Added: Charlotte Swain - Date: 21.02.2022 00:32 - Views: 37595 - Clicks: 7054
The year after I stopped drinking, I fell in love with my neighbor. I was 27, working as a copywriter, and living in a studio apartment on Gay Street in the West Village that could fit my California king bed and almost nothing else. He lived across the street in a larger apartment that had beautiful morning light and a mouse infestation. One afternoon he found me sitting on his stoop smoking a cigarette and sat down, looking like a young Paul Newman. We talked for a long time, during which I learned that he owned a local restaurant and had recently broken up with his girlfriend.
Eventually, we headed up to his apartment, where we kissed until it felt like it was only us and the mice in his walls still awake in the whole city. By the time he walked me back to my building, it was past midnight, and I had already decided that our wedding should be right there on Gay Street. I was calculating what kind of city permits that would require when he placed a hand on my shoulder.
I looked up at him under the yellow glow of the streetlamps and did what so many hopeful single people have done before me: I told a lie, wishing it were true. He would not see. What followed was a two-year tug of war. He could not commit, and I could not accept it. I tried every tool in my arsenal to get him to be my boyfriend: I charmed, seduced, cajoled, bargained, raged.
Instead of freeing ourselves from this mismatch, however, we seemed bound to it. Every time we decided to stop seeing each other, one of us would eventually leave our light on all night, knowing the other would see it from the street below and send a text to come up, restarting the cycle. Now, I was pursuing my neighbor with the same fervor.
The more space he wanted, the closer I longed to be. I would get high off his attention, then crash when he withdrew. At the time, I only knew it hurt. So, I went to an ashram upstate and prayed for the obsession to lift. I went to a weekly meditation group led by a Buddhist teacher with double-digit sobriety who introduced me to attachment theory and, at the risk of sounding dramatic, changed my life forever.
He taught me that anxious and avoidant people often connect quickly and powerfully, but the relationships are a challenge at best and doomed at worst. I stopped leaving my light on all night, got some proper sleep, found a therapist and became open to the possibility of meeting someone else. That someone was Henry, a friend of a friend I met at a film screening. He had freckles all over his face and a big, unselfconscious smile. He was British, like me, but the similarities ended there.
He was obsessed with being outdoors, loved to cook and was a moderate drinker. For one of our early dates, Henry made reservations at three restaurants and let me pick which one to go to. On another, we saw a documentary about the evils of salmon farming. In the following months, we met up once or twice a week to eat, go to the theater or see an exhibition. I was used to downing a person like a shot, but with Henry, I sipped. Later, he told me about his friend who was killed in a hit-and-run during their first year of university, the shock and the grief of it.
Still, I was wary. Where was the high? The excitement? I thought falling for someone should feel like having an orgasm and a heart attack at once. A few months into seeing each other, I gave Henry a book of illustrated animal facts, expecting him to appreciate it as a thoughtful if not particularly noteworthy gesture. His capacity for delight, his seemingly boundless sense of wonder, was one of the first things I loved about him.
My earlier experiences of falling in love had felt like being stuffed in a barrel and thrown off a waterfall, a blind tumble both euphoric and terrifying. Falling in love with Henry felt like being carried along a smooth river to the sea. I was still me, after all, still anxious. For the first few months, every morning that Henry left my apartment to return to his place, I would scramble out of bed and insist on walking him the one block to the subway. His departure stirred some vague panic in me, triggering that childhood fear of abandonment, of love walking out the door. Of course, I had never admitted that to anyone I dated.
My first instinct was to tell a lie, wishing it were true. Instead, I took a deep breath. Henry gave me a long look and my heart dropped. I waited for him to dive headfirst down the subway stairs away from me. I could have laughed with relief. I could have pressed my palms into my eyes and cried like. But I kept myself together and nodded. We walked once more around the block and then he got on the subway and I went about my day.
A year later, we moved in together. Six months after that, we got married. Today, we live in a house in Los Angeles with a small garden regularly frequented by hummingbirds. Coco Mellors is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. Modern Love can be reached at modernlove nytimes.
Want more from Modern Love? His face softened. So, we can just keep it chill? Each new thing I learned felt precious.Chill and smoke tonight
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