By: Gabriela Yareliz
Close your eyes. Wait, not yet. Read this first, and then close your eyes…
What does your dream life look like? Do you have a vision of what you dream of? You don’t have to have one, although, someone wise once said that without vision, people perish. How far or close are you to achieving that vision? How has your vision changed? (Now, I just sound like an eye doctor).
Lately, I have been around many friends whose vision is being changed. Sometimes, one thing happens, and it alters everything. A big topic lately is relationships. Ah, yes.
Recently, I was catching up with an old group of friends who live all over the world. We met that mild 2009 summer in France. Some have married since then, others have children… It was beautiful to witness how lives change over time.
It’s also weird to think about all that crashed and burned to allow the beautiful to flourish.
I was thinking recently about the guys I had crushes on throughout time. This is the Reflections Before Bedtime: Crush Edition. It’s good to learn from those with which we cross paths. This one goes out to all the handsome faces that fought for my attention (and the handsome faces that ignored me), and those who taught me some lessons along the way.
These guys were people I had intellectual friendships with, nothing more. They were crushes, not boyfriends. Believe me, that was enough. And still, I learned a lot. So, thank you. I will try to preserve anonymity. Here is to trying. Don’t worry, I won’t be all Taylor Swift. I hope not. *wink*
One time, I moved to a different state when a guy I liked was just starting to like me. (Heartbreaking– I know). We were on the same page. It was great. He looked like Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT for life). When I moved, the girl who had been my closest friend told me she had started “going out with him.” She had asked him out. That was a stab in the heart. Lesson: You don’t date the guy you know your friend likes. By the way, we are “LinkedIn,” and he still looks like Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Then, there was that guy I had a crush on in middle school. I was fascinated by this British-Greek guy who (to me) resembled John Stamos. I was boy crazy about him like an Olsen twin. He knew I liked him; the whole school knew, and in the end, we sort of became friends. Lessons: Thank God adolescence has an end. Also, while we were just kids and the guy seemed to have a perfect life, he carried a deep sadness inside. Appearances can be deceiving.
My church crush in my junior high years brings a smile to my face. He was adventurous and not remarkably attractive. I am pretty sure he saw me as “one of the guys.” Lessons: Looks can only take you so far. There was something special about this kid. And, it’s important to find someone who would climb a mountain with you.
Then, there was the guy at the end of middle school/ jr. high. This guy ended up not being the most consistent friend. Years later, when he actually asked me to take our relationship to the next level, I said no. Lessons: You should be friends with the person first. A proven friend. You should invest in someone who sees you are gold now, in the present–not someone who thinks that you only have “potential.” I would need to revisit this lesson later.
There was that guy in high school. So handsome. Every 2007 Chris Brown song made me think of him. He swore he liked me, but he was physically involved with our mutual friend, his ex-girlfriend. This guy sought me out years later. Long story. Too late. Lessons: Actions speak louder than words, buddy. This was a very “Jane the Virgin” situation. No woman wants a man who will go somewhere else to get something he isn’t getting from her because it’s not his to begin with. Fidelity and purity count.
There was the older Euro guy I was convinced was a terrible jerk. Later, we began what would be a long relationship. He wasn’t supportive of my college dreams. At one point, I seriously thought I was going to marry the guy. He ended up proving right my first impression of him, in the end. Thank God my wishes didn’t come true. Lesson(s): Never let anyone try to hold you down; Don’t invest in someone who only cares about himself; While sometimes things are painful when they end, they work out for the best; Many times, your first impression of someone is right; Some older men are incredibly immature and self-centered, just like the younger ones you thought you were avoiding; And long-distance relationships are a lot of work.
There was the Oxford polyglot. Gorgeous, European, falling in love on a whim– a believer in soulmates. We read books together in French and wrote letters in Spanish. Stendhal, anyone? The best thing I chose not to have. Unparalleled, but still… Lessons: Avoid the European romanticism. A man who pursues you in a matter of minutes may have a serious flirting and commitment problem. I did learn from him to see life differently. Ah, he was the carpe diem man.
And the man from Spain. Pure trouble. Lesson: Make sure someone isn’t trying to date/marry you for U.S. citizenship or some other shallow motivation/incentive. Honesty and transparency matter. See notes above on Euro romanticism and fast moving men.
Note: If you see a pattern in European men, you are not alone. *look of concern*
I have been thinking about how life has turned out, so far. And I am so grateful. I am grateful for the fact that when it comes to these messy areas in life, I have been careful, and I have learned a lot. I did my own thing. I don’t believe that we learn by having to make mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, we learn from mistakes, but I have spared myself many a nightmare by learning from other’s mistakes. I didn’t need anyone to save me or complete me–that’s Jesus’s job.
I am grateful for my mom who has always given me a lot of freedom. Freedom to choose. It has been an interesting journey.
The journey is far from over. It’s just beginning. I still have random men talking to me about their houses in Beverley Hills, or how the only thing missing from their “life list” is a wife… I don’t want your LA house, and my goal in life is not to be checked off of a list. Brother, please. Dear men, a sensible woman doesn’t want your money, degrees and cars. She wants your heart. I digress…
As I reflect, I realize I am definitely no longer that little girl who drew hearts in her yearbook (I don’t get yearbooks anymore), and I am not the young woman who dreamed of some European Prince whisking her to a far away land. Thank God.
As I talk to my friends, I realize more and more how sweet and educational memories can be. We live, we learn, we remember, and we laugh. You get older and you know for certain that your dreams aren’t pegged on some human coming or going, but that your dreams depend on God. Only God.
I am not sure of what lies ahead, obviously. I don’t believe in the idea of a love that resembles butterfly wings, or the whole “anyone will do” philosophy.
I believe in something more profound than both those ideas combined. Something that perhaps I cannot put into words, just yet.
Valentine’s Day decorations are everywhere. American ideas of love and relationships are still trying to bust through my concrete wall, and they are not getting through. Hilariously, my European/Latin idealism has been crumbling for half a decade. But behind the wall, which is impenetrable on one side and crumbling on another, is a fascinated heart that is naked, beating.
I know that I am less interested in what attempts to break the walls, and I am more interested in what’s flourishing within them. Right on time, the walls will shatter anyway.
Things have changed. I have changed. Or, better said, Love has changed me.
[Typos brought to you by auto correct; Yes, I wrote this on my mobile device.]
[Image from Tumblr]