Afflictions of a Romantic Heart
Maybe it was silly, but she was a romantic. At heart, all she wanted was to be someone’s one and only, to have someone’s sun rise and set with her. She wanted love and passion and fire. She wanted someone crazy about her, someone who couldn’t bear a second away, someone who wanted her above all. Because that’s the way she was, that’s how she loved. Maybe it was silly, but deep down, she was a romantic.
Yet her brain often enough kept her heart in check, and most of the time, her brain told her heart to cool it. That kind of love was only in storybooks and B- movies. It didn’t exist in the real world, and she lived in the real world.
She hid her romantic heart.
But it still stirred up trouble.
“Just spit it out,” he said, having tried the last ten minutes to bring a smile to her sullen face. She clearly wouldn’t let it go, so he would have to claw it out of her. Communication wasn’t her forte.
After several false starts, she managed to say, “I’m concerned.”
He did his best to hide his irritation. Really, he did. “About?”
“What about us?”
It came out in a rush. “I know you do everything right—you call me, text me, see me when you can, pay for dinner, give me compliments—seriously, you do everything right. I just,” she stumbled on the words. “I just don’t feel anything.”
He didn’t react.
“And I don’t know why,” she said softly. Then, her voice picked up and the flood of words began anew. “Even the things I don’t like don’t seem so important sometimes—how busy you are with work, with hanging out with Mush and Jake, with your stupid obsession with that stupid band (what was the name?) and all its streamed concerts.” She tried not to sound too spiteful as she went down the list, because really, “Those things don’t seem so horrible when I think of them. They seem so minor, sometimes.”
“I told you about the music from the beginning. I didn’t hide it from you,” he said, defenses up already.
“I know,” she assured him. “And sometimes it seems stupid that these things bother me at all. I feel like they shouldn’t—like I’m wrong to be unhappy about them.”
“I’m not doing anything wrong,” he argued again. Clearly, her reassurances fell on deaf ears.
“I know, I know you’re not. But I can’t help how I feel—I don’t want to feel this way, I just do.”
“What’s so wrong with me hanging out with Mush and Jake? Or working my ass off to make extra money? Or listening to my music? I don’t see what the problem is.”
“It’s not—it’s not each thing individually. It’s,” she fumbled for the words. “It’s like they are signs of a bigger problem, of the thing that is really making me unhappy.”
She wished he could have been a little more sensitive. This wasn’t easy for her either. But that wasn’t his style—he was quick to defend, even when there wasn’t an offense.
“I—” This was the hardest part to say, the part that left her most vulnerable. She almost couldn’t get the words past her lips. “I don’t feel love or passion or excitement. I don’t feel like I’m falling for you, like I’m crazy about you, and I think that’s because I don’t feel like you’re falling for me, like you’re crazy about me. And it makes me wonder if you ever will be. I sometimes wonder whether or not you have it in you at all. Maybe you just like casual things, and maybe this will just be casual forever. I don’t know.”
“I tell you all the time how much I like you.”
“I know you like me. Like I said, you do everything right. Logically, I know. I just, I don’t feel it. It feels disconnected and distant.” She figured “it” sounded less accusatory than “you.”
“I don’t know what else you could possibly want me to do. I text you every morning, I call you every night, I—”
“I know, I know! I don’t know, OK!” She interrupted. “I told you, I know you do everything right. I just don’t feel it.”
“Feel what?” His voice filled the small apartment.
“Emotions! I don’t feel like there’s any emotion behind it, behind you liking me. You like me, I know. But it feels shallow.”
She was getting frustrated now. “Like there’s no emotion tying you to me. Like if given the right opportunity, you could pick up and leave without a second look. Like you’re just as happy with me as without me. Like I’m not the most important thing to you—or more importantly, like I never will be.”
So that was it. As the words left her lips she found them true. She hadn’t expected him to be in love, she was fine with giving him time; but as the days and weeks passed, the feeling that he never would be grew stronger. That maybe he wasn’t capable of it.
He opened his mouth, his response at hand.
Her romantic heart braced itself.