so i’ve given in to the urge and started smoking again. it was a nice experiment, while it lasted. and although i miss the mornings free of phlegm, and the extra moola stuffing my wallet, i realized that some habits just take longer than others to kick. there are several things i simply have a hard time letting go of, like the notion that my age is perpetually arrested at 24. and the need to fix everyone’s problems but my own. and the pathological hope that someday i’ll fall in love.
i think perhaps some distinctions are in order at this point. i’ve loved several people; this means that i hold their happiness equal to my own. i’ve been in love twice; this means that i hold their happiness above my own. but i’ve never fallen in love; this would mean that below or above or equal isn’t even a factor, just that i am more myself with them than i am with anyone else. and that i would be loved, cherished, even worshipped for this.
of course, cara being a girl and cara being human, i thought for a time that i had fallen. hard. thump-kabump. ah, kyle. he was my first in many ways, both good and bad. and i thought that’s what love was, right? sticking it out. i realize now that though i had the concept of the thing correct, the application of it is much more tricky.
it was instantaneous, the attraction between us. he praised my intelligence, my beauty, my passion for theater, my smile and my ass. i was enamored of his sense of humor, his stature, his passion for music, his eyes and his lips. but we had several things plotting against us from the start.
i lived in iowa, he called virginia his home. a length of 1,200 miles does not bode well, dear readers. sure, some people can make it work, but in the end, i was not one of them. i am a very tactile person, and the endless nights of phone calls and countless days of e-mails just couldn’t cut it for me. in the eight months we were “seeing” each other, we only actually “saw” each other for two weeks. a trying situation, and one i was never able to overcome. i wanted to touch him, damn it. and i wanted to be touched. damn it.
he was just barely 19, i was well into my 23rd year. now, four years may not seem like much of a difference, but at that age, and with us being who we were, it was a chasm of time. he lived at home, wasn’t attending college, had no immediate or future plans for the direction of his life. i was in the middle of obtaining my degree, was on my own, and had known for years where i wanted to go. and it’s hard to imagine adding someone into the unfolding fabric of your life when they’re not even sure how to do a load of laundry.
also, and perhaps most telling, he didn’t read. i don’t mean that he couldn’t, just that he didn’t. after overcoming a childhood struggle with a reading disability, he was never able to develop a love of learning. and i have an almost obscene attraction to the written word in any form. peas in a pod, we were not. the intelligence he praised so early and so often soon became an obstacle to understanding. i had to start censoring my language to use words he could understand, as he would get frustrated when i had to explain what certain words meant to him. yikes. i wanted to be his girlfriend, not his english teacher.
in an incident that I later came to call “the antiques roadshow revelation,” i had an epiphany. while on the phone with kyle and watching the antiques roadshow, i was telling him about how much i loved the show. after a while, i realized that he had been quiet for some time. he finally said that he didn’t get why people watched shows like that, since it’s always about old stuff, and what’s the point? since we’d spent so much of our relationship talking and writing to each other, we knew a lot about each other. but it was at that moment i realized that though he may understand a lot of things about me, he didn’t really understand me. an unholy desire to know the unknowable, to discover the undiscovered is intrinsic to my nature. and the fact that he didn’t get that… well, i was shocked into a state of doubt.
needless to say, the end came soon upon the heels of that pbs episode.
after a lot of crying and writing and a one-night stand and more crying and more writing, i came to the sad conclusion that while i thought i had fallen in love, i had merely fallen in love with the idea of love. i wanted the roses and the chocolates so much i was willing to pretend for eight months that i was surrounded by the scent of love and filled with rich emotion. in reality what i had was a distant connection with pain and empty, lonely words.
so badly shaken by my brief and disastrous foray into the field of love, i have become wary of entangling my heart with another’s. so soundly trounced in the war of passion, i have retreated to the rear to salve my wounds and repair my pride as best can. it’s been difficult to return to the front and resume the fight, because i look at my scars and remember how much they hurt when they were inflicted.
but recent events have convinced me that i’m looking at it all wrong. it is not a battle among two enemies for supremacy, it is a dance between two hearts for hope. hope that there will be more good days than bad, that when the cuts come they will be small and leave no scar, that your careful steps around each other will become easy moves with each other, melded and in tandem, leading you around the floor that bears no resemblance to a battleground.
so, pathological hope? habitual desire? absolutely. because, cara being a girl and cara being human, i find the thought of a life without falling pretty damn awful. and i’ve spent years perfecting my steps.
now if you’ll excuse me, i’ve got to go find a dance partner…