Shocking I know. I'm not talking about saying it to family or friends, I've never said those three words to a lover and I wonder if I'm the only woman in my thirties hesitant to do so?
Defining love and finding that connecting piece is probably the most puzzling game we'll play throughout life. The goal for me wasn't to seek out love but to discover what barriers within blocked me from accepting it wholeheartedly. I spent much of my life thinking I was loveless, that I've only come close to it but for reasons I could have controlled, and beyond my control, I was never given the right chance. At first, love was simply a distraction, something that would veer me off my career in television, which everyone in it knows its survival of the fittest, and certainly not always based on talent or skill and that's what keeps us on our feet and running.
Once I was financially stable it was those darn 12 hour work days. Meeting a guy at midnight after the late-night newscasts wasn't as appealing and difficult to establish a serious relationship. So I never tried and I didn't care because I was living my dreams. I've now reached my thirties, ready for a major career shift, turning what was mediocre success into my childhood dream working on a national level. I have already vented my baggage in a published memoir I privately wept for five years while writing it to release the pain. I found balance, I learned to shake off the career woman's hardened shell, to stop fearing vulnerability and to allow someone in. For this I choose someone safe. I choose the kindest man I'd ever met. Someone I was attracted to yet wasn't slapped in the face by cupid at first sight, but rather intrigued. I was used to the kind of man that makes the world stop when he walks into a room. This one was different: his qualities and strengths shined brighter over time. I referred to him as 'my angel' not only because he has huge beautiful blue eyes as most are depicted but he also grew up the exact opposite of me; with innocence, stability, carefree and peaceful. Knowing this I never shared much about my upbringing fearing I'd scare him away. We were always in the present, not in the past. He was the calm to my storm. I wouldn't consider myself a hurricane level 4 -- just a fun thunder shower now and then to keep him on his toes.
When we spent time together it was usually just the two of us. Never on the phone or watching TV just playing, talking or listening to him strum his guitar or play the piano. I was like Lucy sprawled on top of the piano as scruffy confident Schroeder played. I dangled my legs staring into his eyes, my peanut. He had a calming voice I wasn't use too. His reactions were always rational when I'd overreact. It was the loving looks he'd give me mid-sentence, mid bite, the looks I noticed at the corner of my eye. 'Bambi' to his Angel eyes.
I guess that sounds like love right? The formula was there: trust, respect, passion. Well the problem was he moved to New York shortly after we started dating. Chasing his dream, he booked a lead role on a prime-time NBC show. I helped him pick out his first closet of an apartment. I remember a little proud twirl he did in the middle of the 500 square foot room with the bed built on a stilt toward the ceiling to save space, he loved it. We never established any boundaries or rules dating long distance. I just knew I wasn't seeing anyone else, nor was he, when we were "on" that is. It continued off and on for nearly five years. Yup, I said it. We'd stop talking a few times over pure frustration, usually mine, then as if God was pointing signs directly at us to glance up and look we'd randomly bump into each other. Right when he was out of my mind, I'd bump into him grabbing takeout from our favorite Chinese restaurant, even at my job. I was grabbing a file tape from security at the front entrance when I see him signing in to meet with the big honchos at the network for a TV show. Seconds before or after, those encounters would have never occurred and we'd never continue seeing each other over the years. The last sign that made me look up to the sky and utter "okay I get it, he's the one" was the night I was at an outdoor comedy show in a county I never visit, Orange County adjacent to the better one, LA county. I was walking out of the stadium housing a packed crowd of maybe five thousand plus people when I literally bumped into him. There he was home from New York once again visiting his parents.
I just always figured without any doubt we'd have our first kid together. I was that confident he wouldn't find my replacement. Reality was, I was making most of the efforts to keep us alive, I just wasn't sure if that's what women were supposed to do? From my past experience the guy always hounded me to death and I was trying not to compare unhealthy relationships to a healthy one.
Our chemistry was like none other, scenes movies are created on, we just never had time. Time was our serial killer. Never knowing love before I'd try to gauge it. The moments I'd look over at him eating or stare at his wine stained lips, clutching and puffing on a cigarette even though with anyone else I'd protest my disdain for it, with him all of those things made me melt. I guess that's love, right? So why didn't I ever say it? I wasn't sure what it looked or felt like. How many girls out there think they've been in love then later as you mature and re-evaluate the relationship realize it was simply lust, comfort, love felt from mutual respect but you weren't ever madly in love? I've read countless books that always show married couples cheat because they were just best friends to begin with, they love each other but the heat in their courtship or sex life wasn't ever where they desired it to be. I've never experienced that settling state of mind. I'd rather be single then in a passionless relationship. All my friends say, I'll be alone forever, I want too much, I'm too picky but I already found it. The only missing piece was distance. Not being able to pick up and move, and not being strong enough as a couple to move in together in a New York size human closet, with one bathroom, yet my mind created hope when perhaps there was none.
Many times women stop the progression of a relationship fearing our emotions or passion will overwhelm him so we play it cool. Ladies you know, men get overwhelmed easily. This one is an actor -- he emotes all day long, when he clocks out of work he wants chill, monotone waves in his life. Let's be clear, not in the bedroom that was at a hierarchy stage for us but I learned by his behavior be afraid when trying to ask for more emotionally.
He's one of those artists who will disappear for days, not to cheat but to 'create' and then reappear and give you the amount of attention that feels like no one else on earth exists. Twice when we caught eyes on recent visits after all these years I wanted to say those three words but I just wasn't sure. I think every other girl would have eagerly blurted it out especially because he's now (wasn't years ago when we met) but is a heartthrob for fans to ogle over, but I couldn't do it, the words would not come out. Soon enough as always I'd be back on a plane, or he would and week's even months would pass. It was years of catching up in limited time. Passion wasn't the problem it was mental, it was emotional which takes consistency it takes time invested without an 'off' or 'pause' button and we never had that.
My guy made me feel like the sexiest thing alive, he craved me near and from afar that's why it was a shock to hear, "I met someone, she lives here, you don't, and I'd really like to explore it." Building blocks on a beautiful budding property were demolished because the new owner was local and that convenience won the bid. It was more of a shock to find out it was the type of girl he vowed to never spend time with, the barely legal kind. Yup she's 24 and not one of those girls who looks older than they are. That was another reality check the headline reading, aging actress slash TV personality loses another to the next generation of actresses slash TV personalities.
I'm at peace with the pairing but now I wonder what role he played in my life. Was he my first last bloomer love? If we base it on just a feeling as many suggest, I'd say yes, I felt it each time over the years. It was slow and grew in strength, it was passionate and filled me with calm and anxiety when apart. It leads me to believe in my thirties I have loved for the first time but I never had the courage to say it. It was just another lost moment that will dissolve in memory as time passes. So maybe I continue this journey starting over yet again but with a commitment to never hold back or suppress those scary three words ever again.
Three words men have said to me, as I just smiled, words friends have said to me after one week of knowing me. What's turned me off is the overuse of the word socially, making me more cautious to never blurt words that are empty by the time they leave my tongue. I'm a writer so words are sacred. Each one carries weight and those three are the heaviest.
Maybe if I'd blurted out "I LOVE YOU" sooner I'd seem more carefree and he'd just follow my lead, our bliss would have escalated faster, right? Most men would appreciate that, they'd want to hear it. But my guy doesn't fall for forced emotion, he'd squirm around to avoid anything that wasn't authentic. Knowing that I waited, unfortunately time wasn't on my side.
I mourned the love that was building inside me, the only feeling of this kind I'd ever known because it took me this long just to get here. My shell was hardened over time because the life I lived, only angel eyes could soften my core and he did so, for that I'm grateful. The hope of a united future lingers gripping hands walking down cobblestone wobbly roads, taking photos to document our journey's smiling as he blows out a drag of cigarette and going in to kiss and taste the remnants on his lips.
I miss what I thought we were as most girls do. We take little victories and make them big, even patting ourselves on the back. We take their words as cemented stone pallets within history, we replay their touches as if it were on film available to rewind the best parts over and over again, reliving the climax part when we feel lonely.
Longing to unleash what's inside without being tamed, without someone saying I can't handle your emotions and mine, that's what women want. I can't say I was robbed of my first love because time and distance were the thieves, they robbed me of what could have been. It will not push me to settle, or panic, because unlike my girlfriends who all think I'm nuts, I would rather walk alone then be with a man who doesn't want to grab me at any and every moment just to touch and feel. Loveless I guess not, define it for yourself not based on what society shows it to be but what you know to be true for you. My fears know I loved him, my body knows I was falling in love with him, my mind new the words would have come out, but "I've met someone" came out first.