A few weeks ago I was talking to my roommate, Chieri, and she’s at my door, staring at me, and then she says, abruptly, “Do you love him?”
I was so hoping it wouldn’t come up, because then it’s out in the open, and someone says it, and that means it’s real, and legitimate, and now you have to answer it. So I said No. “How can I? I barely know him,” I say, albeit bitterly.
But I’d thought about it before, countless times. It’s the kind of question that just pervades your thoughts and lingers, but it was never a clear answer for me. I wanted it to be No. My rational brain said No. It was always, How can I? I barely know him.
She didn’t seem convinced though, because then she says, “You do. You do,” pointing her finger at me.
“No, no, no,” I say. So to appease her, I tell her that I think that I had been in love with the idea of him, or — who I thought he was. Because to me, that is the only rational explanation for being hung up on someone for so long without ever really knowing them. From the limited things you hear and see of them, you start to blindly (and even sometimes unknowingly) construct this fantasy of them, and then that’s what they become, your fantasy of them, just walking around and acting all flippant and cool and into zombie movies like you are but in a way that makes it seem cool, not dorky, like how you make it seem. And you go so long convinced that they are one and the same person. The Fantasy Vs. The Real.
They’re not. They never are. And if I were ever to meet someone whose Real Self was as good as the Fantasy I’ve created about them (or even better)… then I’m going to be buried in concrete with them or something else hopelessly dramatic and cinematic. (That way the chances of my life being adapted into a Lifetime movie will be almost certain. Hopefully by that time an Asian Zooey Deschanel-type has broken into predominantly-white Hollywood and can play me.)
Think about your exes. Think about who you thought they were before you guys got to know each other, like, for real. (Try really hard here.) They were really swell, weren’t they? And the illusion drags on, and slowly starts to disintegrate, until one day you wake up and you don’t even recognize who it says you are dating on facebook. Suddenly you look at them and you go, “You are not the same person I fell in love with.” Because how could they be? Either they never were that person or they’ve changed. It could have been that you wanted so badly to be in love that you fooled yourself into thinking this person was worth loving, hence you superimposed these desirable traits in them — traits that you wanted. Sometimes that is what happens with people who are in love with love. I knew a few of those.
And it’s hard, you know, when you realize what you do about that fantasy. It’s not like you do it on purpose. We just have this fantastical idea of things, like love, and money, and TV. We want to believe people are that great and funny and kind, and there is nothing wrong with that. We just have to be aware, but not overly aware that we’re so jaded.
Most days that’s how I feel. Ironically I mostly write about love, but not Nicholas Sparks love (is he the new Disney fairytale or what?), or maybe, who knows. But I’ve fallen into that in-between niche, of wanting so desperately to believe in things like true love and real love and great love and forever love, but feeling like I can’t. Like the world would laugh at me. Like at this time, it is just not feasible to believe in something like that. Or that — and my roommate brought this up — it’s so easy to look at a couple and say that it’s “meant to be” and that it’s “true love.” It’s easy to say that, looking on from the outside. But from the inside there is weight in that. It is like you’re making a promise that you don’t know you can keep.
Because I don’t know. I look at my relationships from before and what do I have to show for them? I’m jaded, now. Not because they were assholes, but because love is fickle. It doesn’t happen for everyone the way they envision it would. Inside, I have become like the lady who gives out apples and toothbrushes for Halloween, the kind of person that sees couples on the street and wants to yell, “Savor it because it won’t last! It really won’t!”
So, but I mean, I am finally letting go of that fantasy. I’m dismantling it, finally. Actually, it’s dismantling itself. It does that too.
It feels nice.