A connection

by Alexandru Ciobanu

A person’s sexual choice is the result and sum of their fundamental convictions. Tell me what a person finds sexually attractive and I will tell you their entire philosophy of life. Show me the person they sleep with and I will tell you their valuation of themselves. No matter what corruption they’re taught about the virtue of selflessness, sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which they cannot perform for any motive but their own enjoyment – just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity! – an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exultation, only on the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire. It is an act that forces them to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and accept their real ego as their standard of value. They will always be attracted to the person who reflects their deepest vision of themselves, the person whose surrender permits them to experience – or to fake – a sense of self-esteem. ― Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”

Ayn Rand’s quote from her most famous novel resonated with me in a considerable way, as did many things in the other brilliant novel of hers, “The Fountainhead”. But I didn’t expect it to correspond so closely and with such an intensity to my own experiences.  Needless to say, I met someone new. Yet this individual, from our very first encounter, made my life instantly much more interesting and I only met him a week ago. I’m still trying to establish whether this was a good or a bad thing. Not that I expect the world to be within these parameters of morality, but knowing me, the world of drugs, alcohol and partying that the people around me were attempting to initiate me in could have done some serious damage. The aforementioned phrase, knowing me, implies that, since I am a highly impressionable and sensitive individual, I could have easily fallen prey to these circumstances surrounding me. But this was a world I hated, of drugs and partying, so I didn’t partake in any of it. I sidelined myself, observing this new environment, observing him mostly. In the span of three days I’ve seen him drunk, high and sober, and he fascinated me. The many facets of his personality were made clearer the more I spoke with him. The carefree, happy-go-lucky persona that he conveyed during his period of intoxication soon revealed a kind, loving but troubled soul, dealing with issues that may be far beyond his twenty years of age. I believe he seldom manages to make sense of what is going on in his mind. That Robbie Williams’ “Feel” is the song that characterizes him the most is highly revelatory in this regard, especially with the “my head speaks a language I don’t understand”. I couldn’t pretend to know what it was that inflicted such overwhelming emotional distress in him at times. That he was introduced to the world of alcohol and drugs at a very young age, that he was influenced by certain older and more experienced individuals around him, may be either the causes of his pain or the consequences of a preexisting problem.

I was very attracted to him. At the same time, and maybe because of it, I felt a relentless need to help him. Because I found what he was dealing with strangely similar to my own issues, of depression, loneliness, identity, an incessant and almost primal need for affection that is anything but carnal. Perhaps I am over-emphasizing some similarities to make myself accept comfort from him, but nonetheless,  I truly believe I could have become like him were the circumstances of my childhood and young adulthood akin to his. A matter of nature versus nurture, after all. Comparing the two of us, it is clear we took different paths and have contrasting manners in which we deal with our problems. But he reflected my deepest vision of myself, and I didn’t need to have sex with him to realize that. I felt a strong desire to help him so that, in the process, I could help myself as well.

However, he left. To travel around Europe, he said, something he had done numerous times in the past. A sort of escapism, perhaps, though not necessarily the tendency to escape the physical reality and its surroundings, but mostly the one pertaining to his mind. It saddened me to see such a scattered and messy person actively rejecting stability. I may very well be in the wrong here, though, for in all of this, he still manages to find moments of happiness and joy, and I know he’ll have many of those this summer. I don’t think I could say the same thing about me.