Installment #9: Chloe & Fran on relationships

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Frances Badalamenti:  A theme that is often on repeat in our texts and talks and I feel, something that surrounds our friendship in many ways, is our individual relationship status.  I have been married for over a decade.  I have only had sex with that one person for the past fifteen years.  Before that dude, I was married to another dude and by the time that I was your age, I was already married and divorced.  You are a single lady.  When we first started hanging out, you seemed to be heading into recovery from a few not-so-healthy relationships.  We would sit at my kitchen table in the epicenter of my pretty fucking normal American life (husband, kid, houses, loot in the checking account) and we would be across from one another drinking tea and it was obvious that there was this major difference between the two of us that was beyond age or sexual orientation or fiscal disparities.  

I had a person and you did not have a person.  You were the lone wolf and I was part of a pack.  And the funny thing is — I envied you and I still do to a certain extent.  I would love nothing more than to be a lone wolf again for a brief period of time, but I think that I would want to have the knowledge that I now hold from being in a long-term relationship.  I think I envy your relationship status because of what I now know about being with the same damn person and sucking the same damn dick for so many years.     

Do you feel that you have envied that part of me, the part that has the same person in the same bed every night?  Or, is that something that you wouldn’t want for yourself at this point in your life?

CC: I’ve never told you this straight-up, but your house is pretty much my happy place. I explore this a little in an essay in my new collection, about how I’m often in situations and homes of friends married with children. You, Cheryl, Elisa Albert, Erika Kleinman. I like peering into that lifestyle and observing it.

But yes, I envy you having a husband and a kid because you have a rad husband and funny as hell kid. And I hope I have a version of that some day, but to be honest, I’m growing less interested in it, and it’s not like, a goal for me.

Early on in our friendship, your husband and kid went to the coast and you stayed in Portland. I came over for lunch, and you had already gone to yoga and were gonna go to Thai food and a movie later. You were applying to residencies and working on your book. You said something like, “I wish they were gone a week, I could get so much DONE!” And I totally got it. And I think not having a person does allow me to get a shit-tone ‘done’ in my creative life.

I also don’t have qualms about doing anything by myself–we’re the same that way. I think the lamest thing ever is when people say they wouldn’t go to a bar/movie/hike by themselves. Really? Then why do you even live? I love having meals alone, it makes me feel alive, especially in places like NYC. My friend the other day said she’s been wanting to get Pho, but would never do it alone because it’s pathetic. I ate Pho alone like once a week when I lived in Portland. Who gives a shit?

FB:  You said to me recently that you are un-dateable.  I remember first hearing that term in Frances Ha and totally fucking connecting to it because I can definitely recall a time when I was completely un-dateable.  It was a period in my life that I was way too hungry for a relationship and completely starved of sex and so I would be super intense with my needs and I would turn dudes off straightaway.  I remember once calling a dude’s answering machine like a hundred times in a row until he actually picked up the phone.  I would wait by the phone for hours to see if some dude might call.  It was complete desperation, it’s no wonder I married so quickly the first guy who came along and actually wanted to be with me.  It was sick in the head.  Awful.  My point is, that was my version of un-dateable, but I don’t think this is the case for you.

Why do you feel that you might be un-dateable?  

At this point in my life, especially within the past year, I’ve become really ‘career’ focused. I have no degree or skills really aside from nannying. Of course I could work retail or waitress or work at my dad’s store forever. But none of those are appealing to me, so I have thrown myself into this hustle of, as you said on the phone yesterday, “a working writer.”

Many people I’ve met I can tell ‘think’ they want to date a writer but they don’t think about it realistically, for example, I need a lot of space, and get anxious if I’m not getting work done. I think people want to date and waste time together, and that’s not where I’m at in my life. In that sense, I think I can be a little undate-able, because people don’t want to date someone whose work comes before everything else. It can be threatening, I think. That said, if I fell in love with someone, I would make the time.

Also, I’m a little high maintenance and need a lot of attention. I’ve been really immature in the past in my relationships, but I’ve grown a lot since then. Oh, and lastly, I write such personal nonfiction and many people I’ve dated don’t know how to broach that. It freaks them out. 

FB:  I am suddenly reminded of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, ironically my favorite book during the un-dateable phase of my life.  I am thinking about the character of Tomas and his need to be un-attached yet he had this strong desire for intimacy with women.  If I were magically awarded with a reprieve from the long-term, I would totally want to be a Tomas.  I would choose to be detached yet getting tons of good sex and great long talks in-between crisp white sheets.  But I think that is because I have already experienced and reaped the rewards of a long-term relationship.  I have no plans to give it up, I am fully committed to this person, but I cannot help but dream about the idea of being fully autonomous and confident and independent but also getting plenty of amazing human contact.  It would be a hybrid form of where both you and I are at in our lives.

If you could get whatever you want right now, in terms of an intimate relationship, what would you go for?  

I am definitely like Tomas in that regard, and you’re a nut for thinking of him for this, ha!

I would love to date someone who was passionate about what they do in the arts and needed alone time to do it. I’m not into ‘working’ around other people. My friend Milcah, who you know, texted me the other day and asked if I make ‘work dates’ with other people and sit at coffee shops with a friend (or in a living room) and both work silently on their computers. That sounds like my worst nightmare, I told her. I really need to be physically alone while I work.

I went to Elisa Albert’s apartment for dinner this past Sunday. Both she and her husband have separate large offices with windows. That’s what I would need. Or I would need to have a different schedule than my partner–like the way your husband goes to his office 9 to 5 so you have the day to write.

I envy my mom’s marriage, which I call The Weekend Marriage. Her husband livs two hours away, so they spend every Friday night through Monday morning together, and then go on epic vacations together. This would work for me. It works for my mom, too.

So yeah, I’d need someone who respects my space and boundaries. I need a lot of space! I need downtime. I guess at heart I am an introvert because I get drained around people.  

Oh, and he/she would be a millionaire. Har, har.

At Heart coffee in Portland this past January, you asked me, would you rather get a 20k book deal or meet your soulmate on your flight home? And I said, “The money. Nah, I guess the person.” And you said, “I know, right?”

FB:  Just to add in my five cents, I totally feel that you are dateable.  But I also know that you have to be ready to take on another person’s shit and that’s the part of a committed relationship that I feel is the hardest part and is the part that sometimes, some days, I want to just give it all up and be a Tomas.  You basically end up with this person’s dirty laundry in your face, both literally and figuratively and do me a huge fucking favor, please promise to relish in this quiet introspective time that you have right now, because I have a feeling that it will not be forever.    

CC: Oh thanks. Will you date me? Hahahaha. We are long distance friends/dating. We have a good rapport. It’s never overwhelming or underwhelming. It’s so funny how sometimes when it’s 9am here and 6am there, we manically text for the start of the day until you have to “open the kitchen” for your husband and kid. It makes me LOL. No but seriously, thanks, it means a lot.
Oh I do. Don’t you think? I love doing whatever the F I want. I love having no one ask me where I am. What I did. Why I bought this or that. It works for me right now. It’s not to say I don’t get lonely and crave intimacy and touch. My friend Logan and I talked about this recently—we were at dinner. Her friend Megan was saying everything in her life was going well, except she didn’t have a partner. She said she thrived in partnerships. That’s not me. I thrive when I’m single. I’m hoping someone fits into my puzzle some day, but I haven’t met them yet.

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One thought on “Installment #9: Chloe & Fran on relationships

  1. This is one of my favorite conversations between you two! I love talking about relationships w my long distance best friends as well.

    To clarify, I actually lovehate working w other people! It grates my nerves, but I feel like putting myself out of my comfort zone every blue moon prepares me for the intensity of performance art and being in workshop (which feels like relationship processing and drafting my writing while a peanut gallery yappity yaps at me rolled into one).

    I feel really similar to you, Chloé, in that I’m really career driven right now, and I’m introverted and need lots of alone time while I work on my art and becoming a sugar daddy. I would be too distracted by my partner being around to do real work, so I protect my lone time over everything else. I’m working toward making six figures a year, and I need to allow myself the freedom to travel in pursuit of my craft and business. I don’t think this makes us undateable. Rather it sifts all the people that aren’t compatible with us.

    I also can relate to you, Frances, not in regard to having a nuclear family, at least not one that I’ve built on my own, but the tension of autonomy and family, lone wolf and pack. I have this belief that I can somehow manage to create both in the future. If I build a community deep enough, that wants to raise a child as a village, and honors the work I do enough to care for my child every blue moon while I make that art and biz money, and if I have a partner that is similarly autonomous, then I believe it can be done. It will be challenging, but not impossible. I’ve connected with lots of families in the past few years, all doing family radically, and I believe I can make the family that fits perfectly for me. I have a feeling you will strike your balance between selfhood and packhood, writing and family, too.

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