Day 133: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

Part Two: What She Felt

Obviously what I was really trying to accomplish by spending so much time with Beautiful and being so involved in her life was trying to set up the best possible chance for us to be together. I wanted to become much more than a friend to her, and as we grew closer I secretly hoped that my chances for that would get better and better. Of course there was never any real way for me to discern if any of this was happening, or if perhaps I was doomed from the beginning and she was just a kind and courteous soul entertaining the hopeless dreams and desires of a lost romantic. The whole series of events that would propel us from friendship to love followed a smooth, natural, but very fast path. We never spared a moment to entertain any doubt or hesitation as we eventually fell madly in love with each other. Therefore as much as I knew what was going through my head and what I felt over the first couple months when we met, I never really knew what she saw in me, felt with me, or thought about me to end up in the same destination as me. It wouldn’t be until much much later, years in fact, that there would be enough time and space to reflect and ask her how she viewed those seemingly fated formulative months in fall.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing. It allows even the blind to see with crystal clear resolution and turns even fools into wise men. In the case of learning about myself and Beautiful, hindsight let me play the events that meant so much to me in parallel to what she saw. From late-night conversations in each other’s arms, stories shared in writings to each other, gifts we gave one another, and the private writings of her personal journals, Beautiful let me see into just how exactly the woman I fell the hardest for, fell for me too.

She noticed me too at that first club meeting. I was, or really still am, rather tall, which made it pretty easy actually. I always thought I had what doctors called in medical terms ‘resting bitch face’ and most people upon first meeting me would agree. I even used to date a girl who called it ‘resting constipated face’. I’m a handsome bastard for sure. Yet still somehow she was drawn to me. She told me that there was something about how I carried myself, handled myself in a crowd, that made her want to get to know me. I seemed comfortable around everyone, eno ugh that I was myself and also not concerned with being alone for it. And also that by making a joke of how little I knew of Chinese, she felt comfortable being able to talk to me without having to worry about revealing how lacking her fluency was. She felt instantly comfortable and at ease around me, like we had been friends longer than we actually were.

She was more than happy to give me her schedule, but more so she was happy to receive mine. She would have never admitted it at the time but she used to watch my schedule to figure out when I would have free time and where I would be walking out of. There was very little coincidence and less fate and much more careful planning and purposeful intervention when it came to our fortuitously and constantly running into each other on campus. This was perhaps one of my favorite parts of our time together. We would always anticipate each other’s movements, never being more than just a few moments from seeing each other after classes. It took me back to the simpler times of high school dating, when walking together from period to period was pretty much the extent of what we could do. Now it was amplified in college and the effort magnified the effect. On such a large campus with so many different departments and buildings, you never quite get over the rush of happiness you feel when there is someone waiting right outside the hall and you know they are there just for you. Rushed and giddy walks down small narrow hallways in high school evolved into long, leisurely walks across campus. I had her schedule laser etched onto the back of my eyelids and she must have had mine tattooed on her arm because we were constantly and without fail there for each other. It was sweet and romantic and all the wonderful things to know she put so much effort in finding the time to be with each other.

For every flower whose petals I picked trying to figure out if Beautiful liked me, for every wish I attached to the tails of shooting stars, for every sleepless night that I wondered and thought about the possibility of us being together, turns out she was doing the same thing. I admit I probably wasn’t the most subtle in my intentions or affection. Subtlety really never was my strong suit in almost any respect. Every time I would help her with her schoolwork or stay late with her or any seemingly selfless act, she would always wonder in the back of her mind if perhaps there was a chance that I was doing all these things because I liked her. I’m not saying that were I not interested in someone I’d become a cold heartless bastard, but I do think almost anyone would say that there is certainly a reasonable differentiation between what we do for friends and what we do for those we care about or fall for. She was trying to find what that line was for me and if what I was doing with and for her was simply par for the course, or if I was in fact overreaching to indicate something more. I admit it was really adorable and sweet to think that during all that time she was analyzing and over-analyzing the things I did; there is something simple and cute and innocent about that hopeful wonder.

What I am about to reveal now I only knew until much, much later after we started dating. I don’t remember what spurned on this particular admission, but I would definitely say that this is perhaps my favorite and most precious memory of Beautiful in the time before we started dating. There are a few moments that come in relationships that seem to shine brightest and change their trajectory. This is one of those moments frozen in time that used to be so important to me. Whenever I felt discouraged or disheartened, whenever we struggled to connect, this was the memory that would always succeed in drawing me back to her, tying us inseparably together. You will remember I said how we used to spend so many nights together, alone in my school’s commuter lounge. Sometimes we played cards, sometimes we would do homework, other times we would just talk, but perhaps most of all, as the night went on and we were still too stubborn to part ways, we would fall asleep together for a little while. I know we both must have sacrificed a lot to dedicate so much time to spend. Sometimes though during those moments, while I was fast asleep, she would still be awake. She would just enjoy the solitude, the peace, the serenity that came from seemingly being the sole possessors of the world. She would lie against me, watch me, and sometimes in my sleep, steal a kiss. I never knew and never felt anything, as I am a notoriously heavy sleeper, much to her relief. But yes, later on she would admit that sometimes when we were alone and taking one of our naps, she would wait until I was asleep and brush her lips against mine. Now I admit this could have gone one of a hundred different ways. But this was a woman I was madly in love with so it only went one way. I was overcome with laughter and happiness when she told me. She was so embarrassed and her cheeks were a bright and fiery red. Her fingers fidgeted and she struggled to make eye contact with me when she told me. But I thought it was the sweetest and most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I just laughed and hugged her tightly and when her body was pressed against mine, kissed her. One of the strongest moments of our relationship, one of the most precious and beautiful memories, and it happened while I was asleep! I loved her for that. This was my lifeline, the rope I always knew I could cling to to remind me how much she cared. For years, this memory sustained me. Placed her firmly in my heart. I can still recall all the warmth and happiness it brought. But unfortunately now this memory is tainted by the present. It weighs heavy in my heart to bring back up. I have no hope left in this memory.

For our one year anniversary, Beautiful surprised me with a memory seeker jar. It was a little jar with a cute bright yellow mushroom cap. Inside was a kaleidoscope of glitter, bright sequins, decorative paper, but hidden amongst the glitter and glam were memorabilia of our early days. While I had been treasuring and protecting our memories like its sole protector, she was creating her own narrative to preserve. This was her way of showing me what she had chosen to save. While tossing and turning the jar all over, watching and being distracted by the falling shapes and colors, I began to see the glimpses of our relationship. The first thing I noticed was an oddly shaped and mangled paper clip which I immediately realized was the one I used to fix her computer. After a few more turns I saw the penny I paid for her thoughts. I had to unscrew the cap and reach in to confirm the next two, but sure enough I saw the corners of what I believed were fortune cookie strips. I pulled them out to see the two, hers and mine, fortunes from one of our many Chinese food takeout meals. Erasers we had exchanged, small knickknacks that karmically held our memories tightly wrapped around them. All that time I spent falling madly in love with her, she was doing the same. We were both running towards our destiny, and soon we would have no recourse but to crash spectacularly, brillianty, brightly, and madly together.

Word count so far: 25121

Day 131: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

I loved those fall days and nights. They gave me purpose beyond just academics and tied me emotionally to her, campus, and the time I spent there. Even in just those formative days as I fell more and more deeply and madly in love with her I was creating a catalogue of special memories and associations that I would later on get to cherish and treasure for years to come. As I think back on those days in college I can create a map of places and special spots, physical landmarks on a roadmap to our love. There is the mall as I mentioned, where we would have mall Chinese when we needed a pick me up, and on Fridays when Panera would serve our absolute favorite: New England clam chowder. I would revisit this place over and over again. There is also the special hidden place in the park that I would take her at night, often after bowling. It would be at least 2am, pitch dark in the middle of the park, safely ensconced by the trees to block out any ambient light from the houses or streets or highways nearby. I loved taking her to the park at night because it was quiet and private and empty and it felt like everything belonged to us. Maybe it was selfish of me, this young boy secretly in love with this young girl, to desperately want to steal away as much time with her as I could before returning her home. We would leave the car outside the park and then walk inside. The spot was right by the lake, and sometimes we could hear the ducks in the water. It was a simple but large paved circular area with a low stone wall around one half. We would lie on our back in the middle of the circle and the wall was just high enough to block us from view whenever the random park guard might actually do rounds. We’d watch out for shooting stars, or admire the bright moon, and in those early morning hours, make wishes and share secrets. Sometimes we’d walk around the lake and if we ever heard any random noises, she’d get a little scared and move ever closer to me, gently holding onto my arm for safety and security. On campus we moved around a lot, as private areas, let alone private moments, were hard to come by. Still we managed to carve a few niches here and there. One of our favorite spots was under a tree in the quad. It was a large and old oak tree and we would spend plenty of afternoons and evenings underneath it. We would lean back to back against each other, propping each other up and talking, reading, or doing homework resting on the other person. At night when it got too dark or too cold or if the weather was bad we would go to the rarely ever used Commuter Lounge. It was a big empty room with chairs and sofas and tables. We’d play card games (keeping track of winners for those precious points of course) or just chat or even sometimes fall asleep together there. Shamelessly stealing naps during the day was one of our favorite past times. It was crazy how we had run of the place. No one ever used that space. We could play cards and then rearrange the sofas and chairs to comfortably be able to relax and no one ever came by. We’d spend hours there completely engrossed in each other’s company. To be honest, and I later admitted this to her after we started dating, I was so intently focused on her and absolutely against wanting to ever leave that I would ignore exhaustion and early morning classes to stay on campus until I knew for sure that the campus security would ticket my car for ‘overnight’ parking. Then and only then would I walk her to her dorm and then take the shuttle bus by myself to the parking garage to drive home, wiping the fatigue from my eyes.

It was those little things I most enjoyed doing with and for her in the beginning. Little things that just barely flirted with crossing the line between friend and something more. I didn’t want to give up the game just yet, let her know how I felt, I just wanted to keep playing with that blurry line. I was a big card player in high school, and that habit followed me into college. I always kept a deck of cards in my backpack and I was never one to turn down a game with anyone, but really I kept it because I knew she loved to play and loved the company. I never told her how tired I was, or how sometimes my bladder was practically ready to burst, because I always wanted to be the last one she saw during the day. I never wanted to leave her, and enjoyed making her think maybe, just maybe, she was the real and only reason why I stayed on campus so late each day. I readily and enthusiastically made myself available to her at all times. Guess I never got that memo on playing hard to get. Would have been too difficult to try and resist anyways. Sometimes I would be the tech geek she needed, calling on the few practical skills I learned in high school (a technical school where I specialized in computer science). I would try my best to figure out what was going on with her computer and if I couldn’t figure it out, Google was my best friend so that I could become hers. There was a time her CD drive was stuck and she had to recover something inside. I remembered an old trick someone showed me and, with a paper clip she gave me, was able to find this little pin point pressure switch and finagled my way into pressing it and opening it up. Other times I was a smooth bastard, drawing up some unknown level of confidence and smoothness I have yet to successfully recreate. Sometimes when she was upset and crying, whether over family stress or school struggles or some personal strife, I would sit close to her, offer her my handkerchief (a habit I picked up from my father, of which I should really thank him for), and say in such a silly stupid way, ‘if you keep crying like that, people are going to think I’m a jerk’. It usually did a good enough job getting enough of a chuckle to get her to smile, and then talk to me, and then maybe her tears would go away and I would see the sun and the moon and the stars in her eyes and in her smile once more. Another time I remember she was in the library, looking particularly glum, slouched in her chair and head down on the table. ‘Penny for your thoughts?’ I asked her, as I slid a penny across the table to her.

I think one of my favorite memories of that fall semester was around Halloween. She was deathly afraid of all scary movies and I am a big horror junkie. I told her how every October I would bombard myself with as many scary movies each night as possible and invited her to join in. Of course she didn’t want to. But I compromised, and suggested my favorite zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead. This would be the very first in a long string of movies we shared together. I wanted her to enjoy and have fun and look forward to this, as I knew she was doing something way out of her comfort zone for me and I appreciated it. So on a day I didn’t actually have any classes or any reason to be on campus, I left early in the afternoon to go to a Japanese supermarket near my home. I bought all her favorite snacks. Strawberry gummies, chocolate covered pretzel sticks, eel rice balls, and these hard rock candies she shared with me one time. Loaded with goodies and treats I went all the way back to school and called her up. We went to one of the student lounges on one of the floors in her dorm building. I took out my laptop and loaded the movie, and was so happy to surprise her with the unreasonable amount of junk food and snacks I had been able to squeeze into my messenger bag. The room was cold and dirty (some student party the night before I assume). The chair was old and scratchy and smelled musty. But when the scary parts came, she sat close to me. Still one of my all-time favorite movie watching experiences ever. After that time, bringing in movies in my bag and watching together somewhere on campus became a regular treat for us, before and during our time dating. Mostly her favorite films. Anastasia. Mulan. Her favorite Disney classics. I have seen a disproportionate amount of Tinkerbell and Tinkerbell-related animated films. Sometimes I’d sneak in a few of my own picks. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Better Off Dead. I loved that she was into films and encouraged that she enjoyed my picks.

Looking back, I can see why after Beautiful, I began to get much more picky in the women I would date. ‘Shamelessly enjoys day naps’ would become a major feature on my various dating profiles. Eternal Sunshine and Better Off Dead became mandatory required viewing pretty early on in the dating process. Someone who was really into Japanese food would always be a major plus for me as well. For better or for worse, I would always be chasing after Beautiful’s shadow.

Word count so far: 23347

Day 130: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

The bottom line of it all was that undeniably, Beautiful was everything to me. I felt that against all odds, I had met my soulmate in the most fortuitous way possible. She was right within my age group, we met under just the right circumstances in the right environment, and the emotions she inspired within me burned more intensely and more passionately than I had ever felt before. I believed I was on the very cusp of a life-changing relationship. In terms of soulmates, the more time I spent with Beautiful the more I felt convinced that ‘soulmate’ was exactly what she was for me. She almost immediately fostered a strong sense of affection, companionship, and warmth within me. If secrets and trust were the commerce of soulmates, I invested everything I ever had in her heart. I spoke of every dream, every wish, every hope, and every fear, depositing as much of my soul as I could and enjoying the seemingly endless returns. I met Beautiful when I was only eighteen; we started dating when I was nineteen. I was young and yet I felt that I was standing on the summit of love, experiencing the greatest example that bards and artists could only ever allude to.

I was happily love-blind ever since the moment I laid eyes on her. I can remember emotions, thoughts, sometimes even smells or sounds, but the memory of Beautiful in that classroom is perhaps one of the very few and very rare precious ones that are permanently burned into my mind in picture-perfect clarity and resolution. I can place every lovely strand of hair on her face. I can hear her voice as I drowned out every other person’s. Maybe, like everything else, this is a trick of the mind. Maybe the precious memory I have held onto, supposedly frozen in time and set in amber, is nothing but a wish tied to the last leaf on a branch being blown in the wind. Perhaps it is easy for me to claim how well I can cast her image because, as love at first sight often goes, it follows an idealized, standardized, uniform version of what we wish to see. Knowing the reality of what drives love at first sight or love at first meeting does not detract from the reality of how she made me feel when I saw her and met her. It does not matter that she perhaps reminded me of past exes or seemed to promise great things in how she spoke or looked or acted. She was the uber-standard. The best qualities of what I was looking for and the greatest ever promise of what I wanted. That was real.

If you had known me or her, you would have seen the same thing I did. Anyone would have said that Beautiful was exactly my type. If I hadn’t met her first myself, I have the faintly optimistic hope that some mutual third-party who knew either of us was looking would have arranged for us to meet anyways. Despite what science or emotion, studies or stories, the mind or the heart would say about the efficacy or legitimacy of ‘types’, it definitely influenced my desire to know more about her. Maybe it was a trick of perspective. Perhaps over time she became more like what I wanted, or perhaps over time what I wanted became more like her. I don’t know which came first, the cast or the filling; I was too busy counting my lucky stars that I found someone who seemed to align perfectly for me. Now I know the mind can play tricks sometimes when it comes to types. Maybe when I tried to fit her into my perfect image I began trimming off the edges, cutting off the imperfections that didn’t fit. Maybe when I measured her against the mold I pushed and stretched and thinned out the filling to force her to be enough for me. Types may mean nothing for relationships, but they can be everything for the heart. My heart filled when I met Beautiful, and it overflowed when we were together. Type was cast away long before that. It may have driven us together, but it was the love it inspired that made us stick.

That is the ultimate truth of what I can say about who Beautiful was. She was the result of inevitability. You know people like this, or perhaps you are one yourself. There are some people in this world who are set upon the world to meet and love. Separate of each other and without each other’s influence, we grew up and set on a journey that would lead to our meeting. It would be a crime on a cosmological scale for two people so supposedly ‘meant’ for each other to miss their great chance. Something was going to put us together somewhere, somehow. She had been made irresistible to me, regardless of the reason or how I came to that conclusion or even what I may have believed that conclusion meant. All these things, soulmates, love at first sight, types, they are all there to indicate attraction and foster affection. They are as much biological as they are mental. Spiritual ties in physical bonds. There was no denying, ever, that Beautiful was going to be the girl of my dreams. A great machine had been very carefully and lovingly put together when she and I met. All of the gears fit just right, the revolutions were mighty and moved with great purpose. I just did not know what this machine was for or to what the gears counted down towards. Short of naively calling it ‘destiny’, meeting Beautiful was what every choice and decision I had made up until that moment was for. The feelings brought about from meeting were very much real. They may have been inspired by assumptions of pop culture but they were all legitimized by very real science and psychology and the result was undeniably magnetic and prolific. I have since learned however that while all of these can indicate and predict affection none can create any promise or sense of lasting any better than a relationship devoid of all of these things. I know that now but I didn’t doubt then that this relationship, so memorable in its inception, so intensely convincing in all of its signs, would last forever. That she would forever be as I would always know her to be, my Beautiful girl.

Boy Falls

Although I knew I loved her the moment I met her, I did not immediately begin or even pursue a relationship with Beautiful. Call me an idealist, a romantic, or even old-fashioned, but I wanted to enjoy this feeling of falling for someone before I even dove into the intensity of being with that person. I wanted to court this stunning, incredible, beautiful girl. I wanted to learn everything about her, I wanted to become the closest person to her, I wanted to earn everything she could have to give: her love, her commitment, her devotion, her affection, her time before I ever even presumed to ask her for anything. I knew I was falling and falling hard for Beautiful; she had set me up on the highest pinnacle of love and I willingly jumped without a parachute. This love was set to be memorable and I knew the fall was going to be epic in and of itself. Obsessed with the bliss of falling in love and falling for someone seemingly so perfect, I felt no need to rush the relationship. I lingered in this in-between state of simply being happy to be with her.

Our first club meeting was on a Wednesday, and she and I immediately hit it off. After the meeting, as club members went off to their classes or to their dorms, I stayed behind with her. We walked around campus and kept talking. She told me how shy she was in high school and how difficult it was for her to make friends. She got along amicably with her roommates, and if that word seems too clinical and devoid of any actual connection, that is because that is exactly how she felt about them. She was a dorm student struggling to make friends and I was a commuter who seemingly did not have any time to. At the time I had a meal plan for commuters that basically meant I could eat at certain times of the day so we decided to go have dinner together at one of our dining halls. The food was bland and soulless but the conversation was animated and lively. I found out about where she lived and where she went to school and was surprised to realize that she lived only fifteen minutes away from me. We frequented the same malls, our parents shopped at the same grocery stores, and I had been getting my hair cut at a barbershop in her very town for the past eleven years. It was, as we both would later admit to each other, increasingly feeling like fate. Not to seem overly eager or attached, after a dinner that fed my heart more than my stomach, I said goodnight to her, but not before making sure we would see each other again the next day and have dinner together again.

It was on the second night together that I decided to work up the courage to ask her about her class schedule. You know, friends walk with friends to classes all the time, so this shouldn’t have seemed so out of place, after all. We exchanged class schedules and in the next few days the number of ‘random encounters’ across campus, in the halls or outside of department buildings or in the library during free time, dramatically increased. That weekend after meeting her I could not stop thinking about her. I was reliving every conversation we had in my mind. I was looking forward to Monday if only because it meant some more time to spend with her. I wondered if she ever thought of me, if I was running through her mind the same way she was through mine. The thing about falling for someone, unlike any other stage of a relationship, is you get to enjoy this pure, unadulterated, unaltered version of that person and of your affection. I was blissfully and willingly viewing the world askew through rose-colored glasses. I was so inspired and so spurned on by this desire to know more about her and falling for her that I never once had to worry about entertaining the notion of whether or not she felt the same way. The point was moot, irrelevant to how I felt. Falling for someone, before knowing them, before being with them, before losing them, is about the purest most selfless version of love I have ever experienced. It is a form of love unburdened by expectations or realities of relationship because you aren’t in one. It is the only time that the luxury of wishful thinking comes before the reality. So engrossed in the task of getting to know her and love her I was, that I never had to ask whether she felt the same or presume that I knew or not.

It was Friday the week after our first meeting that I finally worked up the courage to do what was up until then the unthinkable. Remember I was, maybe even still am, the kind of person who gets nervous just trying to hold a girl’s hand. Yet here I was, emboldened by my feelings, on a Friday afternoon knowing that neither of us had any classes remaining, asking this brilliantly beautiful girl if she wanted to go off campus and hang out for the night at the mall. I promise you I tried my best to play this cool. I don’t know how it looked to her or to passersby but my intention was to be convincingly blasé and nonchalant about the whole proposition. ‘Oh you know,’ I would have tried to play, ‘since we’re free why don’t we get some food at the mall and hang out a bit there’. In the split-second it took before she emphatically said ‘yes’ I thought the world was going to swallow me up whole and spit out my bones. I drove us to the very same mall that we had separately frequented over so many weekends in the past years and we had what would become one of our all-time favorite guilty pleasures and simple weekend treat: unapologetically greasy and supremely satisfying mall Chinese food. This mall would become significant over the course of our lives. Later on this would be where she got her part-time job. I remember celebrating with her when she finally got it and consoling her when the pressures would get to her sometimes or relations with her coworkers were strained or the expectations of sales would wear at her confidence and comfort. It would be at this mall and at that very store that I would experience such contrasting polar emotions. There would be the times when I waited, excited, outside her store, with a single red rose hidden behind my back, to surprise her and whisk her away for a small mini-date to recover from the stress of her days. But it would also be here where I would feel the deeply cutting devastation and rejection, waiting outside her work to speak to her one more time, to try and convince her of the errors of my past, to implore her for another chance at the bright light of her love, that I would watch her walk right past me without even glancing over. It was winter when I tried to see her again, and though it was dark and cold that night and though I had spent two hours waiting for her outside in the bitter east coast winter, I never felt more numb, more bitten, more shocked, than when I was no more than a shadow in the dark to her. It was this very mall that I avoided for five years after that, too haunted by the ghost of my past happiness. The memories contained within those walls threatened to overwhelm and destroy me.

But not having any knowledge of what the future might bring, at the time it was just an opportunity to steal more time with Beautiful. We walked around the mall, hopping in and out of stores, all the while talking and laughing and bonding. At the end of it all we were perhaps only a few moments away from being chased out by security guards before we finally left. It was by then late and rather than drive all the way back to campus, she wondered if I’d be so kind as to drop her off back at her actual home, as it was so much closer. I have the drive to her house programmed into my muscles. I have driven that road so many times that whether in the dark or completely blindfolded, I could not only navigate the route with ease, I can move the car to avoid every pothole or manhole cover. I took those directions to heart, because I knew they would always lead me to her. Years from our first ‘date’ at that mall I would find myself driving down that very same road to see her again. I felt entrusted, important enough to her to have me bring her to her home. I enjoyed the feeling of being guided by her voice, responding to her directions and trusting her as I drove into then unfamiliar territory. We weren’t dating then, we didn’t even know if we felt the same way, but still, a gentleman always walks a lady to her door. I simply wanted to make sure she got home safe and wanted to accompany her as much as I could as closely as I could. Before disappearing into her home she turned to me, thanked me for a great time and for the ride, and gave me a warm hug. That was all the fare I needed from then on to become her weekly regular ride back home.

One or two weeks after, we were beginning to bore of the mall for the night, so I offered an alternative. The local bowling alley had Friday night specials for bowling as much as you liked in the span of two hour rentals of the entire lane. The only problem (if you could call it that) was that the specials didn’t start until midnight. This opened up the opportunity for us to finish with class, go somewhere for dinner (we always changed it up, we were both adventurous and ravenous gourmands), then spend some time at my place watching movies or taking naps before heading to the alley at midnight and not finishing until two in the morning. Looking back it was naively simplistic and very clearly ‘dating’ without calling it ‘dating’. But to me at the time, it was just getting closer to her without expecting anything in return. I would be lying if I didn’t say I would sometimes wonder, wishfully dissecting her actions and her expressions, hoping to find some glimmer of mutual affection, and though I would cling blissfully to any hints and disregard wholly anything to the contrary, I never acted on any of it. I just wanted to keep falling and she never ceased to give me more to love. It was during our bowling ‘excursions’ that I finally formulated my plan. See we were both pretty terrible bowlers to begin with, so on equally shoddy ground we met as opponents. Being the gambler, I proposed a bet. For every game won, the person won a point. She decided the reward. At the end of the night, the winner got to make a request of the loser. As the night went on, I gave Beautiful her first ever nickname (I’d have been insane to start off with Beautiful!). I called her ‘Ofer’, because it was becoming very clear she wasn’t winning any points anytime soon, and the record for her was always ‘ofer one, two, or three, etc’. Suddenly she started assigning points for things outside of just bowling games. Being right, winning arguments, good comebacks, all of these were now fair play for points. The game expanded beyond just bowling and the time expanded beyond just that night. We were now locked in a game that would last the entire fall semester and it would only be at the end of it that the winner would be able to make an ultimate request of the loser.

Word count so far: 21703

Day 128: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

Yet still, where love was supposed to flourish and thrive, it withered and died. Our ‘types’ alluded to nothing but success yet still, we failed. So where does that put the idea of ‘types’ and how ‘types’ work towards relationships? Much like everything else when it comes to love, science aims to disprove what our hearts want to believe. It is as if love cannot exist both in the heart and in the mind at the same time. In fact, studies in personal and societal psychology have gone so far as to try and understand types and anticipate its, much like all the other aspects of romantic love that we wish to believe in when picking our partners, validity in predicting the success or failure of relationships. I sincerely and honestly believe that Beautiful was exactly my type when I first met her. Science would like me to believe that this is beside the fact and that our relationship had the opportunity and impetus to thrive and grow in spite of it, rather than because of it. According to studies and interviews of newlywed couples, those celebrating ten-plus years of commitment, and people who use online dating, there really is no evidence that being introduced to someone who is exactly our type determines whether or not we would like the person more or less than someone who is not our type. We are primal creatures who rely on instinct and intuition when making decisions. Therefore having a ‘type’ means nothing when we come face-to-face with someone. Much like the sensation of ‘love at first sight’ actually, we rely on gut-instinct and intuition to decide whether or not we like someone.

When we use something like online dating, we often fill out questionnaires that the designers boast will help us find our ‘ideal match’. I spent countless hours of countless days poring over every aspect of my online profile, answering every nuanced and ridiculous question, trying to boost every odd, every probability, that of the countless other lonely and longing souls of the world, I would find my perfect match. Now, according to these studies, I am told that I would have had the exact same odds, maybe even better, if I had gone to a singles bar mixer and done speed dating. Perhaps better I say, because the most important criteria of a potential partner was satisfied: we met.

The experiment done by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology was this: students were asked to describe their ideal romantic partner in as specific or general terms as they saw fit. Afterwards the students were supposedly randomly assigned partners to perform a series of lab experiments with. The partner was actually a member of the study who was instructed, based on the students’ feedback, to be exactly how their ideal partner was envisioned to be. Afterwards the students were asked if they were interested in dating their partner. To no surprise to them, but to the surprise I am sure of most die-hard romantics, the results were not overwhelmingly in the affirmative. In fact the results were about break-even with some seeing great potential and interest and others finding their supposed ‘ideal partners’ in real life unappealing. No matter what we may imagine or envision we want in a partner, the truth is this is emphatically cast aside when faced with the physical reality of meeting someone face-to-face and evaluating them in that moment.

This is true of both the positive traits we believe we seek in a partner and the deal-breakers as well. It is all a matter of perspective. For example, if we believe we might want someone exciting and adventurous, we would tend to be drawn to more outgoing and extroverted people. There is no guarantee that we will actually be attracted to these types of people, and perhaps when we do encounter them and find ourselves unattracted, we justify this by saying these ‘outgoing’ and ‘extroverted’ people are actually ‘reckless’ and ‘dangerous’. The type is still a pre-existing condition and we are so attached to it that even when faced with the literal expression of our ideals, if it doesn’t match our hopes we simply shift perspective. Most people would probably agree that they would want what they consider to be a ‘drama-free’ relationship and would consider self-proclaimed ‘drama kings’ or ‘drama queens’ deal-breakers. But for as many people we may know who declare they want to avoid drama we know equal numbers of people who have at some point dated someone they considered ‘passionate’ or ‘courageous’ or ‘invigorating’. In fact these could often be the very same people! What happens when we actually have the opportunity to meet someone face to face and make our own impressions often drastically differs from our expectations but we explain away these dissonances by splitting hairs to maintain illusions.

More importantly, when it comes to how ‘type’ relates to predicting the lasting success of a relationship, there is no guarantee that being with someone who is everything we believe we want necessarily equates to happiness. Preferences and ‘types’ are often reflections of our current state of mind and current status. We desire what we lack in life or perhaps what we want to emphasize that we already have. It is a temporary whim attached to a very permanent emotion. People change with time; at the same time our preferences and desires shift and sway our partners are growing and changing as well. In committed relationships in fact it is suggested that our view of our ideal mate changes over time to more closely reflect our partners. So whether our ‘type’ shifts to make more room for the people we are actually attracted to or it mirrors the love we currently have, the most important thing to realize is that it is a fluid and dynamic characteristic that is flexible and malleable enough to not have to preclude our opportunities to explore romance with anyone and everyone our heart may lead us to. Our gut will tell us how we really feel and our ‘type’ can either come along or be cast aside anyways.

Knowing this, you should feel more comfortable and more inspired to simply get out there and meet as many people as possible. We can remove the pressure of worrying too much about finding our ideal ‘type’ and focus more on what really matters: making sure we actually get to meet face to face and make our own decisions. And just get out there and meet people because here’s something else to reassure you: aside from meeting, it doesn’t matter where or how you meet. Society has for the most part removed the stigma of online dating and it is an antiquated notion to think that bars are only for hookups and good girls can only ever be found at church.

Ultimately though I do still think that having a ‘type’ can serve as a useful benchmark. As much as we might seek beyond our personal preferences and try to push back against our own expectations ‘types’ are much like  stereotypes; we are trying to make judgements as quickly as possible and we use our past to help inform ourselves. Certain key fundamental ideals and truths can and probably should be held up to protect us against harmful people and relationships and also ensure the continued promotion of key moral values and principles. ‘Types’ when used sparingly and only for the most important things can help guide our decisions. Just being aware of the fact that they are there and are subconsciously influencing our decisions helps us know when and where to move with or against ‘the tide. Know you have a type but recently suffering from a pattern of disappointment? Time to be aware of your type and actively avoid it. Wondering what you need to work on within yourself or need help motivating that change you’ve always wanted? Researchers have defined what they call the ‘Michelangelo effect’, after the artist Michelangelo who was rumored to be able to ‘see’ the work of art hidden in a raw slab of marble. This can also explain how, if we can recognize it in our types, we see in them the idealized version of ourselves and who we strive to be. In these instances going after our type can inspire our efforts to improve. This even works in reverse. You might not think or believe you have a type, but humans are creatures of habit, and if you were to line all your past relationships up against each other, there would certainly be some similarities that come to light, helping you discover what type you might be chasing after and then letting you decide what your type has gotten you so far. As long as ‘types’ tend to focus more on beliefs, values, and priorities over looks, and as long as you are giving yourself the opportunity to meet and explore versus spending too much time focused on pursuing a pinpoint accurate depiction, and as long as you are aware that a ‘type’ is really just an amalgamation of stereotypes, familiar aspects, and our aspirations, there can be great benefit in the awareness of ‘types’ when meeting potential dates.

Word count so far: 18575

Day 127: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

  1. Excessively vain. Consider me a die-hard naturalist. There is to me the most beauty to be admired in the natural, unaltered, unadulterated version of things. To this extent, I find the excessive use of makeup, plastic surgery, excessive ‘primping’ all unnecessary and unappealing. I wouldn’t enjoy being with someone who constantly had to fuss over their appearance. Some people appreciate a well made-up woman. The dark red lipstick, the dramatic eye shadow, the bold lashes, etc. For me though, I prefer a natural look. Beautiful was always a natural beauty. She never was comfortable spending too much time on her appearance or using make up or any beauty products. This was perfectly fine by me. I could appreciate and fall in love with her looks and know I was looking at my Beautiful and never had to wonder if it was ‘maybe Maybelline’.
  2. Too much of a party-girl. I have my vices, of that there is no denying. Las Vegas is perhaps one of my most favorite places in the world to travel to and I visit almost every year for a week at a time. I enjoy gambling and night life and I am not a stranger to a good, strong drink. I built a bar in my basement to entertain friends and mix drinks and I’ve always believed in celebrating the weekend with some libations. But it has always been in quiet, comfortable, dignified locations and I’ve always been responsible and would only ever get really generous with the bottle if I was at home or someplace I knew everyone would be safe and could stay if necessary. I’m not a fan of the big loud parties, of clubs, or that sort of lifestyle. There’s no appeal in being piss-drunk or passing out on the sidewalk or throwing up in cabs nor is there any appeal in the woman next to me being any of that either. I’m by no means a homebody, but you would be hard-pressed to ever see me in a club or bar-scene. On weekends Beautiful and I would grab a bottle of wine or I would mix drinks for us and we’d just get silly and laugh all night, content in the few drinks we had and the many memories we shared.
  3. Self-centered. Even in the short amount of time I have been dating, I have met many women who have had nothing of interest to contribute to a conversation that did not revolve around themselves. Great, profound, life-changing events that were occurring either locally or internationally would inevitably be reduced to only its effect on herself. I could not draw out of some of these women any form of meaningful conversation without somehow convincing them that it was directly related to their own world. I never felt Beautiful was in any way shape or form like that. She was studying early childhood education in college when we were together. She wanted to be an elementary school teacher. On the weekends she helped out at her Chinese school, she was a big sister figure to many of the younger female members of the club where we met and eventually became leaders of, and she had a natural ability to make friends of strangers. I saw in her the greatest and warmest aspects of humanity; she embodied selflessness and compassion. She felt the needs and pains of the world on a deeply personal and almost cellular level. I fell in love with how she loved so much more than herself.

Whether you have been fortunate enough to find someone who checks off everything on your ‘type’ list or unfortunate enough to have been with someone on the ‘deal-breaker’ list, for most of us there has been at least one or two moments when dissecting our dating past that we’ve simply explained success or failure with the generic ‘the person was just/was not my type’. The truth of the matter is most people could very easily fill up entire pages with lists of preferences from socioeconomic status, job status, and lifestyle to music taste, hobbies, and favorite fast food. But just like soulmates or love at first sight, the prevalence and popularity of believing in ‘types’ is not nearly enough to justify its existence. In fact it is because the belief in personal ‘types’ is so ubiquitous that it merits some explanation. After all it is easy enough to prove with studies and science that there are certain physical traits and types that we find attractive. Universally speaking symmetrical features and a good waist-to-hip ratio are benchmarks of strong genes and the potential for healthy offspring. In men we can say that a masculine jaw and a deep voice are biologically preferred and in women a high voice and wide hips. But when we think of ‘types’ we don’t think of genetics or offspring, and love is often times more emotion than science, gut instinct than scientific conclusion.

So where do we get these types from?

There are many who would argue that our types often reflect back on our own personalities or at least our romanticized or idealized versions of ourselves. Indeed we may find ourselves particularly attracted to certain individuals because we see in them something we desire to emulate and so we desire to be near them, to spend time with them, learn from them, so that we might be more like them. ‘Like attracts like’. There is even a scientific term for this natural preference, ‘homophily’ or ‘love of the same’. This happens in both romantic and platonic relationships. For example, in our social circles we often like to surround ourselves with people who tend to mimic or mirror our own beliefs and preferences. It is the slight differences and deviations that create interest and intrigue and spark growth and curiosity and conversation but ultimately we find ourselves with people whose similarities outweigh the differences. In romantic settings this translates equally when we seek partners with similar preferences and priorities like in terms of marriage, children, careers, and building a home. Therefore it is safe to assume that our ‘types’ can very often be described as our natural desire to find someone who can feel familiar, comfortable, and who we can anticipate will have similar goals and intentions and therefore avoid misunderstandings or conflict. They can possess equally similar or even more heightened or extreme characteristics that we wish to identify in ourselves, like our partners could serve as mirrors where we can see the best version of ourselves by association. This also translates to physical ‘type’ preferences. Though facial symmetry, jawline, physical fitness, etc. can all be described as universal biologically wired preferences, our own personal takes could be reflections of how we perceive ourselves. People naturally want partners who look familiar-either themselves or their family or friends. There was a study conducted at St. Andrews University in Scotland that went about proving this by asking students to rate members of the opposite sex in terms of attractiveness. Of the various pictures presented, researches included a photo of the students themselves only morphed into the opposite sex. Almost always, students preferred the photo that was essentially of themselves.

Now this can definitely seem too incredibly and incredulously narcissistic and self-centered for some. After all, the skeptics will balk, for as much as ‘like attracts like’ we also believe that ‘opposites attract’. And certainly the same media outlets that would highlight couples who fell in love over similarities also love to talk about the incredible stories of couples whose romance stemmed from fundamental differences. Democrats falling in love with Republicans, models falling in love with school teachers, anti-war protesters and soldiers, Beauty and the Beast. Certainly there is some credence in taking the notion of the ‘type’ being an exact opposite of what we see in ourselves. I believe this is more about preferences and priorities than it is about personality. There are some aspects that we know are positive that, if we recognize it in ourselves, we would want our partners to have as well. If a strong sense of family value and upbringing is important to you, there is a good chance that you would want your partner to have the same. If you have an undying and unyielding sense of adventure, you will want to find someone whose thirst echoes your own so that you could muddy your boots together in bliss. But at the same time if your personality is one of adventure but your priority is one of creating a home and starting a family, you may find your ‘type’ shifting to that of someone who is the opposite of you or whose sense of root and foundation can complement your wayward spirit and help you create ties back to the ground. This is why I believe we can say ‘like attracts like’ and ‘opposites attract’ simultaneously, not exclusively. In many ways Beautiful and I were alike. We both desired marriage and family and home. We both valued education and development and career. But she was also the comforting fire of home and hearth to my wayward windy spirit. When I met Beautiful she was curious about the world; she craved experiences and stories and new things. At the time I represented all she wanted to be and do. I regaled her with stories and captured her imagination. I whisked her to places and things and we explored together while she comforted me, held me, calmed me when I was restless or uneasy or impatient or rash. We worked in unison and in tandem.

Word count so far: 17034

Day 126: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

Before I begin, want to thank you all for sending your care and thoughts. It has been an exhausting, grueling past few months that I wanted to convince myself would end the way many of us, the majority of us, hoped it would. As the world looks to my country in shock, dismay, awe, or just utter disbelief, I look towards my friends and family, many whom are those who felt particularly targeted and/or affected by our new president, and my focus is on protecting them, providing for them, and working for them. Now more than ever, it is important that we all see each other as equals and human beings deserving of respect, care, compassion, and dignity. A single man does not make a country. We do. Though we may have elected a man who believes in certain things, it is important that we show to the world that we are not all like that.

Having said that, it feels good to be writing again about positive and beautiful and hopeful things. And because I had to make up for lost time and words, I apologize for the length of today’s post. I hope you will find the time to read though and, as you all always have been, are as generous with your feedback and criticism. Thank you.

In fact, I would argue that it was the meeting that really influenced me the most to fall madly, deeply, head over heels in love with Beautiful. The greatest things about her that I would ultimately fall for, there was no way for me to know, indeed no way for anyone to know, simply from sight. There were some snap judgements made based on her appearance (fair skin, nice hair, well dressed were all signs of certain positive and advantageous physical, socioeconomic, and mental traits) and also the context of where we were (meeting at an Asian club hinted at her background and upbringing, college campus suggested well-educated and sophisticated), but it was that interaction that pushed me over the edge. How could I fall in love with the rise and fall of her voice if I never got a chance to speak with her. How could I fall in love with how excitable she was and how expressive if I did not take the time to talk to her and find out about her passions. How could I have known the great, seemingly endless amount of care, compassion, warmth, and adventure this incredible woman had if love at first sight hadn’t compelled me to meet her and fall in love at first meeting.

It might seem like splitting hairs, parsing off these two events because they happened practically simultaneously, but there is a significant distinction to be made here that can be expounded upon further when you consider stories of people who might have seen each other at one moment and felt a certain intense attraction but weren’t fully convinced of love until having the opportunity to meet in person and more in-depth much later on. There is of course the humorous example of a woman saying to the man she loved, ‘of course I liked you when I saw you, but then you opened your mouth’. Love at first sight is just like anything else, it is a decision based on surface level traits with surface level implications. It is the meeting where we can either reinforce or dismantle those preconceived notions that really set a relationship up for either success or failure.

I know this feeling all too well as it relates directly to what happened between me and Beautiful. There is no denying that I was immediately physically attracted to her but aside from the physical aspects that I believed to be components of my definition of beauty, I was attempting to attribute much more elevated and sophisticated emotions and values to the very simplistic physical evidence I had to go by. There was enough, more than enough really, to compel me to find her irresistible that I just had to get to know her. And as I did, it was ultimately fortuitous (or not, along the line) that what I was hoping to find in her emotionally, morally, mentally, was indeed part of her.

This distinction, sight versus meeting, is critical to what raw material, what fuel, is used to drive a relationship. Love at first sight provides bright, blinding, fast burning romantic intensity. It lights up something in us that unlocks a passion we might not even know we had. We can bypass so many of the reservations and restraints we sometimes put up as a barrier or the blockade to protect us from harm so that we can move forward much quicker and get to deeper levels of relationships in less time. Love at first meeting is the foundation of romantic profundity. Whereas romantic intensity puts the relationship in hyper-drive, romantic profundity puts the relationship in terms of length and distance and possibility. When we meet someone for the first time and feel that undeniable connection, that electric connection, that physical and mental desire, we are creating mental images, forecasts, of our future together. We see possibility and potential that reaches far beyond just this night, just this meeting, into the rest of our lives and indeed possibly, the lives of our future generations. While love at first sight helps us make decisions based on what, if any, this person has that is desirable or attractive to us, love at first meeting helps us make decisions based on what, if any, possibilities this person has for our future. Indeed, I could speak very personally to this example.

Remember that when I was at that meeting for the very first time, I was a college freshman, new to the campus, new to this life, new to everyone around me. I was a loner in what felt like foreign territory, and I was desiring some form of connection, some form of interaction, that I could have and hold and foster for the next four years. What Beautiful gave me the first time we spoke to each other was the promise of a best friend. She was immediately engaging and interactive and I felt like I wanted to see her and be with her every day. I believe this is why so often people who are seemingly struck blind by Cupid’s arrow and fall madly in love upon meeting someone for the very first time often precede their stories with ‘I wasn’t expecting it’ or ‘I wasn’t looking’ or ‘I had given up on love or relationships or men or women etc. when I first saw the person’. What is happening here is people who are acknowledging a certain void in their life, a certain lack that they know is a part of them, are subconsciously being triggered on a nuclear level when they come across someone who just might hint at being that person who is what they were looking for and driving us to act with intent and purpose before we lose that potential. During the periods in between relationships when I was feeling particularly disappointed or disheartened by either lack of interest or lack of prospect, often times my very well-meaning friends and family would attempt to console me with the blankly dismissive ‘stop trying so hard, it’ll happen when it happens, you’ll find her when you least expect her’. Turns out, perhaps there is some value and truth to this. Because I was so focused on trying to find the ideal person and because I seemingly had all my sensors out at all times, I was becoming paradoxically numb and too sensitive at the same time. Whether consciously or sub-consciously, I have no doubt I know what I want. Most people with the least bit of self-awareness do. If I turn off most of my sensors, leaving just the bare amount to look and continue and maintain hope, maybe this is what is necessary to feel that exciting, shocking, rush of love once more.

Ultimately though, the most important question to answer isn’t necessarily ‘does love at first sight exist’, as biologically, psychologically, and even culturally, it is so embedded into our identity that in whatever form you choose to recognize it as, it undeniably does. And that’s wonderful. You’ve just been given clearance to believe in what is perhaps one of the greatest promises of romantic love hinted since the very beginning of civilization. The real question therefore isn’t about whether or not love at first sight exists, but rather if love at first is reliable. For as many stories we have of successful relationships culminating in long, lasting, fruitful relationships, there are perhaps equal if not more accounts of fiery passionate romantic trysts that began as love at first sight but ended, in the best of examples with some bearing of dignity, grace and awareness, but in the worst of examples with the same violent explosive temperament with which it started.

Sight is a skill. Our eyes are made of muscles and just like any other muscle, it grows stronger with use and development. If you have never seen fire before, you would register the image, investigate, and, upon burning your hand when you got too close, you would immediately associate fire with heat with pain and know better to avoid it. But perhaps the first fire you saw was the kitchen stove at home. You know no other form of fire. And then you attend a big bon fire at summer camp. Or you find yourself surrounded by tiny little votive candles lit for ambiance at a fine dining restaurant. Your mind has an inkling, a suspicion of what this might be and what it might mean, but maybe just maybe you reach your hand out one more time to confirm or deny your suspicions. Over time though, as you become much more experienced and much wiser, you are able to recognize not only fire but all of its various forms, sources, byproducts, and outlets. They may change their form or identity or be too subtle to recognize, but you can pick it out and no matter how it looks, it all equates back to fire, to burning, to hurt, and knowing to avoid it.

Such is the same with love at first sight and love at first meeting. It is something we get better at doing the more we do it. This reflex, this desire, helps us find someone who could potentially be a great match and source of great happiness in our lives. This is why sometimes first loves end up together forever. A finely tuned instrument or maybe one that got extremely lucky, but everything was doing what it was supposed to. More often though, these relationships fizzle and fail. But we learn and accumulate knowledge so that next time, we feel the same rush, the same connection, the same drive, only hopefully we have picked better. And so on and so forth. Love at first sight is as reliable as we choose to make it. If we exercise this reflex more and with time and experience grow a stronger and better sense of such things, we can trust this reaction more and invest more possibility and potential in those whom we find. When it fails, it isn’t a criticism against love at first sight nor is it evidence that it doesn’t exist or have any merit in an increasingly skeptical and cynical world. Remember that love at first sight is about helping us, in the face of overwhelming odds of finding the perfect partner, make decisions much quicker to begin romantic relationships sooner and develop more intensely and readily. There is credence and value in love at first sight and pursuing with all intent and purpose the ones we find through this magical experience. It is a natural and honest reaction to what our mind and body desires on a very personal and primal level. That intensity drives us. The profundity inspires us. And if it fails, for unfortunately it may, it is not the fault of the desire, it is not the fault of ourselves, and it is not the fault of the object of our desires. It is a matter of realizing that the characteristics that we had hoped to find and attribute to this person were unfortunately not there and that we need to practice that muscle a little bit more.

Recognizing the impulses and reflexes of love at first sight doesn’t take away from the immense romantic impact that it has. Much like knowing that stars are nothing but giant flaming balls of violent and chaotic gas doesn’t preclude us from camping out underneath them at night and staring wide-eyed with amazement as we watch them shoot across the sky and pin our wishes to them. Yes, love at first sight is a seemingly random and more hopeful than factual firing of synapses in our brain. But knowing that it is the firing of our natural and true desires gives us the power and conviction to believe in what we feel and to pursue it. For the person who has felt this desire but has always felt unsure of putting any merit in it, I would say trust what your heart and mind are trying to tell you that you need. It is so much more than just raw physical or sexual attraction. I joke often whenever I travel and find myself in a new city that I fall in love thirty times with every beautiful woman who locks eyes with me between sights. This is of course an exaggeration. If that’s all love at first sight really was, we’d be exhausted and too afraid to leave our houses from the intense emotional draw of constantly falling in love. And to those who have experienced the bliss of love at first sight but have had to endure the pain of loss and disappointment, I would entreat them never to lose hope in such a beautiful and noble part of the human experience. Do not, out of fear or bitterness or sadness, turn away from one of the brightest moments one can experience in life. Knowing that it is a matter of wanting and finding, rather than assigning and defining, means that if the person you thought was ‘the one’ has left you or if there is a former lover you simply cannot find it in yourself to get over, you can free yourself from this pain and pressure. What you felt wasn’t about them in particular, but about your mind looking for something you wanted and needed and pinning it on someone who could have been the best bet just so that you would find the courage within yourself to approach them and open yourself up. Knowing that love can always be inspired in you means that what you once felt for this person, you will feel again.

Part Three: Dating Your ‘Type’

After seeing Beautiful for the first time and then getting to spend more than just that first meeting together, I knew there was something deeply profound and potentially life-changing between us. I had trusted my instincts and all the nerves firing in my brain and I was so glad for it because for all intents and purposes, I believed Beautiful was perfect for me. She was in fact, ‘just my type’.

We’ve heard this phrase before, especially when either predicting or explaining romantic partners. Our ‘types’ are mental checklists, a set of standards from which we believe we would like our partners to measure positively against. This is a combination of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, moral, and various other characteristics, traits, or beliefs that we highly value and thus invest in ensuring our partner shares with us as well. If I had to define my ‘type’, I think it would go something like this:

  1. Of Asian background. I will not apologize for this or make any excuses for feeling as such. Love is a matter of the heart, not of political correctness. I am capable and willing to love and accept everyone. But if I could, I would prefer, and tend to first favor, women of Asian background. Beautiful was Chinese, and she had to me, all the trademark characteristics of Asian beauty. She had beautiful almond shaped eyes, long thin lips, and exuded a natural beauty (she rarely wore makeup). More than that though, I found that having a similar background meant I could take certain liberties and assume certain things about shared values and upbringing that to me, meant we believed in the same things and wanted the same things out of home, family, and love.
  2. Long hair. I very enthusiastically prefer women with long hair. I find it so elegant and so alluring when a woman has hair that goes beyond her shoulders. This is certainly in one way in part because I have never had long hair and therefore attribute it more with femininity and elegance. I also love the versatility and variety that comes with long hair. There is a classiness and sophisticated grace in a woman whose hair can fall in waves down her face and flow to her shoulders. But personally, I am absolutely weak for a woman in a ponytail. Simply tied up, it is my favorite way to see a woman handle long hair. I used to love watching Beautiful tie her hair up in a ponytail. There was this adorably focused expression of attention on her face as she manipulated her hair. Her mouth playfully nibbling on her hair tie, waiting to be called into action. I admired the deftness with which she did everything without looking and the nimbleness of her fingers. The magic moment was when her hair would finally be lifted up and start to be tied, and the nape of her long elegant neck would be exposed. Like getting a peek at a secret, forbidden area that was usually hidden to sun and sight. I would get lost tracing the elegant curve of her neck with my eyes and even sometimes, with my lips.
  3. Physically affectionate. Most people who know me would characterize me as reserved, restrained, and reclusive. They see a very private man who often does not express much, especially physically. There is value and honesty in this, but what most do not see is someone who, because of this, craves physical touch. I am very restrained even with friends and family and really only ever get the sensation of physical touch from romantic partners. Science and studies have proven that humans need physical contact every once in a while as a form of camaraderie, compassion, and care. This could be something as simple as a hug, holding hands, a pat on the shoulder, an arm’s embrace, or yes then we get into kisses and romantic touch. I tend to be starved of this through no one’s fault really, just not something we do. But it is because of this I usually tend to find women who are the opposite and are generous with physical affection. I feel cared for, wanted, and at peace holding a girl in my arms and having her hold me back.
  4. Good humored. So two hunters are out in the woods one day when one of them suddenly collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips his phone out and immediately, frantically, dials 911. ‘Help,’ he gasped. ‘I think my friend is dead! What do I do?!’ The operator goes ‘calm down sir, I can help. First you need to make sure if he’s dead.’ Silence on the other line. Suddenly, a loud gunshot. Back on the phone the guy says ‘okay, now what?’ I was 12 when I first heard that joke. According to my father’s monthly Reader’s Digest, studies found that this was the funniest joke in the world. I didn’t have many friends in middle school, but I did have a huge crush on this bookish girl with black rimmed glasses, barrettes in her hair, and a bright red jacket. I walked up to her one day at lunch in the library and tried to tell her this joke but it came out more like ‘sotwohuntersareoutinthewoodswhenoneofthemsuddenlycollapses’ as I stumbled through it in one long drawn out harried breath. She was in the middle of reading in the quiet library when I approached her and was so engrossed in her book that I actually scared her. I apologized for startling her and tried to make my shameful retreat when I accidentally tripped over the chairs and fell over myself. After the shock and not much damage (except for my pride) she actually started laughing and couldn’t stop. We started talking, and she became my first girlfriend. Ever since then, I’ve been, or tried very hard to be, the ‘funny guy’. So I love a woman with a good sense of humor, can tell a good joke, can appreciate one, but most importantly, likes mine.
  5. I come from a middle class family of two Filipino immigrants. When my father first came here he was a gas station attendant. In the Philippines my mother was a bank teller. In high school, because I wanted to be independent and buy my own things and take girls out on dates with my own money, I cleaned offices after school. From my parents’ stories and my own personal experiences, I know how important it is to be someone who is caring and understanding, and how hurtful it can be to encounter judgemental people who never learned that lesson. I went to a magnet school, the top school in my county and consistently one of the top 100 high schools in the country. But because I looked ‘ethnic’ and because I was cleaning bathrooms and collecting trash and vacuuming to earn money, these college-educated professionals, accountants, lawyers, dentists, even teachers’ union reps, would make assumptions about me, ask if I ‘worked for someone who could speak English’ (I started the business with my own money and was self-employed), and expound on the benefits of returning to school and how I should focus on my studies (I maintained a solid straight-A average in all four years of school while working four nights a week). As a result, I wanted to make sure the person I was with was someone who was caring and compassionate, and not just towards family and friends. I always, and recommend others do as well, watch how the person I am on a date with treats those who serve her. Servers, bussers, bartenders, cashiers, tellers, it is easy to be friendly and nice to those who matter to you. I want someone who extends that compassion to everyone.

Of course it stands to reason that if I can set a certain standard of positive traits to search for in a person, I would most likely also have a list of negative traits that would be for me ‘deal-breakers’. And I do.

Word count so far: 15433

Day 125: The Man and the Heavy Heart

I’m going to be honest with you all. I have wanted to, and have since successfully and with no real trouble, stay out of the politics of my country. I did not want to discuss my own views or my own beliefs because I believed that my fellow Americans shared the same beliefs and values and that I would not need to contribute one more voice that would simply echo what I thought was the resounding sentiment of my country.


And to be honest again, I had a whole post written to express my emotions and opinions on this election. When I started to open that gate it all flowed out. But I have since deleted it and removed it because I still believe this is not my place.

But I will have to apologize and say that with the current events happening tonight I haven’t been able to find it within myself to write anymore today. I’ll need to take a mulligan for Tuesday because my heart just isn’t into it to write about things like love and hope and romance.

Tomorrow will be a very different world. But no matter what, love will still be there, hope will still be there, and I will still be there to continue my writing. But tonight I am tired and sad and disappointed and I need to let the world turn where it may.

Day 124: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

I would like to believe I fell in love with Beautiful the very first time I saw her back in college. I should like to tell of how I knew from the moment I laid my eyes upon her that my heart would never be the same and that I was about to embark on a journey of love and happiness like the world had never seen before. Was there something magical, electric, about how Beautiful looked at that club meeting? Was I another victim of Cupid’s arrow? Could I say that the rush of madness that consumed my every thought and drove me towards her was not unlike the madness of the gods that the Greeks alluded to in ancient times? Perhaps. Certainly the ‘madness’ of love at first sight propelled and rocketed our relationship for the four years we were together. It was the unreasonable reason of love at first sight that convinced me to spend every free moment on campus with her. I remember how she looked that day. How she sounded. How she made me feel. I loved her long hair, her lightly browned skin, her piercingly brown eyes, and her elegant thin lips. I loved the enthusiasm and excitement she had to be where she was, and how expressive she was. Her hands waved through the air when she spoke like she was carrying the words themselves to every person’s ears. Seeing someone and falling in love with them at the same time is an overpowering feeling. It sucks up all of your energy and emotion and attention all at once like a vacuum but unlike a dark hole, which is ultimate darkness, it feels like the complete opposite. Like in the moment you finally see ‘her’, everything is defined for the very first time, like you’d never really seen the world as brightly or as clearly or in such definition. Every action up until this moment that lead me to this college campus on this day at this meeting with this club was just a wind up, building tension, and the moment I saw her I knew why and everything was released. My world started moving the moment I saw Beautiful.

That’s how falling in love at first sight feels like and how quickly and immediately it can happen. It is a reaction literally at the speed of light. It is a moment that last for less than a second but has implications that can reach as far into the future as days, weeks, months, years, or even, in the most fortunate and fortuitous of occasions, lifetimes. Moments like that are the very center of what feels like an atomic blast but if we can just freeze that split second before everything is illuminated, maybe we can see more than just the moments before and after. Maybe we can see the bridge between and understand what love at first sight really implies about who we are, what we’re looking for, and how well we can recognize it in others. If we stop at the very moment of impact, when my eyes fall on Beautiful for the first time, I would be lying if I didn’t say I found her to be the most beautiful, most attractive, most captivating woman I have ever seen. This is not a trick of the eye or the mind. On average, studies find that it takes a person only a tenth of a second to form an impression of a person from their face. In the blink of an eye we are able to discern how attracted we are to a person. Beautiful was everything I was looking for, the ultimate definition of beauty that I had accumulated over the years.

But to boil down love, or even just this phenomenon of ‘love at first sight’ to simply be about normalized, standardized notions of beauty would be too simplistic and too insulting to the complexity of love. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and each person has their own unique tastes; otherwise we would all be going after the same people and the dating pool would be smaller and smaller and grow more exclusive. Instead of everyone borrowing from the same playbook of beauty, we use our personal experiences and backgrounds to help inform our decisions. Yes there are certain cultural, social, or even generational preferences, but in sum our idea of beauty is more about who we are and who we care about than it is actually about the person in front of us. For example, Asians tend to value pale skin as a mark of beauty and often markets are flooded with products meant to whiten the complexion. More specifically though we will attribute features of beauty and love based on personal experience. Outside of stereotypes what you or I may consider beautiful could differ based on our previous dating history, family members or friends who have meant a lot to us or were influential in our development, and/or experiences we may have had in interactions with others and associating these memories with certain facial or body characteristics. This works positively and negatively, mind you. I wasn’t much of an athlete when I was in elementary school. I used to have a crush on this girl who played soccer after school. She was your typical athletic type and when she found out about my crush on her, on good days she’d just ignore me but on the particularly bad ones, she would relentlessly tease and harass me about it. Yeah, big surprise then that ever since I have stayed far and away from athletic types. This is a particularly interesting example because by and large, most would say that an athletic build and personality would be attractive. And I would agree on a physical sense that there is some merit to the physical attractiveness of an athletic woman, but that’s where it ends and that’s why I know even if I happen to see a particularly athletic woman who is attractive I might be infatuated or taken by her beauty, but I would never go so far as to say it was love at first sight, because love at first sight isn’t just about looks. So perhaps I was attracted to her long flowing hair because all of my previous girlfriends had also had long flowing hair. What started with my very first girlfriend as simply a passive trait had subconsciously become an indicator of potential romantic possibility and was therefore desirable. She was not as pale as most other Asians, but neither was I, so her skin reminded me of my family and maybe this fostered an immediate sense of kinship or connection. I am a characteristically restrained and reserved person and therefore I tend to prefer more outgoing and expressive women. I attribute outgoingness and expressiveness with using more than just the words to convey message and meaning so maybe that is why I was hypnotized by the movement of her hands through the air as she conducted and played on my very heartstrings.

Those who would criticize or speak out against the existence or efficacy of love at first sight would say that these decisions or assumptions are misinformed, but the truth of the matter is we are naturally accustomed and attuned to make these split second decisions on a daily basis. Stereotypes, for better or for worse, exist to help us make quick decisions on an individual basis based on accumulated group data and experience. Therefore it isn’t such a stretch then to assume that what we define on a personal level to be ‘beautiful’ or ‘attractive’ is also ‘good’ or ‘appealing’ in terms of picking a partner. It may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but considering the astronomical odds we face in finding a partner to begin with, perhaps our subconscious is simply trying to look out for us, helping us make quicker and quicker decisions, compiling as much information from as many different sources, to compel us to at least make sure that the person we are with has as great a chance of lasting long-term as possible.

In the tenth of a second it took for me to see Beautiful and fall in love, I was synthesizing the entirety of my past and present experiences. First, my mind was gauging physical attractiveness, highlighting and featuring the best and, in my definition, most appealing aspects of her appearance and setting the stage for passionate romantic interest because of attraction. At the same time subconsciously my mind was trying to make as many assumptions, predictions, and judgements based on previous knowledge and what I knew so far. All I had were physical characteristics at the time and this ‘halo of attractiveness’ would try to align and equate her positive physical features as hopeful indicators of positive emotional, behavioral, moral, and relational values as well. My mind was trying to decide in that tenth of a second if this was a person worth pursuing, and having found just about as many positive and encouraging features as any woman could have presented or has presented since, unleashed a flood of emotion and intensity that fired every nerve in my body and set my mind and heart racing towards her.

Word count so far: 11796

Day 123: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

Part Two: Love at First Sight

‘At the hour of sunset Aragorn walked alone in the woods, and his heart was high within him; and he sang, for his heart was full of hope and the world was fair. And suddenly even as he sang he saw a maiden walking on a greensward among the white stems of the birches; and he halted amazed, thinking that he had strayed into a dream, or else that he had received the gift of the Elf-minstrels, who can make the things of which they sing appear before the eyes of those that listen.

For Aragorn had been singing a part of the Lay of Lúthien which tells of the meeting of Lúthien and Beren in the forest of Neldoreth. And behold! There Lúthien walked before his eyes in Rivendell, clad in a mantle of silver and blue, fair as the twilight in Elven-home; her dark hair strayed in a sudden wind, and her brows were bound with gems like stars.

Aragorn was abashed, for he saw the Elven-light in her eyes and the wisdom of many days; yet from that hour he loved Arwen Undómiel daughter of Elrond.’

Appendix A, The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien

It would not, should not, take any person longer than five minutes to come across some famous example of love at first sight in literature, history, or pop culture. It is perhaps even more popular than the meet-cute trope, and indeed often accompanies it together in romance, but is in and of itself an entirely unique and complex element altogether.

The reason why love at first sight is so prevalent and so widely used is because its history and origin can be traced back to the very root of Western literature, the ancient Greeks and, as they put it, theia mania or ‘madness from the Gods’. The Greeks had four terms that combined would create our modern day sense of love and one of those, eros, dealt specifically with the intense and passionate love that we would associate with romantic intent and of course, the irresistible desire that comes from love at first sight.

But first, what exactly is love at first sight? Not that any true romantic would be hard-pressed to come up with a definition or example but for argument’s sake, let us lay down some common ground to discuss. Love at first sight is a phenomenon, a powerfully personal event wherein a person (ourselves, a character, or a narrator for example) experiences this immediately overwhelming feeling of extreme and complete attraction and affection for someone from the very first moment they see each other. It is an altogether familiar, inviolable, and inalienable part of the human experience and has been discussed and lauded since ancient times and has profound implications in love, relationships, expectations, and our own psychology.

Love at first sight was used by the ancient Greeks not as a cause or result but as a symptom. The radical unreasonableness of falling seemingly head over heels in love instantaneously without consideration or reflection or hesitation was a symptom and it was a symptom of madness supposedly caused by the gods, more specifically Eros in Greek though we would be more familiar with his Roman name, Cupid. How Eros/Cupid caused this madness is also still very prominent in today’s culture, as we often depict Cupid with ‘love’s arrows’, which the Greeks used metaphorically and mythologically to depict how being hit by one of these would cause an overwhelming passionate love. And indeed from personal experience, I can attest that love at first sight feels heavy yet fast, immediate yet lingering, like being pierced straight through by an arrow. It flies straight through your heart in the blink of an eye the moment you see her. The intensity of which seems to take your breath away and pushes you back. It pierces quickly but also with tremendous force, seemingly going through you with no trouble, so that it leaves a giant hole in your heart whose emptiness you feel in every fiber of your being and whose painful void can only be filled with the love of the object of your affection. I can understand too why the Greeks would see this as a form of madness, as once you are hit your every thought and action is inspired and motivated by Her. Food is bland, colors are dull, even the world itself seems slower until you two are together.

The ancient Greeks felt it first but certainly not last. There have been references to love at first sight in the Bible with Isaac and his wife Rebekah in the book of Genesis. Dante used the intense love he had for Beatrice, whom he first saw when they were children at her father’s house, and the tragedy of her early death as inspiration for his Divine Comedy. The two tragic lovers Romeo and Juliet met first also at a party where Romeo fell in love with Juliet the moment he saw her and was overcome by her beauty. The Little Mermaid, Les Misérables, the list goes on and on into present day.

For example, I mentioned before that a big influence in how I learned about love and learned to seek and recognize love was from popular Japanese manga and anime. A big series of the 1990s growing up was Sailor Moon, which, anime fan or not, you have probably come across at least once in some form. In it, the titular heroine Sailor Moon falls in love with the mysterious Tuxedo Mask despite not even knowing who he was. A more obscure though no less entertaining example proves that love does not always radiate from the beauty of a woman’s face. In Strawberry 100% the main character Junpei falls in love with a mysterious girl and spends the majority of the series trying to discern the identity of his love despite the fact that the only thing he saw to incite this passion was her strawberry print underwear which she accidentally flashed him with when he surprised her on the school’s roof and caused her to trip and fall.

Much like soulmates, whether you believe in love at first sight or not, it is an integral and irremovable part of our cultural, psychological, and even biological response to, and identity of, love. And like the meet-cute, it is a well-documented and frequently used trope whose reality and implications for love are much more complicated than a ninety minute movie or book or even comic book can relay. Beyond just recognizing the prevalence and meaning of first love from its very earliest days in ancient Greece, I believe there are many things worth discussing about the phenomenon of love at first sight. There is the matter of how it can happen and what can cause these intense feelings that convince us that we are in the throes of an emotion as complex and intricate as love in mere moments. There is also the delicate relationship between intensity and profundity: two essential and equal components of lasting relationships, and how love at first sight can hint at either. And finally, like the meet-cute and the soulmate, how effective or reliable love at first sight can be at predicting the lasting success of a relationship.

Total word count so far: 10244

Day 122: The Man and the NaNoWriMo; Not All Happy Endings

There is unfortunately no denying that a belief in soulmates can actually be detrimental to long-term happiness and lasting relationships. It is the natural skepticism and cynicism programmed in us from our primal ancestors that makes us naturally disbelieve in something seemingly too good to be true. A belief in soulmates in the most general and broad term often leads to disappointment and disillusionment when conflict and differences inevitably surface. We are so focused on the idea of ‘one perfect singular person’ who fits us to the T that we view any obstacle or deviation as a red flag. Most people who believe in soulmates also believe in ‘deal-breakers’ wherein we have very clearly defined borders that our potential partners cannot stray out of. I would also go so far as to say that the belief in soulmates often lends itself more readily and more prevalently in those who are more active spiritually. After all, it is a natural extension of the belief of a ‘Divine plan’ or ‘pre-determined fate’ that love and marriage is something sacred and set forth for us from the beginning of our inception. This is much more than just the western Judeo-Christian belief of marriage and saving oneself for that person God has determined to be our partner. Any belief that promotes the idea of design or fate or destiny would believe in soulmates. It could also sometimes be used as a defense mechanism, an internal gut feeling that tries to warn us of potentially disastrous relationships. If our gut can tell us we have found our soulmate, it can very much also tell us if we haven’t.

There are clearly positives and negatives to believing in soulmates, and there are psychological, biological, and spiritual reasons why this belief has existed for so long despite evidence to the contrary. It is very easy now to rail against the reckless and pure optimism of believing that we could experience this ultra-heightened, unique, encompassing love and happiness. Yes, a belief in soulmates means that the person is often much more likely to ‘give up’ on a relationship much quicker than others and yes, dating someone who believes in soulmates means being with someone who is much less open to compromise and much less flexible in terms of expectations and cultivation. As someone who once was very much invested in the search for my soulmate, I could more easily and more readily tell you all the things my soulmate wasn’t than I could tell you what I imagined my soulmate was. There were miles and miles of red tape and lines drawn in the sand, and it was an easy and convenient excuse to justify ending relationships swiftly and mercilessly. Those who would criticize the romantic ideal of soulmates would point out their fickleness, fear of commitment, and unrealistic expectations when faced with unrealistic odds.

But I am a romantic and I do understand all of these potentially negative things about soulmates and I would say to you, whether you agreed with me or not, that the person who has lived his or her life waiting for a soulmate could be one of the best partners you will ever have. See I used to put the pressure of perfection on the girl. I wanted her to be my soulmate so that was how I measured my relationships. And it’s very easy in the honeymoon stages of a relationship to idealize and idolize every aspect of a person. Every similar hobby or interest, every shared experience or discovery of a shared memory was like a thousand fireworks bursting in my heart. These were signs, good messages, promises. That’s what soulmates give us. Promise. The promise of ultimate happiness. The promise of lasting bliss. It builds up this intense and magnificent environment that we want to fully inhabit and lose ourselves in. We create intense, fiery, passionate beginnings because of the promise that we hope for. Almost all couples who mutually believe in soulmates can tell you of the whirlwind of giddy bliss their relationships started out as.

Destiny believers are also perhaps the best at taking those seemingly crazy odds and making the most informed decisions in the least amount of time. Destiny and soulmate supporters are more practiced and more keen to develop their gut instinct and find patterns in partners much more efficiently. They ask different questions of themselves and of their partners when trying to gauge the potential of a relationship and often, I find, do a better job of finding a stronger and more reliable start.

Think of it like this. Two people are walking down the aisles of their local big brand supermarket. The one on the left, the destiny believer, has a shopping list to make only linguini with clams. It’s the only thing this person wants to eat and so the only things this shopper will put into the cart are those for linguini with clams. That’s what is supposed to be for dinner. The person on the right on the other hand, the growth believer, is equally hungry but has no list and begins to browse the market freely. The person on the left will pass up an entire market full of delicious, versatile, and equally suitable ingredients and meal options. Blinded to all the other possibilities, this person will willingly stress and struggle and work to find just the right ingredients, but will move faster and with more purpose through the aisles while doing so. Where this person will ultimately find struggle in is not only in finding just the right ingredients, but also that if those ingredients don’t happen to be in stock that day, the linguini will go uncooked, and the person will go unfed. The person on the right is free of the stress and pressure, but is overwhelmed by choice. This person is much more flexible and adaptable, and could perhaps make a great meal out of say, kidney beans and tuna fish. They are open to change, are much more able to improvise, but if they linger and keep testing combinations, the market will eventually close and the shopper will run out of time and also go unfed.

Now let’s do something revolutionary. Let’s go grocery shopping with a list for linguini with clams. We are on schedule, on track, but oh no, the linguini of said linguini with clams is out of stock. Do we despair? No! We adapt (out of strength, not out of submission) and grab spaghettini. Or angel hair. Or to be crazy, lasagna sheets. Moving along. White wine. Check. Clams. Check. But what’s this? Scallops are on sale. And while they may not have been in the original linguini with clams, thank god we have the flexibility and openness to recognize that even things we didn’t think we wanted could be beneficial additions.

That’s the modern day destiny believer. That’s the happy lover who continues to long for his soulmate but knows how to love and to, if need be, help to make his own soulmate. Again it’s too easy in modern times to just strike down old-fashioned romantic ideals. But that knee-jerk reaction inevitably fails because, well, there’s no alternative offered. I believe you can still believe in soulmates and be happy with the person you are with.

For one, soulmates are intense supernovas of emotion and attachment. Some people cannot handle that level of intensity over prolonged periods of time. It would be like trying to hold onto the sun. Sometimes our soulmates are meant to come into our lives with such ferocity and passion that we are filled to the brim in this overwhelming love but have to leave us or we would go crazy. For some perhaps it is enough to have that certain special someone who teaches us to feel emotion to the very edges of our fingertips and toes, to know that we are capable of great love, and then send us on our way to express it for someone else. This way we can tell when we love someone just a little, because we’ve seen the great edge. For me, this was maybe the Beautiful of my life. An intense college love filled with the promise of youth and freedom. She was my first everything. I have seen the edge of the infinite universe in how far my love could reach for her. But that level cannot be sustained.

Another point is that perhaps our soulmates are meant to challenge who WE are. They come in blindingly bright pure white light that our every stain is magnified and exaggerated. Soulmates do not have to be these docile, timid, perfect fits that affirm every aspect of ourselves. Our soulmates are not mirrors but rather lenses to which we should see not just the best in them but the very best in us. We should be inspired that in our imperfection that still loved us for who we were and for however long they could. Soulmates should not be an excuse to sit idly by and await the idylls of romantic bliss. While we continue to hold out and hope for our soulmate, knowing that their every action not only brings them closer to us but makes them even better, we should be doing the same. Contrary to popular belief, the destiny believer does not need to be sitting back, waiting, lazily browsing those who pass in front. They are perhaps the ones who do the most in preparation. If my soulmate is someone who will challenge me intellectually, I will begin to read and grow and improve. If my soulmate is one who will challenge me physically, I will begin to take better care of mind and body. And in doing so, I will need to be at the bookstore or at the gym. Where odds are, I will find the person doing the same thing. To find the one you love, do the things you love.

Soulmates are also very much about patience rather than impatience, which might seem paradoxical. See facing the odds that I stated at the beginning, the destiny believer does not panic and rush to meet as many people as he can. Instead, they trust that the summation of their actions and reactions will result in the meeting because TWO people working towards the same goal increase the odds more than ONE. After all, if we believe we are searching for our soulmate, shouldn’t we also believe they are too? It is much like the case of my friendship with another woman in my life, Bird. I met her at work while I was still with Beautiful, blindly trying to save a relationship that had already been abandoned by the other person. Bird is the epitome of what my ideal ‘girl next door’ was supposed to be like. Flirtatious but not obscene. Witty. We had all the elements needed. I discovered from talking to her that, though three years my junior, we went to the same elementary school and lived in the same town for a good portion of our childhood. We were both avid video gamers and enjoyed anime and manga and could share similar stories of growing up in Asian households and working for the same company. I could talk to Bird for hours and never run out of a word to say. I could see as vividly as the world in front of me, the world as it would have looked like if we were together. Potential dates designed around our mutual interests. Stories to be made and to be shared. How I would introduce her to friends and family. But, I was in a relationship at the time, doomed though it may have been. And she was single. And then Beautiful left me, and Bird found someone. I could have torn my hair out at the dramatic and tragic irony of our circumstances. Was there something here with the potential and promise of incredibleness that we just kept missing? But I believe in soulmates. And so if this was supposed to happen, it would. Maybe not now, but if it is, it will. I can be patient. In the meanwhile I can continue to develop who I am and who knows, maybe in the process find that I was looking for, or needed, something else. Fate is like the wind. And the wind never apologizes for being late.

Soulmates can also be more about imperfection and growth rather than perfection and design. We imagine our soulmates to arrive perfectly formed to our expectations and thus the relationship would then follow suit. Soulmates make us stronger. Better versions of ourselves. Compromise is strength, not weakness. So if there is anyone worth compromising for or with, it is our soulmates. Yes there are definitely deal-breakers. We all have them. But not every obstacle is a deal-breaker, sometimes they are opportunities to see us grow and change and become better. And our soulmates inspire us to do so.

There is a very prominent place in the modern 21st century lover’s toolbox for the belief in soulmates. It just needed a modern day tweaking, a rebranding, to realize that seemingly impractical and implausible belief could be a strength.

Do I believe that there is a singular person, the soulmate, who is the best and most perfect version of our partner? Doesn’t matter. I believe in the benefits of hoping. I can be a better partner, lover, and maybe even soulmate, for someone because of it. I can make a soulmate, I can wait for a soulmate, I just have to believe in wanting a soulmate. While there may be a one in  three and a half billion odd person who is just everything, I am more convinced of the idea that of the 3,999,999,999 people, there are bound to be plenty others who can make me just as happy.

Word count so far: 9024