One short year ago, I had just driven a U-haul from Columbus and moved into my new Chicago apartment. That night, the man that I had been in love with for longer than I wanted to admit, told me that he was in love with me, too. Maybe I wasn't old enough to fully appreciate it when Tom said it so many years ago, and Todd before him, or maybe I just hadn't felt like this before; either way, this was earth-shattering, mind-boggling, heart-aching, euphoria-inducing love and I was in it all the way. How lucky for me! I had just made the biggest decision of my life, I had just chosen to expose myself to the biggest pain we foolish humans can easily avoid, and I had a Starbucks less than 2 blocks away. My big city life was off to a great start. If I knew then what I know now, would I have let year-ago-EJR experience that earth-shattering, mind-boggling, heart-aching, euphoria-inducing love? Absofuckinglutely.
For too many of my short 29 years, I have been afraid to leap - and I've blamed everything I could, including myself, which is probably both appropriate and unfair, depending on the epoch and the situations. I went for a very long time denying myself love, or the opportunity for it, because I was career-focused, school-focused, or any-other-measurable-thing-focused. That life was so tidy, wasn't it? And yet, all those things seemed like silly musings of a dizzy gay boy when I finally felt that feeling that was being in love. I realize of course, that there's a midpoint somewhere, that there is value in declaring and accepting the the things that one accomplishes. And there is also value in denying some of those feelings for a while, because we can't just love everything all the time - how else will you know when you are no longer in love?
I guess I would find that out sooner than later, and not at a time or place of my choosing. But you know what? The experience that I had with accepting my prior accomplishments became quite useful, as I was able to start making measurable successes in my work life, in my friendships, new, old, and rediscovered, and even in how that lost love was handled. I can confidently add "Survived True Heartbreak" to my list of achievements, and I don't even have to deny the feelings associate with that! Is this growth? Is this the sunsetting of my 20s and the dawning of my 30s? I hope so.
So here I am, 366 days later. I am succeeding at work, and who knows where my profession will take me. I've made decisions lately that are helping me continue to figure out this simply complex life I am living, and they are paying off. Everything from the weekend job in an industry I can get lost in and have fun, to removing myself from Facebook, just for a while, to see what I think of me (and not just what 10 likes and 8 comments from people I haven't spoken to since the deactivation think of me). It has been eye-opening, maddening, and calming at the same time to realize that we are placing too much worth, our own and that we have for others, on a convoluted series of 1s and 0s residing on a server somewhere in Menlo Park, CA. I don't deny that I will be back on The Facebook, but I am enjoying this time solidifying some of my relationships "offline," and I don't just mean friends. This EJR I am getting to know isn't such a bad guy - and frankly, that's kind of a relief.
What's next, then? The movie "Meet Joe Black" has often been credited with my ridiculous obsession with love, and finding it and analyzing it and all that dizzy gay-boy crap. Has that changed? Surprisingly, no. Bill Parrish continues to inspire me. I realize that I continue to change and grow and learn and run to and fro on the sliding scale that travels between my brain and my heart. My friends continue to be my life, and my family, too, and my successes and failures (perceived or real) continue to drive me along that scale. I felt it once, for a short while, and Bill promises me that I will feel it again in this scene:
"Love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head and you listen to your heart... Cause the truth is, there's no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven't lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven't tried, you haven't lived."
And so, I will continue to try, because I have lived. I will stay open, because who knows, lightning could strike. Until then? I have that apartment near Starbucks, I have that network of people that force me to push myself ever forward (1s and 0s not withstanding), I have that big city life, and most importantly, I have that sliding scale between brain and heart - something that I'm starting to realize has never been completely right, but also, interestingly enough has never been completely wrong.