A few days ago I received this comment from an anonymous reader:
“You seem bitter. Have you ever had a man love you?”
Okay. You used a powerful word there…and it really got me thinking. Let me start by saying I think you used the word “love” but really meant something else (like maybe I needed to get laid or something?) but I’m going to take the word at face value…
Yes. I’ve had a man love me. Even better, I’ve had many. The first four who come to mind are the ones who are the men in my mother’s family. When my father didn’t bother, these men taught me to throw and catch a ball, to love ballet, to love the Rolling Stones, and most importantly the written word. These men told me I was smart enough to do whatever I wanted; they told me I was funny and they told me I was charming (really, they were talking about themselves but hey, I’ll take the compliments). These men challenged my thinking, made me look at things differently. I remember when I was about 7, I had to make a craft for Father’s Day. With no “father” to give it to, I gave the present to one of my uncles…he kept it until the day he died. These men loved and still love me. These men did not ever indulge me – I couldn’t bullshit any of them. Cajole? Sure. Charm? On occasion. But never did they blow smoke up my ass and if need be, they’d gladly kick my ass if I got out of line. I honoured these men by taking their name as my own…changing my last name to that of my mother’s family about 10 years ago.
When I was 12, my first crush and my first kiss became my schoolyard boyfriend. It was puppy love for sure, but c’mon…he let me ride his custom skateboard, he held my hand when all the other boys teased him, and when it wasn’t game day, he gave me his jersey to wear. Even though he dumped me, I still remember him fondly. That’s love.
When I was 16, my former schoolyard enemy, the ex-boyfriend of one of my girlfriends, and my eventual friend came to my school, stuttered and stammered for an hour and then said in a clear and steady voice, “I love you and I want you to be my girl” We then spent the next 4 years loving and hating each other. Years passed, and we even tried again. It didn’t work out of course, but I will say this: he’s the only man I’ve ever believed when he said the words “I love you”.
When a boy that I thought I could love put his hands on me, a man who loved me came and picked me up on a daily basis for three weeks. When he stood face to face with the boy, he didn’t fight him…he didn’t say a word…he just looked at my ex. That’s it. He stood there and looked at him until my ex had to look away – all that wasn’t said was said in that look.
I’ve had the love of a man but did not reciprocate in kind…it was the worst kind of love. I ended it with him because he deserved more; and more importantly, I deserved more.
I’ve had a man love me like they do in the movies. In fact, when my cynical ass scoffed at a romantic scene on television, saying that “this shit doesn’t happen in real life”, he recreated it for me. His reasoning? “That this does happen in real life when you meet someone who deserves it…”
When I had to have a biopsy at the age of 24 (and about 3 months into our relationship), and was too scared to tell my mother, he took me to the hospital and waited while I had the tests. When the stress of expecting the worst and days of no sleep became too much to bear, when I ended up falling into a tearful heap at the top of the hospital stairs, he picked me up, carried me to a cab, brought me home and rocked me to sleep.
When my sister died, I had the love of many men. Men who took care of my mother when I couldn’t. I had the love of good men who held her coffin when they could barely hold themselves up. I had a man who simply held my hand and let me with my broken heart cry. I had a man who I never thought love me, my father, tell me that he did. I had men love my sister, my mother and myself pay their respects from far and wide. And each year, on the anniversary of her death, there is a man who loves us both; standing by our side in sub zero temperatures to mark that day.
I have men who love me now. Men that I can count on at any time for advice, encouragement, a viewpoint, an argument, or if stranded, I could knowingly call on at 4 in the morning to bail me out of any situation. I have men who make me laugh, who inspire me, who make me think, who anger the fuck out of me, who let me drive them nuts, who indulge my craziness (so that I in turn, can indulge theirs)…
It’s for them that I write this post; because they love me and I love them.
Am I bitter? I’m cynical and jaded…but I’m not bitter.
Have I ever had a man love me?