May 11 2012
If you’ve been with someone long enough, at some point you’re going to ask that tricky question: “Are you attracted to him/her?” I think this is a condition that particularly afflicts women, where we ask questions based on a gut feeling, but to which there is only one correct answer.
I once asked Alf that question and his answer was “Yes.” But there was also the explanation—he was attracted to someone who reminded him of what I used to be like, of what we used to be to each other. It was sad and almost flattering all at once.
On my end, I would’ve answered “yes” as well. I had convinced myself that I was in love with someone who wasn’t actually physically present in my life, and this lasted for many years, from before the marriage till after Layla. I started to build on that fantasy about a year after Alf and I got together—our relationship had soured for me but I dunno, I think a bit of sexual chemistry can go a long way when you’re in your early 20s and make a lot of things tolerable. And after a few years, what you have is someone who’s woven so deep into your life and your being that you can’t figure out how to cut him loose.
Silly as it was, I am thankful for that precious illusion with my almost-imaginary hero, because there were a lot of hard days and I needed the possibility of something magical happening in my life. The thought that there was someone out there who could make things right kept me going. All I needed to do was find a way to make our paths cross again.
It never happened.
But something else did: I fell in love with myself again, and I started to build back up.
We’re still honest with each other. Alf will sometimes ask me if I found so-and-so attractive and I’ll say yes, if he’d been around 10 years ago you wouldn’t have stood a chance!
But the truth is, I think Alf and I are a better match now than when we first met. He’s more sensitive and thoughtful, while I’ve mellowed out and am more open all-around. We give each other space, and there is trust. We’re not the sort of couple to finish each other’s sentences; in fact we often can’t wait for the other to get through his/her sentence so we can get on with life! But we’ve been around each other long enough to know what to expect. I know my husband will be unlikely to record that solo guitar album that he’s been talking about since he was 25 (he’ll turn 40 in two years). He knows that I’m better at telling people what to do than actually doing it myself. We don’t talk about forever, and sometimes during a bad argument I start setting timelines and making solo plans again. But he tells me he loves me, more often than I deserve. I’ve been thinking for a while that what we have right now is good enough for me. At least it’s real.
Alf told me that this morning, when he’d tried to snuggle up to me in bed, I’d grumbled and tried to free myself, even pulled my hand away.
I vaguely remember doing something like that—I was half asleep so it was totally a subconscious reaction.
I’ve always felt that my body liked Alf a lot more than my heart did.
But maybe my heart’s been a bad influence.
Just having one of those days where everyone in my life feels like a wrong fit.
Layla smiles in her sleep as I place a blanket over her. She won’t wake up till tomorrow morning, and we’re done playing mommy and daddy for the night.
Alf’s looking forward to late night soccer.
I’m looking for love.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what love means lately, and I keep coming back to this:
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
I guess I’m looking to love.
There was a time when I did feel perfect, in the sense that I was perfectly happy with the way I looked, what I’d accomplished, and everything to do with me.
Several months after I met Alf, that feeling flew out the window and it hasn’t returned.
So I’ve turned someone who maybe had a fleeting interest in me into an enduring fantasy. Although he’s a stranger now, he reminds me of a time where I was young, idealistic, and looking to rule the world.
In searching for him (or someone like him), I’m also looking to find the old me, because that girl is who I want to be.
So, ___’s getting married.
Like I told Ron, I’m not sure what to feel. I suppose I’m alternating between indifference and something close to devastation, depending on whether or not I’m having a good day.
There’s absolutely no reason for me to be in love with an almost stranger, who flitted in and out of my life over a decade ago, but I’ve come to accept that sometimes things are just so.
We could’ve connected, but we didn’t. I could’ve done more, but I didn’t. Years ago I played it too cool and our friendship fizzled. And just last year, there was a chance for us to meet, but I didn’t take it.
In the end, I gave nothing and I got nothing. But it was a good dream while it lasted, and I’m sad to see it go.