Caution: In a piece to make James Joyce proud, I’ve realized that the older I get, the less I know. And because it’s 2:56AM and my head is killing me and I really need to go to bed right now, I’m not going to proof read, and I’m not really sure what I’ve written, but it’s probably filled with the most honest and convoluted thoughts I’ve admitted to myself in quite awhile. Or, it might just be a bunch of caffeine-fueled insomnia resulting in drastic overthinking.
I still don’t know anything—or at least, anything I’m willing to commit myself to in writing. After all, what if I change my mind?
It’s been known to happen.
PS: If Dear Abby is reading, please respond.
I am nearly 25 years old. In just five days, I’ll have been alive for a quarter of a century. Granted, it’s not very long in the scope of things, and sometimes I’m not sure if Nicole Fuhrman at 25 is actually an old person or a young person. Sometimes it feels like the older I get, the younger I feel.
I don’t feel like a grown up. I don’t feel old enough to have a real job, get married. I used to think I was ready for that—I used to have a whole life planned out. It didn’t work out.
I’ve been in love twice. I think.
I was just turning 18 the first time. Can 18 year olds be in love? I think back and yes, it was real. But then I think back again, and I realize how very young 18 really is (compared to this very mature age of 25).
Now I think back again, and I remember talking. Talking and talking. Kissing. Kissing and kissing. I remember how we had become so intertwined that his pain was literally my pain—and I was causing that pain and I wanted more than anything to stop causing it, and yet at the same time I was 18 and stupid and selfish. And did the fact that I was stupid and selfish mean I didn’t really love him at all?
But I did love him. I couldn’t breathe when he was gone. I remember the red quilt on my bed, my roommate staring at me, and not being able to breathe.
I read somewhere that your brain doesn’t remember pain. I don’t know if it’s true—but I haven’t found it to be untrue either. I remember times I have felt pain; I can compare one time to another and identify which was worse. And I can feel shadows of that pain sometimes—like when I miss my grandma and the loss feels just a little bit fresh.
But it’s not fresh, and it’s not like the first time. So, so far, it’s true—I don’t really remember the pain. But it had to have been pretty awful to not be able to breathe. I don’t know if I have ever felt anything worse.
So if in science for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction—does that mean the opposite of the pain was equally as strong? So was it love?
I don’t know if this is making sense.
Once, I wrote a fairy tale about us. I called it Cut, and Cut Again, because that is what we did. Or I did.
Yah, it was me.
It went like this:
Once upon a time, a girl met a boy. He was cute and funny and smart, and she liked him. And eventually she loved him, and he loved her. They were not just lovers but the closest of friends, and they were happy. They were also young, and stupid, and selfish.
One day, the girl woke up to discover the part of her heart that had once loved him had grown thick and hard, the muscle callused where it had been too often bruised (whether real or imagined). She didn’t know what to do.
After a time, she realized some action was necessary. Yet there was a problem. You see, he was not just in that one part of her heart, but in all parts of it. His friendship had wormed its way into every crevice of her life. She did not want to be his lover, but she did not know how to stop being his friend.
So she did the only thing she could think of. She took a steak knife and sawed away that ugly piece of heart. Then, she went digging in his. The pain was overwhelming, and she feared she had made a mistake. This clearly was not the solution she sought.
Quickly, she pulled out a needle and thread and sewed the pieces back together. Both hearts ached and continued to bleed, but nothing like the tide that had come before. The boy and the girl sighed, relieved.
But time passed again, and it was not so much time at all, before she noticed again how hard that part of her heart was. Those moments when it should have felt soft, it just felt uncomfortable. She had been right the first time.
Again, she took up her knife. She cut along the stitches, trying not to tear the flesh attached too roughly. Some places had begun to heal, but she ripped that mending in two. And afterward, she went to work on his. But then the pain came…
Needle in hand, she had begun to stitch. The pieces were frayed and uneven, and she had had to dig her stitches deeper into the tissue to keep them from slipping. She was on her third stitch when he said it.
So she did. They each had half a heart and another bloody piece of pulpy muscle (the place where they had kept each other), but they weren’t sure what to do with either. Though she had tried to be thorough, to get out all the affection, she kept finding it in places, in places she hadn’t expected. Though hard and thick and callused, deep beneath the surface was soft tissue and something like love.
Even though she tried to let go, to move forward, she continued to hold on—sometimes to the friendship, and other times, to whatever was left of what had once been love. In the process, she ripped his heart to shreds. And when all was said and done, hers wasn’t much better.
If you can hurt someone like that, is it love?
Does it matter that I didn’t mean to?
The list of things I don’t know is getting longer and longer.
I was turning 20 the second time I fell in love. I think.
I’ve kept a journal fairly consistently since I was thirteen. Even though I never planned on anyone reading it, most of the time I still censored myself when I wrote. There were some things I couldn’t put to paper, doubts I didn’t want to think about. Only in times of fairly serious distress would those thoughts worm their way out, black and ugly on the page.
I just rationalized them later.
Recently, I’ve started to admit some of these things to myself. Things that may have indicated I made a mistake. I still tell myself I don’t regret these things—after all, what is the point of regret? But once in a while, I sometimes think I feel just a little bit of it.
My second love was a rebound.
I jumped too fast.
I stayed because I was too proud to admit my mistake. Because I did have feelings for him and I didn’t want to hurt him. Because I didn’t want him to be wrong about me in thinking that I was worth taking a chance on. Because I didn’t know what else to do but move forward.
Or again, because I couldn’t admit that I might have made a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, I was happy. I settled in (or I settled?), I made plans, I constructed a life around the choice I made. I think I was happy, and I think I was in love. I think.
But sometimes I don’t know.
But maybe I’m just overthinking it. Maybe I really was in love and I’m being stupid and silly and not doing justice to how I felt at the time.
I remember being so sad when it was over. I remember crying, crying and crying. I remember missing our plans and our projects and his family and the life we had constructed… and probably him, too. Right?
I remember wondering once if he was my best friend. In some ways, I think he was. But I think I also knew that he wasn’t, even then I knew it. I think there was always something missing, even though I wouldn’t admit it.
But did that mean I wasn’t in love?
And if I was in love, when did I stop being in love? I think it was well before we broke up, although I was still sad when that happened. I can’t pinpoint it though, and I can’t remember the feeling, and it makes me wonder if I ever really felt it at all.
I don’t know anything.
I am not sure I even know what love is, it has been so long since I felt it.
I’ve been pretty much solo for the last two years. I dated, and I liked one person for a little while—but that was all, like. Most recently, I haven’t really found anyone I liked. I’m not sure if this is because I think dating is awkward and stressful and I can’t handle the pressure (God forbid they actually like me—yes, that is what I am scared of… not any sort of rejection or broken hearts, but rather the fact that they might actually like me while I’m still not so sure how I feel about them, and that is simply too much pressure for me.) OR if it’s because I just don’t like them.
I was never this picky before.
Maybe it’s a sign of maturity.
Or I may just be finding things wrong with people.
Seriously, the older I get, the less I know.
I realized long ago that I don’t usually understand how I’m feeling or what is causing those feelings until I am trying to tell someone about it and saying all the wrong things. I feel like I have taken this little idiosyncrasy to a whole new level with this examination of past loves—I’m not sure I really felt the way I thought I felt then.
Can this get any more confusing?
Except, I think I have to say, with the first.
If I have ever been in love, it was him.
Have we confirmed, then, that it was love? Or am I just remembering wrong?
How tricky memory can be.
Maybe I still don’t know what love is.
But I don’t really believe that.
Oh, I can say one thing for sure. Whatever it is I felt at the time, I don’t think I’ve ever felt it again. (Have you noticed how determinedly I avoid certainty? I can’t even commit to my own thoughts. Holy crap.)
Anyway, I’m pretty sure I have never ever felt the way I felt about the first with anyone else. The second may have been close, but I don’t think he ever really compared.
Not to how I was feeling anyway.
I can’t really speak for their feelings or their memories. I know what they told me then—but then again, I know what I said then, too… and look how it changes. Of all the relationships I’ve been in, several are “Oh god, what was I thinking???” I hope these two don’t remember me that way. I guess it really doesn’t matter either way though.
Whatever that feeling I was feeling was, let’s just call it love, because it gets too confusing to call it that feeling I was feeling. (Ha.)
Anyway, speaking of this thing called love:
This is the question I wonder above all—a question I posed once before:
I know I will find someone eventually—I’m not worried about that. I’m way too young to be bitter and cynical, and I’m really not in a rush. I’m busy with a career (woah.), friends (yay.), puppies (aww.), and all the other stuff my ambition drives me to do. I know I will find someone.
Will I feel the same way about someone again?
Will I feel like I’ve found the best friend that I can talk to for hours and still not get enough, someone I am so connected to that my heart hurts when his does, that I’d do whatever I could to stop any pain or frustration or worry or stress.
Will I find someone I can’t breathe without?
Does that kind of love exist when you’re 25?
Or is it reserved only for your first?
Is it just some mix of innocence, impatience, selfishness, and at least a little bit of genuine care for that person that makes it so special?
Now that years have granted me a greater grasp on sanity, I would like to feel that thing again—without the being 18 and stupid part.
But can that happen?
Again, was it the person? Or was it the simple fact of being the first?
I asked this question a year ago.
I’m still waiting for an answer.
Maybe I should try Dear Abby.