Confessions of a Suburban War Veteran — or, looking for love in the city. PART IV

(For Part I, please click here. For Part II, here. For Part III, here.)

When I called the rental agency the next day during my lunch hour, Mr. Jackson sounded feeble and morose, “Well, the good news is that you were approved! This means that we’d be happy to take you on as a tenant in the future. However, you were the second application submitted, so, unfortunately, we will be giving the unit to the first applicant. I’m so sorry.”

“But, I already fell in love. My heart. It’s breaking,” I told Mr. Jackson.

“I know, I’m so sorry. I wish I could give it to you, but my supervisor was the one to run the paperwork. However, they have to have a deposit to us within 48 hours or we move on to the next applicant, so not all hope is lost yet,” he replied.

I hung up the phone, grasping desolately to the small hope that the winner of the studio’s heart would decide to leave the area. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. After 48 hours, it was heartbreak, plain and simple. The love of my life was leaving me for another. And she would never be able to love him like I could.

We had a temporary, passionate affection for one another, the studio and I, but the powers of be took away long-term relationship dreams. The heartbreak felt like an archer shooting arrows directly into my heart with painful precision, always in quick sets of three. I followed the process of lost love to a tee: mild self-loathing, angst, sadness, confusion, reminiscing over happy times.

With a heart still tender, I left for my out-of-country adventure, hoping the trip would give my heart a chance to heal. It needed to be ready for more first dates upon return.

I tried to channel movie wisdom to help me move on:

500 days of summer
“Hey Tom — I know you think that she was the one, but I don’t. Now, I think you’re just remembering the good stuff. Next time you look back, I, uh, I really think you should look again.” —Rachel Hansen, “(500) Days of Summer,” 2009.

When I did return, I started to think about the pros and cons of commitment. I was in this weird month-to-month lease limbo now with my Rockville room. I was kind of stringing it along. I tried to avoid my roommate/landlord as much as possible until I could have something more definite to report to her in terms of when I planned to move on. I mean, actions speak louder than commitment, right? I had paid my rent for the month, and I could be relied on to pay it again the next month, if needed. But it’s exactly that “if needed” that changes everything. Month-to-month is not the same as a yearlong lease. It’s unsettling, and mildly deceitful. I liked the flexibility, but I didn’t like that, just as I was stringing along my Rockville room, it also had the ability to wake up one morning and change its mind about me. I thought about how I deserved more than that. I thought about how if it was truly something beautiful and real, that there would be no questions like this left looming.

So, as I contemplated this conundrum, I continued dating. But by this point, I was exhausted. My Craigslist inquires, my enthusiasm over the next apartment viewing, and all things housing related became perfunctory tasks. I was no longer impassioned. Give me butterflies or give me less than butterflies, I thought, Just give me something. I’m done.

As all of this housing drama was going on, I was also starting to sketch some rough outlines for my future. Part of my future plans involve graduate school. I’d been thinking more and more about a Masters in Social Work, and remembered that the lovely woman I had met back in March at the studio I wanted (but couldn’t have due to not being able to get out of my Rockville lease) had worked many years in the intersection of social work and public policy — my interest area. In March, we had talked about getting together to discuss her career path, so I decided to finally call her to set up a time to meet.

“Hi, how are you?” she answered, happily, “You know what, this is funny because I literally just reposted my studio on Craigslist like two minutes ago. Something came up with my tenant and she has to move back home. Do you happen to know of anyone who is looking for a place?”

I think I actually melted. ME. Me. I am looking!!

In a matter of moments, it became wonderfully clear to me — I had just locked down housing, effective September 1. Not only had I locked down housing, but I had locked down the very housing that had captured my heart from the very beginning. I had reached my moment of surrender where I figured I’d never find the right place, and then — zzzt, zzzt — I was back together with my first love!

It’s like one of those Rom Coms where you love, you let go, and then you run back into each other one day at a coffee shop for forever.

My studio and I have been together now for almost two months, and we are truly in love. Sometimes, we still find ourselves spending the hours gazing with loving eyes into each other’s souls. We can finish each other’s sentences. When we want to be a mess, we’re a mess together. When we want to be tidy, we’re tidy. We are an honest reflection of one another.

Dear Studio, in the words of Jerry Maguire—you complete me.

Love of My Life” by Brian McKnight is one of my favorite love songs. What I love so much about it is how delightfully simple it is: “You’re more than wonderful. More than amazing. The irreplaceable, love of my life. You’re so incredible, here in these arms tonight. The irreplaceable, love of my life.”

Being able to look at another being housing, flaws and all, and sing lines like those with the purest honesty—now, that’s how hearts melt.

And, there have been flaws. My first week living in my new studio, the pipe fell off of my kitchen sink. Another day, my landlord upstairs left her sink on until it flooded and began to come through my bathroom ceiling. And then, there are the crickets. I’m sure those of you with a basement apartment understand. We get crickets. (And, at time of writing, spiders and rainy day earthworms, as well.)

One day, I was on my hands and knees, crawling around the apartment, trying to catch one of these crickets to put it outside. They’re quick and, oh, so jumpy. While at cricket level on the floor, I declared, “I think we need to redefine our relationship. This just isn’t working for me anymore. Get in the cup. Get in the cup!

But then, it went on hopping, and so I resolved to go on coexisting. For, I was in love, and this meant that everything and anything was good in that moment. Any uncertainty didn’t matter now. What mattered was that we were spending these moments wrapped in each other’s arms, each other’s mutual affection. We were happy. No frustration, no anger, no disagreement could falter what we felt for each other. For the passion of our anger will always turn into the passion of our lascivious touches, of our lust for more, of our pedagogic dance into what more could possibly be.

For better of for worse, until my next adventure does us part, with this lease, I do thee wed.

Roll the credits.


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