The Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts

Posted on August 16, 2010


It began with a corny joke I couldn’t resist sending on Friday afternoon. Well, it began in December, with a smart and funny reply to an ad I posted on Craigslist. Or maybe it began when he took my hand on our first date and electricity shot up my arm. But the most recent time it began, following the most recent time it ended, was with a corny joke on Friday.

No promises were made; if I’m honest I don’t think any ever will be. But then, I never thought I would agree to be in an open relationship, either, and I just did. Depending on how far back you want to go, I never thought I’d be 35 and childless and single. I never imagined a lot of things that have come to pass, but pass they have.

It could be argued that I’m betraying myself by agreeing to settle for less than what I really want, or even that I’m participating in a broader disservice done to women everywhere by accepting less than I’m worth. But in a way, perhaps, I’m taking life on its own terms. No fairy tale happy endings are guaranteed. I never thought I’d make it this long without once being totally in love with someone who was in love with me, but here I am. And what I have found is something imperfect but beautiful, and I’m holding on to it while I can. I’m holding on to him, because the hours that we spend together are so much better than the hours that we spend apart. If that’s not the smart choice, if I’m betraying some tenet of intelligent dating and sound mental health by accepting terms that are not my own, well, so be it.

I want someone I can call in the middle of the night, who will be there for me. I want someone who knows and understands my intimate hopes and the secret, fragile things I wish for. I want someone to be my safe haven, the place I can go where I am only me, without fear. Many people never find those things, but I have. The fact that they are not all bound up in one person, and that he’s not that someone, doesn’t cheapen the fact that I can lay claim to them. My friends, my chosen family, give me more love than most people ever get and and have stood the test of time.  What I don’t have, what I find in the hours we are together, is a respite. We nap, and whisper, skin on fire, and it doesn’t have to be any more difficult than that sometimes.

He put a gift-wrapped package on the table as soon as I saw him. Something small, a sweet reminder of a promise he made months ago and never discussed again. An idiot grin bloomed on my face, even as a voice in my head chided Don’t be so easy. Even after, in the car on the way from the restaurant back to his place, I had a moment where I thought I should not be doing this. This is not where I belong. But when we got there, just like always, it was.