Something happened to me, once upon a time: I fell in love. It began when I was in fifth grade, and a girl named Emily liked me, so I fell in love with her. One day I walked her home from school. We said goodbye on her stoop, my hand vibrating with the urge to hold hers. I turned to go home and an older girl from school came up to me and started a conversation. After awhile she asked if she could kiss me. I said yes. It was the first time someone other than my mother or my aunts kissed me on the lips. She laughed and hurried away as I glanced toward the house and saw Emily watching me from the living room window. She wouldn't speak to me after that. I was heartbroken.
A week later a girl named Gloria liked me, so I fell in love with her. She broke my heart when I ruined the class picture by making a goofy face right before the picture was shot. Her parents wouldn't let her see me anymore, and they -- along with the parents of all my other classmates -- were mad at me for ruining the class picture (it was a really goofy face).
I fell in love many times since then. The following year, with dark-haired Anita, who looked like a cartoon mouse. She comforted me after two boys beat me up and made me cry. The next day at school she acted as if I didn't exist. In junior high, I fell in love with Nancy. She didnt realize I hung out with her friend just to be with her. Then I fell in love with Elaine. She chose a juvenile delinquent over me as her boyfriend. In high school, Doreen broke my heart when she told me, echoing her parents, that she couldn't see me anymore because I didn't have enough money.
I broke my own heart in my first marriage, when I realized I didn't love the woman to whom I had been married for 15 years. My second wife broke my heart when she broke up with me at her young daughter's insistence (I could never replace Daddy, who in any case was never very far away). I tried to get her back for two heartbroken years. A long-term relationship with Marna ended when I got tired of her constantly getting drunk and ruining whatever plans we had made. A long-term relationship with Tina ended when I got tired of her insisting she loved me while continuing to seek out other men.
My heart was broken so many times, when my sister got married to the man she swore was her ideal lover, I was too cynical and depressed to be happy for her. I felt worse, not justified, when we found out he was seeing other women. Her next ideal lover broke into her apartment in the middle of the night and tried to kill her. I sunk deeper into depression and cynicism.
One day a woman who had broken my heart by wanting to be friends instead of lovers asked me to give her a ride to a potluck. I hadn't planned on going because being without a partner left me too depressed, cynical and heartbroken to do anything at all. At least this friend looked like the woman I saw in my deepest dreams of desire: thick dark hair, big dark eyes, almost too thin and up to my chin.
I knew I would never meet anyone at the potluck, even when I saw Sandy. She had thick dark hair and big dark eyes. She was almost too thin and up to my chin. I had met many women like her, many times before over the years, so it was easy to suppress the urge to throw myself at her feet and beg for the honor of being her love slave. Nonetheless, when I noticed she'd come with her friend Mary, I decided to give it a shot for old time's sake, and befriend Mary.
Sandy and I did get together, but I expected this relationship to turn out like all the others. I was determined never again to suffer a broken heart. Three months later my sister invited me back East for her wedding. Another ideal lover. Little did I know what was to come. Sandy had asked me to be faithful to her while I was in New Jersey and I agreed, though I thought I might be lying.
It was not because my new brother-in-law came from the same town as Sandy. It was not because he and Sandy had gone to high school together. It was not because her mother was a lonely widow in her eighties, and my brother-in-law's father was a lonely widower in his eighties, and they lived a few blocks from each other. My broken heart began to mend when I asked my sister how she could be so happy considering what she'd been through. She told me that if she did not sincerely believe that no matter how many times your heart gets broken, you cut yourself off from finally meeting your genuine ideal lover if you do not continue eagerly to grab at the chance that this time, it's the real thing.
I returned from New Jersey and continued with Sandy where we had left off. After awhile I noticed that, unlike every other relationship I had been in, the honeymoon with Sandy never ended. Three months, four months later, all the qualities I found charming in her didn't start to drive me nuts. Instead, I discovered that she had even more charming qualities, all of them continuing to delight me.
On August 28, 2012, at 7 pm, it will be exactly thirteen lucky years since I first noticed Sandy at that Northern California potluck. My depression is gone. My cynical approach to life has turned to one of excitement and glee. And my broken heart? Permanently on the mend, and getting better all the time!