It is one thing to discover love, it is an entirely different thing to try and keep it. For most of my life I have walked around fantasizing over the whimsical kind of real love and what that might be like. To love someone so completely and unconditionally, to breathe and live another person. To surrender the only piece of floating wood big enough to carry a human body for the other person, no second thoughts, while you slowly die into numbness in freezing water, or less dramatically, maybe even be willing to movie cities, or quit a job, or break social norms and to fall utterly head-over heels in love with someone outside of your social status…..you know, all the novels and hollywoodesque cliches. The movies show you all the big picture stuff. The grand gestures, the key interactions, the important one liners that capture you and you cry when she cries because really if that’s not true love, what is? The reality of the matter is, and trust me I know, the grand gestures are the easy part. The making a big decision to be with someone come hell or high water is easy, because the one decision you make beforehand is whether you love this person that much or not. But it is the nitty-gritties of continuing to love the person, both of you with your every day flaws and the off-shoot decisions you have to make once he has decided to get on the roof of his car by your window with the boombox blaring a cheesy love song that will really get you. I have experienced love, like never before. The cant bear to be without you, the I would rather be lazy on a couch with you than attend the hottest party in town, the you are the most adorable person even when you take a piss kind of love. The kind that only seems to keep getting better with time.The kind I imagine is generally a unicorn in reality. It is the most wonderful thing to have happened to me. You begin to discover emotions within yourself you never imagined you were capable of. You discover all these facets of your own personality, its even better than the hour long session with Dr. Preuss. But then the thing that will get you will be the differences. After all you are two separate individuals. You have two different needs, wants, values, what you consider right and wrong, where that line blurs, and you will certainly have very different expectations of each other. While being in love with the most wonderful man, it has also been a time I have most struggled with my own values and expectations and aligning it with his so that the situation ends up being the most sensible and fair for both of us. We’ve both taken that route – the we are old enough to be wiser and more practical about this approach and it is exactly what is killing it. Certain approaches he has to the big questions in life I will never understand and certain values I think he needs to adopt he finds incomprehensible. We try to meet half way and I retreat because its too difficult. Because to be in love like this isn’t suppose to hurt this much. I go back to my whimsical notion of love, to have a man send me flowers just because it is Wednesday, or get up on stage and announce to the whole world how much he loves me in terrible singing. Because I dont imagine Richard Gere would have climbed up Julia Roberts fire escape only to tell her ‘okay now that you’re fine, I have to think of how best to hide your history before I can even present you to society’. Because the reality is, that would have continued to be an issue and had there been a sequel she would have had to deal with that and maybe they would have decided it was in fact easier to go their own separate ways. But the movie leaves it open ended because you and I know that love like that will overcome any and everything. Alas! that isnt true. Against my hoping and praying that it was, it isnt. Because while love like that can be discovered, its keeping the love that becomes the hardest thing to do.
“Today is January 1st, 2015. What do you want to do with your life this year?” she asks me smirking because I am notorious for making resolutions I cannot keep. I laugh inwardly because I know its true, I’ve always been one too ‘determined to lose a few pounds,’ ‘learn a musical instrument,’ ‘gossip less,’ ‘be more charitable,’ ‘do yoga consistently,’ etc. etc. It lasts exactly 1 month before I knowingly brush my “resolutions” aside because of my new found life motto of ‘being true to how and who you truly are.’ Everything is easily manipulated to suit my owns moods, needs, desires, wants, in this girl’s life. But not this time.
Today is January 1st, 2015 and I want things to be exactly the way they were when I was woken up this morning by an alarm set at 11:50pm on December 31st so that we are awake for midnight together. To find myself so determined to want to be doing something so that my superstitious self can revel in the mere fact that that apparently will set the tone for the rest of the year. I’ve had youthful drunken New Years after party hopping and dancing till my feet hurt, I’ve had comforting New Years surrounded by family delighting in each other’s quips, I’ve had memorable New Years spent making last memories with friends who I will lose before the year ends, I’ve had depressing New Years where I will find myself asleep before the ball drops after having had one too many glasses of wine, I’ve had adventurous New Years where I will find myself walking down the main-street of a great metropolis dressed in only a strapless dress and heels in –1° weather. So much laughter, tears, love, loss and yet, this New Years has been the most meaningful. I don’t know if it is an age thing or if its just my good luck….the simple joys of life I spent indulging in this New Years (where I have not made a single resolution by the way) has come to mean the most. I hope this does set the tone for the year. So that I will find myself constantly amused and amazed, loved and in love, laughing and screaming, eating and drinking, sharing and just being. This New Years I am thankful for life and all the wonderful people it blesses me with.
And if I could tell you, through my unreasonable shyness and my antiquated values, just what I may have always wanted to say. And if I could show you, putting aside my fears and the self preservation, what physically translates into the words I struggle to find. You would know. That sometimes my heart does this thing, a rhythmic beating against its normal way. A sensation I dismiss only to find embraced. A gleeful smile across my everyday face. A fascination for every mundane exchange. All this and some, making me scarily happy. They say to find your soul mate, you need to discover your own soul first. The beauty of this is that in many ways you’ve helped me discover the depths of my own soul while being the soul mate I never believed existed. This is, once in acceptance, the greatest thing. This I believe is beyond just you and I. Because if I were to tell you, through the uncertainties and probabilities, just what it is this does to me. That sometimes my heart does this thing, a rhythmic beating against its normal way, a systemic shifting transforming me. Where it begins and where it shall end, we will never know. But whatever it is I will always be; grateful and indebted to have gotten the chance. To feel myself slowly becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be. But still if I could tell you, despite my timidness and trepidation, just what you’ve come to mean to me. You would know. That I love you, with no doubt in my silly mind.
Its been four days of sun and drinking Moscato out of frosted bottles of white, blue, and pink. For such palpable attraction to one another, we have not touched intimately….well, besides the greeting and goodbye hugs and the soft pecks on my cheek. The briskness and ease with which he carried out this latter task almost makes it childlike. That is what I seem to like most about him. The almost purity and honesty in every single thing he does. I laugh when I think about the way he walked up those stairs the first time I saw him at the villa and there I am, in my dress, glamazon-ed up but freaking out in fear just by the way he slightly scrunched up his prominent brows. “Oh god, hes going to walk up here and reprimand me for not recognizing him,” I think to myself. But guess whats the first thing he says? You look like a more beautiful version of Sophia Loren. Me? Better than the ever so sexy Sophia Loren? Petite Asian girl with my two dimensional body that I am. Can you imagine. I knew he was just being complimentary but the way his face softened as he climbed up the stairs and got to me; and the way his eyes went slate blank like a confessing child when he said that made me believe him in that moment, against my better judgement.
You know, I don’t know who he is, and why there was a frenzied mob of people surrounding him at the sports field. I guess I am on vacation because I don’t seem to have a cellphone on me. I am amazed in the four days we’ve spent hours together, neither one has found it necessary to pull out a phone to fill in the silence or even really ask anything beyond each others name. I don’t Google him. For once, I just want to remember him this way. For his shy smiles which are so unlike his usual confident self, for the way little gestures of chivalry seem to come so naturally to him — I didn’t understand why he would always, almost subconsciously, make sure he walked on the curb side while strolling through town, I would of course learn later on that it was actually a custom born out of the olden days when women needed to be shielded from the potential hazards posed by the passing horse-and-buggy. Old-timey etiquette like these always melt my heart. He was post-card perfect for my post-card vacation.
If you were anywhere in the vicinity, on the fifth day, you would have found us on the open roof of the villa. His ipod strategically placed within the large ceramic bowl as a make-shift speaker. Elvis Costello’s voice lacing the evening air and complementing the buzz from the wine. We sit on Italian wool blankets and talk about everything and nothing. He’s here because he needed a break. He asks why I am here, and I cant seem to find any purposeful reason. I wonder if I imagined being here and that’s why I am here, but only respond with a, “just like that.” “Well either way,” he says, “I am glad you’re here.” We look at each other and smile. “I remember you from the stadium,” he says. For a moment this wonderful life in Tuscany comes to a standstill. The threat of reality from life outside these few days threatening to come swarming in. “I thought you were the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen,” he says. I sit there stunned and unable to respond. “I didn’t…..” I think I should tell him that I am sorry I didn’t know who he was, or that I walked away but stop because it seems silly. “I know,” he says and leans in and kisses me for the first time. I sigh against his mouth. Our very first kiss.
The frenzy around who had just showed up on the other side of the bleachers where I was standing was palpable. It must be someone famous I thought. I didn’t rush, not like the other girls as they double hopped over the steely benches to run towards the right. I made my way down the steps, slowly and carefully. I even remember the way my bright purple New Balances with its grey undersoles touched down on every single step, planting itself over the aluminium grooves of the benches. I got down to the grass on the field and turned right to see what all the commotion was about. I am lucky I haven’t been dashed into or pushed aside by one of the crazier ladies from the lot jumping up and down in glee. Its funny how in moments of pure excitement, joy, elation, whatever you want to call it, even adults are brought down to their most guileless, rather child-like, versions of self.
In interest of trying to find out who exactly was there on the bleachers causing the spectators to lose their heads, I slowly made my way through a thinning crowd as he obliged to take selfies, sign things and hug or shake hands. Somehow, and I imagine it is because I am the creator of this story, I ended up smack in the front of the crowd phone camera all ready, thinking and partly hoping it is a public figure I would know. Unsurprisingly it is not. I have no idea who this man is, and just as I shrug my shoulders and put my phone away we make eye contact. His beaming smile pauses, not in those meet cute kind of ways, but almost flabbergasted that there would be one person in this sea of people who might, just might, be uninterested or unknowing of who he was. His eyes widen a little but he maintains eye contact. I look away in unease. And quickly make my way back through the crowd and out of the stadium. I take one last look back at him, busy posing, sandwiched between two blonde bombshells. Probably a famous athlete I think and walk away.
Few days later, I find myself out on the balcony of a beautiful Italian Villa, it may have been on Lake Como, it may have been somewhere in Santa Barbara, but I hope against all hopes that it was in Tuscany, Italy. There has always been a certain charm in the terracotta floors and an intoxication in the patterned limestone that almost guarantees any encounter one of romance, passion, sexy bed hair, wine and cigarettes. Anyway, so I find myself in what I think is my most beautiful Sophia-Loren-would-approve floral sun dress, out on the balcony looking down and ‘lo and behold’ who do I see? My unidentified, could be a famous athlete from the football field frenzy incident a few days back. His hair much lighter from the glow of the sun, on a brilliant blue Vespa, in a casual white and blue Henley, staring up at me after pulling into the cobbled driveway that the balcony I am on overlooks.
“Well, hello there,” he says. Smirk in place. I cannot tell if his accent is American or European. He speaks with no accent. What accent sounds like no accent I wonder. Shut up! I tell my mind that is going into unnecessary details from the nervousness. I fear if I step any closer to the sides of the balcony he will be able to see up my Sophia Loren dress. I furrow my brows in pretentious confusion, even as my insides burn up in nerves and I feel a deep flush beginning at the tip of my smaller than usual ears.
The mall, well more specifically, THIS! mall was what a consumerist like myself would call HEAVEN!!! The shiny ornamental lights and floral decor lining up the center of the building, from ground floor to fifth floor of the perfumed, glitz and glamour structure was everything my little shopper heart could hope for. Still, when the hard kneading hands crept up the small of my back to the back of my neck, gently massaging, gently caressing, I snapped out of my shoppers coma awestruck at the beauty that were the designer shops and the perfumery and what appeared to be an overly decorated organic health foods store to glance at the man holding all my shopping bags. A knowing feeling of love and dread simultaneously rushing down through the center of my being to the tip of my toes as we got onto the escalator going up. “Uncomplicate this! Uncomplicate this!” I mutter to myself, disguising my mumbling behind a heavy sigh. “Do you need to get anything else?” he asks, but I am already distracted by the handsome man on the other escalator going down. We make eye contact and we hold it for longer than what is presumably polite. He smiles a half grin like he knows what I am thinking and that I am thinking particular thoughts about him. I smile back knowing that he thinks I am thinking those things which I am actually not. A kiss meets my left shoulder and I glance at the man beside me. “Handsome right?” he says. A statement but somewhat a question. “He is. Looks like a baby though,” I add softening the impact any partner creates by complimenting those of the opposite sex in front of them. “Hmm…” he replies. “Should we look around or head back?” he asks. I look at his face. Both a feeling of deep caring and partial fright course through my chest. How does one person bring forward such contradicting emotions I wonder.
The sound of the piano concerto beginning over the department store microphone startles me. I realize I am jumpy and distracted. As we walk around the last time on the 2nd floor to find a coffee shop I notice the handsome young man from the escalator walking towards us. I look up at the man holding my hands and see that he is distracted by the need to locate a “Damn coffee shop!” as he puts it. We walk closer, that other man and us and for a second my imagination runs wild as I imagine what his story might be. Every person you cross has a story, and sometimes I wonder what it might be like to walk in their shoes. He is probably a cocky bastard living off his parents money I judge shamelessly. We walk closer, he holds eye contact, raises his eyebrows and passes us. I hold myself back from turning around to look at him. I half wonder if he glanced back at me.
We find the coffee shop “Do you want something to drink as well?” I am asked. Five minutes later, dead silence, two cups of steaming hot Americanos between us. I look up at him and we make eye contact. I could swim in his doting looks. He keeps staring and I blush. I remember why a part of me will never be able to deny him. I remember the first time we held hands some eleven years ago and just how nervous he used to make me. I remember handwritten letters and bad grammar when we were international students at an American boarding school together. And just as quickly as the unsure feelings I have of him comes, out it goes to be replaced by my fondness and familiarity of his otherwise kind heart. I pick up my coffee and take a sip maintaining eye contact, I smile at him and he smiles back a knowing smile. I blush at the fact that can be so finicky with my feelings. That I will always be so flighty about everything in life, especially romance. I set my cup of coffee down and feel a little bad. It seems I will always be, a silly flighty person. Every single coffee had between us will always be coffee with a flibbertigibbet.