Love as a teenager is one of the easiest things in the world. You’re hormones are raging, you’re still pretty stupid, and, the eternal gift of youth, you don’t really know any better. Plus you’re surrounded by other passionate people who are are in the final stages of youth and perfection. Love in your 20s is a little harder but it’s still pretty easy. Your 20s, if you’re a nice WASPish boy are full of promise, things could happen; anything might be. All you need is someone who shares that sense of potential. And all the other 20 year olds have lived just long enough to get over their pimples and lose their braces (for the most part) without accruing the stresses of ‘real life’. Everyone’s a little smarter, a little more cautious, but still imbued what that sense of promise. It’s a great time. This is the time where you do know better, but you just don’t care as much as you will when you’re older.
By the time you’re 30 it’s more difficult still. You’ve had time to be hurt by people who didn’t care enough. By people being shallow or vain, or malicious. You’ve been in a place where you’ve been betrayed by life not living up to what it could have been. You’ve lived long enough to succeed at things that really matter, and fail when it was most important. Looking into the future you see a dwindling field of people to care about. Your job isn’t like school where you can ignore the teacher you hate and hang out with the one who inspires you. You’ve pretty much gotta just suck it up, or find a new job which by now you’ve realized is difficult and time consuming and absolutely no guarantee that it’ll be better than the job you have now. Which isn’t to say your life is woe and misery, you’re just not 16 anymore where the hardest thing in life is trying to get your drivers license. By now your coworkers are married or old (or, god forbid, teenagers) and it’s just that much harder to find that same sense of potential. And surprise, surprise, potential is just not enough. Ugly things like “commitment” and “responsibility” start creeping up. When you finally do meet someone, how do you tell them you love them? You know it might not work out. It could easily be for nothing. In fact, it probably will be. Do you even have a choice? (Of course you do, but that’s another blog)
For weeks my girlfriend (now my wife) went around telling me she hated me. Even or especially at the most random times. We’ll be driving in the car. I’ll make a joke. She’ll laugh and tell me that she hates me. We’ll kiss and looking in to my eyes with an indescribable expression (but you know the one), she’ll say she really hates me. What’s a guy to do? Well, the only thing you can. So, for weeks it was “I hate you too sweetie”. Yes, for months it was a veritable storm of hatred. Then came Peppers. It’s our favorite restaurant in Olympia (Seriously, PNW folks, you need to try this place) The food is terrific, the service is great, and the ambience is awesome. But more than anything else, they have the best salsa and margaritas anywhere. We were there with old friends and colleagues from Kat’s time at CYS to celebrate her birthday with her birthday twin. After more than one margarita my darling girlfriend looks at me and says, “I love you.” pause. Sudden realization. “Damn it”. So, what’s a guy to do? I laugh, look at her back and say, “wow you really are drunk!”. Everyone went home. End of story.
Just kidding. After I said “wow, you really are drunk!” I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her close and said, “I love you too”. And then we went back to laughing, eating, and drinking. I don’t think any of her friends would have realized if it wasn’t for one of her friends who did notice and is absolutely the BEST kind of crazy. It’s a favorite memory. I’ll treasure it for as long as I live and most importantly, THAT’s how you say, “I love you”