When I was 20, my boyfriend put me in his seven-seater plane and took me to a resort town an hour’s flight away for dinner. When we landed, the lights flew up at us, and it felt as though we were landing on stars. That’s right up there in the top 10 in my hall of dating fame, but it doesn’t get number one place on the list.
That goes to Steven. He took me to Emmarentia Dam at night with a guitar, a blanket, and a takeout pizza. He sang me songs and we talked and kissed until 2 am. My night on the promenade with Hugo was so transcendent that it takes second place on my list, way above the $1000 weekend I spent with Shaun.
I’ve hit the jackpot with the calibre of men who live in my past. I have some true treasures that I store safely in the room in my brain that I go to when I need to remember how much magic there is in the world. Most of my exes have come with enough enchantment to create an entirely new book of fairy tales, so why did I let them go?
On the surface, D and I couldn’t agree on a future, and B and I had a problem with religion: most specifically, my lack of it. I could go down the list and annotate the reasons for every ending, but the truth of it is far less superficial. I ran from every man I was lucky enough to call mine because I ran from everyone.
In those days, I was caught up in trauma and anorexia. I didn’t know how to cope with my rape because I had no idea how to be honest with myself about my process. All those men who spoiled the hell out of me and loved me so well never got to see the real me. I tried my damnedest to treat them well, but I was too terrified and confused to let them see the all of who I was. They were good men, but we couldn’t get to the bottom of our problems with me being so unwilling to share my real feelings. Hell, most of the time I didn’t even know what they were myself.
The first and only man I ever showed the whole me to was E. I was petrified, but slowly, he showed me I was worth knowing. I was loved, even with those cobwebs in the corner of my history and the dust on the shelves of my psyche. He taught me that the real magic of love wasn’t found in plane rides and stars and guitar songs. It was in showing someone your darkest and most forgotten corners and having them accepted. The miracle of that experience could never be told in a fairy tale. It’s much too big and bold for that.