One of the earliest enquiries I remember making my mother was to ask her, who will I marry one day? What will she be like? What will my responsibilities be as her husband? Yes, even at the age of six, I was looking to plot my future and trying to chart a way through. I always wanted a family of my own and, seeing as I couldn't magically manufacture one all by myself, I wanted to get a head start on finding my perfect partner.
Even from the earliest times I can remember, whether it was Dorothy Gale telling me about a land Over the rainbow, or Pinocchio suggesting I Wish upon a star, I soon realised that I was not the only one hunting for that one perfect person to complement me perfectly and make all my dreams come true. I took my job in this regard very seriously. I think I was still in kindergarten when I got my first kiss from one of those gross creatures that people refer to as girls. It took me a while to warm up to the idea that sugar and spice and all things nice wasn't just code for ewww, that's disgusting!
A course, these feelings of revulsion were soon supplanted by feelings of ... I don't know what it is about you, but I want to spread you over a slice of toast with my breakfast. Or was it ... drizzle you over my Coco Pops? Whatever it was, girls suddenly held the promise of delights untold, things that adults only whispered about and suggested that I would also know one day when I grew up.
Since those days, I have progressed from fairy tales to Shakespearean sonnets, from pretty princesses to the rhyme of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning - 1806-1861
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
In my life I have certainly experienced many things within the realm of romantic affectation. On the one hand, I have been accused of being in love with the idea of being in love – that is to say, building romance up into something that no one could ever live up to. On the other hand, I have been told that I put up walls and do not let people in. Trust, as it turns out, is a big word to me, hard won to begin with and virtually impossible to regain once lost. What this means is that today, it being Valentine's Day, I once again find myself on my own, alone.
I can say this. I know what it feels like to love someone, and to be loved in return. For seven precious years I lived with a very special young lady who, to my mind, was the one. Sadly, family politics and life got in the way and she was filed, as so many who came before her, as a fish who - yes, you guessed it - got away. Do I regret the time I had with her? Absolutely not. It was absolutely blissful when it was good. When it was bad, yes, it was hellish but not enough for me to wish away the entirety of it.
I turn 50 this year. Where does that leave me? Well, if you take a short trip back to one of my earlier pieces, you will know my thoughts on marriage, and the virtues thereof for someone of my age. I am not sure if it was ever in the stars for me. That being said, come the day that I depart this world, I will have said that I have loved, and yes, I have lost – but that which I gained made it all worthwhile.
I leave behind hopes and dreams of what could have been, and within the body of this piece, those that came before, and those that will come hereafter, I hope to leave a small piece of myself as both a cautionary tale as well as a hopeful exploratory of the man I am and how I came to be that person. Will I meet the woman of my dreams? Time alone will answer that. I come with a bit of a checklist, after all. Yes, if taken in its totality, then I concede that it is highly likely that that person only exists in my wildest dreams – but I am hopeful.
Are you, the lady reading this, she? Well, a good place to start will be Proverbs 31. Thereafter, have a look at Song of Songs. You may find it interesting that I am referring you to the Bible in reference to my carnal desires as a man. Don't be so surprised – God knew what he was doing when he created the perfect partner for me all those millennia ago. I have full faith in my Creator.