I’ve always been an odd mishmash of things when it comes to love. On one hand, I was a late bloomer and typically oblivious to guys being interested in me. On the other hand, my first kiss was at age 7–a boy with a thunderbird tattoo. (YES, at age 7).
I’ve always been extreme about love. I’m either totally not in it–and basically a nun–or totally in it–and basically married. No in between. No gray areas.
It hasn’t exactly worked out for me, though I’m grateful to have loved the people I did love. Part of that was me loving the wrong people–people who absolutely couldn’t fit into my life or just weren’t willing to do what it took. Part of that was me loving the right people at the wrong time. Part of that was both of us being idiots and acting accordingly.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a relationship. After I broke up with my last ex, I discovered big rivers of anger inside me that were no good to anyone. I basically swore off guys for a while, worked on myself, and attempted to connect as I bumped into things. It was not a good time. I realized I had every wall up imaginable, and it just wasn’t going to happen. So, I worked harder on myself and put that part of my life on the backburner.
I’ve been more private about my love life in recent years. I think I’m more private in general, but especially about that. I feel a lot better than I used to about romantic stuff. Like I’m capable of something I wasn’t capable of a few years ago.
I’ve kept in touch with that last ex–a real rarity for me. Well, I should say–he kept up with me. I shut him out for a while and hated him for a while–which was odd because he really didn’t do anything all that wrong.
But every few weeks, an email would show up in my inbox. We’d talk sometimes for short breaks in the day. The last time, he was dating someone and probably breaking up with her. And it annoyed me that he didn’t fight for her. I remember there being a few minutes where something clicked again with him. And so, I disappeared again on him–not wanting to even entertain it. Usually, when I’m done, I’m done.
It had been far too long, and I decided to get in touch with him a few weeks ago. It was silly, being silent all this time. It was nice to hear him laugh and to talk about all the things we find so absurd about life. I talked to his Mama, too. It was like we had never stopped talking. I didn’t realize how much I really missed him.
We’ve talked at least 3-4 times a week lately. The things that brought us together–that easy friendship that didn’t quite make sense because we are so different–just there. That familiarity with his Eastern European family and how talking to them doesn’t scare me. The ability to be me. And believe me–he knows how awful I can be. I pushed the limit on my awfulness with him before. I even hated me. He forgives me. He accepts me. It’s good.
So–we’re in something. A good something. A something we’re not calling anything. Not yet. Mostly because he’s not here. Hell, he’s not even in the US right now. In a month, he’ll be in Europe. And who the Hell knows where I’ll be?
My past relationships have been very different. They were always with people I met randomly. They were always with artistic guys who were feminists and music lovers. They were always with guys who cheated on me or lied to me or left me and threw me away. It was always this whirlwind of emotion and promises made and then a whirlwind of gas fumes as they made tracks on to the next chapter.
And each time, I got more angry and bitter.
Because I loved these people, and love–to me–means sticking around. It doesn’t mean kicking someone out of your life forever if the sex and the intimacy wears out. That’s not to say the friendship part isn’t damaged. But it doesn’t have to be scorched Earth.
It does still hurt. Because I do care for these people. I always will. But I doubt that’s true for them about me. So it’s hard to accept the reality of anything that was back then. I’ve moved on–long ago. I don’t cry about it. But it’s made me lose respect for them. That’s not to say I didn’t make mistakes. I did. But I never made any mistakes that justify that kind of behavior.
Still, I realize I sort of did that to the guy I’m talking to again. It wasn’t as harsh–but maybe that’s worse. In any case, I was surprised he forgave me. Sometimes, I feel like he’s just going to start yelling at me. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m being punked.
Because I would deserve that.
This whole thing feels different from anything I’ve had before. Even our old, tortured relationship–which was one I wanted nothing to do with and sabotaged the entire time.
We’ve never had that crazy whirlwind of anything. It’s been built on friendship and being surprised that attraction existed. It was built on being comfortable. The problems came because I expected the whirlwind and the romance. I expected fights and “passion.” What I got was a calm, quiet guy who didn’t want to save the world or write the next great novel. I got a guy who wanted to be a good friend. I got a guy who had a hard time communicating about feelings, but always seemed to do the sweetest things. I got a guy who fought hard when it mattered, but wouldn’t put up with my nonsense tests. I got a guy who was his own person and didn’t apologize–even when I found his thoughts offensive. I got a guy who listened to my criticism and tried to change. I thought he was boring back then. I judged him and pushed him. I acted like an ass.
Luckily, we’ve both grown. He’s learned to speak up when he’s upset–about anything. He’s less quiet with me and more willing to talk when he’s sad. I don’t withhold my thoughts anymore. If I need something, I actually tell him. I don’t protect him from me.
When I ask him what he thinks I should do, he chooses the things that make me stronger. Because he doesn’t need me to be weak.
Lately, it’s just nice. I don’t have to worry about if he likes me. I don’t feel the need to test him. We enjoy stupid things and talk about crazy things. We make plans to do things. And even though distance is a big factor, we both know we’ll make it work if we need to.
There’s a part of me, though, that wonders. Is it supposed to be the explosion in the sky? Is it supposed to be the whirlwind? Isn’t love supposed to flatten you?
I don’t know. But I’m not going to compare it to all those other things.