When I wrote my birthday heart inventory, I happened to be in the early part of a relationship, the part where one is expected to be reticent, lighthearted, tentative, (none of those my strong suit even a little) as though one were trying to convince a woodland creature to eat from one’s hand. (Some comedian said that, it isn’t mine but it’s apt.)
So I left some things out.
I’m so glad I decided to let him in, to let myself hope. It was wonderful to think that we might actually be going someplace together. He was supposed to stay over on Saturday and then go to church with me on Sunday. I haven’t attended church with a boyfriend since the summer before eleventh grade, when I knelt beside my unbelievably sweet first boyfriend in the front pew of my Aunt Connie’s church. The idea of sharing a faith with a partner, of harboring a spiritual connection, made me so joyful that I thought I might explode. Sunday was the Water Ceremony at my church, where we were supposed to bring water from our summer and join it with everyone else’s water. I’d asked him if he would want to contribute some water from his pool, where we’d shared some perfect moments, and to my great delight, he said yes.
I keep a one-sentence journal, and Saturday’s entry reads: “I think he really likes me—our date is at 3pm and at 10 am, he’s already put the water in his car to remember to bring it for church.” This news was accompanied by a photo of his morning glories, which are purple like most of mine. Maybe he did really like me.
That morning, I felt so open and festive, like the best possible version of myself. It was, he was, a special occasion. I walked over to the co-op to get flowers to put by the door, and of course they were a rainbow. I felt playful, and loving, and generous, and there were definitely special underpants.
And it was a magical afternoon and evening, full of laughter and what I would’ve called closeness. It doesn’t matter what went wrong in the night, but I will say this: Usually I can sift though any bad match and find what I did wrong, but in this case I am wholeheartedly sure that that guy had won the person lottery, and he severely mishandled his luck.
I still went to church, cried the whole way there and was glad I remembered where they keep the stash of wedding/funeral tissues. One of my favorite friends joined me in the pew and we laughed about the patheticness of my I-had-to-spill-the-special-pool-water-down-the-sink story. She’d forgotten her water so I lent her my drinking bottle while I spilled in some ocean water from the family beach. It was an absolutely meant-to-be breakthrough morning with my friend, who also happens to be a creative coachee.
But home alone, sobbing in front of “Up in the Air,” I had to admit to such loss, such longing. Before I met him, it was mostly possible to ignore a big part of what’s missing in my life, or I’d just been enjoying a nice break from worrying about it: Though my day- to-day life is pleasant and good, I want to fall in love and have a family more deeply than it feels safe to say.
A few months ago, one of my favorite friends in the world had a baby after a long, hard struggle. I was so relieved and happy for her and saw it as proof that even the most enormous and terrifying-to-want dreams can come true. But also I was inconsolable. I cried so hard that I thought my heart would fall out. I felt so much envy and pain and grief and loneliness with each successively more adorable picture: I eventually had to just unsubscribe.
Normally one would just take that to mean, duh, I want a baby, but that honestly seems supercrazy for me to want—I’m sensitive, anxious, single, and (though I know I have fertile genes) likely too old to try.
The wide, vast, chasm of pain that opened up from my friends facebook and from the loss of a guy who just wasn’t right means that I do very dearly, in the most raggedly vulnerable way, want to have my own family.
The guy, while he has qualities of his own, also has two adorable sons. He once texted me a picture of them on a picnic by a pond. And I let myself imagine it—how I might someday meet them, how I might someday heap them all in love. Even without having (thank goodness) met the kids, I knew that the three of them needed me, needed the ocean of love that’s in me, and I let myself hope I could someday give it to them.
So now I’m in a position of being no longer able to ignore a thing I can’t really do anything about. I’m afraid I’ve lost my chance, not with him (he was not the chance) but with my someday family, like we’ve all missed our connection somehow. The idea that it might be to late is a heavy thing to carry around, knowing I may eventually have to just grieve the lost chance.
But the thing is, I let myself believe in the possibility of love, of letting someone in. I let myself go as far as the current of romance could take me, and that was a good and brave choice. And although it is famously lightning-strike foolish, I have to believe that my guy and my family are still out there waiting for me, or maybe the impossible will happen before it’s too late. I have so much love, so much everything to give a family. However they come, whoever they are, let them get here. I miss them so much.