I rate this post a cheese factor 10, fair warning. But to justify, I think I’m still a little emotionally raw from this really (unexpectedly) touching animation movie I saw last night, called Mary and Max. It’s dark as hell but excellent, if you ever come across it. (Prepare tissues.)
But anyway, I woke up rather pensive today, plus metro rides always make me thoughtful if I’m not lucky enough to be asleep during the ride, as was the case today. More specifically, probably because I’m often prone to pondering matters of the heart when I get hit “right in the feels” (thank-you-very-much-you-stupid-claymation-masterpiece), I was feeling bad the fact that I couldn’t really remember all the tantalizing details of falling in love with my current boyfriend. I mean, shouldn’t I have paid more attention? This gave way to a rather enlightening reflection.
To begin, the fact is, I’ve not had the wisest track record concerning love in my past, and unfortunately conforming to the sad-but-true artist stereotype, most of my more poignant romantic encounters have ended with overwhelming heartbreak (just like everyone else). I’ve made all the mistakes. I’ve loved from a standpoint of low self-esteem and hence, put my lovers on pedestals. I’ve loved without restraint or forethought, loved with way too much expectation. I’ve loved too selflessly, and too selfishly. You know, all those beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime sorts of trainwrecks that everyone goes through, when you’re still naive enough to think your love will make a difference, or make them love you back. I mean hell, that whole devastating-adieu-at-the-airport/ storming-out-of-the-house-in-the-middle-of-the-night / I-needed-therapy sort of drama? Been there, done that. Check. In short, those few men that I’ve truly loved in a dangerous, passionate, unbridled way have always, ALWAYS bitten me in the ass, in the long run. So it’s no wonder why my heart sort of closed off after a while. And yeah, I was pretty jaded. Nothing ground-breaking there. In retrospect, I made other mistakes too. Stringed some poor second party along as an emotional bandaid, without meaning to. Because heartbreak is hard for anyone to handle alone. However, after a while, I’d even grown out of doing that because I knew first hand how much it hurt to be on the receiving end.
In short, after my last breakup two or so years ago, though I emerged (eventually) unscathed, I’d never felt so… distant from my romantic emotions. I wanted nothing to do with them, in fact. The one thing that last relationship had taken away from me, despite having been the most fruitful learning experience, was my faith in love. The very foundation on which I had grown up. It was a strange and empty feeling, because I’d always been a hopeless romantic. A true believer, beneath the sarcasm. I mean, all I ever remember wanting in my entire life (despite being completely clueless about career, about goals and all that other “big” stuff) was a partner to experience life to the fullest with, to have adventures with, and to love wholeheartedly. And though I wasn’t unhappy after that latest debacle (I was thankful for being more realistic, actually) I was closed off, even despite being “over it”.
Throughout my twenties, I’ve personified Pat Benatar’s song a thousand fold. I think we all have, and that’s what the twenties might be for. After that last explosion, I’d emerged alive: wiser, less naive and sure, stronger. I definitely love myself more now, and don’t take any more bullshit. Despite the admitted benefits of such lessons though, it didn’t take me very long to realize that the scars had effectively made me lose faith. I thought I could never love someone “properly”… because with me, it always seemed like I was only capable of one of two situations: Either love someone like a brother/best friend and eventually have it fizzle out because of lack of passion… or have SO MUCH passion that it would just blow up in my face and destroy me completely. Two extremes, neither of which were very desirable. So I’d sort of given up and honestly wasn’t unhappy about it. I dated here and there and had fun, but held no real expectation for the future.
All of that (largely a preface) being said, I guess the general point of all this was how different I feel now, with my current boyfriend. And as I said, the realization hit me this morning when I was trying to remember when I first started having feelings for him. I couldn’t pinpoint it exactly, which was completely opposite to my usual patterns. Because yes, I can definitely say that I love him genuinely… but…. how? Where was the usual memorizing of every little thing he said, at the beginning? Where was that build-up of excitement? Where was the facebook stalking and the obsession phase, like I’d experienced in all other cases? I’d had limited amounts of each, this time… and I realized that I’d been tricked.
I couldn’t remember all the details of falling in love with him, including when it happened, because it happened without my realizing it. All of a sudden one night, I realized it. It was so plainly obvious that I couldn’t even be afraid of it, it was already too late.
The truth is, the first time I met him, I expected never to see him again. I remember thinking during the first half hour of our first meetup, that he was the most aloof, uninterested-seeming hipster ever and that I was actually looking forward to not seeing him again… just like all the other awful dates I’d been on recently. In fact, this was going to be the last one for a while. I remember telling my roomate “Bah… might as well. I’ve closed my dating account and I just have this one guy left. At least it’ll be another story to blog about.” Indeed, Colton, my roomate, had wished me a good time… and I’d said “I doubt it”, slamming the door behind me. I was beyond uninterested and it took every ounce of my willpower not to cancel that night, actually. And then there was C at the cafe, with his poker face and his latin accent, and his kind of faraway looking eyes, and his perpetually shrugging shoulders. “Meh,” he would answer, to some of my questions. Meh? REALLY? I’m trying to make conversation and all you have to say is “MEH”? He was clearly as serious about being there as I was.
But then, somehow, perhaps both our barriers falling a little because we had nothing to lose and neither of us was that invested in impressing the other… conversation happened. And somehow, he’d convinced me to have him come over to watch Star Trek, which ended up in us just talking the entire night. And then, for TOTALLY platonic reasons, I wanted him to come with us to Saint Pattie’s. For “cultural exchange”, of course. And then somehow, despite my turning him down on the day his aloofness had somehow changed to something else, (my heart wasn’t working, I’d convinced myself, after all) he was still there anyway, with his big brown eyes and his really cute accent. He’d always been there, hadn’t he? And hadn’t we always woken up together, and biked together, and laughed about dorky things together? …….Wait, what?? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN
……..I felt like I’d been brainwashed. (There is a distinct memory of me telling a coworker that some “shortish Peruvian dude with big eyebrows forced me to date him”)
This morning as I sat pondering on the train, I’d initially felt bad that I couldn’t remember all the “vivid, passionate details” of falling in love with C. But then I didn’t feel bad any longer, because I realized that falling in love with him hadn’t been hard, or stressful, or maddening or agonizing. It had been easy, and I’d been myself the entire way through.
If my journeys in love have taught me anything, it’s that I’m wise enough now not to place expectations on things, even while I’m more able than ever to enjoy them in the moment, for what they are. And this, I must say, is the most honest, positive and completely unexpected romantic situation I’ve been in, though I’ve found that it has been functioning in complete reverse from what I’m used to.
Point is, whatever happens in the future, good or bad, I’m ok with it, because I know that despite the incredible beatings my heart has taken, I suppose it is really a stubborn little muscle and it still has the capacity to surprise me and experience things in totally different ways. No matter how I tried to force it or impede it, it does what it wants, really. It’s sort of encouraging that I’ve been able to break out of my old patterns, and regardless of whether this lasts or not, I’ll have been satisfied with the progress I’ve made over the last decade. Of course, it helps to have a very patient, wonderful person to be with, too… but point being, I’m encouraged.