When my parents separated, I vowed that love was something meant to twist and gnarl the person you are into something weak and brittle. You start off solid then slowly, over time, you melt into the other person until you’re solidified together. When it undoubtedly comes time to separate, you must heat the two parts of a now whole and slowly pull it apart; apart, but never the same shape they once were. I remember seeing my sister slam doors in anger over boys, and lash out at people who tried to show they cared. And so, in turn, I learned to run away from affection until my lungs threatened to rip out of my chest.
The other day over a few beer with friends in a dive bar a poignant question was raised among us. As I sipped my beer and looked at my hand of Cards Against Humanity, one among us asked, “I just really want to find someone…I don’t care if it is close to graduation, I’m ready.” I immediately responded with, “I would love to find someone, too, but I’m just really focused on my career right now.” My friend lowered his drink and told me, “You know it’s not all about that, right? You can have an incredible career but it won’t hold your hair as you throw up, or kiss you on the forehead at night.” His words stung me more than I imagine he had intended them too. I’d always just steamrolled ahead in my life, seeing men as a distraction rather than as a complementary partner to my life.
I have wanted to be a writer who is paid enough so that I can afford a cheap apartment with a bathtub and the occasional bottle of wine for as long as I can remember. It is what I have wanted since the moment I realized that others out there could feel something for the words I put down. I had never really given lasting love a second thought because I thought it would stand in the way of what I have always wanted. I felt like I would not be in a position to settle down until I signed a big boy book deal and never had to worry about a freelancing check to arrive in the mail so I could buy groceries.
I approached love as a secondary option with my main drive being Any time a boy would try and get close to me, I would ghost them and refuse to answer their texts for weeks until they finally heard me loud and clear that I had no intention of continuing to see them. They rarely did anything wrong, it was just a way for me to maintain focus on pushing out work every other day. It was a way for me to turn my loneliness into something palpable for others. What I would do to these boys was cruel and wrong, but I saw it as me protecting them from myself. I was protecting them from my bigger life plans that they may never fit into.
What i’ve figured out that I need is someone to slow me down. A career is ideal, but what good will it do me to have accolades and money if I pass up beautiful people and opportunities in order to achieve those things? I need someone to pull me away from my computer and tell me it’s okay for me to stop writing about my feelings for a while and just feel them. That it is okay for me to go days without writing a word, or sending a work email, or edit an article. I need someone to tell me I’ve spent enough time looking at internship opportunities for the night, and that it is time to come to bed to make love. Deep down, i’ve always been running towards what I thought would be a vibrant future for myself, but just maybe I have been running from exactly that. Maybe, Instead of finding someone to take my breath away…I really just need to find someone to help me catch it.