You know those GIFs where a girl just takes two steps forward and then a plank of wood comes out of nowhere and hits her in the face? That’s what my love life is like. I keep walking planks I don’t even know are there and getting smacked in the face.
There are times when I just know I have picked the absolute wrong person to like. I can admit that. They have commitment issues or they’re huge flirts or they have like thirty secret girlfriends and eighteen hands. But I swear it’s not even that I pick them exactly; it’s more like romantic quicksand. One day I wake up and realize I’m up nose deep in dirt, flailing hopelessly for someone just out of reach, and there are no oars in sight.
The next part, the staying, is my fault. Because I just let myself get sort of cozy – too comfortable – watching that unavailable person from across the room. Until eventually something happens, like the guy says the word “my girlfriend” just as I’m telling people how he collapses his head on the desk when he laughs at my jokes or he collapses his head at another girl’s joke and I’m forced to realize he’s just a weak-necked bastard. Point is, something happens that unburies me a little. And just as soon as it happened, it’s over. He leaves or I leave, and the crush comes to a crashing end like a bucket of cat-sized pebbles raining down from the ceiling.
When I studied abroad in Ireland, I lived with two Irish guys. One was super cute and nice; one was annoyingly handsome and arrogant. Guess which one I liked? Let me reiterate, I did not choose this. He was just always in the kitchen when I was, ranting about something or other and cooking salmon in my pan, which was oddly sexy. We’d talk about random, mostly stupid, things, but Lord did we laugh a lot. To top it off, the first time I met him he was facedown on the floor, hung over as hell, and murmuring that he was pretty sure he broke his hand. When I asked how, he said he punched a fire hydrant because he was thirsty and hoping a good hit would cause water to burst out of it. That was probably a lie and not the point. The point is there was a lot there to like.
On the other hand, he teased me often, in a cute way, but also in an incredibly patronizing way that demonstrated how much smarter and cooler he was than me. He found multiple occasions to drop in his GPA into our conversation. If anybody else was around, we were strangers, reminiscent of younger days, when boys that liked you basically punched you in the face and told you how ugly you were if any other five-year-olds were around. There was a lot not to like too. Yet by the end of two months, I was hooked. I strolled around the common room in skirts and red lipstick just waiting for him to walk in. And then it was ending, as I knew it always would, and yet still it felt that damn plank of wood coming out of nowhere. The plane ride home was just me sobbing while watching Inside Out. And still, whenever Handsome Ex-Roommate pops up on Facebook, there’s a sinking feeling in my stomach, and I realize maybe you never really get out of the quicksand. Maybe you just swallow some and keep on keeping on. And I did. I came home and fell for a co-worker who had a girlfriend who like a young Sharon Stone. Life is not fair – not always. I’ve been alone for a long, long time and I’m still not good at it, and crushes more often than not have crushed me entirely.
But you know what I like about a crush? That it implies action, that it’s a doer sort of verb. So, fine, whatever. I’ve never been in a real relationship. But I think there’s this misconception that there’s only one type of love. I think love has shades to it. And if I’ve only felt the light pinks or corals of it, I’m okay with that. It means I’m saving up for the deepest magenta thing you’ve ever seen. And maybe I deserve more than a work crush, a guy in an open whatever, or a too-handsome roommate with an equal affinity for salmon and derogatory comments. But honestly I’m okay with just that – for now. Maybe all this is just training for the worst workout my quads and heart will ever experience, the kind of love that will lead me dehydrated and knobby kneed and heart aching. If that’s the case, I’ll keep training, keep chasing, keep on keeping.
Maybe I’m just the right person picking all the wrong people; or I’m a wrong person picking too many Mr. Rights and I need my right type of wrong and if you’re confused I think that’s just the point. There is no clear answer, no clear right or wrong. Point is: I think connections and relationships are double digit letter words with confusing “shun” spellings for a reason; they’re more complex than they let on, long and tricky with a surprising amount of vowels. I think taking wrong turns and getting lost is part of the fun. I’m in no rush. I can afford to get a little more lost, drive to a few more dead ends. I know I’ll find my place, my person, eventually. I’ll keep walking on planks. I can swim. And I have a big head that can afford a few hits.