Nothing’s more promising for love than the sweet smell of spring in the air. Enjoying the sudden warmth, walking hand in hand in the street with your honey, or savouring the cool nights, wrapping yourself in the arms of the person who knows all of your intimate details and loves you anyway.
This is my idea of nirvana. Or, at least, it used to be.
These days, I’m finding myself smack dab in the middle of a “slideback.” Slideback is a term that’s been a part of my personal lexicon for years. It refers to a newly dead relationship, where rigor mortis has barely set in. Slideback is what happens when a relationship stubbornly refuses to stay six feet under.
I’ve never used this term more frequently than since I started dating women. Let’s face it, when our relationships end (and they seem to end all too frequently for those of us in our 20s) they tend to be highly emotional and they tend to drag on.
In the het relationships I’ve known, the end is much more obvious. One half of the couple, usually the man, deals with the breakup internally, putting on a false show of bravado. Pride stands in the way of sliding back and, presto, the relationship is over. End of story.
Not so in the lesbo realm.
It’s no secret that women like to talk and talk, and then maybe talk about what we’ve talked about, just to gain perspective. We like to “process” and allow “the process” to happen naturally so that we can process it again later. It’s not enough that it’s all been said and done in a breakup, we feel the need to rehash it and analyze it constantly.
It’s after this torturous process, when all of the old feelings have been given new life, that we find ourselves dangerously vulnerable to the slideback.
Now, most of us know only too well that the slideback is a black hole. But often that knowledge doesn’t matter. We ignore all the consequences and slide further and further into a dark, treacherous trap. We just don’t care. Reality looms on the horizon of the mind, unfocussed and peripheral, and remains there. We ignore that little voice in the back of our minds, the one that says,”Are you stupid? What are you doing?”
Inside jokes are brought out and dusted off, carefully of course, so as to avoid certain explosive ones from the past. The kitchen becomes a haven of familiar and wonderful aromas and the living room seems to hum with electricity that has nothing to do with bright lighting. It’s togetherness, albeit a deluded form.
Depending on how charmed you are by your old life, the slideback can go on for a day or even a week, and all the while you are continually slipping further down into the muddy hole you’ve spent an agonizingly long time dragging your butt out of. All of the memories, the feelings and the needs that you were forced to kill off and grieve over are miraculously brought back to life. One by one, you watch the little familiarities that define each and every relationship creep back in.
And it all feels so good. You may miss your lover, but nothing hammers home just how much you miss them until you suddenly find yourself back together with them again. It’s only then that you take nothing for granted. You listen attentively to every word and appreciate all the little things that used to drive you nuts. In short, you find yourself falling back in love.
And it all feels so good. Until of course that horrible yet inevitable moment when the bubble bursts. Something happens or is said that triggers one of you to remember that there’s a reason you can’t be together anymore and suddenly everything deflates before your eyes.
Reality seeps in like ice water across a plush carpet. You’re annihilated. Words are mumbled and excuses are made, and that little voice you’ve been ignoring is now shouting in your ear, “What have you done?”
So you leave crushed, defeated and feeling worse than you ever thought possible.
Recovering from the slideback takes twice as long and hurts twice as much as the original breakup. If you ever thought your heart could feel emptier, you know now that you were wrong. If you’ve ever been tempted to pick up the phone and call her, the temptation is now infinitely worse. Like a fiercely devoted smoker trying to give health a second chance, one slipup can mean a lifetime of torture.
It looks as though this year, the smell of spring is promising me nothing but a whole lot of rain to come.