Yesterday the Canadian came over for a much anticipated visit. I spent most of the day getting the house cleaned up and trying to put together the perfect flirty, yet casual outfit. Every time I see him, we pick up right where we left off. Talking politics combined with some lighthearted teasing about how the U.S. is declining as a super power. He always has an interesting take on U.S. politics from watching the BBC and collecting conspiracy theories from the Internet.
This time he was being especially sweet and attentive. He opened the car door for me and held my hand during dinner. Afterwards he took me to Best Buy to pick out a new stereo for my living room. And when we got home he set it up for me. Whenever I asked what he wanted to do next, he simply replied "Whatever you wish." On the surface, it seemed like everything I could ask for in a date.
Except something was missing. Being with the Canadian reminded me of how I felt when I saw the Teacher a few weeks ago. We were saying the same things and doing the same things, but it didn't feel the same. Clearly, all of these guys are not changing. So I must be the one who is seeing things differently.
He had made arrangements for his kids to sleep over at their Mom's house so he could stay the night with me. As the Canadian slept peacefully beside me, I was wide awake. It reminded me of the night he proposed to me. As soon as the initial excitement of the proposal wore off, I immediately started to wonder if I had made the right decision.
We were in my apartment in Minnesota and I remember him sleeping soundly in bed while I lay there staring at the streetlights filtering in through the blinds. I got up and sat in a rocking chair in the corner and just stared out at the night sky. The world was silent, yet my mind was racing. Eventually he woke up and pulled me back into bed. I didn't want to admit anything was wrong, so just I let him assume that I was excited about our engagement and that was why I couldn't sleep.
Here I was almost exactly 20 years later and the more he snuggled in behind me, the less comfortable I felt. I had a fleeting thought that it would have been so much nicer to be sleeping beside the Boy. Despite all of his flaws outside the bedroom, I always sleep better when the Boy is next to me. It was strange to catch myself thinking about the Boy while I was lying in the arms of the man who represented everything I ever thought I wanted.
The Canadian and I have always had an unspoken understanding about our feelings for each other. Every time I see him, I try to live in the moment. I worry that if I push too hard I could lose him forever. But I am finally at the point where I am ready to start a life with someone. And in order to do that, I need for the unspoken to be spoken.
He had to get up early to cross back over the border and take his daughter to driver's education class. I probably only slept for an hour or two, but we both woke up before his alarm. As we laid in bed, I had this overwhelming urge to speak up. And this time I wasn't afraid.
I told him that I have been thinking a lot about the concept of moving on. And I told him how hard it has been for me to accept what happened to my Mr. Big. Then I told him about the Boy and how we keep breaking up and getting back together, but ultimately he wants to move in together and have a baby and I don't. And how I have been trying to plan my life and figure out what I want.
"I keep waiting for you to come and rescue me from all of this." I said.
"Honey, you don't need me to rescue you," he assured me.
"I know," I said. "I just always thought that someday we would end up together. Now I am pretty sure that is not going to happen." Then I started to cry. Not so much out of sadness as a sense of relief for finally facing the truth.
Part of me wanted him to say that I was wrong. And that he had a grand plan for us to be together after his kids grew up and moved out of the house. But he just held me tight and didn't say a word.
"Do you ever wonder what would have happened if we had gotten married when I was 21?" I asked.
"Sure. I think about it almost every day," he admitted. "I go through all of the choices I have made and wonder what life would have been like if I had done this differently, or that." His voice trailed off and he disappeared into his thoughts. "But in the end, we are where we are. And there's nothing I can do about it."
The more we talked, the more I realized how vulnerable he is. I always thought the Canadian was in control of our relationship. That my fate was in his hands. But he was never in control of anything. He was just struggling to figure out his own life.
"Whatever you decide about this moving on thing, just know that I will always be here for you," he promised.
He may not have completely understood everything I told him that night, but it was comforting nonetheless. No matter what happens, I know that what we had was real. The Canadian loved me and I loved him. But love is not always enough.
I am not sure why I have chosen this particular point in my life to start deconstructing all of my relationships and seeking the ultimate truth. Whatever has awakened inside of me is leading me somewhere. And I can't turn back now.