|Tyson and I at 16 and 15|
Tyson is in a relationship with a dear friend of mine. It’s going very well. He is happy. I am not in a relationship with anyone. I have crushes on at least three celebrities and a normal boy who looks like one. They’re all going very well. I am happy. But happiness doesn’t stop the what-ifs. It just makes the what-ifs seem less urgent. Tyson and I are full of what-ifs.
As he and I dug into a conversation about love and attraction, he asked me what I was attracted to in a man. Here’s the thing: I’ve been getting this question a lot. I’m at that age. My friends are getting married, baby-ed, coupled, attached, and booed-up left and right. It’s truly a beautiful thing to see. Luckily, I don’t have the kinds of friends who think I’m in a band of Lonesome Locked-Hearts and the Suffering Singles, or friends who think being in a relationship is always better than being alone. But now that everyone is finding their someone, they wonder why I’m not. I get why they're confused. I'm awesome. So, they assume I'm just not seeing what I like. Which is partly true.
Usually, I give a pretty pat answer when someone asks me what I want in an ideal boyfriend/man/partner/booski:
“Uh…he should be like cool. Funny. Cares about the world. I’d like it if he were cute. Maybe some hair or armpits. Must like breakfast and social justice. Probably want him to have a goal and not do bath salts. Didn’t vote for Bush twice. Not related to me. That’s all I got.”
I think I meant to say all that same stuff today when Tyson asked me that question, but I didn’t. He asked me and I described something real. Something I actually want:
“I want a partner, not a project. I want someone who I can feel lucky to be with. Someone who I’m inspired by. Someone who’s inspired by me. I want him to be comfortable with aging gracefully. I want him to have passion beyond himself. I want him to work hard, but not live to work. I want him to be kind. I want him to be happy all on his own, even without me. But I’d like him to miss me when I’ve gone for longer than a week. I want him to love nature. I want him to be patient with me and gentle with himself. I want him to challenge me to be the best version of myself. I want him to be okay with constructive criticism. I want him to be honest. I don’t want him to love me as if it’s a compulsion, I want him to wake up each day, and choose to actively love me all over again for another day.”
Cheesy, I know.
I’m actually pretty cheesy once you get to know me. I blame it all on my abiding obsession with all things Oprah. Still, it’s probably the most honest I’ve been about what I want in…forever. There’s this thing in me, I think a lot of people have it, where I get afraid to ask for what I really want out of fear that it will never happen. Tonight, I had a conversation with another friend where I told him, “Don’t decide you can’t have something before you’ve even tried to have it.” But I’ve been doing that most of my life. Trying to anticipate what is and isn’t for me to have in this world, so I never disappoint myself by trying to attain it. Pretty dumb when you sit back and think about what you’re doing. I’ve settled in more ways than one in my life, but I’m not really interested in doing that anymore. It’s boring. I’ve seen that movie before.
Now, I’m a believer in signs. After a summer of drought, I’ve watched the rain fall out of the sky in sheets from my front porch three times. I’ve only had a porch for a week. Before you ask, no, I haven’t taken the song “It’s Raining Men” literally. I don’t think the rain is a sign that I’m going to find someone tomorrow. What I do believe is that something has ended in my life and something new, something refreshing, something I need, is beginning.
Tonight, I stepped out onto my porch and watched the rain and I cried. I didn’t feel sad, but I did feel broken open. I felt like the conversation I’d had with Tyson that afternoon had taken something out of me. Something I might want back, but couldn’t be returned to me. I’ve made myself vulnerable. There is now this thing between me and love, this big honest thing. I realized that I couldn’t pretend to be okay with dating men who have neither the desire nor the capability to be what I want. I’ve been in survival mode in relationships for so long, only concerned with what I absolutely need. The minimum. Now, I’ve been honest about what I want and I can’t fathom ever being satisfied with the minimum again. That means this dating/relationships thing just got a lot harder, but I also think it might mean whatever is on the other side, just got a lot better.
Cheesy, I know.