I had a love affair.
Never consummated, mind you.
He was far too young, barely 20, and I’m middle-aged. Plus I’m married to a kind and caring man who makes me laugh. I’m blessed…in addition to being a realist. It could never have worked.
Yet, there was something about him that thrummed the heartstrings. Perhaps, it was his many failings that I related to, the human misinterpretations of how he measured his worth. He suffered the need to impress, a fear of failure and disappointing those he loved, of not measuring up to the outer façade of success. He wanted power, he wanted privilege, he wanted to be valued for what he did, because who he was just didn’t cut it.
I’ve felt those things. I remember feeling starved for love, grasping at smiles with barbed fingers and calling it destiny, overpowering any potential with suffocating need. I wanted validation for the object and trappings that was me. For beneath the skin, I’d learned, was nothing of value.
Perhaps what enchanted me was his capacity to dig deep into pain, to confront his failings face forward, to rise above, let go, and forgive his blindness. I saw humility in his startling encounter with his soul. I witnessed grace in that moment and fell in love.
For him it was a process, a paring away of the coarse petals of identity and fragile beliefs, each layer uncovering the mysteries and offering truths. Perhaps it was the courage and trust, the willingness to step with faith from the ledge.
I think I fell in love with his capacity to love…wholly…without fear, without shadows, without filters. How often do we meet a soul peeled bare. How rare is the courage to accept with open arms the messy lives we tote on our shoulders or drag behind us like a sack of rocks. I wanted a love like that…fearless, wondrous, unconditional.
Perhaps it was because he chose to live as he believed. His life wasn’t separate from his principles. He offered no excuses, no rationales, no exceptions. In this way too, he was intrepid, worthy of fidelity, and unpretentious. It was simply his way of being in the world.
His name is Conall, and he was born in my head. He grew up on the keys of my laptop, loved on the pages of my first book. As real as he is to me, he lives only in the chambers of my heart.
It could never have worked. It took me a long time to let go.
Then I fell in love with Morgen
And Gryff after him
And…on I go, crafting new loves in my heart.
Tell me, have you ever fallen in love with a character?