Back in my single days I was a cold-hearted-man-hater. Now, I know that when you’re single (and sometimes even when you’re not) it’s pretty natural to express frustration with the opposite sex, but I assure you that cold-hearted-man-hater is not exactly an exaggeration. My favorite t-shirts surmised both my objective: “Professional Heartbreaker” and motto: “Celebrating my independence from boys!” All attempts to conform to the traditional rules of the dating game were non-existent. When other girls flirtingly laughed at male stabs at macho-ism I rolled my eyes and instead of coyly teasing I pounced on every opportunity to stir up an argument. My roommates refused to watch chick flicks with me because of my snide comments and I had an editorial titled “Heartbreaking All the Boys Away” published in the school paper on Valentine’s Day. I called males jerks in private and public, denied all attempts at displaying affection, dished out bruises in low-key neighborhood sports games, and even threw a couple of shoes. Amazingly, I still spent most of my time with boys in spite of the nagging lectures on proper date etiquette and my growing reputation as the “worst date ever” (a result of a doorstep goodbye where he went in for a hug and I intercepted with a handshake, said, “Pleasure doing business with you,” and shut the door in his face). I was feisty and spunky; I wouldn’t take crap from anyone. I was also alone, but I would have told you that’s the way I liked it.
Fast forward five years. Noel is coming home today from a business trip in Washington DC. For three days I’ve felt listless and incomplete. Every night after I’ve cuddled Cooper and sang him to sleep, I video chat with Noel. We talk about everything and nothing just to postpone saying goodnight. After I snap the computer shut with a sigh, I watch a sappy Disney movie while drinking steamed milk or working on some craft I’ve devised. I might even cry.
Although it’s somewhat traceable, I am sometimes still mystified at how I’ve ended up where I am today. Looking back, I’m a little shocked at my over-confidence and ashamed at how insensitive I was. Still, sometimes I miss my fire. Ultimately, I think I’ve become a better person since meeting Noel. I’ve mellowed a bit and even though I detest the crying, I think it’s more healthy than the anger. I’ve come to see dependency on someone not as a weakness, but as an unfailing source of strength.
The good news is I haven’t turned into my single self’s nightmare of a thoughtless, domestic pushover. The other day I was pushing Cooper in his stroller and someone made a cat call. I felt my old fierceness snap into place. My eyes took on a look they haven’t experienced since one of my students asked me if I was “feeling kinky” and instantly a stream of brilliant retorts flowed into my head. The vehicle disappeared before I could do anything, but I walked taller in its dust. I may be softer and more in tune with my feelings, but I’ve still got it in me. Heaven help us if we ever have a little girl.