This piece is inspired by how I’ve changed over the past few years, partially because of other people, and by how I expect to change within the next few years, partially because of other people.
I wrote it just after having a dream about these changes and when I woke up, this feeling was more familiar than it has been in a while.
Thank you to the wonderful men in my life who filled in the details in this one.
Does falling in love really make people susceptible to transformation?
Then everyone must be expecting me to change.
Perhaps I will suddenly be sensitive – so sensitive, in fact, that I will actually feel hurt when I see people posting on other people’s Facebook pages on my birthday without ever bothering to greet me. I will cry when I see that three-legged dog from next door half-hopping down the street. I will lament the degradation of teen society in my neighborhood as I read the crime beat in The Jersey Journal and try to make a difference by gently putting my hand on the shoulder of every urban teenager I see in angst and whispering, in a voice that will make the experience cathartic for us both, “It’s okay. Life will get better.”
Yes, I used to favor heartless logic and cold reason over any sort of sentimentality or emotion, but that is all going to change now. Right now. As soon as I finish kicking his butt in chess, which he enjoys.
The man I mention, by the way, is the man I am changing for.
He has won me over with all the unnecessary things he has done to be by my side; with his determination to think I’m beautiful even if I haven’t washed my hair in three days and I’m eating an eggplant parmesan that’s half on my face, half in my mouth; with the way his torso is firm and manly but still soft enough for the best hugs; and most of all, with his eyes.
For him I will suddenly read The New York Times every day because it is his favorite paper. I will listen to hours of music I only sort of like until I find at least one song by his favorite band that we can blast on his speakers and mutually enjoy. I will find a way to either linger around or hurry up so we “run into each other” when he leaves work. I will start caring about how I look.
When I walk down the street, every man wearing a jacket like his will be him and my eyes will light up as he comes closer. Then I will blush when I realize it’s just some loser poser and I’m all alone on the street again.
When I think of him, I will actually be able to smell his scent as if he were right there beside me or if I were in his arms, depending on how strong the sensation is. I will wake up every day waiting to smell that scent.
When we are walking down the street in the wintertime, he will be taking his sweet time putting on his gloves and I’ll say, “Hurry up! My hand misses your hand!” And he’ll smile, put his gloves on and engulf my small hand with his.
In the summertime, when perverts who lusted after girls in wool sweaters six months prior will no longer need x-ray vision to see what I was hiding underneath my bubble jacket, he will be the first to say, “Hey, bub. That’s my girlfriend you’re looking at.” Mostly because he will be the only one with a right to say that.
I will even resist my childhood – the years of emotional training I had as a military brat and nomad – by venturing to imagine that he might be there a week, a month, a year from now. I might even figure, hey, even if he isn’t, he’s worth the investment. Enjoy him while he’s here.
But all that comes later.
First, he has to love me for who I am right now so I can give whoever I am away to someone else who might masochistically enjoy just waiting to say, “Hi.”