[Image credit: kylesteed]
A man grabs his lady-love on the subway and pulls her in close. Sounds of a giddy lilt overwhelm their conversation with every ringlet of hair he curls around his finger. He looks at her as if he’s going to kiss her, but he refrains; still, the tension lingers in the air like impending rain.
As a young adult, my peripherals proved themselves impervious to public displays of affection, but as I grew older and stayed singler, I began to process them more and more. In the beginning, I found them to be sweet. But now, bitterness takes hold of me; I find myself wondering, can’t they wait until they get home? Why does their love weigh on me like the mass of a thousand bricks? Why is what they’re doing seem like an imposition? Um, why do I even care what they’re doing?
My disposition in icky-gooey-lovey-dovey situations is that of indignation, and I’ve come to the following unfortunate realization: I’m jealous.
The man crazy-in-love twirling hair around his fingers is all I’ve ever wanted. Hell, it’s all any of us has ever wanted. But is the act of wanting something so badly, in itself, enough to make one fit for the desired role? Does the striving of an actor for a part make him a good actor, or is he just persistently desperate? Does my longing for a relationship solely make me relationship material?
Or, is it just the opposite? Is relentless longing for a boyfriend just a stand-in for a void that can’t be filled with a relationship? It’s here I find myself running in circles. Each Tinder swipe is a mini existential crisis: a questionably attempted distraction from something perhaps I am missing in myself. With each failed date acting as a puzzle piece almost, but not quite, enough to complete the puzzle, I wonder if I’m looking for something for which I am not yet ready. If only there were a litmus test for deciphering what “ready” really means.
There are days soul-crushing loneliness plagues me. When it takes over, it doesn’t leave room for much else, and being alone becomes palpable; on these days, when I wake, I acknowledge my singledom even before the eye-crust and the bad breath. On these days, my loneliness is the last thing I dwell on before sleep finally comes to steal me.
But then, there are days when the logistics of love are realized. I think about how I’m selfish because I prefer shopping alone rather than with someone in order to save time. How I fail to tolerate sharing a bed because I kick and dream and wake and fall back asleep. How I’m unsure of which city will be my home by the end of this summer season. How, maybe, there is such a thing as being too young, or too lacking in wisdom, for monogamy. How, in short, I am not ready to be in a relationship.
We all want to love and be loved. But if history is any indication, sometimes, love just isn’t enough. The greatest love I’ve ever experienced was short and sweet, and ended just footsteps from where it began; despite how much we grew into each other, we were too consumed with other faculties to make a structured partnership thrive. Actions speak louder than thoughts, and though I want nothing more than to be swept away by a force larger-than-life, I’ve learned there are one too many technicalities to consider upon consideration of taking on the needs of somebody else.
One day, I will be ready. When selflessness outweighs obstinacy, when meeting somebody is not an act of conscious volition, but one of circumstance, when fate joins hands with preparedness – that is, the prepared, best version of myself – I will be ready.