real lj idol | week 22 | 1010 words
The straw that stirs the drink: an Idol Intersection with everywordiwrite (her entry is here).
As a child, I didn't start out believing in a fairytale future with my one true love. Perhaps it was the absence of Disney movies and typical childhood books, or even the presence of a TV diet that featured Captain Kirk falling in love on a weekly basis and group of castaways on a deserted island where the barely-sociable professor was the only man remotely resembling "a catch."
In those years, I had trees to climb and corners of the property to explore, and those were far richer pursuits than empty fantasies. My mother was a doctor at a time when most women stayed at home to raise children, so rather than expecting a handsome prince to come carry me off to my happily-ever-after, I grew up with the idea that I would choose my path myself. This didn’t stop me from eventually believing in the possibility of true love, or that I might someday find that perfect 'someone.' My parents had found it, and as a child of the Western world my conversion was late but inevitable.
At school, I had a crush on the occasional boy. The number of boys I found interesting seemed to expand in direct correlation to my increasing hormones. Love early, love often, my body seemed to say. It was a fickle time of ever-changing fixations, and I was at its mercy.
Those fairytales rarely mentioned one-sided attraction, or its tendency to persist despite all attempts to make things mutual. I found again and again that the boys I liked had no real interest in me. Meanwhile, other boys had crushes on me that I did not share, and I couldn't deter them without being horribly unkind.
If someone had told me I'd be stuck in that Mobius-strip of misdirected passions clear into adulthood, I'd have given up on love in Junior High.
From fourth to eighth grade, there was the nice Jewish boy who was smart, good-looking and kind. He went on to become a prize-winning journalist, and for ages seemed like "the one that got away" (never mind that he wasn't mine to keep). Only moving to another city saved me from being in love with for another four fruitless years. There was the tall, sardonic boy in high school who wrote satire for the student paper and fell in love with my best friend, and the sly, soft-spoken pianist my freshman year at college who was a pre-missionary Mormon and probably never gave me and my feminist, agnostic ways so much as a romantic second thought.
There were others in college: the impossibly charming program director at the campus radio station (who flirted with everyone as if he meant it, and left heartbreak in his wake), and the married violinist with the wicked sense of humor. I was dateless in high school, nearly so in college, and more of the same waited after graduation.
I was a failure at romantic relationships before any of them had even left the solitary confines of my heart.
Why was it so hard to find someone I liked who was also attracted to me? I examined myself for answers and hidden motives. Was I only attracted to men who were "unavailable" (including those who just weren't interested)? Was I afraid of intimacy? Was I inherently unlovable?
Was the problem that I was just too damned picky?
By the time I reached my early twenties, I started wondering if I was destined to be alone. My few romantic relationships had been short-lived, and more amiable than passionate. The three years I lived in Illinois, I was as misplaced and undesirable as I'd been during my freshman and only year at BYU.
Then I moved back to the West Coast, and the unimaginable happened: I met a man who was completely different from anyone I'd ever known.
We had both signed up for a one-night extension course on things for singles to do in Sacramento. He was tall, dark, and handsome in his European-fitted charcoal suit, and said he liked poetry. I wrote poetry, and we both liked music and movies. He was completely my type, though I wasn't sure I'd caught his attention since he was already comfortably conversing with someone else. Later, I would find out that he found the other woman easy to talk to because he had no interest in her at all. The curse of shyness! I knew it all too well.
He called that weekend, and we chatted on the phone about nothing and everything for over an hour. By the end of the conversation, we'd made a restaurant date for Thursday night.
He'd mentioned he was a lawyer, so I was relieved when he came to pick me up driving a subcompact instead of a status car. Our Thursday date was followed by bicycling on Saturday. A morning ride along the parkway turned into spending the entire day together, and everything was easy and unhurried in a way I'd never dreamed possible.
On Monday, a coworker asked how the date had gone, and I blurted out something I didn't even know I was thinking:
"I have the strangest feeling I've met the man I'm going to marry."
By our third date, I believed it. By the fourth, he did too.
This would have seemed like lunacy for anyone, and we were both more cautious than most. But for the two of us, it made its own mysterious sense.
How, after a solid record of relationship misfires and unmatched attractions, was it possible for everything to be so easy? Weren't you supposed to build toward that from past experience, instead of having the whole thing suddenly fall into place?
There was a reason it turned out that way, and it wasn't timing or conversational skills, or anything as learnable or practical as that.
Instead, it was something so rare and unexpected that you'd never believe it without seeing it, and you couldn't plan your life around it if you tried:
Finding the right person makes all the difference in the world.