Not long ago, I was with a man who called me a Goddess. He told me there was no one more beautiful, more wonderful, more lovely than I. We were like drug addicts together, and our drug of choice was romance.
Carl Jung said that romantic love was designed, among other things, to draw us together for the purpose of procreating, and every few years top news periodicals recycle this headline: Understanding The Science of Love. Although I'm convinced chemistry plays a big part in the pairing of people, I've always rejected the notion that science is the puppeteer, hiding backstage and pulling the strings, that surely matters of the heart are more mysterious than that.
The declarations offered by the man who thought me a Goddess felt like needles in my veins, and they fueled my seemingly insatiable desire to be adored. Every stroke, compliment and whisper in my ear made up for my father's absence, the vacant look in an old lover's eyes, and the string of disappointments I'd suffered since the search for my Knight-In-Shining-Armor first began. I thought the gestures of my beloved were meaningful, but at best they were his feelings in the moment; if they had been meaningful, we could have built a life on words alone.
I know a man who calls Hollywood romance movies "Love Killers," and though it may sound extreme, I think he's right. Every story is an adaptation and a reincarnation of Cinderella, and they add more and more fuel to the romantic fire that burns in most western women. But it's not a real fire, it's more like one of those petroleum-based logs you buy at the grocery store. You don't have to chop a tree or carry the wood. You don't have to cover it in crumpled paper to help it ignite. There is no work to be done, no mess to clean, just poof, like magic, the flames burn eternal.
I've always been a fan of the poet, Pablo Neruda, and anyone who knows me would understand why:
I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me all day.
I hunt for the liquid measures of your steps.
I know what it feels like to crave someone, but whereas I once considered these sentiments the essence of passion; raw, untamed and unbridled, I now see them as limited versions of love.
I understand the intense feelings that would make me (or Neruda) go "... hunting for you, for your hot heart, like a puma...," but what I'd rather have is a man who considers my daughter, drinks wine with me while I cook stew, and stands beside me at a funeral. I no longer need him to see my hands as "... the color of a savage harvest...," I just want him to see me as a lover and a friend.
There will always be women younger than me, prettier than me, and smarter than me, but there will never be another me, so why would I want to be something less than me? Why would I want to be a goddess, or a girl in a dream, or a song, or a sonnet? I am already, as we all are, so much more than that.
I used to want a man to knock me off my feet, but now I want a man who inspires me to stand. I used to want a man who would take my breath away, but now I want a man who allows me to breathe. I used to want a man I couldn't live without, but now I want a man... I can live with.