Story No. 2: Loveblock
Something’s not right with me. It’s like I can’t feel anything. I’ve gone on probably 23 dates by now. Still nothing. I’ve really liked a lot of the girls, but I haven’t loved any of them. I want to love, so I keep trying. But constantly trying comes with its own set of problems, such as, it’s unclear when I’m supposed to stop trying and admit that I’m not feeling it. Because who knows? Maybe the next picnic at the park, the next dinner, the next happy hour will be the one that throws me head over heels and everything will just click, they way it happens in the movies.
Since head over heels happened only once in my life, and since that’s history, I accept every invitation and agree to every request and make sure sure to put out many invitations and many requests. You never know when the water might start to boil, right? I think Maya Angelou said that. Even then, I keep wondering if something isn’t right with me. Like, what if something is seriously wrong? Things never used to be this way. I was normal once. It went: meet a girl, fall in love, be in love, be happy. Then, out of no where, it went: get heartbroken, feel lonely, be sad. After that, I thought it would go: meet a another girl, fall in love again, be happy. But it’s just sort of been like: meet other girls, feel whatever.
I think I know how this happened. After graduating from college and embarking multi-country adventure through the Old World a.k.a Europe, I went back to my hometown to live with my parents, being both jobless and, it follows, penniless. I inventoried the familiars that were still in town and found out that Nick, a guy I knew in high school, was in a similar boat. Nick’s big aim was to become a screenwriter, which gave us good fodder for talk. We started hanging out a bunch, usually at the local bar, and when we’d had enough of that we’d go to his house and and smoke weed or play pool or watch movies, which is where I met Bonita, Nick’s younger sister. She was so beautiful that the first time I saw her, I walked into a wall. I was too focused on her perfect face. Secrecy, we decided, was the only way forward for us, because to tell the truth would have been too complex and not telling the truth nicely intensified things.
This led to some very sneaky shit.
One night she told her parents she was sleeping at friends. I told mine I was sleeping at Nick’s. Actually, we were sleeping together in the back of my car. Unfortunately, calls were made to our alleged locations and our scheme was unraveled at two in the morning. As you can imagine, that strained things with Nick, but Bonita and I were more in love than ever and, to me, that was a win, whatever the cost.
Then I learned that Bonita and her family were moving back to New York.
That sucked. But so what? I was in love to such a degree that the obstacle of distance seemed negligible. We stuck together, and the infamous Long Distance Relationship experience went okay until it didn’t. In time, we settled into a kind of faux love. I never saw her. She never saw me. We texted and called each other occasionally, but essentially we were single without being single. We were in a relationship, but it would be hard for either of us to prove it if someone put a gun to our head. And in a weird way, it was kind of nice, that faux love. I was, if not happy, fine, working and reading and writing and hanging out with new friends.
Then, it ended. If that sounds abrupt, it was. But here’s the weird thing.
Because of how things had been — faux love, and all — it felt like nothing changed after I lost Bonita. It was almost as if, throughout all of it, my heart had been slowly bleeding out, and now it was bone dry. With Bonita I fell into a deep love that transformed into a half-love, and I’ve yet to come out of it. I’m trying hard to feel something again. I’m waiting patiently for butterflies make themselves felt, even if it’s only one. But so far, nothing.
On the other hand, one of the girls I’ve been meeting up with recently professed her love to me. I replied in kind because I almost love her, and it felt like the right thing to do. Her name is Anjana, which I like. She’s my type. Our conversations are great. She’s very smart and funny and sweet and kind. She’s beautiful, too, with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes and the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen. We love the same things but continue to love our own things, so there’s a healthy friction there. We’ve shared our most personal secrets with each other. We have similar hopes and dreams. I even met her dad once, who likes me, according to her. She’s got moxie. She dresses excellently. She hardly ever uses her phone, and when she does it’s to take a picture of something pretty, a word I feel comfortable saying around her. Some things are just pretty. She’s one of them, which is why so terrible and concerning that it seems impossible for me to love her back.
Then I started thinking.
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I saw this show once called Married at First Sight where two random people just, like, do the deed on the spot. (It’s all in the title). Usually it’s a trainwreck, but sometimes everything pans out quite beautifully: the two go through a short period of awkwardness, they warm up to each other, and finally they can’t imagine themselves with anyone else. Neither of them are in love at the start. How could they be? They’ve never even laid eyes on one another until that point. But then they’re married and they have no choice but to figure out what’s what. With time, love happens. And I started thinking, Maybe that’s in the cards for me. Maybe push has come to shove and what’s needed to get out of this fog is to do something huge.
Like pop the question to Anjana.
So I went and bought a ring. Nothing over the top. Simple, the kind of thing your great grandma would wear, which is our style. I booked a nice dinner in San Francisco and afterward we walked along the pier and watched the lights of the city sparkle in the bay. We got to the end of walk, and I dropped to my knee.
Will you marry me? I said.
Yes, she said. Of course.
She covered her mouth and started crying and everything.
Cut to now, and we’re scheduled to wed in a couple months, and no, I haven’t overcome my issue yet. But I’m positive I will. My confidence levels are hitherto unmatched. Until I things click, I’m pretending to love her, something I excel at because I know the words, actions, and gestures that create a believable effect. I’ve been there once. Some people will think probably I’m crazy or wrong or stupid, and that I’m fucking with something that shant be fucked with.
How am I any crazier than someone who believes love is some miraculous thing we need to stand around waiting for, fingers crossed dumbly? How is it any crazier than thinking love is a once in a lifetime phenomenon? That we only have one true soulmate out there somewhere?
Love can be made to happen. I’ll do anything to make sure it does. ♦
HEAR: “Soul II Stro” by Stro Elliot (YouTube)
READ: "At Random" by(Harper's)
VIEW: 20 minutes of Mitch Hedberg stand-up. (YouTube)
I enjoyed this. I relate to him. I remember realizing that there is not only one destined soulmate for everyone, and that it's not limited to one chance in life. I realized this after I chose someone and committed to them. Sure it made me wonder about my decision, but it also took the pressure off somehow, left more of the emphasis on the choice and the freedom in choosing that relationship... wearing it like a loose garment, and it can grow and evolve with me over time. And the other person does too.
Great story! Oh the glorious chaos that is distance relationships… couldn’t help but relate it to, then chuckle at my past experiences. Ha ha!
I’m enjoying the short stories and mix of other weekly pieces. Thanks for it all!