The Underwear Drawer: After The Balloons Pop

May 17, 2013, also known as the day before my 25th birthday, and suddenly, as I washed my face and brushed my teeth that morning, I had a moment. I had grown up. Yes, there were a few potholes along the way but all in all, I had surpassed many goals and moved forward to conquer new ones. However, love seemed to be in the forest, blinded from me; the ultimate game of Hide and Seek. We were looking for each other. Or were we? My desire for love had not changed, but it wasn’t a nine to five I clocked in and out of. No, love had turned into a fairytale and as much as I loved those stories, the reality of it seemed dull.

In reality, both gay and heterosexual alike, would a Prince Charming truly go searching around town, with a glass slipper, for his one true love or cut through woods to rescue her from a deep slumber or yearn that she let down her hair for him to climb up and secure her…or him, for that matter? “And they all lived happily ever after,” is the way most fairytales end. But what happens during ever after? And with age, don’t we potentially deal with new forms of b.s., brought to us by our Prince Charming?

I had gone from my first young heartbreak, to someone who left me for his cheating ex, to a man I had discovered was an escort to a confused minister, coming out of his bad boy, marijuana smoking casual sex crazed ways. And there I was, only hours before turning 25, and these were the Prince Charmings I had to look forward to? Maybe not. Maybe I had to accept that I allowed these men into my life. “I don’t want to make you dirty,” my first love’s break up speech began, referring to my inexperienced ways, a total cop out for his loss of interest. “I kinda met someone,” the guy text messaged me, whose pathetic way of relaying the truth, never said, “I am back with my cheating ex-boyfriend who I found having sex with my best friend.” Said the escort, “don’t waste your time trying to figure me out, because you won’t.” In reflecting, it seemed like myself and the men I chose to show interest in, were only hurting themselves.

Between these men, I could have drowned in the mess of excuses and lies and around the truth tales. “Men don’t truly get it until they’re 39,” my co-worker, Pam, told me. A woman who had experienced her share of losers, deadbeats, and ex-husbands but found love in raising her family and keeping productive.

This year, I had found myself in love with the thought of my new success. I was passionate about my writing, as well as entertainment. No, I had not experienced mutual true love. Yes, I had been in love but the magnetic force of someone loving me back, had not occurred. Tasha, another co-worker, found love in a man who had a pattern of conveniently loving women who could financially support him when he was without a job. She asked me countless times, “What should I do? Stay or leave?”

I told Tasha that it was not my place to tell her who and how to love. Who was I to tell her to leave this man? I asked her to reflect on the things she told me and ask herself, “Is this how I would love myself?” In most relationships, it’s like buying a home; in one house, the stairs creak but in another, the water doesn’t run well. And like houses, men and women have different problems. You can’t avoid them. You just need to know what you are willing to deal with and if it’s worth it.

My gym trainer, Michael, told me, “something happens after you turn 25. You understand adulthood more. You realize that you can’t depend on people anymore and that you have to do what’s necessary in order to survive. It honestly makes sense now. I understood that if I loved my work and put my heart and soul into finding myself with my passions, someone would potentially see my ambition and be attracted to my means of making moves for myself and loving myself enough to see a dream through. Love does not have an expiration date. It didn’t matter that I was about to turn 25 and hadn’t experienced a relationship. Apparently, most of the people who had experienced them, knew a thing or two about exes too.

Nevertheless, on a birthday, amongst friends and family, music and gifts, laughter and cake and balloons decorate the present. But after the cake and laughter goes away, and the balloons pop and it does not mean the end. It means a potential start to be someone great. Happily ever after doesn’t take two. It takes one person to see potential in themselves, grow from error and love someone who compliments us.

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