The Adventures of Eco Boy vs. Yoga Girl: Game Over.
“’Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing,’
…said that famous football coach. Vinnie something.
I’m not so sure about that. When it comes to love—and love lost—well love is a battlefield from which no one emerges alive. No one wins. We learn something, hopefully. Or we don’t learn. Either way, we play again. Either way, we have moments of joy, and moments of pain. Sunshine and rain.
But if we learn to love fully—the “good” with the “bad”—if we learn to love truly, instead of merely going through the motions like well-paid actors—if we learn to love maturely—that is, selflessly—we may lose the battle, but we win the war.”
~ Dr. Willard Evans
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Eco Boy sad, Yoga Girl happy; both lose.
It was a cool spring morning. Sunny, but cold.
And finally Eco Boy woke up…cozy, warm—so warm and cozy beneath his six wool blankets (vintage) and two (organic) comforters that he was sweating into his cowboy pajamas.
He’d been dreaming of her, again. She had black hair, for some reason, or brown, or she was blonde or had green eyes or red hair…he couldn’t tell, it was one of those dreams. But he grabbed her and they came together in a hallway, the entrance to (her?) apartment, and his face pressed into her neck, her pale skin lighter than the dark room, his hands upon her breasts beneath her tank top, and now they were in bed, and he was as if hungry face first between her clean legs, devouring her.
But now he was awake, and he missed her.
It was Wednesday, 8 am. Blue had woken up an hour ago and begun stretching and moving around, then sleeping again and making more yawning noises and…generally serving as the cutest alarm clock ever invented.
His neck was stiff, a hangover from working too many hours on his Mac Air. His eyes barely opened: he’d had allergies for two weeks, now, snotting and shuffling his puffy-eyed, sniffly way around town in a fog.
His brain was busy, as it always was before he meditated in the morning…he was a touchy, grumpy bear in the mornings, you don’t want to be around him ‘til he’s had his coffee, and showered, and exercised, and gone to the bath room and brushed his teeth and meditated. Then and only then was he ready for primetime.
And as he lay there, staring up at the ceiling, trying to wake up, his dream of her quickly yielded to more scheming about more new women. He leaned back and opened the window further, breathing in the fresh air.
He was already leaving the windows open—he loved the fresh air and he never heated his house much anyway, even in the dead of winter when it was snowing buckets out he’d just wear a sweater and a knit hat and blanket himself up and drink tea…gas comes from somewhere, and he couldn’t very well protest fracking with his left hand while his right turned up the thermostat.
But his fogginess came back over him and he laid back and returned to thinking about girls.
It had been a year of dating beautiful tall women who didn’t care about him, much.
He missed Yoga Girl still, every day, all the time. She had for him become an Ideal, “the one who got away,” a symbol of all that was wrong with him and missing from his life. She had for him become like a high school’s first love, only now he was 34*** and should know better.
But love dumbs the best of us down. And so when he was happy, he thought of her and wished he could share said momentary happiness with her. And when he was sad, or confused, he wished he could talk things over with her.
Funny thing was, day by day, he couldn’t even remember what she looked like, anymore. His memory of her face was now Instagrammed: blurred, golden-hued, filtered by the turning of the calendar pages of his life. They were no longer friends on Facebook—he’d blocked her in an attempt to move on—and so he had no new images from which to refresh his fantasies about reuniting with her. He’d heard she was dating an old ex-boyfriend—he’d heard she’d gotten pregnant, twice—he’d heard she’d slept with [Bearded Sommelier] and half the town’s sleazy or cute boys—he’d heard lots of different things. And each time he told whomever that he didn’t want to know any gossip about her. He didn’t want to know anything about her except if she moved away, which would have been a sad relief. And he meant it. He really didn’t want to know anything about her. He didn’t want to see her. Because he, still, hadn’t learned: he, still, didn’t want his projections of her, his image of their love messed with by knowing anything about the real thing.
But Eco Boy and Yoga Girl lived in the same town, though they both traveled. And even if she was rich and jet-setted wherever she wanted whenever she wanted; and he was a workaholic and airplaned away for, well, work…well their town was a town, not a city, and it was impossible that their daily paths would not eventually overlap. For they liked the same foodie restaurants, the same hipster bars, the same farmers’ market and the same swimming pool and yoga studios and cafes and hikes and book stores and parties and music and events. And if that wasn’t enough to bring them together, their respective circles of friends ven-diagrammed over one another. It was a two-degrees of separation kind of town—which is why the tech community, and the natural product community, and entrepreneurs generally flourished, here. Networking was organic, here. You’d meet your next investor or developer in line for a double machiatto. But that same smallness was a bad thing when you wanted to avoid your ex-, and she was crazy, and you (thought you) were still in love with her.
And so it was a matter of time before they ran across one another.
And so it was that on the 10th of April, 2014, a cold but sunny Spring day, that Life found Eco Boy bicycling with Blue downtown to a favorite café, and working on his laptop in a long wide hidden pink sandstone patio, writing. And so it was that Life found Yoga Girl, that same cold but sunny Spring morning, driving down from [Spiderman]’s mountain house after a night of hot tubbing and sex on the starlit patio and now, parking and walking up from behind Eco Boy, arm in arm with her new man, the famous daredevil climber she’d been “dating” for a week “or so.”
Yoga Girl and Spidey, the famous climber, were already in the “or so” portion of their “relationship,” and things were falling apart, and that was fine: they both intended this to be a term-limited affair. The sex was fast and furious and bad and cheap and high and drunk. They’d enjoyed showing themselves off at the hipster bar and foodie restaurants, and she’d enjoyed (instagramming herself) learning how to boulder (climb without ropes)…but at the end of the day they still had to look one another in the eye and, you know, talk about something. And at the end of the day real live relationships still involved patience, and connection, and warmth, and that all that stuff. And all that stuff was all a bit embarrassing. For as she and we well knew by now, Yoga Girl only really loved herself, and her parents’ money, and the insulation from pain that their money afforded her. She was like a Lululemon Siddhartha, a princess who refused to leave her perfect pearly gated community for life and its real joys and messy suffering.
So Yoga Girl and Spiderman simply served as update material for one another’s statuses, for those weeks: he was almost famous and very tall and wide and strong and good-to-look-at in a Patagonia catalog kind of way. His many-times-broken nose and wide dark eyes and matted, unshowered hair had graced the campaigns of 5-10 and other adventure outfits that made their money off of Nature, but had nothing “eco” about them. He didn’t care: he just wanted gas in his customized campervan and plane tickets to Fountainebleau and beans in his belly. So he sold himself to the highest bidder, his sponsors pressing him forward, toward ever more-dangerous stunts. His latest had been to free solo (with full camera crew) a Russian peak that’d avalanched on eight others, entombing those less lucky men in snowy graves. He’d named the route Russian Roulette.
Eco Boy didn’t see Yoga Girl walk in. He was busy tapping away at his laptop, sitting with stiff neck and a writer’s bent posture. And they didn’t notice him—they just walked by. But as they walked by Eco Boy looked up and saw Yoga Girl’s dark mane and precisely, sweetly, he said her name.
And she turned to Eco Boy, not looking surprised in the least—and she turned back to Spiderman and said, quietly, “I’ll catch up with you?”
“Coffee? Or Americano?,” Spiderman said in the manliest voice ever.
“Whatever is good, Spiderman,” she replied, and her smile, even seen from the side, nearly crumpled Eco Boy’s tenuous hold on cheerfulness. For the sight of Yoga Girl cut into his vulnerability like a bulldozer digging up a dandelion.
And big Spidey strutted on and walked in the cafe and started flirting down at a little barista girl, figuring (correctly) that he’d be single, soon.
Eco Boy, like Yoga Girl, was a selfish, self-aware child. And he loved her more, now that he didn’t have her. She was a toy: for love is man’s greatest game, isn’t it? And she was a toy he didn’t own, a collector’s edition in limited supply available only on ebay for a ridiculous price that he couldn’t afford.
So Yoga Girl came over to his cherry red metal folding table and asked, “?”, gesturing with a pale hand to the white, curling metal chair.
And Eco Boy said “!,” and half-stood, gesturing for her to sit. She was wearing a ridiculously floppy burgundy summer hat and a long white dress and a cream-colored cardigan and her big black eyes re-startled him with their lack of warmth.
He smiled, in a sad way, and said “So—”
And she smiled, slowly, and looked him in the eyes, and let her cloistered heart come out through her eyes, just a little bit. And his heart, hurt, came out through his auburn and green–flecked eyes and his immature heart collided with hers and they felt the old chemistry.
“How are you,” he said, dully.
“I’m good. Traveling a lot, for work,” she said, feeling very grown up. “It’s…so…exhausting?”
“You’re working?!,” he asked, surprised. It sounded like an insult, and he guessed it was.
“Yes. I started a publishing company. Goddess Imprints. I named it after Diana. She was, like, the first feminist. Anyway: it’s awesome. All I do is make everything beautiful and do photo shoots, and hire good people and hire a few other people to run those people and I pay for everything and it pays for me to pay myself and pay them to make me more money! It’s like my dad always said: money makes money. It’s perfect for me.”
“You started a publishing company?,” he repeated to himself, mindfucked. “Who taught you all that?,” he asked, too surprised to be sad, now, for a moment.
“It’s easy. I watched a youtube video about how to self-publish—there’s thousands of videos, it’s like a revolution and shit—and then I, like, read a blog about self-publishing and then I posted on my Facebook Wall and…then I hired someone to follow the steps and I do all of it through Amazon, basically, and I don’t have a real office or anything, we’re just like a…virtual factory. I rent a spot in a co-working place, it’s gorgeous. Super eco! I’m not making rich money, but it’s something to do. You should write for me!”
“There’s only so many yoga teacher trainings you can fly off to, I guess,” he muttered.
“Fuck you,” she offered.
“Well, that’s impressive,” he said. And he sighed—it was good talking with her, remembering that she was an idiot, not merely an object to feel sorry for himself about.
Reality is so much more reassuring, sometimes, than our imaginations.
“And you?,” she asked. “How are you, Eco Boy? You…okay?” She meant, he was sure, “You seem insecure, what’s wrong with you?”
“No, I’m fine. I mean, yes. I’ve just been working. Traveling a lot. I’ve been dating. A ton. Going on dates, I mean. No one in particular. I’ve been…sad. Missing you, I guess.” He shrugged and smiled, sadly. “It’s hard to find anyone to fall in love with…there’s lots of cute girls but we’re not nearly as compatible as you and I were.”
“We had nothing in common. We looked good together,” she smiled, gently.
“I guess. But I sure thought we were a good fit—a match. That’s all I ever wanted: an equal.”
“You just read that somewhere. You love dating. You like sex…with different girls. You like your sadness. You like being alone. It’s easier. It’s a comfort blanket, for you. You love yourself…” she trailed off, wisely, realizing halfway through that she didn’t care enough about him anymore to get into his shit. His shit was endless.
There’s a Buddhist expression about relationships that says, “the spouse is the only one who is committed enough to act as a messenger on behalf of the phenomenal world…the only one who cares enough about you to bother to tell you the whole truth.” Anyways.
And he saw her coldness close the gate of her eyes to her heart, and saw her eyes drift off, trailing after Spiderman. Already she was thinking about her black brown dark hot coffee, white mug, and soon she’d get up and shake hands stiffly and be off and out of his shell of a life, again.
“So…I’m good,” he said, hurriedly. “I work and date and travel and when I’m home I work on my house and stay up too late and hang with Blue and go out a lot and eat good food.”
“Well, I wish you luck,” she said, vaguely. “I hope you meet someone, I guess.” She’d been smoking herb in her American Apparel boy’s underoos all morning, and it was hard for her to be too serious about anything for too long.
“Mmm,” he replied. “I asked a girl out the other day, she hasn’t called back…why do so many beautiful women play games? Why can’t you all just text back?”
“’Cause we prefer assholes. You’re an asshole, but you seem nice. If you flipped that around, you’d get all the ladies. Be an asshole on the outside, nice guy on the inside…you’re so close to being such a lady killer.” She gave him a big white smile.
“I do fine. I’ve had three or four dates this week.”
“Sure, you do fine. But you’ll die alone.” The words came out of her without a grin—too quickly and smoothly for her to pull the punch. She got up to leave.
He winced, but shrugged: “You’re right. I like being alone, as you said.”
As she stood up, her attractive thighs moving beneath her long dress, he thought of charming her back to bed. He wasn’t sure how charming he was, anymore.
“Well. I have to go,” she said. And with that she walked off and got her black coffee in her white mug, and that was the end. And it wasn’t witty, or interesting. It was just real life, and it was sad, as so many endings are.
It was what it was.
For life isn’t a short story, with the names changed. It doesn’t always make sense, or add up, or make a funny story for later to retell, loudly, over a microbrew in a stupid bar. Sometimes love and loss just is what it is:
Two shallow, privileged, lucky idiots falling in love (more like lust and infatuation) with their projections of one another. Falling out of love the first time their egos banged into one another and failed to confirm one another’s superfluous, superficial bullshit. And then, life taking its course, their respective disappointment, sadness, loneliness…waking one of them up to life, helping her to grow up and, on the other hand, putting him back to sleep, a lonely and sad cocoon serving only to insulate himself further from feeling life.
And all the hot sex—all the cold love and safe adventures, common and extraordinary—were ended.
And all we are left with is two hearts—one self-satisfied and calloused and ready to suck the marrow out of life; and one cloistered, hidden, closed, resigned and cowardly, and yet still hungry and dangerous.
Life offers us continuous lessons, but it’s up to us if we want to learn.