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He’s Here and He’s Good to Me

24 May

There’s a new man in my life. Unexpected, it seems to me, predictable as hell if you ask my friend M.

M says I don’t know how to do casual, and she’s probably right. Here’s something I realized recently: I started dating B slightly under two months ago, and from the start anyone who asked me about him received the same answer: It’s fun, but it’s not going anywhere. B is nothing like me. We are drastically different in our occupations, interests, preferences, lifestyles, our mother tongues, our cultures, in the way we manage our interpersonal relationships.

Oddly enough though we are eerily alike in spirit. We share similar personal experiences. We’ve been hurt in similar ways. We have similar self-constraints. We’ve overcome similar obstacles. We take pride in our (sometimes overly) high self-awareness. We both basically think we know everything there is to know about ourselves and it takes us by surprise if someone manages to point out something we’ve overlooked.

And there is another striking similarity: We are both fearless. I don’t mean that we know no fear. At least for me, fear is an emotion I have gotten to know rather closely these past two years. But I don’t let it run my life, anymore at least. On the contrary, I am often aware that if something scares me to death, it may be just what I need.

So last night, when I said ‘I love you’, and I felt like I might faint, I knew it was probably a good thing. I could feel myself starting to think fast. What the hell am I doing? I hardly know this guy. He’s probably going to hurt me. Anyway, I’m not looking for a serious relationship now (I bet M will laugh as she reads this).  Why can’t I be a little less impulsive? Why can’t I keep my mouth shut? I bet he’s not going to say it back.

He did, though, about fifteen minutes later.

As we lay in bed hugging after a session of mind-blowing post-I-love-you sex, I remembered suddenly that I was sure things with SG would be casual. I had no intention of falling in love with him.  But what’s even more interesting is what I remembered next. Meeting my friends after a 4th date with BD, nearly 15 years ago. Describing our relationship as a ‘casual-summer-fling’. Telling my friends we were going to take things slow.

So M may be right. I guess I don’t do casual. I guess I’m easy to fall in love. I don’t know if that makes me easy, or overly accepting. Is it odd that the first guy who hit on me after my breakup, became probably the greatest love of my life? That it was more difficult to overcome my breakup with him than with my husband, father of my son? That thinking about him still triggers emotions that I haven’t felt towards BD in years? And is it odd that as soon as I was ready to start something new, the first man I dated, that I intended to lure into bed after months of unbearable loneliness, was able to provoke similar emotions in me? Being as different as he is from me? With all the little things about him that I find almost intolerable? His dog-eat-dog profession? His work stories that make me cringe? His incomprehensible taste in music? His freezer, crammed with frozen pizzas and low quality non-dairy ice cream?

But there we were last night. Laughing about something in bed. It’s so nice to just laugh sometimes. I do that a lot with him. He asks in Spanish how I feel, and I answer ‘bien’ and he asks me that every so often when we’re together, because he really wants to know. He always wants to know how I feel. He respects my boundaries: the things I cannot do, or promise, or say. He remembers what I like and dislike, and it matters to him. He’s here. He’s good to me. So I feel entitled to love him, even if it means nothing more than stating what he makes me feel.

I guess it’s true, I may not be capable of casual. I may be prone to falling in love. But am I capable of just being? With someone who is kind to me? With someone who is there?

 

 

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Horizon

30 Oct

peer

I had the morning off today and I took a long walk along the peer and looked at the water. It was a beautiful beginning-of-fall day, with a bit a wind, grayish skies, and a gloominess that makes you reminiscent and somehow pleasantly melancholy. I love this type of weather. I can sit for hours watching the waves and contemplating life, arriving at endless conclusions that have no practical implications on my life.

I stood there, leaning on the railing, looking at the horizon, and as always felt overwhelmed by the vastness of it all, so many possibilities, so many opportunities, an openness that the future seems to hold when you take time off work and stare into the ocean. It filled me with such hope and happiness that I had to take a picture, so I pulled out my phone.

Then I took a step back, and I noticed the railing, which was actually a fence, a barrier installed to keep people from falling or jumping into the water. A barrier keeping people from that vastness, from that openness, narrowing down possibilities and opportunities. I suddenly felt held back, constrained, angry even.

And there you have it. Like everything else, the peer on a fall morning is a completely different experience, depending on your perspective, and the narrative you choose to to organize your story in. You can look at the horizon, or you can choose to see the railing. You can allow the foamy waves to fill your heart with prospects and opportunities, or you can take in the impossibilities, the constraints.