If L asked me to marry her a year ago, I would have said “Yes” without hesitation. Now, I am not so sure. My love for L has not decreased. In fact, I think it has grown since we began our relationship. Articulating that growth in my usual straightforward manner is rather difficult. I seem to express it more figuratively. For instance, my love for L now has many colors. In the beginning, my love for her was blue. The atmosphere at Longwood Gardens gave way to a vibrant green love. Then, at Humboldt, our passions colored our love in red. At times, there is a gray shade to our love. Even when I’m hurt, I still feel love, but the color is pink. There is depth to my love for L as well. Like riding on a raft on a rushing river, I don’t have time to explain why the love is traveling indefinitely into the future, I’m just trying to hold on to the ride.
Yet, even with this myriad of colors and deeping of feeling, doubts are settling in. How can L focus on her schoolwork and so easily put me out of her mind? When she says or does something that hurts my feelings, is she right in asking me to deal with those feelings alone? There are limits to our relationship. L is willing to be in a relationship with me provided that I do not get in her way of achieving her education goals and meeting the obligations to her family.
Am I willing to accept those limitations?
When a person is in love, smoke gets in the eyes, vision is blurred, and what might appear as the perfect mate turns out to be someone… someone more human. L is not perfect. Nor am I. I have expectations, too. I have limitations of my own.
I will accept those limitations provided that she will explore the nature of her love for me in the future. I don’t want someone to love and marry me for my money, for my smarts, for my looks, for my potential, for waiting until they are ready and/or for meeting any other expectations they may have created. I want someone to love me for no reason at all. I want someone to marry me because they love me in a way in which they cannot explain.
I am not asking for a guaranteed hand in marriage, or even for love. I will accept L’s limitations, if she promises to explore and seek to understand her love for me. If in the end of her exploration, she does not understand why she loves me at all, but she knows in her gut that she does and wants to marry me for that visceral intuition, then I believe we are ready to take that step towards a lifelong commitment.
In the meantime, as much as I hate relationship bar exams, I will have to pass every one that comes my way. The first big one, I believe, will be my Peace Corps time in China. Will I remain true to our relationship, or will my heart (or penis) wander? I’ve never had trouble controlling my genitals. My heart, however, has an unmeasured power of its own. I don’t ever recall my heart testing the strength of my willpower. And, I believe that my time in China will be one such trial.