Love… the “climb any mountain, ford any stream” love… the shouting in undying passion for his love kind of love… that sweet and sticky kind of love…
Why was this significant? Well, he was a love-hater just merely half a year ago. He was that person who would roll the eyes at someone like him now, and just say: “Get over it already!!!”.
In fact, he did. He definitely said that very loud to real people in public. Worse yet, he said it to some of his closest friends. His utter disdain for public displays of affection was both ferocious and adamant. Romance felt like a construct rather than an extension of emotional expression. Love seemed like an obligation, a constant game of one-upmanship where the stakes just get higher. Love. What the hell is love, anyway? It’s just a word.
What was it, you might wonder, that turned him into such a bitter curmudgeon at such a (relatively) young age? Same old story, I guess – he’d been in a good number of relationships, many of which left him so heartbroken it was hard to pick himself off the floor. After a particularly bad year, it was enough. He removed his heart from his sleeve and tossed it. It just wasn’t worth it.
Sure, since then he had other rendezvous. He even said the big “L” again, though it was more calculated, measured, and guarded. Love was something that could be rationalized. Marriage was something that could be brokered. Everything occurred in its due course, was controlled, and was expected.
Everything… except this.
He was in a rather deep denial over how badly the last relationship had hurt him and proclaimed, nearly the next day after the breakup, that he didn’t give a damn and that he was over it. The breakup, while not his idea, was just the due course of the relationship. Though he had plotted it differently, he rationalized it would have ended eventually, and she had been gracious enough to do him a favor. His love and him, they connected then, while he was stoically broken and when he still thought he knew all the answers. He dismissed her, back then, since he would need to grieve for the prescribed time (mathematically, it is half the time you were with someone, but he figured that he should be good in about six months, give or take). He told her that it wasn’t going to go anywhere. He saw other people. He even ended it with her. It just wasn’t in his logical and methodical equations. He explained to himself the significance of the break. Over those many heartbreaks, he realized that using “let’s break up” as fighting ammo just isn’t cool. To combat this, he’s implemented the “a break is a break” rule, meaning that if she breaks up with him (or vice-versa), then there was a damned good reason to do it. No looking back. A break is permanent.
So, when he ended it with her, he really had no intention of ever seeing her again. Ever. But something odd had happened. He couldn’t stop thinking about her. But there was so much fear. So much fear that something would go wrong. Well, he called “fear” “reality.” After all, she was German. He was American. She – here for just a few more months. He had a job here in Chicago, with no potential to transfer elsewhere. Where the hell can a relationship with limited time go? To the short-term-no-commitments bin, and that’s where he tried to keep it.
Maybe she found him at just the right time in his personal quest of self-exploration. Maybe they were so compatible that everything was just what love is supposed to be. Maybe, just maybe, there is no explanation, because that’s what love is, something irrational that just kind of happens. Whatever it was, it was as though his heart melted – literally. He hates such cheesy metaphors; he would apologize for all those cynics out there – don’t forget, he was you!). It was as though he’d put his heart in a cryogenic freezer and then took it out, just in time to be warmed by this beautiful and amazing woman.
Regardless of what it was, he couldn’t stay away from her for long. He invited her to the L Stop launch party, where he had convinced himself it would just be a hook-up. At Thanksgiving, he specifically skipped out on plans elsewhere to cook her a traditional meal, convincing himself that it was just that he was showing her a true American T-day. No, there wasn’t a possibility that he actually liked the girl. What’s done is done. No looking back.
Something, though… something was different. He felt his pulse quicken. “Breathe, breathe, get it under control,” he thought. Her perfume lingered in his car after she left and his pulse raced. His thoughts wandered off to her during the day. His heart beat uncontrolled within his chest, it felt like anxiety. But it felt so much better than anxiety. Damn? What the hell was going on with him?
Fortunately, though, he was too intoxicated with her to think straight. He had blurted out things like, “Why don’t you come over (again) tonight” before he could think them through. His poor roommate had to listen to “Why the hell do I like her?” over and over again while he picked at the teeny tiniest minuscule faults wherever he could manage to imagine them. This eventually morphed to, “Why can’t I STOP liking her” and eventually an all-out, “Oh GOD, I think I’m in LOVE with her”.
All the reasoning in the world couldn’t rationalize this away. In fact, despite their separate nationalities, there was no legitimate reason holding them apart. He could always move to Germany; she could move here, she had an in-demand job that could always warrant her work visa, maybe no marriage needed. She was smart, funny, gentle, and crazy hot – what the hell was there not to love?
Well, after leaving behind his own hangups, and letting it just all unfold with no plan…it turned out there was nothing not to love. Was it…was it that he was just too scared to try love again? Scared? Him? But, it turns out he was. He kept thinking that this wonderfully amazing woman would just walk out of his life (and really, he had given her plenty of reasons to).
But he let it all go and decided to put it all on the line. Instead, with a shaky voice, while they snuggled on the couch, he leaned over to her ear. Just as much because he was scared he’d mess it up in German as he was scared to say it out loud, he whispered:
“Ich liebe dich”.
1100 words, Adela Galasiu 2012