The Great Contradiction
I believe that love is indefinable. Love is one of the things you won’t know until you’ve felt it- and once that happens, you’ll know it’s more unique than any emotion in the world. It’s one of the most abstract concepts we humans have come up with, one of the great undefined mysteries of life. I believe that it is a great contradiction: Love can cause the greatest pleasure in your life- or the deepest pain.
When I was twenty-one, I met a nice guy named Luke. He was quiet, soft-spoken, with dark curls and green eyes like fresh grass. He never ran out of beautiful things to compliment me with. Elegant. Gorgeous. Witty. My personal favorite: “supple Nubian goddess.” I fell under the spell of his compliments, drowned in them, filled my confidence on his poetry. I was so deep in love that I let go of things I should have questioned. For one thing, he never let me call him. He always called me, but I was so happy to hear his voice that I didn’t mind it. There was always some strange distance between us- whenever I asked him questions about himself, he always dismissed me with a simple: “Oh, you wouldn’t want to know about that, you’d get bored.” And somehow, we never got farther than fluffy romantic talk- whenever I wanted to talk seriously, he shut down. I was so in love that I let him continue to slide, and ignored the warning bells going off in my head.
Three months in, it all came to a sudden halt. I got a midday phone call from Luke. It quickly struck me as unusual, but I picked up the phone with joy. To my utter shock, a woman’s voice answered.
“What do you think you’re doing with Luke?”
“E-excuse me?” My skin was tingling in a sudden cold sweat. “Who is this?”
“I’m his girlfriend.”
And just like that, the bottom dropped out of my world. Her name was Mary- and she’d been trying to figure out where Luke had been running off to for weeks. Apparently they shared an apartment. I was devastated. In all our time together, he’d never even mentioned her name. Suddenly, I’d gone from a goddess to the ‘other woman’, a scandal, a slut…
Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who had the wool pulled over her eyes. Mary heard me out and knew that he’d played us both for fools. We talked for hours, alternating between sharing our interests and weeping about our shared, failed relationship, and coming up with creative ways to destroy Luke when he showed his face. (I was going for a simple, direct, baseball bat to the manhood; Mary wanted to take his skull in with the Guitar Hero controller.) She dealt with him when he got home- I can only imagine the conversation. Two days later he called me himself. To apologize, to beg forgiveness, to say that he was a snake and a liar- and I agreed. If this was the man he’d been hiding, then I wanted no part of it.
They say love is blind- what they don’t say is that it can also be incredibly stupid. I simply let my emotion rob me of my common sense. If I hadn’t fallen so hard, then I would have noticed the serious flaws in our relationship. I did love the face he showed to me; I did love his sweet poetry and his green eyes. Even though he hurt me, time has healed my heart, and I don’t hate him anymore. He gave me confidence, and I thank him for that.
While I was riding on the coattails of the sudden end of a relationship- Andrew walked into my life. Well, maybe I walked into his, I’ll never be sure. He was sitting in the local nerd hangout (video games, trading card games, twenty-sided dice, you know what I mean) watching the current match on the big screen. I was used to the general ignorance of the male populous. Most of them too focused on their games to take notice of the fact that I was, indeed, female, so I had a sort of ease with this crowd. I wasn’t a girl; I was just a fellow player. It came as a surprise to me when one of them spoke to me. We were both sitting at one of the tables, watching the guys play Street Fighter on the big screen, when he made a soft, witty comment about the elitist gamers, circled around the X-box like it was Vegas poker. And then he said something I’ll never forget: “They’ll let you play. You’re a cute girl.” My heart fluttered.
That day, we played pool. I felt completely at ease with him, and not my usual stammering self. The next day, I returned, and we talked about nothing for hours. By the end of the week, I had a movie date. Everything was going well, and Luke was rapidly becoming “some asshole I dated once”- but it’s easy to forget people. The pain, however, sticks, and mine came back at the worst time- about three months later. We were walking along after a date at the Miami-Date fair (rides, animals, and lots of terrible, terribly delicious carnival food) when he whispered in my ear. “I really do think I’m falling for you.” Red flags flew up and my stomach twisted in a way that had nothing to do with the funnel cake I’d recently eaten. How could he love me? I was just a toy, a plaything, more like a distraction, right? All of the pain I’d buried under layers of anger resurfaced at his words. I shut him down as quickly as possible. “I’m sorry, Andrew. But I can’t say the same.” Love had proved me an idiot once- turned me into a doe-eyed, dumb and deaf girl that listened to her easily tricked emotions rather than her accurate heart. I wasn’t willing to walk into that trap twice.
Isn’t that sort of thing supposed to be the other way around? Isn’t it females chasing the male around, declaring love and wanting commitment? But that’s the way it happened. Andrew waited and I hesitated, biding my time and not willing to risk another fiasco. It was difficult. I could feel myself becoming close to him, enjoying the way his eyes lit up when I walked into a room, or the way he made me laugh with his silly, sarcastic jokes. I was in love with this boy and I knew it, but what I didn’t know was how he really felt. Sure, he said he loved me, but how did I know he wasn’t just using me, or merely confusing lust with love?
I was still damaged- and holding myself back from my true feelings. I knew that cared for this gentle goofball, and my brain was kicking my heart in the pants and telling me to go for it. What was love: a painful mistake that no sane person would make? Or was it a joy that could bring brightness to every corner of your life?
Two halves of me fought for purchase for months, and one night after our usual Friday date, I cracked. We were sitting in the back of his car (just talking, I swear, get your mind out of that gutter) and I just lost it. I cried, told him that I couldn’t trust him, told him that he needed to find another girl, a better girl. That night I was feeling like a used tissue, weeping like I wanted to throw myself off a bridge, and it didn’t sound like a half bad plan. Andy stayed with me through the entire thing, holding me, wiping my tears. After I was calm enough to stop shaking, I had to swallow my fear and confess.
“Do you remember what you said to me a few weeks back? About… falling for me? Is it still true? Because I- I think I feel the same way.”
“Dija.” And he smiled, with the purest love in his eyes. “I never stopped falling for you.”
That was a year ago and we’re still going strong. I went from being blinded by love to being afraid of love to having the time of my life being in love. It’s a chameleon emotion, blending and changing and never the same thing twice. I believe one experience of love does not speak for all of them. Pain, joy, stupidity, all of these and more are a part of the experience- despite the roller-coaster ride it takes a person on, I believe everyone should love, as often and as whole-heartedly as possible.
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