Sorry for the prolonged absence – job hunting is exhausting! But have finally landed a new gig and now back to writing in my spare time. So here goes…
I want to think that every date is a fresh start. That every person is different and within them lives a world of possibilities that are just waiting to be discovered, one by one. Like a bag of skittles – sometimes you get the sour yellow ones but then you get a red one that reminds you of summers by the pool after a swim meet – playing tag with your friends. Every facet of them is something to discover. But sometimes I don’t want to. And it’s so arbitrary that it hurts. Sometimes their voice is too screechy and annoying. Sometimes they are so awkward at making conversation that I just keep babbling like an idiot so we don’t feel uncomfortable, even though we’ve been texting for weeks and I love your mind. Sometimes you’re too smooth and I feel like I am part of your dance routine – just a pirouette you’ve rehearsed so many times that it feels stale. Sometimes you stare at me with some kind of admiration I don’t deserve, just because I studied abroad a lot and have opinions about politics. Sometimes you find me “a little intimidating” and I’m too nice to say I find you boring.
But sometimes it clicks.
You make me feel alive in a way that only chemistry can. The way I felt on those hot July days when I heard the distant notes of the ice cream truck and I would run barefoot across the lawn to beg my mom for $1 for the Firecracker ice pop. The way I feel after book club – full of the warmth of genuine female friendship and a slightly fuzzy wine brain. You make me wake up with a smile on my face thinking about the most perfect first kiss outside 801, while drunk UVA bros walked by yelling indistinctly and Ubers honked at the drunk hoards j-walking, but all I could comprehend was your soft lips on mine – asking permission at the same time you were telling me that you felt it too.
Suddenly all the bad dates become a faded backdrop in the crazy memory cave of my brain. And a week later when you tell me how perfect that kiss was, that you thought about it for days afterward, I feel myself melting. Because vulnerability is not something we accept or value in DC. We are work-obsessed, intellectually charged, cerebral workhorses that only focus on our careers and find hookups perfectly sufficient in the relationship department. But you make me forget that. You make me feel like my 13-year-old fantasy of living in a big city with a successful career and finding prince charming (okay, really Rob Lowe/Sam Seaborn, but same difference) is not so impossible.
But I’m afraid. I’ve been hurt. And by hurt I mean trampled by a stampede of angry horses and repeatedly, with almost clinical precision, been told that I am not enough, not it. It fucking hurts. It hurts with a dull pain when I’m on the metro platform and the couple next to me is sweetly holding hands and looking at each other like the nothing else exists around them. It hurts when I finally find the perfect hummus and I think, well I guess I’ll text my mom and tell her because she has to listen.
But it hurts the most when we have that perfect kiss, when I realize that you are so incredibly interesting that I could talk to you for hours, and I try to jump but I can’t.
I can’t because my anxiety-ridden brain is telling me that this is too good to be true, that I am not good enough, that you are too good. I don’t want this baggage to sabotage us. All I want it to sit on your couch drinking wine and discussing the merits of French nationalism and my changing views on how to protect and empower disempowered women, while you gently refill my glass and brush my hand in that special way. I want this reality. I want you. So why won’t I let you in even when you ask me so gently and so authentically?
I know this about myself. I know that I’m afraid and that I’m a little broken. But aren’t we all? Don’t we all carry our baggage with us and doesn’t it inform every significant relationship in our lives? Didn’t my therapist always say that recognizing it is the first step to overcoming it? This is me: recognizing it, facing it, and ready to put down the suitcase and leave it in a closet. Because all I want is to love you with all the ferocity that I love with. All I want is to let you love me.