by Jane Eaton Hamilton
First, you will fall in love with me. You will enjoy my enthusiasm for sex. I am many things you are not, and you are many things I am not. You will like some of the many things I am, including an author, and you will dislike others, including my age and size. I will like some of the many things you are, including a film buff and articulate, and I will dislike others, including that you are too young and too thin. You will be nonplussed at how strong your emotions are and at first they will scare you; you will not know what to do with them. You will say you’ve never been in love like this before. You will want me to hear this, because it’s important to you. Over time, you will adapt to your feelings, and you will start thinking things that you have not thought about for years. You will have generative thoughts – thoughts about whether a relationship between us might work, and if so, what the particulars would look like, whether there would be a moving in, and if so, would I move in with you, would you move in with me, or would we sell our places and buy a new place and start that way, fresh? I will be having some of the same thoughts, though I will register them as rogue, and say (relentlessly) that we must wait until we’ve known each other longer and weathered some difficulties. I like the happy you! But do I like the ill you, the cranky you, the fed up you, the angry you? If you are poly, you will find yourself surprised to sacrifice your ideals to monogamy, a lesser system. Suddenly, you will want to build me a house. You will find yourself thinking about marriage, about which you may or may not agree. You don’t see why I would crave it, after my divorce, but you will conclude that I do. You will ask me about pets. You will tell me my mattress is horrible. You will be pleased that sex, always terrific, gets better over time as we learn each other’s bodies. You will be terribly sorry I’m sick, and terribly sorry that you could lose me, and this will be a struggle for you, but one you will manage, proudly, to surmount; there is something noble about loving a cripple. You will find your self esteem, always somewhat of an issue, rising, your mood improving. You will tell me that you love me after only a few weeks together, perhaps when you didn’t even plan to do so, during the rise towards orgasm. You will swoon when finally I, somewhat more parsimoniously, say it back to you. I will mean it. You will mean it. There will be a brief flutter, like a heart taking wing behind ribs, when this common love will soar. I will remind you, though, that I cannot commit, other than committing to seeing only you while we discover our relationship. You will not understand this. What does it mean? I don’t know if I want to be your partner, I’ll say. But you are already there! you will say. But I am not, I will repeat. But both of us are hopeful. You will be anxious that you love too much and that this is a pattern for you. Me, I am just trying to be sensible. Alcohol may not be the same thing for me as it is for you. Anxiety may not be the same thing for me as it is for you. Aggressiveness may not be the same thing for me as it is for you. Tender loving care may not be the same thing for me as it is for you. Differences will sprout like bulb snouts from our tender spring skin, which we were too dazzled and too busy in bed to see before. You will start to notice that I am distant, or that I want too much of your time, or that I have a very odd schedule, and that I really prefer my privacy to your company, and I will notice things about you which are also red flags. You are anorexic. You are a thrill seeker. You don’t actually engage politically. You are obsessed with alcohol. You are overly emotional. You are controlling. You have OCD. I won’t know, right away, whether those are behaviours I can or cannot live with long term, but I will be suspecting not. You will start feeling hurt, and jealous. You will watch me very closely on FB. You will wish I’d call more often, or at least set a dependable time for us to talk every day. When I don’t manage to make the kind of contact you want, you will rationalize that I have a lot on my plate. You will also realize that you are more in love with me than I am with you. You will say that I am clearly not ready for a relationship.
Here is what will happen next:
You will break up with me, or I will break up with you.
It really doesn’t matter.
– Jane Eaton Hamilton is the author of several books. Her poetry collection “Love Will Burst Into a Thousand Shapes” is coming out fall 2014 from Caitlin. She has published in the NY Times, Seventeen magazine, Salon, Numero Cinq, Macleans, Numero Cinq, the Globe and Mail, the Missouri Review, Ms blog, the Alaska Quarterly Review and many other places.