in praise of difficult men

by s.

I love the weird and wild world between summer and fall with an abandon that almost-definitely ensures I’m going to get in some kind of trouble. This coincides naturally with my three greatest weaknesses: expensive boots, expensive scotch, and difficult men.

A thing about being a single woman in your thirties is that you will be offered boatloads of advice on love. Sometimes you have asked for it, but most of the time it comes from people who are unclear on how you have made it this long in the world without tripping and falling into someone who wanted to keep you. 
It’s easy to tell other people what to do.
You know who you are by how people respond to you. You figure out things about yourself, however strange, by understanding how they react to the world and their own place in it. I moved to New York and befriended a handsome, lanky pink-haired boy with the kind of feelings so complicated that when a mutual friend wrote him a love note, he responded by never speaking to her again. It was shocking until I watched nearly every man in my life for the next 14 years do roughly the same thing. Some of them did it to me, and yet I have also kept nearly every one of them. 
Some of them appear only in certain seasons. It is fall – like clockwork, I will receive at least three unprecedented emails or phone calls. They tell me things about myself, and in doing so they are saying I am sorry, or I love you, or there are things inside of my brain that I can’t tell you about and don’t want to. There will be scotch-fueled discussions in dark bars about art and loneliness and all of the times they (we) have been assholes. 
Most of my men are artists. It is possible that this fact alone cements their particular brand of complexity. They tell you too much all at once; they take it back; they run away. In turn they they accept the way you slide wordlessly out of rooms, the way you ask them to verify whether you ate dinner the night before, the way they are all separately and uniquely responsible for your heartbreaks and recoveries. They say sad, beautiful, amazing things with astonishing regularity. They send late-night drunk texts about their brokenness. They screw some things up, but they give the best hugs.
This is what we could call my autobiography: In praise of difficult men. Without them it is possible that things would be easier but I somehow doubt it.