I was never voted a superlative in High School. I was rather vanilla-with-a-light-sprinkling-of-cinnamon of personality and thus firmly in the middle of the road in terms of popularity and likeability so I was neither Most Likely to Succeed nor Most Likely to End Up in Jail. (My roommate Deedle and I did lobby to get “Worst Roommates”– as in awful for all of you and perfect for each other– added as a category, but that never quite caught on)
Looking back at my dating history, I would now nominate myself for Girl Most Likely to Get Divorced and Remarried to the Same Person. I am not much of an environmentalist, but it seems that I subscribe to the 3R’s in dating: reduce (the candidate pool), reuse, and recycle.
Ex-boyfriends are the ultimate security blanket. Completely familiar terrain and, in my experience, always willing to give it another go. There’s no awkwardness involved. Foibles and flaws have been spilled across the table long ago. There’s even all of the newness and anticipation of dating only without the awkward getting-to-know-you phase. He’s as familiar with which buttons to push as you are. Which is why even your arguments are the same.
Eight years ago the Magician and I used to walk around Blockbuster and argue about which movies to rent. I was never in the mood for a comedy; he was never in the mood for a drama and we could never agree what to watch. We still can’t. It’s only been two weeks since we reconnected, and yet we’ve already resurrected this old argument. I reminded him mid-why-don’t-you-want-to-see-Top-Five-rant that there was nothing new in what he was saying — we used to fight about this very thing.
Only he doesn’t remember.
The more we talk, the more things I find that he doesn’t quite recall. He pauses sometimes when I tell him something from our past, finger midair like he’s determining the direction of the wind, before deciding that “yep, that’s sounds like something I would say.” I’ve even asked him what do you remember? But that, he says, is a dangerous path, and one that he would be foolish to take. Perhaps he has a case of relationship amnesia.
Or maybe we were just involved in two very different relationships. His relationship with me was light and care-free. Fun even. Just not. Serious. At. All.
My heart remembers things differently.
My heart remembers beating irregularly and off-key whenever I heard his voice. It remembers how my eyes would settle mostly near his right earlobe when we were dating because looking him directly in his perfect face with dimpled smile would result in something embarrassingly goofy like hyena giggling or tripping mid-step. My 26-year-old heart was infatuated and mad with love for this alternative black dude who was always happy to see me, but so easily forgetful of my existence.
This restructured heart remembers the repeated fractures caused by the accordion nature of our relationship. How he always came back, but it was never with a one-way ticket. And though my heart still feels the slightest tinge of pride at the “this is not a revolving door; leave our heart alone forever” email that it finally found the courage to send, it’s mostly embarrassed by all of the sobbing, best-friend needing, writing, and heart-rending it took to get to that point. My heart is well aware of the reasons that we have not spoken in six years.
And here we are again. The Magician is unapologetically himself, I am most confidently my own, and we are (still) wildly incompatible. I laughed out loud when he said it the other night, recognizing the truth in those two words that concisely and precisely sum up our situationship. Wildly. Incompatible.
I whispered it like a blessing before he leaned in to kiss me and I repeated it to myself before I went to sleep that night. I relayed that pithy phrase to all of my girlfriends this weekend like a magic spell – like a charm that would keep my wild heart from remembering.
Except this heart understands why recovering alcoholics don’t keep liquor in the house. It knows why addicts have to find entirely new social networks.
We are not compatible. There is no future here – no dimpled, brown babies or Vegas nuptials to consider. There is a he and an I — no We. I am certain of this.
But that is not what my heart remembers.
Silly, silly heart.
It’s embarrassing how this heart can latch so cloying – so lastingly– on to someone whose heart never remembers in the same way.
Which is mostly how I feel about my heart’s memories of the Magician—embarrassed. I loved someone (for quite a long time) who never loved me back. It would take me lifetimes to explain why I want to skip reading that sentence. But admitting a secret is freeing.
I saw this on Danielle Mertina’s tumblr blog last night and I breathed just a tad bit easier:
There’s no reason to feel ashamed about caring for somebody more than they care for you. There’s nothing shameful about having a big heart. Especially since one day you’ll meet somebody whose heart matches your own.
I think I’m ready to find someone whose heart remembers like mine.