Part II: Itchy Hearts
I continued to think about Liz’s wedding, making plans for bridals showers, bachelorette events…and started feeling a little nostalgia for the beginning of things. A longing for something new.
It’s ironic because Liz and Jason have been together for almost twice as long as Lewis and I have, so I really can’t look at her relationship and think, “Ah…I remember being where they are…”
It’s more ironic, because I’m actually not a fan of beginnings. I’m a fan of grooving middles and bittersweet endings. So the nostalgia surprised me. The little itch in my heart for something gone by. Something I saw in movies. Or in a friend’s smile when she changed her Facebook profile picture to include her new boyfriend. Finally I figured it out, what was giving me the itchy heart.
I’ll never fall in love again.
Sure, sure, I fall in love with Lewis every day all over again. That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not what I’m talking about. I’m going to be really frank here, because I think it’s important. Because for a lot of people, that nostalgia for falling in love sneaks up and steals a lot of joy.
Falling in love is that nauseating, unsure, tears of excitement/relief/fear soup of suspended reality. The kind that would wreck your health if you experienced it too often. That’s what I can’t get from Lewis anymore. I also can’t get herpes, which is nice.
I dated a guy once who was fond of saying, “I’ve always wanted to do that…” after he made some sort of romantic gesture. It was sweet and lots of fun. Very rom-com. When I was later single again, I would look back on his gestures cynically and think, “That had nothing to do with me. He was just fulfilling his own dreams. I could have been anyone.”
But now…I’m so thankful for his moments of cinematic grandeur. And the other fellas who wrote notes, or showed up in the rain, or sang to me in the supermarket. It didn’t need to be about me. It was about a time in life.
[Side note: There are also some destructive, unhappy dating moments that I never want to revisit. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those giddy moments of “He likes me!” that only happen once per relationship. And they are going to happen whether you are dating, courting, hanging out, or whatever. People connect, however you define it.]
In my opinion, once married, it’s okay to look back on “He/She likes me!” fondly, even if the “he/she” involved wasn’t your spouse. Because it was a happy time. There’s a pressure to look back on all of it with disdain, but I don’t think that’s honest. Getting married doesn’t dissolve every human connection and every happy memory.
On the other end, I think it would be misplaced to go trying to constantly recreate “falling in love” in marriage. Rather than looking back and saying, “Awww…” a lot of people seem to take the melancholy itch as a sign that something is missing in their marriage…when it’s not at all. You can only fall in love with someone you’re not already in love with. So if I want to fall in love with Lewis again, I’d have to fall out of love with him first. And I don’t want to.
It’s also unfortunate when people try to speak that feeling back into existence, as though it is the incantation that will protect their marriage from harm. When people say that their spouse is “new to them everyday” or something like that, it terrifies me. We’ve got way to much invested in this thing to wake up and say, “Who are you?”
Falling in love is a fun and finite thing. Loving, sharing life, is only as good as it’s staying power. Falling in love is about potential. Marriage is about actual. And we should all know that something can be potentially wonderful, and actually horrible. And vice versa. Like movies adapted from young adult fiction.
The fact that you didn’t marry some of the people you fell in love with is still a very happy ending! I’ll take roses from any old clown, but my gosh I dodged some bullets on getting married (and I was also the bullet myself sometimes). Yes there were tears…the way there were tears when my mom wouldn’t let me drink the whole bottle of Dimatap Cough Syrup.
When I feel nostalgia for butterflies and nausea, I’m not thinking about Lewis. I’m thinking about a feeling I had and liked. It’s a feeling I can’t get from Lewis anymore, because he’s closer than my skin. We’re one. He can be romantic, generous and sweet (which he is, almost always). He just can’t be unfamiliar and new anymore.
But that’s the best part of a sweet, sweet irony…the more I get to know him, the more I like him. I wouldn’t trade him for all the nausea in the world.