He had both hands on the wheel but as he fired off the question, he gave me a very specific look that only a brother could give. It was the look of inquiry mixed with curiosity and exasperation. “But seriously. Are you open to falling in love? Being in love again? Or are you completely closing your doors?” I sat in the backseat of the car, caught off-guard by the question. Last I checked, we were talking about something shallow and mundane, like what stuff to buy in the grocery or how we’re both doing at work. And now this? The question threw me off so much that I had to pick myself up from the floor of the car and cough out the lint and dirt I have managed to breathe in. (I’m kidding, of course. The whole “fell to the floor” scenario was figurative. Please tell me you knew that right away.) I slouched and then sat up straight. Then after a couple of seconds, I gave the only answer I could think of: I shrugged.
If he asked me the same question two, three years ago, I would’ve promptly, surely, and confidently replied, “I am fine on my own. Thank you very much. Now keep driving!” But so much has happened and somewhere along the way, I realized that I was not the same person I had been before – – before all those crazy, exhausting things took place. For years and years, my life was pretty predictable. Nothing was spinning out of control, unless you count the cash I spent on whims, passing fancies and nights out with friends. Even an ex-boyfriend occasionally popping up to declare his love for me was part of the routine. But then toward the end of November last year, things began to change. Circumstances started happening, one after another. The only good thing I can see, after all that has been said and done, is that those events brought about the value of resilience.
Things change. People change. It’s something I have come to fully accept. I couldn’t stop my father from dying. I couldn’t force someone to feel the same way about me. I couldn’t just uproot myself from my country and then live somewhere else on my own. (I have tried this for years and years. Either I am meant to stay where I am or I haven’t tried enough.) I have learned that I cannot stop changes. The only thing I can do is figure out the best way to deal with them, and running away is not an option.
Now to answer my brother’s question:
“I’ve been spending the last eight months
Thinking all love ever does is break and burn and end
But on a Wednesday in a cafe I watched it begin again”
Sure, I have made bad relationship choices. I have made unwise decisions regarding men. But maybe, just maybe, there will finally be some truth in the lyrics of “Not A Bad Thing.” Maybe there will be a time when I won’t scorn at Chris Evans’ line at the final scene of “Playing It Cool.” There’s a lot of maybes here and I am not sure how I feel about that.
But if there is anything that I have come to learn and accept after the relationships that never worked out and the men I fell for, it’s this: There is always hope. And there will always be someone new. It’s only a matter of having enough courage to move past the fears and doubts. The next one will be different because I am different. The next one will either step into my life quietly or will hurtle into it, bringing along with him rumbling thunder (but in a good way). And he will be different from the men in my past. As one article goes, this time I would love not wrecklessly but purposefully. And when that happens, all that I have been through in the past would make sense and not matter at the same time.
“You keep his shirt
He keeps his word
And for once you let go
Of your fears and your ghosts
One step, not much
But it said enough”
Perhaps I just haven’t met him yet. And perhaps when I do, it will all be worth it. Maybe it will work out, maybe it won’t. But that’s the risk I need to take. I feel like I at least owe that to myself after years and years (five, to be exact) of ducking away from dating and men.
Tangent but not really because it involves dating. Dating someone who writes and also loves to read. (Geek mode: on!) Here are interesting posts to read:
** Date a Girl Who Writes
“She will write about you and she will write to you. Her handwritten letters will captivate you and scare you all in one breath. Be happy that she knows how to tell you what she’s feeling and thinking with precision and grace—that is a luxury in most relationships… Find a girl who writes because you deserve someone who will motivate you and humble you each and every day. You deserve to learn from the teachings of your own great writer that eloquent words are essential to human life. If her mind bursts into flames with an idea at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning, let her write…because chances are, you lit the spark. And for her, the only thing that will be better than writing about the love you share is living the love you share.”
** How to Love a Girl Who Writes
“She will not always tell you how she feels out loud. And even if she does, trust to the fact that she’s rolled it around in her brain (and possibly her journal) for quite some time before she comes out with it… She will send you a song, a sonnet or start a philosophical argument with you. It’s her way of flirting with you. It’s like the writer girl combination of a hair toss and licking her lips. Play along.”
** You Should Date an Illiterate Girl
” A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment.”
(Sorry. I could not resist throwing in this Taylor Swift gif. It’s just so cute and amusing. 😀 Have a happy work week ahead, guys!)