Monday, November 11, 2013

War on Love: Four Lessons I Learned By The Break-Up With My First Love


(A very rough draft from my next book, War on Love.  Bonus: Take a shot of Whiskey every time you find a spelling and/or grammatical mistake.)

Days after Christmas, It was a chilly morning in the one bedroom San Francisco apartment.  I sleepily opened my eyes.  My head under the covers resting on my lover’s arm that was spooning my body.  I moved slightly, heard him grumble as he was waking up.  “You’re so cute when you sleep completely under the covers.  Why do you do that?” His voice was very scratchy in the morning, like a gears grinding in a car.  It used to bother me, now the sound has a comforting effect.

“It’s too cold.  I think I can see my breath.”  I whined as I put my icy fingers on his stomach, my head still under the covers. 

He flinched, “Your hands babe!  Too cold.”

“Well, warm them up for me.”  He lifted the blanket up forcefully to expose the top half of my body.  His skin began warming my skin as we laid wrapped up in each other.  He kissed my forehead and worked little kisses down to my mouth.  We made a small cocoon out of the blankets and soon our bodies were too warm for the covers, the cold room on our bare skin was a welcome relief.   When we were finished making love neither one of us wanted to get out of bed and brace the cold apartment.  “Is it time for presents?” I asked with a sneaky smile, I knew I finally found a gift he would love and I have been waiting to give it to him.  He smiled, kissed me as he replied coyly, “Maybe.” I stretched my arms above my head, slightly twisting my body to my side of the bed.  I pulled a medium sized package from under the bed.

“What’s this?”  He sat up against the headboard, smiling as he tore the paper away from the gift.  “Oh babe, This is great!  We are going to watch every single episode…starting now!”  He leaped out of bed with the complete 11 hour series of Band of Brothers plus bonus features in his hands and ran into the living room.  “I’ll make breakfast if you turn the heat up.”  I screamed from the bedroom.  He made a detour for the old heater on the wall of the Mission style apartment.  Done!”   

I sluggishly and reluctantly got out of bed and made my way for the kitchen.  I started turning knobs on the gas stove.  I had a few burners going, along with the broiler below.  The smell of bacon was filling the small apartment.  I used the bacon greased fry pan for the egg mixture I concocted.  I placed the bread is the broiler, since we didn’t have a toaster.  I peeked into the living room to check on my lover.  He had positioned himself on the floor in a pile of pillows facing the tv.  Since there wasn’t a sofa, he made his own out of pillows from the bed and chairs through out the apartment.  He turned and smiled, “Smells good baby.”  I smiled back, “Almost done babe.  Coffee is almost ready.”

We were starting to feel like ‘us’ again.  It had been five months of me feeling as though something had been ‘off’.  Something was wrong but I didn’t quite know what.  Maybe it was just cold feet.  Maybe I was just nervous about being someone’s wife.  I was hoping this feeling would go away on its own.  We had been a whirlwind from the beginning, I didn’t think things through and now reality was settling in. I was hoping it was just a passing hiccup.

I went back to the kitchen.  Strategically placed the scrambled eggs on two plates buttered the toast and laid the bacon over the eggs, then grabbed napkins, two forks and the hot sauce.  Made the coffee the way he likes it; lots of sugar. I went into the living room and handed him his plate and coffee.  “Mmm, this smells amazing hun!” His eyes became three times their normal size when he saw food.

“I burnt the toast, first time using the broiler to toast the bread, sorry babe.”

He picked up the blacken bread, took a bite “tastes good baby.”  I took a bite of the toast from my own plate.  “Mmm, tasty.  I think I may burn bread in the broiler from now on.  No more toaster for us.” I laughed as he gave me a kiss and pressed play on the remote, then Band of Brothers took over the small one bedroom apartment. 
A few episodes in we were snuggled under the blankets in a pile of pillows indented from our bodies, my feet pressing against his feet.  His arms wrapped around my shoulders and his hands in my hair, my head in the nook of his chest and arm.  The third, hour long episode had ended.  I looked up at him and him down at me.  I smiled.  He returned my smile with a kiss.  It didn’t take long before we set into our old ways.  It felt like what we once were; Making love all day.  We didn’t need an excuse.  We didn’t need much to get us going either.  We just had to be near each other for the desire to kick in.  We wanted each other, we needed each other.  We spent the rest of the day watching  the remaining eight hours of Band of Brothers, taking breaks to make love, adjust the pillows and snack on the left overs in the fridge from dinner the night before. 

We're back to us?  Maybe he changed his mind?  Five months before, he had told me we were “a twice a day couple”.  I was taken back because for two years he never put a limit on how much we would physically express our love.  Some days it felt like we didn’t stop, as though we couldn’t stop.  Now, he was telling me that was all behind us, he couldn’t do it anymore.  My reply was, “The honeymoon is over.”  A play on a long standing joke we had when our relationship would become a bit real.  Like the first time he passed gas in front of me or when I put my make-up on in front of him.  We would say jokingly to each other, “the honeymoon is over.” And then laugh it off.  When I said “the honeymoon is over” this time, I believed it.  We had become what I thought would never happen; at least I couldn’t see it happening for at least for a bit longer.  We weren’t even married yet but it felt like we were already settled into our marriage, our routine; Make love in the morning, make love before bed.  To my friends, this was not a problem.  “Twice a day, average couples only have sex twice a week, some less .”   They would tell me to not worry, it was normal.  But for me, this didn’t feel normal and would it decrease even more once we were married? I felt as though I had the wind knocked out of me.

At 25, my view on what a healthy, long term relationship was different than how I view relationships today.  I still want that “I can’t get enough of you passion” but I know it’s not a long term deal breaker.  At 25, it was.  He was my first love, the only real romantic love I knew up until that point.  I was crazy for him and he loved me right back.  Everyone should experience that at least once in their lives; to love someone and have them return that love.  It’s magic. But I wasn’t mature enough or mentally prepared to handle change in a relationship.  I didn’t truly realize the ebb and flow of romance and love.  Up until this point I had “Can’t live without you” type of love and I was addicted to it.  I was like a puppy dog when he walked into a room, even if he had just left; I was excited to see him.  I wasn’t prepared to settle into a routine.  I wasn’t ready for reality.  When we broke up a month after that Christmas I wondered how we got to the breaking point.  How did we lose it?  How did we grow apart?  What happened to ‘us’? 

From this contemplation and introspection I learned four important lessons.

-Communication: Don’t wait until it’s too late to talk about what’s on your mind.  Be open to listening to what the other has to say.  Say all that you need to say.  Don’t hold back but still be conscience of your partner's feelings.  You may not get another chance or opportunity to express yourself.  Be respectful of what your partner has to say.  Honor their opinions and feedback.  Try not to become defensive, they are just trying to be honest.  Communication is really the key in a healthy and satisfying relationship. 

-Don’t marry someone based on a great sex life: There should be something there of course.  The two of you should be compatible but great sex does not necessarily equal a great relationship.  There should be some sort of attraction and compatibility.  A great sex life can be the glue to a relationship but you shouldn’t depend on that holding the two of you together.

-Everyone loves in their own way: Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want to be loved doesn’t mean they don’t love you just the same.  Everyone expresses love differently and there are many different ways to love someone as well as different types of love.  Don't take someone's love for granted.  If you feel you love them more than they love you, you are not honoring the way they love.  Just because it doesn't feel the same vigor or level, doesn't mean they don't love and care for you any less.  Don't base your love on checks and balances.  It may never feel  or be equal. 
 -Know Yourself and Never Settle: What do you want?  What do you not want?  What are your deal breakers?  What are your priorities in a relationship?  No one can be your everything and you can't be someone's everything.  What are you willing to give up for something that could be truly great?  Always ask yourself 'Are you settling'? 
(I'm finishing up writing War on Love.  This is a book about my love mistakes, love lessons and some of my favorite love stories.)

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