1082 Followers
43 Following
laceylouwagie

A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.

 

A Year in the Life, Week 35: To Thine Own Self Be True

A Year in the Life: Journaling for Self-Discovery - Sheila Bender

This week’s A Year In the Life exercise asked me to write a question I received often, and to answer it in various ways. I was definitely a very late bloomer when it came to romance (first kiss? 28), and for a long time, people (relatives, mainly) were waiting with baited breath for something to happen. By the time it did, they were done asking. Despite a clear lack of “evidence,” my romantic life for all those years didn’t exactly feel dormant, and writing this brought up a lot of memories about just how complicated being single can be.

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

No, unless you count the ones in my head–but you probably shouldn’t because they’re not my boyfriends even in my head. And nothing I see out there in the real world seems capable of bringing me the same level of satisfaction that they do.

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

No, but I have a beautiful roommate who stays up with me late into the night. We watch old 80s cartoons and take walks together, do laundry and eat in the cafeteria. And I don’t believe in love at first sight or any of that, but somehow we were friends seemingly from the moment we met. And I thought it would be a boyfriend that made leaving home worth it, that would ease the pain of being away from that place of love and safety. But from the beginning to many years after, it was her.

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

It can be hard to say no to this question when your heart becomes so tied up with another person. First I loved him from afar, then stood beside him and wrote love letters I never sent, then wrote him one that I did send. He wrote back over a month later and reduced me to tears. We began writing then, exchanging loaded mixx tapes and IM chats. He was hundreds of miles away and much easier to love that way. For the first time, he went years without dating anyone. He said God would bring us together if it was meant to be. I sat on the floor of my dorm room and let him talk to me on the phone. I still remember how tight his hugs were and how I always wanted more from him. But no, he wasn’t my boyfriend.

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

I tried, became something of a one-date wonder. My dad’s younger friend who would work so I could write; “the Republican” who took me to see a musical but ruined it when he said he didn’t read much; the lawyer who pontificated and sat too close to me when we saw Batman: The Dark Knight and was too young to be so jaded; the shy, spiritually seeking, tea-drinking and book-loving boy that I wanted to love so, so much; the boy with blond hair who rode my city bus and read Alice in Wonderland–I can still remember my exact erotic thoughts about him, but not whether we ever spoke. And then there was the actor, the phone messages exchanged that never led to any real conversation; the 18-year-old boy who read the Patriot Act all the way through and who wasn’t nearly as afraid of an older woman as I was of a younger man (well, boy).

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

We haven’t even started on the girls yet, all those years of wearing rainbows and finally thinking there might be a reason for always feeling so out of place. There was the girl I wrote a dozen songs for, my fingers fumbling on the fretboard, my insecurity about it all–is this love? Is this a song? She was the first to really break through, but she was nothing compared to the one that came after–the one with ocean-blue eyes and crackly dry hands and the barest whisper of white in her long dark hair. She was the one I thought was the love of my life, and for so long the hardest part was having no word for her, for us, that would encompass the magnitude of what I felt. I used to wish we had dated and broken up so at least I’d have something the rest of the world could understand. Instead, when my heart was shattered, I didn’t even have a name for the emptiness that ached inside me for months, or the reason I didn’t love again for years.

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

I was still thinking of her the first time I could properly say yes to this question, and that’s how I knew something was wrong. I thought it was because he was a man. I knew it was because he wasn’t her. He didn’t like kissing but said I was beautiful in sunlight and water and he wanted to take pictures that would do me justice. We slept against each other on my floor, talked about fairy tales and folk singers, and one night, I listened to his heartbeat when I knew the future he spoke of wouldn’t be mine. I told him, Don’t turn anything down on my behalf. What I meant was, I would be relieved for an excuse to say goodbye. What I meant was, whether you go near or far, I won’t be going with you.

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

I’ve never forgotten the feel of her hands on my hips, and I still dream about her sometimes. She is the one love I can never admit to the world.

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

Only if someone I’ve never seen counts; he was the first one to ever write me a love letter on the last eve of 1999, just in case the world was about to end. I wanted to believe, but a part of me never could, not for all the digital artwork and Meatloaf music in the world.

 

Do you have a boyfriend?

The relatives had given up on this question by the time I met the man I would marry. But a coworker asked me out of the blue, two months into my relationship with him, and my face heated that cold winter day as, for the first time, I gave an uncomplicated, shy but giddy and joy-filled, yes.

 

Image: © Nevit Dilmen found at Wikimedia commons