Over the last few months I have spent a great deal of time revisiting a Dylan line in my head:
"Your debutante just knows what you need
But I know what you want."
Needs versus wants. This just builds on my last post on the bi - gay divide and my underlying feeling of selfishness. When the line first started bouncing around my head, the lyric felt backwards, but as I have thought more it is coming into better focus. I consider my gay side to be a want, not a need. Therefore if my wife is satisfying my needs – emotionally, sexually, as a best friend – surely that should be enough.
“Wants” – sort of sounds like a kid in the toy store – “Mommy I want this, I want that.” And all of us parents know that (as the Stones said) “you can’t always get what you want.” [Of course if one finishes the quote we have “but if you try sometime you just might find that you get what you need.” Mick and the boys do seem to contradict Dylan there.]
Selfish then remains the watch word. At what price am I willing to satisfy a want? I look back at my own life and realize there is an aspect of making up for a lost childhood. My parents as a matter of culture and money (who knows in what proportions) were not great satisfiers of wants. We did not have a surfeit of toys growing up. Hanukah was not the eight nights of pseudo-Christmas that it has become: it was one night to receive winter pajamas and in a good year new slippers.
As an adult I have become quite adept at acquisition of toys – satisfying of wants. While there is still a restraint that my childhood imbued, I still need a 60 gig video iPod? (I have adjusted to many children trumping the BMW – Honda makes quite a nice car.) Is my narcissism such that I have become devoted to satisfying wants without a care for the price; for the emotional price of this particular want is at best exorbitant.
Of course the answer as I write this becomes intellectually clear. One’s nature – who we are – is a basic. And acknowledging our nature is acknowledging a need. The inability to truly acknowledge it (a place I am coming to know well) is what tricks us into seeing a want.
Yes I am bi and as such can receive satisfaction from women or men. But within this definition I give precedence to the straight side which may well be appropriate based on marriage, children, family – in short a life. Yet there is no denying that in the dead of night alone with my thoughts, my fantasies almost exclusively center on men. To just deny the gay side a seat at the table seems disingenuous.
I generally work in the suburbs but spend some time in the City. The other day I came home from the City quite tired and KA realized this was the tired of depression – not of sleep deprivation. She was right. As we lay in bed that night, she made a comment that stopped me. “It would have been okay if you came home at 9 o’clock.” We did not discuss the comment because the underlying meaning was strangely clear: a depressed Nate was no bargain. And as I have read more books, blogs, and on-line group chatter, it is striking the psychological toll of repression: what appears to be a disproportionate amount of substance abuse and related issues.
Yet knowing all of this, being able to form semi-cohesive thoughts on the topic, I still feel that I am dealing with a want – a whim as I wrote yesterday – and I still feel selfish.
An' here I sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice.
Oh, Mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again.
Yes Brad – there is no City that is safe:)