I am a professional matchmaker. My entire identity and livelihood is based on the success of other peoples’ love lives. When I go to bed at night, it is with a racing mind. How did Sharon’s date go with Michael? When is Julian going to pop the question to Kate? Then there’s my personal favorite – can I get enough time off of work to attend Jill and Scott’s wedding?
Second hand romance is the air I breathe – so imagine my excitement when I found my own personal “Mr. Right.”
When I saw “Dan” on the street, I immediately targeted him as my type. With a likeness to my celebrity crush, Conan O’Brien, with the intense blue eyes of someone who was no stranger to brooding, and the cutest pair of pale, freckled legs on this side of the BQE, I could tell just by looking at him that he was for me – and rarely am I ever wrong on such matters. So, I grabbed fate by the balls, threw him a friendly wave, and a sassy, feminine cackle: “Hey Boy!”
He never once questioned why a woman he didn’t know would be waving and cackling in his direction. He just smiled and waved back.
I declared that summer as being the last summer I was young. Wasted on sweat, hormones, cheap polish beer, and the ignorance of youth, our courtship began. We would read each other Henry Miller in the park. He would stalk under my window at night, serenading me with love songs on his accordion with lyrics like, “You are pretty enough to get away with being crazy.”
Over brunch my girlfriends would coo and say, “He is so handsome.” In turn I would proclaim, “And he is the only man I have ever intellectually respected!”
One day while being particularly buzzy on said cheap polish beer, I sat on the ground, glared at him, and grittily snarled, “I love you.” He smiled, picked me up off of the ground and said, “Do you want to move in together?”
He was my knight. He came into my kingdom of dive bars and rescued me from boys who dwindled in prolonged states of adolescence with ironic mustaches, redundant poetry majors, and crappy bands.
Flash forward four years later, things were in stasis. We had two adorable dogs, a condo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and satisfying careers. Every morning he would wake up first to make the coffee. We would spend holidays with his family, and for the first time in my life, I had a family. When my grandmother was passing away, he slept by my feet while I held her hand. We quit smoking. We picked up smoking again. He supported me when I decided to quit my day job. We worked out. He never complained when he found my toothbrush in the fridge. When the cold of January was too much, he bought us tickets to a beach front resort in Mexico. He never forgot to tell me I was beautiful. I jokingly told him I would marry him if he found me an ancient Egyptian scarab ring. A week later he found one on Ebay. He was a feminist. He was handsome. He was getting better with age.
But, on every New Year’s day, my silent resolution was to figure out a way to negotiate my wild bohemian spirit with his strong, salt of the earth, loyal, midwestern values.
During coaching sessions I would tell my clients, “It’s not about falling in love. Who would want to fall into anything? Love is something you do. It is a verb. Or even better (I would exclaim), it is a question! How am I loving you? Do you feel loved?”
Somewhere along the way Dan lost himself, and I filled the growing empty space with my narcissism. When I realized I was no longer really in it, I did what every good woman does – I committed to making it work.
In November I came up with a plan. I would invite him to join me in Italy, in beautiful ancient Rome. I rededicated myself to my perpetual New Year’s resolution. My heart would reawaken, away from the noise of New York. I envisioned us in the ancient catacombs, sitting nose to nose, suspended beyond time and space, floating together and drifting back into that mystical state of being “in love.”
But the first day he arrived in Rome – to his horror and to my surprise – I looked at my perfect boyfriend, and calmly ended it.
My friends thought I was insane. Their concerns were even more punctuated by the fact that I am a woman living in New York City – a city experiencing a severe shortage of good men, and a city overwrought with beautiful, brilliant women. My only regret was that it took me a year to break up with him.
I imagine the break up was hard on him because it seemed to have come out of left field. He was so busy loving me that he forgot to notice if he was feeling loved. And me – my head was so far up my own ass that my only concern was whether or not I was willing to do something that could hurt him. But that’s the thing – my vacant autopilot shell of a heart was not doing this man any favors.
Because I respected him, the only loving thing I could do was to let him go.
We live in a culture that values making it work. And that’s all fine and great, as long as you make sure that you are making it work with- not the right person, but the right person for you.
I have since met someone who sets me ablaze. He is comfortable with my wild banshee ways, and I find myself able to sit nose to nose with him for long periods of time, suspended in those cherished mystical states.
Personal intuition and science are telling me that these “mystical states” are caused by pheromones released during sex. It is said that on average, pheromones last around two years. This is because evolutionarily, that’s how long it ought to take for a woman to become impregnated, and for the baby to have a father around long enough to survive the harsh conditions of infancy.
But, I am not going to have kids, and after these love hormones run their course, I will likely be alone again. And that is more than fine by me. Not everyone is looking for the one.
My hope for Dan is that he doesn’t let the temporary bitterness and confusion of our break up condition him into being anything other than the perfect, loving person he truly is. His capacity to love is a gift, and one that deserves to be shared with someone who can return it.
And while it is unlikely, I hope that years down the line, if he ever needs a good matchmaker, he knows who to call. I also hope he knows that the matchmaking fees are on me. After all, he is the man who taught me everything I know about romance.
Amy Van Doran