Today’s one of those days when it seems like the universe is messing with me. Wherever I go my eyes run smack into yet another kissing couple. Warm weekend days in Los Angeles bring out the lovers. It’s like how Kelis and her milkshake bring all the boys to the yard. It’s one of those moth-to-flame scenarios. Los Angeles really knows how to do Spring. Everywhere one’s eyes focus flowers are in full bloom. The weather feels warm but not yet too hot. The flesh-revealing outfits of pedestrians are sexy in a way that makes horny drivers risk car accidents. It’s a perfect season for romance and love.
Earlier today, I was in traffic in West Hollywood, waiting at a red light. Two dudes on bicycles were standing at the same stoplight, also waiting for it to change colors. As if on cue, they leaned toward each other and started to kiss. Embarrassing as it is to admit I sneered at the sight of them. Then I felt eyes on me. When I turned my head, I caught the driver in the car next to mine, staring at me. He looked disgusted with me. His face pinched in the same way I was glowering at the two kissing lovers.
Quick to do the math, I guessed what his story must be. I figured the other driver assumed I was some certified homophobic asshole. I always hate how my face is so easy to read. Freeway billboards aren’t as easy to read as my face. I wanted to drop my window and explain to the driver I didn’t care a whit that two guys were lip-locking at the stoplight. I don’t lump people into groups and then hate on them. I always dislike people individually. I wasn’t mad because two gay dudes were kissing. I was mad because I wasn’t kissing.
Basically, I was envious of their affection for each other. I knew, with the same certainty one knows rain will get you wet, I had no one to kiss and my lips would remain dry for the conceivable future. Jealousy gnawed on my heart with the ferocity of a starving rat. It was just like how my girl Fiona Apple sings it, “hunger hurts.”
Those bicycle-riding lovers could’ve been two grey-haired geezers swapping spit and I would’ve sneered at them. Luckily, the two kissing dudes couldn’t see me. Only the other driver caught sight of my ugly face. But I couldn’t explain to him how I was solely disgusted with myself. The two dudes were just a mirror and made it impossible for me to ignore the fact I had no love to call my own. I’d been depriving myself the ecstasy of such a spontaneous kiss. Their sweet love moment made me feel all the more alone, sitting at that red light on a warm spring day in May.
If you look at the world as a reflection of your state of affairs, you will experience moments like these. You will say to yourself in that hideous serpentine voice of envy, “Fuck that — I don’t need to see that.” It doesn’t really matter what “that” is, all you care is, it’s not you, or it’s not yours. This is a mistake we all make. Just like how children get upset when they see other kids enjoying bigger cookies than the one they got for snack-time. For some reason we tend to focus on how our cookie isn’t as large as the cookie others are enjoying. And then we get mad. It may not be love that upsets you but rather it’s the fact others have more money, power, or prestige. It doesn’t really matter. It’s not the cookie but the comparison that triggers jealousy.
It’s exceedingly difficult not to measure our lives by contrasting our circumstances against others. One of the hardest things you have to do on a day-to-day basis is ignore the temptation to compare yourself to someone else. It’s just so easy. And it’s so misleading. How do you know anyone else’s circumstances? Those two guys on their bikes might’ve been kissing because it was the last day they’d ever spend together before one of them returned to Portugal.
Rarely, if ever, do we detect the truth. Yet we think we know what’s going on when it’s happening right in front of our faces. We tell ourselves the story of what we see. And we’re almost always wrong. There’s usually something we’re missing from the picture. Yet this doesn’t stop us from having an emotional reaction because there aren’t many stronger or faster feelings than jealousy, which is usually followed by the anger that courses through us as we “see” how everyone else is doing better than we are.
We compare ourselves so often and so easily a casual observer would think we actually gained something from it. But on the real, nope, we’re just seeing the world as a reflection of our mental/emotional state. A person only knows what they know. And there’s just so much each of us doesn’t know. We rarely get it right when we guess. Which makes it a completely useless waste of your limited time on this garden we call Earth.
The guy in the car was most likely wrong about me. And it’s just as likely I was wrong about him. Maybe I reminded him of some college roommate he despised for sleeping with his ex-girlfriend and he hadn’t even noticed I was sneering at the two kissing guys on the bikes. And those two dudes enjoying a sunny day in May… maybe theirs was a secret affair, and there was no beautiful love involved at all, and instead it was a moment of escape and stolen romance. I don’t know. We never really know.
If, like me, you catch sight of what appears to be a happy couple, and their love makes you feel lonely, unwanted and passed over, the only truth in that moment is, you feel alone. Instead of chalking it up to the gross unfairness of life, do something about that shit. And rather than swallow any more bitterness or resentment, focus on the positive, think about how you can find someone who wants to wet your lips with kisses. Anger and jealousy won’t help you find such happiness. They’ll push it away. So fuck all that noise. Reject your tendency to compare. Seek what you wish to find. This is the season for romance not envy. And you deserve beauty and love, too.