Personally, I didn’t want her working for us. Let’s call “her” Katie.
There was another intern in the running to be a member of our tightly bound, Robin Hood, Knights of the Round Table group. Half of the group teased me, saying I only wanted him because he was cute (he was). Half of the group agreed with me that he was intelligent and brought something new and fresh to our organization (he did). It was a good mix of both. What’s better than a summer paid internship in a field you love? A summer internship in a field you love with a cute boy. (Cue the memory of the State Farm commercial where the girls crash their car and one says, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there…with a hot guy.”) But I lost the battle and now Katie was going to be our new intern. I was bitter, not only because I lost a conflict but because it was another girl (reference point—my organization only had three men on a staff of seven females).
How glad am I that I lost the fight. Losing the fight helped me find love.
She was a good interviewer, a shy wallflower who I think could be best described as the type of girl in an indie romantic comedy who took cues from Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer but had the inoffensive, alluring uniqueness Zooey failed to achieve. She walked into the office on the first day with shoulders slightly curled inward in a partially defensive, yet humbled posture and an appreciative soft burn smile on her face. And without missing a beat—because I rarely do—I asked her to twirl for me. Yes, twirl, like Cinderella when her fairy godmother gave her the dress she’d use to “get turnt up” at the Ball.
I complimented her outfit with a sarcastic comment.
And I was hooked.
Now, if you know me, I’m the gayest of gay. I’ve known I was gay since 12. I constantly and adamantly stand by the statement that Zac Efron and I are going to be on the cover of People magazine someday. Do I check every stereotypical homosexual box? No. Do I fit most? Yes, and that’s okay with me. I have mostly female friends who I cherish deeply, so Katie and I becoming friends off the bat was not something surprising to me.
What was unusual was how at some point during the six months I met her, I fell head over heels in love with her.
What threw me not only was falling for her, but the type of love it was. I don’t want to have sex with her (though we jokingly—or seriously—say that if we are both single in our 50s we’ll live together, in separate beds and discuss poetry and maybe go do the Charleston at a speakeasy), but I want to be with her. It’s rare to find someone who completes you so well and I think the fact that it happened so suddenly, so randomly, and with someone I never thought it would happen with is what makes me giddy and uncomfortable at the same time.
There is no shame in me saying I’ve never been a person who thought they would find love. I feel, in a delusion of grandeur or young adult stupidity that I was destined for more, to do more and love would get in the way. It’s a sacrifice, and nothing in life worth getting comes without sacrifices. That’s my emotional side talking. Intellectually I know it’s fear raging—fear of making more mistakes in relationships, fear of jumping into the unknown, and—for the umpteenth time—landing flat on my face, fear of hoping for something and ending up raw, exposed, and desolate, forcing a smile and giving sage advice that, as Alice from Alice In Wonderland would say, she “seldom follows.” So it was easier to push things away and focus on things I could control. Falling in love isn’t something you can control, and when one says it’s going to happen randomly, they really mean it’s going to happen randomly.
And the randomness, which was so far away from even the illusions I granted myself every so often took a form I never thought it would. A form of a girl who dresses like she is trying to beat Katniss Everdeen in the challenge to become Panem’s Next Dystopian Superstar while at the same time giving Keira Knightley’s thin and period piece frame a run for her money.
The truth is, the fact someone could know me so well before I know myself, and accept me so fully was what I loved about her. It’s what I love about her. We live in a society where we say the words “I love you” so much that they have dulled in meaning. What’s the difference between saying, “I love you” to a friend or to a lover? You’ll know it when you know it—I know; the most unhelpful thing ever.
Besides feeling like loving a girl meant that my whole life was a lie—dramatic, I know—I felt like my whole life had been a lie. When you live 23 years fighting against others and yourself for your identity, having it put in a Magic 8 Ball and shaken up doesn’t feel good. There was another haunting thing inside of me. Would loving one person in a platonic way that completely filled my soul, mind, and heart prevent me from getting the thing that I screamed inside I would never have (even if there was a small corner of my mind that wanted it)? Would I have space in me for a romantic love?
It took me months to discover the answer.
It doesn’t matter.
Many people don’t find love at all—on any level—so the fact that I have found it with someone who understands me so completely is a blessing. Someone I can talk to, who can say just the right things without force and I can do the same thing back, is a simpatico of legend. Why does it matter if this person isn’t someone I can screw or someone who I will never tie the ring with? Down the road, maybe it will; but for now, feeling loved and loving is all that matters.
After all, that’s what people were put on the planet to do. I’ve always been looking for my path, or my destiny. Maybe I haven’t found my physical purpose, but my spiritual one? I’m doing all right.
And that has made all the difference.