In high school I was, what I imagine most people expect writers to be…the sort of hopelessly shy type that would spend hours penning poem after poem about the object of my affection, how I loved her hair, how I just wanted to hold her, how I wanted to wait to have sex…as though that were some pristine ideal. These mental trysts could begin with something as subtle as a look, and they would end in disappointment, either because I never did anything about it, or because she didn’t turn out to be the fantastical person my mind had conjured.
It’s probably not surprising that when I did eventually enter into relationships, this phenomenon continued to haunt me, breaking the connections I had with girl after girl when things started to go awry. It’s not so much that my previous relationship, a three year bout with a girl named Samantha broke me. But it made me realize…I am doing something wrong.
Call it growing up, call it maturity, call it a fundamental shift in what I deem important in a person, but I decided to stop pursuing relationships in that way. Enter: Abbi, my current partner who once inhabited a female form. It was, and still is, logical. And I mean that in a very warm sense, and not at all in a way that is cold and emotionless. Abbi, now Adam and I enjoy doing similar things, have similar personalities, have a similar outlook on people, and to a broader extent, on life. Those struck me much more deeply and with greater force than “you are a beacon of angelic bliss.” Or whatever.
I once had a relationship that I, that we, hid from everyone for its duration, about seven months. What has risen above (in my mind) all the problems that existed in the time since it passed is the sheer romance of the hopelessness of being together. There is little that can connect two people like a series of external forces hell bent on driving them apart. Especially when said people are young and stupid.
I miss that young naivete, though I certainly don’t miss the consequences that come with it. I pine for the days when I could build someone up to mythic proportions and then crave them, like they’re an antidote to a poison coursing through my veins. Like they’re food and I’m starving. Like they’re water in a desert.
As it turns out I can.
People are wonderful. Not just wonderful, but wonderful, and intriguing and compelling and any number of adjectives that never mean the same thing twice. The difference between then and now is that in high school, I was building people, creating these projections that were inevitably unrealistic. Now I consume them, or perhaps unwrap is a better term. I peel back layer after layer to find the ways in which we connect until they grab my attention by the collar and drag me forward, submersing me, not in something unhealthy like obsession, but in appreciation, in fascination. I become…hopefully enamored.
The great realization I’ve had about fantasy and about crushes is that real people are immeasurably better. I am only one man and one mind, and there is a limit to what even I can create. Variety and diversity are beautiful things, and so too is a lack of predictability. A crush is a character and knowing how they think and talk is akin to playing a game with cheat codes activated. There’s no struggle, no work, no effort, no slow understanding, and no accomplishment in dreams.
There’s nothing to compare to the moment when you look another unpredictable, varied, multifaceted, and uniquely beautiful human being in the eyes…and just know things.