It took a few years and a lot of broken hearts for Gint Aras to discover what it would take for him to be ready for real love.
I was in college when I had my first long-term relationship. Lucy and I dated for about six months during my sophomore year before breaking up in the summer. A short time later, we were back together, and the pattern kept repeating. Over a span of two years, there were times when I didn’t really know if we were dating or not.
Towards the end of our tumult, I was living in Urbana, Illinois while she was attending a college blasted well beyond the fringe of Chicago’s horrid strip-mall suburbs. We talked on the phone a few times each week, and for each cutie-pie e-mail message we’d send each other a passive-aggressive one. Because I had nothing to compare it to, and because I had painfully low self-esteem, I thought our relationship was serious.
One holiday weekend she invited me to spend the night in her dorm. Her roommate would be away and the dorm would be mostly empty. The co-ed place was run like an apartment building: students didn’t need to check in on arrival.
Lucy and I were having a glass of wine and listening to her favorite Annie Lennox songs when, at a rather late hour, someone knocked on the door. It was a tall and dark Adonis who turned out to be her RA. I was shocked to learn the dorm had RAs in the first place, but now faced an interrogation. What should I tell this guy? No, I was not a resident of the dorm. Adonis managed to display horrible lament: he told me he was sorry the dorm did not allow overnight guests, but the guy might have been saying his pet kitten had been flattened by a steam roller. Kindly, he gave us a minute to say good-bye.
Lucy said I had to leave. She lived there and had agreed to the rules. It would cause her a lot of trouble if I stayed. Of course, it was very late and I didn’t really have anywhere to go. Lucy said she was very sorry; she didn’t think we’d be discovered, but now there was nothing left for her to do.
I found Adonis standing outside. He remained by Lucy’s door while I walked down the hall, and I stood at the top of a stairwell to look at him. The deity waved to me, knocked on Lucy’s door and was let in.
In my mind, I had finally broken up with Lucy by the time I had started my car. The drive back to Urbana was a cesspool of self-absorbed drama: I blasted Jane’s Addiction and screamed the songs, now weeping, now speeding, pulling myself together somewhere around Kankakee where, hungry, I ate at a dead-empty diner. I should have been making out to Annie Lennox’s slow glide, but here I was feeling sorry for myself in a fast food dump, able to afford only a basket of cheese fries and soda.
Lucy and I never really broke up, at least not in any civil way. I just stopped contacting her. Many months later, while hooking up with a mutual friend named Vera, I would learn that Lucy had cheated on me with Ben, one of my friends. Turned out, Lucy had told Vera about her encounters with Ben because she knew Vera would fill me in. I sent incensed letters, and friendships fell apart, each member of the band isolating themselves in the seriousness of their suffering.
When things settled—and, in retrospect, they settled quickly—I got to wondering what I had ever seen in Lucy. Yes, she was interested in me. But so were other women. When I think back to my 20s, I can find a half-dozen attractive, intelligent women who had also been interested in me, but whose signals I had ignored or rejected. I’d simply been too insecure. These women would demand that I grow up; they’d expect me to display the heart of my character, but I knew I was trash.
It almost became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Lucy—a young, sparkly-eyed and long-haired brunette—satisfied my conceit. In the bowels of my mind I had believed people would wonder what was so special about the guy dating such a striking beauty. Of course, friends tried to wake me up to my own vanity. Lucy and I had nothing in common. I didn’t like Annie Lennox, not really. Besides, all we ever did was run back to each other when we were lonely. When was I going to admit what I was doing? When would I grow up?
I became ready for long-term romance and marriage when I saw this about myself. There was a time and a place for me when it came to love, and when that time came, I discovered that I needed to treat lovers not as reflections of me but humans with hearts and desires. When I allowed myself to be seen by them, right down to the core, I ended up discovering not lovers, but love. The universe has this uncanny way of synchronizing things. At the moment I was mature enough for a real long-term relationship, I met my wife. And the place, amazingly, was in a college dorm.
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Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Mount Gay Distilleries via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Mount Gay Distilleries.