I collect minutes like stray pennies. I tuck them into my pockets, uncovering them every so often then tossing them away without a care. Because it’s just a penny, after all. One cent. One minute. Sixty little seconds. I forget … Continue reading
Five days after I turned 25, I got a tattoo. A black ampersand on my left wrist, something I’d been wanting for several months. It meant a lot to me, getting the tattoo and being able to get it while in San Francisco near my birthday. I loved it immediately, the small mark on my skin. It became a part of me, of my story.
A few days later I realized the man I eventually meet, fall in love with, and presumably marry will never know me without my tattoo. He’ll never know what my wrist looked like without the black ink embedded in my skin, full of meaning and beauty. He’ll never know who I was before I got that tattoo. He’ll never know the woman who struggled with whether to get it at all.
And he’ll never know who I was before I was a writer. He won’t know the woman who wanted to be a history professor with a PhD in Victorian history, culture, and literature. He won’t know the woman who was shocked to discover she loved reading about gender studies. He won’t know the student who hid away in a library, researching and scribbling nonsensical notes, living on coffee and broken prayers.
He missed out on the moment when I had to choose between England and Egypt. He missed the all nighters I pulled finishing up my senior thesis and all the little papers that came before. He missed the tortuous weeks I spent watching friends walk away from me, spread out over years. He missed my first day of college, my last day of high school. He missed out on my awkward years, my naive years. He missed out on the time when I was a bookish nerd before I even knew that was an insult.
He didn’t see me fall apart in Alaska. Or Vegas. Or Nashville. He didn’t see me fail in each of of those cities, packing up in defeat and returning home. He didn’t see me fall into depression, confused by the darkness that wouldn’t leave me, rendered helpless and empty and so very alone. He didn’t see me floundering to pull myself together, to create something from the ashes. He didn’t see the moment I fell in love absolutely with writing; the moment that saved me.
In so many ways, this man who is supposed to be my partner in life, my very own love, won’t know me. Or rather, he won’t recognize who I used to be. He won’t know that girl, the girl who slowly grew into the woman he fell in love with.
And I think it’s easy to use that as an excuse. We don’t want to miss out on sharing experiences with our future spouses, so we hold off. We tell ourselves we’ll do all these things that we love when we meet the right person. When we find our soul mate we’ll travel, we’ll move, we’ll focus on finding the right career, we’ll go back to school, we’ll do that one thing on our bucket list that seems to beckons to us. When we find the right person, then we’ll start living the life we really want. We’ll fulfill our hopes and dreams and make them our reality. We have all the time in the world.
In the meantime, we wait. And wait. And wait.
Life isn’t meant to be put on hold. Because the longer we wait, the more opportunities pass us by. Chances that are once in a lifetime might not be there in a few years when we’re married, settling down, and perhaps thinking about kids or a career. We might not have time in the future to do what is waiting for us today.
And every time we say no to a new experience, we leave room for regret to grow and fester. We open the door for us to resent our future spouse. Because we waited for them to come around so we could share that moment with them, but the moment has passed us by, the chance we were desperate to take, and it’s easy to place blame. If we hadn’t waited, we could have done that amazing, wonderful thing.
But they aren’t asking us to wait. I think they want us to be happy.
I believe that our lives are a story. Different moments in our lives are different chapters. Different characters come in and out. There are plot twists, thematic arcs, epiphanies and climaxes, action and suspense, and hopefully some humor and romance. And those stories that you live are meant to be told, to be shared with people. Your story is amazing and exciting and you are the only one who can live it. You deserve to live it.
There are so many chapters of my life that have already been written and lived; pieces of my story that my future husband played no role in. But my story is worth telling, and someday I will be able to share my story with him. I will get to sit up late at night, sitting across from him and tell him how I came to be the woman he fell in love with. Because everything I’ve done, every mistake I’ve made and every triumph, every smile and move and piece of writing will have somehow brought me to him. By living my life, I became the woman I’m meant to be.
Life isn’t about waiting to find a husband or wife; life is about living each day, doing what makes you happy, what brings you joy, with the hope that by living your life you find the one you’re meant to share it with.
So live your story, every day. Live a life you can be proud of, a life you can someday share with the person who means the world to you. Live a life that fulfills you and gives you joy and isn’t about waiting. Because God brings opportunities into your life and certain moments for a reason. You are allowed to take hold of them and have the adventure of a lifetime.
I’m pretty entertaining.
I felt the unvoiced words skate across my skin, and I wondered if he could read them on me. That need, that barely restrained desire to feel his lips on mine, overwhelmed. His face was mere inches from mine, and I couldn’t look away. His eyes, god his eyes. They were warm and brown and beckoned to me. I think I nodded when he gave me that crooked half smile. Nodded to a question he never posed. The one question I longed for him to voice.
I remember looking into his eyes and feeling the world tilt. Just a little, just enough to make me take notice. He looked at me and he saw me and my breath caught. There was something in his eyes that seemed different. They changed a little when they met mine. Darkened. And yet they twinkled as if they had discovered something no one else had. Maybe they did that night, standing in the cold breeze in a place neither of us knew. Maybe he did see something special. I thought I had.
But he wasn’t meant for me. Not that night surrounded by strangers. Not any of the nights after. Not when I sat close while we watched movies in the dark halls. Not when he smiled at me from across the room. Not when I leaned on his shoulder and drifted off to sleep. Not even when he looked at me and mouthed the words “I want you.” Those words still haunt me. I hear them in my dreams, whispered in my ear. I feel his lips brush my skin as he says them. My eyes flutter shut and I wait for him to kiss me. I wait and wait and wait. Then I wake up, my heart racing and for three seconds I look for him. I reach my arm into the emptiness. I reach into the loneliness and find nothing. Always nothing.
Did he want me? Or was it a joke? Perhaps he was lonely in those moments, in the time spent away from what he knew. Maybe he recognized the same loneliness in me. Maybe I was a way to briefly ease the pangs of something missing. A means to an end. A temporary relief until he found something better, something real. Was I not real enough?
Or maybe I wasn’t her. He would always say her name in that special way. There was nothing there, he insisted. Perhaps he insisted too much. I pretended it didn’t matter. I was here and she was not, and that was supposed to count for something. I listened and I cared. I walked with him and laughed with him. I thought that meant something.
I always think it means more than it does.
Because he didn’t really want me. He let whatever might have been, whatever I imagined and wished we could be slip through his fingers. I wonder if he ever intended to hold onto it. Was there a moment of regret? A moment when he sat back, stunned by the realization that there was something floating between us? Some kind of feeling that was waiting for the right word or look so it could become something more. Did that terrify him? Appall him? Was he nervous in the midst of it? Was it a conscious choice to walk away without looking back? Was I so easily forgotten?
I wish I could forget. Years have passed and I still see him. He wanders about in my imagination, loitering at the periphery. He turns corners before I can catch him. Even in my own mind, I can’t hold onto him. He escapes, but the memory lingers. I don’t know why. If he’s not meant for me, why can’t I forget him?
I let time carve away at his imperfections. The passing years took his faults and bad habits and annoying traits and turned them invisible. All the reasons we would never have worked fade away, leaving behind only the good things. The past has blinded me to reality, and my memory has become a land of fantasy. And in that fantasy, he is all I want. Even now, sitting here with the world before me, I look back to him. Time has molded him into a man that never existed, but a man I imagine I could have loved. A cold statue that I look upon with fondness and adoration who can never reciprocate the feelings. Whose hardened eyes no longer see me.
He’s the one who got away. The one who wanted to get away. The one who saw no reason to stay with me. I still cringe at that thought. I’m not sure the passing years will dull that pain, the ache he left when he held me close, whispered goodbye, and walked away with no intention of looking back. I held no interest for him, and that hurt. That wounded and left scars.
Being wanted by him wouldn’t have made me more of a woman. It wouldn’t have made me more beautiful or worthy or lovely or wonderful. Being wanted by him wouldn’t have answered my questions or undone my insecurities. I know that now, deep down with everything I am. But being wanted by him would have filled a space in my soul. It would have given me cause to smile. It would have given me the freedom to care for him without restraint. Being wanted by him would have made my heart happy.
Was it wrong to want that? The happiness and love? The romance? Was I silly to think I could have had that with him, if only for a moment? Am I silly to think I’ll find it at all?
I sometimes wonder if I was the one who got away. Not in the way that tends towards arrogance or boasting, but in the way that bespeaks curiosity. Because I wonder if there was a chance I overlooked, a man I looked past. I wonder if there was a moment where I was wanted, truly and deeply, by a good man who saw me in a way that no one else had.
I’m loathe to think I let that slip away from me. That I couldn’t recognize it, the chance looming before me. I saw through it, longing for something else. Wishing instead for someone else, someone who refused to see me and pursue me.
We rarely consider that side, the one where we left a chance behind. We focus on what we want, what we’ve told ourselves we need to survive, and I wonder what we miss. Or rather, who we miss. I fear that maybe I don’t know what I want or even what I need despite what I’ve told myself. I cling to memories instead of allowing for the possibilities. For a reality where I meet a man who wants me as I want him.
I’m not sure what I would do with that. I don’t know if I could believe in it or trust it. Maybe love and romance are the ones who got away.
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I’m pretty entertaining.