Monday, August 22, 2005

Arms length

I met my Italian step-cousin, Marco, in Berkeley the summer I was 16. We were both staying with my dad and step-mom (his aunt). We did not have a romance, but I adored him. Lord, he was sexy. A year and a half later, I went to Italy for three weeks at winter break. I'd had my braces off, my hair was longer, and I was just a little bit more grown-up. My father was living in Florence for a year and Marco and his family lived there also.

While I was in Florence, Marco and I had a brief romance. The full story will have to wait for another day, but the basics were: spending time drinking with his friends after family events, making out in his car, making out in his father's studio, holding hands, kissing in the park, having a big fight at a New Year's Eve party, feeling so bad I wanted to die, not being able to tell anyone about it, Marco calling, making up before I went home, and not staying in touch later.

After I came back from Italy, even though he was not my boyfriend, I still harbored a fantasy about Marco. I didn't think we'd end up together. I knew I didn't want the kind of marriage he wanted. (Even then, my mind frequently ran to marriage.) Yet, I liked the idea of a long distance romance. I would say, "It's perfect. It's romantic and wonderful, but doesn't interfere with my everyday life." My fantasy about Marco did not withstand the reality of boys who I could actually talk to and touch.

When I was 17 I didn't want a "big deal" relationship. I just wanted a boyfriend. Someone to kiss and to count on for dates. I didn't want to be engaged or have my entire life wrapped up in another person. I wanted to be able to study and learn something, even though I hated most of my classes. I did not want to spend all of my time worrying about boys. I was not very successful.

Sometimes I still feel the same way. I wish I didn't spend so much time worrying about boys (worrying seems to transform men into boys). I wish I could focus more on my life and what I want. However, if I what I want is marriage and children I have to give it some energy. I have been trying. Pele even said so, "You said you were going to get out there and date and you have!" Really, I have? It doesn't feel like it. But I suppose she is right. I have been working hard at it. Between the dating and the blog, it's almost like I have a second job. Throw in the "little sister," softball, kickball and book group, and I'm working hard at something!

But where am I? Captivated by an entirely literary relationship. I have to say yes. Yes, that is so me! I can shape it to be whatever I want. But I know that he is doing exactly the same thing. It is delightful to go down this fantasy path hand-in-hand with the fantasy object. Is he, perhaps, too good to be true? Let's see what I know so far:
  • What kind of relationship does he want? Marriage and kids. (In his JDate profile, this is the only option checked--even I have several things listed: "A date, Friend, Marriage & Children." The other options are "long-term relationship" and "marriage.")
  • Politics? Same as mine or close enough.
  • Religion? Same, but he is less religious than me (which is better than more).
  • Smart enough? Yes.
  • Deep enough? Yes.
  • Intense? Yes.
  • Honest? Yes.
  • Humor? Yes. He's quite funny. Quirky observations funny. Upon closer reading of his profile, I found several (intentionally) humorous bits.
  • Good conversations? Yes--based on the chats and the level of engagement in the letters.
  • Attractive? I like his brain. The one picture I've seen indicates sufficient level of attractiveness, but I'd like to see more.
  • Will we get along in real life? I think so, but what the hell do I know?
It's entirely possible that I may not continue to like him as much as I do now. The glow of the fantasy is starting to pale--it has a dark side. When I put so many hopes on one, ephemeral object, the disappointments can be brutal. Here is where I go wrong: on Sunday, after spending time writing a long, heartfelt letter, I felt just a tiny bit sad because I did not hear from him the same day. There were a million good reasons why he wouldn't have written, but instead my mind went here: he didn't like the picture I sent. On Monday, I got this email (some editing on my part):
This is just a short note, to let you know that I read your letter. The attached photo arrived as garbled text. Could you please send it again, attached to an empty message? Thanks in advance.

In five minutes, I will take my niece and mom to the Edinburgh airport…. I will return late at night and won’t get to write to you, unfortunately.

Yesterday, we took a boat ride on Loch [not Ness!] where I fell in love with a five year-old girl called [Jamy (no, not really, but she had my same first name)]. [Niece] took photos of us. I will mail one to you soon.

I really have to run now. It was a pleasure reading your long letter. I plan to write a reply tomorrow. Please write more, if you can.
It's all very sweet and I really like him and I feel foolish and I don't care.

In the meantime, I have become very popular over at JDate. Seven new fellows have contacted me since Friday. Amazing. Only three are even vaguely acceptable. I'm breaking my rules by not responding at all to the others--I just don't have the heart. I will dutifully send email, call and arrange dates with these men. I will keep one foot in reality and one foot in fantasy. Even if it kills me.

Grateful for: the fantasy.

PS I'm out of town for work on Tuesday and Wednesday and may not be able to post. No need to send a search party. I'll be back on Thursday for sure.

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