To the kind, gentle, handsome, beautiful soul who has been trying in earnest to date me:
There were frogs. I mean, a lot of them before you came along. I have, after all, been at this game for the last 25 years. I could tell you about the Fire Bellied Toad, Bombina Maxima, who ditched me for my best friend mere days after I finally gave in and gave up my virginity. Or the Yellow Banded Poison Arrow who liked to call himself “John” when he was with me, but went by “Jack” when he was out with my coworker, Jenny. I don’t know what he called himself when he went home to his “roommate,” but I heard through the grapevine that the “roommate” was a bear, and he liked to be called “Daddy.”
I was lucky enough to have a few more princely selections in between. Maybe, if I had been more _____ or less _____, they might have fulfilled my happily-ever-after. Maybe I might have fulfilled theirs. But I was in my 20s. I had shit to do. Shit that didn’t involve shacking up in anyone’s childhood bedroom because it was cheap, chasing someone else’s dreams, or living in silent competition with memories of those long dead and gone.
Then came The One–the Fairy Tale Frog. I lay sleepless on a pile of mattresses, lowered my hair, slipped effortlessly into the shoe. I donned my pointy princess hat, draped myself in tulle, mirror-mirrored on the wall. And then he left me. Quite spectacularly. For an 18-year old girl.
He had his reasons.
From there was the Red Mantella–perennially unemployed, a seemingly perpetual student who said one day out of the blue, “I think I might like you better if you were blonde.” I laughed because I thought he was kidding.
He wasn’t kidding.
Then came the Common Frog, Rana Temporaria (ah, Latin). He was a courteous workaholic. Lovely. Boring. Ribbit.
There was the Poisonous Blue Dart. We had a real estate agent. We were looking for property to buy together when I walked in on him screwing another woman. “What?” He said. “It’s not like we’re in a committed relationship.”
And I rounded out my 30s with the Bull Frog. “Ayn Rand is my spirit guide. No, I haven’t been taking my meds–what’s it to you? And I only lie because you make me.”
You can see why there might be a problem.
Now, to be fair, I’ve done some work. The 50-minute hour has been a dear friend to me. There was a reason why I chose to kiss all the wrong frogs, and I think I might have gotten at least a whiff of understanding. But the how-not-to-ever-again remains somewhat elusive, and of vital importance.
I know in my bones that you are different. I know because you call. You ask. You “just because.” I can tell by the way the dishes are done and put away, and the glass of wine is waiting for me after I’ve put the baby to bed that you are in this for real. You don’t push. Or pull. You listen. You share. It’s the littlest things, and the weight of them is enormous.
But you have to understand. There were frogs. And after the frogs came this life–this incredibly rich and blessedly drama-free life. I have the house, the car, the dog, the kid. I did it. On my own. I didn’t–I don’t–need you.
But do I want you?
As nice as “here-take-my-hand-I’ll-do-the-dishes-let-me-help-you-with-that” is, it doesn’t come without a price.
I don’t ever want to know about being trapped in a castle again.
I hear my mommy friends bitching about all the things they want and need and can’t get from their partners. I hear the sighs. Ache at their compromises. I signed up to change ALL the diapers and any one I don’t change is a gift. I have no expectations.
I’m not sure I ever want them again.
But the lure of Original Myth is freakishly strong. Happily-ever-after looms large. On Tuesdays I’m quite certain that yes, “I’ll take the baby to swim lessons so that you can sleep in” is exactly what I’ve always wanted from this life, and “let’s go to Tahoe for the weekend as a family” sounds amazing! But by Friday I think, hell, I must’ve been tired! I’m fine, thanks–I’ve got this.
Tahoe is no match for sovereignty.
Dear man, there were frogs. And after the frogs came an existence so sweet, and simple, and easy by comparison–as simple and easy as our limited time together has been. Please forgive me for my hesitancy. For my distance.
I am very, very afraid.