Tag Archives: falling in love

Catch the Light

I have always loved the magic of lights.

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Exposed bulbs strung from wood beamed ceilings, mason jars with Christmas lights tucked inside, the bird’s eye view of a city below illuminated house by tiny house on a Friday night. It reminds me that no matter the miles, we’re all fragile human beings, bumbling around trying to connect and shine bright in each others’ hearts.

A tomboy at heart, my childhood summers were spent running through the hills and valleys of my neighborhood, reaching for lightning bugs. They were always too far out of my grasp. But the energy, the sprinting, the hope that I might be quick enough? I loved it.

Now, when I pull up to my parent’s house at night, if I’m coming to visit for the weekend, it’s the shine of the front living room lamps, my dad sitting on the striped gold and red sofa. It’s the glow of a TV coming through the front windows, the ball game playing softly through the glass panes. That is a house lived in. That is love in a glass jar.

 

The night before I signed up for Match.com, I sat atop my pub height kitchen table in men’s sweatpants and sobbed. Sorry that I couldn’t adjust to life in a new city. Sorry that my guilty pleasure was watching movies where Girl Meets Boy and they fall in love, and out of love, and back in again.

I was embarrassed on that cherry wood table. Love felt magical then, like a lightning bug to be chased at eight thirty, the sun finally shutting its eyes for the evening. It felt like this possibility, if I grabbed my mason jar quick enough and stood just the right distance away and caught it.

So, with the promise of love so deep it hurts, and makes you grow, and become brave, I joined Match.

Last night, in my future brother-in-law’s garage, at midnight, the moon aglow behind us, J and I talked to his brother’s friend about love. “I told J, ‘Not everyone loves like us, you know? This is something special’,” I told her in that garage.

She told us about her boyfriend, a man who’s traveling to exotic beaches and sending her photos each morning, “Good morning, Jamie” etched in sand. She said not everyone does that.

We know it’s true. We talked about people who stop and see the world, who know what they have and hold tight, who appreciate the small moments. We talked about the feeling you get when you know you’ve got something good, when you want to spend the rest of your life by their side. And the glow, the light inside, the spills over and out of you, so that others see it too – that love is a spectrum and we are far, far on the generous side.

“I can see it on your faces,” she told us. “And in the pictures you post online.”

There is a glow, that all of us should be so lucky to have, that sits inside of us when we see an old, beloved friend, or a favorite cousin, or a baby brother. It’s the light that guides us home, the light that keeps us going, that tells us to try again, that pushes us toward our infallible dreams, that propels us through tough times.

Next summer, I’ll be lucky enough to stand in front of a man who loves me more than I could ever hope, who sees the good and bad and all the in-between moments, and see that same light shining back.

And the only thing that makes me happier than that is seeing that same moment for all of the people I care most about, for their shining light, for the lightning bug they so desperately want to catch, whatever it is – a book they’ve been writing, a job they’re searching for, a place to call home, a person to come home to.

Whatever it is, tonight & every night, I hope they that light.

Sweatpants Moments On My Kitchen Table

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All the voices in my life, pouring through car radio speakers and ear buds and screens and pages and phone lines, all of them have told me that love comes when it wants to. It sneaks up on you, taps you on the back, and whispers something sweet in your ear. You might be shucking corn over the kitchen trashcan or painting your toenails or joining a pair of socks when it happens. Whenever it happens, it isn’t because you sat quietly on the other end of the computer and waited for it to find you. It isn’t because you went online, and made yourself into a profile of a human, and pursed your lips together and closed the computer and paced your living room and wondered what the hell you’d done.

I committed myself to it, this online dating thing. I mean really gosh darn wholeheartedly. And it took a few weeks, but one night last August, I stopped midway through my barefoot kitchen floor dance to WHAT I WOULDN’T DO by A Fine Frenzy, and said, “God I am so in trouble. God, am I in trouble.”

Because in my head, I knew this was it. I was kicking those people and ideas and movies and books in the butt and saying, “You can find love online. You can make a profile, and be proud of it. And you don’t have to wait until you’re 35 or 57. You can do it now. Now. Now. Now. Now, you can do it.”

And God, that’s a terrifying thing to jump into. But I’ve learned, over the last year plus, that it’s worth it.

Last August, I had a feeling. I had a feeling about a boy with blonde hair + blue eyes + a big smile. The kind that crinkles your eyes when it means something. I had a feeling he was somebody important in my life, though I can’t tell you why, except that I could tell, in the span of a few days of messages and texts back and forth, that he was sweet. For the first few weeks, when people asked me about him, I’d say that: He’s like, really, really nice. Really sweet. And that seemed odd, because it felt like the most generic thing to say about a guy – except that it wasn’t generic at all. It was the truest thing. It still is.

When you want to share your life, when you want to open yourself up to the world, it’s freaking scary. I watched ONE DAY, the movie adaptation of the book by David Nicholls, the night before I joined the growing community of online daters.

All because that movie wrecked me. For half an hour, I sat cross-legged in sweatpants atop my pub-height kitchen table, ceiling fan whirling above me, and wrote a blog post. It was a promise to myself that someday, somewhere, I would stop apologizing for the person I wasn’t and start loving the person I actually was. It was a promise to let go of waiting, to turn on my computer, and open my heart to the single men in Maryland + DC + Virginia.

It’s been more than a year, and I’ve stopped waiting to apologize. I’m not sorry I don’t have a romantic Barnes & Noble encounter to share. I’m not sorry the Wegmans Self-Checkout didn’t hold within it my future boyfriend. I’m not sorry the stationery aisle at Target didn’t find me bumping into some beautiful boy who needed help locating a Mother’s Day card.

This jumping, and trusting, and putting-myself-out-there thing was worth so much more. God knows I have friends whose hands I’ve never shook, whose driveways I’ve never backed out of. God knows I was built for connection, just not over red grapes and Italian bread.

My favorite story is from last December, our bodies wrapped in light-up Christmas sweaters, cold drinks in hand. His oldest brother leans over and tells me a line that I think will stick with me forever: “They don’t make ‘em like him anymore.” I nod because it’s true. It’s true and it’s true and if you don’t decide to jump outside your comfort zone and cross into new territory, you don’t get those bone chilling true moments, where you lean back and realize this life has been good to you, but only because you let it. Only because you opened up and let it pull you forward.

I’m just not one of those girls you fall in love with from across the room.

I’m not the kind of girl you fall in love with on the train station platform.

In fact, if we are ranking my Top 10 Places To Fall In Love, it ranks somewhere next to the airport terminal and the end of your driveway.

More likely, you will spot me from across the room and wonder where my parents wandered off. Wonder when they’re coming back. Whether I know my last name and my home phone number in case they somehow shimmy between those automatic doors and plop into a compartment without ever remembering to pull me along.

And that’s OK. Because I’ve learned to board the train, haul my luggage through the aisles, put the car into reverse all by myself. All without waiting for your waving arms and perfect movie ending.

And if we are being honest, it’s better this way.

Don’t do me any favors. No, don’t wrap your arms around me just to make the early hours of the morning easier to sleep through. Because it’s not your fault.

I know, I know. I am six seconds shy of ridiculous.

But you won’t find me on that platform or in the airport lounge. Or the passenger’s seat of your car, for that matter.

I’m just not one of those girls you fall in love with from across the room. Or standing two feet away making loud conversation over red fruit punch laced with something to put the sting in your swallow while those girls envelop us.

The First Sight Girls.

You know who I mean.

We haven’t quite hit that point where you can lean in and ask me what I’d do if I could do anything and I’d tell you the truth. Where I’d slip a piece of my heart into your t-shirt pocket and ask you to take good care of it for the rest of the night and maybe a couple hundred nights more.

If you’re sure you won’t forget about it, that is. Sure you won’t leave it like folded gum wrappers and gas station receipts that fizzle into beads of white fuzz in the washing machine. I have a feeling the spin cycle wouldn’t be like the carnival ride.

I’m holding my gum wrappers and gas station receipts. Sticking with things I know to be true. Like two plus two equals four and the way some songs say it better than I ever could. Some writers wrote love better than I ever have.

And if someday far from red fruit punch and solo cups and twenty other girls I fiddle with my heart in my back pocket and decide to release my grip, I’m hoping it’s better that way. So so much better that way.

The Heartbreak Healer. The Boyfriend Bully. The Future Finder.

I want to shake her shoulders and tell her to stop pining for the boy who has his fingers running through another girl’s hair.

Stop standing on his front walkway, waiting for him to hand his heart to her. Stop slow dancing to the sound of his heartbeat against her head on our living room couch.

“You want to be with someone who thinks you are the greatest thing ever,” I tell her.

Her cheeks blush and her eyes glaze over.

“I know you don’t want to hear that,” I continue. “But it’s true.”

I watch her hold a stopwatch while he runs laps around her. She’s hoping he comes back tomorrow. Every day, I think, she wakes up sure this is The Day.

I want to tell her to fall in love with a boy who loved her first. Who loved her more. Who loved her best.

I’ll leave out the part that boys like that are hard to find.

I want to tell her to stop taking her anger out on the bottles of Lucky Duck lining the windowsill above the sink. Stop stacking them atop the kitchen cabinets like trophies for the girl who never finds First Place in His Heart anymore.

But those words stay silent. Those secrets stay sealed.

I’m trained to stand in the hallway and wait for sobs. To listen for the cracks in her voice when she says his name. To push the conversation forward when she doesn’t have the strength.

I am the heartbreak healer. The boyfriend bully. The future finder.

I am supposed to carve out a path for her, complete with a white dress and a country ballad and a tall boy with brown hair and a big heart beating just for her.

I can’t. I can’t find it.

This is me, the girl who doesn’t have a Pinterest board for that Big Day, the girl who gave some boy her heart and broke it twice, the girl who still isn’t sure if she’ll ever hum a slow ballad barefoot on a dance floor, telling her to hang on.

But not for him. Not for the boy running laps without stopping to see her. Not the boy with his fingers in another girl’s hair.

Not him, my darling. There are billions of other hims to choose from. I have a feeling, someday, you’ll find the right one.