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I was wrong.

November 26, 2014


If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I have long struggled with cynicism, a debilitating condition that saps the color from life, creating a black hole that sucks the joy from everything around you and crushes it in the vacuum inside. Long-term effects include: hardened heart, chronic downerism, apathy, loss of friends, and irreversible loneliness. Knowing that there is no cure for cynicism, I have worked hard to manage my cynicism, through this blog and other mediums including a newfound interest in creating jewelry.

‘The world is a horrible place,’ I reasoned. ‘And it always will be. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try and see the best in it. And it doesn’t mean that I can’t at least try and make it better.’

I worked hard. A lot of the time it felt like pretending. Most of the time it felt like pretending. Looking on the bright side is a conscious decision to ignore the dark side, and ignoring things doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It means they go unguarded and unchecked. They have time to grow. I was never quite able to convince myself that it’s a wonderful world full of gossamer wings and cigarette trees. But one must do what one can. If life is to be a show, a play on a stage where one must pretend to be happy to keep the peace then so it must be. Pretending not to suffer from cynicism is almost as good as being happy, except without all the easy satisfied sleep.

And so I have lived: a cynic with an optimist mask. Naturally, being a cynic beneath the mask meant that I would most likely live my life alone, having only a small group of sympathizers, that I will hopefully call friends, as allies. Love as it is depicted in popular culture, movies, TV, books, video games, or online media and even historically, seemed to me to be a myth, an ideal that could not exist in the real world, like an honest politician. Scenes where a handsome couple shares a passionate first kiss under the moonlight while crickets serenade them on a warm summer night always ignored the ashtray taste of his mouth or her overwhelming need to fart.

The cynic never feels like an outsider. The cynic is convinced that everyone else is being insincere, pretending to know what they’re talking about, pretending to fall in love, pretending to be normal, pretending to like kombucha. The cynic is the only one who will tell the truth even if it means creating awkwardness. That smugness is chicken soup for the cynical soul. It makes the loneliness palatable.

I went to party at Matt‘s house. It was just another party full of the awkward one upmanship and stratification that accompanies social interaction: bad jokes, bad ideas and bad decisions. I ended up in a corner, sipping grappa and watching the uneasiness of life unfold. It was quite some time before I noticed that there was someone sitting at the other end of the couch. It was a not unattractive man.¹

“You live around here?” he said when he noticed me studying him.


“I live upstairs,” he volunteered. “Matt and I came to an arrangement that he can have as many parties as he wants as long as I get to come to them.”

“Do you party a lot?”

“No more than the national average for my age and gender.”

“Probably a lot less, I would guess.” I turned to my grappa and watched the room move with people.

“I’m Paul.”

“Salomé.” We shook hands.

“I guess you’re parents weren’t huge fans of John the Baptist.”

I couldn’t help but smile. We fell into an easy banter and a half hour had passed before I knew it. Paul was pulled away by another partygoer. I kept him in the corner of my eye for the rest of the night. When Tiffany, who was my ride, was ready to go, he stopped me as I started toward the exit.

“Could I call you sometime?”

I gave him my number. It was weird. I had an immense feeling of elation. He was cute and funny and knowledgable. For a week my phone was glued to my palm. I checked for missed calls and texts more times than I will admit. I was beginning to get angry that this bum had awakened this strange unfathomable hope inside me, just to pull it away and crow, “Psych!” I was sullenly watching TV when the text alert sounded on my phone. It was Paul. Did I want to go for pizza on Sunday? Hope cried out excitedly inside me.

It was an eternity before Sunday came. We met for hipster pizza followed by rude hipster ice cream cones consumed on a walk through the park. The food was delicious. The moon was full. The summer night was warm. The crickets were playing their symphony. The conversation was charged with chemistry. He interrogated me like it was a job interview. I parried with feminine deftness, turning the questions on the questioner. We sat on the bench in the park. He slipped his arm around me with casual masculinity. There were long pauses where we stared into each other’s eyes, each of us trying to figure out what was happening. He walked me to my car. The city seemed to blur around us as we kissed for the first time. The moon was a smiling spotlight on our love. I drove home in a happy daze. The cynic could not be heard above my joyful trains of thought. There was a text waiting for me when I got home. We arranged a second date. By the end of the month, we were spending every waking moment together, desperately, hopelessly, and unbelievably in love.

That was over seven months ago. While I agree that it might be too early to say whether the relationship will last forever or not, I feel confident that it will.  The cynic inside me has been largely silenced. My cynic’s main claim to authority was her infallibility. But she was wrong about love, so completely wrong that it makes me question all her other claims. Maybe the world isn’t a horrible place with no hope of redemption. Maybe you can still meet the dark side but you can live in the light. Maybe there is a cure for cynicism.


¹ A cynic’s description.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2014 5:59 am

    Congratulations! No need to pretend: just focus your attention; choose gratitude. We get this life, yes in this imperfecrt world, but we get it for free. Not a bad deal, really. Choose to make the most of it, no pretending required.

  2. November 28, 2014 1:28 am

    Awesome story, and I’m glad you shared your back-story of cynicism as well – makes me feel I’m not alone, a hopeful but wary cynic hiding inside an optimist’s shell 🙂 Congratulations x


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