A friend and I were talking the other day about people’s choices with marriage. You see some people together, and you just get it. Common background, common interests, and common aspirations make predictable and understood couples.
In other cases, you wonder how it ever came to be. When socioeconomic barriers are crossed, opinion varies on whether it’s the man or the woman doing the crossing. A female doctor going for the brick-layer is questioned. However, the male lawyer with the Macy’s sales clerk is what romantic movies are born from. Conversely, when women get with an ugly man, she’s seeing him for his inner beauty. A man with a homely woman is doing her a favor.
My friend gave a sigh and said, “Well, you don’t choose who you fall in love with.”
My immediate response was, “Yes, but you do choose who you marry.”
Someone from my past has been popping through my neurons lately, and this two-statement exchange really hits home.
Two summers back I had an encounter with a man who was no one you’d expect me to ever fall for. But I saw his career choice as his ability to take the skills he had and turn it into something that made him a comfortable living. His enthusiasm — although sometimes inappropriate and misguided — was infectious, and we’d spend our evenings in mock shouts toward whatever injustice we were discussing. When I told friends about him, I’d either get a laugh at the humorous stereotype he absolutely portrayed, or I’d get shot a look that questioned just what the heck I was doing.
I thought I knew what I was doing. But after a while, a point came when I had to fight to not let it become more. The man who I thought would be good for fun dates and a little affection took me by surprise with his tenderness and ability to make me feel absolutely treasured.
Daily phone calls that came from genuine curiosity for how my day was going. Conversation where we both leaned forward, ready to be surprised by what the other was going to say. Me being sick and us riding in the backseat, holding hands silently while his coworker drove toward downtown to take me home. The night he ran into his ex, received a harping, and then escaped to the quiet of my house to be calmed down. A call from the hospital, where all he wanted was some words from someone who actually cared. His absolute surprise at an early birthday celebration where we laughed at how crappy the little cake turned out, and he hugged to tell me it was perfect.
That night was the last time I saw him. I pulled a stereotypically male move in leaving messages unreturned. We both knew that the day would come that this was our only option. We just didn’t expect it to happen then.
Two months later a text message came through my phone to wish me a Merry Christmas and to say that he hoped I was doing well. In the parking lot of Deerbrook Mall, my stomach dropped, and I closed the phone. Six months after that, I got another message while sitting at a Cubs game. Again, I did nothing. I chose not to respond to either since I couldn’t reopen the lines after successfully getting out. Once going there, there was no going back. His pull is too strong, and I know I’m too weak to resist.
Lately his image has infected my dreams. I sometimes question my decision to sever ties, but I know it’s for the best. His name comes up on conversation, and my friends give an exaggerated Abort! Abort! because they know where he stands in my head and heart. The head I control, but the heart does whatever it damn well pleases. I never expected to absolutely fall for someone who could not in any way ever actually become a true partner, but that’s sometimes how it rolls.
Common sense takes over, and I don’t get to sit back and wonder how things could have been or how they’d be. I attribute it to an overactive imagination brought on by loneliness or misremembering the events of those few months.
I’ll hold onto those, though. I know better than to hold onto him.