Brick by brick you build a wall. Or, as they sing in BARNUM: One brick at a time. And you are only walling in yourself. Incarcerated for eternity with you and you alone with your anxiety. That's what you choose. You chose you. You had no faith in us.
When you are enjoying your first vacation together, spend evenings washing your trousers by hand in the small shared bathroom. Make sure you do at least four pair per night. Make sure you hang them to dry on the shower rod. Do this every single night. When your partner protests, blame her because she won't let you go into town to use the laundromat. What can you do instead: Respect her wishes. Understand that hanging 4 trousers on the shower rod is tantamount to peeing all over the place. Understand that females tend to dislike sharing bathrooms with males under any circumstances. Buy compromise pants at the stores--even if it costs more money than you want to spend. You're on vacation--do you want to do laundry or woo your girl? If you can't afford to go on vacation, you shouldn't be there in the first place. Why do you want to massage soap into the trouser legs, knead the soap through the seams, massage the soap out with the rinse, squeeze the moisture out, then meticulously and neatly lay them on top of the rod. Wouldn't you rather use that fine finger exercise on her?
Lay another brick, instead of the girl. Because obviously washing four pair of trousers every single night is more important than exploring each other. Because when she walks into the bathroom for her nightly ablutions, she will be so turned off.
When you are touring a strange city where your partner has been many times, totally disregard what she says and keep asking total strangers for directions. Grab your partner in the middle of the street and insist she is taking you the wrong way. Adamently refuse to listen to her and ask other people where to go. Ignore your girlfriend when she reminds you that even if she is wrong (which she never is) isn't it sort of romantic to be semi-lost in a strange city? What can you do: Choose romance and trust the girl. But you can't trust. And later that evening, she walks into the bathroom for her ablutions and what will she see? If she wasn't turned off before, she will remember afresh why she doesn't want to do more than share the bed, chastely.
When you're in the train station of a new city, get agitated because you can't recall which ticket gets you there and which gets you back. Ignore your girlfriend when she says the worst that could happen is that you will have to spend a few more dollars for a new ticket. Blame your agitation on the fact that the hotel had a fire that morning and a flood the evening prior. Revel in the fact that you are building a higher and higher wall each and every encounter. Revel in the fact that you trash every opportunity to build bridges. Good fences make chaste neighbors. Obviously, money is a trigger point. You'd rather have a meltdown and repulse the girl, as opposed to developing the "money is like a fertilizer--it doesn't do any good unless you spread it around" attitude.
Furthermore, unlike your girlfriend, you can't ride the wave. She floats. She has been through several fires and floods. Only was she bothered by the first one--where she had to study for exams, attend classes, and move lodgings all in the same week. That was a hassle. Since then, catastrophes are not catastrophic. Not cause for cacophony of cares, a kettle for colon clenching, a climactic calamity, a cremation for coping. Every Jew has to have embedded in their DNA a sense that "well, this was a very nice place, too bad we have to pack and leave. Now."
Always insist on buying the most heinous slacks which have zippers, because you must keep all your possessions in your pockets. Furthermore, insist that if you zip the pockets up, no one can pick your pockets. Which is why you will not buy emergency pants anyway--they don't have zippers. Ignore your girlfriend when she tells you these people are not the cute gamins out of Dickens. Pickpockets will just use a knife and rip the pockets open if the pickings aren't easy enough. Some;times they use their words. They show you the knife and ask you to give them your money. Most people take the hint.
Because what you symbolize with your zippered pants is that you can't take care of yourself. And if you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else. You are a failed control freak. Because the zippers in your pants don't give you any control at all in reality. But you chose a failed hypothesis over the real data.
Refuse to recover when something doesn't go as you expected. Encounter a man with a leaf blower--that's reason enough to not remember your bike helmet. It's never your fault. You just project the blame outward.
Focus on the negatives, as opposed to the positive. All the things you've gained because of her. A passport. International travel. Bikes. Bike rides. Classic movies you would never seen, but for the relationship.
What don't you have with her. And then, pathologize your girlfriend for it being her fault that the relationship is stuck in the friendship zone. Claim it is abnormal. When she says, "Why does it need to be labeled? I'm happy and enjoy being with you," refute her and pout. But don't step up to the plate, Prince Hamlet. When you end up in her apartment for dinner, don't compliment her skills at putting the salad in the bowl and decanting the dinner onto pretty plates. Don't compliment her on how pretty she looks in the dress, how sexy she smells, how the dress compliments her eyes. Focus instead on the crack in her wall. Keep going on about the crack in her wall. Keep questioning her on the crack in her wall---one must put more and more bricks in the wall, after all. Especially one that is cracking ajar with increasing haste. Then, after dinner, instead of sitting on the couch next to her, snuggling up to her, reassuring her, take a chair several feet away from her because you can't hear the DVD. Obviously, hearing the movie is more important than the potential for proving that you can be Romeo, instead of Pyramus. Pouting passively gives you potency. And I am no Ophelia. I have been through floods, fires, and breakups. I have confidence in my ability to float. I may not like it. But you don't have to like it to survive.
What you do, my Hamlet is hastily construct walls. All of what I have just delineated are walls. Your girlfriend wants to feel special, desirable, wonderful, sexy. Your girlfriend has lost everything--jobs, insurance coverage, the ability to travel wherever, to take music lessons. Her mother is a zombie. Her father is dead. Your girlfriend fjeels she has no control over her life. Your girlfriend doesn't want to feel she is your mommy. Worse than mommy--you at least trusted your mommy. You don't trust her to keep you safe. She doesn't have the street knowledge that strangers do. She lives in a house where the bathroom needs a fresh coat of paint and the dining area has cracked plaster. In other words, Manhattan.
But mayhap all this was embedded in the earlier DNA of this relationship. Perhaps it was foretold even before we took the trip to Israel. Perhaps we were hoping too much for this trip. For in the past year, I taught on Saturday's in Brooklyn. Until 9PM. You have a car. You never offered to pick me up. If you cared for me, you could have picked me up. We could have quickly gone to any of the hipster doofus vegan places that Brooklyn has--in a car, it would have been a mere matter of 15 minutes. Many of the neighborhoods we could have eaten at would not have parking issues. Since Shabbat was over, we could have gone to kosher places as well. But you never offered. Why. That's how you show caring. That's how you show you value the person and our--that's right--our relationship. Think back to elementary school and the little boy shows his interest by walking the girl to class and carrying her books. This is the same principle, writ large.
But you always do the least amount possible. And that is true with your work, your professional life, and your personal life. You do the least amount possible in the most passive way. I don't say you are passive-aggressive. Just passive. Mommy needs to suggest everything. And so:
You can build a wall. Or you can grow up, stop yourself and ask: how can I stop myself from cementing the brick in? You can refocus on her, on the usness, on the we factor. Or you can be an I. Alone in your bricked room. Do you wonder if you will die alone? Do you wonder how many days it will be before you will be missed? If the cats, who are carnivores, will consume your corpse? Will they find you delicious? Think about us. Get over yourself.