Friday, May 29, 2015

Casual Intimacy

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see one of my favorite musicians play a free show in a little bar in Brooklyn. It was exactly what I needed just then to reinforce my faith in my badassery. I saw on Twitter that he was going to be out and about, so I emailed him to find out where. He responded within an hour and I made a plan to get to the show come hell or high water. It was a great show. He played so many of the songs I needed to hear, and it was just him with a guitar, which was lovely. Not that I don't like his band - I do, very much - but the intimacy of a solo acoustic show in a little divey hipster bar in was perfect. After the show, he was outside smoking a cigarette and talking to fans and I managed to grab him for my daily selfie. He put his arm around me, leaned into the picture, and when we went to let go, he very casually kissed the top of my head before walking away to talk to someone else. To be clear, I'm not insinuating that this meant anything. If you asked him, he wouldn't even know he had done it, in part because he was very drunk, and in part because it was as natural a motion to him as blinking. You've got your arm around a friend who is shorter than you, and when you let go, you first give a little squeeze and kiss them on the top of the head. It's an easy target and a common motion. For me, it was kind of a surreal moment. To meet this man and be treated like, I don't know what, an equal? A person? It was lovely. I know it meant nothing to him, but from my end, it was lovely. And lately, when I have been feeling stressed and sad, I just remember that one time when Frank Turner kissed the top of my head and it makes me smile. 

See, the last man who I tried to date also had this habit of kissing the top of my head, or my forehead, or my cheek, when we were out and about. With him, it was a different kind of intimacy, an acknowledgment that right then, in that moment, I was his and he was happy to have me there. Yes, it had a smattering of Jeff Winger patting Annie on the head, but it was sweet. It was different from other men I've tried dating. It was, to me, an almost more intimate gesture than a "larger" display of affection would have been. And if we're being completely honest here, it might be what I miss most now that I don't see him anymore. We did not part on bad terms - it just fizzled because of insane schedules - so when I remember the nice things, they do make me ache a little bit. And what I miss most is the little stuff. The beautiful, tiny, casual intimacy that a kiss on the top of the head can be. 

I will find the little intimacies again; it just takes time to find the right people in a new city. But if Frank Turner can kiss me on the top of the head, there has to be someone else in this city of eight million people who will, too. Right?

Monday, May 18, 2015



It's a catch word now that stands for empowerment and growth and strength and tolerance and acceptance and all of that stuff. We need diversity in the workplace! We need diversity on television! We need diversity in film!

Yes, yes we do. And we need diversity in our everyday lives, too.

Now, please don't take this the wrong way because I am a feminist and I am all about equal rights for everyone. But I do sometimes wonder if our cries for diversity actually end up segregating us more than they bring us together. For example, if I'm going to be a crusader for women's rights, I'm probably going to surround myself with other women so we can encourage and empower each other, right? And if I then decide that it is really women of color who need my support, I'm going to find a group of women of color that I can belong to and help out. And then if it turns out that I find that the rights of lesbian women of color, or transgender women of color is really what I'm passionate about, I'll seek out those groups that I can help and support. So now I'm surrounded by lesbian and/or transgender women of color who are different to me (because I'm not lesbian, transgender, or of color), which would seem to be a good thing because diversity, yay! But what about all of the non-lesbian, non-transgender, non-females in the world who also might have something to offer? Or who I might also be able to help? Or who might just be really kick-ass friends to go have a beer with sometime?

I bring this up because of a reading of a play that I went to last week on my one night off. A man who I met at a monologue festival had an actress drop out on him last minute, so he asked if I could fill in at this reading he was doing in his back yard. I agreed and went over to read a play. When I walked in, I suddenly felt very odd and it took me a minute to figure out why. It wasn't that I was in a new apartment for the first time, or that I'd not been to this guy's house before. It was that I was the only woman in the room. This is not a new experience for me - I have spent a lot of my life being outnumbered by men - but it was strange in that it has been a long time since that happened. The office I work in is mostly women. The play I'm in right now is mostly women. The theatre company I am a member of is all women. And while all of this is great because it means opportunities for women, it made the reading last week odd because I had almost forgotten what male energy felt like.

The thing is, I like men. I know a lot of men, a lot of quality men. My best friend in Chicago, my brother, my uncles, my friend's husbands...I know a lot of really great men with positive energy who are supportive and funny and generous. And I realized that by spending so much time with groups of almost exclusively women, I'm missing out on all of this great potential energy. I'm missing out on the different viewpoints offered by the male perspective. I'm missing out on diversity in my own life. I'm missing out on it to the point where it almost made me want to start dating just to introduce some more men into my life who I could see on a regular basis. Almost. I'm not that desperate. Yet.

So I guess the takeaway from this is that yes, we should be promoting diversity to make sure that everyone gets a fair shot in the grand scheme of things. But I also think that we shouldn't dive so far into our little diversity buckets that we forget how many other buckets there are. There is a lot of value to be found in exploring new buckets.