Falling in love used to be easy. I didn’t need to understand how or why it was happening. I viewed early lovers through a veil of idealism which promised eternity and unrequited romance. Sex was mysterious, a means of exploration. I threw myself headlong into relationships, shedding my walls with abandon. Each one was the one. Each end was the end.
Time is a constant. There is no means of escaping it. Long relationships became short ones. I entered my early twenties at the end of a multiple year relationship with the man I once saw myself marrying. We met at 14-years-old on our school’s basketball court in New Jersey. I was tall and gangly, with a mouth full of braces. Now, at 21, I was single and living in southern California. There was no shortage of potential dates.
I did the dating thing for a while. I was consistently disappointed. I stopped going after a certain type as my tastes evolved. I dated older men. I dated women. I dated artists, musicians, surfers and a lawyer.
Everyone was looking for something different. Their expectations in the relationships varied greatly. Some were searching for marriage, and kids, while others just wanted someone to go clubbing with on the weekend.
I wasn’t satisfied. None of it was giving my heart the kind of jolt that it wanted. I couldn’t describe the feeling I was after, but I’d had it before, and I couldn’t seem to get it back.
I began to find the thrill of the chase far more engaging than the conquest itself. The questions had become better than the answers.
After pursuing various relationships and coming up empty-handed, I made the decision to move to Minneapolis and give love with my high school sweetheart another shot. A small part of me still clung to the promise of a future that we had spent years constructing in our hearts and minds.
It didn’t work out, though. Years apart had changed us. We had grown up in different directions. I went back to casual dating. I ended up falling for a local DJ, and our relationship lasted longer than most. At the end of the day, though, I was on my own.
I struggled with my vices. I lost another close friend and lover to heroin addiction. I started to view love as more of a taker than a giver. I became afraid to put too much of myself into anything for fear that it would ultimately fail or desert me.
This year, I tore away from my addiction with a clear mind and a new sense of drive. I began attending school at MCTC and filled my time with making art and music, writing, and feeding my head with inspiration. I re-examined the potential for love in my life.
Could I still have a soulmate out there? Do I still have the ability to fall in love? Sometimes I’m scared that I’m too jaded now to be able to lose myself in a relationship as I could before. I’m afraid that as I find out more about a person, the list of things I don’t like about them will lengthen. We’ll become so used to each other that there will be no mystery, no allure.
Is there someone out there who can inspire me? I’m tired of being the one with the ideas, the plans. Those “what do you want to do tonight?”, “I don’t know, what do you want to do tonight?” conversations kill. Where is my muse? I don’t like getting stuck in one genre, one routine. What I need is a match, who feeds my head and heart equally- someone who exists both in and outside of an endless array of boxes.
Will sex be exciting again? Or will it feel mechanical, rehearsed? Will I keep encountering lovers who seem to enjoy taking far more than giving? I want to try new things. I want to find someone who is excited to experiment, rather than shocked, offended, confused or afraid.
Do I even have enough time for a relationship? With a full-time schedule at school, and 20 hours a week of interning at a local alt-weekly, as well as NA meetings, working on musical projects, writing for this paper, and a full social calendar, where would love fit in? I’m not looking for kids or a marriage right now, either. I am on a career track that will hopefully require travel. Settling down within a white picket fence isn’t on my immediate to-do list.
At this point, there’s no forcing any of this to happen. I’m leaving it up to serendipity. It wouldn’t hurt, though, to have a little luck on my side. Next time I’m riding the 6 up Hennepin to MCTC, I’ll be wondering if my future husband or wife is on that bus with me. Maybe it’s you. Or maybe, just maybe, I should give up and accept that I’m meant to be alone – for now, at least.
Photo of Ms. Stanley-Ayre by Brad Ogbonna