We once ended up rolling around in some roadside ditch and a car drove by honking its horn in approval for the young lovers. We eventually found a hidden place on a hill overlooking an entire town where I could park my car, or set out a blanket for a make out picnic. We’d kiss and look up at the stars for hours while chatting and listening to traffic below. Always holding one another.
It seemed like once we started dating we stopped talking about our lives to one another like we had in the past, about everything we felt before the physical aspects of our relationship had begun.
We tented together once, which was the only time I ever got her completely naked, something she never accomplished with me. We had spent the day swimming in a lake and making out. Nessie was a very beautiful girl, with a matching body, butt, and breasts. I had her in the tent naked with a chance to lose my virginity. She told me she wanted to have sex, but the old timid me was still a force in my life, so instead I tried to eat her out with her sister and friend in a different tent only a few feet away. Giving her oral was at once both nice and boring. I didn’t know what I was doing and after having my head stuck between those legs for what must have been at least ten minutes, with her moaning dying out, and vagina drying up, I asked “Is something wrong?”
“I just want you up here with me.”
Somehow I misheard her and thought she said “I still want to be with you.” I took this to mean she thought the oral was so bad that it had nearly endangered our relationship. This made me angry and I felt embarrassed so I went to bed like a little baby. Went to bed! With a beautiful naked girl right next to me.
This is a mistake I repeated in similar fashion several times in a future relationship. I always feel so unsure of myself and whether someone is attracted to me that the smallest indication of failure makes me retreat. It’s an ugly part of me I wish I understood more, that I’m combatting to stop. Obviously it’s not healthy to live with such a fragile sense of self worth. I always live in such fear of rejection that I withdraw myself from any situation where it seems likely to happen.
I had never really “connected” with someone else before she came along. She brought me a lot of happiness and hurt that I didn’t know I could feel. It was good, but during the low times I wished I could fill my stomach with cement to seal off the pain. I had never felt an emotional attachment like this to anyone before. With my internet girls it didn’t matter if it ended because I’d never invested myself emotionally beyond the point of sexual excitement. Always stayed guarded because I thought I was disposable to most women.
I was sometimes more swept up in the idea of love than actually questioning the validity of it or its sustainability. At the time I believed I loved her. Having experienced actual love later in life, I’ve come to realize that we had an immature artificial love, a desire to be wanted so bad that we gave it the ultimate label to try legitimize it. Or that’s how it was on my end. It’d be belittling of me to project my views of it onto her.
She helped me with so much and opened me emotionally in ways I hadn’t been cracked before. I opened up to her completely at times. If I had problems going on in life, or even between me and her, they seemed to go away when I could feel how warm she was, when she’d put her head on my chest and listen to my heart, telling me that she loved me.
I learned to love this cuddling, I always got so much more out of that than from sexual intimacy with her. I often lived inside my head while kissing her, and at the height of my obsession with the dance game Dance Dance Revolution, saw DDR arrows scrolling in my head as we kissed. Was this a precursor of boredom between the two of us? Was it because neither of us knew how great sex could be and thus didn‘t go there? I was very physical in touching her, while she was more hands off. She would excuse this by saying “I go off into my own world when you touch me.”
Either this was true or I was just too much of a hideous macaroni troll for her to want to grope. I wanted to be groped so bad. Maybe I was too needy in hoping for affirmations of her attraction to me despite knowing I turned her on and made her happy. Perhaps her lack of physical contact caused some of the boredom that I felt. At one point we decided that we wanted to have sex, but every time I tried to strip her down, she was resistant, maybe shy, and I was nervous, so it never happened. We were both inexperienced and didn’t know how to get there. Despite knowing that she liked to fool around, I was often afraid to initiate a random kiss. I had all this newfound confidence, but at the same time I didn’t. On many of our dates we never ended up kissing until after being around each other for several hours.
Romance was so new to me I didn’t always know how to practice it. And after a certain amount of time I let myself forget that I needed to. After the initial excitement it all started to fizzle, leaving us to examine how much of a connection we had in the real world, and how much was left of that. This makes me think that to some degree we were more infatuated with having someone to hold and be there than it had to do with any sustainable connection.
I never once got to take her out to eat; she didn’t want to munch food in front of me, or something weird like that; but I got to stick my tongue inside of her. That’s life. We spent most of our time cruising around, watching movies in her room, and occasionally visiting friends of hers. It’s telling that I only have three sentences to write about our dates, but a hundred set aside to talk about how much I masturbated.
Our relationship went through its highs and lows. I broke up with her once, she with me twice. The first time she broke up with me, we had been barely talking for weeks. I was notoriously bad for not calling her. Despite having her, I still didn’t always know how to communicate how much she meant to me. I went to a hotel and got drunk with friends the day of the return party for her brother who had been in Iraq. I didn’t know his party was that day. But it didn’t matter. I’d messed up and she was upset with me. We still fooled around in between breakups — I guess because of a combination of teenage lust and what we still felt for each other.
Often during those times of being apart I would feel physically sick during most every waking moment of the day thinking that it was inevitable I was going to lose her forever. I’d wake up and within seconds she was invading my mind. The thoughts of her would come flooding back at random times, always when I didn‘t want to have them. Even during my grandpa’s funeral, which was during a time we were broken up, the only thing that was on my mind was her. I felt sick and the need to cry, but only because of her, not because of the death.
We started going out again several weeks later. I’d gone to see a play of hers and she asked me out by opening her locker which had a sign in it saying “Nolan will you go out with me?” When I got back to her house my name was in construction paper letters and loops on her wall, and she had made all of these signs proclaiming her love for me.
But soon enough we began to fall apart again. We were only watching movies together and she was getting midnight phone calls from this creepy twenty one year old party animal she knew from the Internet. He became a source of jealousy.
The last day I saw her was like any other. We went to her friends to hang out, saw the movie Hitch — painfully ironic — and then came back to her house to watch The O.C in her bedroom. I had written the words “love you” on my chest in blue marker. I was waiting for her to start kissing me and pull my shirt off to discover the sign. She never did. As we laid in her bed I asked “Do you still love me?”
“Of course I do.” She said it quick and sharp. I felt like she was on the defensive when answering.
The next day through e-mail she told me she needed time away from boys, at least until summer. After reading that e-mail I printed it out, then went into my room to read it over and over. I had the hardest cry of my adult life up until that point. I sobbed for over an hour, followed by hours of lying in bed feeling sick. But that’s the only time she brought me to tears. I tried talking to her a few times, but she’d act completely disinterested. In phone conversations she’d stop talking and then return minutes later without an explanation, if she came back at all. She seemed to transform into an entirely new person.
I thought I could win her back.
I began writing in a journal detailing every single time we’d been together, the entire history of our relationship from the internet, to meeting in her car, to us dating. I also started to make a video composed of lots of home footage of me growing up. I thought if she could see my life, hear my thoughts, she’d fall in love with me again. But then I found out about something that made me stop writing, stop making the tape.
Two weeks after we broke up she went to a hotel, got drunk with the twenty one year old guy and two of his friends, had unprotected sex on a dry winter night (losing her virginity, the second time she’d met him), kissed a girl, and got oral from the guy‘s friend. She grew up quick that night. I felt betrayed, sad, angry. But I also understood it. I’d stopped bringing the excitement to her life that I once did. She did what was best for her. She found out there was more to life than what I was providing.
This was all a week before my nineteenth birthday.
And then she took him to prom.
I was haunted by the image of her having sex with this guy. I didn’t know what he looked like so my imagination kept on coming back to this image of a blurry figure fucking her on a squeaking hotel bed while others cheered them on. It was the only thought I had. I must have played the image over in my head thousands of times. He got her body, but more importantly, he had her love, care, and attention. She wanted him and I was alone again. I could barely function outside of my bedroom.
I got completely hammered on my birthday, but all getting drunk did was bring the pain and betrayal to the forefront even more. I hadn’t been able to find my cell phone for a few days and spent $150 buying a new one hoping she’d call and wish me a happy birthday. She didn’t.
Two days later I found my old phone.
I was scared. Hurt. Dead. Disconnected. I lost twenty pounds. Having a girlfriend had been an affirmation that I was normal. I didn’t want to let that go, even if she’d hurt me. Even if we weren’t right for each other. Even if I didn’t know how to be a good boyfriend. But then I realized she would just do it again, and besides, she didn’t want me anymore. I had to find a way to move on.
She called me a few times. I told her to not call anymore. It only made the hurting worse, reopened the wound, and she always acted so casual as if everything were fine. I guess she didn’t know how to properly address things when her feelings had vacated and mine were still confused. She wrote me an apology letter a year or so later, but by that time I’d found my own peace and healing. We talk about once a year now, but don’t regularly keep up with each other’s lives.
It took me a year before I felt I was completely over what had happened. I was over her well before that, though. It wasn’t heartbreak. It was dealing with rejection, losing a friend, thinking of all my flaws and hers that’d brought me to where I was. Knowing that I’d opened myself to someone so much for a time and this was what came of it.
I didn’t want to be isolated on a farm anymore. I signed up for college and my life changed for the better. But it would be over a year and a half before I would become interested in other girls and kiss again, be able to talk about that relationship, start to date, and lose my virginity. But I still didn’t want to ever let myself love or open up to anyone. I was afraid of the possibility of going through that pain again.
I do not need a Loch Ness Monster. I can get other girls:
The girl who grew up in the meth house.
The girl who once fucked Jared Leto.
The preacher’s daughter who worked at the library.
I can lose these other girls too.
I’ve found more satisfaction in relationships since then even if they never hit the highs that the Loch Ness Monster brought me. But those highs were only built on finally having someone, on not knowing what I needed in a relationship, on the thrills of first time acceptance. They were temporary and over quick, never giving me real emotional satisfaction.
My girlfriends since have been much better, satisfying, and right for me. I didn’t know who I was when I was eighteen. I just wanted anyone who would take me. At twenty four I am so much more aware of myself and can’t just settle for whatever girl will have Nolan.
In my most recent relationship I found real love and intimacy. Then I lost it by never letting myself admit I had it. I was scared of what it meant to have someone who loved me and who I loved back, someone I had to commit to. Scared of what it meant to have to completely open myself emotionally to someone again. I let everything painful with The Loch Ness Monster scare me into hiding so many years later. But it wasn’t just my experience with Nessie that made me act that way. My behavior came from a lifetime of feeling shy and guarded, afraid that I’d be rejected or viewed as a bad person if I let someone see my emotions, fears, and hopes. I could’ve changed these things in myself with hard work, but I didn’t. All of my trying to not be so emotionally invested, this closed off behavior, resulted in (and caused) me experiencing heartbreak anyway.
I wish I could say I know how to be a better boyfriend now because of Nessie. Or that I knew more of what to expect out of relationships. I find it disheartening that I could have such profound realizations about myself after The Loch Ness Monster left me yet not learn from my mistakes to make new relationships work. To make myself work in them. I find ways to blow them by avoiding emotional intimacy, by thinking my life would be better alone like I had grown used to as a teenager. Then I realize how untrue that is, but by then it’s always too late. I’ve repeated this cycle more than once and things never alter, the end always becomes the same. I guess it’s that first big relationship that will always shape us, that will scare us. But maybe I can still fix myself. Or maybe not.
Rancher looking for a ranch wife – 79 (Western North Dakota)
I live on a small cattle ranch on the prairie. I am a Christian and attend church and bible study every week. I am looking for a wife with the same background as me. I take care of about a 100 cows by myself. I live 7 miles from a town, 35 miles from a bigger town, and 65 miles from a bigger yet town. I live in a trailer with two rooms and a porch added on. I have been on the farm by myself for 50 years. I like to look on the internet for good buys and go to auction sales. If interested e-mail me with your profile. Thanks for looking and HAPPY TRAILS ALL.
This cannot be me. I don’t want to spend the rest of my time alone, only to realize when I’m eighty I could’ve had people in my life all those years. Maybe I’ll be lucky and the fulfillment from another will come easy. Maybe it’ll be hard and I’ll search for ages. Maybe it’ll pass me by a few more times before I know I had it. In the interim I’ll continue learning about myself. I know I’ll have to turn inward for change but not become stuck in introspection. I can only control so much as the external factors of life are always in flux. But I’ll use what I can to bring myself to better places. To avoid the ones I don’t want to revisit. To ensure I’ll never drown another time in the swamp with a monster. I fear that’s not a swim I could survive twice.