three thirds (part two)

(continued from here)

Back to the festival! But remember: we're going to be skipping around in time and context, and even switching POV at times. Seatbelts on.

Ilan Bluestone is playing and our little crew is deep in the feels. Everyone around us is, too, and it's one of the most positively charged and engaged crowds I've ever been in. Every stranger's eye you catch, you're instantly just two friends smiling at one another, emotional twins for a moment. Go to an EDM festival at least once in your life, if you can. It's like nothing else for the sense of community. 

When Ilan finishes, there's some confusion on my part, because while I thought Andrew Rayel was up next, turns out it's Andrew Bayer. That's what I get for being blind and not paying close enough attention when the lineup was released (honestly, I saw Estiva and Matt Fax and that's all I needed to see). But while I like Andrew Rayel just fine, Andrew Bayer is one of my top five. So when everyone around me is talking about Bayer coming on in a minute, I'm like, "No no you guys, it's Rayel." And they are like, "No dumbass, it's Bayer."

And I lose my mind. Because I fucking love Andrew Bayer.  He is one of the reigning kings of the Anjuna label. But no one I'm with really knows him, so I'm babbling at them, telling them how amazing he is, guaranteeing that they're gonna love him, and that they have no idea what they're in for. I tell Amit that after Deadmau5, he's one my favorites. That starts Amit and I off on the subject of Deadmau5 again, and this time we talk long enough, laugh enough, connect enough--that something clicks. There's that split second of a moment lasting juuuust longer than it needs to. You know that moment. Chemistry doing its thing. 

Matt is slightly behind me, to my right. Amit is slightly in front of me, to my left. I'm not really thinking much about the boy-girl-boy dynamics happening, if subtly, because the idea of getting together with anyone is totally not on my radar. One time--one time--at my first Coachella, I ended up in the arms of a stranger, because we were both freezing cold, high as fuck, and laughing while we watched some electronic set. But that's it. That is the sum and total of my romantic solo experiences at festivals. 

I'm not really thinking about the dynamic, but on some level I am aware it is there. No matter which of these men I smile at and dance with in any given 30-second moment, I can feel their affection and their attraction. 

---

Later, when I'm safe in a car and heading home to LA, I check in with Matt via DM. Amit is DMing me, too. He and I are both still intoxicated by the events of the previous few hours. We knew we were going to say goodbye, keep it short and sweet and simple. But it doesn't make it any easier. I can still feel the warmth of his skin against mine, feel the way he held the back of my head tight when he kissed me. Hear the echoes of the things we shared, that we hadn't shared with anyone. 

But I need to check in with Matt, who disappeared on us halfway through Chris Connolly. I know why he did, I totally get it. Just want to reach out gently and make sure he is safe. 

And he is. He says he was trying to find me afterward, offer me a ride home. I let him know I'm good, barreling down the freeway in a warm backseat as we speak.

You should blog about tonight, he says. I stare at my phone.

You know about my blog?? I answer. Haha, the jig is up! I'm not sure if there isn't the teeniest bit of malice, of bitterness in his suggestion. But we go a few more lines and I realize there isn't. I realize that he'd dipped into my blog after meeting me the first night, out of curiosity. But that he'd kept that to himself all through Saturday, while he what? Gauged who I was? Observed me from a place of deeper context, knowing I was likely observing him?

It instantly enriched his character, in my eyes. Still waters and such. 

---

Let me tell you a little bit about my last relationship. Let me give you an idea of just how absent and unavailable my partner was. How detached and disaffected. How little real connection there was. I fell in love with someone who did not give one single fuck about me. Not only did he not treat me with respect; often he treated me downright contemptuously. I think my willingness to accept his shitty behavior kind of fascinated him. I think on some level, he wanted to see just how much he could get away with, and I would tolerate.

Kenny shattered my self-esteem. He made fun of me. He walked out on me. He ignored me. He punished me. In the end, he didn't even treat me like a fellow human, much less someone to be cherished. He never complimented me. He never prioritized me. He never took a single photo of me or introduced me to his friends, or acknowledged my existence in his life anywhere, to anyone. We never just...talked. About who we were, or what we saw in the other. I tried to see him. I tried so hard. But he wouldn't let himself be seen. Not the real him, deep way down under his pain. And he had absolutely no interest in trying to see me.

---

Not sure how much you're interested in talking to me and I'm not sure how much I'm interested in talking to you, but I will say I'm fascinated by the things that happen in the single world.

What's interesting to me is how my thoughts on dating and relationships have changed in the 2 years since I divorced. I met a gorgeous young amazing woman a year ago. We hit it off well and as we discussed our budding relationship she said to me that she's polyamorous, meaning that she already has a boyfriend and a girlfriend, but she wants a relationship with me if I'm ok with it her maintaining other relationships.

I decided to be open minded, to be fascinated by what's developing and what I'm willing to learn, experience and try something very different and very challenging emotionally. Skip forward a year and we are still in touch, have a loving relationship in which we see each other part time, like twice a month.

I'd summarize the experience basically as that I had to learn to shed feelings of possessiveness and jealousy and in fact learn the skill of compersion. Compersion is feeling happy for a partner when your partner is being satisfied by another person. So although I was very much enjoying your company Saturday, I could see how much Amit was making you glow in delight. I didn't want you to lose the self esteem boost he was giving you. I didn't want you to stop being pleasured by him so I didn't interfere or "mate guard". I took the selfless route and went to another tent, where I very much enjoyed dancing to other great sets.

Anyways I'm wishing you all the best for your interview tomorrow. Fucking kill it Ellie!

- Matt to me, DM 

---

Bayer finishes his set. Our group powwows, deciding the next move. Everyone defers to Becca. We're all just happy to be out, to be together, to be moving through this evening as a unit. If Becca wants to see Chris Connolly, then to Chris Connolly we shall go. But some of us have to pee. Some of us want to hit our locker. And some of us want to just sit down for a minute. 

We head to one of the lounge structures, trooping out of the crowd in a single file line. I follow Matt. Amit follows me. As soon as we're clear of the tent, I drop back to walk next to Amit. I've just found out that he actually came to the festival alone from San Jose tonight. And that he came to the last festival, over Halloween, alone too. Solo ravers are my people. Tell me you have the curiosity, openness, and confidence to go a festival by yourself and I know all I need to know about you to instantly like you. 

Away from the noise and the crush, we're free to talk as much as we want. I don't have to wait long to solve the mystery of his accent. He's Israeli, and moving back to Israel with his family in just a couple of weeks. When he says he's going "home", I understand the clarification between his homeland and San Jose, where he's been working as a computer programmer.

And when he finds out I've been to Israel, we have instantly have an infinite supply of converation material. By now we're all sitting together in a circle, chatting and laughing and resting. I'm doing my best to stay engaged with the group but second by second Amit and I are peeling off, exploring our own connection. It just happens.

After a few minutes, we all rally and head to Chris Connolly. I tell the group I'll meet them there; I want to hit my locker and throw some stuff onto my IG story. I dawdle at my locker, hesitant to ditch my phone in case I want to take pictures of my new friends. But I don't want to lose it, and others will have their phones. I slam my locker shut, head towards the meeting spot, and almost immediately run into Matt on the way.

It's then that I become aware of the developing social subtleties of the night. Because after I hit the bathroom and come back out to meet Matt, it's Amit I run into instead. And I can feel the rush of pleasure that comes with seeing him again, even though it's only been five minutes apart--and seeing his delight at running back into me, too. Matt finds his way back to us and the three of us head into the one enclosed stage of the venue. We're about to walk in through the VIP entrance when Amit calls out to me from behind. He doesn't have a VIP wristband like the rest of us. He'll have to go another way around, and hope to find us, get close to us across the low barrier dividing the two sections inside.

Matt is already disappearing inside, and I know the others are in VIP too, so I turn to Amit and give him very clear directions on how to enter through the GA space and reach the rest of us. I know exactly where he can approach from that we'll all be able to get back together, and I make sure he understands. The way he listens and nods seriously as he says, "Okay, see you in one minute", then smiles at me, tells me we're both on the same page. We both absolutely very much want to make sure to find one another. 

---

Hi.

I have lots to say back to this. I've had an extremely emotional day (very good emotions) on the heels of last night, and this really just is the cherry on top of the incredibly meaningful experience that last night was to me.

I suspected very quickly that your waters run deep, and your telling me that you read my blog confirmed it. 

What you've just said is truly beautiful, and not just the part that pertains to me. And I will respond to it, along with writing about last night, which I was already planning on doing.

I will probably write first, which will organize my thoughts, and you'll find a sort of response in that. And we'll go from there maybe? 

You're tentatively welcome in my life, if you want a place there. 

There's a thing I want to make you understand, about why what you just said affects me so much. I am literally sitting against a building crying with the ice cream I just bought melting in my bag because I'm so moved and happy. I'll explain when I can get my thoughts down clearly.

-Me to Matt, DM

---

Boundaries are a funny thing. Once you start putting one or two in place, you can't stop. You start to see just how porous the perimeter of your self-care is, and it feels so good to finally shore those holes up. It's downright satisfying to watch the way others who once violated those boundaries very quickly lose space and relevance in your life.

So much of my life's pain--so much of my wasted time--has come from not having good boundaries with men. In some cases it has been my fault. Expecting others to fix me, or take care of me. Putting the responsibility for my happiness in their hands. 

But in many cases, I have allowed men to commodify me. To value or devalue me according to what they want in that moment. I've allowed this with romantic partners, and I've even allowed it with male friends. I've allowed it online, in my social media. Letting absolute strangers leave flirtatious comment after flirtatious comment on my posts, pissing a circle around me that made me cringe, lest a man I was actually interested in see those comments, and assume those followers had some real connection to me--some real standing in my life.

When I cried from happiness with my back against the tree in the park, I felt so relieved to no longer be the person who subjected herself to that nonsense. I wondered what it cost her, that she didn't even know. 

---

The reason what you messaged me above affected me so much has to do with how poor my boundaries have been -- all my life -- and how as a consequence of that, most men I know (including my own friends) would have been very disrespectful, possessive, and/or just shitty when in a complicated social situation like last night.

So the way you handled it, along with your forthright explanation and honesty above, made an impact on me at a time when I'm going through a lot of growth emotionally.

It's a reminder of the standard of behavior I should expect from people I allow around me, at a time I'm already making a lot of changes to how I take care of myself.

So thank you.

And also, I'm sorry if at any point in any of this, I did or said anything that hurts your feelings. I barely know you, we had very little time around one another, but a setting like that amplifies excitement, emotion, drama, everything.

I respect the way you navigated the kind of wild, kind of weird night we all had together, and you should know my decision to write about it is inspired 90% by you. You nudging me in the first place, you acting the way you did, and you writing the above.

Your character is the interesting takeaway in all of this, Matt. Not that I made out with a 23 year old. My readers are used to that nonsense from me.

- Me to Matt, DM

---

Stopping there for now. There's a part 3, which will include the rest of the story of Amit and I, plus the blog post Matt wrote, which tells his version of events.

But right now I have to go get ready. Because Matt and I are going to the Dreamstate recovery party together tonight, because why not.

To be continued!