Today, I am not in love.
I am nineteen, it is Christmas for another hour and a half, and I am not in love. Like almost every single woman in America (North America, the world), despite my feminist post-modern liberalism, there is a tiny voice inside of me that says, insistently, that this is a bad thing.
That I have somehow been paying attention to all the wrong aspects of my life. Like, for example, my dog. She receives more of my affection than a boy has in any relationship that I have ever had, to this day. They have never quite measured up to her. They probably never will.
My society tells me to fall in love, and importantly, be loved. Be loveable. This is the endgame: a boy who is completely and totally smitten with me. This is the mission we are all handed at birth: find somebody to love, and make them love you back. Ready, Set, Go.
But I was born with an active mind and raised with a healthy dose of social justice, and I think more often and more passionately about politics and world affairs than the boy across the dormitory hall. I prefer to talk about the book I am reading for class than the random guy who added me on Facebook. The truth is, love is worthwhile, but literature is more interesting.
About a month ago, on a Saturday night, a boy broke up with me. By Monday morning, we were friends. By Tuesday, I would go so far as to say close ones. By Wednesday? Bros. Today we remain the kind of buddies who laugh at one another’s shortcomings and always hug each other goodbye.
This scared the shit out of me. Here is why: Because I should have been more upset. Right? What was wrong with me? I had lost my chance at something beautiful. At “the future”. I wouldn’t have anniversaries, Valentine’s Days, long passionate kisses goodnight. I wouldn’t have a boy who was smitten with me.
But what I still had was this: girlfriends who let me sleep curled in their arms. Poetry. Music to listen to. The news to read. A lot of homework to catch up on. A life to live.
But I was scared, because I wasn’t in love.
I wanted a Hallmark romance, and Big Ugly Breakup—because Big Ugly Breakups prove Big Beautiful Feelings.
What if I had some kind of defect? I could see the title in some medical journal, myself as a freak of nature: “Girl Born without Capacity for Romantic Feeling, Miraculously Alive”.
But then I got to really thinking about it, and this is what I realized: I had those romantic feelings, but I had about two dozen other things to feel joy about, too. A boy would probably never change my happiness significantly one way or the other. I had too much else in my life. He wasn’t going to be my savior, but he sure as hell wouldn’t be my destroyer either.
What I am trying to say is this: I don’t think romance is my endgame anymore. Do I want to love and be loved? Please, sign me up. But I’m not going to look every day. I have other things to do, you understand. I have other Big Beautiful Feelings to attend to.