I cant talk about love without talking about Tim.
Years ago, when I was about five months from going away to medical school, I met a man. We lived in the same apartment complex, and he moved in on me. I loved him from the start, but kept it contained. I dated other people. I was seeing another man, a man I didn’t love the same way. He was so sweet, so available, and so sold on me…but he wasn’t the one.
One day Tim looked at me with beady eyes. His eyes always narrowed and shrunk when he was feeling something deep, and Tim looked at me like that and said “We can’t see each other anymore.”
When he said that, when Tim, the first man I really fell in love with body and soul, when he said that, I got very still. I was so calm, hearing those words and I said, “Why?”
“Because you’re seeing other people,” he said. It was very easy for me to say, “Well then, I won’t see other people.” I didn’t miss a beat. It all came out in one quick breath.
We were together constantly from that moment, until I left for school.
Tim was quite tortured. I knew that about him, but didn’t realize the depths of that torture until years later. I just knew that he didn’t move me to Los Angeles. Instead, he had his friend do it. Doug moved me to LA. Doug suggested that we give each other massages after we got my house moved in. I took off my shirt, and with my head in his lap, he rubbed me down. Nothing else happened, but I was so irked with Tim for putting me in such a compromising position. Tim should have been there.
I stayed with Tim for a few months. I would get lovesick, and I’d hit the 5 and jam to his place 400 miles from school whenever I needed him. It drained me, all that jumping on the 5.
One day, I didn’t call Tim. It was always me who called. At first I just forgot to call him but then a few days went by and it was a thing, and I couldn’t un-know what I now knew which was that Tim was never going to pick up the phone and call me. Not ever.
I didn’t call him for ten days, and he still didn’t call me. So one night, feeling how wrong his silence was, I went to a party and I got with David. I married David, but all along I loved Tim. I loved Tim, but I let him go. I let him go because that’s how much I loved him.
Then his father crashed his plane and died. Max, his Dad, knew that I was the one. Max wanted me for his son. So when Max died, and I saw Tim, I knew that Tim wanted me, wanted me to be the one now, too. My mom said, “If you want Tim, he’s yours, right now.” I wanted him so, but I couldn’t use his father’s death to seal the deal. I loved him too much to ever do that. So I kept moving on and away from Tim.
A few years later, we became friends again. Just friends. Over the years, he kissed me passionately as a nod to our connection. He circled with solitary kisses, stolen in the front seat. And I kept the torch burning. You bet I did.
When he turned fifty, he asked me to accompany him to his birthday party. I was seeing someone else, but I went because I was Tim’s date way back when his dad had turned fifty, and it meant a lot for me to be there with him.
All of Max’s people were at Tim’s party, the people I’d known years earlier. These people had known us that summer before medical school. They had pulled me aside when we first were together and whispered and winked that Tim seemed to have found his girl, in me. We were and had been an effortless couple. We just fit. That night we fit as good as ever, but something shifted inside me. He passed around a boob shot some woman had sent him and it set off my inner ew factor, that he would pass that picture around. I stopped loving him, a little bit.
We continued to dance around each other, from a very far distance, and only in our own minds, and even then only occasionally. We lunched. He always came in for one kiss. A whammy, but just one, whenever I saw him. The kiss was predictable.
And one day when we were lunching he said, with no provocation, “I never loved you.” There was no reason for him to say that, and it barely registered. My love affair with Tim was grounded in my love for him. All I felt was sad for him, that he wasn’t able to feel all that I had felt. But it didn’t hurt me that he said that. I didn’t believe him, and I didn’t not believe him. I just didn’t really care.
He said to me later how bad he had felt after he said that. He explained that he just didn’t love anyone. He might as well have been talking to himself or to the wall. I just didn’t care. All these years I had loved him were my own. And it, in the end, had very little to do with him. It was just that I was able to love him, so I did. Tim wasn’t able, so he didn’t.
Over the years, I’ve met a few Tims, and I believe I have just met another. These are men who resonate from the get go.
My current Tim, who’s name is Andrew, is more Tim-like than anyone I’ve met over the years. The minute I walked into his house, I went all Scooby Do ruh-roh. I was just bowled over with feeling. My heart opened all it’s layers and sucked him in deep. My heart rearranged it’s fluffy down coating and whispered to itself, “here we go, hold on, but not too tight, let go, hold on, let go.”
I’ve done what I know how to do with Andrew which is let my heart run free. I am loving him right now, which doesn’t look like much, because it’s only in my heart. I know this dance. I know Andrew is the same man who could look at me with narrowed eyes and say, “I don’t love you; I never loved you” and part of me is glad about that. Because this kind of love, were it reciprocated, might choke off and die. But in my heart it blooms wild and free.
I’ve never had a man who’s stopped my heart actually go all-in. Other men have gone all in, and it’s been fine. I have certainly been loved. But I’ve never been outwardly loved by a man I’ve big-time resonated with. I’ve been loved by, and loved, the more minor players. Except for Robert – he was a major player, but we fought too much, and too hard. Robert’s in his own harmless, funny league, and a friend now.
Andrew is in another state and I’m in his bed right now. I’m not just being figurative and waxing poetic. I am literally in his bed typing this. The specifics of how and why I am in his bed are less interesting than the fact that I am here, in his bed and house.
At first being here was jarring, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stay.
Then I made myself some of his toast and felt weird eating it.
Then I made myself more of his toast and started to feel at home.
Then I started to relax.
I am going through a creative spell…taking pictures, writing songs, wanting to learn to paint…the world feels very open, and I’m on fire, peeling away layers.
What is love anyway, and what does it matter? I want to say love is everything, but I know that not being loved by a man can be everything, too. What reallly matters is me. In loving, I’m more me, more my better me, more alive, and more able to channel life.
See….? I win. I always do. I always effin win, somehow.