You never liked playing house as a kid. It wasn’t for lack of imagination. You adored playing pretend. You loved going on make believe adventures. You saved whole kingdoms and did magic and solved complex mysteries. You loved pretending to travel. You boarded planes and ships and time machines and rockets. You loved pretending, in general. But you never liked pretending to be a mother or a wife. It just didn’t interest you.
Then, the other morning, you found yourself playing house. You didn’t like it now, either. The adult you didn’t like watching yourself go through the motions in your baggy T-shirt, laughing at his jokes, smiling, complaining about your day. It didn’t feel real. It’s not that you’re scared of commitment. You’re not. Most of the time, you dive headfirst into things. Friendships, romances. You’re notoriously awful at risk assessments. No, what you’re scared of is boredom. Futility. Lack of inspiration. The other morning, as you brushed your teeth and grinned at him in his bathroom, you were content, sure. But you were bored.
You fall in love all the time. You fall in love with strangers and actors and friends and with exes, when you bump into them or when they post flattering pictures on Facebook. But you’re just not falling for him. And you can’t skip over that feeling of lightheaded giddiness: the excitement that buzzes through you when someone might just send a text, but might not. You can’t fast forward through frantic social media stalking, and deep-set fears that you might accidentally like something way too far back and embarrass yourself. You can’t gloss over the heady period of desperately wanting to dissect every single detail of your every interaction with the girls over brunch. You don’t want to miss out on lying in bed, and suddenly thinking out loud, bemused, startled, “I like you.”
After all, you revel in being the girl who loves. You love giving more fucks than the other person ever can, or does. You love that you’re passionate. You love that you can initiate a break up conversation and then spend the rest of the night wine drinking and stalking the other person on social media, seriously wondering if you fucked up. You love that you want to know every single aspect of your people’s lives, to understand their demons and regrets and hopes and dreams. You love that you’re willing to share all of you with those you love. You love the feeling of being in love.
Lately, you’ve been thinking about the first time you really fell in love. You remember dancing around the house, in a long skirt he’d later tell you he detests, a wide smile plastered on your face. Waiting for him to call. Telling yourself he might not. Hoping he would. And you remember when the two of you started seeing each other, when every day, every night out, was a glorious adventure. You remember when being in love was comparable to travel through time and space. You remember wanting to spend every minute of your time with him. You remember wanting to kiss him just because he was sitting next to you on the couch. You remember lying outside in the summer sun, on the hot tiles by the side of his mother’s pool, looking up at him and telling yourself to remember that exact moment. You remember genuine lazy mornings, the kind you recently feigned. You remember being obscenely in love.
You also remember the bitterness of falling out of love. You remember going through the motions of a relationship. You remember the dull, polite silences and mutual eye rolls. You remember playing house. You remember doing the dishes in his kitchen, because it seemed like the sort of thing a girlfriend ought to do, and wondering what you were still doing there on your final morning. You remember no longer being in love.
Perhaps part of why you like falling in love so much, is that it’s kind of like a grown-up version of playing pretend. You can reimagine yourselves, become new people, and then conjure up whole worlds that belong just to the two of you. You can go on adventures together, solve mysteries, save the world. You can find hidden treasures and then lose them. You can race far too fast and burn up way too quickly. That’s the kind of love you want, isn’t it? That’s the kind of love you need. Because it’s the kind of love that everyone deserves, and it’s the kind that, deep down, you’re certain you can give.