If it is more or if it less, I could not say now. It’d be nice if it were less. I could then at least say I am a man, even if I am not.
I cannot say that, though, not truthfully. Falling in l— for the first time still seems important. That could be because I’ve never done anything important in my whole life. I wouldn’t argue that. But I was young then. I hadn’t yet had time to do something great. Falling in l— was the greatest thing I could accomplish. That’s what I thought. That’s what I fear I still believe.
I don’t know if all boys want to be in l— but just don’t say it or if most males genuinely do not yearn for the feeling. That they only want to muzzle their heads in as many bosoms and touch as many butts as is possible and an emotion like l— always acts as a hindrance on such a quest.
I don’t know the answer to that. I just know there are certain men who can seem, at ages even more advanced than my own, pathetically crippled by not having a significant other, or, as the worst of my lot might say, a “cuddle-buddy.”
I’ve never used that phrase, my deposition has never been so gelatinous. Though it did, and still does, have porous areas with sinkholes which are just as weak. And the one who first put her finger in, and maybe who will always be rooting around, is someone I call Mary.
We met at a group home in Nebraska working with teenagers. The job for Mary and I, and about 7 others of us, was to watch these children as a parent would. Cook, clean, discipline, with the most important duty being: guide each teenager into an everlasting relationship with Jesus Christ.
Minus the converting part, I think I did a good job as a houseparent. It may seem like an insane job, especially when you are not much older than the ones you are supposed to parent, but I think I did a good job.
Do not misunderstand, I am not patting myself on the back. I have worked for ten years since and had many jobs and I still think I did the best work then? But I had such a passion. I wanted, in everything I did, to show myself worthy of Mary.
I didn’t have to go far to do so. For most of a year, nearly every day of the week, she was not more than a walk across a field. We lived in a rural community and sometimes I could have stepped outside and yelled her name and she would have heard. I never did, though I often wanted to. Perhaps such a desire is what l— is.
Seeing Mary for the first time, I think I did understand what was meant by the word. Her smile could render me speechless. That seemed special. I did not want to feel that way with anyone else. But, I would. I have felt that way with others, though it has always been temporary. I saw someone in Seattle and after I left them I regretted it. In the time when I was regretting, I felt it. I met someone on the internet and was so charmed on our few dates, I felt it. I’ve felt it by seeing someone at a book store or on the bus.
That feeling of l— comes often, but then it’s gone, so it never prospers. It takes time, I believe, for it to develop into the aching kind. My l— for Mary grew the longer I was around her. We lived together without really living together. I l—ed her without really knowing what that was.
At the time, I was religious. So was she, so I believed, because I had read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, the right thing to do was to be open about my intention to court her. She was my Christian sister. I needed to guard her heart. I remember I went over and told her my desire one night at the “cottage,” as they called them, where she worked. All her girls were asleep and Mary and I were in living room. I remember when I started she was sitting up, back against the couch. By the end, she was lying on the couch, her face hidden by the decorative pillows.
Excruciating, like watching a clock measured in heartbeats, is how I describe the year after that night. I would never again tell Mary how I felt, though by the end there would have been no way to do it. My feelings seemed to big to describe.
When her year contracted ended, she resigned. I wasn’t even in town the weekend she left. Another year passed, and I still thought I l—ed her. More time went by, and I asked God less and less to bring back the volleyball player with the smirk and straight brown hair.
Mary is, I know, the closest I have come to the feeling of l—. But because we ended with a whimper, I cannot say I really know what the feeling is. I thought then the l— in front of me had come from before time and space, which might seem weird, though it could be a helpful way to describe it. L— is as useful as a handful of space dust.
So unique and powerful, maybe. Or maybe it is just a handful of dust.