Who am I to talk about sex and romance? I’ve never had either. I almost did, once. And it took a fair amount of time for my bruised little heart to get past the confusion of the moment. Recently, the closest I’ve come to a date was with a ‘genius’ at the ‘bar’ at the Apple store. He couldn’t help me.
My track record in the love department sucks. I have felt forgotten, used, dragged along and, worst of all, like a body double. I often share too much, too fast. Then, I develop ideas of what I think a person should do with that information. But they respond either not in the way I expect, or not at all. I then turn that disappointment into complete rejection and begin to tell myself that I have no hope at ever being in love. I’ve given away little bits of me to poor expectations and replaced them with cynicism.
I wish I had a better story to tell. I used to be a romantic. Most likely I still am. I still love Sleeping Beauty and Sense and Sensibility. I still sing with Bridget Jones as she lip-syncs to Celine Dion – ‘All by myself, don’t wanna be, all by myself, anymore.’ And, I melt when Darcy tells her he loves her ‘just the way she is.’ I lose it every time Derek looks at Meredith. And every time a man with a beard picks up flowers at the store where I work, and comes through my line, I hope they’re for me. But they never are.
What I want is love. What I want is someone to look at me, instead of through me or past me. What I want is someone who knows how I take my tea, how I feel about diamonds and lilies and that sometimes I really just need to be by myself. What I want is a bearded, axe-wielding male companion, a wood stove, a porch swing and chocolate lab.
I guess I’m not too bitter to be specific.
I may feel jaded and frustrated, but I don’t want to ignore the desire for romance that obviously lives so deep inside me.
I don’t know if it’s what society has taught me, my own defiance of the things I feel are expected of me or my hurt and hopelessness, but it’s really hard to admit all of the above. I am trying to learn to be truthful in everything, especially about the ‘facts’ of the past that have left me hurt.
I don’t think that bitterness and hope can live together. I’ve been trying to be hopeful this year. I’ve been writing about the disappointments of the past, letting out all my ‘victimized’ feelings. But, as I tell the stories, I realize my heart seems to remember them in different ways than my brain does. I’m starting to see that while the things I feel are valid feelings, I won’t be able to truly move past them until I ask myself what truthfully happened. Did he really mean that when he said this? Did I secretly expect this thing from that person when I said it was fine that something else happened? I tell my stories and then I find myself saying, ‘Well, actually, that’s not really what happened. He didn’t actually give me any reason to believe anything more than he literally said.’
I think that this honesty leads to the hope I’m looking for. When I can truthfully understand what happened and where both the other person and I were coming from, it’s easier to let go of the resentment I feel toward them and love in general. In matters of love, cynicism is going to create the exact opposite effect that deep inside I wish would happen.
I’ve started having these things I call ‘Couple Crushes.’ I’ve meet some pretty great couples and have seen that their relationships exemplify qualities that I dream exist, but hadn’t always seen proof of. My parents, for example, met when my mom was ten. By the time she was eighteen, they were married and had me. Now, twenty-five years later, they have four kids and are more in love than ever. Sometimes I call it gross (because it’s my parents), but really it’s beautiful. B & J have this sweet, simple love between them. I see it specifically in their eyes. In happy times and sad times, I have seen the look in their eyes that makes me wonder if they might possibly be the most in love couple in the world. I have known couples who choose not to fight, travel independently, make each other beautiful dinners and the other day a customer bought flowers and chocolate for his wife who was about to go into labor any minute. All these people give me hope.
I know that I’m not the only one who needs hope, and I know I’m not the only one who has learned how to find it. My hope for all of us is that in whatever way we need love, we are brave enough to dream it up and make it happen. This year, I’m not going to settle for dates at the Mac Store to get my iPod fixed. This year I’m making business cards with my phone number on them.