Love, Actuarially: How Mathematician Chris McKinlay hacked OKCupid to find the girl of his dreams.
How typical. As soon as I begin to believe, it’s over. I am a fool. My lover abandoned me the day before we were to go to Vegas together for a captivating weekend of circus and adventure.
I asked for him to come anyway. If he needs to put this relationship down, I respect that need, but please respect mine, too. Let us do it together and with grace, with sympathy and care. End it with a whisper, I begged him, so that everything that came before could remain valid, so that the joy we found in our hearts in each other could stay alive, so that he would not have left a terrifying gulf of pain between us. My heart could remain connected to the world. We could stay open. We would still have undamaged space. He refused.
Now there is nothing that does not hurt. I have been running through my entire catalogue of cognitive reprogramming devices to try and repair as rapidly as possible, but it is impossible to remove this much pain on pure “I said so” alone. And it hurts that I know that he isn’t going to help me and it hurts to know that it is possible that his life never offered the compassion tools that teach a person how.
(I imagine he might be the only person more sorry about this than I am. And making a decision one will regret for reasons that will pass will probably only make for more sorry over time.)
Meanwhile, I try to stay distracted, the same way it’s better to talk about anything but an injury when you have to walk on it. No downtime. No interstitial moments that aren’t filled with something. Songs on repeat with lyrics or chord progressions I want to learn, playing Tetris-like repetition games while I mentally recite lists of scientific facts, “In order for nucleotides to..”, or practice foreign languages, “Estoy desconsolada.”
There is only so much strength to this sort of knowledge. For such tricks to work, there need to be new associations, better associations, you need to have happier threads, spark your neurons with joy like forcing a new path through a forest. And I haven’t had such a thing for a very long time, actual years, nothing could get in until I discovered our connection. Now that my only well has been poisoned, I am left without comfort. (Appalling, dire, it almost feels like life has reset back to quotidian norm.)
So I called out to my social media networks, asking if there was anyone who could come with me. It felt unnatural, but it was all I could think to do. Everything had been paid for, I had been saving for a year and I couldn’t afford to pay for it twice, and there were only a few things I had warning enough to cancel, (some surprise reservations, something on Friday night, a flower delivery on Sunday). And it would be something different. New pathways, new experiences. But even so I knew I couldn’t do it alone. There would be nothing except in relation to that void and his absence would overwhelm the world.
It took hours, until almost midnight, but eventually the internet shivered, shook, and delivered. People had been looking at air miles, at school schedules, at spontaneous adventure savings accounts, had been reaching, but failing. Until there was a shift. The gears caught together. Esme offered to drive me to the Bellingham airport, That 1 Mike wouldn’t be leaving for his tour until Saturday morning, Joshua was back from Africa, and a woman named Cypris had recently moved to Nevada, CJ said, and you two would get on like a house on fire. Then Cypris showed up in the thread, summoned by his tag, and promised a visit with the tigers, panthers, and the lion that live on the property she’s moved to with her love. It was the tipping point. I would not be alone in the most artificial city strip on earth while my heart was breaking. There would be company, authentic company. And that would be enough to go on, enough to carry my through.
So thanks to you, my internet, I went to Vegas anyway. I cried a lot. (The universe had a lot of extra fuck you saved up for me, too, like being denied entry onto Friday’s flights and the only empty seat on the Saturday morning plane being right next to mine, where he would have been.) I melted down a lot. But I also social hacked a $350 plan ticket with a chocolate bar, visited my favourite bronzes and the mantis art car with Joshua and went to the sexy Cirque Du Soleil show with a circus person who was pulled on stage and gave an incredible performance and we rode the roller coaster on top of New York New York twice, once in the very front, once in the very back, and Cypris and I made faces together for the coaster camera and I got to sleep on a couch in a pretty little house in the desert instead of the soulless hotel room and I woke to savannah-style roaring and I walked on a new kind of stilts and I pet big cats and was licked by tigers and scruffled a gigantic lion and held paws with a panther and fed a different panther and climbed all over Red Rock canyon. And it was magical.
I wished the entire time, a rolling dull thunder, that he was there to share it with. I wanted to be the person who brought him to lion scruffling. To introduce him to these beautiful people. To kiss him in the art gallery. To pick him up and spin him in the line for the roller coaster. To coax him to laugh in the two-person sized bath I sat in alone. Of course I did. I still do. (I had semi-promised him a red rose in a love letter, so I carried one with me from the circus for him anyway and left scarlet he-loves-me he-loves-me-not petals in all the important places. I shook the last of them from the stem as confetti over my new friends and I at the airport. I told you I was a fool.) He would have loved it, we would have blazed with light, we could have had a record breaking excellent goodbye. But we didn’t. But I didn’t miss out because of him. That was important. Now I have these moments. They are shaded with loss, but still beautiful. Thank you.
TLDR: Mourning. Loss. Suffering. Friends. But you know what else is important? Majestic one-on-one interaction with fucking gigantic cats.