Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person
is essential to your own.
-Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
I was in love once.
Have fallen inexorably, dishearteningly, suffocatingly into the breath of puppy love a thousand times over. To fall into the arms of missed opportunities, of glances misunderstood, of smiles that were just that: bruising isn't always a surface-level change. There are moments I look back upon and think, huh, that was pretty obvious, and wonder why it is that hindsight can be so painfully crystalline. And regardless of how easily misery breeds company, I don't think there's a thing I would change in how I relate myself to others.
(Okay, that's not fair. There are plenty of times that I find myself wishing I hadn't said X or laughed like Y. Or wondering why didn't I ask this or reacted like that. Or why I went for a handshake. Or--much worse--why I only used one arm for the hug. But, generally, I take a lot of pride in composing myself in this way or that, almost always aware of how I'm presenting myself in a situation. Truthfully, I can't be too upset.)
There is plenty to be upset with, I suppose, from an objective standpoint when it comes to dating/relationships/feelings and myself. I wear my heart on my sleeve; I'm reactive; I'm curiously naive; I'm idealistic; I'm overthink; I invest myself in others, often to a fault. Down the spectrum, though, I possess many traits that I hold in rather high regard: sincerity, humor, kindness, sarcasm.
It's an exhausting combination. Too often, I find myself lost in thought, fixating on a single interaction, isolating and examining every little building block that led up to and created that one mind-bending moment.
Worse: I acknowledge that it's happening. I can retreat from the scenario and recognize: Josh, you're doing it again. And can't help myself but to continue dissecting.
If I had a quarter for every time I've thought, It doesn't need to be like this...
Perhaps a change of habit is in order?
In Magers and Quinn: a navy jacket, a small Twins cap, and the same Sperry's hiding somewhere in my closet cling to a guy checking out Palahniuk, leafing through Tartt. Eyes flick to my own--shit, was I staring?--and I unsuccessfully cover my tracks in the spines of Rushdie novels in the corner.
In Bull Run: a book, coffee with splashes of soy milk, great smile. Conversation with one-second pauses wars could be fought in.
It's too easy to swoon in a bookstore or in a coffee shop. You're already surrounded by all that is good and wonderful in the world. You think of great poets and writers who taught you what it means to feel, to be vulnerable, to be genuine. You smell bittersweet notes of chocolate and berry that instill your body, your mind with romance and memory.
Environment can weigh so heavily on a person surrounded by everything they love.
I was sitting on the ledge of a hot tub, legs dangling in the bubbling water, when I said "I love you" for the first time.
Is that normal? To remember that moment?
I was young and enthusiastic and eager. And wrong.
In the years since, I've learned a thing or two about how feelings work, how we attach ourselves to others. Specifically, how my feelings work, how I attach myself to others. And while much of the learning can be chalked up to age, to experience, I like to think practicing more honesty with myself has given me a leg up on the world.
From honesty comes vulnerability. From vulnerability, freedom.
From freedom: revelation.
From revelation: humanity.
And from humanity...what more could asked for?