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what's love got to do with it?

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I wear my heart, not on my sleeve, but more like the front pocket on a shirt... full of pens and pencils like the geek that I am in the romance department. The first time I fell in love was at the age of 17 and I went down like a load of bricks. Of course there had been numerous crushes throughout my teenage years, but this one.. this one . He was a Yankee raised Alabama boy who breezed into my life at just the moment I was poised on the brink of romance with a reliable steady guy who sent me roses. The Yank, instead of flowers, wrote poetry which he snuck to me during our senior year that was filled with lazy days on a Mississippi river sandbar accompanied by a bottle of wine and intertwined with a liberal attitude toward life. That was a rare find for a southern girl in the seventies. And then there were the hormones..raging, as they were.

I was built like a twenty year old as a young teen, and fought off the advances of older boys for many years, holding on to my virginity like a prize. With each and every one of them, I knew. That what they wanted was natural and enjoyable, but I wanted it to be different. I wanted it to be special. And it was. Way back then, I thought that "love" was forever and withstood all things. It lasted until I graduated from college, and he let me down gently but I took it real hard. Within two years, I was in a rebound marriage to a man I definitely did NOT love but who was comfortable to be with. For a while.

The thing that I discovered, along the road of that marriage, is that we fall in love many times during our lives. Love is just what it is...an intense emotion that blasts us when things click and the fireworks go off and everything is rosy just because. There is agape, the pure kind of love we feel for others when we put their interests above our own and sacrifice for them. But that kind of love is much more difficult...more like work. The romantic kind is more fun with all the bells and whistles and affirmation. I've experienced it several times in my life, and each time my heart has blurted out the truth that could not be hidden even if I tried. Because that is who I am. Some women know how to take the Cosmo articles and use them to their advantage in the games department. I've never quite gotten the hang of it.

One of my work buddies, a nurse, was hanging out with me today and the topic turned to men. "You got a boyfriend?" she asked. "Nope" I said. "Do you really want one?" she asked. She's been married three times and single for many years....a breast cancer survivor, several years older than me. We talked a bit longer and I finally told her that yes, in fact, I feel ready for that now. Four years after a divorce I've finally got my head straight and I know what I want instead of blindly searching around for that ideal. She remarked that she had dated a guy once for four years and he had proposed. She knew, in her heart, if she said no to marriage that she would lose him because that is what he wanted. She cut him loose, and misses him still, yet she is content. To be alive and working and able to take nourishment. To be still kicking. And to be able to say to herself "Maybe someday...." She's keeping the faith.
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