It’s a question I get asked almost every time the subject of relationships comes up. Especially when I mention that it’s been some eight years since I was last attached.
Earlier today I was having brunch with a couple of friends of mine and their adorable little boy. They were having one of those cute, half-serious but not serious arguments involving time spent with each other and various activities they do and do not share. I sat there listening with a smile on my face and told them I was going to blog about it later (I assured them no specifics of course!) Elaborating a bit, I told them that they are among the most well adjusted marriages I know (they are) and among the best parents I know as well. Then I explained such discussions was one of the things I’m missing out on along with having a little one of my own.
“So why don’t you have a girlfriend?”
The short answer I gave them was that “I haven’t found anyone worth settling down for…” which is true on the surface, but the answer is a lot more complicated than that. However, in order for you to have a full picture, I need to rewind a bit to my ex-girlfriend and the impact that relationship had on me. I really hesitate to explain too much, because I don’t care to involve her in my writing and drudge up things from the past. However, aspects of that relationship have a profound impact on how I see things now, so some of it is necessary.
Many years ago (I believe I was 20 or 21 at the time…) I encountered a girl at a horse show. She wasn’t aware I was there and was unceremoniously cleaning her horse’s stall, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It was like everything you hear about in stories or see in movies (at least the ones where the guy creepily stands there and watches somebody unbeknownst to them.) To this day I don’t know if I ever told her about that, but regardless, we had shared friends (which is more complicated than it sounds.. but unimportant to this story) and over time I grew to know her more and more. Finally, months later and after a lot of vague talk and a couple of awkward moments of eye contact that were way more powerful than they should’ve been, the opportunity to explore a relationship presented itself.
I will never forget the first night she came to meet me. At the time I lived in a tree house (yes, seriously… it had plumbing and electricity) and she met me there. It was perhaps the most nervous I had ever been, but I contained myself and we wandered the fields that my tree house was situated on, gazed at the starry night and talked for hours… I think we embraced at times, but nothing more as simply being close to her made me feel like I was glowing and euphoric. Eventually we made our way back to my house and were on my deck talking before we went inside. Internally I asked god “this is it.. isn’t it?” and as I looked up a shooting star crossed the sky in answer. It was perfect. We went inside and wandered up to the loft that only had enough room for my bed. I want to stress that though I’m certain it had crossed my mind, my intentions were not really sexual… I just wanted to be close to her (to her credit it would be a good month or more into the relationship before she actually slept with me.) I don’t recall what we were talking about, or what I said exactly, but I remember eluding to wishing I could hold her there, and she immediately moved from the foot of the bed and literally fell into my arms. “Like this?” she asked. Yes. Just like that.
That was the beginning, and for a long time, a couple years at least, it was like that and more. The truth of the matter is we were kids and though I was very happy and lighthearted for a time, as the years passed I sank further and further into the dark. Some six years later I was a selfish, compulsive liar and manipulator. When some of the things I had done were eventually found out, her trust in me was destroyed and within twenty-four hours I was back in Seattle, licking my wounds and starting the long climb from the bottom of the barrel to rebuilding myself. Even when that happened she saved me. Over and over again for years she had bailed me out, been patient, and saved me from myself. In the end, though I wasn’t strong enough for her, it was her being the person she was that inspired me to become (some of) the better person that I am.
Okay, so, cute story Jordan, but what’s your point? Well, the point is I’m single because it has to be like that again. It has to FEEL like that again, or I simply cannot do it. That relationship ended because I was a liar to everyone, and even worse, to myself. I had spent so long telling so many stories and being what I thought everyone wanted me to be, that I didn’t even know who I actually was. I swore I would never fall into that trap again. For me, for her and for whoever I ended up with.
So, instant love is unrealistic, but if I cannot feel that “thing”, that “it”, that magnetic pull that makes it difficult to not look at somebody in the room and makes you feel like you are glowing in their presence, I simply can’t do it. I know what it feels like and I can’t not have it. To accept any less would be a lie to myself and the other person, and I would rather be alone.
I’ve actually felt it to some degree a few times since, but it is rare. On top of that, it is most certainly NOT the only criteria. Unfortunately I learned through a bit of trial and error that the presence of “it” does NOT equal compatibility on mental or physical levels. In addition, I’m willing to admit that my standards on physical and intellectual levels are arguably unrealistic. In truth I am in contact daily with truly beautiful and intelligent women, and some of them I have grown to care about on various levels, but none of them quite fit. If I were willing to compromise myself, it would be an honor to belong to one of them, but I cannot. I refuse to look the woman I’m with in the eye and tell her I love her and want to be with her without believing/meaning it completely.
For now, in this form I often appear emotionless. It’s true that over the years of rebuilding myself, various factors have eroded what a lot of people would call my humanity and made me seem cold. I suppose I was like that before on many levels, but I was able to convince myself otherwise. Not for her though, that was real. Even in the latter years when things were difficult the pull was there, and even if little else about me was real, I did love her. Also, to answer the inevitable question: No, I won’t ever be back with her. What we had was often amazing and perfect, but we are not those people anymore, and the person I was didn’t deserve it to begin with. I will always respect and owe her, but that time is done.
So, I’ll find that person someday, or I’ll be alone. But either way I’ll be honest with myself, and with that in mind the life I have now is the probably the next best thing. If it’s not, I’ll try my damnedest to make it that way.