a bad case of reflectionitis.
14 July 2006
  Say Anything
I am in love with a man who loves me more than I love him. When he wants to play the "No, I love you more" game, I let him win. Because he's right. He loves me more. He says it more, he insists it more, he shows it more. He's the winner of the loving someone else more than they love you game.

And I hate it. He hates it. It's a headache. It's about to create a thing called a "break," and I don't like it one bit. I am losing something because I can't win the game. Because whenever there's a competition in love, losses double. He loses the confidence that I love him. I lose the confidence that I will ever love him enough.

But I can't give up on it.

We fight constantly about terms. About ways to say things better so they don't sting as much. I scream and he tells me to calm down. He avoids talking to avoid being screamed at, so I scream at him for not talking and letting me listen to myself breathe. He dwells on our past, and I refuse to let him get too far ahead of us in the future. Where we sit is a difficult view; one that makes believing in progress near impossible because we're always looking out. We're never looking in. He needs too much. I don't need enough. He moves too quickly because he's an adult, and I relent because I'm still a kid. I like to use the word asshole. He likes to use the phrase "have a good night."

We've recently opened the gates of long-distance relationship speak. I didn't hold back the reality of it. I told him it wouldn't work for me in the long-term. It opened a conversation/fight/crying spell that lasted until the early morning. I've never been one to cry about much of anything other than irreversible mistakes and good-byes. I've just been inducted into the Girls Who Cry So Their Boyfriend Will Understand How Upset They Are Society of America. I hate crying. But I do, the way I've watched friends do with a bewildered look on my face for years. I used to think they were silly. But now I know - sometimes you have to cry because he won't hear how sincerely upset you are until you whimper or sniffle back a box of tears. Luckily, my beau is empathetic to tears. He puts down his gloves for a second so we can hear me.

But he doesn't hear me. He only hears what he wants to hear - the bad things, the things I didn't mean, the things that hurt but weren't said hurtfully. He's a real man; his emotions are real, and he shows them. He admits hurt, he knows pain. He has no problem communciating what he wants, what he needs, what's bothersome, what's his greatest joy. I know how beautiful I am and am unsure another person will ever think I am as timeless as he does. I'm in love with the sleeves he so generously wears his heart on. But sometimes his heart is too available, too invested, too easily offended. When my mind calculates our problems and tries to solve them the Sara Way, his heart shrivels up. He becomes discouraged. I explain that one of us has to move but that can't happen until one of us lets this start out in a natural way. I suggest two weekends a month. I make it sound like a grand idea - simple, really.

And he hears me. And it reminds him that he's wanted this from the start; a year ago, when I was a self-absorbed college brat and he fell in love before he could stop himself. It reminds him of all the boys I let spend the night after telling him he couldn't. It reminds him to resent my ability to let him think I was moving after graduation, another of my grand ideas. It hurts him deeply to remember the day I told him I found a roommate, then the day I found a job, and then the sad news of my new apartment. All in a city still far away from him. The guy who would have given anything to have me, a self-absorbed college brat, in his world. He said he'd pay for every cent, fly any weekend I wanted, take me to Europe for a graduation present. He said a lot.

And all I heard was obligation. I felt the weight of a lengthy commitment to a man whose two-dimensional box popped onto my screen one day then changed my entire perspective on the three-dimensional world. I'd never even met him back when he'd tell me he was in love, he wanted kids, he knew something had brought him to me. Back then, he was the one with simple plans. Back when I thought things were so complicated - the near end of a college education, the pressure to find a job, to make every moment count, to be someone big. I wanted to do it all right where I could, and I told him bluntly he wasn't number one. He stuck around because I guaranteed that it was temporary, my selfish way. My tendency to over-prioritize. Every opportunity we had to make something work, something made it not work. Namely, my ability to run away from my fears. But he kept coming back, kept loving me, kept reassuring that he'd never give up. So I kept taking my time.

I took my time. And now I'm here. At the point I'm supposed to be ending my temporary delays. I'm finally ready to make something work, to commit. But I'm moving to a new city, with a new job - where he will not be. I feel ready, I feel invested, I can call him seven times a day without feeling like it's a a burden. I want it. More than ever. Now that I'm here, he's not. He feels betrayed and tired. He's been put through a lot. He's apprehsive. I told him it'd work out. But I never told him it'd work out my way. I never warned that I just wanted to wait until I felt ready to put the official stamp on this thing. He's all watered down after a long stay on the back burner. And just as I'm about to get this cooking on the front; just as I'm ready to play I Love You More, it's void.

I made him wait. I made him promise. I turned everything upside down. And then I told him I was ready on my own terms. The selfish way never ends. I still refuse to compromise things that will make us right. For example, rejecting a week-long stay with him because I want to hang out with my friends (dramatically, for the last time) before I move an hour and a half away from them. I've been a year and 800 miles away from him and rejected our free week. I did it again. I told him I'd give it all, then I gave him half. He deserves to be cold. He deserves to want a break. He deserves a thousand apologies.

And despite my empathy, I can't help but clench my jaw and feel angry. He's been so strong and in love, so voluntary and unconditional. But he hasn't been John Cusack. He's said it so many times, that he loves me. He's told me he'd fly around the world, go the hell, move to my time zone. But he hasn't jumped on the plane. He hasn't thrown a stone at my window. He hasn't written me love letters or bought me flowers. He's been idle. His zeal about my companionship doesn't go beyond his ability to explain my beauty, his depth of pain, his yearning to spend every waking hour with me. I've never given him the chance to make me believe in it, the way John Cusack does in the last 15 minutes of every movie he's appeared in. Now I am giving him the chance. And he's not at my doorstep with a boombox high over his head, the way he's told me time and time again he sees himself. This romance isn't hopeless. Now's the time to make it work, the time to be here. I'm capable of winning the "I love you more" game. I'm waiting, for the first time.

Maybe he'll show up.
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