Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Casey and the Unicorn

We were snuggled together in a quiet corner. It was a stolen moment. One of those times that you’ll know you look back on and remember as one of those relationship turning points in your life.

“Do you love me?” I asked.

He looked at me for a long moment. His brown eyes boring into my green ones that I think were blue at the time.

“If you love me.”

He was the love of my life. And it was my first taste of conditional love. We were in second grade in the choo-choo train on the play ground.

Casey was an asthmatic and had lots of brown freckles. I recall that he tasted vaguely salty as I had once licked his arm and decided that’s what freckles tasted like. Salt.

Turns out, twenty five years later not much has changed in finding a viable relationship in Hollywood. I don’t go around licking boys’ arms. Or any parts of them for that matter. But they seem pretty salty here as a rule. And no one is willing to risk his heart until he knows it’s safe. Some not even then.

Meanwhile, my innate Pollyanna leads me to risk my heart continually. I’m a leap-before-I-look kind of girl and I always have been. The problem is that the ability to see the special, overlooked qualities in a sickly seven year old doesn’t really have the same cache when applied to a famous director or an upwardly mobile digital artist. The key, it seems, is in holding out for the guy who realizes that same specialness in me is something worth his while. Worth the risk.

Guys are spoiled and lazy here. They seem to think that because a majority of the population is botoxed and siliconed that they are somehow entitled to that Barbie perfection in every girl. On top of that, guys who wouldn’t get a second thought in Minnesota are head turners here even with their beer guts because they have industry power.

I could get pissed but really it’s just a stronger filter. The guys who will see through all that fluff and choose a strong woman who will cause them to become better men: those are the guys that are worth my time. Those are the guys that will make me a better woman. The whole point is growing together, isn’t it?

“I’m going to have to be a better man to be with you, aren’t I?” sighed the artist formerly known as Mr. Wonderful.

Yes, I told him, You will. Lucky you. Turns out he wasn’t up for the personal growth and the loss of that guy is both of ours. Instead, he’s back out there, looking for the easy fix. Looking for a tolerant woman who won't mind with his “quirks” (read: emotional baggage and unresolved issues.) While I’m stinging over the fact that he’s back out there so quickly as though we meant nothing, bless him, I hope he finds Her. Meanwhile, I’ll be over here cocooning for a while. Break my heart once, shame on you. Break it twice…clearly I have some growing of my own to do.

I think of Casey from time to time. How funny we must have looked to the yard duty; two seven-year olds holding hands and grinning. I wonder where he is now. Probably married. Hopefully happy. I like to imagine he’s found someone who he can grow with, someone with whom the love is not conditional. That, it seems, is the holy grail of relationships. The mythic creature. The unicorn that I have to believe I’ll find. Someday. Perhaps hiding in a choo choo train. Where does one find unicorns these days?

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Blogger greg said...

Tastes like salt...

Such a brilliantly realized moment frozen in time. Like Lot's wife...

Just what I've come to expect here. I love it.

Reading your post reminds me that I don't think I would have made it very far in this business - not that I've gone very far - if it hadn't been for luck and ignorance and a great wife. We got married too young when we were too stupid to know any better. Thankfully - through our ignorance and innocence - we're still together 17 years later. We often remark that its actually cause we like each other. Love is easier. You can love someone - but you can't stand them. Liking someone for long periods of time is almost harder.

Anyways. I guess the beauty is in the struggle. Single or married - either choice is hard and difficult and pulls at you from both ends against the middle. But that's the joy of life.

And that's why I love reading your blistering insights.

You should really write a novel because you see so well into an interior life....

7:19 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Thanks for the support, Greg. It makes a different to hear I'm not just upsetting people! It gives me such hope to hear about your marriage. Congratulations on beating the game!

3:56 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Tastes Like Salt or The Taste of Salt sounds like the title of a good book to me.

I'm with Greg.

I think you need to do a book.

PS: I'm fairly certain guys have a delayed reaction as far as breakups go. They go and sleep with the first person they can find and tell themselves "This is great." Three-six months later, when you are finally doing better, they ring you up, as if they suddenly figured out that something was lost, and it hurts.

11:48 AM  

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