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Walking Is Just Safe Falling

3 · Mar · 2005


When I was 12 I went to church because my sister wanted to save my soul from hell so her boyfriend would see we were a good family. He was The Pastor’s Son. I sat on a pew in the back of the room on that first morning and wished that god would’ve made getting into heaven easier than facing a room full of pimply faced, guilt ridden kids during hours meant for sleeping. Then Steve T. walks up like a tiger approaching his prey and smiles.

He had the kind of gaze that created a breeze right up your Sunday dress. He was cocky, slightly insecure, funny and unnerving. Steve was my first real love.

Because I was only an innocent 12 year old when we met, there was a certain righteousness in pursuing someone like this. I must have been pretty sure he would never call my bluff. This allowed for plenty of practice in being aloof, uncaring and wise. With a guy like Steve, all you have to do is keep one single promise – “Everything’s fine”. I clearly remember telling myself somewhere around the five year anniversary of my crush on Steve that I didn’t matter if he slept with all of suburbia – I would get him eventually.

This is not as pathetic and desperate as it sounds. While we were growing up, and right up until the day I told him I was going to marry one of his high school soccer teammates, I suspected he loved me. What I didn’t know was that I truly had fallen in love with him. All my relationships up to that point had been with men less complicated, meaning men who loved me that I had easily walked away from.

We were having lunch in Chilli’s on NW Highway and he asked me why I was dating a “nerd” like Jason. Jason was everything Steve wasn’t: academic, calm, polite, traditionally handsome. I could see why he was ticked. “Well who should I date then? Who!?” My voice was rising. After nine years of pretending I didn’t really want him I realized everything was not “fine”.

“I don’t know!, he barked. Anyone else! There are plenty of guys you could date!”

“Name one, Steve! C’mon, who? I would love to hear who you think I should be with!”
People were staring by then. The friendly lunch had sped out of control.

"Well, I don’t know!... Brent Hughes! You could date Brent Hughes.”

“WHAT?” Brent was a bad-ass flunkie who Steve occasionally got drunk with back in high school. “Oh, please! You don’t want me to date him. Is that it? That’s your suggestion?”

“OK me! You could date me!”

I was so shocked and angry. I was thinking that it was just like him to get under my skin right about the moment I thought I didn’t want him anymore. So I did what one does when cornered.
“You’d cheat one me.”

It was out there. Like spilled grape-juice, my insecurity and doubt in my ability to get over this guy was all over our table and I couldn’t clean it up fast enough. Of course, he said he wouldn’t and I realized he was right. But we moved on to other things.

In the next few years we both moved in and out of serious relationships. Turns out that days before our lunch he had broken up with a woman who later announced she was pregnant. They married and had a son but it didn’t last. We connected again and began hanging out. I listened to his marriage sorrows. He listened to my never-ending optimism. I played with his son who adored me. We went to dinners and watched movies. That year on Christmas Eve he called me in the middle of the night to go with him to pickup last minute gifts and I happily obliged. I wasn’t sure what was happening. I had just broken up with my drummer boyfriend and I had made plans to leave Oklahoma that January for a new life in Nashville.

Then one evening we were sitting on his couch watching TV when he picked me up like an injured child and carried me to his bed.
Validation at last.

But time is a hero some days and an enemy the next.
In the 12 years I had wanted him, I had changed. Looking forward to my new life, I couldn’t help but wonder where did my old dream fit in? I was a radio DJ by then, hoping to move into A&R at a record label and then on to artist management. Steve was a coffee rep at a regional company with a 4 year old son and an alimony payment. His life actually wasn’t bad at all – he had a great family, a perfect son and was involved in the community. In many ways, I envied him and was terrified of my own master plan. We talked about him going with me. Eventually he made promises to visit that I knew he wouldn’t keep.

One might think that the real problem here is falling in love with a man like Steve in the first place. I am not one of those people. Who wants to work that hard or wait that long for him to come around? Apparently I do. I’m not saying that I enjoy the pain. I’m saying that maybe the reason I get someone like Steve is because I AM someone like Steve. In my opinion, if it’s not worth waiting for or even fighting for, it’s not love. Besides, who says it was Steve who made me wait 12 years?

I sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if I had put aside my fear and pride that day at the restaurant. It’s true, I may have just ended up being the woman that he divorced. Had he caught me on a different day, would I have been more open?

I’ve come to believe that love has no sense of timing. All that talk about when the time is right is bullshit. Love is on time, every time, without fail. It’s we who keep a different schedule and wag a finger in love’s face for not being convenient. The most powerful thing in the universe and yet we think we are at liberty ignore it or demand it come packaged differently!

These days when I am with a man that I’m willing to argue with, a man who gets under my skin and says what I am thinking but am too prideful to admit, I feel a little nervous. Because I know now that this is what I need, what I want. And it’s only shame on me if I let logic or pride stand in the way again.

Posted by Penny Rene at 07:15 PM